November 29, 2004
An important anniversary

On this day in history, November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to approve the partition of British Palestine into a Jewish state (Israel) and a Palestinian Arab state. It is therefore both an important milestone in the establishment of Israel and also the anniversary of the first rejection by the Palestinian Arabs of their own independent state.

The wonderful Israpundit blog has more on the UN's historic vote.

Israeli writer David Frankfurter adds some additional perspective

This is not just the anniversary of the formation of a Jewish state, when a relatively small number of Jews, both natives and the refugees who had fled the murderous Nazis and the bloody hostility simultaneously unleashed in their Arab allies, decided to take on the threat of the surrounding sea of hostile Arab countries and declare that they would accept crumbs the world had given them, stop being ‘Palestinian Jews’ under British rule and start being independent ‘Israelis’.

Simultaneously, the ‘Palestinian Arabs’ decided to set an equally historic precedent. This was the first time that they rejected the formation of a separate Palestinian Arab state.

Just as hundreds of thousands Jews fled Arab countries, a similar number of Palestinian Arabs fled the Jewish state, and became refugees – to this day waiting the promise of the surrounding Arab nations to ‘throw the Jews into the sea’.

The rag-tag Jews meanwhile, miraculously and with divinely inspired determination, defended their small nation time and time again from invading Arab armies. Sitting on land granted to them by international law, often (as with my home in Ra’anana) purchased at going rates from their Arab neighbours, they built a modern nation. A democracy with achievements that outstrip the neighbours’ – and often the rest of the world. While simultaneously dedicating resources to fight imposed war after war, Jews have built a full democracy in which learning of all types flourishes. Top of the list in innovation, patents issued, medical discoveries, new technologies, and almost every other field of human endeavour. Black and white, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, Ethiopian and Russian, Eastern and Western, refugee and idealist, religious and secular, all mixed together. Making the most of the little that the world grudgingly granted.

I can’t help but contrast this with our Palestinian neighbours. Bent on destruction rather than building, rejecting every opportunity for a state granted to them. Their refugees still stay in cities that are labeled ‘refugee camps’, with a leadership determined to keep them as the world’s beggars. A front for creaming off billions in international aid, and a focus for their own self-destructive tendencies. Leading their people to start and lose war after war, they keep their people in grinding poverty just so the world can be encouraged to ‘see what those Jews have done to us’.

That's more or less all you need to know about the last 80 years of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:38 AM
November 25, 2004

Roast Turkey; Chestnut, Sage and Pear Stuffing; Giblet Gravy; Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Walnuts; Broadley Vineyards Pinot Noir; Mother-in-Law's Cranberry Jello.

All manufactured by yours truly, except for Mother-in-Law's Cranberry Jello, which was made by Mother-in-Law, and the Pinot Noir, which was a gift from Shelly and Jim.

And it was all fantastic.

And now to clean up the astonishing mess that somehow appeared in the kitchen.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 08:47 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 25

We are seeing several varieties of political foreplay. Not all of it is designed to stimulate the apparent partner.

In one corner, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazzan) is upholding the Arafat policy of demanding a right of return for Palestinian refugees. If his target is Israel, he can forget it. He'll end his career like Arafat, as the chief of the headquarters building in Ramallah. If he wants to become President of Palestine, he had better be signalling to the Israelis and the Americans (nobody else counts) that he is engaging in foreplay only with his own people.

In another corner, we hear that President Hafez al-Assad of Syria is saying that he wants to enter into peace negotations with Israel, without pre-conditions. We also hear that, of course, he wants to begin negotiations where they stalled some years ago, when Israel's prime minister Ehud Barak said he was willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights, but not to the shore of the Sea of Galillee. That sounds like a pre-condition.

In this case, Israel also has pre-conditions: that Syria stop hosting and arming Hezbollah and Hamas.

What really is going on here, in my view, is that Assad is courting the American government and others who have begun serious criticism for his support of anti-Israel groups in his own capital and in Lebanon, for his support of anti-American fighters in Iraq, and for his continued occupation of Lebanon. He may also be trying to embarrass Israel by enticing it to reject negotiations at a time when its prime minister is up to his tummy in the problems associated with disengagement from Gaza. Ariel Sharon may not have enough political capital for that. He certainly does not have enough for withdrawing both from Gaza and the Golan Heights, when both Palestinians and Syrians engender more distrust than affection in Israeli public opinion.

We citizens can only react to what we hear in the media. There may be things going on in the dark that we cannot see.

I hope to live long enough to visit Damascus, and to dine once again during mid-winter in the outdoor restaurants of Jericho. Yet I fear that we are a long way from consummating anything. And as the books tell us, too much foreplay can tire the senses needed for serious activity.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 11:15 AM
November 24, 2004
Rossi wins!

Dino Rossi has won the gubernatorial recount -- by 42 votes.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:05 PM
November 20, 2004

I thought I just invented the word "backblog", but apparently somebody beat me to it:

backblog - Overflow of incidents you intend to write about on your weblog.

e.g., I've been meaning to write about my last five dates, but I have to work through my backblog.

I'm suffering from severe backblog.

Apologies to all readers who have sent me worthwhile tips that I haven't managed to act on yet.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:32 AM
Huddled masses, yearning to breathe free

This week a number of visiting Cuban performers asked for asylum in the U.S.

Forty-three members of a Cuban dance troupe performing at a Las Vegas casino asked for asylum in the United States on Monday in the one of the biggest mass defections of entertainers from the communist country.
Meanwhile, thousands of dejected Kerry voters who are plotting their exodus from Bush's Amerika are undoubtedly asking themselves: "What's wrong with those Cuban entertainers? Don't they know that the U.S. doesn't have Cuban-style healthcare?"

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:28 AM
November 19, 2004
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 19

This may not be going anywhere.

Ranking Palestinians have pooh poohed Ariel Sharon's comment to a Likud meeting: that the Palestinians must stop incitement against Israel in the Palestinian media and schools before serious talks can begin. He said that his earlier initial demands, for disarming the population and halting violence, would be too difficult to do quickly, but stopping the incitement could be done as a first step.

