יום שבת, 22 בדצמבר 2012

Zionism 101 - A Story

I met Maryam of all places, at tailor's shop in Salah ad Din street in East Jerusalem. She, waiting for her own stuff, made few remarks on mending my jacket here and there. It was rather unexpected of a woman in East Jerusalem, to communicate in this manner with an unacquainted male. She was tall, well built and attractive. Although the dark complexion, dark brown hair and dark blue eyes made it clear that she is an Arab or Sephardi Jew, her body, the way she carried herself, and clear unashamed look toward the person she spoke with, were more Slavic like. She seemed to be in her early thirties.

We had coffee in the not to far away American Colony hotel, speaking  about life in Jerusalem, carefully avoiding political connotations, which make friendship impossible. She was a professor in Al-Quds University and did research on comparison between notable Arab families in Nablus and Hebron, Al-Halil, in Arabic, work that she started some time ago doing post-doc in Princeton Institute of Advanced studies. I told here about my work in bio-engineered vectors, weakened parts of AID viruses, in compound with antibodies to serve as anti-cancer precisely directed "missiles."

We continued to meet once a month or so, either in Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv; she had a "blue" Israeli identity card and was free to move inside Israel and abroad. We became friends without pushing into an affair, notwithstanding Freud's claim that all sympathy is at its  core sexual.

Then rather surprisingly one day Maryam said:
"After reading many papers, including essays of Ahad Ha'am and Ben Gurion diaries, I still don't grasp what Zionism really is."
 Except of well worn cliches I didn't have an answer. 
"Let me think about that. Tell me about the different views of life in Nablus and Hebron."

And we went on. After few weeks I asked her if she would like to have breakfast with me and my friend in Ashdod.

"A woman?" she asked.

"No, rather a gentleman of certain age."

We met next day in a restaurant called HOF, or coast, at quarter to nine next morning. Few minutes afterwards Ron joined us. I introduced him to Maryam, they shook hands smiled and exchanged greetings in Hebrew.
"An athlete with high brow, unusual combination. Not a single excess pound in his body. Ironic smile, more about himself than about the world. Was he sixty? Less? More? A mixture of modesty and confidence. Must have been an attraction to women when he was younger." 
Those were the initial impressions of Maryam.
"Maryam is in Al-Quds university. She asked me a question I was unable to answer." -- I said.
"What do you study, teach, research?" -- Ron asked.

"I am learning from all my teachers, and most of all from my students," -- she answered quoting Pirkey Avot, the well known Sayings of the Fathers chapter of Mishna, adding, "my current research is comparing between notable families in Nablus and Al-Halil."
"If I remember correctly, the historian Ytzhak Ben Zvi, later to become the second President of Israel, claimed that two thirds of people of Nablus were Samaritans converted by force to Islam by Ottomans." -- Ron commented.

"I'm not sure it was by force or not, but basically he was right and his paper is still quoted by many researchers." -- responded Maryam.
"Well, what was the smart question that my friend was unable to tackle?" -- asked Ron.
"It is far from smart. I don't have a clear idea, or perhaps a concrete feeling, about what Zionism is." -- Maryam.
"Nationalism is  a new idea, not adequately researched yet. Nation-state as we experience it now didn't exist even in the quite near past. What does it mean to be a Spaniard, or a Catalan, or a Scott, or an Israeli for the matter? Nationalism is still an unsolved puzzle, which, as everything where Jews are involved, gets even more complicated with Zionism. I can't make generalizations, but perhaps I can explain it a little personally." -- Ron.
"Please do." -- she said.
"For me WWII started in 1941 few days after Barbarossa began and Germans entered Vilno, now Vilnius. After short time, still several weeks before the ghetto was established, mass killing of Jews started  in Ponary forest near the city. My father was taken away and murdered. When Jews were ordered to ghetto, my mother, her brother and I moved on forged papers as Poles to a town 50 km east of Vilno. Most of the time I was hidden, because if I had been found circumcised, we would have been killed.

In 1945 short time after the war I was sent, this time in the heart of Poland, to a school as first grader. The first lesson was religion; the priest asked me to wait outside. I left home and refused to go back.

Next year I went to second grade in another city. I was a single Jew in a school of 1000 students. I was harassed twice a day and beaten at least twice a week. It was terrible. I dreamt of being among Jews in their own country.

In 1950 we came to Israel, until the first love this was the happiest event of my life. Ironically when I mentioned Zionism to my school friends in the Rehavya High School (Gymnasya), they laughed at me. For them Zionism was an old fashioned word of old people, used to spin and moralize, and insincerely so. Years later when I was again abroad and heard antisemitic remarks, I couldn't have cared less. My frame of reference was elsewhere." -- Ron.

