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Your humble narrator is...
...a research analyst at a think tank in the Washington DC area. Born in Israel, raised in Kentucky, movie fanatic and sports nut.
My first-hand account of the Palestinian divestment conference at the U. of Michigan

:: Saturday, January 10, 2004 ::

Morris interview
So lots of people are linking to this interview with Benny Morris, which doesn't pull too many punches. As Lynn-B correctly notes, there's not much new here for those who've read his occasional public forays into this issue over the last few years. Just for comparison, here are some of the key bits from Morris interviews and articles since 2001.

From an interview in November 2001 in Yedioth Ahronoth:
Y.A.: "You are the man who revealed to the Israelis that they have responsibility for the refugee problem. Are you asking them to ignore what you revealed to them?"

Morris: "I revealed to the Israelis the truth of what happened in 1948, the historic facts. But the Arabs are the ones who started the fighting, they started the shootings. So why should I take responsibility? The Arabs started the war, they are responsible."
From Morris' Feb. 2002 article in the Guardian:
I spent the mid-1980s investigating what led to the creation of the refugee problem, publishing The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 in 1988. My conclusion, which angered many Israelis and undermined Zionist historiography, was that most of the refugees were a product of Zionist military action and, in smaller measure, of Israeli expulsion orders and Arab local leaders' urgings or orders to move out. Critics of Israel subsequently latched on to those findings that highlighted Israeli responsibility while ignoring the fact that the problem was a direct consequence of the war that the Palestinians - and, in their wake, the surrounding Arab states - had launched. And few noted that, in my concluding remarks, I had explained that the creation of the problem was "almost inevitable", given the Zionist aim of creating a Jewish state in a land largely populated by Arabs and given Arab resistance to the Zionist enterprise. The refugees were the inevitable by-product of an attempt to fit an ungainly square peg into an inhospitable round hole.
From the latest interview:
Benny Morris, for decades you have been researching the dark side of Zionism. You are an expert on the atrocities of 1948. In the end, do you in effect justify all this? Are you an advocate of the transfer of 1948?

"There is no justification for acts of rape. There is no justification for acts of massacre. Those are war crimes. But in certain conditions, expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."

We are talking about the killing of thousands of people, the destruction of an entire society.

"A society that aims to kill you forces you to destroy it. When the choice is between destroying or being destroyed, it's better to destroy."
So while the tone may be somewhat different in each case, the underlying ideas are basically the same.
11:51 AM
:: Thursday, January 08, 2004 ::
Who are these guys?
Interesting Ha'aretz article from today:
"The suicide bombings are a key element in the arena of the struggle between the Israelis and Palestinians," says a report by a Palestinian security service on the suicide bombings, "and an analysis of the circumstances of the timing and execution of the vast majority of the bombings, particularly the major ones conducted by the Hamas and Islamic Jihad, makes clear the timing was much more a purely political matter than a practical military one."

The authors of the report assume that the Hamas and Islamic Jihad are well-connected inside the Palestinian Authority with agents and elements who provide information based on knowledge of political developments, including inside information about negotiations with Israel, the U.S. and the international community, thus enabling the Hamas and Islamic Jihad to respond accordingly.

And the main objective of the two Islamic organizations is "the destruction of the PA and the creation of a governmental alternative that has the goal of negotiating under fire according to Hamas conditions, along the lines of the Hezbollah model."
None of this is news to me, but which "Palestinian security service" prepared this report? Is it meant for the public, or did Ha'aretz somehow see it when they weren't supposed to? It certainly goes against the grain of the classic "the Israeli assassinations made us do it" theory about the suicide bombings that has such an unfortunately widespread following in the world. Not to mention the "more negotiations leads to fewer suicide bombings" theory that pops up whenever negotiations aren't happening.

Some terrorism numbers from this other Ha'aretz item:
The number of terror attacks in 2003 dropped by 50 percent and the number of people killed in attacks dropped by 30 percent compared with the previous year, according to statistics published Thursday by the defense establishment.

In 2003, 213 Israelis were killed in terror attacks, 50 of them members of the security forces, compared with 451 Israelis who were killed in 2002.
Obviously, this has not sprung from any major new developments regarding a peace process, since there haven't been any. It's the inevitable result of Israeli military successes against the terrorist groups. Also, there were widespread reports about a reduction in incitement when Abu Mazen was prime minister for a few months, which probably had something to do with it as well. Naturally, there's no 100% solution for Israel by just applying force, but for people who say that the escalating use of force against terror has only made it worse, those numbers clearly indicate otherwise. This was already apparent to anyone who'd really been paying any sort of attention over the last couple of years--the number of major suicide bombings clearly went down in 2003 as compared to 2002--but the final stats tell the tale without any dispute.

As a final thought, I assume that the cited statistics refer to the number of successful terrorist attacks, not the ones attempted, which the various security services also try to keep track of. I don't know if they'll release cumulative totals of those numbers, but I doubt they went down by as much as 50% from 2002, probably less than that.
4:06 PM
:: Monday, January 05, 2004 ::
Election '04: one big logical fallacy?
Diana's post from yesterday about what turns out to be the fallacy of the excluded middle leads me to think that it might be an accurate characterization of the entire upcoming election, if it's Dean vs. Bush. Want a fiscal option in between Bush's gigantic tax cuts and Dean's complete repeal? Think we should have dealt with Iraq in some way that comes between Dean's blanket opposition to going to war over it, and Bush's dishonest mess that was supposedly based on a policy of "pre-emption" that we don't actually have? Welcome to the excluded middle. In the interest of honesty, I should of course re-emphasize that I'm a partisan hack who'll vote for whomever gets the Dem nomination.
9:05 PM

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