It is not helpful to parse every word coming out of ranking Palestinians or Israelis. There has been a lot of noise from both sides since Arafat's death, and there will be a lot more. But this particular interchange suggests that the Palestinians are digging in, and remain on the far side of the moon.

Along with refusing to stop the incitement, they said that Israel has to take the first steps.

"(The Israelis) should begin by abandoning their policy of setting conditions and stop their incitement (against the Palestinians)," Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters. According to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazzan), tipped to become president of the Palestine National Authority in its democratic election, "Maybe we have issues of this kind, but they (the Israelis) have them to a greater extent."

These guys are acting as if they won the intifada. Don't they recognize rubble when they see it?

My guess is that incitement is important to the Israeli public. Jews of left and right are tired of the hatred sown in Palestinian media and schools. We poisoned Arafat? Just like the Jews poisoned the wells and caused the black plague. Palestinians promised to stop incitement as part of Oslo, and Israeli authorities overlooked their lack of compliance. After four years of violence and considerable popular support for Sharon, I doubt that he will be as forgiving.

Sure there is the issue of Arab pride. They must act as if they won even if they lost. They will not come on their knees asking Israel to make peace.

The future will depend on how unrealistic they remain.

If the Palestinian politicians are just making a statement for the masses, okay. Negotiations, if they start, may be accompanied by theatrical gestures. But if these statements genuinely reflect the thinking of Erekat and Abbas, the post-Arafat opportunity may have been born dead.

No doubt they will get words of encouragement from the Europeans, and certainly from ranking officials of the United Nations.

Will George W. Bush waffle in order to claim some kind of victory in the war against terror and for democracy? Can he remain committed to an anti-terror track and tolerate a Palestinian leadership that will neither stop incitement nor disarm its radical groups?

Things are not likely to move quickly. If at all.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 05:00 PM
Support Our Troops

A group of anti-war protesters in Olympia, WA rioted yesterday in hopes of preventing the shipment of essential supplies to our troops in Iraq.

The protesters beat drums and banged stones in rhythm against chain-link fencing separating the Port Plaza from a dock, showing their opposition to an Army shipment of equipment from the port to the Iraqi war zone.

The demonstrators flashed peace signs with their fingers and chanted a variety of anti-war slogans. At one point, some of them ripped a section of chain-link fencing from posts and briefly trespassed on off- limits port property.

An Army spokeswoman described the contents of shipping containers as "miscellaneous supplies and equipment", including gloves and medical supplies.
The protesters vowed to attend Monday's port commission meeting in hopes of persuading the commission to stop accepting shipments to and from the war zone.
No doubt the protesters will tell you that their activity is a form of patriotism and an important way to support our troops.

Something tells me that Evergreen State "College" was well-represented there.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:10 PM
Possible Terrorist Cell Busted in Seattle

Today's Seattle Times reports:

Federal counter-terrorism agents swept down on homes and businesses in Seattle yesterday, conducting searches and charging 13 men with gun, immigration and bank-fraud violations.

The FBI said it searched 19 Seattle-area homes, businesses and vehicles. Federal agents detained five other people on immigration charges, said FBI Special Agent Robbie Burroughs.

None of the men targeted in the raids is accused under terrorism statutes. However, the federal charges unsealed yesterday allege the ringleader of the bank-fraud case told a paid FBI informant that his "whole Muslim crew" was involved in stealing money because "you can't go to war broke."

It gets worse:
In a related case in King County Superior Court, prosecutors in October filed assault and extortion charges against some individuals associated with an Islamic religious school run out of a South Seattle barbershop. The school was "training children ... in Anti American rhetoric," and "how to shoot and fight the Americans," according to court documents.

The owner of a restaurant downstairs from the Crescent Cuts barbershop on Rainier Avenue South told police that he had been asked to participate in the bank-fraud scheme. When he refused, he said, he was assaulted by a group of individuals and beaten with a meat tenderizer.

He described the school in court documents as "an anti-American training ground for Muslims."

The individuals charged yesterday were:

Karim Abdullah Assalaam:
Charged with conspiracy, eight counts of bank fraud and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Attawwaab Muhammad Fard:
Charged with conspiracy, eight counts of bank fraud.

Ali Muhammad Brown:
Charged with conspiracy, eight counts of bank fraud.

Herbert Chandler Sanford:
Charged with conspiracy, eight counts of bank fraud.

Souleymane Camara:
Charged with conspiracy, furnishing of a false passport, two counts of immigration fraud.

Muhamed Njolo Tunkara:
Charged with conspiracy and immigration fraud.

Bubacarr Tunkara:
Charged with conspiracy, furnishing a false passport and unlicensed money transmitting.

Maudo Fofana:
Charged with filing a false asylum application.

Mohamed Jawara:
Charged with filing a false asylum application.

Ahmad Abdul Salaam As-Sadiq:
Charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

David Joseph McRae:
Charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Zaid Mumin:
Charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Samuel Morales:
Charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:55 AM
November 15, 2004
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 15

Danny Rubinstein fits in the middle of the spectrum of op-ed writers who appear regularly in Ha'aretz. He writes intelligently and knowingly about the Palestinian Authority: neither from the extreme left that believes all would be rosy if it were not for Israeli perfidy, nor from the extreme right that nothing there can possibly work.

Today's article is discouraging. It portrays wide acceptance of the belief that Arafat died from Israeli poison, along with other myths that the Palestinian elites and mass purvey and, seemingly, accept as gospel: that there is a map in the Knesset that shows Israel spread from the Nile to the Euphrates, and that the blue stripes on the Israeli flag symbolize the aspiration of the Jews to expand their empire to those proportions.

Since Arafat's death, we have heard from George Bush that a Palestinian democracy is possible, and will lead to peace. Danny Rubinstein's article makes me wonder how that can be..

Yet another vignette of unreality comes from the description of the shooting that occurred yesterday when Abu Mazan and other dignitaries visited the mourning tent set up in Gaza to memorialize Arafat. News film shows more than 100 men fleeing in disarray when the shooting started. Abu Mazan himself said that he was not a target for assassination. Maybe some emotional youngsters shot only at the canvas ceiling. One view is that it was not a serious attempt at assassination, but only a warning to Abu Mazan not to depart from the preferred course of continued intifada.. (This in itself would caution us about the prospects for peace with a Palestinian democracy.) Yet two of Abu Mazan's bodyguards died in the incident. Perhaps from heart attacks or Israeli poison.

