with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Surveys, Polls, Israel and Palestinians

I don’t know where the day went, and I think I got a lot accomplished, but it sure feels like I spent more time spinning my wheels than actually doing anything. I spent three hours trying to get our network of three computers to cooperate. Our backup “server”, a large three hard drive desktop, is networked to two laptops via a wireless and hard-wired hub. While I was camping over the weekend, something Brent did, or didn’t do, caused the two laptops to “see” the desktop but not connect to it. The desktop can see and connect to the two laptops, but I can’t get the reverse. I’ll work on it more tomorrow, but I don’t know where to turn. Ugh!

I did research a few new links and resources for our site, and found some goodies, and I tackled the backlogged email. Since coming back from our “refugee” excursion, I just can’t seem to catch up on all the email. It keeps piling up faster than I can get to it. I have to get more disciplined. I respond to the business stuff right away, but friends get ignored for a bit longer…sad, but I’m trying to keep up with a lot of work load!

I did get a few minutes to read at least the first section of the Jerusalem Post newspaper while eating dinner. I usually eat and work at the same time, but my fingers needed a rest. I found another story about a poll on the feelings and views of the Palestinians regarding suicide attacks on Israelis. These are the polls that never seem to make the international news. The suicide attacks make the news, but the attitude about them doesn’t. In a survey done in the summer of 2000, before the current Intifada broke out, over 70% of Palestinians did not want to be under Palestinian rule. They didn’t trust their “government” to take care of them, and of those living within the Israeli borders, the majority wanted Israeli citizenship and rights. Comparing Israeli freedom and business opportunities with the Palestinian Authority’s corruption and controls, I would have to agree, but I’m not the one experienced at living under the different rules. They are and the poll reported their feelings, much to the anger and dismissal of Arafat.

The most recent poll, according to the Post, found that 61.8 percent of Palestinians supported suicide attacks, and 34% were opposed to this form of terrorism, with a 3 percent margin for error. A majority of 42.8 percent said they supported the resumption of attacks inside Israel as well as the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as oppopsed to 14.1 percent who said the attacks should be restricted only to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The poll was done by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center (JMCC) supported by a fund from the Fredrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation in Germany and interviewed 1198 people over the age of 18 living within the Palestinian Authority.

Another interesting result in the survey is that 58.9 percent are pessimistic about the future and 71.9 percent are not optimistic about a peaceful settlement, with 76.8 percent supporting the continuation of the violence. Combine this with the poll revealing that 45.7% saying they supported the two-state forumla and 25.3% agreed that the best solution would be a “bi-national” state on all of historic Palestine. I’m confused, aren’t you?

First of all, polls are misleading and need to be questioned. I haven’t been able to find out what the interviewers asked and how they phrased the questions to determine these results, so I can only think about the numbers. It’s clear that the majority of those interviewed believe that violence is an answer – a solution to a problem. I find that offensive, no matter who it comes from. But then again, look at what these people have been taught.

While Clinton and other US Presidents have spouted their determination to never negociate with terrorists, time and time again terrorists have been negociated with, proving to the world repeatedly that violence can win power and influence people. In a wonderful editorial parady in the Jerusalem Post during the “war” on Afganistan against the Taliban and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Arafat is “overheard” having a phone conversation with bin Laden and lecturing him on what it takes to become a “world leader” from a lowly terrorist. Arafat instructs bin Laden to do it his way, the right way, and “you, too, will be elected president and given a Nobel Peace Prize.” It seems laughable to imagine anyone even considering giving bin Laden such a humanitarian award, but then it is incomprehensible to so many, especially the families of those who were killed in the 1972 Olympics PLO attack and the multiple airline hijackings, terrorist attacks and suicide bombings that have gone on for almost forty years in the name of Palestinians, with a huge number of these orchestrated and supported by Arafat, that Arafat would be honored by the Nobel Peace Prize Commmittee. When you think about it, bin Laden has just as much of a chance as Arafat did. Now stop and think about what Arafat has done for his people since receiving such a high honor and world-wide acclaim. Not much. Violence continues.

