Jewish Current Issues

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Thursday, July 31, 2003

What Does Conventional Wisdom Say If Your Neighbor
Is Disrupting Your Life By Trying to Kill You?

Kofi Annan, at his press conference yesterday, was asked about his personal feelings on the security wall being constructed by Israel:

Q: With regard to the Palestinians, what do you, personally, feel about the fence that is being erected by Israel and about the question of the Palestinian prisoners?

[Annan]: On the question of the fence, I know that it is conventional wisdom that fences make good neighbours. But that is if you build a fence on your own land and you do not disrupt your neighbour's life.

Moderate Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday in Amman, Jordan that the wall is "racist." (What's next, Holocaust denial?). A Fact Sheet about the fence is here.

The fence may or may not be a good idea, but as Jay Nordlinger notes, it is "sort of a test of intolerance of Israel:"

The fence is one of the most innocuous defenses the Israelis could devise. In fact, it's sort of a test of intolerance of Israel: You don't like it when the Israelis undertake retaliatory raids; you don't like it when they carry out "targeted killings"; you don't like it when they bulldoze the homes of terrorists; you don't like the myriad other methods the Israelis employ.

Well, how about a fence? You object to that, too? Okay: Is there anything the Israelis might do, to protect their citizens, that would be kosher by you?

Wonder what Abbas thinks about the U. S. wall, surrounded by a trench and "no-man's land" and using high-tech surveillance equipment, constructed by the INS to stop Mexicans from returning to the land taken from them 150 years ago.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Life in the Hudna

Danny Gordis has posted his latest Dispatch from Israel -- this one about the (temporary?) easing of life in Jerusalem, and the return of lightheartedness to the street:

Will it last? I don't know. If it does, it will be another one of those miracles that living here sometimes allows you to see. And if it doesn't, we'll try to remember it, I suppose, holding on to the dream that if this "hudna" didn't last, maybe the next one will.

Lots of people here will say that's naïve, that it's dangerous, that it invites more of the same horror. Maybe they're right.

But the way I see it, if we've lost the ability to hope, they've won. This place was built on hope and as we've seen in the last few weeks, it thrives on it.

© Daniel Gordis ( is Director of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows, and the author, most recently, of "If a Place Can Make You Cry: Dispatches from an Anxious State " (Crown). You can sign up for his emails here.

Some Israeli Bloggers

Here are three interesting Israeli blogs; check them out:

1. Israeli Guy (Gil Shterzer -- "Blogging in Broken English Since April 14, 2002"):

He posted this picture of Tel Aviv (looking north):

2. Sha! (The "Shaister"):

His latest post recounts his discovery that the contents of the mezuzah on the door of his house was stolen -- apparently not an isolated incident in his neighborhood:

. . . who the hell goes around stealing mezuzot? I don't think it's people who can't afford one. After all, I'm fairly sure that from the halakhic point of view stealing a mezuzah cancels out any benefit of affixing one to the door.

Which leads you to the conclusion that we're dealing with an esoteric variety of theft. Even then, you have to wonder how much profit there is in it. Mezuzah scrolls aren't cheap; they're not that expensive, either (although I'm told that hand-written ones like ours do go for a few hundred sheckels). And how do you find the market for hot scrolls?

Jews all over the world have mezuzot on their doors. Only in Israel do they get nicked.

3. Dinesh Rao, an Indian student in Israel ( -- blogging about life as seen from Sede Boqer in the Negev Desert:

I Walked In A Desert

I walked in a desert.

And I cried,
"Ah, God, take me from this place!"

A voice said, "It is no desert."

I cried, "Well, but--
The sand, the heat, the vacant horizon."

A voice said, "It is no desert."

-- Stephen Crane


Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Dogs and God

From a piece by James Lileks (hat tip to Joe Katzman and Joshua Claybourn):

Perhaps at the absolute extreme some see dogs as an affront to God because they live in the moment, unconscious of tomorrow let alone eternity, and have no desire to govern their appetites. Show them a steak and they deploy that pale purple tentacle and stare at you with desire. They have no word for shame.

