ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Israel

Meanwhile In Israel.

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People across the Middle East are annoyed at their rulers and Israelis are no exception, Dissent explains why:

“WHAT IS happening in Israel? As usual, no one expected, no one predicted, the massive uprising of Israel’s young people—joined last Saturday night by large numbers, amazing numbers, of their parents and grandparents. What started as a demand for affordable housing has turned into something much bigger. I can only watch, and cheer, and try to figure out what’s going on. Here are four “takes” on the uprising.
…”

Update 1: I had, naturally, assumed that the Guardian coverage of these events, which started about three weeks, would be given the expected negative spin, but the coverage is fairly good, that is in between non-stories and piffle like this, Israeli spy claims over Christchurch earthquake and Israeli orchestra to perform Wagner in Germany at Bayreuth opera festival.

All the same rather surprising, given the Guardian’s clear anti-Israeli bias.

Israelis set up tent cities in protest at housing costs.

Israelis take to tents in housing protest – in pictures.

Government alarm at citizens’ revolt as tent protests spread.

Update 2: Lisa Goldman had been following things and saw this:

Update 3: According to the JC, Netanyahu forms panel to tackle tent city unrest.

Politicians across the world are so similar, major problems, form a committee, fob people off. I can’t see that working with younger Israelis.

Written by modernityblog

09/08/2011 at 02:17

Paid To Get Shot?

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I think anyone that follows the Middle East would appreciate how the despots and dictators in that region have manipulated, exploited and used the Palestinians as a political football, for their own purposes, but even I was surprised at this story in the Guardian:

“Israeli troops have clashed with protesters on the Syrian border for the second time in less than a month, with several dozen reported injured and claims that up to 20 had been killed.

The violence had been widely predicted after organisers called for a symbolic March on Israel to mark 44 years since the beginning of the six day war in 1967.

However, the clashes were smaller in scale than the last time pro-Palestinian activists confronted Israeli soldiers along borders with Syria, the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon.

The Syrian village of Majd al-Shams was again the focal point with an estimated 1,000 Syrians and Palestinians surging to within 20 metres of the fenced off border over six hours. They threw stones and molotov cocktails at Israeli troops as snipers fired rubber-coated bullets and live rounds at some activists,

One demonstrator who was wounded that day told the Guardian the Lebanese militia Hezbollah had given him $50 to turn up at the border and $900 to have his gunshot wounds treated by physicians. He said he had been planning to return to Maroun al-Ras yesterday until the rally was cancelled.

But as the Syrian government’s brutal crackdown on protests show, protesters are only allowed to gather when the state allows them. The Golan area of Syria is off-limits without state permission.

Leaders’ Judgment?

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I wanted to cover more of events in Syra and Yemen, but this piece in the New York Times is very relevant.

So I am not the only one with a low opinion of Binyamin Netanyahu:

“Journalists recalled that Mr. Dagan, who had refused contact with the media during his time in office, called a news briefing the last week of his tenure and laid out his concerns about an attack on Iran. But military censorship prevented his words from being reported.

“Dagan wanted to send a message to the Israeli public, but the censors stopped him,” Ronen Bergman of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot said by telephone. “So now that he is out of office he is going over the heads of the censors by speaking publicly.”

Mr. Dagan’s public and critical comments, at the age of 66 and after a long and widely admired career, have shaken the political establishment. The prime minister’s office declined requests for a response, although ministers have attacked Mr. Dagan. He has also found an echo among the nation’s commentators who have been ringing similar alarms.

“It’s not the Iranians or the Palestinians who are keeping Dagan awake at night but Israel’s leadership,” Ari Shavit asserted on the front page of the newspaper Haaretz on Friday.

“He does not trust the judgment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.”

It was Mr. Shavit who interviewed Mr. Dagan on stage at Tel Aviv University this week. And while Haaretz is the home of the country’s left wing, Mr. Shavit is more of a centrist.

“Dagan is really worried about September,” Mr. Shavit said in a telephone interview, referring to the month when the Palestinians are expected to ask the United Nations General Assembly to recognize their state within the 1967 border lines. The resolution is expected to pass and to bring new forms of international pressure on Israel. “He is afraid that Israel’s isolation will cause its leaders to take reckless action against Iran,” he said.