"So is Zionism just a response to antisemitism and harassment?" -- asked Maryam.
"No, it is much more than that. When you are a single Jew in a school of 1000, it is not only harassment. The school is your main term of reference. When it is taken away, you are reduced to non entity and must find something else.

The young teenagers and youth of Second and Third Aliyah didn't just come to Ottoman Palestine. They, similarly to Jewish revolutionaries elsewhere, wished to create not only a new Jew, but a new human being." -- Ron

"And the people living in Palestine, the Arabs, were they  absolutely ignored?" -- asked Maryam.
"When I came to Israel I was 12 years old, quite unaware of the intricacies of relations between Jews and Arabs, but in my simplistic logic, the land was divided, and thus a reasonable solution possible." -- Ron

"And the refugees?" -- Maryam
"Look, in 41 we left Vilno to Oshmyana, in 45 from Oshmyana to Lodz, in 46 to Walbrzych, in 50 to immigrants camp in Lod, then in 51 to caravan near Rishon. Being a refugee was never pleasant but it was a part of existence, not of victim-hood. Being a refugee, as all survivors of the Holocaust were, was not considered a disaster." -- Ron

"Do you think Arabs are antisemites?" -- Maryam
"Meeting Arabs face to face, I never experienced antisemitism. Talking about antisemitism among Arabs, I always recall what the Jewish Bulgarian Nobel winner Elias Canetti wrote in his "Psychology of Crowds," in a manner that would be politically incorrect today, that every man is just that, a man, but a crowd of men behaves like a single hysterical woman." -- Ron

"Do you think peace is possible?" -- Maryam
"First of all Palestinian Arabs have to decide what do they want, and who politically speaking they are." -- Ron

"Isn't this a polite statement that Israel has no partner?" -- Maryam

"You don't make peace with partners, only with rivals and enemies, but I mean something else. Jews had thousands of years in which outside world forced upon them the need to create an identity. In the last 200 years they were trained into entry into the modern world. Palestinian Arabs didn't have this "luxury." To put it in another way, rephrasing Sari Nusseibeh the President of your university, they have to analyze honestly in their own mind, why did they fail so far in their struggle against the Jews."

Changing the subject she said: "Tell me about ski surfing?"

"Do you want to try it?"

"I don't have proper cloths."

"We can take care of that, to view a beautiful woman in the marina of Ashdod."

She laughed. "Next time."

יום שבת, 8 בדצמבר 2012

Strictly Jewish Peace Debate Club

The debate about 2-states, 1-states or 10-states for solving the conflict between Jews and Arabs is for all practical terms, useless and the best term for it is كلام فادي kalam fadi. It takes place in a rhetoric debate club, the only participants of which are Jews. Because it is a pinnacle of apartheid Arabs are not allowed, or unwilling to enter it. As in most of such clubs innovation is not permitted. The participants are allowed only to yell, or rather bark, as if they were Pavlov dogs, the well worn cliches. 

UN 181, which called to divide the British Mandate reduced territory into two states, a Jewish state and an Arab state. The territory was reduced because 70 or so percent of it was granted as a consolation prize to the Hashemite family for being driven out of Saudi Arabia. This region torn from the original Eretz Israel, or Palestine was called initially Transjordan, an emirate, later to become kingdom, Jordan. 

The tiny area which UN 181 dealt with had both Jews and Arabs living together in many parts of the land. It was impossible to draw a border for ethnically pure Jewish and Arab states. The solution was that the Jewish state will have a minority of Arabs, and the Arab state a minority of Jews.

Such solution is still useful today, again not because of principles, but because of practical reasons. 

Politically, it would be impossible for any government in Israel, whether "right," or "left." In fact, for a "left" government the obstacles would be much greater, to move the settlers back into pre-67 borders, by sheer force.

If the principle that Jews can stay wherever they reside as citizens of new Arab state is agreed upon the state of affairs will become much simpler. 

Most of the settlers would choose relocation to Israel. Some will not. Judaism, contrary to Islam, is not a political religion. You can be an observant Jew, even a righteous,  a Tsadik in Alaska or Kamchatka too. Jews are indeed required to live, if possible, in the Land of Israel, but a Jewish secular state has no religious preference in comparison to any other state. Before the WWII the most ardent objection to Zionism among Jews came from the orthodox. Even today one can be an Israel hater like the Satmar followers, and still perfectly respected religious Jews. 

Still, the fact that settlers will have the choice of staying or moving will make the relocation much easier. 

The Arab state, if it doesn't want to have many Jews as citizens would support exchange of territory so that the main settlements will become a part of Israel. Even some of Arab towns which are now a part of Israel, and its residents become the most zealous Zionist, reciting day and night Hatikva in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian, whenever exchange of territory is mentioned,   might change their mind. If Jews are willing to live there, it can't be that bad. 

Jewish minority in an Arab state will transform it into democracy; Arabs will demand the same rights Jews have. Freedom of speech and human rights will become the law of land. In addition, apart of peace, Jews will most probably bring new economic success. 