One can list a number of essentials for democracy. They include the legitimacy of political competition and criticism; a moderation of political temper so that the winners of elections are placed in office; free media that generally is responsible in reporting the truth, and is not so extreme in criticism as to incite violence; and an emphasis on credibility over myth in depicting one's opportunities and adversaries. Some of these things can be put into place by a government concerned to enhance its democratic character, or insisted upon by outside monitors. Early signs are that Palestinians are lining up firmly behind one candidate for their president. Will Bush and other western democrats accept the facade of choice as real democracy?

Some elements of democracy are the deeper stuff of culture that are likely to resist change from within or without. Prominent among these is knowing the difference between stories that are reasonably close to the truth, with a concern to verify allegations, as opposed to the ready acceptance of wild stories that demonize adversaries.

Yassir Arafat is dead. Many of us would welcome a replacement who will be responsible, and join with Israeli leaders in seeking a formula for accommodation. We would like to believe that it is wrong to perceive Palestinians as a barbaric mass that admires killers of children, does not know the difference between truth and falsehood, and believes that we are nothing more than the evil figures portrayed in anti-Semitic cartoons. We should always test views about our adversaries, but recent signs do not make me optimistic.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 11:34 PM
November 14, 2004
In the news!

I get a nice mention in today's Associated Press story "Bloggers obsessively track votes in governor's race".

The article discusses my number-crunching at the Sound Politics local blog of the still underway Washington gubernatorial vote count. 41,000 ballots need to be counted by Wednesday. My latest analysis (here) predicts that Republican Dino Rossi will win by 1,700 - 3,400 votes.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:52 PM
November 13, 2004
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 13

Yesterday's funeral for Yassir Arafat was sobering in several ways.

I stared for more than an hour at the scene of Palestinian uniformed guards not only unable to control the crowd, but participating in leading the furor. Waving their arms; shouting along with the crowd, and shooting in the air from weapons they seemed to understand only imperfectly. It was not clear if they were shooting in the air in an effort to move the crowd away from the helicopters, the casket, and the dignitaries, or if they were shooting out of the same passions that motivated the crowd and thus encouraging the crowd to more. One picture was of a chubby young man with a boy's thin mustache having trouble clearing his jammed weapon so he could fire yet another volley into the air; another was of a soldier trying to force a clip of fresh bullets backward into his gun.

I shifted between Israeli television and CNN. CNN's coverage was sycophantic in the extreme. It viewed chaos as an outpouring of emotion. The Palestinians interviewed had nothing but praise for Arafat and condemnation of Sharon. Christiane Amanpour, reporting on events in Ramallah from Cairo, praised Arafat for having appropriate goals even while she said that his choice of means were not always appropriate. No question, in her view, about the justice of a Palestinian state.

The mob scene she was describing took place less than 10 miles from here. The borders of the state Christiane Amanpour was endorsing would pass a hundred meters or so from here. In the view of many, the Sharkanskys and other Israelis would find themselves living in Palestine if we did not move quickly.

The George Bush-Tony Blair press conference came soon after. Blair seemed inclined to press Bush to force a shortcut to a Palestinian state onto his Israeli friends. It would appease some of the British and Europeans demanding compensation for American-British atrocities in Iraq. Bush responded by saying that democracy is a precondition for Palestinian statehood. That sounded all right to Israeli ears. But when he said that he would work to achieve Palestinian democracy and statehood in his second term, the head that held those ears began to wonder just what kind of a dreamer was living in the White House. Better than Kerry, no doubt, who might already be sending Jimmy Carter to make peace in the Middle East.

Bush said that in his experience a non-democratic state could not be counted on to preserve peace. Okay. But little in my experience tells me that the crowd we saw in Ramallah was the stuff of democracy. Would you give those people the vote? We should never say never, but it will be a tough haul for George Bush, Abu Mazan (Mahmoud Abbas), and Abu Alla (Ahmed Qurei).

So far Ariel Sharon has been more realistic than George Bush. He is putting the emphasis on the new Palestinian leadership stopping the violence and the incitement to violence as preconditions for negotiations about the future. Those are more achievable goals than democracy. And more subject to verification. American and British observers can fudge their standards of democracy (the election was reasonable within the expectations), but it will be harder to overlook the bodies created by the next suicide attack, or alter the expressions found in media controlled by Palestinian politicians. Israelis and Americans should not care too much how the Palestinians choose their leaders, as long as their leaders work hard to control the raw emotions likely to be part of their culture for the foreseeable future (and most probably long after that).

Incitement by itself is a difficult target. All the Palestinians I have heard on western media are saying it is up to Israel to make a Palestinian state possible. What about the violence? I heard no Arab say that serious efforts by Palestinians at ending the violence (I'll admit that not even Jordanian, Egyptian, or American security forces can eliminate violence in their societies completely) would be reasonable preconditions for accommodations. Arafat's personal physician is asserting that Israelis poisoned Arafat. Palestinian physicians and other elites will have to do better than that iin order to reduce the fever of their people.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 08:42 AM
November 12, 2004
It's in the P-I

Today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer reassures us that Islam is a Religion of Peace! We are blessed with this op-ed from Omar Ahmad, "the founder and chairman of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the leading Muslim civil rights organization in the United States" -- "Muslims committed to peace, respect"

During Ramadan, the world's 1.2 billion Muslims rededicate themselves to two central Islamic values: sharing and tolerance
I'm sure that will be reassuring to the friends and family of Theo Van Gogh, to the Iraqis who desire to rid themselves of the terrorist menace, to the Iraqi Christians who are being driven out of their homes, etc.
So it was sobering for me to review a recent poll revealing disturbing levels of intolerance toward Muslims among a random sample of 1,000 Americans. The poll was conducted by an independent firm at the request of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Some of the findings were chilling: 29 percent of Americans strongly or somewhat agree that Muslims teach their children to hate; 27 percent believe we value life less than other people; 29 percent believe in a kind of world Muslim conspiracy "to change the American way of life."

