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Behind the Wall

Reporting on the conflict in the Middle East

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Uri Avnery created a sensation when he crossed the lines during the battle of Beirut and met Yassir Arafat on July 3, 1982. Several Israeli cabinet ministers called for Avnery's indictment for high treason, while peace activists hailed the meeting as a historical breakthrough. It was the culmination of an effort started by Avnery many years earlier. A former member of the Irgun underground, he joined Ha'aretz newspaper in 1949, quitting a year later to edit the magazine Haolam Hazeh magazine, which proved to be a thorn in the flesh to a number of Israeli governments. Avnery was ambushed and both his hands broken in 1953 and escaped an assassination bid in 1975. He became a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in 1969 at the head of a party that took its name from his magazine.

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53. December 31, 2005
Who needs a camel?

A drunkard blacks out. His companions pour cold water on him. The drunk opens one eye, licks the water and says: “I don’t know what that is, but it won’t sell!”
I was reminded of this when I read the draft of the Labor Party’s political program, which has just been presented by a committee of experts. It has been said that a camel is a horse drafted by a committee. Leaving aside the insult to the humped animal (in Arabic, the words for camel and beauty are closely related) we can say that committees, by their very nature, are not creative bodies. There is no need to believe in God, and not even “intelligent design”, to know that no committee could draft a noble Arab horse.

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52. December 24, 2005
The Pied Piper

Something bad is happening to the election campaign of Amir Peretz. It is just shuffling around. The surge that started with his election as leader of Labor has petered out. Events in the country are chasing each other: the “big bang” of the new Kadima party, the acts of prostitution of Shimon Peres and Shaul Mofaz, Ariel Sharon’s minor stroke, the Likud primaries, the Qassam rocket hitting Ashkelon. Peretz has been pushed to the margins.

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51. December 17, 2005
The Pied Piper

Some 721 years ago, the town of Hamelin in Germany was suffering from a plague of rats. A citizen called Bunting offered to get rid of them for an agreed fee. When he played on his flute, the entranced rats came out of their holes and followed him to the river where they drowned. But when the piper presented his bill to the town fathers, they wouldn’t pay him.

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50. December 10, 2005
The curse of the gods

This week I was strolling through the streets of Athens, at the foot of the Acropolis, when my eye was caught by a sign bearing one single word in Greek letters: Sisyphus. It was the name of a taverna. Perhaps the gods wanted to remind me of an article I wrote 14 years ago, entitled “The Revenge of the Gods”. Its tragic hero was the man I called “Shimon Sisyphus”. The original Sisyphus was, of course, the king of Corinth, a sinful, lying man of intrigue. He ratted on Zeus, the God-in-Chief, who was, as was his wont, dallying with human beauties.

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49. December 3, 2005
The giant's daughter

A German poem tells of the giant’s daughter, who found a peasant plowing his field and brought him home in her handkerchief to show to her father. But the father said gravely: “The peasant is no toy!” and told her to put him gently back where she had found him. The United States reminds me of the giant’s daughter. Unfortunately, she has no grandfather to tell her that nations are not toys.

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48. November 26, 2005
Two earthquakes

A political earthquake is itself a rare event. When two major political earthquakes follow each other in quick succession, this is almost unheard of. One such earthquake was the election of Amir Peretz as leader of the Labor Party. The other is Sharon's leaving the Likud and forming a new party. Suddenly, the political landscape has changed beyond recognition. Previously, there were two mountains. Now there are three – and none of them stands where either of the two was standing before.

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47. November 19, 2005
Plucking the daisy

Like a maiden plucking the petals of a daisy and murmuring “he will...he will not...he will...he will not...” many of our Leftists are trying to divine what their present idol is going to do. Will Ariel Sharon remain in the Likud? Will he leave and set up a new party? They fervently hope for the second possibility. Sharon as the head of a new party is the answer to their prayers – metaphorically, of course, since they do not believe in God – the right-wing general who will carry out a left-wing program. The Israeli de Gaulle, the Great Disengager, will become the leader of the biggest Israeli party and, in alliance with the left-wing parties, create a solid majority for peace.