The objective of most supporters of 1-state is destruction of the Jewish state, but even so, it would be hard to claim logically that 1-state is preferable to two, each with minority of the other. Arabs will be never able to create their national and cultural home together with Jews. 

Two states, each with a minority of the other, as any other scheme will not solve the conflict, but such idea may have some value for the Jewish debate club. 

יום שישי, 7 בדצמבר 2012

No Yiddish Wisdom for Hudna

The wishes and strategies of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are similar. Each party would like the other to disappear from the map. Each is willing to consider for a while peace, or interim arrangement or hudna, only because its final wish cannot be achieved due to practical consideration and constraints. 

At each point of time, each of parties weighs and speculates on what is "better," temporary hudna or refusing it, according to perception of the state of affairs at a given moment. Any kind of agreement is workable only if both parties consider it beneficial at the same time. Such occasions are quite rare.

The tactics of the parties differ, according to their culture, relative and absolute power, mentality and relations with other players.

Palestinian Arabs consider, at least in principle, "terror" as beneficial means for achieving their objective. In their mind, "terror" is legitimate  because of overwhelming superiority of Israel's military power. For many of them killing Jewish children is a justified act with the additional benefit of infuriating Jews. The "peace" as they see it, is a means of destroying Israel, for instance by flooding her with Palestinian real or imagined refugees, by never agreeing to end the conflict and so forth. 

Jews act differently. Their logic in building their homeland has been proceeding acre by acre, as pragmatically as possible, while waiting for more opportunities for future expansion. Jews didn't expel the Arabs in 1948, but they were not particularly sorry, when Arabs fled. In 1967 General Ytzhak Rabin, later to become a peace icon, sent buses to Arab towns, hoping that Arabs will flee again. This time the didn't. 

Each party reacts to actions and lack of them by its rival. "Concession," sometimes brings about counter concession and sometimes, perceived as weakness, it brings militant response. Israel withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza were immediately responded by missile fire and terror. Similarly, non violence by Palestinian Arabs may bring about Israeli nonchalant increase in settlements. In any event moves and counter moves of the parties are not easily predicted. 

Palestinian Arabs are attuned to Israeli public opinion and they are trying to manipulate it by creating impression that they are indeed "partners," or, alternatively, by creating fear of "demography," one state and new intifada. Jews, on the other hand know little and care even less about  Arab Palestinian opinion. An average Israeli knows much more about Brussels or Budapest than about Ramallah.

The parties observe carefully the reaction of "world community," namely the US and Europe. Generally, when this community slams one party, the other is encouraged to more militant steps. "Peace" is certainly not the only objective of Europe and the US. They have political and electoral concerns as well. The rise of antisemitism, or the Left variant of it called Israel hate,  in Europe, and growth of Muslim communities there do not make Israel the darling of the continent. The responses to actions of Jews and Arabs are less than sophisticated and usually they disturb the hudna rather than encouraging it.

"Arab world," is another factor which is important. Palestinian Arabs  are usually suspicious about their support there. Palestinian Arab diaspora is in most Arab countries kept apart and discriminated. Arab wars against Israel in 47, 67 and 73 had no Arab Palestinian interests in mind, and similarly the peace agreements with Egypt, Jordan and the not achieved one with Syria didn't care about Palestinian Arabs.  It seems to me, that antisemitism is more prevalent In Arab countries than among Palestinian Arabs. The "father" of Palestinian national movement was indeed a collaborator of Nazis and Hitler in Berlin, but his antisemitism was  probably more the result of being Muslim Brother leader that an Arab Palestinian.

Jews look with great concern at what is happening in the Arab "spring." Its chaos convinces most of them that the only way to maintain the "villa in the jungle" flourishing is by forgetting about "peace," and making fortress Israel stronger. 

Each party has strong, mostly negative opinions of its rival, which it proves by true or invented facts and cites as support God and lesser dignitaries. Some or all of those opinions, even if correct bring not much news and even less benefit. To exist in peace or war with your opponent, or even to wipe him out, it is much more important to know how he perceives himself and you than to voice your own opinion, which you of course know without much effort.

Peace seems impossible, but pragmatic arrangements and measures are achievable and could keep the conflict within acceptable parameters. BHO 2.0 apparently understands now that "peace" between Jews and Arabs is a complex issue and better to keep away from offering comprehensive solutions. Let the parties solve it or kill themselves. Yiddish, so it seems, has no words of wisdom for hudna.

יום שבת, 11 באוגוסט 2012

Journalists, their Expert Opnions and Apologies

  Haaretz journalist, Ari Shavit, admits and apologizes for a mistake, a wrong one. Several years ago he wrote that Israel should retreat from Golan. Now, looking at what is happening in Syria, he believes he was wrong. His mistake,then and now, has not been his view, but in the fact that Haaretz is a sort of mini Stalinist Pravda, where everything is absolutely known, provided the journalist reads and rereads the Short History of the Bolshevik Party by Comrade Stalin.

