Guardian

The Tooth Fairy Visits Qasr al Ser


This is a guest post from AKUS

First, a little Israeli geography, since I am sure that many will not have had their attention drawn to the plight of the Bedouin village of Qasr al-Ser/Qasr al-Sir until the Guardian enlisted the services of a well-known tooth fairy to bring it to your attention.

As you can see, its about 3 miles, or 7 km from the center of Dimona. In case the Bedouin, although known as expert trackers in the IDF and superb desert nomads, are unable to navigate the treacherous, arduous, route, Google is able to provide helpful directions which indicate that the trip should take about 15 minutes.


Driving directions from Qasr al-Sir to Dimona, Israel:

7.0 km – about 15 mins

Suggested routes

Qasr al-Sir

Israel

1. Head northeast 0.8 km

2. Turn right toward Route 25 0.3 km

3. Slight right at Route 25 3.8 km

4. Turn left at Sderot Herzl/שדרות הרצל‎ Go through 3 traffic circles

1.7 km

5. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto Derech David Ben Gurion/דרך דוד בן גוריון‎ 0.2 km

6. At the traffic circle, take the 3rd exit onto David HaMelech/דוד המלך‎ 0.2 km

Dimona

My sudden interest in this Bedouin town was triggered by an article by that expert on all things Israeli, Ben White (from now on, referred to as the tooth fairy, for reasons I will later explain). His article meanders here and there like a dry wadi in the desert, but I am going to focus on Qasr al-Sir.

This individual, who in his years in Brazil was never able to notice the poverty of the favellas and the racial discrimination suffered by darker-skinned Brazilians, suddenly developed an enormous interest in the fact that Israel had to close three post-natal clinics (Tipat Chalav) serving Bedouin communities in the Negev due to staff shortages, and refer the mothers to larger clinics located in larger communities. A fairly typical example of resource planning, and one shared by the Jewish communities such as kibbutzim and moshavim in the Negev that use urban centers for their major healthcare needs.

But for the tooth fairy (and I suspect he gleans his information from an unholy alliance with another well-known Guardian hate-monger, Neve Gordon, whose “specialty” is the suffering of the Bedouin despite the fact that they seem in no hurry to leave the scene of their affliction) this is not enough:

First, three vital clinics serving Bedouin women and children have been shut down, with the result that the nearest equivalent facilities are now hours away. The official reason is a shortage of staff, but this does not sit well with the severity of the health problem among these Bedouin children, where the infant mortality rate is more than three times higher than in the Israeli Jewish community.

Leaving aside the tooth fairy’s assessment that these clinics are “vital”, (in fact, there are better alternatives nearby), the first link leads to a Ynet article that also mentions a statement that the tooth fairy somehow overlooked – the same action has affected the Jewish population:

The ministry said that over the past few years it had also shut down some clinics that served the Negev’s Jewish population.

The second link takes the reader to a document prepared by an organization known as “Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”. The very existence of this organization stands in strange contrast to the hyperbolic headline that opens the tooth fairy’s article (“Shattering Israel’s image of ‘democracy’) and his endless claims of the repression of Arab minorities in Israel. The document leads with the statement that got me interested in identifying the whereabouts of the tragic example of Zionist harassment that has so incensed our toothy author:

On 22 October 2009, Adalah sent an urgent letter to the Deputy Minister of Health (MOH) demanding the reopening of the Mother and Child health clinic in the Arab Bedouin unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser in the Naqab (Negev). The MOH closed the clinic last month claiming a lack of nurses and doctors who are willing to work in these centers.

Now I was wondering why on earth anyone would ever have opened a clinic in an “unrecognized village” in the first place. Was it so far from civilization? Where is this remote “unrecognized village” in the Naqab? And what is, or where is, the Naqab? I had to know.

Firstly, it turns out that the use of the term “Naqab” is an Arab alternative for the better known Hebrew word, “Negev” and that this probably represents the start of an attempt by the tooth fairy to write Jews out of the history of the Negev, as is being done with respect to Jerusalem. This despite the fact that to this very day the central town there is known as Beer Sheva, because about 3,000 years ago Abraham swore an oath (“shava”) of friendship next to a well (“be’er”) in that area with his old pal King Avimelech after they had a bit of a to do over water rights. Rather as if suddenly we referred to “Britain” as “Brython” in order to stake a Celtic claim to the place.

Moreover, the tooth fairy notes:

The Negev, or al-Naqab in Arabic, is an area that since the inception of the state has been targeted by Israeli governments, along with agencies like the Jewish National Fund (JNF), for so-called “development”.

So the Jews plant trees and grow crops in the pristine “Naqab” using that agency of the devil, the JNF, with the terrible idea of creating yet more forests in Israel. Of course, when the JNF helps Arabs plant trees in Ramallah, that escapes the tooth fairy’s attention:

A new Palestinian city, Ruwabi, is to be built soon north of Ramallah. Last month, the Jewish National Fund, an Israeli charity, helped plant 3,000 tree seedlings for a forested area the Palestinian planners say they would like to develop on the edge of the new city. Israeli experts are also helping the Palestinians plan public parks and other civic amenities.

But I digress.

Having identified the “Naqab”, I turned to Googlemaps, curious to find the remote, “unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser” and fearing it would turn out to be miles and miles from anywhere that might have an alternative “Tipat Chalav” clinic. This will lead to yet another source of anti-Israeli demonstrations, I thought, with placards in Trafalgar Square demanding “A Tipat Chalav for Every Bedouin Camp”.

