Israel-Palestine Conflict

Yusuf

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Parable of the Family with an Orphan
A large family takes in an orphan. The house is already crowded so the orphan must share an attic room with a child too weak to protest the intrusion. The parents give each of the two children half of the room but ask each child to share a beautiful cabinet, treasured by both. The parents take a long trip, leaving their strongest son in charge.

When the parents leave, other children in the family attack the orphan and try to get him to leave. The weakest child, in particular, fights unfairly. He waits for the orphan to sleep and then attacks him. The orphan wakes up each time and hurts the weak child; he also takes over more of the room, including the beautiful cabinet.

As the orphan continues to take over more of the room, the weak child continues to take revenge. The strongest son tries to bring peace and sometimes succeeds for short periods. The basic problem, however, is that each child believes that he should have the entire attic room to himself.

Finally, the parents return. They realize that they made a mistake by leaving home while there was such a difficult situation in the attic. They don't just ask the two children to stop fighting, however. Instead, they take immediate action.

The parents decide that the boys need temporary separation, something constructive to keep them busy, and careful supervision. The parents work with the two boys to build shelves and cabinets down the middle of the room, with private storage space for each boy on each side. They install plumbing so each side of the room has plenty of fresh water. Finally, when the crisis is over, the parents set up a way for the boys to share the beautiful cabinet.

The parents do more than just provide better space, however. They provide the love, kindness, and supervision that each child needs to do well. They also make sure that the other children support the solution.

Each boy reverts to his old behavior a few times, but the parents remove his privileges each time and the old behaviors stop. Besides, each boy becomes too busy pursuing his own goals to be distracted by fighting.

They lived happily ever after...with a few disagreements here and there.

The "large family" is the United Nations. The "orphan" is Israel. The "other children" are the Arab states. The "weakest son" is the Palestinian people. Attacking the orphan unfairly means "terrorist attacks." The "attic room" is the territory of Palestine before the United Nations carved Israel into it. The "beautiful cabinet" is Jerusalem.

The "strongest son" is the United States. Alas, there are no wise parents to supervise the boys. The UN Security Council has not been able to perform this essential role.

The "strongest son," therefore, must work with the "other children" to implement peace. If the "strongest son" and the "other children" work together effectively, then peace will spread throughout the entire family.

Recently, this has not happened. Instead, extremist Palestinians have engaged in bombings when Israelis agreed to work on peace. Extremist Israelis have engaged in assassinations or other acts of aggression when Palestinians agreed to work on peace. Israelis are swiftly completing a wall between Israel and Palestinian territory, but the wall is not on the 1967 border. Rather, it snakes into Palestinian territory to unlawfully take land and water rights from 200,000 Palestinians. Extremists from both sides have destroyed the peace process.

The Palestinian people are allowing extremists to lead them. The Israeli people are allowing extremists to lead them. As the violence keeps increasing, wisdom from any quarter would be welcome.


A Short History of Israeli and Palestinian Conflict
After World War II, the United Nations gave land to the Jewish people of the world so they could live together in peace. This land, Israel, includes holy places for the Jewish religion and is surrounded by Muslim countries. Palestinian Muslims lived on the land at the time that the United Nations gave it to the Jewish people.

Portions of the land given to the Jewish people, or taken over by them when they won wars against Arab states, are also holy for Muslims. Certain portions of Jerusalem controlled by Israel, called "East Jerusalem," are very important to Muslims. For religious reasons, Palestinian Muslims believe that they must gain control of East Jerusalem as part of any lasting peace settlement.

Further, Palestinians view themselves as living in an occupied nation, where invaders (Israelis) have placed them under military rule. To fight back, Palestinians have built a terrorist network to attack innocent Israeli civilians. Israelis feel they must continue to control Palestinians with military force to protect themselves against more terrorist attacks.

Palestinian View

Palestinians feel that they are not a free people because Israeli soldiers stop them at checkpoints between cities. Many Palestinians, therefore, must get Israeli approval each day to go to work, return home, go to the hospital, get groceries, or visit their own families. After a terrorist attack, soldiers sometimes refuse to let Palestinians through the checkpoints to get to work or other essential places, infuriating Palestinians even more. Further, Israelis control much of the Palestinian water supply and give Palestinians less access to water than they need. Palestinians feel humiliated and abused by the Israelis.

Another issue causing Palestinians great anger is that Israelis have continued to build settlements in Palestinian territory, illegally converting even more Palestinian territory into Israeli territory. Palestinians see the settlements as a sign that Israelis do not want peace.

In March and April of 2002, Israeli soldiers attempted to destroy Palestinian terrorist networks and attacked several of the largest Palestinian cities. In addition to attacking the terrorists, the Israeli soldiers destroyed much of the Palestinian government, including records, equipment, buildings, electricity supplies, water supplies, roads, and more. Palestinians see the attack as an Israeli attempt to keep them from ever having an independent state. In addition, representatives of international relief agencies, as well as Palestinians, accuse Israel of committing war crimes during this attack.


Palestinian Demands

Palestinians want Israel to comply with international law and retreat to the borders that existed in 1967.

Palestinians express this demand as four key conditions for peace, including:
A separate Palestinian state (with the same borders as were in 1967),
Palestinian control of East Jerusaleum,
Ending Israeli occupation of Palestinian terroritory, and
Freedom of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.
Isralis have occasionally discussed supporting a separate Palestinian state, but insist that it must be in the distant future. In addition, Israelis may not be willing to give up actual control of Palestinian territory for security reasons, even if Palestinian territory is eventually called an "independent state." Meanwhile, Israelis have continued to place Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, expanding Israeli territory at Palestinian expense. Palestinians no longer regard Israel as sincere in its negotiations for a separate state.