Yes, these numbers are sobering. But there is hope for other 70 percent of Americans who share the P-I's delirious rose-colored view of peaceful and tolerant Islam. They can read, for example, Little Green Footballs and MEMRI.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:21 PM
November 11, 2004
Not much of a bodyguard

Liza Minnelli's erstwhile bodyguard is suing

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The former bodyguard and chauffeur to Liza Minnelli accuses the singer of forcing him to have sex with her and is seeking more than $100 million in damages, according to court papers unsealed on Wednesday
My first reaction is that sex with Liza Minnelli sounds moderately disgusting, but $100 million is a bit steep. On the other hand, the amount of damages may be justified by the harm this incident has inflicted on the man's earning prospects. Any bodyguard who is exposed as incapable of defending himself against a 58 year-old woman, even a horny 58 year-old woman, is going to have trouble finding work in his chosen profession.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:49 PM
Veteran's Day

My earliest memory of the word "veteran" was being told that my grandfather was a veteran. He was stationed in France as an Army pharmacist during World War I. Unfortunately, he passed away before I was old enough to really know him. I never had the opportunity to ask him about, or thank him for, his service.

Today's Seattle Times has a fine op-ed by a local veteran who happens to be a friend of mine, Terry Thomas -- "Take time to thank those who defended this nation"

when one reflects upon the heralded history of our armed forces, it becomes easy to see why America's veterans have long been revered for not only overcoming life's adversities but also for their noble achievements in advancing the cause of freedom and liberty for both friend and foe alike.

Accordingly, we should seek them out and offer a heartfelt "thank you" for their service. Today, many will be thinking of times, places, sacrifices and comrades long gone. To know that their fellow countrymen are reflecting upon those same sacrifices, too, touches their hearts and reassures them that heavy personal prices, paid along the way, were well purchased for an appreciative and caring public.

Terry is a former U.S. Marine Corps Major. He also fought as a reserve officer in the liberation of Iraq last year.

Thank you, Terry, for your service and for your eloquent tribute to your fellow veterans. And a heartfelt thank you to all of the men and women who have given so much of themselves to serve in our nation's armed forces.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:40 PM
Mourning in Arabia

"Palestinians across Arab world mourn"

BAQAA, Jordan -- Palestinian refugees took to the streets of the Arab world Thursday to mourn Yasser Arafat, firing shots into the air, burning American and Israeli flags, and shedding tears for the man who was the symbol of their struggle for statehood. In a Jordanian camp, barefoot boys brandished toy machine guns.
Some cultures Sit Shiva and mourn their dead quietly. Other cultures practice a Religion of Peace.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:20 PM
November 10, 2004
Arafat officially dead

Palestinians announce that Yasser Arafat has died

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:30 PM
Sorry, everybody

Bush's victory was worth it if only to see pictures like this one

The only thing I'm sorry about is that I didn't also vote for Bush in 2000.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:25 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 10

Arrangements are made; some dignified guests are planning their travel; but the body is not cold enough to bury.

It all may go into motion by the time I have finished this letter, or it may take a few more days. Or even weeks. As far as this political scientist can tell from listening to the information and disinformation about the man's health, it depends on his heart, liver, and kidneys. The brain went kaput four years ago, and is just now getting around to signaling that it is dead.

Cynics have commented on several possibilities.

One is that death could not occur until the funeral and burials were planned and coordinated between Palestinian and Israeli authorities. Now that seems to have been done: plans are for a funeral ceremony at the Cairo airport, and burial alongside the Ramallah headquarters where he was confined for two and one-half years. Israel would not agree to a burial in Jerusalem, and it is arranging military and police in a way to prevent Palestinian enthusiasts from seizing the body and marching with it and some shovels in the direction of Jerusalem.

Another view is that Suha's financial demands must be met before she would agree to pull the plug on life supports. This morning's paper said she refused an offer of $2 million. Her comments two days ago about Palestinian politicians wanting to bury her husband alive received wide condemnation from Palestinian politicians and ordinary citizens. Today a Muslim religious authority visited Arafat, and declared that the plug could not be pulled on a man who is not yet dead. Suha's bargaining position has weakened, and we all may have to wait for the ceremonies.

Muslim commentators have been asked about Lailat-ul-Qadr, a holy day toward the end of Ramadan. By some views, one who has the good fortune to die on this day gains the status of a martyr, and lives in paradise alongside the Prophet. It would be a fitting time for Arafat to expire. But Lailat-ul-Qadr has come and gone without a clear announcement of death.

Id al Fitr is the next milestone. This is a three day festival of eating and gift-giving after the end of Ramadan, scheduled to begin in a couple of days. It's the Christmas season for Muslims and the merchants who serve them. Not good for celebration or business if it is a time for mourning. There is likely to be considerable pressure on Palestinian shopkeepers to close, perhaps for several days, when the chairman/president dies. One of my friends routinely shops at a Muslim greengrocer; my friend wants to do his shopping as normal this weekend, and the greengrocer wants the death postponed until after Id al Fitr so he can top up his cash drawer.

Aside from the commotion, and the inconvenience of one or another individual, will the death make a difference?

Israelis opposed to Sharon's withdrawal of Jewish settlements are urging a delay in the implementation of the plan. If reasonable Palestinians come to power, it may be possible to strike a deal with them that contributes to a wider accommodation. And if reasonable Palestinians do not come to power, the delay will be valuable in itself. Something may happen to Sharon (from a change in his thinking to something more drastic, like a fall of his government) that will remove withdrawal from the calendar.

Our endless talk shows have been filled with optimism. Something good may come out of the change in Palestinian leadership. It would be hard to be worse than Arafat. Sharon himself has been guarded. His line is that the Palestinians must demonstrate that they are willing to end the violence and the incitement before they will deserve far reaching Israeli gestures, like a release of some prisoners or the removal of the army from some towns. On the point of incitement, the initial signs are not all good. The Palestinian "foreign minister" conceded that French doctors found that Arafat had not been poisoned, but that he had suffered from more than two years in the poor conditions where he was confined by the Israelis. Palestinians militants are urging violent confrontations with the Israeli army in order to re-light the intifada.