One cannot find the "apology" of Ari Shavit in the English edition of Haaretz, because it does not fit the Nakhba, or Palestinian disaster, narrative.

The future is a complex unknown state of affairs. Nobody can know with certainty what will happen tomorrow; greatest military leaders of the world, certainly their heads of intelligence could attest to  that. Not only they. The wisest of men, King Salomon, was unable to predict the sectarianism of his kingdom and its division. Rabbi Akiva, one of the pillars of Judaism, did not estimate accurately the power of the Roman Empire. Pericles failed in defending Athens.

In June 1967 in a crucial meeting of Israel Cabinet of War, the vote on attack was 50/50. Levi Eshkol, the Prime Minister, voted for the attack. He had and additional casting vote but decided not to use it. "Perhaps I'm wrong. We can wait few more days." In the evening he spoke to the nation on the radio. He wanted to record his speech, but Haggai Pinsker, the broadcaster who accompanied him, said "Come on, you a professional. We will do it live." Even the wise could not resist flattery. Speaking on the radio Eshkol stuttered for a second, the public saw in it a weakness and was outraged. Eshkol had no choice but to appoint the former Chief of Staff, Moshe Dayan to the post of Minister of Defense.  Israel won the war not because Dayan did anything spectacular during few days, but because Eshkol built and prepared the Army. However in the eyes of journalists and the public Dayan became a semi-God.

Years later in 1973 it became evident that Dayan was the worst Minister of Defense Israel ever had. He lost his head, wisdom and courage. Golda Meir the Jewish grandmother, became the military leader in the war room and saved the country. In spite of that after the victory, she had no choice but to resign.

Journalists lack the skill and the ability to analyze difficult decisions countries are faced with and cannot grasp their complexity. Claiming knowing everything, as they most of the time do, is a stupid lie. They would do better by reporting facts. Their "expert" opinions, or "ideology" in Mr. Shavit's words, should be modest and expressed with respect toward those who are making the real decisions, in addition, always they should provide ten opinions that are different from their "ideology."

יום שלישי, 10 ביולי 2012

ראש חבורת מופז -- לבני -- רמון

אוסיף שתי פרוטות למקהלת פסק דין אולמרט. למען "גילוי נאות", אומר שאהוד אולמרט בהיותו חבר כנסת, כשעוד הדבר היה מותר לחבר כנסת לעסוק בעריכת דין, ואורי מסר היו עורכי דין בחברה שבה עבדתי וייצגו אותה בין היתר במרכז ההשקעות. לא הייתי נלהב מדי משירותיהם.

בהודעות ובשידורים השונים יש בלבול מה בסיכום פסק הדין. 

בכתב האישום שלושה אישומים:

ראשון – ראשונטורס – קבלת דבר במרמה בנסיבות מחמירות. הנאשם זוכה מחמת הספק. 

שני ובו שני חלקים:

    מרכז ההשקעות – הפרת אימונים. הנאשם הורשע.  
    טלנסקי – מרמה והפרת אימונים. הנאשם זוכה. 

שלישי – מרמה כלפי מבקר המדינה. הנאשם זוכה.

ההרשעה בהפרת אימונים במרכז ההשקעות עוסקת בהחלטות הנאשם בעניינם של שמן, מפעל סיליקט, פרויקט נבטים ובזק. בית המשפט מגיע למסקנה שבעניינים האלה אפשר היה להגיע להחלטות טובות יותר וייתכן שאולמרט נהג כפי שנהג בשל הטיה לטובתו של אורי מסר, שותפו לשעבר וחברו שייצג את החברות שהן נשוא פסק הדין.

בית המשפט מתייחס לישראל כאילו זו הייתה פלנטה אחרת. לו חמישה פרויקטים כל שהם של מרכז ההשקעות היו נבחנים לאחר המעשה באותה קפידה שבית המשפט הפעיל, הליקויים היו גם כן כאלה או גרועים מהם. הדברים חייבים בחינה והשוואה למה שקורה בחיים ולא להשקפה אוטופית כל שהיא. לא רק במרכז ההשקעות, אלא גם בכל תחום אחר קשה להעלות על הדעת ולו החלטה אחת של הממשלה שבדיקתה לאחר המעשה לא הייתה מסתיימת בגינוי כגון זה. כפי שבמונחים משפטיים מוסר מוגדר כהתנהגות של ("בריטי") ממוצע, כך ראוי גם להגדיר את התנהגות פקיד או שר, בהכרעת דינו, לפי המקובל ולא לפי מודל אידיאלי כל שהוא. למי שיש סבלונות כדאי לקרוא את פסק הדין ולא לסמוך על העוותונאים ובעלי ספין אחרים.   

