Saturday, January 11, 2003
ELECTION NIGHT UPDATE
Well, there's lots of exciting things going on here. Headline of the evening: Arafat urges halt on attacks before January 28
elections.. This is the wording of the English Ha'aretz.
If you read the Ha'aretz report, you'll find the following statement reported:
In a Palestinian cabinet statement released Saturday, Arafat was quoted as saying he rejected "all acts of violence that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians"
Later in the article, they note:
Arafat also urged militants fighting in the uprising "to consider the national interest and not to be dragged in by Israeli provocations and escalations in this critical, sensitive time which the Middle East region is going through."
This is an edited of the statement as it appears in the Palestinian press (I have read the report appearing in the Authority's Ramallah newspaper Al-Ayyam). There we read:
"The Authority announces and confirms its rejection of all acts of violence that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians, and attacks against Israeli civilians have already caused considerable damage to our cause, both on the international level and on the level of Israeli public opinion and the peace forces within it.
The tone of the article is much stronger in the Arabic version than in Ha'aretz's reporting of it. Moreover, Ha'aretz removes the reference to the Israeli peace camp. This is clearly not co-incidental.
PUTTING THE CARDS ON THE TABLE>
Sharon appears to be in trouble, and has been forced to place documentation of his personal finances within the public realm. However, Sharon is not the only public figure under investigation. Weitzman's dealings were never fully discussed in the public arena, and Barak's fictitious Non-Profit Making organisations are still under discussion. Vote buying in the Labour Central Committee is still under investigation, and we haven't heard the last word on Yossi Beilin's European funding, or Mitznah's alleged back-handers from Haifa property developers. Not to mention Labour-beloved Ginnosar and his handling of Arafat's ill-gotten gains.
I think that in these circumstances, there's only one thing for it: all politicians under suspicion will have to present his or her personal accounts for public scrutiny, including all external sources of funding. This should prove to be of interest to the Israeli public, and will doubtless raise a good few eyebrows regarding the income of our public leaders. It will be particularly interesting to see how much money socialist leaders such as Beilin are making and spending every year. All those secret meetings and conferences abroad must be quite expensive, I imagine.
On the subject of Beilin’s secret meetings, his illegal meetings and agreements with PLO figures in the early 1990s have still not been investigated. Beilin, who was not a member of the government and not acting on official business, held negotiations with PLO leaders prior to the Israeli elections that brought Rabin to power. This was a criminal offense, but has somehow escaped the Attorney General's attention. It would be nice to get all these corruptions investigated once and for all.
By the letter of the law, Cheshin may well have been correct to cut off Sharon's broadcast. But was it wise? As Dickens wrote, sometimes "the law is a ass". Cheshin could have allowed the broadcast to run and then deducted the "propaganda time" from the Likud broadcasts. Instead, he "proved" to a large proportion of the Israeli voting population that the judiciary in this country is "left-wing", and ultimately undermined the rule of law.
Similarly, the Israeli news services have been reporting that the Central Election Committee has banned an election broadcast by the Arab party "Raam" because it contained words of support for the Intifada. I think it should have been broadcast, and then all those involved in its production arrested and charged with incitement to murder, treason, etc. After all, that's what would happen if an ordinary citizen were to call for violent attacks against another individual. I'm sure that the whole incident will just be dropped in the end.
RESPONSES TO: RIBBITYFROG-AT-NETSCAPE-NET
Friday, January 10, 2003
I have been thinking that the entire arms embargo story was something of a set-up. The British foreign office leak a story to the effect that the British government are considering imposing an arms embargo on Israel. (In fact, no real decision was ever made to that effect.) Mitznah is then invited to Britain, and allowed to ask that the embargo be lifted. As a "special favour" to Mitznah, Blair states that will look into it. Mitznah returns from England with a diplomatic success, and proves that he can deal with the British better than Sharon can, by solving a crisis invented to give him such a success. This is supposed to detract from the fact that he has no foreign policy experience.
This morning's Al-Ayyam (Arafat's official mouthpiece in Ramallah) naturally contains a delighted report on Sharon's problems. The second top story on the website bears the headline:
(1st line Small letters:) The Election Committee Stops the Broadcast of his "Propagandist" Press Conference
The article itself claims to be from an AFP report, but since the French-language search engines are not as powerful as the English-language ones I have not yet managed to track down the original report and compare them.
However, even the headline is somewhat amusing. After all, Arafat and his cronies are amongst the most corrupt leaders in the world, they haven't held an election in years, and nobody would dare cut off Arafat because he'd have them killed.
In the meantime, Mitznah continues with his embarrassing charade in which he pretends that he is going to be Israels next PM (it seems more likely that Tommy Lapid will be!), aided and abetted by British PM's "Lionel" Blair and the Ha'aretz Newspaper. Look at these classic quotations, taken Mitznah's propaganda sheet, Ha'aretz:
"We discussed ways to end the conflict and agreed on the need to renew negotiations at the same time as fighting terror," Mitzna said. "We need to try again to reach an agreement."