Imagine my surprise (I joke) when I found that once again, trading on the ignorance of the average CiF reader, and their laziness when it comes to actually researching the facts instead of uncritically accepting the fairy-stories the stable of Israel-hating regulars (and this tooth-fairy in particular) feed them, it turns out that the “unrecognized village” is, as I demonstrated above, but a 15 minute trip on a paved highway (#25) to the center of Dimona. Moreover, if you actually go to Googlemaps, you’ll find, right in the center of Dimona, the buildings for Maccabi, Clalit, and Leumit health services. I’ll stick my neck out (not very far) and claim that the mothers of the “unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser” in need of help could get assistance at one or another of these clinics if, like other citizens, they take out membership. Leumit has an interesting website (note the Arabic in the top left hand corner):

Welcome to the Leumit website Our website provides you with a partial overview of the extensive scope of medical services offered by Leumit, aimed at ensuring you receive healthcare services of the very highest quality. Leumit, with more than 700,000 members, operates over 370 medical centers from Kiryat Shemonah to Eilat.

Our motto – Taking Care of Your Future Health Today – indicates our commitment to preventive healthcare as an integral part of our community services, and the emphasis we put on healthcare quality, service availability and extensive geographical coverage.

Ok – so it looks like despite the tooth fairy’s article, the mother in the “Arab Bedouin unrecognized village of Qasr el-Ser in the Naqab (Negev)” could quite easily get the same medical care as the non-Bedouin in Dimona. Those of us who care for the facts can breathe a little easier.

But why, the gentle reader is no doubt asking, am I referring to this lying author as the “tooth fairy”?

Well, one of the author’s gullible sycophants – and there are always a few among the Guardian’s Israel-bashers –ignorantly horrified by the distance the Bedouin have to travel to get healthcare (considerably less, by the way, than I do) and the rest of the rubbish in the article came up with this remarkable paean of praise to our author:

shakingwithrage

3 Dec 2009, 3:05PM

you are the bravest of the brave ben the tooth must come out

[emphasis added]

Well, Ben – it’s time to stop with the fairy stories about Israel, and start telling the tooth.

The whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth. The tooth must come out.

134 replies »

  1. @Merav

    “good question to Exiled Londoner – do you think you’ll get an answer?”

    Dunno. Maybe. Interesting either way.

  2. Exiled, quote marks might’ve helped if that was indeed what you meant.

    Punzi, I am not offended by anything you wrote.

  3. Punzi,

    “Thank you for you explanation. Perhaps you will now apologise to MITNAGED for the misunderstanding?”

    Why? Can’t MITNAGED read the same post that you read?

    “Lets envisage, as you do, Israel behind the Green Line and a division of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Should we also be envisioning a foreign army under a UN mandate ??”

    I don’t know. If it would help, yes.

    One of the problems with Israel’s recent proposals has been the demand for Israel to control all borders and airspace of a future Palestinian state. My guess is that this would be regarded as unacceptable, as it effectively would create a non-sovereign state, much like Gaza.

    If international (not necessarily UN) forces would be acceptable to both sides, then I can’t see why not.

    Merav,

    “Punzi very good question to Exiled Londoner – do you think you’ll get an answer?”

    You seem to have some rather unfortunate manners. If you must ask whether I will reply to a post (I’m not sure why you would?), then it would be more polite to ask me.

  4. and a division of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

    Punzi, it seems you seek to claim all of Jerusalem for israel. I suppose you think East Jerusalem should remain in the Israeli state. I suppose you support the east Jerusalem arabs ‘municpal citizenship’ status? Or should they be evicted completely (which is slowly happening with demolitions and the wall forcing others to move)?

  5. RepublicanStones,

    “depends Exiled. Has the ruling elite introduced discriminatory legislation against the native Fijians?”

    The coup happened within days of the election.

    “I would say any living person who emigrated to a country could reasonablybe dexcribed as such.”

    So relatives of mine who came to Britain in the 1920s might not?

    “Further, the Law of Return allows foreigners rights not afforded to the native palestinians. A repeal of that silly law is needed.”

    I agree. Once there is a settlement of all refugee issues, then Israel can do what it likes, but to exclude native born people, while accepting those with far more distant links is wrong.

    “Are the indignous people there still discriminated against through offical legislation simply because they are not the right religion?”

    They have been, but as I said to Leni, official legislation is only part of the story – I don’t think many could argue that Australian Aboriginees face enormous discrimination.

    I cannot support legal discrimination either in favour of, or against indigenous groups – people are people, and citizens are citizens.

  6. Hmm, I’m having the same problem as Republican Stones, and I don’t have a Dell computer….

    Maybe my post will emerge from cyberspace later?

  7. @exiled

    “Why? Can’t MITNAGED read the same post that you read?”

    I posted before I saw your response where by you seemed to regret the way you had phased your earlier comment to MITNAGED. That aside, in view of this quip, I’m not sure you should be lecturing Marev on “unfortunate manners.”

    “I don’t know. If it would help, yes. ”

    This is rather vague from someone who seems to see the solution so clearly ??
    As you say, Israel is reluctant to give up safeguards i.e. control of airspace. I assume you can appreciate why this might be. Which is why I ask you to spell out not only how the Two States would live side by side as you have many times before, but, in your opinion, if you believe the UN must martial any such agreement by way of a “peace keeping force.” And if so, exactly how this would work out. i.e. Who would control the borders as well as airspace ??

  8. Punzi,

    “I posted before I saw your response where by you seemed to regret the way you had phased your earlier comment to MITNAGED.”

    Really? Then why did you write “Thank you for you explanation. Perhaps you will now apologise to MITNAGED for the misunderstanding?”?

    A tear in the space/time continueum perhaps?

    “That aside, in view of this quip, I’m not sure you should be lecturing Marev on “unfortunate manners.”

    What quip? Marev and yourself seem to think that it’s perfectly normal to hold a side debate on what I’m going to, or not going to write. It’s seems rather rude, especially considering how many posts I have replied to.

    Anyway, it’s not important.

    “This is rather vague from someone who seems to see the solution so clearly ??”

    Why? If it helps, and the parties want it – doesn’t sound vague to me.

    “As you say, Israel is reluctant to give up safeguards i.e. control of airspace. I assume you can appreciate why this might be.”

    If Israel isn’t ready to give up control of borders and airspace, then Israel isn’t ready to give up the occupation.