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46. November 12, 2005
A great miracle

North African immigrants on the periphery of French cities are torching them. North African immigrants on the periphery of Israel this week carried out a democratic revolution in our country. In the Labor Party primaries, the members of “Eastern” descent voted massively for Amir Peretz and defeated Shimon Peres, who enjoyed the support of the upper class, mostly Ashkenazi, party members

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45. November 5, 2005
Peretz is not Peres

Thus saith the Lord: For three transgressions of the Labor Party, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof...” If the prophet Amos were living today, one of the chapters of his book would probably have begun with these words. But the transgressions of the party since the 1967 Six Day War are more than three or four. They could fill several chapters of the book of the prophet from Tekoa. Here is a partial list:

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44. October 29, 2005
Abbas and the lame duck

A twenty-minute drive is all that separates the Israeli Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem from that of the Palestinian President in Ramallah. But for all practical purposes, the Muqata’ah in Ramallah might as well be on the moon. The day before yesterday, Ariel Sharon declared for the who-knows-how-many-th time, that he had cancelled his planned meeting with Mahmoud Abbas. The reason: Abbas “is not doing anything against terrorism”.

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43. October 20, 2005
War is a state of mind

Some years ago I talked with a young Israeli writer. I was struck by the fact that in spite of being very successful and acclaimed by the critics, and that at a relatively early age, she somehow exuded an air of insecurity.
When I asked her about it, she broke down. “I never told this to anybody. My whole childhood was hell. I did not know that both my parents had been in Auschwitz. They never talked about it. I only knew that there was a terrible secret hanging over my family, a secret so awful that I was forbidden even to ask about it. I lived in constant fear, under a constant threat. I never had a feeling of security."

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42. October 15, 2005
What awaits Samira?

A few days ago, at a conference in Europe, I met a charming young lady. Intelligent, well educated, versed in several languages, and, well, very attractive. After a few hours of shopping, she was as elegant as a model, dressed in the very latest fashion. She happens to be a Shiite from Baghdad, where she has now returned. Let’s call her Samira.What struck me most about Samira was her pessimism. The situation is bad, she said, and, whatever happens, it is going to get worse.

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41. October 1, 2005
The gladiators

The contest between Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon in the Likud Central Committee resembled a duel between two gladiators in the Roman arena. The more so since many of the Committee members behaved like the Roman rabble who screamed, rioted and demanded blood. In this fight, Netanyahu resembled the Retiarius, a gladiator who had nothing on but a short tunic and who sought to entangle his opponent with a cast-net held in his right hand and, if successful, to dispatch him with the trident that he carried in his left. Sharon was like the Secutor, who wore armor and carried a sword. The former had the advantage of mobility and agility, the other moved clumsily but was well protected.

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40. October 1, 2005
The gladiators

The contest between Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon in the Likud Central Committee resembled a duel between two gladiators in the Roman arena. The more so since many of the Committee members behaved like the Roman rabble who screamed, rioted and demanded blood. In this fight, Netanyahu resembled the Retiarius, a gladiator who had nothing on but a short tunic and who sought to entangle his opponent with a cast-net held in his right hand and, if successful, to dispatch him with the trident that he carried in his left. Sharon was like the Secutor, who wore armor and carried a sword. The former had the advantage of mobility and agility, the other moved clumsily but was well protected.

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39. September 24, 2005
A new concensus

In "The Second Coming”, the Irish poet W. B. Yeats described chaos thus: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / are full of passionate intensity.”
The defining phrase, as I read it, is “the center cannot hold”. It is a military metaphor: On the classical battlefield, the main force was located in the middle, with the flanks secured by lighter forces. The enemy’s aim was to break the center, often by turning the flanks. But even if the flanks collapsed, as long as the center held, the battle was not lost.

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38. September 17, 2005
Joha's nail

The day Joha, the hero of popular Arab humor, sold his home. The price he demanded was ridiculously low and he had only one condition: “on one of the walls there is a nail that I am much attached to. I don’t want to sell it.” The buyer readily agreed. Who cares about a nail?

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37. September 10, 2005
Who murdered Arafat?

The day before yesterday the Haaretz headline screamed: “Doctors: Arafat died of Aids or poisoning”. Aids appeared in first place. For dozens of years, the Israeli media has conducted, with government inspiration, a concentrated campaign against the Palestinian leader (with the sole exception of Haolam Hazeh, the news magazine I edited). Millions of words of hatred and demonization were poured on him, more than on any other person of his generation. If somebody thought that this would end after his death, he was mistaken. This article, signed by Avi Isasharof and Amos Harel, is a direct continuation of this smear campaign.