Yes, that's right, Lionel and Amram are going to be walking hand in hand down the Embankment, taking a swift jaunt from Westminster to St Pauls while each compliments the other about how terribly right they are. Why, Lionel even offered Amram that he'll provide ejector seats for him and his future Labour government, just in case they need them.
Meanwhile, Britain is annoyed at Israel for preventing the Palestinian delegation from reaching London for the so-called reform conference:
Diplomatic sources in London told Haaretz that Blair is furious over Sharon's decision and considers it "a slap in the face."
Whereas the British government's behaviour, such as sending an ambassador who makes rude comments about the country, or refusing to meet with the democratically elected government's Foreign Minister while meeting with an unelected Prime-Ministerial candidate in the middle of an election campaign, is regarded in Israel as a compliment.
They said Sharon had reservations about the conference from the moment he heard of it and they believe he was looking for any excuse to torpedo it. "But en route he left Blair with egg on his face and this could take a heavy toll on ties between the two countries," one source said.
Oh how sorry I feel for eggy-faced Blair, especially after he dealt with the Israeli election campaign so even-handedly.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
CUT OFF IN HIS PRIME
Well, the PM had some strong things to say about the Labour Party tonight, but we didn't get to hear the full report of his version, because Michael Heshin decided that the broadcast was election propaganda and cut him off in the middle. So the most important single speech of the election campaign has not been broadcast because of a ludicrous decision that the Public's Right to Know is secondary to a fear of broadcasting election propaganda. Immediately after the report, Channel One put on Abraham Burg (known as "Son of Burg"). For some reason, what he had to say isn't election propaganda. Ridiculous.
TONIGHTS THE NIGHT
It seems that tonight's press conference will be crucial for Ariel Sharon to save his candidacy and to present to the public his side of scandal that is threatening to bring him down. It will then be up to the public to see whether they believe him. However, Yossi Sarid is being wholly disingenuous when he states that Rabin did not hide behind his wife during the scandal that brought and end to his first stint as Prime Minister. In fact, it was only when Rabin was informed that he would indicted if he did not resign (the implication being that he would not be indicted if he took the quiet way out) that he finally stepped down. Journalist Dan Margalit, who exposed the Rabin scandal, has written on several occasions about the myth of Rabin's "righteous behaviour" at that time. Now Sarid has revived this myth of the Righteous Sinner to attack Sharon. It's just another pathetic attempt to re-write history.
FROG GOES HIGH-TECH
After many months of high phone-bills and slow connections, Frog has just gone high-tech with an ADSL connection. I hope that this means more info, faster. I fear that it probably also means less work done. There goes the Froggy promotion (I can always blame discrimination against Frogs).
Tuesday, January 07, 2003
ALL IS NOW CLEAR
Al-Jazeera have finally presented their version of the story. Their journalist was arrested by the Palestinian Security Forces and questioned about an interview he held with a senior member of the Al-Aqsa Brigades (Fatah) in which the Al-Aqsa leader said his movement was responsible for the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv and that such attacks would continue. I stress this because it is mentioned in today's story on the Al-Jazeera website, which means that they are sticking by this story in spite of pressure from the PA.
The article also mentions that the Palestinians shut down the Al-Jazeera offices in Gaza on 21 March 2001 after Al-Jazeera announced it would be broadcasting a documentary on the Lebanese civil war. Al-Jazeera states that the PNA said it contains insults to the Palestinian leadership.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you...
Monday, January 06, 2003
NOW I'M CONFUSED
This report says the Palestinians say that the Israelis have arrested the Al-Jazeera journalist! And yet, as far as I can see, still no comment from Al-Jazeera itself. Very strange.
LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED...
The PA has now arrested the Al-Jazeera journalist who reported that the Fatah was responsible for yesterday's bombing, according to this report. Remarkably, although Al-Jazeera are sticking by their story, they have not reported the arrest of their journalist!
Al-Jazeera is reporting this morning that the Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades now deny having carried out yesterdays massacre in Tel-Aviv, even though they had already taken responsibility and named the bombers!
It seems that the association of such a massacre with the PNA's leading faction is too damaging even for them. They may also be worried that this could be used to justify getting rid of Arafat. Finally, the "cat and mouse" game of accepting responsibility and then denying it - the Hamas and Jihad did the same - is an old Palestinian trick aimed at claiming the "glory" of the attack but avoiding Israeli reprisals. The trick is almost invariably unsuccessful because Israel catches the culprits in the end.
MITZNAH AND BLAIR
I cannot possibly imagine why the British Prime Minister would refuse to meet with the Israeli Foreign Minister, but happily invite the mayor of a third-rate Israeli industrial town to visit 10 Downing Street, particularly when all the polls reveal that that mayor is NOT going to be fulfilling any significant role in the next few years. Since I couldn't imagine that the fair British Labour Party would intervene in a foreign country's elections (particularly given their tremendous anger when Reagan did the same trick with his buddy Thatcher against Labour Party candidate Neil Kinnock), I am entirely puzzled by the move.
Mitznah described Sharon as the Head of the Mafia. Maybe Mitznah should watch it - he might wake up one morning to find Arafat's head at the end of his bed.