    “Which is why I ask you to spell out not only how the Two States would live side by side as you have many times before, but, in your opinion, if you believe the UN must martial any such agreement by way of a “peace keeping force.” And if so, exactly how this would work out. i.e. Who would control the borders as well as airspace ??”

    The two states would live side by side, just as hundreds of other previously warring states have gone on to live side by side.

    If Israel wants further assurances, then that is something that must be negotiated – it doesn’t have to be the UN, but I’m pretty sure that it can’t be Israel policing borders, airspace and other issues, as that would negate the sovereignty of the new state.

    Israel is many times more powerful than any new Palestinian state would be. I find it rather fanciful to believe that on finally gaining a state, the Palestinians would commit collective suicide by attacking Israel.

    The real issue is the threat from rogue groups – groups that a Palestinian Government would have every reason to control. If they needed help to do so, my guess is that they would ask for it – the alternatives would be too drastic.

  9. ‘exiled

    “A tear in the space/time continueum perhaps?”

    Maybe. All I know is I didn’t see it.

    “Anyway, it’s not important.”

    I’m glad you said that because I have a low boredom threshold.

    “Why? If it helps, and the parties want it – doesn’t sound vague to me.”

    Well it does because you’re offloading my question: “if they want.”
    I’m respnding to what you have written – If like me, you read what other people explain what “will work” then I expect them to explain “how it will work.”

    “If Israel isn’t ready to give up control of borders and airspace, then Israel isn’t ready to give up the occupation.”

    Really?? You make it all sound so very easy.

    “The two states would live side by side, just as hundreds of other previously warring states have gone on to live side by side. If Israel wants further assurances, then that is something that must be negotiated – it doesn’t have to be the UN, but I’m pretty sure that it can’t be Israel policing borders, airspace and other issues, as that would negate the sovereignty of the new state.”

    OK. Great. So far so good but if you don’t think Israel can police the borders and airspace who ?? You write: “something can be negotiated” As with UNIFIL in the Lebanon you mean ?? I sure hope not.

    “Israel is many times more powerful than any new Palestinian state would be. I find it rather fanciful to believe that on finally gaining a state, the Palestinians would commit collective suicide by attacking Israel.”

    Well when you put it like that it does sound fanciful doesn’t it – But I wouldn’t have. The problem is not simply that there are various groups but that these are aligned to different States. So let’s just take Gaza, for instance – the Hamas have problems with different groups going unilateral (as does the Hezbollah in the Lebanon) so Israel might be forgiven for wondering who is going to keep control of all the factions/outside State and non State actors drawn into this theatre, all sitting on Israel’s arch – Particularly if she were to withdraw to the green line and that’s without the extra nightmare, and it would be a big one, airspace.

    “The real issue is the threat from rogue groups – groups that a Palestinian Government would have every reason to control. If they needed help to do so, my guess is that they would ask for it – the alternatives would be too drastic.”

    Well, exactly, I’m glad you’ve thought about it, if not much – In between this Palestinian Government you mention (is this a Unity Govt, btw?? because we’re still waiting to see what happens in regard to PA-Hamas rapprochement ?? ) In any event, I think safety measures would have to be firmly in place before there is any withdrawal – a withdrawal some accuse Israel of not wanting to make yet don’t often concern themselves too much with the detail, the details which, I’m afraid Israel has to consider very carefully.

  10. OK. Great. So far so good but if you don’t think Israel can police the borders and airspace who ??

    Why on earth should israel police the airspace and borders of any potential palestinian state?

    a withdrawal some accuse Israel of not wanting to make

    Well the settlement building would suggest Israel isn’t too keen on withdrawing.

  11. @ exiledlondoner

    “Er, I think that StickyMickey was attempting to parody some of the views on the site…”

    SM is a sad little troll – the kind of person who gets ulcers from all the hate and resentment inside their head.

  12. ExiledLondoner, some simple questions for you in the light of the implied criticism of Israel for not being ready to give up the occupation as you put it:

    Can you give me details – times, dates, names of the participants, you know the sort of thing – that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority under Abbas (either, or both) made any agreement with Israel that the latter could trust, ie that they backed up by their behaviour? This means anything indicative of a lasting peace rather than a hudna which merely gives Muslims permission to rearm and continue warfare whenever they wish. You should note that backing it up by their behaviour means no launching of rockets whatsoever – Hamas is the government in charge of Gaza so it’s reasonable to expect it to be able to control the factions which are more crazy than it is;

    Likewise on the West Bank, I am looking for indications in writing from reputable sources, with dates, names of participants, in which they say that they mean to keep a lasting peace, which they back up with their behaviour – and that includes not broadcasting TV programmes full of Jew-hatred or teaching their children in schools to hate Israel and Jews.

    You see, I believe you to be possessed of the same delusion as so many who are sorry for the poor Palestinians, that the Palestinian leaders actually want peace. Their behaviour belies this. Rather it indicates that the destruction of Israel is more important to them than peaceful and prosperous lives and the safety of their children. If this is not the case, then prove it by providing what I have asked for with the associated corroborating evidence.

    Israel, on the other hand has withdrawn from Gaza (but has been shelled and attacked in response) and until she erected a barrier to keep them out has been the prey of suicide murderers from Gaza and the West Bank. However, she has dismantled settlements in Gaza as an act of faith, and has dismantled over 30 checkpoints on the West Bank since 2006.

    But Palestinian TV still broadcasts hate and teaches hate to its children. All this wish for peace seems to be one-way, doesn’t it?

    republicanstones, were I an Israeli I would want the airspace near my borders patrolled given the lived experience of the past 60-odd years. Are you really so dim that you expect even an agreed peace settlement to come packaged to be up and running with all the attendant trust in place?

    It would probably take another 60-odd years before Israelis and Palestinians could relax enough around each to be able really to move forward and collaborate fully, but I hope I will be proven wrong. But people like you and the other leftist “anti-colonialist” nutters would not be very helpful at all to the delicate process I would imagine.