But . . . I’ve often said, half facetiously, that the relationship between man and dog is the same as man to God. Dogs don’t understand our books or physics or spacecraft or lawn mower engines or flat-screen monitors or 99.8% of our world. They do not know what it is that they do not know. They don’t even know how to pose the question, frame the argument, find their way into the realm of the human mind.

The connection to the human being is sufficient. . . . I find no more empirical proof of God than my dog finds proof of satellite TV. But at night when we’re on the sofa he sees the inscrutable stories flickering on the box in the corner. I note his disinterest: one of those things, whaddagonna do.

But the fact that he doesn’t get the story doesn’t mean there’s not a story being told.

Reminds me of the old New Yorker cartoon, with two fish in a fishbowl talking to each other and one saying: "Well, if there's no God, who puts food in our bowl each morning?"

Monday, July 28, 2003

The Cease-Ish Fire

An email from Israel calls the "hudna" a "cease-ish fire."

The latest IDF "Summary of Past Week's Events" is a lengthy catalog of terrorist attacks, arrests, discovered weapons and explosive devices, attempted launchings of Qassam rockets, and other terrorist activity.

Yesterday's New York Times noted that Israel "has endured 95 suicide bombings over the last three years."

Michael J. Totten, has an article at Tech Central Station on "The Globalization of Gaza" that is essential reading.

Who Wants a Security Fence?

President Bush, speaking at the White House on Friday with Mahmoud Abbas at his side, answered a question about the security fence being constructed by Israel by saying:

I think the wall is a problem, and I discussed this with Ariel Sharon. It is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and . . . Israel with a wall snaking through the West Bank. And I will continue to discuss this issue very clearly with the Prime Minister.

Mark Heller, principal research associate at Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, says that everyone dislikes the fence. He says the fence is "the line of least resistance . . . for Bush to try to make the Palestinians happy and 'strengthen Abu Mazen,' by asking Sharon to stop doing something that he doesn't really want to do anyway:"

Abu Mazen doesn't like it because Palestinian nationalists think it will rule out Israeli withdrawal to the lines of June 4, 1967; Palestinian villagers near that line think it will leave them on the wrong side; Palestinian terrorists think it will prevent them from reaching their preferred targets . . . .

The Americans don't like it because it seems to prefigure a unilateral demarcation of borders that diverge from the June 4 lines.

And Sharon doesn't like it because it goes against his instincts and because his right-wing and settler constituencies, who oppose prisoner releases, dismantling of outposts, and further pullbacks, also think that a security fence implicitly means giving up more territory than Israel already has given up and distinguishing between the security of Israelis on the "right" side of the fence and Israelis on the "wrong" side.

Heller says that Sharon nevertheless cannot give up the fence in his talks with Bush:

The only fly in this otherwise neat diplomatic ointment is . . . the majority of the public in real Israel who are tired of being bombed and whose overwhelming demand for some physical obstacle to the infiltration of Palestinian terrorists has forced the government to overcome its reluctance to proceed with what previous governments reluctantly approved.

Hillel Halkin calls the fence "An Ugly Idea Whose Time Has Come." He says there are two arguments for proceeding with it:

(1) forcing the Palestinians to negotiate seriously and soon, to avoid establishment of the fence -- an argument also made by Richard Z Chesnoff, and, even more forecfully, by Saul Singer; and

(2) focusing Israel away from the despotic and fundamentalist Arab world and toward the West and the EU:

After three years of Palestinian violence, the prevalent attitude among Jews in this country is that the less Palestinians have to be seen, heard from and dealt with, the better. No wall that keeps them out can be too high, no obstacle too thick.

Ha'aretz editorializes in favor of a fence with a modified route:

According to Ehud Barak, . . . some 500 of more than 800 Israeli lives lost in the intifada could have been saved if the fence had gone up . . . .

The Sharon government was tardy in its decision to build the fence, and . . . the work proceeded lazily, largely because of pressure applied by the settlers and their political allies . . . .

The northern section of the fence has been finished, and experts say its positive influence can already be felt on the ground. . . . The need for a logic behind the fence has not declined in the era of the hudna.

Therefore, the only conclusion is that Sharon must persuade his hosts in Washington of the security need for the fence, along a route that does not swallow up Palestinian territory.

