Tal G. in Jerusalem - Letters etc.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Response to "Cynical Joe":


>I read in Haaretz the other day that 59% of Israelis were in favor of evacuating Netzarim. If 41% of Israelis are in favor of holding onto >settlements in the middle of Gaza, what percentage is going to vote for the evacuation of any settlement in the West Bank?

Did the poll ask about "now"? Or "under any circumstances"? Probably the former.

>Israeli minds seem to be closing on this issue,

On the contrary, I think people's opinions are remarkably static. That's one reason that there's less to blog about these days.

>if anyone even has the temerity to even discuss peace (Geneva accord) they are shouted down as appeasers, as disloyal, as idiotic.

Joe, I've written a lot about 'Geneva' and what people think about it (see below and the archives) - what you are saying is an unfair caricature. Noone had any objection to the Ayalon/Nusseibeh initiative.

> As doubt appears to creep into the IDF (pilot refuseniks, Yaalom), the group that has to keep up the oppression, the public demands that
>no protest be brooked, and to carry out the orders no matter how ultimately self-destructive they will be to Israel.

Again this is a caricature that's hard to respond to. I have respect for Yaalon, but not for the pilots - I didn't blog much on these issues due to being personally busy. They have a right to self-expression, but self-expression has consequences. But you take it as self-evident that these people are correct, which I think is a bit of a stretch since you are in Canada. I will try to write something about the pilots if I have time, but I think I linked to an article by Amir Oren that I largely agreed with.

>Two things seem to me to be constants. Peace never gets closer, Settlements never get smaller.

>I previously thought that Israel would
>trade the settlements for peace, that they were simply negotiating chips, but there never is any negotiating,

Rather: there hasn't been any since Camp David (or perhaps Taba)

>Israel will never negotiate
>under attack, but hasn't Israel been 'under attack' since '67 (or '48)?

I really don't understand your point here. At the current moment there are low-key discussions going on between the Israeli gov't and the PA. But 'Geneva'-type discussions are pointless until there is a Palestinian gov't that has at least a minimal amount of credibility.

>The simple facts are that in some ways you can't turn back the clock, if you rip up an olive grove to disrupt militants, what do you do with
>the olive farmers? They become unemployed, landless, disillusioned and radicalized.

>Then Israelis can't understand why most palestinians are in favor of terror, when 41% of them want to stay in Netzarim.
Sigh. We understand why they are in favor of terror, and know that withdrawing from Netzarim now won't affect anything.

>In Lilla's article
>about europe/zionism/and nation states, he informs his readers that moral corners may have been cut by Israel but it is not an established
>nation, but a young one still struggling and thus deserving of understanding if mistakes are made.

>But what then of Palestinians? People who would love to have a state of their own, who have lost control of their lives and land, what >accomodation should we make for their motives and actions? Should we judge them against the norms and standards of Western >democracies, against the standard of democratic Israel? or the example of other Arab nation states?

This argument was the assumption of Oslo, and especially Camp David/Taba. But these days the issue is exclusively pragmatic.
The PA controlled a lot of the West Bank. They used it to send in suicide bombers on a daily basis into Israel. The IDF went in
and reconquered the West Bank. If the IDF leaves, the Palis will do the same thing all over again. They don't claim differently.
Believing otherwise is the definition of insanity.

Lilla said lots of things about the Euros that are pretty interesting (and more original).

>You know what, maybe the Geneva accord is a huge waste of time and paper, but what are
>the SUBSTANTIVE criticisms of the thing

OK. As I've written before, Beilin and co. said they were going to mail it to everyone, but they never did. Instead they're running around the Europe trying to get the French and Belgians to ram it down our throats. Based on news reports, the biggest problems in my opinion are: 1) the ambiguity about the solution to the refugee problem which I wrote about below. Some have interpreted the contradiction to mean that Israel really has no requirement to accept any refugees at all, but Palestinian sources immediately rejected that interpretation. 2) border crossings are to be managed by "international forces". These would bend over backwards so as not to offend the Palis or the terrorist groups - just as UNIFIL does with Hezbullah 3) all disputes are to be resolved by an international authority. This would probably be about as fair as the UN's anti-racism conference in Durban 4) Israel is supposed to pay some amount of compensation for Pali suffering, but the amount is TBD.

