The botched military operation in the Palestinian village of Assira Shamali near Nablus should never have happened. Neither should the killing a week earlier of the mukhtar of the village of Surda, near Ramallah.
In both incidents Israel got a public relations blow, and in neither incident did it achieve its objectives. In Assira Israel lost three of its soldiers and the Palestinian they were searching for escaped leaving Islamic supporters to declare a major victory. In Surda, the elderly man killed, certainly not the one the Israelis intended to kill, is the uncle of the PLO’s Washington representative Hassan Abdel Rahman. US Secretary of State Madeline Albright called Abdel Rahman to express condolences. Continue Reading »
Travel in the Middle East is one of the best reflections of the politics of the area. What happens at airports, bridges and other ground crossing points is so indicative of the low level of respect that governments have for human beings. There are VIP tracks for politicians and businesspeople with connections to senior politicians. Special service is made for holders of foreign passports (a US passport is great so long as it doesn’t say in it born in Jerusalem). Tourists travelling in groups also have special services. When crossing the Erez checkpoint (called Beit Hanoun crossing by Palestinians or the Allenby Bridge (called King Hussein Bridge by Jordanians and Al Karam crossing by Palestinians) Jerusalem residents have special services — which is slightly better than that of Palestinians from the West Bank. Palestinians from Gaza get the worst deal. Continue Reading »
The grand mufti of Jerusalem didn’t have to reissue his fatwa (decree) to Palestinians living in Jerusalem not to accept Israeli citizenship, which he said, would ‘legitimize the Israeli occupation.’
Although the Israeli media has been exaggerating the fact that Palestinians are lining up asking for Israeli passports, the truth is far from that.
If the Ministry of Interior is correct 198 Palestinians applied for citizenship last year – and only 13 were approved. Although this number is said to be double the number the previous year, which stood at 98, these numbers are insignificant compared to the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, which according to the Israelis stands over 180,000. Continue Reading »
I have a confession to make. For some time I have watched and admired the rise of the Sephardic Jewish party Shas.
I have been a fan of former Shas leader Aryeh Deri ever since reading a long interview with him following his visit with spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to Egypt. In that interview not only was it clear that he was an astute politician but that he and Rabbi Yosef were genuine supporters of the peace process.
It was through following Shas that I realized most Jewish settlers are not from the Sephardic Jewish community and that the Shas leaders’ support for the peace process stems from the religious edict that it is better to save lives than to hold onto land. Continue Reading »