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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The strange and twisted road to peace

As I said before, the recent Sharon hospitalization is causing a weird reaction amongst arabs, with those who can't forget his past want him dead no matter what, and those in power and hoping for peace wanting him to live. No better example exists than the current Egyptian Chief of Staff Salah Halabi, who fought against Sharon in the 1973 war and wanted him dead then and who now, more than ever, wishes that the man would live. In 1973 as a young colonel, Salah Halabi fought kilometers from the Israeli major general who had the gumption to take his troops across the Suez Canal in a daring military operation. Thirty-two years later, as his former nemesis, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, lay in critical condition in a hospital bed in Jerusalem, Halabi told The Jerusalem Post that he hoped the man whom he and his men tried to kill in war would now live. "I hope that he will return to the leadership of the state and make peace," said Halabi in a phone conversation from his home in Cairo. [...] Halabi's impression of Sharon changed recently. "I saw that he recently began to understand the international and local political situation properly - especially regarding resolving the Palestinian issue," said Halabi, who commanded the Egyptian Forces who freed Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation. "He began to bring the political right to the center and not leave it as an extreme right." Like many Arabs, Halabi praised Sharon's leadership qualities. "He is a very strong man. And Israel always needs strong leaders to make difficult decisions. Like Begin and Rabin. One who can take difficult decisions to make peace. Halabi wants Sharon to live. "He was my enemy during the time of war. Now he is an agent for establishing peace. He is now needed to create peace in the region. Our best wishes for Mr. Sharon. May he be well." Hmmm...


At 1/10/2006 02:03:00 PM, Blogger Laila said...

"Difficult decision." Yes, how difficult it must have been to isolate 3 million Palestinian behind a Wall that annexes 50% of their land to Israel. And 1.5 million others behind an electric fence. And prevent the twain from meeting. Or continue to Judacize Jerusalem and Akka and al-Naqab and al-Jaleel by preventing Arabs from building, demolishing their homes, raising taxes, and removing permits. Or relocating Gaza's settlements to the West Bank and continue to expand existing settlements, which control 40% of the West Bank. Is Halabi for real?!? Maybe he should get HIS brain checked; that or come live in GAza for a day, and have a reality check instead. Strange and twisted path, yes. But to Peace??!? Bloody hell.

At 1/10/2006 03:03:00 PM, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

I'm afraid that much of what lailaumyousuf wrote is factually incorrect. The Separation Barrier (only a few percent of which is a wall) includes much less than 50% of the West Bank on the Israeli side; the correct figure is something like 10% of the West Bank, give or take a couple percent. The fence itself is not "electric"; there are electronic sensors, but the fence is not electrified in the shocking sense.

Further, the Gaza Strip settlements were not "relocated" to the West Bank; a few Gaza settlers found temporary accomodations in dormitories of the College of Judea and Samaria at Ariel (and I think they have all moved out by now), but no West Bank settlements were established or expanded as a result of the Gaza disengagement. Many of the Gaza settlers are still living in hotels inside Israel; and others are living in temporary accomdations in the Nitzan area (along the coast inside Israel) or elsewhere.

Some of the other points laila raised are matters of debate or interpretation; but the points I've identified are factual and verifiable.

At 1/10/2006 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Diana said...

I believe that the Gaza settlers received compensation of $300 USD per. The disengagement was bought and paid for by the American taxpayer.

About the Galilee (al Jalil, in Arabic?) there are many formerly Arab villages whose inhabitants have not been allowed back. Two of them are the Christian villages of Ikrit and Biram, whose inhabitants have won the legal right to return, but the implementation of this right has been consistently blocked. Sharon was behind a plan to "Judaize" the Galilee, and his government was the latest to prevent the villagers of Ikrit to return home.

The Egyptian official was simply being practical, but I, for one, do not admire Sharon.

At 1/10/2006 03:27:00 PM, Anonymous Mohamed said...

Don, read your article about Sharon, insightful and level headed.

At 1/10/2006 03:28:00 PM, Blogger Diana said...

Of course, I mean $300 THOUSAND, not $300. How painful to have to move when you are being paid by the US taxpayer.

At 1/10/2006 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Diana said...

Here is a URL that might clarify things:


Apparently relocating settlers to the WB was an "option" that was "considered."

Since as I have said the US underwrote the whole thing, Israel couldn't do that.

At 1/10/2006 07:00:00 PM, Blogger Kat said...

That article, the man said exactly what I was trying to say the other day. I always mess it up with too many words. On both sides, a strong leadership that can guide, negotiate and direct their constituents is required to make peace because it is evident that "you can make some of the people happy some of the time, but you can't make ALL of the people happy all the time" is going to be the case in any settlement between Palestinians and Israel.