>what are the compromises that Israel is prepared to make, and please don't tell me that they're willing to go back to pre Intifada times of
>benign occupation,

Who ever said that? There's probably a hypothetical consensus in favor of the Camp David proposal or variations thereon (though not Taba because of the refugees issue). Obviously the Pali response of the past 3 yrs. has made people extremely cautious about even that. Bret Stephens of Jpost said that if the Israel-Pali border could be like the border with Jordan, he'd be in favor of relinquishing 95% of the West Bank; and if it could be like the US-Canada border, he'd be in favor of relinquishing 100%. The Clinton/Camp David proposal assumed a US-Canada kind of goodwill which even then did not look realistic. But anyone sane can see that without a drastic change in the PA, the Israel-Pali border would resemble the Israel-Lebanon border before 1982. The line that "once they get part of what they demand, they'll change" is always assumed, but never argued for.

>what can Israel do to get a Palestinian state established and then what can Israel do to make sure that Palestinian
>state THRIVES, that is the way to a better Israel.

I think you've hit an important point in that many liberals feel that Israel has the duty to do these 2 nearly impossible tasks. If the Palis aren't willing to do things like establish civil order, there's a limited amount that Israel can do to encourage it. Israel can't do for the Palis what the US is attempting in Iraq.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Translated from yesterday's Yediot Ahronot(Hebrew). Note that the original interview was probably conducted in English:

I'm fed up with funding Arafat's terror

by Ronen Bergman

"I need Zimeray's investigative committee like a hole in the head". That's how Chris Patten, the British diplomat, former governor of Hong Kong, and current EU external affairs commissioner - started [a speech] last week.

Each week Patten dedicates much time to considerations and sharp attacks against his main opponent of these days - the French Socialist parliamentarian and lawyer Francois Zimeray. It's always the same topic that the two are disputing: the Palestinian Authority - each week from a different angle.

A visitor from another planet reviewing the minutes of the most recent meetings of the EU's Finance and External Affairs committees would be lead to the conclusion that the only places on the planet {ie. outside the EU] are Israel and the Palestinian Authority. In the most recent meeting, for example, out of 2 hours there were one hour and fifty minutes devoted to the topic.

Since the outbreak of the intifada, Zimeray has stood almost alone in the Israel's most difficult diplomatic arena - the EU. Israel's few supporters have gradually abandoned him, and only he is left in the battle that appears - from outside at least - to be Sisyphean and futile. Most European states and institutions take a firm pro-Palestinian stance, and don't allow facts to confuse them or alter their stance.

Between Ethics and Terror

This time the European Parliament is experiencing Zimeray's request to immediately establish a special committee of investigation, which will attempt to locate the cash that the EU has transferred to the Palestinian Authority - about 4 billion dollars worth since the PA's establishment.

Zimeray does not intend to give up. Patten, the official overseeing the transfer of funds [to the PA] and the one being accused [by Zimeray], said he has no intention to address the issue. Regardless, said [Patten], Zimeray only obtained 50 of the 172 signatures necessary to bring the issue up for a vote before the full parliament. When it became clear that Zimeray, with the assistance of his hard-working assistant Shira Ansky (a personally imported Israeli), had actually obtained 110 signatures, [Patten] changed tactics and angrily announced that he would regard the establishment of an investigative committee as a vote of non-confidence on himself and his performance.

But Zimeray reiterated his demand. "I can't sleep at night and I'm struck with nausea due to the EU's behaviour. Why must I, and other taxpayers in the European community be forced to finance Arafat's terror? And if the news from last week is correct, there's also no reason that I should be paying the fees of Yossi Ginosar".

"What I've been talking about all this time has [now] become apparent to everyone. I want to know which funds went to the PA's Swiss bank account, and why European cash - which was supposed to benefit the Palestinian people, who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition - was secretly moved back to Europe."

"Patten and I have different definitions of the term 'moral'. Europe, in my opinion, has lost its [sense of] morality in its approach to the conflict in the Middle East. It's impossible to justify terror by using the term 'occupation'. Published just now was a collection of Albert Camus' essays on terror. Camus correctly says that there's nothing in the world that permits apologetics in relation to acts of terror and killings of innocent citizens. The European Parliament is, I'm sorry to say, attempting to do just that."