Regarding control of East Jerusalem, Ehud Barak, former leader of Israel, offered to negotiate the control of East Jerusaleum. This is something no other Israeli leader had offered and something the Israeli people did not want offered. In fact, Barak was removed from power partly because of the offer and was replaced by Ariel Sharon. Although Barak had offered to negotiate control of East Jerusalem and make other concessions, Palestinians were angry that all of the key conditions they considered essential for lasting peace had not been offered. Israelis were angry because they were told that most of the key conditions for peace had been offered and that Arafat had refused to negotiate.

Regarding the third Palestinian condition for peace, ending occupation of Palestinian territory, Israelis seem willing to do this--as long as Palestinian borders are redefined so that Israel can continue to control Palestinian movements through checkpoints between cities and other means. In other words, Israelis are willing to end the appearance of occupation but they are not willing to reduce their control over the Palestinians.

Barak may have offered real independence to Palestinians, but Israelis and Palestinians disagree about what Barak actually offered. The specific offer of restoration of Palestinian land has remained secret, so it is difficult to determine which side is correct. Palestinians claim that Barak's offer to return Palestinian land was not sincere and would have continued Israeli control of land between major Palestinian cities. Israelis claim that the Barak offer did not break up the Palestinian land and that Arafat's refusal to negotiate the offer means that he will never accept peace. Much of the current conflict rests with the different views of what was offered. Additional information on the offer and disagreements is provided here.

At about the same time as Barak's offer, Sharon deliberately provoked Palestinians by an act viewed by Muslims as extreme disrespect to their religion. Terrorist attacks by the Palestinians started in large measure in response to Sharon's actions. Israelis were then angry by Arafat's refusal to negotiate in good faith and by the resumption of terrorist attacks.

In short, Israelis believe that Barak offered Palestinians their land back and that Palestinians then responded with extreme violence. Palestinians believe that Barak offered no real freedom and that Israelis deliberately insulted their religion (Sharon's visit) and killed Palestinian protesters during negotiations.

The fourth demand of the Palestinians, for Palestinian refugees to have their land back, has not been solvable. If all of the Palestinians who lost their homes to the Israelis were allowed to return, then Israel would have more Palestinians than Israelis--ending Israel as a Jewish state. Israelis have not been willing to consider this as an option. Some Palestinians, however, vow to continue fighting until all Palestinian refugees can return to their former homeland. Negotiators have proposed that Israel allow Palestinian refugees to return to the West Bank and Gaza, but not to Israel. According to international law, the West Bank and Gaza are Palestinian territories and should be under the control of the Palestinians, not the Israelis.

Palestinian Compromise

If Israel retreats to 1967 borders and provides Palestinians with complete independence, will Palestinians stop terrorist attacks? As of March of 2006, the answer is "probably not." Although many Palestinians simply want an independent nation, others, such as the powerful Hamas organization, consider all of the territory called "Israel" to be part of Palestine. Hamas leaders have vowed to continue their terrorist campaign until their demands are met, including the destruction of Israel. Further, when Arafat failed to accept Barak's offer of a separate Palestinian state, many Israelis concluded that Arafat did not want peace. Arafat did not make a serious effort to stop Palestinian terrorism against Israelis.

International law is on the side of those who advocate for two independent states sharing the land that was called "Palestine" before 1948. However, recent violence against each side has been so vicious that the majority of people may be more interested in revenge than negotiations.

Israeli View

Israelis view Palestinian militants as terrorists who will not compromise to gain peace. Palestinian extremists have, in fact, engaged in terrorist acts against Israeli civilians when peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians seemed (to the Israelis) to be moving forward fairly. Because Palestinian terrorists attacked at key times, moderate Israeli leaders have been replaced by more extreme Israeli leaders who do not want to compromise. Israeli leaders do not trust Palestinian leaders to negotiate peace. Israelis do not feel safe enough to reduce their control of Palestinian territories.


Israeli Demands

Israelis want the Palestinians to stop the terrorist attacks.

Israelis have four key conditions for peace, including:
Palestinian borders that ensure continuing Israeli security from Palestinian attacks, not the 1967 borders,
Israeli control of all of Jerusalem,
Enough Israeli control within Palestinian territories to allow Israel to destroy terrorist networks, and
Prevention of Palestinian refugees from returning to their homelands
By comparing the Israeli demands with the Palestinian demands, one can see that the two sides are unlikely to find peace--the demands are completely contradictory. In addition, many Israelis believe that Israel is entitled to all of the Palestinian territories. Every time a compromise is reached, Israeli and Palestinian extremists work against it--often with violence.

Israeli Compromise

If Palestinians stop their terrorist attacks on Israelis, will Israelis retreat to 1967 borders and allow Palestinians complete independence? As of March of 2006, the answer is "definitely not." Although a majority of Israelis are willing to have their military leave the Palestinian territories, a powerful minority consider all of the territory currently called "Palestinian" to be part of Israel. They do not want to compromise or pull back. Instead, they want to keep expanding Israeli settlements into Palestinian territories.

Sharon, before entering a coma, began reducing the settlements. However, when Sharon talked about an independent state of Palestine, he meant a Palestinian state that is still under the control of Israel. Past proposals have, in fact, allowed Israel to maintain control over a new Palestinian state. Palestinians have not found such Israeli offers of "independence" acceptable. Now that Hamas won the last Palestinian election, Palestinians may be even less likely to compromise.