  13. @Serendipity

    exiled strikes me as one who is not overly interested in being bogged down in anything other than a final two state solution with Israel behind the GL. In fact, he has often bemoaned the very mentioning of such issues that you do in your post as well as accusing other cif notables such as PetraMB, of introducing even historical narrative as a tactic of demonising one side or assisting the status quo in which he seems to believe benefits Israel.
    I mostly find exiled quite interesting up to a point. The point where he fails to critically examine his own spiel. exiled is very good at wafting away anything he sees as bunkum – But after the usual: Israel is the intransigent partner, must withdraw to the GL and ceed all control of waters, borders and airspace (and here’s the great plan !) there after if help is required, they can maybe place a call to the NGO Resource centre at the UN…or not. You know, lets just see how it all goes….up?!
    This might surpise exiled, but Israel wont be the only country not rushing to embrace this. However, all is not lost. He could start blogging on endtimers.com where I’m sure he’s be a huge hit !!
    I hope he doesn’t though – I’d kinda miss reading his sunny posts:)

  14. @exiled

    small P.S.

    “What quip? Marev and yourself seem to think that it’s perfectly normal to hold a side debate on what I’m going to, or not going to write. It’s seems rather rude, especially considering how many posts I have replied to.”

    I just wanted to make clear that I wasn’t having a side debate with Marev, I simply replied to her. And just so you know, I’m not opening a side debate with Serendipity either, I’m just musing from past observations. There have been times, as you mention it – That I have found you rather dismissive, rude even, though I tend to let that sort of thing mostly go.
    But yes, You have received a lot of posts here and yes I do appreciate it must have taken up considerable time to try your best in reply. I recall PetraMB replying substantively, almost slavishly to tens of comments on her threads no matter how critical, at times, downright spiteful – and how ungracious many of those recipients were.
    Anyway, I just wanted to make clear if I upset you that certainly was not my intention – As you say, tone doesn’t always translate to text.

  15. From now one, any time I see someone suggesting that Jerusalem be divided, I am going to make the following suggestion:

    OK – provided that includes division of the Temple Mount. The Jews get the area of the Dome of the Rock, where the Temple stood, and the Moslems get Al Aksa. Fair enough?

    Somehow I doubt that that will be the solution those looking to divide Jerusalem had in mind. But, hey – if it works – why not?

    (I just hope they don’t rebuild the Temple, of course – I’m not into blood sacrifices).

  16. Punzi,

    “Well it does because you’re offloading my question: “if they want.”
    I’m respnding to what you have written – If like me, you read what other people explain what “will work” then I expect them to explain “how it will work.” ”

    The answer is “slowly” – this debate has emerged, not from my demanding an instant solution, talks tomorrow, or a quick end to the “illegal” occupation – it has emerged from my suggestion of confidence buildfing measures.

    I suggest that you go back and look at what I wrote.

    -The only way I can see of breaking the cycle, and creating the conditions in which an agreement can be rationally discussed, would be to lift the feeling of siege that both communities live under, and to lower the temperature, marginalising the extremists in the process.-

    So what am I asking for? An immediate end to occupation? No – that would result in a disaster. Talks tomorrow? No – waste of time. There’s no chance of a deal.

    All I’m asking for is that, in order to give the moderates on both sides a boost, and to marginalise the extremists, both sides should do nothing more than what they should be doing anyway – stop illegal attacks and stop illegal building – and lower the temperature.

    From the invective that has come out (some of it every bit as demonising as the stuff this site claims to be watching) , anyone would think that I’ve asked Israel to commit collective suicide, rather than stop building settlements.

    Sure, Hamas might choose to keep firing rockets (and the hilltop youth might choose to keep building outposts), but it at least gives an opportunity for moderates on both sides to put their case.

    “Really?? You make it all sound so very easy.”

    It’s very easy – if Palestine ever becomes a sovereign state, then Israel will not control it – borders, airspace, or anything else.

    “OK. Great. So far so good but if you don’t think Israel can police the borders and airspace who ?? You write: “something can be negotiated” As with UNIFIL in the Lebanon you mean ?? I sure hope not.”

    Who? Who do you want? The UN, NATO, The Arab League, The EU, a specially formed force? Turkey might be acceptable to both sides?

    “Well, exactly, I’m glad you’ve thought about it, if not much – In between this Palestinian Government you mention (is this a Unity Govt, btw?? because we’re still waiting to see what happens in regard to PA-Hamas rapprochement ?? ) In any event, I think safety measures would have to be firmly in place before there is any withdrawal – a withdrawal some accuse Israel of not wanting to make yet don’t often concern themselves too much with the detail, the details which, I’m afraid Israel has to consider very carefully.”

    The problem is that what you call “detail” seems more like an attempt to derail.

    Of course there are many problems to be solved, but what you and others are demanding is that all of the problems should be solved, before Israel even has to stop its illegal settlement building, let alone start acting in a way that encourages peace.

    Whether unthinkingly or intentionally, you are setting up insurmountable obstacles to even beginning the peace process, let alone achieving it. My vision, or anyone else’s vision, for a final settlement, are only worth discussing if there is ever to be a final settlement.

    At the moment, there is virtually no prospect of progress, and that is as much down to Israeli rejectionism as it is Palestinian.

  17. Serendipity,

    “Can you give me details – times, dates, names of the participants, you know the sort of thing…..”

    Look for yourself. I don’t do requests.

    Neither side has lived up to its commitments – can you name a single Israeli Govt that didn’t build more illegal settlements? – but the logical extension of your views is that there will never be peace, so Israel shouldn’t bother looking for it.

    Yours is little more than a message of despair. There are many on both sides who agree with you – that the other side can never be trusted. Interestingly, their pessimism over the chances of a negotiated peace are often matched by their misplaced optimism over the chances of total victory. That’s Hamas’s position. It was Likud’s too, until their recent Damascene conversion…. So what would you suggest? 60 more years of killing?

  18. Punzi,

    “I just wanted to make clear that I wasn’t having a side debate with Marev, I simply replied to her. And just so you know, I’m not opening a side debate with Serendipity either, I’m just musing from past observations.”

