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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres






"We have long argued that the Arab-Israeli conflict is inherently insoluble. Now, for the third time in recent years, a war is being fought in Gaza. The Palestinians are firing rockets into Israel with minimal effect. The Israelis are carrying out a broader operation to seal tunnels along the Gaza-Israel boundary. Like the previous wars, the current one will settle nothing. The Israelis want to destroy Hamas' rockets. They can do so only if they occupy Gaza and remain there for an extended period while engineers search for tunnels and bunkers throughout the territory. This would generate Israeli casualties from Hamas guerrillas fighting on their own turf with no room for retreat. So Hamas will continue to launch rockets, but between the extreme inaccuracy of the rockets and Israel's Iron Dome defense system, the group will inflict little damage to the Israelis. The most interesting aspect of this war is that both sides apparently found it necessary, despite knowing it would have no definitive military outcome. The kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers followed by the incineration of a Palestinian boy triggered this conflict. An argument of infinite regression always rages as to the original sin: Who committed the first crime? For the Palestinians, the original crime was the migration into the Palestinian mandate by Jews, the creation of the State of Israel and the expulsion of Arabs from that state. For Israel, the original sin came after the 1967 war, during which Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. At that moment, the Israelis were prepared to discuss a deal, but the Arabs announced their famous "three nos" at a meeting in Khartoum: no negotiation, no recognition, no peace. That locked the Israelis into an increasingly rigid stance. Attempts at negotiations have followed the Khartoum declaration, all of which failed, and the 'no recognition' and 'no peace' agreement is largely intact. Cease-fires are the best that anyone can hope for.For Hamas, at least -- and I suspect for many Palestinians in the West Bank -- the only solution is Israel's elimination. For many Israelis, the only solution is to continue to occupy all captured territories until the Palestinians commit to peace and recognition. Since the same Israelis do not believe that day will ever come, the occupation would become permanent. Under these circumstances, the Gaza war is in some sense a matter of housekeeping. For Hamas, the point of the operation is demonstrating it can fire rockets at Israel. These rockets are inaccurate, but the important thing is that they were smuggled into Gaza at all, since this suggests more dangerous weapons eventually will be smuggled in to the Palestinian territory. At the same time, Hamas is demonstrating that it remains able to incur casualties while continuing to fight. For the Israelis, the point of the operation is that they are willing to carry it out at all. The Israelis undoubtedly intend to punish Gaza, but they do not believe they can impose their will on Gaza and compel the Palestinians to reach a political accommodation with Israel. War's purpose is to impose your political will on your enemy. But unless the Israelis surprise us immensely, nothing decisive will come out of this conflict. Even if Israel somehow destroyed Hamas, another organization would emerge to fill its space in the Palestinian ecosystem. Israel can't go far enough to break the Palestinian will to resist; it is dependent on a major third-party state to help meet Israeli security needs. This creates an inherent contradiction whereby Israel receives enough American support to guarantee its existence but because of humanitarian concerns is not allowed to take the kind of decisive action that might solve its security problem. We thus see periodic violence of various types, none of which will be intended or expected to achieve any significant political outcome. Wars here have become a series of bloodstained gestures." (STRATFOR)





"The Kerry proposal also stated a commitment would be made to 'transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries of public employees.' Israeli and U.S. officials said the understanding was that money would be given to Hamas by the government of Qatar. A senior U.S. official said that the American government doesn’t like Qatar providing money to Hamas, which is still officially designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department. But Kerry was trying to reach Hamas and he believes this was the best way to influence them. 'The fact is, [the Qataris] are [funding Hamas] and as a result of that they have some influence,' the senior U.S. official said.
Hamas leaders have long been furious that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank would not make funds available to Hamas for the salaries as part of the unity agreement they agreed to this spring. Qatar has funded Hamas in Gaza since 2006, but the United States has nonetheless asked the Qataris to reverse their policy. Through the years, however, Qatar continued to support Hamas. In December 2012, Qatar’s emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani visited Gaza and pledged $400 million for the small strip of land. Rep. Brad Sherman, a California Democrat who is the third-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said a peace deal that acknowledged and certified Qatar’s funding of Hamas 'would be significant.' 'Qatar styles itself as an ally of the United States and then sends money to Hamas. It’s a very peculiar ally of the United States and it’s something we’ve asked it not to do for years,' he said. 'I am not going to say it’s a concession we would never make.' Matthew Levitt, a former senior Treasury Department official in the George W. Bush administration and a senior scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said, 'The bottom line is you will have some people say if the cost of disarming Hamas is allowing payments to their civil servants from Qatar, so be it. But we’ve had a long-standing policy of proactively combatting the financing of Hamas and the U.S. government has done a lot in this regard.'The potential of Qatar sending more money to Hamas, which was also not part of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, contributed to an eruption of anger and retaliation against Kerry that spilled over into the press." (DailyBeast)




"Summer birthdays. Mine was this past Saturday.  I’m not sentimental about birthdays although I remember when I was six or seven asking my mother if I could have a birthday party. I don’t know where I got the idea; birthday parties were not numerous in the neighborhood or the family. Mother acquiesced and somehow members of the family with cousins gathered for the meal (must have been a lunch) and then the tour de force – the cake with candles, wishes and PRESENTS! Somewhere in a photo album – most likely in one of my eldest sister’s photo albums, I’ve seen a picture of little David deadly serious surveying the table. I know it was the presents, and the ice cream and cake that I was checking. Back in those days, cake and ice cream were like Beluga and Cristal to the boy grown up. Now I’m not so sure about the Beluga (although I probably couldn’t resist).After that I gave a birthday party for myself when I was thirty-five, and invited about thirty friends. I still don’t know what I was thinking because I’m not a 'party' person (ironically, considering my business), but I staged it – also on a weekend – on the terrace of my house in Connecticut. Friends came up from the City and even from Boston. It was 1976 (the year JH was born) and I recall after the meal – the cake and ice cream (and there must have been champagne) – we talked about the Bicentennial of the United States of America, which was being celebrated all over the nation ... This past Saturday night I invited only old friends to join me, along with JH and his wife Danielle. Philip Carlson and I met in the mid-60s when I was briefly pursuing an acting career in New York and we were in an off-Off-Broadway show together. We became good friends instantly. A year later I realized this 'career' was not a good idea – I sorely lacked the dedication that is required. Philip, however, had landed the lead in an off-Broadway show called 'Until the Monkey Comes,' which was a hit. Universal signed him to a contract and he and his new wife moved to Hollywood. The year after that he introduced me and my then-wife Sheila to Barbara Preminger and her then husband Erik Preminger and another friendship sprang for us, which has lasted ever since. That same year another friend introduced me and my wife to Marianne and Steve Harrison who coincidentally lived around the corner from us on East 89th Street. We too became immediate friends and have remained very close ever since. A decade later, I was then in Los Angeles at the very beginning of a new career as a writer when in 1980, another friend who worked with Pax Quigley at Playboy introduced us. The meeting was a phone call. She called me one midafternoon in summer and we talked for about an hour and became instant friends. These friendships have remained strong ever since – despite all the changes and moves in our individual lives. So everyone at table Saturday night, has known each other for as long also. JH and I met when he came to work as my assistant when I was editor-in-chief for Judy Price, founder and publisher of Avenue Magazine, in 1998." (NYSD)

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