Halkin has mixed feelings about the fence, despite the logic of its construction, and he predicts it will eventually force Israel to make a fundamental decision:

Do we . . . want to live with the Palestinians in a Land of Israel or Palestine that is open to us all, or do we want to live without them and in only part of it?

. . . Get on with The Fence, as awful and ugly as it is, and go on building it as fast as possible. Only as it nears completion will we and the Palestinians have to decide. But the decision, when it comes, will be radical and drastic. Both sides had better start thinking, as hard and deeply as we can, about its implications right now.

It seems unlikely these questions will be answered this week in Washington.

Friday, July 25, 2003

This Week's Portion: Mattot-Mase'ei (Numbers 30:2 - 36:13)

Ismar Schorsch has a d'var Torah on the Jewish Theological Seminary website that concludes with these thoughts:

Jewish history attests the power of the spirit. Where are the ancient empires that decimated Samaria in 722 BCE, Jerusalem in 586 BCE and 70CE, the Jewish communities of the Rhineland in 1096, Spanish Jewry in 1492 or European Jewry in the Holocaust? . . . . [T]he vanquished survived to write the history of their losses. . . .

The twenty-four hour fast of Tishah b'Av which is fast approaching celebrates the resilience of the Jewish spirit. . . . [R]abbinic Judaism rises from the ashes of the Second Temple, the talmudic academies of Ashkenaz after the First Crusade, Lurianic kabbalah after the Spanish expulsion and the State of Israel and the renaissance of American Judaism after the Holocaust. Mourning is the language of memory, the passage to recovery. . . . [W]e affirm the primacy of the spirit in a world awash with violence.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

"A Jew Walks Into a Bar . . . "

Jay Nordlinger in yesterday's "Impromptus" posts the following joke making its way around the Internet:

Three Americans and an Israeli soldier are caught by cannibals and are about to be cooked. The chief says, "I am familiar with your Western custom of granting a last wish. Before we kill and eat you, do you have any last requests?"

Dan Rather says, "Well, I'm a Texan, so I'd like one last bowlful of hot, spicy chili." The chief nods to an underling, who leaves and returns with the chili. Rather eats it all and says, "Now I can die content."

Al Sharpton says, "I'd like to have my picture taken, as nothing has given me greater joy in life." Done.

Judy Woodruff says, "I'm a journalist to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here . . . ." The chief directs an aide to hand over the tape recorder, and Woodruff dictates some comments. "There," she says. "I can now die fulfilled."

The chief says, "And you, Mr. Israeli Soldier? What is your final wish?" The solider says, "Kick me in the behind."

"What?" says the chief. "Will you mock us in your last hour?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I want you to kick me in the behind."

So the chief unties the soldier, shoves him into the open, and kicks him in the behind. The Israeli goes sprawling, but rolls to his knees, pulls a 9mm pistol from his waistband, and shoots the chief dead. In the resulting confusion, he leaps to his knapsack, pulls out his Uzi, and sprays the cannibals with gunfire. In a flash, the cannibals are all dead or fleeing for their lives.

As the Israeli unties the others, they ask him, "Why didn't you just shoot them? Why did you ask the chief to kick you in the behind?"

"What?" answers the soldier. "And have you SOBs call me the aggressor?"

Along the same lines, Bigwig (a "systems administrator at a public university") has a blog entry entitled "A Jew Walks Into a Bar." Long, but worth reading:

So there's this guy, let's call him . . . Israel, lived in the same area all his life, the same place his parents lived in, and his grandparents. They've recently come up in the world, enough so that Israel was able to move into the old Balfour house at the edge of town. It's a small town, got no police to speak of, and only one bar, the Dew-drop Inn. Like it or not, when Is wants a beer that's where he goes. It's not what you'd call a fancy place, and the clientele is kinda rough. They tried to kick Is around when he first started coming in after work. Is ain't real big, but he's wiry, and he took up boxing lessons a while back. After he bloodied a few noses, they mostly left him to drink in peace, and every now and them a couple of them might even nod when he came in.