Nahum Barnea, a commentator for Yediot Aharonot, wrote on Friday that Mr. Dagan was not alone. Naming the other retired security chiefs and adding Amos Yadlin, who recently retired as chief of military intelligence, Mr. Barnea said that they shared Mr. Dagan’s criticism.

“This is not a military junta that has conspired against the elected leadership,” Mr. Barnea wrote. “These are people who, through their positions, were exposed to the state’s most closely guarded secrets and participated in the most intimate discussions with the prime minister and the defense minister. It is not so much that their opinion is important as civilians; their testimony is important as people who were there. And their testimony is troubling.”

This concern was backed by a former Mossad official, Gad Shimron, who spoke Friday on Israel Radio.

Mr. Shimron said: “I want everyone to pay attention to the fact that the three tribal elders, Ashkenazi, Diskin and Dagan, within a very short time, are all telling the people of Israel: take note, something is going on that we couldn’t talk about until now, and now we are talking about it. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and that is the decision-making process. The leadership makes fiery statements, we stepped on the brakes, we are no longer there and we don’t know what will happen. And that’s why we are saying this aloud.” “

Update 1: Letters From a Young Contrarian does a great job, The Arab Spring into Summer: Today’s Events.

Update 2: Not forgetting Left Foot Forward’s Arab Spring latest: Murder, civil war and motor racing.

Thoughts On The Middle East.

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Blake Hounshell looks at events in the Middle East in a critical way, and I think he’s correct, that Netanyahu will do nothing. Any halfway competent statesman would realise this is an opportunity to grasp, but not Netanyahu. The only quality he has an abundance is mediocrity, which will doom Israelis and Palestinians to more misery:

“Even more awkward for the United States, Netanyahu is due to visit Washington in a few days in what will likely be one long exposition of the words, “I told you so.” If he is smart, he will announce a serious plan for peace and get out ahead of the most serious threat to Israel’s security since the 1973 war. If he is true to form, he will use the opportunity to double down on his argument for the status quo.

President Obama has planned two speeches for the coming week: one for Thursday, billed as a disquisition on the Arab Spring, and another an address at the AIPAC conference. With George Mitchell’s resignation, the peace process is officially dead. The Arab street now understands its power — people clearly aren’t going to sit around quietly waiting until September for the U.N. General Assembly to pass a resolution recognizing a Palestinian state. The BDS movement (“boycott, divestment, sanctions”) is gaining steam internationally. There will be more marches, more flotillas, more escalation, more senseless deaths.

Netanyahu, A Complete Failure.

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I really should be blogging on other subjects, the repression in Bahrain, murder in Syria and why does Ed Miliband look like such a weak leader, etc

From the corner of my eye I have been following events in the West Bank and the progress towards Palestinian statehood, which I fully support.

Along with that has been my bemusement at the Israeli government response: incoherent, belligerent and inept.

Fortunately, I find I am not the only one that has noticed Benjamin Netanyahu’s complete failure to tackle these issues politically, in any mature way. Instead Netanyahu stands like a modern King Canute, arguing against the inevitable in a sour and unhelpful fashion.

Snoopy sees the problem as well:

“The last time that the skies smiled at Binyamin Netanyahu was, probably, when Shimon Peres asked him to form the next government, after Tzipi Livni had despaired of her chances to win the support of the Knesset majority.

Since that day it all went downhill for him. Overtaken by the events, outmaneuvered on the right and (less) on the left by his frisky coalition partners, Bibi seems to be continuously surprised by what is happening in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular. Since his Bar Ilan speech, where Bibi announced his support for two state solution, which in fact wasn’t the first time for an Israeli leader (Sharon has already done it) and was made under pressure coming loud and clear from the White House, Bibi is drifting with the flow of the current events, all his moves no more than feeble responses to the outside irritants.