    So you’re not have a side debate about me, you’re just talking about me on the side?

    No probs – I’m not the sensitive type (though I do feel a bit like Macbeth at times).

    “There have been times, as you mention it – That I have found you rather dismissive, rude even, though I tend to let that sort of thing mostly go.”

    Guilty as charged – though my rudeness tends to be a little more direct?

    “Anyway, I just wanted to make clear if I upset you that certainly was not my intention – As you say, tone doesn’t always translate to text.”

    Sometimes that can be a good thing!

    Please don’t worry – my comments about rudeness were merely an observation. I don’t get upset very easily.

  19. AKUS,

    Whatever the end status of East Jerusalem, I suspect that the holy sites are going to have to end up under some kind of joint sovereignty, or “Vatican” type status.

    That’s as likely if a final settlement cedes East Jerusalem to Israel, as it is if it becomes Palestinian – there simply cannot be a final settlement unless the religious rights of both sides are met.

    I’m not too worried about it – I think that the problem will be east Jerusalem as a whole, rather than the holy sites. If a deal is doable on East Jerusalem, I think that whoever gets it will bend over backwards to keep the deal alive – including compromising over the holy sites.

    Best not to even joke about rebuilding the Temple – there are those who would actually do so, which would unleash something that none of us want to see.

  20. @exiled

    With respect, exiled, I think I have posted pretty clearly (though I now learn either unthinkingly, or subconsciously attempting to derail) during cif-times anyway – that the settlements had to stop IMO. (I don’t accept they were all automatically illegal but that’s another issue). I’m pretty sure I supported akin to Fayyads plan, the build up of Palestinian Civic institutions as a spring board to a Palestinian State – That I believed that if there isn’t two States, sooner or later, as the PA have just recently intimated, the Palestinians would change tack – demand Israeli citizenship and all the trimmings, ergo., One state.

    However, I believe there is no way the two state process is going anywhere until Iran and Saudi roll back and Syria and the Lebanon is settled. That’s not deflecting, derailing or postponing – that’s just the framwork of the permenent peace settlement.

    Despite UNIFIL doing a lousy job in the Lebanon:

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1259831474921&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Or if you prefer a more left slant:

    http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1133149.html

    Though Haaretz doesn’t mention Mehdi Kanso swanning around under UNIFIL’s noses they do mention that UNIFIL will have the same mandate as in the Lebanon. What a relief! There is, however, mention that the Alawi Arab residents will retain their Israeli ID cards and Israel will still cater to their “civilian needs” after Israeli withdrawal.

    But more to the point – I doubt the IDF sold this to Netanyahu since he gave Olmert/Livni a round for the deal they did with UNIFIL for the Lebanon – But what we can surmise, is that under outside pressure it looks as if he’s going for it. So now, hopefully negotiations between Israel – Syria (preferably with the French mediating since Syria rejects direct talks ). That’s where any serious peace process has to begin – Not in Gaza, not in Ramallah but in Damascus. It will be interesting to see if Assad and Natanyahu can meet half way.

    WRT which foreign force would I entrust Israels’ security ? NON.

  21. Punzi,

    “With respect, exiled, I think I have posted pretty clearly (though I now learn either unthinkingly, or subconsciously attempting to derail) during cif-times anyway – that the settlements had to stop IMO.”

    That’s all I’m asking for at the moment, but even that seems to have created a bit of a firestorm.

    I can only respond to what you write. I don’t remember you from CIF – what name did you post under?

    “I’m pretty sure I supported akin to Fayyads plan, the build up of Palestinian Civic institutions as a spring board to a Palestinian State – That I believed that if there isn’t two States, sooner or later, as the PA have just recently intimated, the Palestinians would change tack – demand Israeli citizenship and all the trimmings, ergo., One state.”

    That’s a theory I’ve heard a lot of lately – the “tactical” one state claim. I honestly don’t see it working.

    “However, I believe there is no way the two state process is going anywhere until Iran and Saudi roll back and Syria and the Lebanon is settled. That’s not deflecting, derailing or postponing – that’s just the framwork of the permenent peace settlement.”

    Vile as the Saudi regime is, I really don’t see them as a major obstacle to peace – they’re far too self-obsessed to dirty their hands elsewhere.

    Lebanon is a problem through Syrian and Irian proxies, rather than in itself.

    Iran and Syria are more problematic, though progress towards a deal can only weaken their positions, so I can’t see how their presence can be used as an excuse for not moving towards agreement.

    The country which always gets overlooked, and which I believe will have a greater influence on what finally happens, is Turkey. Traditionally a friend of both Israel and the US (and a NATO member), Turkey is flexing its muscles on a number of issues – the I/P conflict, the Caucauses, Kurdish autonomy in Iraq, denied EU membership, the threatened attack on Iran, etc.

    Fears that Turkey could be pushed into both the Russian and Islamic camps are going to exercise a lot of leaders over the next few years – Israel, the US, and the EU, being prominent amongst them. Turkey is the US’s most important strategic partner in the region – more so than Israel – and cannot be ignored. The indications are that Turkey isn’t going to let itself be ignored either.

    While I don’t believe a deal in the I/P conflict is imminent, I do believe that it is very much in Israel’s own interests to make it very clear that it wants to see a two-state solution, and that it is willing to make the necessary compromises. Netanyahu and his government are not going to convince anyone of that.

    “Despite UNIFIL doing a lousy job in the Lebanon:”

    That’s as maybe, but the arguement that Israel won’t budge because UNIFIL are doing a lousy job, isn’t going to hold the line for long. The answer will be “then come up with something better”.

    “But more to the point – I doubt the IDF sold this to Netanyahu since he gave Olmert/Livni a round for the deal they did with UNIFIL for the Lebanon – But what we can surmise, is that under outside pressure it looks as if he’s going for it. So now, hopefully negotiations between Israel – Syria (preferably with the French mediating since Syria rejects direct talks ). That’s where any serious peace process has to begin – Not in Gaza, not in Ramallah but in Damascus. It will be interesting to see if Assad and Natanyahu can meet half way.”