There is this one old drunk, Yasser, that just hates the sight of Is though. He used to live on part of the Balfour property, till the court awarded it to Is. He didn't fuss much at the time. When you live in a shack, drink all your money and beat the wife regular, what does it matter where the shack is? Now, though, that's a different story. He spends most of his time down at the Dew-drop, drinking down at the end of the bar with a couple of his cronies, staring into his whiskey. Every now and then he tries to tell some of the other regulars what a great man he'd a been if the courts hadn't screwed him, how rich he'd be otherwise. They've heard it all before, so they mostly ignore him.

People figure Yas is on disability from some government job; he gets a regular check from somewhere, that's for sure. Not that he spends it on anything useful. Drinks for himself and his posse, such as it is. Every now and then he gets a fancy new car and runs it around town. It never lasts, he just doesn't take care of it. Doesn't spend any of that check on his wife and kids, either, and he's got a passel of them, too, running around snot-nosed and shoeless, eating whatever scraps they can buy with the money they bum from tourists. Some of them go to work for Israel and his family; you can bet that burns Yas's ass something fierce.

Now whenever Is stops in after work for a beer, Yas starts muttering to his cronies, and they start drinking on his tab, ordering all kinds of fancy drinks, tossing them back. Kamikazes, mostly. And the muttering gets louder, and Yas and his boys get madder, and sloppier. Whenever Is gets up to leave, they follow him outside, all full of booze and spleen. They yell at Is until he turns the corner, then they go back inside and tell each other how they showed him.

Course, now and again they do more than talk. Sometimes they fling a bottle at Is, too. They're drunker than skunks, so mostly they miss, but occasionally they get lucky and one breaks near Is. On one or two rare occasions they've hit Is on the head, almost knocked him out.

And without fail, every time they throw a bottle, whether they miss or not, Is turns around, walks back up the street, and beats the everloving shit out of Yasser. Now the way Is figures it, it don't matter who actually threw the bottle. Yas paid for it, so it was Yas's bottle what flew by his ear, or smacked him in the temple. It's gotten to be a pretty regular thing. Yas or one of his boys flings a bottle at Israel, and Israel turns around, walks back up to Yas, who is too drunk to even run, by god, and beats on him until Yas is lying in the gutter, bleeding like a stuck pig, with his eyes rolled back in his head. Then everything is kinda peaceful for a while, until Yas heals up and pays for another round.

People used to watch a good bit. It was pretty entertaining, placing bets on where the bottle would land, or how long it would take Israel to smack Yasser into unconsciousness. Not so many do any more. It's gotten too predictable. Beside's, they're both about as dumb as stumps, when you get right down to it.

Yasser...well hell, ain't it obvious? Man get's the shit beat out of him all the time, yet he keeps on flinging. Israel? Pretty much everybody agrees that if he's tired of all them bottles, he needs to take Yasser down once and for all. Yea, some people might screech, but it's a clear case of self-defense. There's not a jury in the land that'd convict him. He'd get some bad press, but he's used to that. The editor of the local rag found out real quick that bashing Is sells papers. But Israel just beats Yas up, and goes home. And that's stupid because Yas ain't gonna stop throwing. One day he might even wise up and throw a full bottle. All he needs to do is knock Is unconscious, and he's home free. Damn near everybody in that bar what was beat up by Israel will come looking for payback on that day, and it won't be pretty. Probably trash the whole damn town, come to think of it.

People are starting to ask him. "Is, what's it gonna be? You gonna let this little shit keep taking potshots at you until he really hurts you? Until he destroys everything you worked for? Or are you going to take him out, once and for all?

Is doesn't say a thing. He looks them with his haunted eyes and keeps on walking. And Yasser? Yasser keeps on drinking.

Bigwig's interior monologue of Saddam Hussein, posted yesterday, is a great piece of writing. This site may be worth bookmarking.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Report From Iraq

Carolyn Blashek, Mitzvah Maiden and one-woman support group for U.S. troops in Iraq, has circulated a letter she received from one of the recipients of her care packages:

The sad thing about what is happening here in Iraq is that I have no doubt that the majority of the population wants desperately for things to change here; however, without the head of Saddam or his sons or the top figures in the "Deck of Cards" the people are very hesitant to embrace what the coalition is attempting to do.

The very real fear to them is that if we do not succeed, when we leave, then the Baath Party will return. I am sure this is very similar to how things were in Germany after the Nazi Party fell. Their entire population was living in a lifestyle that was dictated to them.