I’m not saying that Israel has nothing to do with the continuation of violence. That isn’t part of my issue here. My issue is with a people and a person who believes that violence is the answer. I have a problem with people who support violence as an answer. I’m shocked, dismayed, and appaulled at the American people who stood behind Bush when he went after Saddam. Sure, I think the Taliban were awful people, but to destroy an entire country for the sake of finding one criminal, bin Laden, even if that government is corrupt and horrible…I have problems with that. I have a problem with the US believing it can be the policeman for the world. I hate that people are suffering under repressive and destructive governments. It makes me ill to think that these people live in such fear and terror that they cannot reach deep within themselves and understand what it takes to reform from within themselves and their country. I think of all the tortured citizens of the world ignored by the great American policeman who could be saved, but instead, the great white men in the white house go after the dictators who control the oil…and other profits to be had. The US continues to ignore the genecide in Africa, and they live in great hope that continued business dealings with the Chinese will “open their eyes” to the moral value of democracy while their government continues to repress and control their people, the last gasping breath of Communist control in the world. I’m confused with the dicotomy. The US will do business with China, on the hope that they will see the light and change, ignoring their horrendeous human rights policies, but they will destroy Afganistan and Iraq (among many others) in order to get what they want faster. Who decides which groups of peoples and countries get treated which way? I don’t like all this at all.

On another rant of inconsistent political dealings, once again Israel is about to undertake a major international (and internal security) blunder. In the fall of 2000, three IDF soliders were kidnapped along the Lebanese border by the terrorist group, Hizbullah. About the same time, an Israeli business man, under suspicion by the Israeli government for illegal business dealings, was kidnapped in Lebanon, too. This past week, after long negociations, much debate, and a lot of frustration, the Israeli government has approved a “swap”. They will release over 400 Palestinian terrorists (some call them political prisoners, but there are a lot who are considered guilty for terrorism, murder, and kidnapping) in exchange for the three bodies of the kidnapped soliders and the business man. Upon the businessman’s return, Tannenbaum will promptly be prosecuted for his illegal business crimes. I know the families will be happy to have some sort of an end by being able to bury the bodies of their loved ones, but I’m missing something here.

What happened to the “not” in dealing with terrorists? The soliders are dead. There is no bringing them back. But their bodies have value, something I have a problem with. Their spirits are gone, and the memory of their lives have value and should be honored, but the corpses are just…well, I don’t want to sound cruel. But the damage is done. They are gone and it is horrible. No burying of the bodies or anything else will change the situation. But this culture dictates that the bodies have value and they are worth the risk of releasing known terrorists and criminals. As for Tannenbaum, is he really worth 400 terrorists and crimnals? Will his return be such a contrition to the world? Must be.

And what is going to be the price for the four Israelis and their three non-Israeli friends being held hostage in Columbia?

My point is that over and over again we give permission to terrorists and kidnappers that these actions are acceptable because they bring reward. And because the reward is good, they keep on doing it. Over and over again. Talk about your cycle of violence!

And the plotting continues. It looks more and more like Syria is next on the hit list from President Bush. I just read that the US Senate has voted 89-4 for bill to impose sanctions on Syria unless it stops sponsoring terrorists and halts its banned weapons programs. In the vote, the Senate changed the “Syrian Accountability Act” to give President more power “to waive economic and diplomatic penalties in national interest.” Whose national interest? Again, this seems to be a start on a new policy of “warn and attack if we don’t get our way.” Didn’t England do much of the same thing, which led to its becoming a world super power, until its downfall and reduction to a small island north of Europe and a bigger island south of the planet. Shouldn’t the US learn from other “world” power mongers? Couldn’t they just get by setting an example and leaving the rest of the world to get a clue? I know the policy of “non-interference” came out of Holywood’s Star Trek, but I’d like to believe it came out of a spiritual need of the American people to remind its government guardians that interference in another country’s politics and lifestyle is unacceptable.

President Bush is visiting London, and the whole nation is up in arms about it, and even the mayor is behind them, permitting, against Blair’s orders, a massive peace demonstration. Blair wants to shield Bush from his people’s views, as do other world leaders when other world leaders come to visit, but I don’t think Bush can ignore the English opinion. It will be all over the news and they aren’t quiet when they have something to say. I say “good for you” to the English people. I think it is time that Bush got the message that the rest of the world is sick of his political action outside of the US borders. He is not, and never will be, a world leader, just a president of a country who has, history will probably prove, made some dumb decisions based on insufficient information and a lot of personal agenda. People of England, speak out loud. Shout it out. Prove to the world that your voice can be heard.

And someday, maybe the world will embrace the “prime directive” and we will learn that violence is not an answer, no matter what the problem is. But then again, don’t back me into a corner…ah, the eternal dilema…resistance is futile has been proven that it is possible to resist…which way to turn. Which way to turn.

Tel Aviv, Israel

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