A Road to Peace

With hate so intense on both sides, and demands of each side so completely incompatible, peace will require very powerful outside intervention. The United States and Arab Nations, especially Saudi Arabia, need to join forces. Perhaps an international group, with the United States and Saudi Arabia as leaders, needs to negotiate where to put borders to ensure Israeli security and also Palestinian land integrity. Left to themselves, neither Israelis nor Palestinians can make a lasting agreement on borders. If an international group negotiates the borders, it will also need to determine how to separate the two sides. International forces will probably need to stand between Palestinians and Israelis for a long, long time. Israelis and Palestinians may even need a physical wall to separate them.

Israelis have destroyed much of the government and infrastructure of the Palestinians. The Palestinians will need a great deal of outside support to rebuild themselves into a separate nation. Without such support, the world will be facing "another Afghanistan" where anarchy will again breed terrorism.

Muslim nations will need to play a strong role in helping to build a new Palestine without terrorism. Muslim nations will need to help mentor new Palestinian leaders who do not support terrorism. Palestinians will need another type of leadership, other than Hamas, to build a new strategy for long-term peace.

The United States will need to use its influence to help Israel shape a new strategy also. Israel has had to mobilize for war, justifiably, since its beginning. It has had little peace. However, Israel elected a leader, Sharon, who was associated with a massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon. Electing a man known for brutality does not say much for the peace strategy of the Israeli people. If an international group insures Israel's security, Israel will need a different kind of leadership, as well as a new strategy for long-term peace. Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmer is following Sharon's path and Sharon is unlikely to return to leadership.

An outside group will also have to determine how to allocate water rights fairly between the Palestinians and Israelis. Without outside intervention, water wars are likely to erupt, even if the land borders are settled peacefully.

What ideas do you have to move us toward a lasting peace? It is very important to realize that the Muslim religion teaches peace and tolerance, not terrorism and war. In fact, the Muslim religion does not allow a person to commit suicide or hurt innocent people, even during war.
 

F-14

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the root of this problem of this conflit lies in the The Balfour Declaration of 1917 (dated 2 November 1917)

Foreign Office,
November 2nd, 1917.

Dear Lord Rothschild,
I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet:
"His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country".
I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely
Arthur James Balfour
 

Yusuf

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Methods of Fighting

The Palestinian people, led by Yasser Arafat until his death in 2004, are outraged by Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The Israeli leadership is continuing to use military force against protesters. Israel has one of the most advanced military forces in the world and the Palestinians have a very limited military capability. Most of those dying in the conflict have been Palestinians.

The method of fighting for each side is quite different. The Palestinians have no army and have used bombs against civilian men, women, and children to try to make the Israelis afraid for their personal safety. They expect the Iraelis to respond to the bombings by attacking the Palestinian people. When Israel does this, Palestinians hope that other countries will then help the Palestinian people and protect them from the Israelis.

The Palestinian bombers almost always die in the attacks, so the Israeli military then kills Palestinians suspected of planning the attacks. The Israeli military has killed or seriously injured many Palestinian civilians while pursuing terrorists. In addition, Israelis have damaged a great deal of Palestinian property during chases.

In short, each side is responding to the other by killing civilians--men, women, and children who are not part of the military. Each side is killing for revenge, as well as to meet its own goals. Each side is trying to convince the rest of the world that it is acting with high morality. Each side is creating a climate of violence and terror for their own children and grandchildren.

This is not a matter of two nations at war, however, since the Palestinians do not yet have a separate state. Israelis have the ability to kill or drive away most of the Palestinians, while the Palestinians do not have that power against the Israelis. This unequal contest may turn out badly for all of us unless the USA and others intervene effectively. If Palestinians continue to use terrorism to try to achieve their goals, and if Israel continues to use military force against the Palestinian people to combat terrorism, many other nations may find themselves involved against each other regarding the conflict.

The Water Issue

A concern of the Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab nations in the region is the water issue. Mikhail Gorbachev (former Premier of the Soviet Union) and Shimon Peres (former Prime Minister of Israel) noted that "More than anywhere else, the Middle East exemplifies the perils and possibilities created by the water crisis."

"In the past 10 years the various states in the Middle East have spent billions to acquire arms instead of building water pipelines or finding ways to conserve, clean and use water more efficiently on a shared, regional basis."

"We all know that deserts create poverty, and that poverty often leads to war -- especially when everyone is armed to the teeth. But missiles in an armed desert can't carry water any more than minefields can stop pollution from crossing borders."

"The alternative to another round of conflict, this time over water instead of land, is cooperation. Desalinization or joint management is cheaper than launching wars for rivers."

A recommendation by Jad Isaac of the Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem, includes a confidence building measure by the Israelis. He emphasizes that Gaza and West Bank Palestinians do not have sufficient access to water now and suggests that negotiations for peace include Israel making sufficient water available to the two areas.

Role of the USA

What is the role of the USA in this? Palestinians claim that the fighting has expanded partly because the USA has not influenced the Israeli government to use more restraint. The Israelis claim that the conflict has expanded because Palestinian leadership has not stopped the terrorism.

A plan was developed by a group of experts, led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, to find a path to peace. The leaders of the Israelis, Palestinians, and the United States accepted the plan. The plan requires for each side to stop attacking the other side and for each side to try to help the other side achieve what it wants most, one step at a time. However, both the Palestinians and Israelis have continued the fighting instead of actually following the plan.

Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia then proposed a plan in April (2002) that has the support of neighboring Arab states and is consistent with the Mitchell plan. It has the interest of the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. It includes full normalization of relationships with Israel by all Arab states and recognition of Israel as a state by all Arab states. In return, Israel must pull out of Palestinian territories, back to 1967 borders. It allows for compromise and negotiation on return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.

Both Israelis and Palestinians have asked the USA to help broker a peace process. Intervention by the USA did seem essential to gain a lasting peace, but now that the conflict has escalated, much more than the USA may be needed for an effective intervention.

The Bush administration is focused on combating terrorism, a method of fighting associated with Arafat. Arafat has not been very convincing in trying to stop terrorism. Evidence suggests that instead trying to stop it, he may have supported terrorism.

To complicate the situation even more, Israel has been accused of committing war crimes against Palestinians and will not let the United Nations investigate to see if the accusations are true. Allegations against Israel are being made by international humanitarian agencies who tried to render aid to wounded Palestinians.

Consensus seems to be growing that a slow, step by step process, such as recommended by the Mitchell plan, will no longer work. Trust between the Israelis and Palestinians has been destroyed and the Mitchell plan requires trust by both sides. Something quite different may be needed. See "A Road to Peace" above.

Why Do Palestinians Fight This Way?

Why are Palestinians killing civilian Israeli men, women, and children when the Qur'an specifically prohibits killing noncombatants? Why are they doing this when they know that such deaths harden the hearts of the Israeli people and will make it unlikely for Palestinian children or grandchildren to ever have peace? Why are Palestinians planting the seeds of suffering for their own children and grandchildren?

The short answer is that the Palestinians are exhausted, desperate, and very angry because of the Israeli occupation of their land. They also lack a leader who is focused on long-term peace.

Why Do Israelis Fight This Way?

Why are Israelis supporting military actions against civilians and occupying land that is not theirs? Why are Israelis allowing their armies to do this when they know that such actions harden the hearts of the Palestinian people and will make it unlikely for Israeli children or grandchildren to ever have peace?

The short answer is that the Israelis are exhausted, desperate, and very angry because of the terrorist attacks. They also lack a leader who is focused on long-term peace.
 

K Factor

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Methods of Fighting

Why Do Israelis Fight This Way?

Why are Israelis supporting military actions against civilians and occupying land that is not theirs? Why are Israelis allowing their armies to do this when they know that such actions harden the hearts of the Palestinian people and will make it unlikely for Israeli children or grandchildren to ever have peace?

The short answer is that the Israelis are exhausted, desperate, and very angry because of the terrorist attacks. They also lack a leader who is focused on long-term peace.
They try to fight a conventional war with an unconventional enemy, which is not possible.

You cannot intimidate an entire population. An airstrike kills two terrorists and 3 non-combatants (political correctness :p), and hence in the long run produces 3-4 more terrorists (for example, kids of the non-combatants, who can now be more easily indoctrinated).

Add Iran and its support to Hamas and Hezbollah to the mess.
 

Yusuf

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Why the Middle East Crisis Isn't Really About Terrorism

A year after 9/11, Richard Armitage, then the Deputy Secretary of State, was asked at a Washington forum whether the Bush Administration had plans, in its war on terrorism, for the Lebanese Islamist group Hizballah, factions of which the U.S. believes were responsible for the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. service members. Armitage, a bear of a man, gave a chest-thumping reply. "Their time will come," he vowed. "There is no question about it. They have a blood debt to us, and we're not going to forget it."


The time appears to be now. By supporting Israel's ferocious offensive against Hizballah in Lebanon, especially by pushing back international efforts to broker a cease-fire in order to give the Israeli military more time to lay waste to the group's fighters and armaments, Washington has taken a forceful swing at the militia, even if it's by proxy. It's not exactly about avenging the Marines, of course. It's about fighting the global war on terrorism.

Or is it? Should it be?

Enunciating a new security doctrine nine days after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush declared that the war on terrorism would be fought not just against al-Qaeda but also against "every terrorist group of global reach." Hizballah can certainly be said to fit in that category. However grand it may be to fight all global terrorists, though, the simple fact is that we can't: we don't have the troops, the money or the political will. That means it may make sense to limit our hit list to the groups that actually threaten us. Hizballah does not now do that. Nor does the other group currently in the spotlight, the Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas. The U.S. has sound reasons for wanting to constrain these groups, principally that they threaten our ally Israel. But those reasons have largely gone unarticulated as Bush falls back on maxims about the need to confront terrorism, as if Hizballah and Hamas are likely to be behind the next spectacular that will top 9/11. They are not, and pretending that they are costs the U.S. credibility, risks driving terrorist groups that aren't allied into alliance and obscures the real issues at hand in the Middle East: How do you soften up militants who vehemently oppose Israel's existence? What should the U.S. put on the line for Israel? And does it make sense for Washington to engage in boxing by surrogate with Tehran?

THE NATURE OF HIZBALLAH

Formed in 1982 to resist Israel's occupation of Lebanon, Hizballah established its terrorist bona fides in the 1980s by kidnapping some 50 foreigners in Lebanon, including 18 U.S. citizens, and killing two of them, notably CIA station chief William Buckley. The group's global reach was achieved perhaps in 1985 with a suspected connection to the saga of TWA Flight 847, in which hijackers shot dead a U.S. Navy diver and dumped him onto a Beirut tarmac. In 1992 Hizballah bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29, and, in 1994, a Jewish cultural center there, killing 95.