סביר להניח שאולמרט רצה במידה זו או אחרת להיטיב עם חברו. אולם מי שחושב, גם בית המשפט, שבישראל אפשר לזכות ביחס כל שהוא של הממשל בלא מאכער, טועה ומטעה. בכל מוסדות השלטון כדי להשיג דבר מה צריך "מקורב" או עו"ד, רצוי "צמרת", לולא כך, מרכז הליכוד או של מפלגת שלטון אחרת לא היה קיים. לא רק מרכז השקעות, גם בביטוח לאומי, כפי מעידות פרסומות אין ספור ברדיו, או בפניות של ניצולי שואה בלא מאכער אי אפשר. בית המשפט לא שאל את הנאשם ולא את העדים, מדוע בכלל צריך עו"ד בפנייה למרכז השקעות. אין בשירותיו שום עניין משפטי, ויצא איפוא גם כן מתוך ההנחה שבלי מאכער אי אפשר. בעצם ההגדרה, מאכער הוא אחד שמכיר את מסדרונות הכוח ואת המחזיקים בו.

הכרעת הדין לא מציגה את השאלה, מדוע אורי מסר, הנהנה לכאורה מיחס מיוחד לא הועמד לדין.

איני חושב שאולמרט הוא דמות מופת בהגינות וביושרה, אולם מעשיו, כפי שהתביעה היציגה אינם אלא סערה בכוס מים.

המשפט הזה החליש את הפרקליטות. כשלונה נבע לדעתי לא מהתנכלות לאולמרט, אלא מהרצון "לנצח" בכל מחיר. 

יום חמישי, 14 ביוני 2012

Misreading Mavi Marmara

No military operation ever proceeded exactly as the military commanders planned. If the perception of the outcome is success nobody cares about what has transpired. If it is a failure, in democracies, there are questions and investigations. Then journalists and experts have a ball. They know better than anybody else, in their capacity as armchair generals, how the military operation should have been performed. Politicians have their ball too, after keeping silent for years now they are complaining that they were not consulted.

The misrepresented by press Report of Israel State Comptroller about the incident of Mavi Marmara is another instance of such ball, or rather mini-party.

With the exception of late press releases by IDF spoke persons, the Report does not point to any wrong decisions by the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, or the Army. He criticizes the Government for improper decision making process without blaming the decisions themselves. The Comptroller thinks that the Government should have consulted in a better way with one of its departments, the recently created National Security Council, but he states that even if this had been done, the outcome would not have been necessarily better.

According to the Report violence by the Turkish supporters of Hamas was considered and dismissed. The Prime Minister tried hard to convince Erdogan through the US and others not to sponsor the flotilla. He failed because Americans did not act as they should have. The fact of the matter is that American pressure made Turks canceled subsequent flotillas. Be this as it may it was natural to presume no violence, I presume that Turks even promised that.

Militarily IDF failed to give enough weight to the size of Mavi Marmara and the unit that landed there was much too small. The soldiers were attacked because it looked easy to do so.

In every operation which goes awry press relations are difficult, because proper evaluation of facts and course of action is slow. For terrorists truth does not matter, therefore the have an immediate response. For example in the recent Toulouse murder of Sandler children, the murderer had much faster access to media than the French Government and Police.

In few days the Report of Comptroller on Marmara will be forgotten, but the fact that Israel, notwithstanding press and media, has the will and determination to defend itself is well known and remembered.

יום שישי, 8 ביוני 2012

לחזור לאולפן

פינוי מתיישבים מאולפנה, מגרון וכיוצא בהם נראה מבוך שבו כל אחד ואחד מן הצדדים בונה לעצמו ולשומעיו סיפור שבא להסתיר את העובדות.

הנחת היסוד בשיטת המשפט הנהוגה בישראל  היא שהצדדים נאמנים לשטוח את טענותיהם ובית המשפט פוסק על המחלוקות ביניהם. אין בית המשפט בוחן את הדברים שהעותרים והמשיבים מסכימים עליהם. אדרבה, בית המשפט מעודד את הצדדים לצמצם את החלוקות ככל יכולתם. באין מחלקות, אין בית המשפט בוחן כליות ולב ויוצא מתוך ההנחה שמה שנאמר משקף כוונת אמת.

בעניין שלפנינו לא היו מחלקות לא על הבעלות על הקרקע ולא על החובה להרוס את מה שנבנה עליה. ההסכמה של המדינה לאלה לא הייתה הרהור לב של הפרקליטות או היועץ המשפטי לממשלה ונבעה מהחלטת הממשלה. לא "הקהילייה הבינלאומית", לא אובמה, לא עבאס ולא שלום עכשיו הכתיבו לפרקליטות את ההסכמה להריסת הבתים; ממשלת ישראל עשתה זאת וכל שריה, גם ה"ימניים", שבהם ידעו על כך.