Sharon has made one gesture. Against the advice of security personnel, he agreed to Arafat's burial in Ramallah. His grave will produce something like the Eifel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near what had been his headquarters. It will become it a site for pilgrims wishing to visit their hero's last site of heroism. For some Israelis, Sharon's agreement to burial in Ramallah was the least we could do for a national leader: the George Washington, Charles de Gaul, Mahatma Ghandi, and David ben Gurion of the Palestinians. Others view Arafat as Hitler's successor, fortunately much weaker

Will Sharon's gesture be enough to encourage peace making among the Palestinians who will climb to the top? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, the funeral and burial are on hold. The body is not ready.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 08:23 PM
Arafat Death Watch

Without the hemorrhaging, it wouldn't be working at all

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's brain is working only partially because of hemorrhaging, and his organs, except for heart and lungs, "are not functioning well," Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath said Wednesday.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:08 PM
November 09, 2004
Maybe he's just pining for the fjords

The Palestinian delegation in Paris says: "Arafat is very ill, not dead".

I'm reminded of the Monty Python sketch about the parrot.

Praline: ... I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

Shopkeeper: Oh yes, the Norwegian Blue. What's wrong with it?

Praline: I'll tell you what's wrong with it. It's dead, that's what's wrong with it.

Shopkeeper: No, no it's resting, look!

Praline: Look my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one and I'm looking at one right now.

Shopkeeper: No, no sir, it's not dead. It's resting.

Just admit it, folks. Arafat is an ex-terrorist.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:41 AM
November 08, 2004
Iranian aggression against Israel

Ha'aretz reports that the Iranians had a key role in the Hizbullah drone that flew over Israel this weekend.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 04:50 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 8

Is everybody crazy but us?

Items in today's news:

Suha Arafat, the wife who did not visit her husband for 3 or 4 years, has taken control of what remains of him, and is doing what she can to prevent others from getting close to him or his physicians. Today she announced that officials of the Palestinian Authority want to bury him alive and take power. According to her, he is on his way to recovery, and will return to Palestine to build the nation. Suha is a Christian, but ended her pronouncement with the slogan of Islamic militants the world over: Allah Ahbah!!!!!!

At stake is not only control of what remains of Palestine and the hopes of its people. There is also something in excess of US $1 billion, currently in Arafat's personal control, spread among numerous accounts and ownerships, whose locations are known to only a few, if even to them.

One group of Americans gained access to BBC and asserted the invalidity of the presidential election. No paper trail; electronic voting easy to penetrate; and the major vendor of the machines (Diebold) clearly committed to the reelection of George W. Bush.

Another group of Americans, as reported in the NYTimes, assert the fraudulent nature of official reports about 9/11. The article begins: "The grainy 30-second commercials are eerie and cryptic, and they suggest a government cover-up of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. One implies that no plane flew into the Pentagon. The other suggests that 7 World Trade Center, which collapsed late in the afternoon that day, was detonated from within."

So what else is new? Conspiracy and cover-up is part of American mythology. There is no end of complicated explanations as to why Kennedy's assassination (and Lincoln's) were not what the people were told. Disputes and violence within a royal family about resources, power, and succession have been prime material for Shakespeare and comic opera. We have come to expect competition, a lack of veracity, and general mess in Palestine with or without the demise of Yassir Arafat. The present flap is not likely to end smoothly, or be the last chapter in the story. Still in the air are claims about Israel having poisoned him. I have yet to hear that Suha is a secret Jew in our employ, but that may come.

Is there no relief from the craziness? Probably not. For some of us, it's part of the theater called politics. We cannot be rid of it, so we might as well enjoy it. Yet recognition of the inevitable does not relieve the worry that comes from Israel's dependence on two peoples who seem prone to believe the unbelievable: Palestinians and Americans.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 10:53 AM
November 07, 2004
Not for peace, but on the other side

Seattle's "anti-war" protestors are not for peace. They are on the other side.

Notice the sign in the upper left that says "Hands Off Fallujah". That is exactly what the terrorism-encouraging Saudi "religious scholars" have been saying.

And these dopes hate everything that America has ever done in the world. They even hate the Peace Corps :

The "Raging Grannies" of Seattle, part of a national peace organization, also joined the protest. Carol McRoberts, 61, a state employee, worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.

"I've seen what our policies do in Third World countries," she said. "They create great, great poverty."

You really do have to hate America to believe that the Peace Corps only creates more poverty.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:47 PM
Arafat Reported Dead

The website "Islam Online" reports that Yassir Arafat is dead

CAIRO, November 7 ( - Doctors in the French military hospital of Piercy have told Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s wife and officials accompanying him that the veteran leader had passed away, well-placed Palestinian sources told on Sunday, November 7.
The latest report from official sources is that Arafat is still alive, but barely.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:21 AM
November 05, 2004
Sorry, everybody is the funniest commentary on the election I've seen so far.

Is it sincere or satire? Either way, it's hilarious. Put down your beverage before clicking over.

[unfortunately it was taken offline shortly after I linked to it. It's a page with pictures of, uh, sorry-looking people holding up signs apologizing to the rest of the world for Bush's re-election]

Hat tip: Power Line

UPDATE: Tim Blair has posted a few of the better photos from

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:20 PM
November 04, 2004
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 4

It wasn't quite the "Dewey Wins" headline in the Chicago Tribune the morning after the 1948 election, but Ha'aretz went to press a bit early this Wednesday. Its top of the first page headline was, "Record Turnout in US Election: Surveys Show Advantage to Kerry. The secondary headline cited the Zogby Poll: "Kerry is Winning by Convincing Majority"

Ha'aretz was not alone in misreading the signs. The DowJones Index went from plus to minus on election day afternoon news of large turnout, and the assumption that it would put Kerry in the White House.

