February 13, 2008: Totally Lost

"Totally lost?"

Before I talk about being totally lost , I’m going to share something that brings a smile, because we desperately need to smile now and then to stay sane and healthy.

This is a Dry Bones cartoon entitled "Reductum Ad Absurdum."

Watson: "Holmes, the UN refers to Gaza as occupied territory. But the only non-Palestinian force now in Gaza is the UN itself.

"Does this mean that Gaza is occupied by the UN?"

Holmes: "What it means, Watson, is that the ‘Palestinians’ have occupied the UN."

Political cartoonist Yaakov Kirshen gets it just right. See the cartoon and Kirshen’s description of the dialogue that inspired it, at:


(Thanks to Cheryl Hoffer for calling my attention to this.)


One begins to wonder if the US is also occupied by the ‘Palestinians.’ Consider:

American victims of terror attacks here in Israel — or their surviving families — have sued the Palestinian Authority in US courts and have received judgments against the PA totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, none of which has been paid. These judgments were made possible because of testimony that specifically linked senior PA leaders to attacks.

Lawyers for the PA are trying to avoid payment , and to that end have asked for assistance from the US government. Their argument is that it makes no sense for the US to provide assistance to the PA while US courts are threatening to bankrupt the PA because of ideologically motivated suits. And so, they are seeking US government intervention in the court rulings. (Originally they had claimed sovereign immunity but the courts threw this out as the PA is not a nation.)

The US government has not yet made a decision in a case that forces "the Bush administration to choose between supporting compensation for victims of terrorism and bolstering the Palestinian Authority."

If they decide for the PA , then we will know that the US has completely and totally lost its way.


Over a year ago , PA President Abbas asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to intervene but she said then that "the US [government] is not party to these enforcement proceedings." But now there has been a rethinking of the issues and ultimately the Justice Department will decide in this extremely complex case.

Families of Americans killed in Palestinian terror attacks sued the PA under a law passed by Congress in 1990 in response to the terrorist murder of Leon Klinghoffer, who was thrown off the Achille Lauro cruise ship in his wheel chair.

But today, bolstering the PA has become a priority for the US. As we all know, once the PA is stronger, there will be peace in the Middle East.

What sort of people have won court cases on this issue? There is, for example, the mother of six whose husband, Aharon Ellis, a US citizen, was killed in 2002 while singing at a bar mitzvah in Hadera.

The PA lawyers argue that "The judgment’s potential interference with American foreign policy presents a unique and exceptional circumstance justifying relief…"

But one of the lawyers who has represented the victims in many of these cases says, "If the State Department tips the scales of justice against the victims in order to support adjudicated terrorists, the war on terrorism will be seen throughout the world as a farce."

Methinks its time for the US to reexamine its foreign policy, if it leads to situations such as this. Actually I think monies that have been allocated for the PA by the US should be set aside in sufficient amounts to pay all those who have won judgments against the PA; that’s the only way they’ll ever see their money.


If this situation enrages you , you just might want to let President Bush know:

President George Bush

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Fax: 202-456-2461

White House Comment line: 202-456-1111 TTY/TDD Comment line: 202-456-6213



He was surprised. Or so said Shas Faction head Eli Yishai, when he learned from press reports that Livni and Qurei had met Monday and Tuesday. You see, Olmert had promised to keep him abreast of all negotiations. Yishai intends to discuss this with Olmert.

Speaking with Olmert about all of this is very important, because Shas has a new theory. Maybe Livni was holding secret talks with the PA without telling Olmert, precisely so that Shas would find out about it and bring the government down and then she could take over. "Olmert has to decide whether he wants Shas in the government or whether he wants what Livni is doing," said MK Ariel Attias, second after Yishai. This is creative thinking, you have to admit.

But some new light has been shed on a possible reason why the members of Shas are stretching themselves so to stay in the government in spite of what’s starring them in the face: According to a Haaretz report today, Shas’s spiritual (?) leader Ovadia Yosef doesn’t want the party to pull out yet. He doesn’t believe the negotiations will yield real results because Abbas is weak and that thus Shas can sit tight. So, according to this thinking, it’s OK to agree in principle that Jerusalem should be divided and Arabs should control Har Habayit, as long as it doesn’t actually happen.


Hatem Abdel Qader, Jerusalem affairs adviser to PA Prime Minister Fayyad, has told the Jerusalem Post that Jerusalem is being discussed now. In fact, Jerusalem "is not only on the table, it’s also under the table." By which he explained he meant that "the negotiations with the Israelis are taking place both openly and secretly."

This is hardly news at this point , but it’s worth noting what else he says:

"Our position is, ‘Take it all or leave it. We have also made it clear to the Israelis that we won’t accept any partial solutions for Jerusalem [such as permitting Israel to retain some control in eastern Jerusalem, perhaps with regard to the Kotel.] As far as we are concerned, Jerusalem must be one geographic, political and religious unit."

What was it I reported yesterday? That the Arabs were complaining that we weren’t being "flexible" in negotiations. By which I correctly assumed they meant we weren’t capitulating entirely.

If the PA is serious about this position , then it is a case of "leave it," whatever Olmert’s or Livni’s intentions. This will not fly with the majority of Israelis, or with a majority of the Knesset. We have been speaking about "core" issues, and Israeli retention of Har Habayit and the Kotel is a core issue for Jewish Israelis even if they are not religious. When polls are taken it is discovered that this issue pushes buttons that others don’t.


Meanwhile Olmert has told journalists that he doesn’t believe Shas will quit the coalition. "It is clear to all of the sides that the issue of Jerusalem will be the last issue on the agenda with the Palestinians."

According to Army Radio, Olmert told Shas that building would continue in Jewish neighborhoods of eastern Jerusale
m, and that he would be contacting authorities in the Housing Ministry in coming days to inform them of his decision.

Well… what is there to say about this? If the report is accurate, it means that construction indeed had been halted (which it was not supposed have been and represents a betrayal of earlier commitments) and that he was now going to make a gesture to keep Shas happy.

Are the members of Shas so stupid that they wouldn’t see through this? I don’t think so. But I think they’ll grab at this as a reason to stay, if they possibly can. And, if turns out to be how it plays out — if Shas is that easily bought — this would be most disgusting. The fact that Olmert may instruct the Housing Ministry does not prevent negotiations on the issue from continuing anyway.


Imad Mughniyeh, the "super chief of staff" in Hezbollah , and a co-founder of the terrorist organization, was killed in a car bombing in Damascus late last night. While there have been accusations to the contrary, the Israeli government denies any involvement

Mughniyeh was top on Israel’s wanted list , ahead of Nasrallah, and on US "most wanted" list as well.

He was originally a member of Fatah in southern Lebanon and served in Force-17, Arafat’s personal guard. In the 1980s he was responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy and Marine headquarters in Beirut that killed 241 Americans. He planned two bomb attacks in Argentina against the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Community Center. In 2003 he was involved in attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. He is believed to have been involved in the kidnapping of Goldwasser and Regev.

Israeli embassies and institutions abroad have been put on increased alert. Hezbollah has cells in as many as 40 countries.

From the US, from a State Department spokesman came this statement: " The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a cold-blooded killer, a mass-murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost. One way or another he was brought to justice."

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora , on the other hand, sent condolences to Mughniyeh’s family.