Setting up an investigative committee is an unusual action in the European Parliament. Zimeray knows this, as does Patten. That's the reason that [Patten] with a most senior and central role [in the Parliament] extends himself to make personal connections with many Parliamentarians in order to dissuade them from signing Zimeray's petition. The assumption of [Patten's] work is that in closed conversations it's easy to say "No" to the petition - but when the issue arises for debate it's hard for the representatives to vote against a request to investigate suspicious and [potentially] corrupt transfers of funds. Parliamentarians, regardless of their personal views, have constituents who pay taxes.

I pay their salaries

This week, in a special interview with Yediot Ahronot during a short trip to Israel, Zimeray said that he came to the conclusion that there was no downside [minus] to setting up a broad investigative commission, because all other efforts to to get detailed information, or to get [specific] institutions to do the investigative work, simply failed. "The EU continues to transfer funds to the Palestinian Authority without constraints and without the necessary transparency.

"If it weren't my money, I wouldn't have the right to make inquiries to the PA, but I'm the one who pays salaries to the police and the teachers. I want to ensure that the policeman isn't involved in terror, and that the teacher isn't spreading anti-Jewish and anti-semitic hatred or giving lectures that support suicide bombings."

Zimeray is a leftist Socialist, who maintains more than a bit of criticism for various actions of the Israeli government. He also says that he is not a big admirer of Prime Minister Sharon - but he demands that the Palestinians and Israel receive "value-equal" treatment. The situation on the ground, he says, is far from this. Israel's [diplomatic] position is deteriorating - amidst strategic damages [to its diplomatic position]. Things have reached the point where - for the present only in private - some Parliament members say that the establishment of the state of Israel was a historic error.

"The obvious problem first of all is antisemitism, which has roots in Europe for 2000 years and keeps coming up from underground. Since the Vatican announced that the Jews did not kill Jesus, noone can raise that claim. But they can say that Israel kills children in Bethlehem - and the connection is clear to everyone.

"But, were it only that I could explain it all through the prism of the resurrection of antisemitism. To my dismay, we're talking about something much deeper and more complicated. The anti-semites are a minority among those who condemn Israel. The problem is that with each meeting, the European Parliament progresses further and further in its anti-Israeli stance.

"One of the harshest examples is the cancellation of the agreements of economic cooperation between the EU and Israel. We're not talking about a ritual or symbolic step, design to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians. It's a substantive sanction and a real attempt to negatively impact daily life in Israel.

"Cooperation agreements deal with numerous fields including economics, taxes, research, medicine and others. With due respect to the US, Europe is Israel's #1 trading partner. And against whom have the sanction been applied til today? Serbia, Nigeria, Sudan and Togo? They signed economic cooperative agreements with Syria and that major democracy Libya. Just this week they signed also with Lebanon ...

Europe's Complexes

"The Europeans don't understand Israel. In the modern and shallow world it's difficult to explain complicated issues. If you don't have a clear interest to acquire a deep understanding of a specific subject, it's easy to remain superficial and accept the picture presented to you by the media. And in that arena Israel loses.

"We, the Europeans, endure comparable feelings of guilt regarding the Jews and regarding the Arabs. On the one hand the Holocaust and the fact that European nations were complicit in it or didn't do enough to prevent it.

"On the other hand, for us it's easy to think that the victims of yesterday are the criminals of today. If those who suffered from today cause the same suffering to other people, maybe we're not so wicked.

"It's important to pay attention to the terminology that they use in Europe regarding the Middle East conflict and where the words come from. This conflict causes us to recall our history... to the Portuguese: Angola, to the Belgians: Congo, to the French: Algeria

[to be continued].

Thursday, August 29, 2002

What follows is an email exchange with a reader..

From: xxxxxx@aol.com
To: telly_o@softhome.net
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 10:32:04 EDT
Subject: Donahue

I am a 50 yo Jewish backround social worker from Northern California. I was touched to tears by your appearance on Donahue.... I believe that you are very much on target with your approach.

I wish you and your wife good luck and good life in your struggle to help heal this inflamed world that we live in. We are starting to learn the history of that region more fully as the crisis calls our attention there.

It is complex and deeply laden with fear especially for people of Jewish backround who have been thoroughly warned about antisemitism in the world. The world needs to restructure how it sees religions that speak to territorial mandates and special priviledges.....

