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December 7, 2008: Despicable

December 7, 2008

There are a few items that might qualify for this modifier, but what I have in mind is this:

At the Cabinet meeting today, Olmert said:

“As a Jew, I’m ashamed of the sight of Jews firing at Arabs in Hebron. I have no other definition for what we saw but a pogrom.”

“Pogrom.” I cited the use of this word by our government before, knowing that it was a gross exaggeration. But this time I decided to look it up: “An organized, often officially encouraged massacre or persecution of a minority group; the savage killing of many victims.” And, indeed, when we Jews have suffered pogroms, we have been killed and terrorized.

What Olmert is talking about is a bunch of disorganized kids who ran around — exactly how many kids did exactly what running around is vague — breaking a car window here, setting fire to a tree or a clothesline there, pulling down an occasional satellite dish. There were claims of a house set on fire but the Hevron police said no complaint was filed with regard to this. There were apparently some stones thrown at houses.

Not nice. Not right. Not to be excused. But is this is a “pogrom”? No Arab lives were lost and in the one instance in which there was shooting (this by an adult), the Jews involved say it was self-defense. In fact, except for this one shooting, I believe all the damage was done to property and not persons.

Note that there is no statement by Olmert regarding Arab provocation and rock-throwing by Arabs as the house was being evacuated.


So, is Olmert speaking thus to curry favor with the Arabs and the international community, or to further delegitimize the “settlers”? Maybe both.


Ron Breiman, former chair of Professors for a Strong Israel, used not the word but the imagery of “pogrom” today, in a piece in YNet. But his imagery concerned behavior of the government:

“The aggressive and unwise evacuation of the house in Hebron was undertaken thuggishly, and seemingly on behalf of the law, yet in fact was carried out based on considerations that have nothing to do with law or security. Ehud Barak’s thuggish conduct in Hebron is befitting of the Cossacks: There it was a case of ‘hit the Jews and salvage Russia,’ and here it was a case of ‘hit the Jews and salvage the Labor party.”

What is certainly the case is that it ill-befits the head of a government that has come down on its Jewish citizens with excessive force to use the language Olmert has used.


Orit Struk, who is legal counsel for the Hevron community, has stated in a radio interview that media reports about “settler violence” are exaggerated. Indeed.

On Friday, the Jerusalem Post ran a photo of a group of people facing off against each other, in sort of crouching positions. The caption: “Settlers throw stones at Palestinians….”

Today, the Post ran a correction. Oops. This wasn’t a picture of stone-throwing, but rather a basketball game. How about that!

What fascinates me is not that the caption writer got it wrong with regard to this being an act of stone throwing, but that s/he knew that it was the Jews throwing the stones, since none were in evidence.


With regard to Ze’ev Brauda of Kiryat Arba, the man accused of the shooting, the situation was filmed by someone on the scene for B’Tselem — the ostensible human rights organization that is blatantly anti-Israel. B’Tselem has a history of doctoring film to make a case.

And it seems that Judge Malka Aviv, who remanded the suspect, raises her own questions about the B’Tselem footage, which she has seen:

“…there are a number question marks regarding the behavior of the people who were allegedly shot by the suspect; when they are seen getting up and proceeding to pelt the suspect with rocks. Further on in the clip one can also see the ‘evacuation’ of one of the casualties, whose shirt did not show any sign that he had been shot.”


Meanwhile, the Hevron Jewish Community Council has sent a letter of protest to local IDF commanders, protesting the implementation by the IDF and police of “collective punishment” on the Jews of Hevron:

“Time after time Jews suffer life-threatening attacks by Arabs as soldiers and police stand from afar and don’t act to stop the attacks or to enforce the law against Arab rioters, all while claiming that these are the instructions they have received.”

In its letter, the Council cited several instances of neglect by IDF and police.