    I think that’s half right. I agree that a deal over Palestine has to be accompanied by a deal with Syria (and by default, Lebanon), but I don’t think it’s feasible to expect one to be concluded before the other.

    A deal with Syria, if completed without progress on the Palestinian issue, would simply repeat the mistakes of Camp David. The deal would take away one of the major incentives for Israel to look for a deal with the Palestinians. There will be, if it ever happens, a twin track approach, with the Syrians wanting to claim credit for the whole damn thing.

    This seems to be another reason to start building confidence now?

    “WRT which foreign force would I entrust Israels’ security ? NON.”

    I’m sure you feel that way, but in this time of intercontinental missiles, and long-range bombers, no country can control its security to that extent. All it can do is control its own territory, and use the usual mix of alliances and deterrents to make attacks unlikely.

    Israel is nuclear armed, has a powerful modern military, and counts the world’s only superpower amongst its closest friends. It has done all it can do to ensure its security, and controlling another few kilometres of airspace and border isn’t going to make much difference – other than to the peace process.

  22. Hi @exiled

    We seem to be exchanging a lot of soundbites rather than anything particulalry substantive. I’m pretty lazy the best of time – However, I would like to have responded more adequately to this post, alas, no time so just very quickly, a few comments.

    “That’s a theory I’ve heard a lot of lately – the “tactical” one state claim. I honestly don’t see it working.”

    I’m surprised you think it’s a theory since some politicos and activists actually think it’s the way to go. Personally I see such a venture as cataclysmic all round but there we go. I’m not a one stater.

    “Vile as the Saudi regime is, I really don’t see them as a major obstacle to peace – they’re far too self-obsessed to dirty their hands elsewhere.”

    Saudi is a huge obsticle – always has been. It was their proxies responsible for rocket fire from the Leb attempting to provoke Israel into opening a new front on the Lebanon during cast Lead. They’re up to their necks in the Lebanon. Saudi involvement from the Levant to Pakistan is on going and well documented.

    “Lebanon is a problem through Syrian and Irian proxies, rather than in itself.”

    At risk of repeating myself, I think that’s what I said.

    “Iran and Syria are more problematic, though progress towards a deal can only weaken their positions, so I can’t see how their presence can be used as an excuse for not moving towards agreement.”

    Well, again, as I said – that’s why Netanyahu would agree to the Graziano plan ???

    “The country which always gets overlooked, and which I believe will have a greater influence on what finally happens, is Turkey. Traditionally a friend of both Israel and the US (and a NATO member), Turkey is flexing its muscles on a number of issues – the I/P conflict, the Caucauses, Kurdish autonomy in Iraq, denied EU membership, the threatened attack on Iran, etc.”

    I agree Turkey is flexing its muscles, however, I’m not convinced for all the right reasons. I appreciate it’s dilemma over an independent Kurdistan which I also mentioned way back on cif, this being one of the many consequences of Iraq and any dismemberment of the country. I don’t favour Turkish accession, (EU) but concessions relative to those enjoyed by Israel.

    “Fears that Turkey could be pushed into both the Russian and Islamic camps are going to exercise a lot of leaders over the next few years – Israel, the US, and the EU, being prominent amongst them. Turkey is the US’s most important strategic partner in the region – more so than Israel – and cannot be ignored. The indications are that Turkey isn’t going to let itself be ignored either.”

    Turkey’s strategic position is a no brainer, however, Erdogens Turkey has been steadily moving from it’s secular base with tensions between the AKP and the Military.

    “That’s as maybe, but the arguement that Israel won’t budge because UNIFIL are doing a lousy job, isn’t going to hold the line for long. The answer will be “then come up with something better”.

    Well, either there is peace agreement with Syria, stability in the Lebanon or accept little if any change since it’s all interlinked. Israel does not hold all the cards.

    “I think that’s half right. I agree that a deal over Palestine has to be accompanied by a deal with Syria (and by default, Lebanon), but I don’t think it’s feasible to expect one to be concluded before the other.”

    I think that’s half wrong since it is in the wider regional interest that there be peace agreement with Syria, the Lebanon calm and an Israel – Palestinian settlement. I don’t think it’s feasible one will be concluded without the other.

    “A deal with Syria, if completed without progress on the Palestinian issue, would simply repeat the mistakes of Camp David. The deal would take away one of the major incentives for Israel to look for a deal with the Palestinians. There will be, if it ever happens, a twin track approach, with the Syrians wanting to claim credit for the whole damn thing.”

    So far as there was no peace agreement also with Syria, then yes. Arafat did plead with Sadat not to sign (march 79) but the peace agreement (Israel-Egypt) was reached between Begin and Sadat, who because of Arafat’s never ending stalling had to go it alone. Remember Carter is still the most pro Palestinian US President to date. But as I hope I have made clear, this is why I believe a simultaneous approach is needed now.

    “Israel is nuclear armed, has a powerful modern military, and counts the world’s only superpower amongst its closest friends. It has done all it can do to ensure its security, and controlling another few kilometres of airspace and border isn’t going to make much difference – other than to the peace process.”

    Yes, and the same superpower had a major city’s (NY) skyline changed so really, this is all moot. the framework should be, settlements cease, Fayyad given every support in so far as civic institution building but Syria must engage.

    Glad you aren’t sensitive:-) and thx for your posts/thoughts on this issue.

  23. @exiled – correction.

    Saudi is a huge obsticle – always has been. It was their proxies responsible for rocket fire from the Leb attempting to provoke Israel into opening a new front on the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah during cast Lead. They’re up to their necks in the Lebanon. Saudi involvement from the Levant to Pakistan is on going and well documented.

    Have a nice day.

  24. @exiled, “…Look for yourself. I don’t do requests….”

    Meaning that although you spout as if you know what you are talking about, when pressed you can’t support what you say.

