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Ali Jarbawi, a former minister in the Palestinian Authority recently penned an op-ed in the New York Times that attacks and slams the Israeli media using the claim that the Israeli media was “grumbling about the lack of an official Palestinian response” on the death of Ariel Sharon, Israel’s former Prime Minister.  Except of course, the Israeli media is NOT grumbling!

Mr. Jarbawi seems to think that if he can spout whatever lies he can – no one will call him on it.  Let’s take a look at one lie in particular:

Throughout his career he did not take a single positive step toward reaching a political settlement with them to bring about peace. The motivation behind every one of his policies was to force them to surrender.

The Man Who Made Peace Impossible“, The New York Times, Jan 21, 2014

What Mr. Jarbawi ignores are the historical steps which Ariel Sharon took to move the peace process forward.  Steps such as

  • A unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza strip with removal of Israeli settlers and military personnel while leaving behind an infrastructure which the Palestinians could use to build with,
  • Declaring that the Palestinians should have a state of their own in September 2001, and
  • Endorsing the Road Map for Peace sponsored by the United States, the European Union and Russia

Mr. Jarbawi continues with his faulty accusations by claiming that Sharon unilaterally “broadened the I.D.F.’s attacks against Lebanon into a full-scale war” yet fails to mention that the I.D.F. was responding to continuous shelling by P.L.O. artillery placed in Southern Lebanon – a country that was dysfunctional and lawless due to a raging civil war at the time.  His portrayal of the I.D.F. as the instigator of the war remains far from the truth.

Mr. Jarbawi also notes incorrectly that “[i]n 2000, he entered Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a holy Muslim site, which triggered the second intifada”.  Unfortunately for Mr. Jarbawi, this is not true.  The second intifada was being planned months before Mr. Sharon ever entered the Al Aqsa mosque.  According to the Mitchell Report (named after U.S. Senator George Mitchell who led the committee examining the cause of the violence that began in September 2000) :

“The Sharon visit did not cause the ‘Al-Aqsa Intifada.’ ”

Mitchell, George, “Al-Aqsa Intifada: Mitchell Report“, May 4, 2001

In fact, according to the then Communications Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Imad Faluji, the violence had been planned in July of 2000 since Yasser Arafat’s return from Camp David when he rejected the offer proffered him by then Prime Minister Ehud Barak.  This fact was later corroborated when Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar admitted that Arafat had instructed his organization to launch terror attacks against Israel after the failure of peace negotiations. (Toameh, Kaled Abu, “Arafat ordered Hamas attacks against Israel in 2000“, The Jerusalem Post, September 28, 2010)

Another piece of evidence pointing to the planning of the second intifada by Arafat long before Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque is provided by Suha Arafat – Yasser Arafat’s widow – who admitted that Arafat had planned the uprising:

“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return….Camp David had failed, and he said to me, ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because I am going to start an intifada.’”

Suha Arafat admits husband premeditated Intifada“, The Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2012

The final point that Mr. Jarbawi gets wrong centers on Sharon’s initiation of the Separation Wall between Israel and the West Bank.  Mr. Jarbawi claims that the motivation for this wall was to force Palestinians to move:

Unable to expel the Palestinians, Mr. Sharon began his plan to “move” them internally by building the separation wall in 2002, which swallowed up approximately 11 percent of the West Bank’s land area

The Man Who Made Peace Impossible“, The New York Times, Jan 21, 2014

However, this was not the motivation for the barrier at all.  With the start of the Al-Aqsa intifada the Palestinians began to send suicide bombers into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians.  The Israeli government, led by Sharon, decided to build a separation barrier in order to make movement between the West Bank and Israel harder and to reduce (with the ultimate goal of eliminating completely) the number of terrorist attacks in Israel proper.  According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

between 2000 and July 2003, when the “first continuous segment” of the barrier was built, 73 Palestinian suicide bombings were carried out from the West Bank, killing 293 Israelis and injuring over 1,900. However, from August 2003 to the end of 2006, only 12 attacks were carried out, killing 64 Israelis and wounding 445

Israeli West Bank Barrier“, Wikipedia, accessed January 21, 2014

Ariel Sharon was most definitely a controversial and complicated figure.  He was despised by many, seen as a hero to others and, in the end, felt that what he did was in the best interest of Israel.  There can be no doubt that his record will be dissected and interpreted over and over.  But Mr. Jarbawi’s painting of a blood-thirsty man who made not a single step towards trying to reach peace with the Palestinians is patently false.  And as for the Israeli media grumbling about the “lack of an official Palestinian response” to Mr. Sharon’s death?  I haven’t heard any.