“With all appreciation for the anger of the IDF and the police at the strikes on Arabs by Jews in recent days, we will not agree to a ‘price-tag’ policy of ‘collective punishment’ against the Jewish residents in the area.”


At last, everyone but everyone — with the single exception of our putative defense minister — admits that the “quiet” with regard to Gaza is over.

Over the weekend, some 20 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza.

Said the mayor of Ashkelon:

“We saw that when the defense minister wishes to show determination and resolve, he knows how to do that. He did it while handling the case of the house in Hebron. I would like to see the same determination when it comes to the rocket fire.”

Well, Barak has to want to show determination, and where the rockets are concerned, he isn’t interested. He is against a major operation into Gaza.


Things have gotten so bad that members of the Kadima party — partners with Barak’s Labor party in the current coalition — are calling for action.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in an attack on Barak at today’s Cabinet meeting, said:

“There is no cease-fire in Gaza. Anyone who calls this ‘calm’ doesn’t know what’s happening there. Whoever is responsible for security needs to act.”

She is calling for meetings between herself, Barak and Olmert to decide on new actions.

Shaul Mofaz, Transportation Minister, said in a radio interview — given from Washington DC — this morning that it’s time for a change in Israel’s policy with regard to Hamas. He believes a message must be sent to the terrorist organizations indicating that they’re not immune to a blow to their leadership or their infrastructure. Not a ground strike, he said, but some “new strategies.”

And Haim Ramon declared in an Army Radio interview today that:

“A strategic decision is needed, and regretfully it has not yet been made…We can’t continue with Hamas control in the Strip [as it is an] intolerable threat to the State of Israel.”

Ramon is also calling for targeting of Hamas infrastructure.


Aside from keeping crossings closed — which is totally ineffective as a deterrent — the only action being taken now against launching of rockets is attacks on the sites of the launchings. Fairly ineffective. Sometimes someone doing the launching is hit, sometimes not. The terrorists can always pull out another rocket from their huge supplies, and launch from elsewhere next time.

And here is something else that is despicable. According to one “official” cited by the Post :

“Now is not the time for a large-scale operation, although this could change the moment many people are killed in a Kassam attack.”

Wonderful. Let’s wait until people are killed first, to provide the rationale and get the nation stirred up –instead of making sure people are not killed. Why is “now not the time”? I would say because Barak’s afraid that getting bogged down in a prolonged operation might work against him in the election.


Here we go again: The Prisoner Release Committee (comprised of ministers) has given approval to Olmert for the release of 230 prisoners (not the original 250 proposed) from Fatah as a “goodwill gesture” for the holiday of Eid al-Adha (which commemorates the Islamic version of the Akeida, the sacrifice of Isaac, with Ishmael in their version). The release is scheduled for Tuesday.

There will be the usual protests, and attempts to block this via the courts — using evidence of other terrorists released who returned to terror. And then the court will give the go-ahead.

Along with this gesture come several others. The list was presented to PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad by Ehud Barak in Jerusalem today. It includes such things as a period of greater flexibility regarding which Palestinians can enter Israel to visit family.


Results are in from Labor’s primary, held last Thursday after an earlier false start because of malfunctioning computers. Ehud Barak at the top of the list is followed by Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Ophir Paz-Pines, Avishay Braverman, Shelly Yacimovich, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, Eitan Cabel, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Amir Peretz.

The party is doing so badly in the polls that there is no certainty that it will achieve as many as ten mandates so that all of those listed here will have seats.


Now we are headed into the Likud primary. There is no way for me to begin to list those running, so very large is the list of contenders. This is a complicated primary, with some candidates running on national slots — for whom everyone who is a member of Likud may vote — and regional slots for whom only those who are Likud members from designated geographical areas can vote. Additionally certain slots are reserved for newcomers, women, etc.

Enormous tension exists between Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Feiglin, head of the traditionally oriented and nationalist Manighut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the party. Netanyahu, who is trying to position himself and his party as centrist, is trying to squeeze him out.




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