    Does settlement building, illegal or not, merit suicide or other terror in response? (Please don’t offer us your usual “they are desperate” argument – that was worn out from overuse long ago).

    From your posts, I imagine that you find it difficult to hypothesise which often accompanies an inability to grasp possibilities about the future. That is why you mistake my realistic assessment of why it will take both sides a long time to build up the trust to be comfortable alongside each other even if Hamas is fully neutered in the next round and the Palestinians have no option but to sue for a lasting peace. This will have to proceed sensitively and gingerly but cannot happen at all while Hamas exerts its malign influence.

    Try to understand that this is not a counsel of despair – it is a realistic assessment of the facts on the ground.

  25. Serendipity,

    “Does settlement building, illegal or not, merit suicide or other terror in response?”

    No.

    Not only doesn’t settlement building merit terrorism – nothing does.

    “(Please don’t offer us your usual “they are desperate” argument – that was worn out from overuse long ago).”

    Whoa! Stop right there.

    I suggest that you go and find my “usual “they are desperate” argument – that was worn out from overuse long ago” and quote it.

    As I’m sure that you would never say such a thing, unless you had actually seen me use such an argument, that shouldn’t be too difficult?

  26. Hi Punzi,

    “I’m surprised you think it’s a theory since some politicos and activists actually think it’s the way to go. Personally I see such a venture as cataclysmic all round but there we go. I’m not a one stater.”

    I think that there are two sets of logic behind the theory. One is from natural one-staters, who feel it is an argument that promotes their own views (I’ve written about that upthread). The other is from two-staters, who feel the one-state threat may push Israel into being more serious about a two-state solution.

    That logic would be impeccable, if only someone could figure out how exactly Israel could be pushed into accepting a one-state solution as inevitable, and therefore choose the lesser of two evils to avoid it.

    Unfortunately, the equation is not either/or, it is agreement/no agreement – unless Israel is persuaded that a deal is in its interests, then the default position is the staus quo.

    “Saudi is a huge obsticle – always has been. It was their proxies responsible for rocket fire from the Leb attempting to provoke Israel into opening a new front on the Lebanon during cast Lead. They’re up to their necks in the Lebanon. Saudi involvement from the Levant to Pakistan is on going and well documented.”

    While I understand the threat from Saudi promotion of Wahabism, isn’t Hezbollah and most of Southern Lebanon more under Iranian influence?

    “I agree Turkey is flexing its muscles, however, I’m not convinced for all the right reasons.”

    Nor am I, but flexing they are.

    “I appreciate it’s dilemma over an independent Kurdistan which I also mentioned way back on cif, this being one of the many consequences of Iraq and any dismemberment of the country.”

    That’s only one of the regional interests Turkey is getting concerned about. Western support for Georgia, and a possible attack on Iran are equally important.

    “I don’t favour Turkish accession, (EU) but concessions relative to those enjoyed by Israel.”

    Nor did I, but I think I might live to regret that view. While the opposition to Turkey in the EU has a sound basis (culture, human rights and immigration), I’m beginning to think that the picture is far wider than just narrow EU interests. We’ll have to wait and see.

    “Turkey’s strategic position is a no brainer, however, Erdogens Turkey has been steadily moving from it’s secular base with tensions between the AKP and the Military.”

    True, but Erdogan is pushing for EU membership – something that would both protect Turkey’s secular status, and reduce any threat from the military? I think he’s playing quite a clever (and dangerous) game – he’s presenting the west with a challenge, and saying “you can’t have a semi-detatched, democratic, secular, pro-western Turkey – either you welcome us, or you get the instability of a Turkey where the Islamicists and the army vie for control.

    “Well, either there is peace agreement with Syria, stability in the Lebanon or accept little if any change since it’s all interlinked. Israel does not hold all the cards.”

    Do you think that Israel will give up the Golan in exchange for peace with Syria, and a Hezbollah-free Lebanon?

    “I think that’s half wrong since it is in the wider regional interest that there be peace agreement with Syria, the Lebanon calm and an Israel – Palestinian settlement. I don’t think it’s feasible one will be concluded without the other.”

    Nor do I – I just think that they will be concurrent.

    “Yes, and the same superpower had a major city’s (NY) skyline changed so really, this is all moot. the framework should be, settlements cease, Fayyad given every support in so far as civic institution building but Syria must engage.”

    If Israel is demanding a higher level of security than New York, then nothing will happen.

    What Israel has the right to demand is this – that their neighbours recognise Israel and its borders, and respect them, and that they work to minimise the threat from terrorist groups who may try to operate from their territory. Zero risk of terrorism is impossible. Many countries have been used to launch terror attacks (Al Qa’eda cells in Europe) – it is their response to such threats that matters.

    “Glad you aren’t sensitive:-)”

    Not sure I could be here if I was?

    “and thx for your posts/thoughts on this issue.”

    Likewise.

    BTW, sorry for the late reply – yesterday was a fiesta here, and I make it a rule not to post anything after a liquid lunch (which may surprise some?).

  27. Exiled

    BTW, sorry for the late reply – yesterday was a fiesta here, and I make it a rule not to post anything after a liquid lunch (which may surprise some?).

    Liquid lunch – do you mean gazpacho?

  28. Hi Peter,

    “Liquid lunch – do you mean gazpacho?”

    Alas, no. It was the demon drink.

    However, what we did eat was Cocida Madrileña – a stew believed to be of Sephardic dish (presumably the pork was a later addition), washed down with rather too much wine.

  29. Hi @exiled

    “While I understand the threat from Saudi promotion of Wahabism, isn’t Hezbollah and most of Southern Lebanon more under Iranian influence?”

    You didn’t see my PS underneath?? I was rushing yesterday and fired off a small additional to clarify. Here it is again:

    @exiled – correction.
    Saudi is a huge obsticle – always has been. It was their proxies responsible for rocket fire from the Leb attempting to provoke Israel into opening a new front on the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah during cast Lead. They’re up to their necks in the Lebanon. Saudi involvement from the Levant to Pakistan is on going and well documented.”