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36. September 3, 2005
The bang and the whimper

The book of Ecclesiastes has no truer follower than Ariel Sharon. Witness, Sharon himself set up the settlements in the Gaza Strip, and now he has destroyed them with his own hands. He created the Likud, and now – hopefully – he is burying it. For those who need a reminder: the creation of the Likud was the exclusive achievement of Ariel Sharon.

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35. August 27, 2005
Dear settlers

Dear settlers: “Dear” in the most literal sense. At long last it must be spelled out, without hypocritical pity, without “if” and “but”.We have paid billions of shekels in order to settle you in the Gaza Strip. We have paid billions to keep you there, and most of you have lived there at our expense. We paid billions to defend you, and dozens of soldiers, male and female, lost their lives doing this. Now we are paying billions (Eight? Ten? Twelve?) to get you out of there and pay you generous compensation.

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34. August 20, 2005
This was the day

August 18th, 2005 – a milestone in the history of the State of Israel. This was the day on which the settlement enterprise in this country went into reverse for the first time. True, the settlement activity in the West Bank continues at full speed. Ariel Sharon intends to give up the small settlements in the Gaza Strip in order to secure the big settlement blocs in the West Bank.

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33. August 13, 2005
A miracle of rare device

A picture engraved in memory: Ariel Sharon in the Knesset. Around him the storm is raging. The Members rush about, shouts ring out from all sides. The Member on the podium waves his arms, denounces and curses him. Sharon sitting at the government table. Alone. Immovable. Massive and passive. No muscle in his face is moving. Not even the nervous tic of his nose, that was once his trade-mark (and that many people considered a kind of lie-detector). A rock in the raging sea.

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32. August 7, 2005
A massacre foretold

It was all expected: both the massacre and the questions it raised. But behind the easy questions that practically posed themselves, much more difficult and unasked questions are hidden. The General Security Service (Shabak, a.k.a. Shin Bet) has been warning for a long time that the “disengagement” from Gaza could lead to an outbreak of Jewish terrorism, aiming at preventing the evacuation of the settlements. It also outlined three possible scenarios: the murder of the Prime Minister, an outrage against the holy mosques on the Temple Mount and a massacre of Arabs.

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31. July 30, 2005
The moment of truth

At this moment, Israel resembles a patient before an operation. Like every major operation, it is dangerous. The patient hopes that everything will go well, but knows that there is no guarantee. In 16 days, the evacuation of 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the north of the West Bank is due to begin. It is supposed to take three weeks.

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30. July 23, 2005
March of the orange shirts

For some weeks now, a red light has been flickering in my mind, illuminating a word in large Gothic letters: Weimar. As a 9-year old I saw with my own eyes the collapse of the German republic that came into being after World War I. It was generally referred to as the Weimar Republic, because its constitution was written in the town of the two towering figures of German Kultur, Goethe and Schiller. Some months after its breakdown, we fled Germany and thus our lives were saved.

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29. July 16, 2005
Silence is filth

So where is the cease-fire? Will Hamas and Islamic Jihad torpedo the withdrawal from Gaza? What is happening to Mahmoud Abbas?
Generally, a cease-fire is declared in one of three cases:When one side beats the other into submission; when a third party imposes it on the two belligerents; and when both sides are exhausted.In our case, neither of the parties has succeeded in overcoming its opponent.

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28. July 9, 2005
The war of the colors

A visitor to Israel at this time may get the impression that the country is in the throes of a contest between two football teams – orange and blue. Thousands of cars are already flying ribbons with these colors, mostly from the antennas. This is very striking on the roads: those who fly different colors are treating each other with hostility, also expressed by their driving, while those who fly the same color exude a civility that is quite foreign to Israeli highways.