בדיון האחרון שבו המדינה בקשה דחייה נוספת בהריסת הבתים, הפרקליטות לא טענה ששנתה דעתה כיוון שטעתה בעבר, אלא שהחידוש הוא בשינוי מדיניות הממשלה, נימוק שאין בו כל ערך משפטי.

בית המשפט פסק את מה שפסק לא בשל אהבתו לפלסטינים, או בשל שנאתו למתיישבים: הדיון הוכרע טרם עמדות כאלה או אחרות של בית המשפט הגיעו לכלל השפעה. ההתקפה על בית המשפט והאיום בחקיקה כזו או אחרת לא עומדים במבחן של ההיגיון. גם לו הצעות חוק "הסדרה" היו חוק, אם המדינה הייתה מסכימה להריסה, לא הייתה להם השפעה כל שהיא.

המתיישבים סבורים לרוב שבית המשפט הוא "שמאלני" ולכן עדיף להשתתף כמה שפחות בדיוניו ודי בהשפעתם הפוליטית על הליכוד כדי שהעולם ינהג לפי מאווייהם, בשל כך נימוקים משפטיים נגד ההריסה ויש כאלה הרבה, לא נדונו בשום מקום. הפילוג במחנה הדתי הלאומי והבכיינות של מאות רבניו, גם הם השפיעו על המחדל המשפטי. ההתנהלות הזאת כמעט ולא מאפשת שום הליך משפטי בשל שיהוי.

הוויכוח המשפטי שמתנהל בציבור וכאמור לא בבית המשפט עוסק בזכות הקניין "הקדושה" כביכול. מעניין שדווקא השמאל הפך לחסיד מובהק של הקניין הפרטי. מארקס במהופך. אלא שהזכות הזאת כרוכה כפי שכתבה כבוד השופטת בייניש "בשיטתנו". אלא שבשיטתנו זכות הקניין כמו כל זכות אחרת אינה עומדת לכשעצמה אלא היא כרוכה ב"שיטתנו". ב"שיטתנו" יש עוד כמה דברים, למשל חופש לכרות חוזה. אין החופש הזה מתקיים כאן, שכן אפילו היו מציעים לבעלי הקרקע, ועוד לא ברור שהם אכן כאלה, Empire State Building בתמורה לקרקע, עדין היו מסרבים כיוון שהיו נענשים בעונש מוות, לו הסכימו.

החוקתיות של עונש מוות על מכירות קרקע ליהודים צריכה להיבדק גם כן. אם ישראל היא הכובש לפי החוק הבינלאומי הרי ככל הנראה המפקד הצבאי לא מילא את חובתו בהתירו קיום לחוק הזה. אפילו חקיקה עצמאית של הרשות הפלסטינית מותרת לפי הסכמי אוסלו, היא סותרת ככל הנראה את החוק הבינלאומי. מכל מקום החוק הזה הוא בעל חשיבות מכרעת בקיומה או העדרה של מכירת הקרקע ומציאותו איננה "לשיטתנו.”

כיוון שאין בעלי הקרקע חופשיים למכור את הנכס בכל מחיר, אפשר להניח שהאינטרס האמיתי שלהם דורש מכירה בכפייה. מכאן שבית המשפט היה צריך לכפות את המכר לא רק בשל זכויות המתיישבים אלא מכוח דאגה לרווחת בעלי הקרקע. איני יודע מה תהיה הנפקות של הטענות האלה אם יועלו בבית המשפט, אולם עובדה היא שלא הועולו.

נחזור ל"שיטנו". אם בישראל היה מתברר שעסקת מכר כל שהיא הייתה פגומה הוויכוח בין הצדדים היה רק על כסף ולא על עקרונות מופשטים כל שהם. אם בית המשפט מבקש לנהוג "לשיטתנו" ראוי שיתיחס לדברים כפי שהם נוהגים אצלנו ולא בכל מקום אחר.

שאלה אחרת שעומדת על הפרק היא הנזק שנגם לזכויות אדם של המתיישבים לעומת הנזק לבעלי הקרקע, אם בית המשפה יכפה מכר.

המתיישבים צריכים, לדעתי, להגיש צו על תנאי נגד המדינה, על שלא טענה את הטענות האלה ועל שהסכימה שלא כדין עם עותרים על פינוי והריסה. המתיישבים צריכים להסביר את השיהוי בכך שהמדינה שהסכימה עם העותרים, הבטיחה אין קץ פעמים שלא יהיה פינוי, ונסוגה מהבטחתה בנימוק שאו לפיו אינה יכולה להתנגד להחלטה חלוטה של בית המשפט, אלא שהחלטה נובעת מהטעיית בית המשפט על ידי המדינה ולא מכל סיבה אחרת.