It is a nasty crew. Consider what prompted Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah to arrange for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on July 12, which is what led to the current crisis. Nasrallah says he wants Israel to release from prison Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese citizen who was part of a Palestine Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) cell that in 1979 arrived by boat in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya and invaded the apartment of the Haran family. Smadar Haran hid in the attic with her daughter Yael, 2, and was so intent on stifling the girl's crying that she accidentally suffocated the child. Meanwhile, members of the cell took Danny Haran and daughter Einat, 4, back to the shore where, realizing escape was impossible, Kuntar shot Danny in the back and drowned him, then battered Einat's head on beach rocks and smashed her skull with his rifle butt.


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While it can be emotionally satisfying to see Nasrallah and his ilk set back, that doesn't qualify Hizballah as an appropriate target for U.S. efforts against terrorism. Robert Baer, a former CIA covert officer who tracked Hizballah, says that by the late 1990s, the CIA was watching the group to see if it might resume violence against the U.S., but it never did. Eventually, within the agency, he says, "they just weren't important." That U.S. authorities in 2002 convicted a ring in North Carolina for raising money for Hizballah by smuggling cigarettes doesn't mean the group has dispatched sleeper cells to one day attack the U.S. It means Hizballah has fund raisers here.

Bush two weeks ago likened Hizballah militants to the terrorists who last summer bombed London subways. That implies that Hizballah has the same mind-set and agenda as the global jihadis of al-Qaeda and its imitator groups, but they are not the same. Hizballah's military mission is principally to defend Lebanon from Israeli intrusion and secondarily to destroy the Jewish state. As an Islamist group under Iran's sway, Hizballah would like to see Islamic rule in Lebanon. The global jihadis think much bigger. They are Salafists, radicals who seek to revive the original and, to their minds, pure practice of Islam and establish a caliphate from Spain to Iraq, in all the lands where Islam has ever ruled. The Salafists are Sunni, and Hizballah is Shi'ite, which means their hatred for each other is apt to rival their hatred for the U.S. Al-Qaeda's late leader in Iraq, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, used to say Shi'ites were worse than Americans and launched a brutal war on them in Iraq.

Of course, Sunnis and Shi'ites do sometimes cooperate. Ali Mohammed, a former Green Beret who pleaded guilty to being an al-Qaeda agent, testified in 2000 that he had provided security for a meeting in Sudan between Hizballah security chief Imad Mughniyah and Osama bin Laden and that Hizballah had provided al-Qaeda with explosives training. If there was cooperation, it seems to have been short-lived; the two groups certainly aren't allies. Lebanese police in April arrested nine men that Hizballah officials claim were al-Qaeda agents plotting to assassinate their leader. In a recently published interview with the Washington Post's Robin Wright, Nasrallah slammed al-Qaeda. "What do the people who worked in those two [World Trade Center] towers ... have to do with war that is taking place in the Middle East?" he asked. Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri last week released a videotape about the fighting in Lebanon, but at least in the excerpts released by al-Jazeera, he conspicuously failed to encourage Hizballah in its fight against Israel or to so much as mention the group. Instead, al-Zawahiri spoke of the jihad--that is, al-Qaeda's jihad--being the one that would liberate Palestine.


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THE RISKS FOR THE U.S.

Although Washington includes Hizballah as a war-on-terrorism target, the U.S., of course, isn't actually fighting the group; it is Israel that is paying that price in blood and treasure. Still, by taking the approach it has, the U.S. bears different costs. For one thing, Washington may not ultimately be serving as Israel's best friend. It has become clear that the Israelis didn't expect their offensive to escalate into a war so costly and messy. If Washington were playing its conventional, pre-9/11 role--calling for moderation from all parties--the Israeli officials could use that as a pretext for climbing down from their position that they won't stop fighting until Hizballah is demonstrably trounced.

The U.S.'s connect-the-dots view of terrorism also diminishes its power of persuasion. For Washington to succeed in putting together a multinational force to help the Lebanese government neuter Hizballah, it must win the participation of other states, perhaps France, Egypt and Turkey. But many governments by now are loath to go along with anything that sounds like an extension of the Bush doctrine. "If you compare Hizballah to the forces that flew planes into the World Trade Center on September 11," says a French diplomatic official, "you may lend your arguments more force, but it may also start undermining your support and credibility with people who won't agree with that commingling." Plus, encouraging Israel's continued onslaught puts the U.S. in the position of being blamed for mounting Lebanese civilian deaths.

Beyond that, the Bush Administration's with-us-or-against-us policy has cut off avenues of diplomacy that would be useful to pursue in this crisis. In the last major outbreak of Israel-Hizballah fighting in 1996, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher conducted shuttle diplomacy, traveling to, among other places, Syria, which along with Iran sponsors Hizballah. Having persuaded the Syrians to rein in Hizballah, Christopher achieved a cease-fire. Today the U.S. doesn't conduct high-level talks with Damascus principally because of Syria's ties to various terrorist groups.

Moreover, by casting the battle against Hizballah as part of the war on terrorism, the Administration is obscuring the real questions in this crisis and depriving the American public of a debate over them: How much should we do for Israel, and what should we do to Iran, Hizballah's main source of funding, training and weaponry? The fundamental problem with Hizballah is not that it is a terrorist group, as the President has said repeatedly in recent weeks. The fundamental problem the U.S. should have with Hizballah is that it refuses to stop fighting our principal ally in the region, despite Israel's complete withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. And Hizballah can keep up the fight because it is sponsored by a state that, with its nuclear program, really does present a danger to the U.S. The backers of the Administration argue that the U.S., through Israel, needs to slap back Hizballah in order to smack Iran. But does Israel's whacking Hizballah really deliver a blow to Iran on behalf of the U.S. any more than a medieval duel of seconds settles who is the superior of two knights? It's a discussion worth having, if we can sort out our real interests and purposes in this affair.