What's in it for the Jews? Today's Ha'aretz reports only a slight increase in Jewish support for Bush over 2000; he is said to have received 22 percent of the Jewish vote this year, as opposed to 19 percent in 2000. Jewish Bushies were hoping for more. Some of them spoke about 40 percent. Experts will have better data on this and other aspects of the election. There will be lots of chewing over precinct and survey materials. Reliable analysis of who voted how, and why, will take a while.

Israeli and American Jews did not agree on this one. A survey reported in Ha'aretz showed 70% of Israelis favoring Bush. A query answered by readers of The Jerusalem Post (most of whose readers are Americans) found about 65 percent supporting Kerry.

Most Israelis who have appeared on radio or television are expressing relief at the results: both politicians and talking heads. Along with assertions that it was an election for Americans to decide and it would not be wise for Israelis to express a preference; it is clear that Bush's understanding and support for Israeli government policy is widely appreciated here, and perhaps more than that.

Israeli and American Jews have different needs and perspectives. The Christian right does not threaten Israel; rather it is one of Israel's strongest sources of support. That it also has linkages to the Bush White House adds to Israelis' evaluation of their support. If the Messiah comes or returns in our lifetimes, we can sort out the apocalyptic expectations of what is really in it for the Jews. For American Jews who feel they cannot cope with the Christian right, there is a Zionist solution for their problem.

No Israeli I spoke to, or heard on the media, perceived the American election as a competition between the forces of good and those of evil. The choice perceived was one of nuances, albeit strong in some views, rather than candidates clearly good or bad. There was plenty of criticism directed at both candidates: not only from Israeli perspectives but when Israelis made an effort to put themselves in the place of Americans.

A Bush second term may differ from a Bush first term. There may be more pressure on Israel to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians. But that is likely to depend in large measure on what happens within Palestine. Just now I hear on the news that Arafat is in a coma, very serious, with concern about his life. What comes after will affect both what the American administration does, and how the Israeli government will respond.

God has had a busy few days. First was the Red Sox's victory in the World Series. Then easing Arafat from Palestine to France. Then producing a clear victory in the American election without a concern for hanging chads or provisional votes. I hope that the Almighty keeps at it. There are a few more things that we need, and are not able to do for ourselves.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 11:47 PM
Democrat post-mortem, ctd.

Anonymous blogger "Xymphora" answers the question "How could Kerry possibly lose"?

People aren't entirely prepared to admit it, but there really is an underclass of very unhappy white people in the United States who are still fighting the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the Civil War. The dissatisfaction in their lives is caused by the powerlessness they feel in the face of the fact that they fall further behind with each generation. The Republicans manage these people with great skill, and use the full force of the media to direct all their anger and hatred to liberalism. The fact that many of them are evangelical Christians is more a symptom of the same malaise that it is the cause of their hatreds. Nutty religion is their opium. While many of them are terribly misinformed and stupid, I don't think it is entirely fair to say that they misunderstand their class interests. They have come to the conclusion that they are going to be screwed regardless of which party is in power, and they prefer to be screwed by a group that doesn't appear to hold them in contempt. Indeed, you get the impression that their hatred is so great that they are taunting the liberal attempts at policy solutions to their problems, almost saying we hate your contempt for us so much we'll prove it by voting against our own interests.
My wish as a Republican is for Hillary Clinton to give this person a job on her 2008 campaign team.

[hat tip: Pacific Views]

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 05:31 PM
I'm in The Stranger!

This week's issue of Seattle alternative newspaper The Stranger profiles the "Best of the Seattle Blogs". They give a great plug to Sound Politics, the local issues group blog that I helped start, calling it "a well-written--and sometimes well-deserved--scorching of Seattle liberal pieties".

The article includes this picture of me, sitting at my computer in my obligatory blogger uniform of pajamas and bathrobe.
The Stranger wrote:
Green Lake software developer and "center-right" (read: Bush-loving wacko) Republican Stefan Sharkansky knows he's swimming upstream in liberal Seattle. His local politics blog, Sound Politics (, takes daily jabs at Seattle's political establishment with headlines like "Baghdad Jerk," "Go Dino!" and "Christine Gregoire's Character Problem."
They only printed a few of my answers to the question "What other blogs do you like?" so please, nobody should feel slighted.

When I showed up at my favorite neighborhood coffee house this morning, I found a copy of the article posted by the cash register and the Barista asked me "Are you really a Bush-loving wacko?"

Just because The Stranger was founded by the same people who founded The Onion doesn't mean they just make things up.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 02:06 PM
Seattle Reacts to Bush's victory

Overheard in my favorite neighborhood coffee house this morning.

"Is this a great country, or what?"
"Or what."
"You know we have a new Vice-President? It's Jesus."
"Is it true that the IRS will send every family a Bible along with their tax refund?"
"Puuurrrraise Jesus!"


The P-I reports:

Artist Larry Nielsen drove onto the plaza in his custom "Buddha buggy," complete with rooftop temple, lotus flowers and "Regime change" bumper stickers, barking through a loudspeaker: "That's right! Revolution now!" Speaking through a Bush mask he'd accessorized with fangs and blood, he predicted democracy could be replaced with theocracy in the next term.
Will Larry Nielsen support regime change in Iran? Please, no wagering.


Today's editorial cartoon in the Seattle Post-Inteligencer

Yes, they really think those three words are more frightening than Beslan, Madrid, Bali, Hamas, Hizbollah, Taliban, Al Qaeda, etc.

Q: What does "Post-Intelligencer" mean anyway?
A:"Post-Intelligencer" is to intelligence as "Post-Coital" is to coitus.


Elsewhere in this state, college students are taking their pants off to protest democracy:

Riley Sweeney, an 18-year-old Western Washington University freshman, elected to wear his protest: He showed up in a gray fedora and checkered blue bathrobe.

"I am in mourning because of the decision our country has made," he said. "I don't think I'll be wearing pants for a while."

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:24 PM
A Seattle Children's Tale

On election day David's pre-school teacher took my wife aside and was somewhat embarrassed: "I know your husband is voting the other way, so I just wanted to explain. The other kids were shouting 'John Kerry! John Kerry!' yesterday and David joined in. We weren't teaching him to do that. It was the other kids"

The pre-school held an election on Tuesday too! The kids got to vote for their choice of snack -- cheese and crackers vs. cupcakes and apples. The cupcakes won in a landslide, go figure.

