Ribbity Blog

baqqa mqarqra
A Frog's-eye view

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Tuesday, September 24, 2002

As warned, this frog is hopping off for a couple of weeks over the huge pond. Back on 10th October, when all the regular features will return.

Thanks for the interest and support so far,


Monday, September 23, 2002

Thanks to Peter Briffa of Public Interest for bringing my attention to this marvellous piece in London's "The Independent".

They have long memories in the Middle East. They can remember insults and atrocities from thousands of years ago,

Well, you know that primitive Middle-Eastern society. Personally, I'm still reeling over the words of Rav-Shakeh (see 2Kgs 18-19), the Assyrian bastard. Not like forgiving Europe, eh? After all, Britain and France haven't been at war with one another for years, and you see how much they love each other.

but they are incapable of learning the lessons of a few weeks past. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, seems to have forgotten the early summer of this year, when there was a suicide bomber every day.

The situation is worse than that, however, because the reality is that Mr Sharon remembers that period all too clearly. The trouble is that he assumes that the bombers have been restrained by his policy of smashing any possible site of Palestinian resistance and closing internal borders.

Well, actually, they have been. The number of successful suicide attacks has dropped tremendously since the "Defensive Shield" operation and its successor "Determined Path" began. Israelis are beginning to return to the streets. The Israeli economy is very very slowly starting to recover. Sharon remembers that period very well, as do all Israeli citizens who are disturbed by the mass-murder of their civilian population. And it wasn't the early summer; it was the spring. The bombing of the Park Hotel, which launched the Defensive Shield operation, took place on the night of 27th March. But then I wouldn't expect a leader-writer of The Independent to be bothered by facts.

Heavier repression tends to suppress an uprising in the short run, but, unless the causes are removed, is only likely to recruit new zealots to the ranks of people who proclaim themselves martyrs.

True, but totally irrelevant. In the short-term, civilians are being murdered, which requires an immediate response.

Worst of all is the stupidity of publicly humiliating the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat. Any reasonable observer will have his or her criticisms of Mr Arafat's duplicitous and weak leadership (even if those in positions of responsibility, apart from President Bush, will keep those opinions to themselves).

Why will they keep those opinions to themselves? Why do European leaders remain silent when they KNOW that Arafat has been encouraging terror, embezzling EU money, torturing his own citizens and has shown no inclination towards reaching a peaceful settlement with Israel. They have not remained equally silent in their criticisms of Sharon.

But the bulldozing of everything in his Ramallah compound except for his office can achieve nothing positive. Mr Sharon knows that it would be even more foolish to kill Mr Arafat, so he hopes to force him into exile instead. This amounts to an admission of Israeli failure.

Why is this an admission of failure? Perhaps it is a clear sign that Israel has weighed up the options available and chosen what they regard to be the best in the circumstances. It would be the easiest thing to kill Arafat, but the intelligence services advise against it.

It is now all but impossible for any moderate Palestinian to argue that there can be common ground with the Israeli government.

Well I'm sorry to hear that, because Israeli moderates have been finding it hard to find any common ground with the Palestinian leadership for several years. For example, we found it very hard to find common ground with Arafat's call for Jihad in South Africa back in '94. Nevertheless, we continued to withdraw. We had difficulty in dealing with the daily drive-by shootings carried out by Palestinian militias in the first-months of '95 that claimed many civilian lives. But we dismissed those as "victims of the peace" and continued with Oslo. We found it all but impossible to argue that there was any common ground with the Palestinian leadership's attitude towards murderous groups such as the Hamas during its bloody campaign in the early months of 1996. Even so, we withdrew from Hebron. We were challanged to respond positively to the constant murders and attacks following the failure of Camp David. But we went off to Taba to try negotiate a final status settlement.

The trampling of Ramallah amounts to, and will certainly be seen as, a deliberate insult to the entire Palestinian people.

Whereas the murder of Israeli civilians on buses is widely regarded amongst Israelis as a polite compliment. Similarly, the murder by Palestinian militias of several Israelis who enjoyed friendly relations with Arabs and were visiting them in their homes or restaurants was regarded as very complimentary, and not at all insulting. Because unlike Palestinian society, amongst Israelis it is of course not considered a deliberate insult to murder your neigbour's guests.

It makes Mr Arafat's replacement by a more statesmanlike leader vanishingly unlikely and ensures that a wounded and resentful people will fight back with the only weapon left to the powerless – their own lives.

Whereas until now, Palestinians have shown just such a desire and have refrained from terrorist attacks. And of course, we all know that The Powerless (those who belong to the International Union of Powerless Persons) all adopt the weapon of blowing themselves up and taking as many civilians with them as possible. Certainly, that's what the drug-adicts and teenage mothers lining the underpasses in London have been been doing of late. I seem to remember that during the Ethiopian drought the wealthy Western states were bombarded by suicide attacks by angry Africans with no hope left but to kill civilians.

The Israelis can be forgiven for reacting to the threat of suicide bombing with some ferocity,

Oh how very kind of you. We do hope that we have only used some ferocity, and not too much, after all, the suicide bombers only killed some of the people on the bus, not all of them.

but until they understand that there is no hope of lasting security unless they withdraw from illegally occupied Palestinian territory they are doomed to repeat the bloody mistakes of the recent past.

Well, sorry to trouble you with facts, but the surge of terror began when Israel withdrew from "illegally occupied Palestinian territory" and only died down again when that terrority was re-occupied. Also, we appreciate your even-handedness, and the wise apportioning of blame to the Palestine National Authority that didn't keep to any of its undertakings under the Olso Agreement, but was continually rewarded with further territory and Western financial support for its efforts. Fortunately, it is not Independent editorial writers who set Middle-Eastern, or even British, foreign policies.

Moreover, as a citizen of Israel, I can only assume that the Independent's forgiving attitude Arafat and his henchmen and its vitriolic attitude towards Israel is a deliberate insult to all Israelis. And we all know what deliberately insulted citizens are capable of doing....

Comments to RibbityFrog@netscape.net, or, if you feel inclined, to The Independent.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

kull al-ihtiraam ("bravo") to Gerard Russell, the Head of the Media and Outreach Unit of Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for being the first Western diplomat that I have seen interviewed in Arabic. Mr. Russell, as British as you can get (he looks like a member of the royal family), was interviewed today on the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera, and I have to say that I was impressed. Apart from a few "ya`ni"s (the Arabic equivalent of throwing "like" in to the middle of your sentences), he packed a pretty sharp Modern Standard Arabic (the form of Arabic used for journalistic purposes). You can see his picture and read his words on the East-West Record site. Incidentally, according to the site, he also gave an interview for Al-Mustaqbal, a Lebanese newspaper. As I have mentioned before, the Lebanese press tends to be much more accurate and less propaganda-orientated than its Palestinian counterpart.

Comments to: RibbityFrog@netscape.net


I have received messages asking me why I made reference to the United Snakes of America. The reason is two-fold: as a frog, I naturally relate best to other amphibious and reptillian life forms. The other reason is because I find it funny. I apologise if any snakes were offended.