That is a tall order! I would ask you to be careful re your welfare and focus more on educating all of us , rather than getting within the gunrange of the soldiers. You are more of an asset to the future alive with all you intelligence and knowledge, than a dead martyr who will be quickly forgotten and ideologically dismissed by 99% of the people. With all that said, thank you for what you and your wife are doing!

From: telly_o@softhome.net
To: xxxxxx@aol.com
Subject: Re: Donahue

Hello there,

Thank you for your msg.

However, I don't think that my wife and I are the people who you saw on the Donahue show.

Who is it that you are looking for?

From: xxxxxxxx@aol.com
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 10:22:53 EDT
Subject: Re: Donahue

Thanks for writing back.....I was talking about Adam Shapiro.... I thought your page was "his".....Hm......lol....

Sunday, June 23, 2002

From Maariv (June 24, 2002) [Click here for Hebrew article/photo]
Translation by Ester


This is how the graduation ceremony goes at the kindergartens of the "Islamic Charitable Association" in Gaza

By Jackie Hugi

Kindergartens in Gaza teach children Jihad against Israel, justification of the Ramallah lynching [in Oct 2000], admiration of the Hizbullah, and the continuation of the Intifada. The children receive these lessons in Israel-hatred at the independently-run education network of the "Islamic Charitable Association", which is responsible for the education of some 5000 children.

At the graduation ceremony of one of the most recent kindergarten classes, the children burned the Israeli flag and cried: "In the name of the Shahid (martyr) Mohammed al-dura and the Shahida, the infant Iman al-Haju, we promise to continue with the Jihad, the resistance and the Intifada". One of the girls raised her hands high, hands dipped in red paint, in the manner of one of the perpetrators of the Ramallah lynching, whose hands were covered in blood. One boy, dressed as the secretary-general of the Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah, made a speech in which he said: "The Palestinians will not be alone in their battle against Zionism. Hizbullah is with them, always" - which earned him much applause. Children carried toy rifles, and some had Keffiyehs over their faces.

An internal document of the (Israeli) Government Operations Coordinator in the territories, which came out recently, analyzed the expressions of hostility in the Association's kindergartens. The document determines that the Islamic Association's network of kindergartens serves as a firm base to incite young children against Israel. The document warns that these kindergartens constitute for the Hamas the ideological basis for future suicide bombers.

The Association's website documents the ceremony of the 11th class to graduate these kindergartens. Participating at the ceremony, which took place at the Shati refugee camp on the Gaza coast, were 1650 children and thousands of adults.

The children were dressed in army fatigues. Around the podium where the ceremony took place hung flags of Hizballah and the Islamic Association, pictures of martyred children, and slogan. One of the latter cried: "The blood of the children and the martyred of Palestine will be a curse to haunt to Zionist criminals".

The ceremony started with the reading out loud of passages from the Koran by one of the children. Afterwards, a platoon of five-year-olds staged a military parade, armed with plastic rifles. Two of the children carried a model of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. One of the marchers stopped and cried, "Do Sharon's tanks, missiles and mortars frighten you?". His friends answered in unison: "No, no". He continued: "The Zionist bombings do not frighten us. Our people will not bend". Later, the children burned the Israeli flag, and one child impersonated Hamas' leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

The Islamic Association of Gaza is the largest charitable organization in the Gaza Strip of the religious stream. It was founded 26 years ago, and at its head is Sheikh Ahmed Bahar, a member of Hamas. It operates tens of kindergartens in Gaza, helps needy families and orphans, and supports poor students and martyrs' children. Additionally, the Association facilitates blood donations, operates a medical clinic for a nominal fee, and also a sports club, best known for its successful volleyball team.

The Association subsists upon donations and the nominal dues of its members.

Last year, their institutions were visited by representatives of a Swedish NGO and of an South African Islamic delegation. Non-profit organizations in Italy and the US donated computers and VCRs.

Sheikh Bahar said at the ceremony that he places the responisbilty on the shoulders of the Palestinian mothers to "Raise the children on the teachings of Islam, love of Jerusalem and Palestine, and love of Jihad and resistance"

Thursday, May 30, 2002

From Texas:

{...personal info omitted ... }

So, on to my questions:

1) Do you think that Israel would have survived until now without US aid? Do you think that Israel would continue to survive if the US withdrew all of its financial and military aid? If the answer to either of those is "no," can you explain why I, as an American with American values, should support a state that is based on religion and ethnicity?