We in America find it hard to understand this thinking because we live and breath our freedoms. But imagine if you were living in a society where everything that you know is indoctrinated and if you do not comply then someone you love dearly will disappear. That is what has happened here. This past week another mass grave was discovered here near Baghdad. Can you imagine what you would think if this was discovered in Los Angeles? New York? Washington DC? We as Americans can not even consider this possibility because it is not a truth in our society. Here in Iraq . . . it is.

Many Americans who oppose our presence here in Iraq, after the major combat campaigns have ended, do not have the view from here on the ground. It is easy to say that we should not be here; but from my point of view it would be like helping a kid from getting beaten up by some big bad bully and then leaving him alone in the streets to fend for himself against all the other bullies in the gang.

The bottomline, we have a responsibility to complete the job.

As I near the end of my tour here I am relieved to see success as we press on. I hope and pray for these people to know some -- if not all -- of our freedoms. But most of all I pray for their fear to be replaced with hope.

Today, as a result of the bravery of U.S. troops such as this one, Saddam's sons were killed. The Washington Post reports that:

As preliminary reports of the deaths were broadcast on Arabic-language satellite television stations, thousands of Baghdad residents poured out of their homes to dance, shout and fire AK-47 assault rifles into the air. Red tracer rounds arced across the night sky, and horns blared on the capital's streets.

"We are really happy because now we can say for sure that we have gotten rid of the old regime," said Ibrahim Ali, 26, a student who ran into a street in eastern Baghdad with his rifle. "I don't believe that Saddam Hussein will be a danger anymore without Uday and Qusay."

Monday, July 21, 2003

Supporting Daniel Pipes

A website has been set up to support Senate confirmation of Daniel Pipes for the Board of the United States Institute of Peace.

Action is requested by Wednesday, July 23.

Friday, July 18, 2003

The Glick Brigade

Caroline B. Glick

An IDF Colonel once said of Ruth Wisse that "She is worth a division."

The comment reflected the fact that war is not simply a matter of force, but of the ideas and values that motivate the forces -- and someone who can express those ideas forcefully and eloquently is a strategic asset.

Based on her Column One articles for the Jerusalem Post over the past year, such as this one, and this one, Caroline Glick is worth at least a brigade. Her latest column is here.

Glick was born in Chicago, immigrated to Israel at age 21 after graduating from Columbia, and served in the IDF for 5 years (leaving as a captain). She then served in the Defense Ministry as a negotiator with the PLO in 1994-96, and in 1997 was Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

From 1998 to 2000, she studied at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, receiving a Master's in Public Policy, and then returned to Israel to join the Jerusalem Post, where she has been writing columns of remarkable eloquence and intellectual force.

Yesterday, she participated in an online chat at the Post, which has published the transcript. She is not sanguine about Mahmoud Abbas and the road map:

There are two ways to think about what is happening in the PA.

One is that Abbas and Arafat are working together in which case this is all a farce.

The other is that they are not working together and that Abbbas has no power, in which case it is a farce.

. . . [When Abbas and Sharon come to Washington], Israel will be pressured to release Palestinian murderers from jail and Abbas will be pressured to say that he is for peace.

. . . The hudna is . . . a group of terrorists declaring a general amnesty for themselves while they oil their guns and recruit more human beings to become guided missiles. It will last for as long as it serves the terrorists' interests or until we go in and destroy them.

Glick's article earlier this year about her experiences as an embedded reporter is a compelling story of moral and physical courage. Asked in the chat yesterday about the general consensus of the American troops regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, she answered that:

The guys I was with didn't understand why Israel doesn't just destroy the Palestinian Authority. For them it was very clear. They are conducting a terrorist war against us and we have to destroy them to protect ourselves. The American troops were very supportive of Israel and respectful of our ability to defend ourselves.

. . . The war on terror is a bit of a misnomer. Terror after all is tactic, not a cause. The war being fought against Israel and the US is a war of Islamic annihilationism. Unless the US and Israel are able to fight this war both intellectually and militarily, it will be difficult to bring it to a conclusion.

The fact that the US still is trying to pretend that there is a difference between the war against Israel and the war against the US is one of the reasons why it is hard to win.

Maybe two brigades.