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HOW HAMAS FIGURES IN

If Hizballah's nature doesn't square with that of the global war on terrorism, then the Palestinian group Hamas is an even worse fit, although Bush routinely lumps it in with the global jihadists. This green-lights whatever response, however harsh, Israel makes to provocations, like the kidnapping by hard-liners within Hamas of an Israeli corporal in June. That may or may not make sense, but the justification cannot be that Hamas is a threat to the world or to the U.S. The group, born in the Gaza Strip in 1987 to resist the Israeli occupation, has no global reach. What's more, it has never targeted Americans.

Hamas is a Sunni organization, but it has no known ties to al-Qaeda. When bin Laden's band tried to instruct Hamas on how to proceed after it won Palestinian elections in January, the group--which takes pride in its homegrown, independent character--told al-Qaeda to buzz off, according to Hamas and Israeli intelligence sources. Hamas accepts limited assistance from Iran, and some of its leaders take sanctuary in Syria, but the group holds both countries at arm's length.

Al-Qaeda essentially wants, through terrorism, to intimidate the U.S. and other Western powers into leaving the Middle East entirely and revoking support for the region's current rulers and Israel. Al-Qaeda's demands are nonstarters, to say the least, and the group's history is about nothing but murder. Hizballah and Hamas are more complex organizations. They want to destroy Israel but have shown some signs of temperance on that point. They seek Islamic states in their spheres of influence, but their political parties have worked with secular parties in government. And those extreme aims are not their only agendas. Both run extensive social-welfare networks. After Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, Hizballah rolled back its destroy-Israel rhetoric and justified its continued militancy by harping on bogus claims that Israel still occupied a sliver of Lebanese territory. Hizballah's political party today holds 14 seats in the Lebanese Parliament and has two members in the Cabinet.

For its part, Hamas controls the Palestinian government. Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas agreed in June to a unified platform with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, of the secular P.L.O., that would implicitly recognize Israel if it would withdraw to its 1967 borders. That's out of the question for Israel, but Haniya's signature is a sign that Hamas may be able one day to resign itself to Israel's existence, just as the P.L.o_Once sworn to Israel's destructiondid. It is also an indication of the deep divisions within Hamas between the hard-liners who kidnapped the Israeli corporal and moderates like Haniya who can be potential diplomatic partners for the U.S. "The strategy should be to identify the fissures in a terrorist group and widen those chasms to cause it to explode, to isolate the hard-liners and strengthen the moderates," says Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at the Rand Corp. and the author of the new book Inside Terrorism. "The risk of painting all terrorists with one brush is that you miss those signs, and so you miss those opportunities."


More Related
Why the Middle East Crisis Isn’t Really About Terrorism
Meet Israel’s New Enemy No. 1
Why Bush Is Talking About Bin Laden Again
An additional downside to tossing all terrorists under one heading is that if you treat them the same, address them as one, you may encourage them to see themselves that way. "Bush has really been the great unifier of all the previously divided and often mutually hostile groups we're trying to defeat rather than assemble," says François Heisbourg, director of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research. "Waging war in Iraq to combat terrorism has transformed Iraq into a nexus of terrorism it hadn't been before. Justifying the operation in Lebanon by putting Hizballah on the same terrorism shelf as al-Qaeda is getting radical Sunnis to back radical Shi'ites in a way we'd have never imagined." By failing to make distinctions between groups--differentiations that are clear to people who actually live with these various conflicts--Bush feeds Muslim paranoia that his war on terrorism is just a cover for a war on Islam. Says Brian Jenkins, a Rand Corp. counterterrorism expert: "We created an artificial composite of enemies. The reality is that we can't address each of these terror enterprises with this simplistic approach."

Heisbourg, a special adviser to the French Foreign Ministry, stresses, "I have absolutely no problem with the Bush Administration stepping up and saying, 'Hizballah is a pawn of Syria and Iran. It's a threat to Israel. And, yes, this isn't just about punishing Hizballah but also punishing Iran for the trouble it causes.' That would be the kind of strategically coherent, longer-term vision we've seen in the past. But the Bush Administration isn't saying that. It is calling it all part of the war on global terrorism, which is nonsense. And that, in turn, is throwing into stark relief just how confused and ill-conceived the global war on terrorism has been from the start."

Five years into that war, a lot of Americans are understandably perplexed about just what it is. "Peace will come only by defeating the terrorist ideology of hatred and fear," the President said recently about the Lebanon crisis and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But there is no one ideology among terrorists. And terrorism isn't even an ideology. It's a tactic. The President would be better off leveling with the American people. The U.S. has interests in the Middle East, such as protecting Israel. Some of them are subtle and require explaining, like resisting Iran's efforts to expand its influence. And many of them have nothing to do with global terrorism.
Why the Middle East Crisis Isn't Really About Terrorism - TIME
 

F-14

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well i want to point out a few things

1) all the arab world calls Israle an occupier so was the Jordarnian and egyptian occupation of East juruslam and Gaza strip illegal as well

2) where were the so called defenders when the Plan to partion was mandated

3) werent the arabs just using the poor palastaians for their onw political advantage ?