2) It is a widespread view among Americans that the real momentum towards peace was broken not by the breaking of a cease-fire, but by the assassination of Rabin. Is this view held at all by any Israelis?

3) If the Palestinian terrorists laid down their weapons and pursued a righteous path of civil, non-violent resistance (in the tradition of Ghandi), and this eventually resulted in a political solution to the differences between your two people, would the hard-line right wing in your country allow that solution to be implemented? Or would people like the Rabin assassin take up arms against it? That might sound like nothing but a pointless, hypothetical question if you believe the Palestinians will never abandon their violent ways, but it is a hypothetical question with a very real point.

4) I confess that a lot of my misgivings about Israel came to the forefront when y'all elected Ariel Sharon. To me, it seems like Sharon's trip to the mosque at the Temple Mount was the spark (if not the cause) of the final breakdown in the peace process. The fact that the Israelis subsequently elected him sure made it look (to me) like there were a whole lot of Israelis who had given up on peace. What do you think about Sharon?

Thanks for your email. I like to get interesting questions - and also hear from people who don't necessarily agree with me.

Your questions are quite broad. I ended up writing a lot more than I thought I would and hope I address your basic points.

1. Israel is the Jewish state in several respects: linguistic, cultural, religious, historical (I wouldn't say 'ethnic'). It attempts (and basically succeeds I think) to tolerate various minorities - though it's not a "melting pot" for them. At the same time, Israel is a "melting pot" for Jews from Russia, Ethiopia etc who become "Israeli".

As a democratic "mixing pot" rather than a melting pot, Israel resembles India, Turkey, or Quebec - though of course all those comparisons are problematic.

You yourself might dream of John Lennon "Imagine" type of world community, but most of the world is happy being attached to its heritage and having a sense of extended community within a nation-state.

Currently, Israel is very much in need of American political support. As in the case of Taiwan, US support for Israel is based on shared ideals rather than raw realpolitik. And we appreciate that a great deal.

2. Israel's democracy is very solid and has had no problems carrying out controversial proposals in the past..

3. Rabin was succeeded by the even more dovish Shimon Peres. It was a series of suicide bombings in 1996 that gave Netanyahu an upset victory.

What we've seen has, in my view, demonstrated that the Oslo process was destined to failure from the outset.

4. Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount (not the Mosque) didn't "spark" 20 months of violence - the visit is rarely mentioned anymore here in fact.

After the failure of the Camp David talks I was expecting "spontaneous" violence to begin. I remember thinking about how surreal it was that Oslo was over, no solution was in sight, and yet a calm prevailed for a few weeks.

I would agree with you if you said that the election of Sharon indicated that Israel had given up on the Oslo process. Though it doesn't mean that Israelis gave up on the
notion of "peace". One of the most truly strange tics of the global media was its persistence in talking about the "peace process" long after it was clear that the Oslo
process was over.

For me, the peace process ended a couple of days after the Sharm-el-Sheikh agreements.(November 2000 or so??) These agreements included a ceasefire and the
institution of the Mitchell commission to "examine the events and how to prevent them from recurring". People here actually waited to see if this ceasefire would take hold. Of course it did not, though the Mitchell commission continued.

The peace process was really, really, really over when Palestinians lynched 3 Israeli soldiers in Ramallah.

If Ehud Barak, following the post-Camp David violence had said: "We tried, but we were wrong. Oslo was a noble attempt for peace that failed", I think he could
have been reelected. Instead he went to Taba and offered even more to Arafat without making any progress on the vital issues of "security" (stability is a better term), Jerusalem, and resettling descendents of 1948 Arab refugees.

Israelis, I think, didn't really want Sharon - but he was the alternative that there was. But he has been a positive surprise for a lot of people and I think a majority prefers him over Netanyahu.

Over the past few weeks, I've been exchanging emails with a fellow in Iceland. Initially he wrote (regarding Jenin):

Israelis are guilty of crimes against humanity.
Shooting POWs,women and children goes against
every rule the inernational community has signed.
Are we back to the Third Reich?