On Wednesday David and a girl in his class were telling my wife about their election. The little girl also said that she voted for John Kerry. My wife looked at her sympathetically and acknowledged that George Bush won. "My mommy and daddy are sad", the little girl said. "Yes," my wife said, "but some mommies and daddies are happy".

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 12:01 PM
Arafat Death Watch

Some reports say that Arafat is in an irreversible coma.

The latest Ha'aretz flash report has these entries:

18:39 French hospital spokesman: Arafat`s medical situation is complex, he is not dead
18:37 Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker says PA Chairman Arafat died 15 minutes ago
18:28 Al Arabiyeh: Ahmed Qureia, Mohammed Rashid deny reports that Arafat is clinically dead
18:25 Radio Monte Carlo: Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat is dead
18:14 Radio Monte Carlo: PA Chairman Arafat is clinically dead; Sources in Paris: Arafat is dead

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:01 AM
November 03, 2004
Michael Moore's last message reveals all

From Michael Moore's last diary entry, dated Tuesday, November 2, 2004 -- Election Day

We’ve only got two hours left on the East Coast! I am in Cleveland and the turnout is huge. It was the same this morning as we went to polling sites in Florida. People waited for three hours to vote, but no one was deterred. One man told me “I’d wait in this line three days if I had to.” It’s raining here in Ohio, we’ve got a big bus and we’re pulling people out of their homes (gently!) handing out free umbrellas, ponchos, and bottles of water (the last item being slightly unnecessary, considering how soaked all of us already are!). I’ve been getting early tracking results from across the country and things are looking good – very good. But anything can happen in the last few hours. People are just getting out of work. The lines are going to be enormous. Tell everyone you know – as long as you are IN LINE before the closing time, they HAVE TO let you vote.

Early word has it that it is very tight in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, and Iowa! Michigan – don’t let me down! If you haven’t voted, stop reading this and get down to the polls. Keep calling and e-mailing your address book.

This is it. The homestretch. Let’s do it!

Michael Moore

Ohio! Florida! Nevada! New Mexico! Colorado! Iowa! Michigan!

6 out of 7 is pretty good. And now that you mention it, seeing Fahrenheit 911 (at the suggestion of Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt, by the way) is the event that inspired me to work harder for the local Bush/Cheney campaign and even wear a B/C T-shirt in public on my daily walk in the neighborhood park. Hmm. It's all starting to make sense -- Michael Moore was a GOTV conspiracy carefully orchestrated by Karl Rove and disseminated through the blogging machine! And now they've disappeared Michael Moore to cover up the whole thing.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:20 PM
Four More Years

Congratulations to President Bush for his re-election.

He was the first Republican presidential candidate I've ever voted for. I don't agree with everything he has done or everything he promised to do. And yes, mistakes have been made in the war in Iraq. But he has the right answers to the biggest questions that matter to me most -- maintaining our national security by taking the war to our enemies; and persevering in that war against the misguided idealism of apologists and appeasers, no matter how strident.

The President was vulnerable. We face difficulties in Iraq and Bush is not the best communicator. The Democrats could have won this, but they failed to present a compelling alternative. The Michael Moore/Howard Dean fever swamp wing of the party, in particular, alienated more voters than it attracted.

Kerry was a terrible candidate. The wrong man for any place and for any time. Here's why I think he failed:
1. Kerry failed the "regular guy" test. Bush speaks to the social and cultural norms of more Americans; George and Laura Bush have more attractive interpersonal skills than John and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

2. Making Vietnam the centerpiece of his personal narrative was a disaster, as he was more notable as an anti-war protester than a soldier. That doesn't sell well to many people when we're at war.

3. His lack of a concise, coherent vision on anything, least of all on the current war.

4. The dreamy internationalism, best encapsulated by his "global test" comment. More Americans view this as dangerously unrealistic than a smart way to defeat our implacable enemies.

5. Ultimately, the throughline of his entire career, from anti-war protestor, to anti-defense Senator, to his attacks on the current war, is one of reflexive oppositionism. He's a whiner and a complainer and not a fixer. And as in any company, the guy who can only condemn, criticize and complain without offering positive alternative solutions doesn't get the promotion.

To their credit, Kerry and Edwards bowed out gracefully.

The President won a victory in the popular vote, the Electoral College and a wider majority in Congress. Let's hope he uses the mandate wisely.
As for me, he'll earn both my support and my criticism as appropriate.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:49 AM
November 02, 2004
Liveblogging the WA state GOP party

I'm here at the party. Postings are at Sound Politics

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 07:29 PM
The Islamofascist nuisance

Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, who had received death threats after releasing a movie criticizing the treatment of women under Islam, was slain in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

If we treat terrorism as a nuisance, like John Kerry proposes, this is the sort of nuisance we would have to learn to live with.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 03:44 PM

I voted at my polling place this morning. Absentee is more convenient, but I enjoy the ritual of voting in person. There were many more people at the poll than I've seen at the other elections since I moved to Seattle. But this is my first presidential election here.

I'm also serving as a Republican "poll watcher" for two other polling places. This entails checking twice today which of the identified Republican voters have already voted. The county party will follow up with a phone call to remind the others to vote.

All three of the polling places I've been to were swarming with Democrat monitors. I haven't seen any irregularities of any kind. Another Seattle Republican told me that at his polling place, the poll judge showed up late and was too hung over to do his job.

Yet another Seattle Republican poll watcher reports that at his polling place there was a throng of lawyers wearing "Kerry Legal Team" buttons. Candidate paraphernalia is prohibited at polling places. He also reports an unusual number of provisional ballots and spoiled ballots at the same poll.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 01:40 PM
Busman's Holiday

Seattle Times Headline: "DUI coordinator to get treatment"

The woman who led Pierce County efforts to curb drunken driving has agreed to treatment and probation following her arrest last month for driving with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 11:19 AM
November 01, 2004
Billionaire Terrorist Probate Fight

Billionaire Terrorist Yassir Arafat isn't dead yet, but the probate fight over his massive fortune is already underway:

sources close to the Palestinian leadership said a bitter fight had broken over who should control the ailing leader’s fortune estimated to be between $4.2 billion and $6.5 billion.