4) why couldnt the arab nations just absorb the refugees insted of stoking their fire
 

K Factor

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Most important question! If Arabs really feel for those refugees, why dont they absorb them?
That is not the solution. Though I agree that Arab states could have done a lot more than what they have done.
 

Yusuf

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I wonder if its possible to give Palestinians the land that they are demanding and form a DMZ kind of a buffer that takes care of Israels security needs?
 

johnee

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That is not the solution. Though I agree that Arab states could have done a lot more than what they have done.
I have never suggested that was the solution. I was only trying to highlight that all parties involved are playing politics at the expense of innocents specially the Arabs and so-called Islamic nations.
The recent remark by some Palestinians that India is the true friend got me thinking. Palestinians first want their lives to be bettered instead of fighting an unending war with israel.
 

Yusuf

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The recent remark by some Palestinians that India is the true friend got me thinking. Palestinians first want their lives to be bettered instead of fighting an unending war with israel.
Nothing but a subtle reminder to India that they are still around,while India is cozying up with Israel big time.
 

K Factor

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There should have been more active moderation on this from the US and British, who were basically the cause of this extremely f***ed-up situation.

US could have restrained Israel, and make the Saudis n Egypt n Turkey to restrain the Palestinians, and then maybe a peace process could have been easier.
 

Sailor

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Israeli Airforce using Mig-29s to shoot at

14/05/2009 :israel:

TEL AVIV, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Israeli Air Force is currently using Soviet-designed MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters for pilot training, the country's Channel 2 reported on Thursday.

"We have studied them and are using them to practice dog fights. It is a good opportunity to see how effective our Air Force can be in dealing with a possible adversary," an Israeli test pilot told the channel.

The MiG-29 is considered to be one of the best warplanes in service with Israel's potential adversaries, in particular Syria, Iran and Sudan.

Developed in the 1970s, it entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1983, and remains in use in Russia and in at least 25 other nations.

The fighter was developed to counter new U.S. fighters such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F/A-18 Hornet.



Seems practical not to use good aircraft to practice target shooting.
 

Sailor

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On reflection, these are probably cheaper that target drones anyway.
 

Su-47

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Sailor, mock all you want, but the MiG-29 air frame is awesome. If the Israelis decide to stick some Israeli avionics in that thing and bring it up to the latest tech standard, it will be good enough to knock any F-16 variant out of the sky.
 

Singh

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Thread already exists on the said topic.
 

Singh

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Has Israel lost its eyes and ears in Lebanon?

Israel's ability to wage another war against the militant Shia movement Hezbollah may have been compromised by an unprecedented wave of arrests of people in Lebanon alleged to have been spying for the Israelis.

Experts say the arrests appear to add up to a major strategic blow to Israel.

Mobile phone footage circulating in Beirut shows one of the suspected agents being slapped and insulted as he was manhandled out of his house and into the boot of a car.

Lebanese newspapers have reported that more than 40 members of more than a dozen spy networks have been detained so far in a campaign that has gathered pace over the past six weeks, and shows no sign of stopping.

Israel has so far made no public comment on what could be one of its worst-ever intelligence setbacks.

File photo of Israeli soldiers wait behind a fence to enter Lebanon during the war of 2006.
The Israeli army's ability to fight Hezbollah may have been undermined

Hardly a day goes by without agents from the Lebanese police, army or general security raiding homes or workplaces in different parts of the country, and taking suspects away.

It could be a butcher or pharmacist in a remote south Lebanese village, a customs official in eastern Baalbek, or a high-ranking army officer from the north.

Several alleged agents who knew they were on the wanted list fled across the border to Israel.

Lebanon has asked the United Nations forces in the south, Unifil, to get them back.

Some of those detained are suspected of providing Israel with information enabling it to strike Hezbollah targets during the 2006 war, which saw dozens of buildings in Beirut's southern suburbs and other parts of the country destroyed by Israeli air or missile strikes.

Others are alleged to have been involved in trying to pinpoint the whereabouts of Hezbollah or other militant leaders past and present, including the current Hezbollah chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Surprise suspects

Those detained have not been seen since they were taken away, and lawyers have not had access to them.

But details of the allegations and reported confessions have leaked out in Lebanese newspaper reports as interrogations continue at army and police centres.

The net has appeared to spread ever wider and has produced many surprise suspects.

A retired general from the Internal Security Forces, Adib al-Alam, and his wife were among the earlier detentions.

Reports alleged he had confessed to being an Israeli informant for the past 15 years.

Lifelong militant

Newspapers reported another startling penetration among the most recent arrests - a highly-decorated, twice-wounded Lebanese army colonel from the Christian area of Akkar in northern Lebanon, who commanded the military's Special Forces school.

File photo of massive explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Israeli air strikes on Beirut in 2006 destroyed dozens of buildings

Another unusual suspect was Ziad al-Homsi, the deputy mayor of Saadnayel, a Sunni town in the eastern Beqaa valley.

The townspeople were stunned and angered by his detention by army intelligence agents in the middle of the night. Mr al-Homsi, 60, was a pillar of his community and a lifelong militant for pan-Arab causes, who had trained at a Soviet military academy.

The walls of his house are adorned with pictures of him as a young fighter battling the Israelis in south Lebanon, including one taken with Yasser Arafat in the Arqoub mountains there as long ago as 1969.

"How can they accuse a man like him, who spent all his history fighting Israel, of working with the Israelis?" asked his daughter Salma.

"My dad is innocent," she insisted. "There is no evidence that proclaims that he is spying for Israel. I think he is a victim of the elections in Lebanon."