I responded with a detailed description of the events in Jenin as I was familiar with them and asked "Where do you get your information etc.". His response:
An Icelandic delegation that visited Jenin described the situation as
"destruction beond anything we have seen before".
They also noted the almost total absence of humanitarian
workers,"anywhere else the place would have been teeming with
people digging in the ruins,the stench of rotting corpses was
overwhelming".We europeans have access to a great number
of tv stations via satelite,and we have a free press,uncencored by
governments.The sentiment in this country and probably the
rest of europe is that Israel is doing a criminal thing ,fighting almost
unarmed citisens with tanks and artillery.
Europe is getting more and more anti-Israel and pro-muslim.This is a war
that Israel can only lose,if not on the
homefront,then in the rest of the world.

After some more exchanges, he writes:

Sorry,I was wrong about Jenin.This showes that all news should
be taken with a pinch of salt.If news agensies had had access to the
troublespot,such news would never have reached the headlines.Still,I am
worried over the treatment of civilians and prisoners.I have myself been
in warsones (not as combatant),and seen civilians,mostly women and
children,wounded and killed by warring parties.Not a nice thing to
see.Something I will never forget.

I will continue to follow the news in Palestine,but with a more critical

Sunday, May 05, 2002

After I wondered out loud about what people in the US and Europe were left thinking about the now-debunked "Jenin massacre", many of you emailed with what you were hearing around you.

You seem divided on the basic question of whether people who are busy and not-so-knowledgeable about the situation put much trust in the electronic media and Arab spokesmen.

Scanning bulletin boards like this one, leads me to believe, however, that the powerful images and breathless accusations of 14 days ago have created a lasting impression on many, many people.

I didn't hear much from Europe unfortunately... emails from Ireland and Holland sounded much like the ones below. But I think this fellow expresses a common European opinion.

From a reader in Southern California:

IMO the average American doesn't have the foggiest of opinions about recent events in Jenin, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. There's a great line from someone, "War is God's way of teaching geography to Americans." Americans read about the events you question, or see their aftermath on the evening news, but beyond that, it's too confusing and (even more important) too far away to spend much time thinking about.

I wouldn't worry too much about average American reaction to Jenin. The Palestianian massacre line hasn't caught hold with anyone other than the fringe left--the really fringe left. And they were eager to accept whatever pro-PA line was touted for the day.

The Bethlehem stand-off does grab some attention because it's been going on for a month and is on the tube almost nightly. But IDF actions don't seem extreme when everyone admits that 40-200 armed Palestinians are holed up inside. Israel's offer of either a trial or exile seems fair enough to average folks here, and the Palestinians are undercutting their own complaints by sending conflicting messages--on the one hand, Israel is using starvation to force a solution; on the other hand, Palestinians inside deny they're hostages. So what's preventing the hungry and ill among them from coming out???

From a reader in Philadelphia:

Most people just really don't understand the situation in the Middle East and just don't care to take the time to really learn about it. So they're left with what is presented to them on the local and national news, if they even watch either of those, which most people don't!

Anyway, the consensus, based on the very superficial information offered by major media outlets here, is 1) that Palestinians and Israelis are equally at fault, 2) that it's some sort of "apartheid-esque" situation, or 3) that they don't really care who's at fault they really just want it all to just stop. People here have this wishful thinking going on where they don't understand that the Arabs have a vested interest in continuing the violence, and so most Americans (while well-intentioned) seem to believe that if
Israel would just appease the Palestinians, all would be well. "Could you all please just be quiet over there, thanks much!" -- that sort of thinking.


Anyway. On Jenin specifically, people I talk to again feel there is "shared blame" -- that the IDF (they wouldn't know that term) probably killed some civilians but maybe not as many as was originally thought. Certainly most people don't really grasp why the operation was more merciful than our own US actions for the most part.

I'm Catholic, and with the Church of the Nativity thing -- sadly we're being told by our Church here that it's pretty much Israel's fault, that the people in there are starving innocents, etc. etc. However, at the moment the Church doesn't have a lot of credibility, due to the pedophilia scandal that's been the focus of our national news lately.

And most Americans wouldn't know what you were talking about if you mentioned Ramallah to them. lol.