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27. July 2, 2005
Arik's horror show

All the world saw the horror on TV: a Palestinian boy lying on the ground, unconscious. An Israeli soldier bending over him, not knowing what to do. A settler coming up from behind and throwing a stone at the head of the injured Palestinian. Another settler dropping a big stone on him at point-blank range. A bearded medic, also a settler, approaches the wounded boy, hesitates, and then goes away without treating him, pursued by the chants of a chorus of settler boys and girls: “Let him die! Let him die!”
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26. June 25, 2005
The day after

This week, the country was shocked by a terrifying train accident. A heavy truck was crossing the tracks as a train approached at high speed. The locomotive driver saw the truck but could not stop in time. The truck driver saw the train but couldn’t get off the track in time. Result: many killed, many hurt, a scene of destruction.
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25. June 18, 2005
Buying off the settlers

The experience was almost surrealistic: I was in a hall in the centre of Gaza, facing some 500 people, all of them bearded men, nearly all of them Hamas militants. The Hamas movement officially opposes the very existence of the State of Israel, and here I stand on the podium speaking in Hebrew about peace between Israel and the future State of Palestine. Did they protest? On the contrary, they applauded, and after the event I was invited to lunch with the respected sheikhs.
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24. June 11, 2005
Three in a bed

"The President of the United States and the President of the Palestinian Authority!” intoned the voice, as the two leaders appeared before the journalists during the recent visit of Mahmud Abbas to the White House.
George Bush also addressed his visitor as “President Abbas”, and not accidentally. The use of this appellation was a deliberate choice.

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23. June 4, 2005
The bogeyman

While the new Chief-of-Staff, Air Force general Dan Halutz, was
assuming his new job, I stood with a group of demonstrators at
the gate of the General Staff building, to protest against his
appointment. Our slogan was: “You have blood on your wings!” –
a reminder of his remarks when the Air Force dropped a one-ton
bomb on a residential area in Gaza, in order to kill Hamas leader
Salah Shehadeh. As will be remembered, the bomb also killed 14
uninvolved people, including nine children..

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22. May 28, 2005
Buying off the settlers

Perhaps there are countries where drivers stuck in traffic jams don’t get annoyed. They know they can do nothing about it, so they wait patiently. Think their own thoughts, listen to the radio or read until the jam disperses. We Israelis are not like that. We are a nervous lot. We have no patience. When we are stuck in a jam, we curse the world and the government, demanding a solution, perhaps a dirt road by which we might escape.
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21. May 21, 2005
Wagner at the memorial

What to do on “Herzl Day”, the anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Zionist movement – officially celebrated this week for the first time? How to honor the memory of this strange man, who still has such an enormous impact on our lives? The day found me in Berlin. I took a look at what was on in the city and discovered the perfect solution: on the same day, the renowned Staatsoper, the State Opera House, was performing Richard Wagner’s Tannhaeuser. What connection can there be between Wagner, the anti-Semitic composer, whose works are not performed in Israel to this very day, and the man who is officially definedas “the Prophet of the State”?
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20. May 11, 2005
Death of a myth

The uproar has been raging for two weeks so far, and is showing no sign of abating. Israel is shaken to the core – is it the postponed “disengagement plan? Is it the killing of demonstrators against the Wall? No, it’s a song. Like a devout Christian, Naomi Shemer confessed, on her deathbed, to the greatest sin of her life: her immortal song, “Jerusalem of Gold”, is a copy of a Basque lullaby she heard some years earlier from a Spanish singer.
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19. May 7, 2005
"Aren't you ashamed?"

The car stopped for a moment. An elderly lady pushed her head out of the window and shouted; “Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? Today is Holocaust Day, and you are demonstrating for Arabs?” The cause of her anger was a large group of demonstrators opposite the Ministry of Defense in Tel-Aviv, last Thursday, the official Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel. Many things happened on that day.
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18. April 30, 2005
A tale of two demonstrations

The day before yesterday, two demonstrations were held, just a few dozen kilometers apart. One took place at the Homesh settlement, not far from Jenin. Tens of thousands of settlers and their sympathizers came to demonstrate against the planned evacuation of this settlement. The demonstrators swore to sabotage the decisions of the government and the Knesset. One of them declared that they could be removed only in coffins draped with the national flag.
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17. April 23, 2005
For whom the bells toll

An Iranian technician called Jalal-a-Din Taheri, who had been working at the nuclear reactor at Bushehr, managed to defect to Europe, where he disclosed the Ayatollahs’ plans for producing nuclear bombs. Taheri was acclaimed a hero throughout the world. A number of organizations nominated him for the Nobel Peace Price. President Bush praised his courage. Ariel Sharon invited him to come and live in Israel, even calling him one of the Righteous of the Nations. The Ayatollahs denounced him as a traitor, infidel, Crusader and Zionist"
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16. April 16, 2005
The 100 days of Abu Mazen