Mr al-Homsi was associated with the western-backed, anti-Syrian "14th of March" coalition that is fighting to retain its narrow majority in national elections on 7 June.

Surveillance gadgets

But the coalition did not take up his cause, and the arrests in general have not become an election issue, because they have been across the board - Sunnis, Shiites, Christians and Palestinians are all among those detained, with no obvious political or sectarian bias.

Lebanese security forces displayed hi-tech communication and surveillance gadgets said to have been found concealed in the homes of some of the suspects.

A masked Lebanese policeman shows off a gadget which they say could decypher coded messages.
The Lebanese police say they seized hi-tech gadgets from the alleged spies

Explaining the sudden spectacular rash of arrests, Lebanese officials have said that unspecified technological breakthroughs made it all possible.

That may be so. But many unanswered questions remain.

One of the basic principles in setting up espionage networks is that their cells should not be linked in any way, so that the discovery of one does not lead to the kind of wider collapse that seems now to be taking place.

Did the Israelis - who have said nothing to discredit the daily revelations in Beirut - break that fundamental rule?

"Certainly it seems to have been a systemic failure by Israel," said security expert Alastair Crooke, who focuses on Islamic movements.

"Maybe it was a chance find, maybe it was from one person that they interrogated leading to the uncovering of many others, but that in itself would be highly unusual."

Most likely, the arrests were the product of months, perhaps several years, of counter-intelligence work.

Present and vigilant

But by whom? Is it just coincidence that the various different arms of Lebanese security suddenly began making this series of surprise detentions? Or were they being primed by other intelligence services?

Hezbollah's own role remains obscure. Lebanese officials say it has not been involved in the campaign, and it has certainly taken a low and ostensibly passive profile during the revelations.


The loss of these eyes and ears within Lebanon is undoubtedly a major strategic setback for Israel
Alastair Crooke
Intelligence analyst

But Hezbollah is present and vigilant in many of the areas concerned. It also has strong ties with Iran and Syria, whose intelligence services are no slouches.

One Lebanese analyst even went so far as to suggest that events may have come full cycle.

Before the 1979 revolution in Iran, Israel's Mossad was deeply involved in training and advising the Shah's dreaded secret police, Savak - a legacy of expertise inherited by Tehran's current Islamic rulers, who were instrumental in establishing Hezbollah in Lebanon and retain very close ties with the movement.

Whatever the case, the head of Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, Gen. Ashraf Rifi, said the dismantling of so many networks amounted to a strategic blow of the utmost seriousness, unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Other observers agree.

"The loss of these eyes and ears within Lebanon is undoubtedly a major strategic setback for Israel," said intelligence analyst Alastair Crooke.

"Networks of these sorts don't come off the shelf in a supermarket. You can lose them in ten minutes, but they can take 5, 10, 15 years to put in place. So the importance of this should not be underestimated."

Hassan Nasrullah giving TV speech.
Hassan Nasrullah urged any remaining Israeli spies to turn themselves in

In the meantime, Lebanon is left in a psychosis of uncertainty and speculation, with rumours that the arrests could spread higher and deeper into the country's establishment.

The Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrullah, has urged remaining Israeli agents or informers to turn themselves in and "rejoin the homeland", in exchange for leniency.

He has also called for the death penalty for those proven to have provided Israel with information that led to the loss of lives and property.

Public consciousness of the affair is so high that it is hard to imagine that remaining Israeli spies would not be either paralysed or preparing to flee the country, if they have not done so already.

In any future confrontation with Hezbollah, the Israelis would want to rely heavily on vital human intelligence.

The indications are that their capabilities in that respect may have been severely compromised.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Lebanon's intelligence war with Israel
 

Known_Unknown

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I think its quite the opposite. Seeing the number of high profile, publicly anti-Israel people arrested, this could well be a case of Israel indirectly slipping "evidence" to the Lebanese spy agencies which implicates people who are hostile to Israel itself. It seems quite improbable that a war hero, an Islamist community leader and a former general could be among the Israeli spies.

Nice way to take out your enemies. :wink:
 

Yusuf

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In a huge departure, Israeli leader Netanyahu has offered a two state solution to the Palestinians but with conditions that the Palestinians disagree with. Primary being the status of Jerusalem which Netanyahu says will be undivided and capitalbof Israel, while the Palestinians say east Jerusalem will be their capital.
Obama has made it clear that he prefers a two state solution to the problem. Wonder what secret mantra Obama has that he has made an Israeli say what no has managed in 60 years.
 

I-G

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Israel jails journalists for Gaza invasion report

Israel jails journalists for Gaza invasion report

Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:13am EDT


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli court has jailed two journalists for two months for reporting troop movements in Israel in the hour before Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip at the start of an invasion in January.

The two men, both Palestinian residents of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem, were convicted on Sunday of breaching military censorship regulations in their reports on troop movements for Iranian media from the Israeli side of Gaza's border on January 3.

Journalists working in Israel are, in principle, not legally allowed to report any military or security developments without first clearing their report with the military censor.

Khader Shahine and Mohammed Sarhan were accused of reporting troop movements inside Israel that they said indicated a ground invasion was imminent, before Israeli forces crossed the border.

First reports on most international media confirming the invasion came from Palestinian witnesses inside the Gaza Strip, who saw tanks and infantry inside the territory.

A lawyer for the two journalists described their sentences as "harsh." The civilian court in Jerusalem, in a statement available on Monday, said it was intended to deter others

Israel jails journalists for Gaza invasion report | International | Reuters
 

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