    Saudi have a long history of getting other people to fight their battles. I’m perplexed by the political/military focus on Persia, frustrated by the deals that could have been done over the decades. Personaly, I would sooner go after Riyadh – Now, they actually do have the global Superpower as well as the emerging powers onside.

    “If Israel is demanding a higher level of security than New York, then nothing will happen.”

    That wasn’t the point I was making. I’m not posting you anymore – Too many Cocida Madrileña lunches !! (Just so we’re clear – The tone which should be converyed here is ..well, I’m having a giggle ).

    Anyway, re: Georgia – Was that ever more of a badly laid plan to sit on Russia’s arch, and did it backfire spectacularly. And you have to wonder if the guys on the Russia desk aren’t having way too many Cocida Madrileña lunches. I noticed cif hosted Saakisvili, what is it, twice so far?!

    re: Turkish accession. I’m not sure you can stabilise Turkey by destabilising Europe

    “Not sure I could be here if I was (sensitive) ? ”

    Don’t know. You’re critical of the blog and just about everybody on it, despite which, it’s pretty you obvious you read it frequently., you’re no sooner mentioned than you appear. But I’ll just have to remain curious over what makes Mr. Exiled, tick – Stuff that wont wait. Have a good evening, exiled.

  30. Hi Punzi,

    “Saudi have a long history of getting other people to fight their battles. I’m perplexed by the political/military focus on Persia, frustrated by the deals that could have been done over the decades. Personaly, I would sooner go after Riyadh – Now, they actually do have the global Superpower as well as the emerging powers onside.”

    You’re not the only one. Whatever one thinks of the Iranian regime, they certainly don’t compare in terms of vileness to the house of Saud. Add to that their promotion of extremism from the levant to Indonesia, their funding of Al Qa’eda and all of its offshoots, and the sheer kleptomania of the ruling family, and it really doesn’t make any sense.

    I can think of three factors that might contribute – the pro-western image, the fear of what could replace them, and the problem of western troops in the holy of holies – but I really can’t see why we should end up with Gordon Brown talking about our “shared values”.

    The only values I share with the house of Saud are a love of good whisky, and a willingness to accept huge bribes…..

    “That wasn’t the point I was making. I’m not posting you anymore – Too many Cocida Madrileña lunches !!”

    One is too many.

    “Anyway, re: Georgia – Was that ever more of a badly laid plan to sit on Russia’s arch, and did it backfire spectacularly. And you have to wonder if the guys on the Russia desk aren’t having way too many Cocida Madrileña lunches. I noticed cif hosted Saakisvili, what is it, twice so far?!”

    Hopefully, the Bush era sport of baiting the bear (missiles in eastern Europe, Georgia in NATO, US “advisors” in the Asian republics) is over. I’m not sure that a new cold war is in anyone’s interests.

    “re: Turkish accession. I’m not sure you can stabilise Turkey by destabilising Europe”

    I’m not sure either, but I’m pretty sure that you can destabilise Europe and the ME by destabilising Turkey.

    “Don’t know. You’re critical of the blog and just about everybody on it, despite which, it’s pretty you obvious you read it frequently., you’re no sooner mentioned than you appear.”

    I’m here briefly – by Friday, the real world will drag me away again.

    I am critical of the blog (though not of everyone on it), more for its self-image, than for what it actually is.

    I read so much self-congratulatory guff about what CW is achieving, particularly vis a vis the Guardian, but it falls into exactly the same traps that it accuses the Guardian of.

    I just think that the organisers need to take a step back and consider what this looks like to a casual observer. I’m definately not one of those, and I’m pretty sanguine about the rough and tumble of these debates, but when I look at the intolorance, hatred, triumphalism, racism and childishness of some contributors, I do wonder if regulars have become innured to it all, and that it doesn’t even register with them.

    I would praise CW for resisting the temptation to censor posts (apart from, interestingly, an attack on Christians), but a free forum, which I support, does need some moderation from the posters – when frankly appalling sentiments pass without comment, they start to look like the norm (an accusation levelled at the Guardian by CW).

    My guess is that anyone who is serious about challenging the Guardian’s editorial policy, would be desparate to avoid any public CIF Watch involvement – when challenging pots, kettles aren’t very useful.

    “But I’ll just have to remain curious over what makes Mr. Exiled, tick – Stuff that wont wait.”

    I thought that was obvious? Apart from a long-standing interest in the subject, I enjoy debate – maybe a bit of North London Jewishness rubbed off on me?

    “Have a good evening, exiled.”

    You too.

  31. Serendipity,

    “Read again your post on 5 December at 2.55.”

    I don’t need to – I wrote it.

    Neither the question, nor my answer, makes any reference to terrorism, still less excuses it.

    I’m beginning to think that you made the accusation on a hunch – without the slightest evidence that it was true?

    You picked the wrong target, sunshine – I shan’t hold my breath for a retraction…..

  32. exiled, you’re a confused ….. person…. and please don’t hold your breath – I’d hate to think I was responsible for you passing out because I don’t intend to retract anything. A hunch about you is good enough for me – after all I am very good at intuiting.

    Occasionally you make sense “sunshine” but you vacillate. You often talk for talking’s sake and take oppositional stances just to do the equivalent of hearing yourself speak. I haven’t got time to cite instances but I’d bet if I nailed your toes to the ground and asked you to set out your firm opinions about the Middle East, you wouldn’t have any.

    Now come on, “sunshine” – prove me wrong.

  33. Serendipity,

    “I don’t intend to retract anything. A hunch about you is good enough for me – after all I am very good at intuiting.”

    Pretty much says it all – condemned from your own words.

    “I haven’t got time to cite instances but I’d bet if I nailed your toes to the ground and asked you to set out your firm opinions about the Middle East, you wouldn’t have any.”

    So you haven’t got time to back up your last smear, but you would like me to defend a new one?

    Is this what passes for debate here?