Next Saturday, 100 days since Abu Mazen (Mahmud Abbas) assumed the office of President of the Palestinian National Authority, Jews will celebrate Passover, in memory of the Exodus from Egypt – one of the great stories in human annals. According to the story (Exodus 5), Pharaoh ordered the Children of Israel to produce bricks from straw, but did not provide the straw. “And the Children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying: Wherefore dealest thou with thy servants? There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us: Make brick!"
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15. April 9, 2005
Don't shoot the croupier

As a decent person, I am supposed to feel compassion for the Gush Katif settlers. To embrace them. To shed a tear for their plight. And indeed, there are grounds for compassion. Human beings uprooted from the soil where they have been living for decades. Middle-aged people compelled to start their lives all over again. Children born there obliged to move to schools in other places. People who have flourishing businesses having to construct new livelihoods, under who knows what conditions.
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14. April 2, 2005
Jinn in the ballot box

We were gazing over the roofs of Cairo through the windows of an elegant, modern office. My companion was a scion of the local aristocracy and one of the founders of Egyptian Marxism.
“We must ally ourselves with the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.
I was amazed.

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13. March 19, 2005
Paved with bad intentions

Last week, the mainstream peace organizations held a demonstration in support of Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan. I agonized for days about whether to take part or not. The question continues to bother me, and the discussions on this subject are still going on – with crucial votes due in the Knesset this week. Perhaps the best way to find an answer is to set out the pros and cons.
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12. March 19, 2005
Remember what? Remember how?

From the well-chosen – as usual – words from Joscha Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, to the tortured – as usual – face of Eli Wiesel, the Holocaust professional, it was an appropriate commemoration of the historic crime. But it was also a great victory for Israeli diplomacy. The chiefs of our Foreign Office openly boasted of this political achievement. The foreign guests met with the Israeli leaders and thus lent their indirect but clear support to Ariel Sharon’s policy. Altogether, it underlined the ambiguity of the Holocaust commemoration at this time.
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11. March 12, 2005
Bush's guru

A?n American and a Soviet soldier meet in Berlin in 1945 and get into an argument about which of their countries is more democratic. “Why,” the American said, “I can stand in the middle of Times Square and shout ‘President Truman is a scoundrel’ and nothing will happen to me!” “Big deal,” the Russian retorted, “I can stand in the middle of Red Square and shout ‘Truman is a scoundrel’ and nothing will happen to me!"
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10. March 3, 2005
The next crusades

N?any years ago, I read a book called “The Quiet American” by Graham Greene. Its central character is a high-minded, naive young American operative in Vietnam. He has no idea about the complexities of that country but is determined to right its wrongs and create order. The results are disastrous.
I have the feeling that this is happening now in Lebanon. The Americans are not so high-minded and no so naive. Far from it. But they are quite prepared to go into a foreign country, disregard its complexities, and use force to impose on it order, democracy and freedom.

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09. February 26, 2005
Finger after finger

Seven words uttered by President Bush in Brussels have not been paid the attention they deserve. He called for the establishment of “a democratic Palestinian state with territorial contiguity” in the West Bank, and then added: “A state on scattered territories will not work.” It is worthwhile to ponder these words. Who did he point the finger at? Why did he say this in Brussels, of all places? Nobody warns of a danger without a reason. If Bush said what he said, it means that he believes that someone is causing this danger. Just who might that be?
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08. February 19, 2005
Beware of the dog!