המעשה הפגום והמחדל הם מפעל ממשלתי למהדרין. בשל כך גם המתיישבים, גם בעלי הקרקע וגם המדינה יוצאים נפגעים. הניסיון לפייס את המתיישבים ולפצותם בבניית "דווקא" חדשה, מוסיפה חטא על פשע. ישראל צריכה להחליט על בנייה או העדר בנייה ביהודה ושומרון מתוך שיקול עצמאי שאין לו כל קשר להריסה כזאת או אחרת. הקהילייה הבינלאומית זועמת. כל אלה בשל מעשיה של ממשלת ישראל, ממשלת "ימין"? 

יום חמישי, 17 במאי 2012

Learning from America - United Arab States

America is praised for its democracy, for freedom, for the genius of Federalist Papers, for its Constitution, for stability, for economic and military power and for many other well deserved exceptional qualities. Yet less abstract characteristics, what Alexis de Tocqueville called 'habit of mind,' may explain better its uniqueness.

Holocaust Museum  Washington DC
America has created a vision of nation building without an nationalistic ethos. To be a French, or German, or Russian, or Polish one must carry on his or her shoulders the history, language, culture, sometimes religion, and other attributes, without which one is not considered a full member of the nation. America is different: by some magical process one becomes an American the next day after getting citizenship, and without the immediate burden of culture and history. New Americans may have taken rudimentary citizenship 101 course about George Washington, the Constitution and the Civil War, but they feel American not because of that. Furthermore, usually the new Americans are more patriotic than citizens born there.

When one becomes an American, one is accepted as he or she is. His English may be less than perfect, it doesn't matter. If his sense of humor is unconventional, perhaps perhaps we could learn something new. His clothes are different? So what? Henry Kissinger still retains traces of German accent, but nobody cares. It is hard to imagine French, or Russian Foreign Ministers with less than impeccable French or Russian accents respectively. Did Bashevitz Singer write in Yiddish? Nobody remembers. He is an American Nobel winner, isn't he? He writes about a bygone strange world. It does not matter, we can live it through reading his stories.

What is perhaps more important, America welcomes the ties of new or old Americans with their previous homelands. Those ties become somehow a pillar of American community life. In the past they used to say that a New York politician must visit the three i's: Ireland, Italy and Israel before running for an office. Because of this attitude, after the State of Israel was established, the ties of Jews to the new country seemed natural. In fact they strengthened the status of American Jews as Americans.

Even the language issue of Spanish American is more or less tolerated. Turkish commentator, who recently visited Florida, was wondering how America tolerates Spanish easily while Kurdish in Turkey is almost a sin.

When Arabs become in 'habit of mind' Americans, they reject terror and are open to any discussions which concern the Arab world. CAIR and similar organizations damage Muslims not because of their real or alleged support of human rights but because they make it harder for Muslims to become Americans.

The ability of the people of United States to accept new Americans as equals from day one is, in my mind, the most important quality of the “exceptional” America. Individuals, communities and countries around the world should learn and imitate it not as a tribute to the US, but as first rate service for their own existence.

The hard Left will benefit too from taking a rest from its usual agenda and take a hard look at what their country really is.

The European concept of nation state is quite new. Even in late Middle Age there were no modern nation states. If a Lord of the King of France decided to shift his loyalty to the King of Prussia, all inhabitants of his fief became "Germans" without much ado. The rise of nationalism in the modern age created the concept of nation state, the pioneers of which were Italy and Poland. In this sense Palestinians and almost everybody else are "invented" nations.

The idea of nation state maintained that nation was, or should have been the dominant social structure of the community, more important than any other such structure. The nation was was somehow vaguely defined by ethnicity, language, religion and territory. Since in all countries there were minorities which didn't fit into definition of the "nation," minorities became a key negative factor in defining nationalism. They were the "other," without which nation was, in fact, impossible. They were "not us," and thus a subject of prejudice and hate. There was strong affinity between nationalism and fascism. Most of the new nation states established after the First World War had strong fascistic tendencies. 


The Arab states came into being by strokes of pen of imperialist powers, which defined rather arbitrarily borders according to power politics of France, Britain and to lesser extent Germany and Russia, and according to internal politics of the pretending dictators, monarchs and other rulers. Those states didn't reflect the social structures that mattered to people more than the the artificial states: tribes, religious sects and territorial loyalties. The new Arab states had fascist tendencies because other states had them too, and because such tendencies made life easier for the semi-independent rulers. Furthermore, political parties established at the beginning of the last century in the Arab world, be it the religious Muslim Brothers or the secular Ba'ath looked at fascist Germany and Italy as inspiring models.

The ever simplistic orientalist view of the West presumes that Arab states are God created structures and that "free election" will bring democracy and prosperity, following which there will be a happy beach party. Without preexisting democracy free elections are meaningless. In fact the worst totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century, came about by "free election."