Compromise and that can only be done with both can guarantee that the agreement is held to by ALL parties.

Unless, of course, one is ready to go back to all out war where one side (arguably Israel with its superior forces) wipes out the other?

Not me and hopefully, not anybody else.

At 1/11/2006 06:28:00 AM, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Mohamed: Thanks!

Diana: It's correct that Gaza settlers received compensation; the United States, however, did not underwrite any of it. The actual amount of compensation is very difficult to ascertain, as it is computed via complicated formulae and doesn't come as one lump sum. The settlers themselves don't appear to feel adequately compensated, for whatever that's worth. I've written on the subject, BTW - see http://tinyurl.com/a3xfn .

OTOH, I agree with you about the villagers of Ikrit and Biram; the fact that Israeli governments have defied Israel's own courts in refusing to let the villagers return is outrageous.

At 1/11/2006 08:45:00 AM, Blogger Diana said...


You are correct, thank you for pointing out that the US government did not directly compensate the Gaza settlers.

But the phrase "money is fungible" still applies. Here are a couple of links with information as to the staggering amounts of money the US has remitted to Israel:


The total costs, in loans, outright grants, canceled debts and philanthropy is $1.6 trillion. Personally, I would not include philanthropy, as this is voluntary and not taxpayer-funded, but still, it's a wad of cash.

Here's something about government implication in illegal settlements:


You don't have to be Einstein to connect the dots between the two.

If Israel did not get so much money and constant diplomatic shielding from the US, they might have thought twice about establishing settlements on other people's land, deep in the heart of densely populated areas. Gaza chief among them.

Gaza settlers got $150 to $400 thousand per:


I have no sympathy for their whining.

Lastly, I'm glad you agree with me about Ikrit and Biram.

Can you tell us in your own words why this is happening?

At 1/11/2006 01:41:00 PM, Blogger Scorekeeper said...

I don't know this particular guy but I do know that the Israelis and Sharon do not think much of Mubarrek or his intelligent chief. They don't trust them and believe they are weak characters, all fluff and their word worth nothing.

Sharon "didn't bring the right in"... he is really a leftist anyway.

I have to say I really don't believe that Sharon believes the Arab world or the Palestinians are willing to meet even halfway and recognize and stop demonizing Israel. And I believe that the Egyptian leadership doesn't really want peace there just an easing down of tension, bcs they if there were peace there and in Iraq Mubarrek and Assad know whose head is next on the chopping block of reforms.

At 1/12/2006 01:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel: Woe unto Pat Robertson for criticizing Sharon: http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/12/israel.robertson/index.html

At 1/12/2006 04:06:00 AM, Blogger Laila said...

Don, correction: Nearly 50% of he West Bank has been effectively annexed, and its inhabitants (mostly farmers cut off from their land and livlihood) restricted from accessing it, by the Wall AND the illegal settlements there.

My usage of "relocation" was figurative. At the same time that Gaza settlements were dismantled, Israel announced plans to make room for 25,000 more settlers in the colony of Ma’ale Adumim. So let's not beat around the bush, I think you have to be extremely naive or extremely right wing to believe that the disengagement was really about making "peace", or that Sharon, for that matter, was a man of peace.

At 1/12/2006 08:29:00 AM, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

Diana: The Christian Science Monitor article is, in my opinion, a piece of crap (not to put too fine a point on it). Thomas Stauffer, the quoted expert in the article, is lumping all sorts of costs together as "aid to Israel", including all U.S. aid to Egypt and Jordan; high oil prices and their effects on the U.S. economy; hypothetical costs should Israel default on guaranteed loans (which it has never done and doesn't plan to do); and a lot of other stuff that really isn't properly counted in this category. (Here's one not-very-detailed reaction to Stauffer's numbers: http://tinyurl.com/8ajfv . Here's another: http://tinyurl.com/9km7p )

The problem with this kind of analysis is that it's impossible to do it accurately: the world is simply too complex, so we have to make assumptions and select our data. It's clear that Stauffer has done so with the aim of maximizing the cost of the U.S.A.'s support for Israel. While Stauffer appears to have solid technical credentials, the small amount of research I've just done indicates that he has a strong anti-Israel bias. Among other things, he has published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, the mouthpiece of a virulently anti-Israel "think-tank". In short, I wouldn't take the CSM numbers at all seriously.

I really can't say why the Ikrit/Biram affair hasn't been resolved long before now. Presumably someone is reluctant to set some form of precedent, but I've yet to see a cogent explanation of the government's protracted inaction on this issue.