Sources said Arafat has written a will transferring control of his assets to members of his wife’s family. Some of his aides, including former Premier Mahmoud Abbas who has stepped in as interim leader, however, believe the fortune belongs to the “beit al-mal” (public treasury), and should be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. The controversy started last week when Suha, Arafat’s wife, asked Muhammad Rashid, Arafat’s confidant and adviser, to prepare a list of the ailing leader’s fortune. According to Palestinian sources Rashid has said he would furnish the list only to the Palestinian Authority.

Identifying Arafat’s personal fortune and separating it from numerous secret bank accounts that he maintains in the name of the Palestine Liberation Orgaization and Al-Fatah is no easy task.

According to Jean-Claude Robard, a Swiss investment adviser, Arafat opened his first secret bank account in 1965 with a $50,000 check from the emir of Kuwait. Since then he has set up other accounts in Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands.

Arafat also owns a number of hotels and holiday resorts in Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Austria. He is the main shareholder in two cellular telephone companies operating in Tunisia and Algeria.

Some of Arafat’s businesses are in partnership with Arab politicians, former officials and entrepreneurs, including Rifaat Assad, a brother of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad, and Barzan Al-Takriti, a half-brother of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Al-Takriti is now under arrest in Baghdad.

hat tip: Meyer Rafael

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:50 PM
Hamas Children's Newspaper

David Frankfurter has posted a photograph of a suicide bomber that appears in a recent issue of the Hamas children's newspaper. It is one of the most appalling photographs (with an equally appalling caption) that you're ever likely to see. See for yourself how the psychotic death cult that is Hamas poisons children's minds.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:37 PM
Washington State Election Update

All of my endorsements for Washington state elections are up on the Sound Politics blog -- federal offices, statewide offices, judicial races, ballot measures and legislative races. Jim Miller also posted his election picks.

I'll be live-blogging from the Washington State Republican election night party at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. 7pm - 1am. Come to the party if you can, otherwise read my postings Tuesday night at Sound Politics.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 10:20 PM
Trick or Treat


A dragon! with a backpack! and almost as tall as the doorknob!

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at 09:35 PM
Letter from Jerusalem, Nov. 1

His academic freedom or mine?

Some months ago a colleague and I began to write an article that we entitled, "The Politics of Urban Planning: Jerusalem." It shows that urban planning is affected by political interests of numerous sorts. Jerusalem's special character as a place of religious and national conflict adds to the brew. The article is not "political" in the sense of staking a position on sensitive issues. We hoped the world's interest in Jerusalem would add to our chances of the piece being accepted by a prominent journal.

My colleague is a political geographer. At his initiative, we sent the manuscript to a journal called Political Georgraphy.

In my long career I have had my share of articles published and rejected. I have also participated in the process as a referee for other people's manuscripts. I know the business, and can recognize an unusual response from an editor.

The editor said that he could not send the article to referees for review because it lacked sufficient footnotes and a "conceptual framework." "Conceptual framework" is academic jargon taught in graduate school, responsible for making a lot of writing unintelligible. I sensed a larger problem with the editor, and wrote to him saying that in my view the article was linked to important issues in urban planning. I had never heard of the editor (David Slater) or his university (Loughborough), but his location in Britain led me to include the following paragraph in my letter:

Let me raise an even more sensitive topic. We're Israelis, writing about an Israeli topic. We know that a number of academics, especially in Britain, are not inclined to accept our submissions. If this is a problem with you or others who would be reading our paper, please have the courage to let us know.
A day later I received a response that seemed to me evasive. So I started Googling the editor. On his university web page I found a paper he entitled, "POLITICS OF MEMORY/ STATES OF TERROR."

The first part of the paper is about the United States.

Not only can we point to a certain disregard for international jurisdiction but more seriously to acts of international terror. The bombing of Libya in 1986, the shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in 1988, the joint US/UK bombing of Iraq after the Gulf War and the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 are examples of the unlawful acts of the world's most powerful rogue state.
The paper begins a section on Israel and the Palestinians with a quote from Arnold J. Toynbee, known for referring to Jews as "a fossilized relic of an old Syriac civilization". The Toynbee quote here is:
The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the world's peace'
Among Slater's own passages are the following:
. . . the creation of the State of Israel was preceded by a wave of terror against the Palestinian Arab population. . . .

The territorial expansionism of the Israeli state has been reflected in the 1967 war, the invasion of South Lebanon in 1982 with an estimated 17,000 civilian deaths and the continuing establishment of new and illegal Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian land. . . .

Resistance to Israeli occupation in the first and second intifadas has been met by Israeli state violence.

Not a word about Palestinian violence against Israelis.

I sent this piece to a couple of geographers, and asked them if it was reasonable to believe that my co-author and I were victims of a boycott. From their responses, it seems that when wandering into someone else's profession, I had gotten into an old story. From one geographer I received:

Political Geography has done that before.
From another:
Here I am at home in London on a grey Sunday morning. I am somewhat alarmed at the email but not at all surprised. I will read Slater's piece at another time of my choosing. I certainly have no intention of starting the day with higher blood pressure than is necessary. . . .

I am in constant email contact . . . over Slaterisms and other journal-related issues . . . . I have no faith in anything Slater does or writes, especially on Israel-oriented

I don't question Professor Slater's rights to write what he wants as part of his academic freedom. If he demonstrates his limitations, that's part of the risks. But I do worry about my own academic freedom when the gates to publish are guarded by a person who writes like he does.

Subsequent correspondence revealed that he was one of the original signers of a boycott of Israeii academics that circulated among British university faculty members; and as editor of Political Georgraphy he turned back without opening the envelop a submission from an Israeli scholar who was collaborating with an Arab scholar.

We have known for a long time that a lot of academic writing is less than exciting or even illuminating. Now we know that at least some of it has to pass the test of not coming from Israel.

Posted by Ira Sharkansky at 12:24 AM