It is not very flattering to be paraded like a Rottweiler on a leash, whose master threatens to let him loose on his enemies. But this is our situation now. Vice President Dick Cheney threatened a few weeks ago that if Iran continues to develop its nuclear capabilities, Israel might attack her. This week, President George Bush repeated this threat. If he were the leader of Israel, he declared, he would have been feeling threatened by Iran. He reminded those who are a little slow that the United States has undertaken to defend Israel if there is a threat to its security. All this adds up to a clear warning: if Iran does not submit to the orders of the US (and, perhaps, even if it does) Israel will attack it with American help, much as it attacked the Iraqi nuclear reactor some 24 years ago.
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07. February 12, 2005
Sharm-al-Sheikh, we have come home

Nobody called it the “Ophira Conference”. Not even the papers of the extreme right. Who today even remembers the name Ophira, which was given to Sharm-al-Sheikh during the Israeli occupation, as a first step to its annexation? Who wants to remember the famous saying of Moshe Dayan that “Sharm-al-Sheikh is more important than peace”? A few years later, the same Dayan took part in the peace negotiations with Egypt and gave Sharm-al-Sheikh back. But in the meantime, some 2500 young Israelis and who knows how many thousands of Egyptians paid with their lives for that statement in the Yom Kippur war.
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06. February 5, 2005
Dunam after Dunam

What would we say if an American institution, holding a seventh of all the land in the United States, adopted statutes that allowed it to sell or rent land only to White Anglo-Saxon Protestants? We would not believe it. And it is, indeed, impossible. But that’s the way things are in Israel. This us now the subject of a stormy public debate. These are the facts: The Jewish National Fund (in Hebrew Keren Kayemet le-Israel – KKL) holds 13% of all the land in Israel. Its statutes explicitly prohibit the sale or rental of land to non-Jews. This means that every Jew in the world, living anywhere from Timbuktu to Kamchatka, can get land from the KKL, without even coming to Israel, while an Arab citizen of Israel, whose forefathers have lived here for hundreds – or even thousands – of years, cannot acquire a house or an apartment on its land.
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05. JANUARY 29, 2005
The stalemate

Perhaps the second intifada has come to an end. Perhaps the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip will develop into a general, mutual cease-fire. For me, the words “cease fire” have an extra resonance. When I was a soldier in the 1948 war, I twice experienced what it means to wait for a cease-fire. Each time we were totally exhausted after heavy fighting in which many of our comrades had been killed or wounded. We hoped with all our hearts that a cease-fire would really come into effect, but did not allow ourselves to believe in it. In both cases, a few minutes before the appointed hour, along the whole front line a crazy cacophony of firing erupted, everybody shooting and shelling with everything he had. To attain some last-minute advantages, as it appeared afterwards. And then, suddenly, the shooting stopped.
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04. JANUARY 22, 2005
The world will survive King George

When King George V died, we got a day off from school as a sign of mourning. Palestine was then a part of the British Empire, which ruled the country under a League of Nations mandate. To this very day, a central street in Tel-Aviv, not far from my home, bears the name of King George. George V was followed (after a brief interlude) by George VI, who was until recently the last George in our life. Now we have a new King George, not British but American. The relationship between the United States and Israel is difficult to define. The USA has no official mandate over our country. It is not a normal alliance between two nations. Neither is it a relationship between a satellite and the master country.
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03. JANUARY 15, 2005
Who envies Abu-Mazen?

Now it’s official: “the First Democracy in the Arab World” or “the Second Democracy in the Middle East” has been born. The Palestinian elections have impressed the world. Until now, if elections were held in any Arab country at all, there was only one candidate, and he received 99.62% of the vote. Yet here there were seven candidates, there was a lively election campaign and the winning candidate got only 62%.
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02. JANUARY 8, 2005
How the hwll did this happen?

How the hell did I get into this goddamned mess? I wake up in the morning and can’t believe it. What, I, Arik Sharon, am waging a war against the settlers? I, who put them there in the first place? I, who drafted the map of the settlements long before the settlers themselves ever dreamed of it? How, for God sake, did this start? What did I want, after all? President Bush asked me to produce a peace plan of some kind. He needed it for his reelection campaign. Alright then, shouldn’t I do him a favor, after he supported us on everything just to get a good word from me, frequently performing a U-turn, like with the settlement blocs?
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01. JANUARY 1, 2005
Before the next catastrophe

Let’s imagine for a moment that the huge tidal waves had hit the western shores of Europe, that more than a hundred thousand English, Irish, Dutch, Belgian, French, Spanish and Portuguese had fallen victim to the tsunami, and that the east coast of the United States had also suffered. How the world would have sprung into action! How the governments would have been galvanized! What huge sums of money would have materialized within hours to save what could be saved and prevent the epidemics that threatened millions!But it did not happen in Europe. It happened to remote, poverty-stricken Asiatic countries. And that makes all the difference.
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