Laila: If you're referring to the Separation Barrier (or whatever you want to call it; I like "the Arafat Line"), then you need to be clear: it includes only a small portion of the West Bank on the "Israeli" side. You referred to it as "a Wall that annexes 50% of their land", and that is clearly not true. Now if you want to add these portions of the West Bank to land included in the "planning zones" of settlements east of the Fence, that's fine; but you need to clarify that this is what you're doing. I'd assume (as many of the people living there now do) that most of these settlements are going to be dismantled; I can't say exactly when, but I don't think we're talking about decades here. (I even know someone in Bat Ayin, part of Gush Etzion south of Jerusalem, who's moving out because she's convinced her settlement's days are numbered.)

Another point - and it's a major can of worms - is that the whole issue of what constitutes "Palestinian land" has never been adequately resolved. For example, what is the status of the Gush Etzion settlements, which are built on land that was bought and settled by Jews before 1948? Does that fact that these places weren't within the 1949 Armistice Line (a.k.a. the Green Line) make them "Palestinian"? If so, on exactly what basis? I'm not saying that all Israeli settlements are equally legitimate; but certainly a number of them are. (Strangely enough, I don't know the legal status of Maaleh Adumim. I've never even been there, although I've driven past it.)

I have never believed that the Disengagement was primarily a peace move; I've always felt that it was primarily a strategic tactic undertaken for Israel's benefit. (And I've supported it vigorously; I also believe that Israel should unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank and unilaterally recognize Palestinian independence.) Sharon is not a "man of peace" in the standard meaning of the word; he is a patriotic pragmatist, who will use whatever means he feels are necessary to protect and defend his country. As I believe has been pointed out in one of the Arab newspapers, had Sharon as an Arab leader done the same things he did, but in defense of an Arab country, he'd be the hero of the Arab world.

At 1/13/2006 04:20:00 PM, Blogger Scorekeeper said...

I have never believed that the Disengagement was primarily a peace move; I've always felt that it was primarily a strategic tactic undertaken for Israel's benefit. (And I've supported it vigorously; I also believe that Israel should unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank and unilaterally recognize Palestinian independence.) Sharon is not a "man of peace" in the standard meaning of the word; he is a patriotic pragmatist, who will use whatever means he feels are necessary to protect and defend his country. As I believe has been pointed out in one of the Arab newspapers, had Sharon as an Arab leader done the same things he did, but in defense of an Arab country, he'd be the hero of the Arab world.

Don, your entire post was very well put. Also, let me add 2 things. 1 there is no Sharon on the other side for 2 reasons. First the general will of the Palestinians is for war and rejectionism, while in Israel it is for any compromise that will bring an end to bloodshed.
Second, there is NOONE on that side that is as respected and strong enough to bring the Palestinian side in and if he did remain alive.

THERE WILL NEVER be peace there. It is just a bastardized code word for - what is Israel going to unilaterally give now for a half hearted 'promise' that will be broken tomorrow.

Note, it may be another 100 years before there is real peace in Northern Ireland forget the Arab Israeli conflict.

Regardless, of the land issues how could there ever be peace when this generation of Palestinians are more radicalized and brainwashed than the last?

If this is not so? How many Palestinian youth today verus 30 years ago would agree with these statements -

1) Jews have no right to any of 'our' land.
2) Jews have no connection to this Arab land, it is all made up fairy tales.
3) There was never any Temple in Jerusalem it is only a "trick" to "invade" and "destroy" our Holy Al Asqua Mosque.
4) Jerusalem is not holy to Jews this is another fantsay.
5) Jews are the sons of apes, pigs and monkeys and on Judgement Day... etc..
6) Jews take pleasure in torturing and murdering Arabs.
7) It is the greatest thing to become a Martyr and go to Heaven and bring honor to your family.
8) The Holocaust is another Jew fantasy and exagerration only so the Zionists could steal 'our land'.
9) Wafah Idris dies a hero only because she wanted to bring honor to the Palestinian people.
10) Mohammed Al Durrah wants me too to become a martyr and hero of our people.

Translations of the daily newspapers, textbooks, elementary school lessons and commercials.....
and then in the NEXT BREATH talk about making peace?

"peace" in modern day has gone from Ghandi and Martin Luther King to Hamas, Arafat, and terrorism.

Sadat is even reviled in most of the Middle East, except ironically Israel.

And Sadat was exactly what you described Sharon as a Patriotic Pragmatist. And he had the backbone and smarts to deliver, but not unfortunately stay alive.



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