In reality (not what the media presents) very few people in the mainstream support what the pseudo-intellectuals in academia are saying. I'd say their view is like 1 percent of what people think here. And yet that's all you see on the news!

From somewhere in the US:

Around my office, I'm always surprised when I hear people I would call liberal-lefties defend Israel's actions and refer to the Arab desire to drive the Jews into the sea. I've seen many polls in the press here and it seems to be about 75-80% favoring Israel's actions in the West Bank. Unless one seeks out in depth news, the media coverage is not too deep. The damage to property may seem excessive, but no one believes any massacres took place. Most Americans think Arab media spokesmen are liars and given to exaggeration. Abdul Rachman and Hanan Ashawi are on TV often and come across like babbling lunatics. On the Israeli side, Bibi N., Mark Regev, Dor Gold and Pincus Alon are quite good. It helps that they speak English with little or no accent. As in Europe, the press is to the left of most Americans and more pro-Palestinian.

From Oklahoma(the Bethlehem remark is a bit shocking):

Jenin: Most people here give little or no credibility to any Palestinian version of events. Opinions range from 'Good, the Israelis are doing the right thing' to apathetic 'It's not our problem.' For the most part, general approval. In my personal opinion, I admire the Israelis for going in on the ground, and think they've done a fine job - and I wish our President would've kept his mouth shut so you guys could clean things up thoroughly over there.

Ramallah: The prevailing opinion so far - 'Why is Arafat still alive? Isn't it time the Israelis offed him?' Folks around here don't think he has any control, don't trust him, and don't regard him well.

Bethlehem: 'Why don't the Israelis just storm the church and get those guys? It's just a church, we'll build another one.'

Granted, this is the part of America where gun ownership is very high, where a large portion of military recruits come from, etc. General opinion seems to strongly support Israel - either because we believe Israel is fighting the same fight as we are, or, from a more religious point of view, because Israel is intended to have the Holy Land.

From Florida:

...My non Jewish friends think Israel is hiding something by not letting the UN in.. They simply do not understand why Israel has a problem with that.. Also some feel sorry for the Palestinian's and think Israel is persecuting them. Of course they condemn the suicide bombings but think Israel is really at fault

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Some Email from Iran

After a Persian language portal linked to me, I received several emails from Iran. Here's one:

Dear Tal G
war is bad ,killing is very bad,
we had a bad war for 8 years I grown in war .
I saw terror and killing .
I dont like war or killing.
the Israeli military isn`t fighting .it is killing people and children.
I read and see every day .
it is not fair.
best rigards

This one has an articulateness that is struggling to break out of the English:

dear Tal G,
how r u ?i wish u r fine.beleive it or not i have never written to any
bloggers but when i saw your phrase with an exclamation mark !! i decided to
write you and tell what i think of your blog.
very simple template ,calm , charming by charming i mean when u see the
colours and fonts become eager to read and follow the points,very
informative and formal ,interesting for me :it was the first time that iwas
facing the ideas of an isreali guy please don't blame me here we are under
the bombardments of our governers the media all the time repeats the scenes
which palestinians are killed by israelis guards i know that it is not the
whole story i become sad when a jew or a muslim or above any races and
religions a humanbeing becomes dead u see terror breeds terror !!
at first it looks like a political column in a paper but when u go through
it ,becomes mixed with your ideas ,feelings like a diary . i appreciate
you man .

at the end let me tell u something we (iranian)inspite of our goverment
propagandas recognize israel as an old friend ,a friendship which goes to
The great CYRUS era .
i have a dream of a day ,days with peace and prosperity for all of
humanbeings sorry me for bothering your time.
with best wishes

This one came from a Canadian email address:

I am a 24 years old male from Iran.You don't need to
be astonished.It's not necessary for our people to
have the exact way of thinking of our government.I
think that's correct also in your country!
I have read your page and I think you are writing
fairly and that's very good.I think all of the wise
people of middle east(((pay attention: I said WISE
PEOPLE"))) are tired from war and they need some
peace, but there are still some silly people on the
both side who don't think like that.
Thank you & Good Luck.

One more (cryptic to me)

If only freedom could sing a song/small as a throat of a bird/no wall would remain wrecked anywhere/If only freedom could sing a song/small ,smaller even than a throat of a bird...
Be sure that history will vomit dictators!
your 21 years old friend,university student of environment & fishery