Arabs will have to find by themselves the social and territorial structure. In doing that they should rely to their own culture and history and observe critically the world around. Examining the success of the United States may give them some clues as to why Unites Arab States could become the future success of world history.

יום חמישי, 10 במאי 2012

Striking Iran: the Decision

None of the Israeli major intelligence services, SHABAK, MOSSAD and Military Intelligence, 
predicted the Arab Spring. After it started they were unable to predict the fall of Mubarak
Even now, they do not have a clear idea as to its outcome. In this they are not different 
from other intelligence services, and from the so called experts and journalists. Be this as it may,
the knowledge of what happens next door is of paramount importance to Israel. This 
failure of  of intelligence is not less important than any other such failure in the 65 years of 
Israel's existence. 

Failures of intelligence are in fact failures in analysis of raw, frequently contradictory, data in 
drawing conclusions and making decisions. The process is much wider than strictly 
professional intelligence. Most of the times the failure or success is determined by other 
military and civilian leaders. At the end it is the commander in chief, whatever his or her 
formal title is, who makes the decision. 

In summer of 1973, 44 years old Major Shlomo Baum serving his 30 days annual reserve 
service in Sinai not far from the Suez Canal noticed unusual movements of the Egyptian 
Army across the canal. He reported it to his superior officers, who dismissed the 
information. Baum who knew Ariel Sharon from the famous, some would say infamous, 101 
Unit, called him up. At that time General Sharon was the Commander of the Southern 
Command. Sharon ordered alert. Baum's superiors did as ordered, but complained about 
the unnecessary move, because of friendship of Baum and Sharon. In his memoir of the 
Yom Kippur war Saadat wrote that he planned the war for summer, but the alert of IDF forced 
him to change plans. 

Israeli intelligence was surprised by the war which was launched in October. Newspapers 
blamed the ruling conventional wisdom concepts, which they called the “conception,” or 
CONSEPTSYA, which precluded war. Without concepts thinking, decision making is 
impossible. The concepts must however be constantly evaluated and criticized. Pierre 
Bourdieu in very different context regarded the inability of social and political scientists to 
Commander in Chief
reflect critically on their assumptions and concepts a major weakness of these disciplines.

In the first few days Yom Kippur was, to say the least, difficult for Israel. On the basis of 
the same intelligence the Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan, the adored hero military leader 
and the Prime Minister, the grandma Golda Meir reached opposite decisions. Dayan 
wanted to admit defeat, Meir thought that victory can still be achieved. She became the de 
facto commander in chief, and made strategic and tactical military decisions. 
Truman - against the "wise men"

Many times failures of intelligence stem 
from the fact that heads of such services
do not fully understand, or perhaps 
cannot internalize the rules of decision 
making. Human decision takes place only under uncertainty. 
The future and its consequences are unknown, and
in spite of that a decision has to be taken. 
If everything is known, there is no decision, 
a computer would do the job better. 

In 1948 the US had to decide whether to recognize soon to 
be born the new State of Israel. George Marshall, the 
legendary war hero, whom Churchill called the “organizer of 
the victory,” the originator of the Marshall Plan for Europe, was the Secretary of State. He 
strongly objected to recognition of Israel. The “wise men” in the Department, Acheason
Kennan, Bohlen and others supported him, so did the CIA, which predicted that Jews will 
lose the war. Marshall threatened to resign. He insisted that the written protocol of meeting with
Truman will state that he will not vote for him, if overruled. Truman decided to 
Begin - Osiris Strike - against the Mossad
recognize Israel. The strong objections of Marshall 
and the “wise men” are remembered only as a 
footnote to history. 

Meir Dagan, the former head of MOSSAD, and  
Yuval Diskin, the former head of SHABAK do not 
think that failure in the past precludes them from 
continuing to be experts about the future. They claim 
to know what Iran is and how it will respond to attack 
by Israel. 

The fact is, however, that future in the matter of Iran 
is unchartered territory, not only for Israel and the 
United States, but probably for Iran too. 

It will take a missile several minutes to reach Israel. Israel is a tiny country, even if it has a 
massive nuclear capability, second strike may be too late. Is Iran “rational” as some claim? 
Rational or not, it is difficult to understand the rationale of sending children to war with 
formal passport to heaven if they die as it did in Iraq-Iran war, and to figure out what was the 
political or military gain in killing 85 Jews in Buenos Aires in the eighties. 

Will military attack destroy or delay Iran's capability to make a nuclear weapon? Will such 
attack remove the clerics from power? Can Israel rely on the US? How far will Obama go 
with Iran if he is reelected? 

Those are hundreds more questions do not have easy, clear and easy answers. Uncertainty and 
difficulties notwithstanding, a decision must be taken. The commander in chief will have to make