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Normally I don’t really like Roger Cohen’s op-eds in the New York Times (and the Times has quickly worn thin on me – as well as Roger Cohen –  with their persistent and pugnacious anti-Israel slant) but every so often he does write up a fairly nice piece.  His op-ed Age of Outrage is particularly good.  In this op-ed, which I will only summarize here (it is left as an exercise for the reader to read the op-ed for themselves), Cohen focuses on the current outrage that has boiled over in the UK into riots and how the Germans have managed to avoid the same level of disaffection with globalization and the shift in the world economy that is now spreading throughout the UK, Spain, Greece and other countries (and which is spreading – albeit not with the same level of furor as in the UK – to the US).

The best part of the op-ed is actually the first comment that was posted by Doug Terry of the Terry Report (Doug, like me, is a resident of the Washington D.C. metro area).  His comment is very apropos:

One of the best ideas need not come from the Germans. It is simply this: let’s not go overboard with the doom and gloom. The UK, and Europe, have surely gotten themselves in a pickle, but let’s not jump in the barrel with them.

There is a terrible dislocation going on in the US in regard to jobs moving overseas, chasing lower wages, longer working hours and a compliant, no benefits workforce. What can we do about it?

1. Find a way to decouple the paydays of CEOs and other top management from the performance of their stock. Require a 50 or even 70% tax rate on stock gains made in a public corporation while an executive is serving and for five years afterward. Compensating people to ruin companies and cash out with hundreds of millions of dollars must stop.

2. Demand that all American founded corporations declare whether they are, or are not, still American companies. If, like GE, they take in over 50% of their revenues from overseas and if they no longer wish to be American companies, then decouple the benefits, tax breaks and protections they get.

3. End “special purpose corporations”, which are little more the sly means of doing secret and/or dirty deals by their large corporate creators.

4. Monitor corporations for compensation relative to total profits and profits as a percentage of revenue. Make the information public, so that citizens know when a corporation is basically getting rich, as Wal-Mart does, by keeping employees on low wage scales.

5. Change the pro-corporate slant of court rulings by changing laws and, if necessary, Constitutional amendment. Balance must be restored between citizen and corporate power.

6. No more free lunch for broadcast companies which pay nothing for television and radio licenses and keep those licenses for generations, unless they sell them for many millions.

7. Develop comprehensive policies to encourage job creation and new business development. Reward companies for creating jobs here.

The above says a lot – and could go further if we mix in the concept of term limits for politicians (no more “careers”), campaign finance reform (to eliminate the power of SuperPACs, PACs, and corporations), and tax code reform (and I mean REAL tax code reform – no more of this band-aid on top of band-aid nonsense).  If we could do what Mr. Terry suggests above from a corporate governance perspective and what we need to do in terms of term limits, campaign finance and tax code reform, we may go a long way to righting the ship that is the United States and to steer it back to a more prosperous future for everyone.

While I normally don’t always care for the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristoff’s position on a variety of subjects, I have to say that today he definitely put together a very amusing satirical opinion piece.  “Bonuses for Billionaires” does a fantastic job of doing a tongue-in-cheek discussion of the position of the Republicans and the Tea Party stalwarts in Congress on the U.S. debt and how to get it under control.  But even more interesting than his satire in the piece is one of the comments left by a reader of the piece.  The reader, MNW, from Connecticut suggests the following (and yes, it has been making its way around the Internet in one form or another for a few months now so this is certainly not original – but I think the way this individual wrote it is the best):

What we need is a total reform of the Congress and here is a good place to start. Bring them up to speed with the population as a whole – what is good enough for us is good enough for them.

Congressional Reform Measures for the out-of-touch in the Congress.

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote itself a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make any contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

The greatest welfare system in the country is that enjoyed by the Congress itself. The time has come to raise their taxes and to impose term limits upon their jobs – especially in view of the fact that they spend the greater part of their time working for nothing more than their own re-election.
Welcome to a new world order, congressional persons. Do join us all.

It would be lovely if this actually happened as I (and I’m sure many other Americans) feel that Congress is so out of touch with the American public – especially the middle class – and they have become a new breed of individuals – Homo Politicus – that some measure of reset is necessary.  I’m not some radical left-wing activist, nor am I a right-wing Tea Party supporter, I tend to be more middle-of-the-road…but I certainly feel that Congress no longer works for the American people…Congress works for the those who can enrich their lives…and that is not good for the rest of us.  Just my .02.

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