So far the Palestinian leadership appears to be much more adept and sophisticated in manipulating the world’s public opinion as well as in gaining the all around political and diplomatic support. The growing number of the governments that recognized the Palestinian state is the best indication of the failure of Bibi’s “wait and respond” behavior. ” [My emphasis.]

PS: Readers will remember I am no fan of Netanyahu or his racist ministers.

Update 1: Jeff Goldberg ponders the incredibility stupid notion of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran’s nukes:

“I asked Alon Pinkas, a former diplomat and military correspondent, what he thought of Dagan’s speech. He said: “Dagan believes that high-technology-based covert operations are far more effective and carry significantly less risk in terms of possible ramifications and consequences than an air strike.” He went on, “He is also genuinely warning against what he thinks would be a reckless military action underlined more by political expediency than by a cost-effective analysis.” “

Vittorio Arrigoni And The Need For The Geneva Accords.

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No one should sneer or joke about the death of Vittorio Arrigoni, rather our humanity should make us think of why it happened and what the alternatives are.

The continued violence in the Middle East only brutalises people, it desensitises them and makes any settlement harder to achieve.

The on-going conflict in the Middle East is a political problem and requires political solutions, not military gung-honess, attacks on buses or the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni.

Such a political solution is the Geneva Accords.

These accords try to balance the wants and desires of all parties, and endeavour to find reasonable compromises to these seemingly intractable problems.

For peace in the Middle East a degree of realism is needed on all sides, no one is going to vanish or go away, so a modus vivendi must be found.

The Geneva Accords offer an outline of a settlement and should be given greater prominence in light of Vittorio Arrigoni’s death, lest nihilism and the status quo linger on, leading to further killings and the brutalisation of so many more.

Written by modernityblog

16/04/2011 at 01:30

Avigdor Lieberman: Fraud, Money Laundering And More.

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Mostly, when blogging I try not to concentrate on personalities, but in the case of Avigdor Lieberman I will make an exception.

Lieberman is obnoxious, xenophobic and an authoritarian politician.

The fact that he will be indicted shortly should surprise no one.

Lieberman seems fairly representative of much of the Israeli political class, useless, self absorbed and only interested in short-term personal and political goals.

Certainly it is perfectly possible to blame most of this on the absurd implementation of proportional representation within Israel, where small or extremist parties, such as Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, have a disproportionate influence, but there is more to it than that.

Nowadays, coalitions in Israel often function by the lowest political common denominator, only what can be pushed through without upsetting minority or extremist parties goes ahead, creating a wider political lethargy and an incredibly conservative approach to running a country.

We can see part of this problem in the continued allegations of corruption against leading Israeli politicians which have come about in the last few decades.

We should not forget that Netanyahu’s first premiership was brought to a close when there was a corruption investigation into him and his wife’s dealings. Subsequently, charges were dropped for the lack of evidence.

A previous PM, Ehud Olmert was under investigation for corruption for years, which led to him stepping down. Readers probably know of many more examples.

Haaretz has more:

“Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to announce Monday or Tuesday that he intends on filing an indictment against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on charges of fraud, money laundering, and breach of trust.

A draft indictment will be handed to Lieberman’s attorneys and he will be granted the right to a hearing to try to prevent the indictment.

Over the past several weeks, Weinstein has been refining the wording of the draft indictment, which was the subject of much debate among those composing the document.

The discussion between the State Prosecution and the Attorney General regarding Lieberman’s case continued for more than a year and a half, since the head of the police investigations and intelligence division, Yoav Segalovich, recommended putting Lieberman on trial.

Segalovich recommended indicting Lieberman on charges of bribery, fraud, money laundering, breach of trust, witness harassment, and obstruction of justice.

Police believe that he received more than NIS 10 million in bribes from businessmen including Martin Schlaff and Michael Chernoy. The money was allegedly laundered via a series of shell companies and fictitious bank accounts overseas.

The police also recommended indicting Lieberman for breach of trust in the case of Israel’s former ambassador to Belarus, Ze’ev Ben Aryeh, who showed Lieberman secret documents from the investigation against Lieberman. “

I do wish that Israelis would follow the example of others in the Middle East and throw out their useless and rotten political leaders.