:: Friday, March 26, 2004 ::
:: Tuesday, March 23, 2004 ::
I guess you might think this is funny if you thought of the whole issue as one big MacGuffin, instead of as a serious matter of US credibility.
:: Monday, March 22, 2004 ::
There was a conference here at the university on Sunday, in what will probably be an annual event for the forseeable future, for the 3rd consecutive March. This was one began with introductory remarks from David Roet, the Israel consul general for the US midwest region, and Donna Rosenthal, a journalist and author with years of experience working in Israel. Roet talked about the recent terrorist attacks, with some names and details about the victims. Rosenthal talked about things regarding Israeli life that rarely get covered amidst all the violence. Many journalists she talks to are pretty clueless about life in Israel and how small the country is, with a lot of them assuming that it's one of the biggest countries in the Middle East. She had an entertaining anecdote about speaking to some people who work at Intel in Jerusalem, sitting in the cafeteria with a strange mix of personalities: an orthodox woman whose husband doesn't work, an Arab Christian man, a male Russian immigrant with a long ponytail and earrings ("better than the ones I was wearing"), and a sexy woman with a tight miniskirt who was their boss.
I went to a talk by Roet about the security fence, where he showed some maps and talked about some facts and figures regarding the whole project. Then there was a presentation by Amos Guiora, originally an Ann Arbor native, and a Lt. Colonel currently in charge of the IDF School of Military Law. He demonstrated software that they're developing to train officers and soldiers about how international law relates to potential conflicts in the territories. They use clips from various movies (like Black Hawk Down, Platoon, even Kelly's Heroes with Clint Eastwood from 1970) to demonstrate conflicts, like how to deal with violent crowd situations. A lot of other countries are interested in using the software for their own militaries, and he recently demonstrated it for a conference of NATO officials.
The keynote speaker at the end of the day was Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, who talked about human rights issues in fighting terrorism. I didn't see that much of her talk, which I had hoped would be more interesting. The other talk I attended was by Elliot Chodoff of Mideast: On Target, which was excellent, as I expected from having seen one of his talks about a year and a half ago. His topic this time was terrorism and the Israeli-Arab conflict in particular. He explained that there are several dozen "hot warnings" coming in each day to the Israeli intelligence services, which means with specifics about who, what, when, and where (maybe not with the names of the people involved, but at least descriptions about appearance or clothing). The less specific warnings, like "there's going to be an attack somewhere in Tel-Aviv sometime next week," are too numerous to even deal with. Elliot also talked about how difficult it is to keep the security situation in Gaza under any sort of control, and that about half of Israel's available infantry is deployed there, with the other half spread around the significantly larger area that spans all of the other fronts (West Bank, borders with Lebanon, Syria, Egypt).
:: Sunday, March 21, 2004 ::
I think I'm inclined to agree with a lot of what former Mossad chief Danny Yatom says here:
Yasin was not only a religious and spiritual leader but also a military leader who determined the murderous nature of the Hamas’s attacks, a leader who was involved in many terrorist attacks. He continued to lead Hamas on the path of terror, after he was warned several times and even after an attempt on his life...
Killing these guys does have short-term diplomatic costs, and even though it's pretty hypocritical for anyone to demand that Israel refrain from targeting known murderers, that's the reality of the situation. All the force in the world won't alleviate the problems being intensified by things like further settlement expansion, with no end in sight on most of the core issues. I'm inclined to think that different leadership would alleviate the apparent need for these kinds of top-level targeted killings, even though I can't say that I oppose them in principle.
Killing Yasin will not stop the terrorism. In the short-term, it is likely to increase it. However, the attack could damage Hamas’s medium-range ability to perpetrate attacks and cause serious long-term damage...
As of this writing, the targeted killings should continue. We should continue pursuing terrorists. They will try to perpetrate attacks whenever they are able. Today, I support the decision to kill Yasin. Despite this, let me reiterate: Diplomatic initiative is the only way to prevent the conflict from attaining new heights of bloodshed and suffering. The initiative begins with the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and continues with negotiations with the Palestinians with the goal of reaching a peaceful settlement. The government of Israel, for its part, is completely avoiding the diplomatic side of the conflict.
Terrible way to end the season. Good thing I was at the Israel conference on campus today (more on that soon) and missed the game, I'd have been beside myself watching it happen.