Archives for May 2009

Haveil Havalim #219

The grouchy old bear is hosting Haveil Havalim #219 right here.

Obama’s Peace Process

Many people are engaged in all sorts of speculation about the president’s real feelings regarding Israel. The prognosticators are out in force and I have read numerous articles and opinion pieces that lay out exactly what he is trying to do and why.

Since I haven’t been granted clairvoyance or any other sort of supernatural powers I won’t try to tell you what the president’s feelings are. Truth is that I hope that he doesn’t try to negotiate terms based upon feelings, but upon facts.

And the fact is that the peace process is a thorny and complex issue that cannot be solved by making proclamations that are supposed to make both sides feel good. As just another pundit I am just as qualified as the next guy to say that part of the problem is the attempt to try and view this situation in Western terms.

This isn’t the playground. It is not a school yard brawl or a situation where you can slap a kid on the wrist and tell them to be nice. It is not a place where treating others as you wish to be treated means that it will happen. It is a rough and tumble environment where weakness is seen an invitation to be exploited.

And now the president has provided an opening for such behavior. As I said before, I am not going to suggest that he hates Israel, Jews etc. In some ways it doesn’t matter. He can be doing this out of sheer altruism and a belief that he is helping the world. The end result is still problematic.

One of the biggest obstacles to conducting peace talks is the lack of a unified Palestinian government. Abbas does not speak for Hamas. Hamas does not recognize Israel. That is a pretty big stumbling block.

But there is more. The Washington Post reports that Abbas passed on a very serious and quite generous offer from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Here is what was offered

  • 97% of the West Bank
  • Right of Return for Palestinian refugees
  • East Jerusalem

Why did he turn it down? Because he felt that the gaps were too wide. In an interview on Al Jazeera Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat lays out why. It comes down to a refusal to provide acknowledgement of a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.

And that refusal to recognize the Jewish connection, to accept that it is legitimate is a central reason why the peace process will ultimately fail. If Obama really wants to affect change then he needs to try and find a way to bridge that gap.

I don’t know about you, but I am not real optimistic.

(Hat tip: Jewlicious)

What Happens When You Get What You Wished For

The Merits of Online Arguments

If you spend enough time blogging it is guaranteed that you will witness disagreements between bloggers and or commenters. And as you already know or soon will see arguments within the online world can become far nastier than they do in person and in much less time.

Some of that is due to misunderstandings that are innocent in nature. In cyberspace there are no verbal clues or facial expressions that you can use to help interpret what is being said. Humor and sarcasm can easily be seen as being something else.

And of course there is the ever present issue of people taking advantage of anonymity to say things that they might not otherwise say to you, especially in person.

If you are a blogger you will want to decide what sort of comment section you are going to have. It is up to you to set the tone and create an environment. So it is your choice as to whether you let the comment section turn into a giant free for all or if you try to maintain a sense of decorum.

This leads to one of the ongoing debates within the blogosphere which is whether there is merit to engaging in arguments with others. Many people think that it serves no purpose. They’ll tell you that you never change anyones mind and that the end result is that you end up irritated and angry.

I have to admit that I rather enjoy these little sparring sessions, but in general I try to avoid them with a few exceptions. The primary exception occurs when gross misinformation is being passed off as truth in which case I have no problem wading into the fray.

As a rule of thumb I don’t expect to convince those screaming loudest within the comment sections. Rather I am interested in influencing the lurkers. It is the readers who say nothing but follow along that I am trying to reach. Primarily because I suspect that they will be more likely to have adopted a position of neutrality.

It might be wrong, who knows. But to me it seems logical and it offers the biggest bang for the buck.

Airplane Tickets- $9 Seats

I think that we have seen this story before. Here is a brief excerpt for your review.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A new low-cost airline will begin serving mid-sized U.S. cities that it thinks larger carriers have left behind.

Clearwater, Fla.-based JetAmerica said 34 nonstop passenger flights a week will start July 13 at Toledo, Ohio; South Bend, Ind.; Melbourne, Fla.; Newark, N.J.; Minneapolis and Lansing, Mich. Twenty-eight flights start or end at Newark Liberty International Airport. The carrier will add six more flights — from Toledo to Minneapolis — starting Aug. 14.

JetAmerica is targeting small and midsize cities like Lansing, which has seen the number of daily flights at its Capital Region International Airport fall from 35 to 12 the past five years. The decline is part of a national trend that has seen airfares increase at those airports as daily flights have decreased.

Robert Selig, head of the Capital Region Airport Authority, said JetAmerica will give Lansing business travelers direct access to New York City and carry leisure travelers to central Florida.

“We don’t have access to either one right now,” Selig said. “So, this is going to fill a major void in our schedule.”

Filling that void won’t be cheap.

The Lansing, South Bend, Melbourne and Toledo airports are subsidizing JetAmerica with $1.4 million in grants in its first year, along with about $867,000 in waived airport fees and $1.1 million in marketing and advertising assistance.

South Bend, Toledo and Melbourne received their grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Small Community Air Service Development Program, which has awarded $104 million to 223 recipients since 2002 in an effort to restore lost service and bring air fares down.

Newark and Minneapolis, each of which serve more than 20 million passengers a year, are not offering assistance to JetAmerica.

John Weikle, chief executive of JetAmerica, said the subsidies will help insulate the new carrier from spikes in jet fuel prices. Higher fuel prices have contributed to the failures of at least four major airlines since 9/11. Smaller carriers have also been hurt.

Surging fuel prices helped bankrupt ultra-discounter Skybus Inc. last year. Weikle founded that Columbus, Ohio-based airline known for its $10 fares. The bankruptcy cost 450 employees their jobs. “

Try, try and try again. Sounds like the CEO did ok, wonder how if his former employees at Skybus fared as well.