Mitzvah Maiden

The Los Angeles Daily News profiles Carolyn Blashek ("Encino Woman Makes Mail Call Less Lonely for Military Forces"), who sends letters and packages to troops in Iraq in appreciation for what they are doing, and gets grateful responses:

"These letters and e-mails from grateful soldiers serving in the Middle East cut close to the heart," says retired Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Mike Teilmann, who serves as executive director of the Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX, where Blashek began volunteering soon after Sept. 11, 2001.

"They bring tears to your eyes," Teilmann said. "If these young soldiers weren't getting the packages she's sending on her own, they wouldn't be getting anything."

. . . "To me, it's worse right now than ever for those troops," Carolyn said Friday before heading to the post office to ship 27 packages to GIs in Iraq. This will bring the total to 295 packages mailed since March.

"The soldiers are hanging around now, and the danger is just as high. But nobody's thinking about them anymore because we won. They need us now more than ever."

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Update on France

Glenn Frankel has an article in the Washington Post on anti-semitism in France: "For Jews in France, a 'Kind of Intifada.'"

The file grows almost daily: 309 incidents in the past 15 months in the Paris region, according to Jewish council officials, and more than 550 since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, broke out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000. The National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a government-funded body, reported a sixfold increase in acts of violence against Jewish people and property in France from 2001 to 2002.

Frankel writes that, for the 600,000 Jews in France, "many of whom had thought of themselves as French first and foremost, the violence and the initial tepid response of government officials have led to a crisis of identity."

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

15 Questions

Ron Dermer, a political consultant who lives in Jerusalem, is conducting a survey on the road map. "It will take only a few minutes of your time."

The road map will succeed at bringing peace because:

(a) The Palestinians have a new leadership not compromised by terror.

(b) The Europeans will monitor compliance.

(c) The younger generation of Palestinians has been educated for peace.

(d) None of the above.

There are 14 more questions.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Not Much Seems to Have Changed

Okay – I’m back. Did the Palestinians dismantle Hamas yet?

The road map provided that no later than May 31 (and no amendments to the plan, per the Quartet!) the Palestinians were to commence confiscation of illegal weapons, consolidate all Palestinian security organizations into three services reporting to an “empowered Interior Minister,” and engage in:

Sustained, targeted and effective operations . . . [for] dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.

The empowered Interior Minister (Mahmoud Abbas), who finished somewhere behind Dennis Kucinich in the last Palestinian poll, promptly announced he would not use force against Hamas, but rather disarm it by “persuasion” (long an effective tool in the Middle East).

Abbas, backed by the United States, turned his attention instead to generating concessions from Israel to improve his popularity -- so the Palestinians could begin doing what they had already promised to do (having famously announced that, unlike the Israelis, they were accepting the road map “without reservations”).

So as a practical matter, the road map has focused not on Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state, but rather on stopping Israeli assassinations of Hamas leaders, preventing the building of a security fence on the West Bank, and getting Israel to release terrorist prisoners (presumably so they could thereafter be “dismantled”).

Barry Rubin, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal, thinks the cease fire is "Arafat's Perfect Formula:"

Arafat has hit on the perfect formula for his current situation. The cease-fire is in his interest as he tries to rebuild his forces and probe for international support against Israel. At the same time he can blame any concessions on Abu Mazen.

Rubin writes that the bad news is that this is merely a tactical, not a strategic shift:

Any prospects for progress in peace negotiations are very poor. The Palestinian leaders have not changed a single one of their positions. On the contrary, bu building such high expectations, fomenting anti-Israel hatred and justification for violence among their people it has become that much harder for these leaders to engage in the compromises needed for agreement.

Abu Mazen’s position is extremely weak. He cannot carry Fatah, the PLO, the Palestinian Legislative Council or the security foces with him. Only some half-dozen of the top 100 Palestinian leaders are backing him.

Evelyn Gordon, writing in the Jerusalem Post, says the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders were in fact the main reason for the cease-fire:

. . . off the record, the Palestinians themselves say the targeted killings were the Israeli tactic Hamas feared most and the main reason it eventually agreed to a cease-fire -- or, as one Palestinian put it: Why else do you suppose an end to the assassinations tops Hamas's list of condition for a truce?