The Palestinian negotiating technique

we're making you an offer you can't refuse

“Speak softly- but carry a big stick (or AK 47)”

Whenever the prospect of a negotiated settlement appeared on the horizon, the Palestinians always insisted on the terms under which they were willing to talk.This was their way of negotiating and , until now, had proved relatively successful.

 Israel gave – the Palestinians took.

Cropped photo of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas'...

Mahmood Abbas- watched too many "Godfather"movies

The Palestinians demanded a freeze on settlement building.  Israel suspended new construction for 10 months.

Still the Palestinians did not talk, simply searched for other excuses. All the world’s pressure was of no avail.

The main element of their negotiating technique was to always hint at the possible resurgence of terror attacks.

These they would not be able to suppress, since it was the will of the people ( i.e.  The Third Intifada.)

It is true that  President Abbas- ever conscious of the PR disaster that would occur should this policy be openly articulated now –  has called for calm and restraint, at least before the vote.

But 40% of his people are under the control of Hamas in Gaza.

They have no qualms when it comes to violence. And the Hamas leadership have openly declared their opposition to Abbas’s attempts to secure a positive vote for a Palestinian state at the UN.

The problems from Israel’s viewpoint,

whilst appearing complex, are relatively simple. They come down to 3 issues that the Palestinians demand as pre-conditions:

  1. A Palestinian state within the 1967 borders ( but sometimes not being clear if they mean the 1948 borders)
  2. The demand for the “right of return” of Arab refugees ( and their descendants) to Israel.
  3. The re-division of Jerusalem into two parts. with one part  becoming  the capital of Palestine.

In addition, the Palestinians refuse to recognise that Israel  has a right to exist as the Nation State of the Jewish PeopleOnly, grudgingly, acknowledging that it does exist as a matter of geographical fact.

Their intransigence thus far,  is now further bolstered by their expectation of a positive outcome to the UN vote on statehood.

In these last few days, as the decision timeclock ticks relentlessly onward, the media is awash with claims and counterclaims from both parties

I think the situation is beyond mere posturing.

Israel needs to face up to the reality that there will be no agreement,  and must decide how to proceed.

Israel has the capacity to survive, and even flourish, within the status quo.

The Palestinians do not.

And, if anyone ever quotes the settlement of the (apparently)  insoluble dispute between the IRA and the British government, as an example of what can be achieved , don’t believe it.

The situation in Northern Ireland has been creaking along for years, with both sides going through the pretense that it is working.

In fact, the terror attacks continue, sporadically,  to this day.

And the IRA were not seeking the complete destruction of the United Kingdom!


Since first posting this article earlier today, the following headline was just published in Ha’aretz:

  • Published 21:57 21.09.11
  • Latest update 21:57 21.09.11

Senior Palestinian official: UN bid is only alternative to violence

Nabil Shaath says Palestinians to give UN Security Council time to mull their statehood bid before turning to General Assembly.

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

Shaath och Sahlin

Naabil Shaath - PA Spokesman


Naked in the Holy Land – Part Three

The Aftermath

Reaction from across the world- and inside Israel

The international reaction to Spencer Tunick‘s  idea to use nakedness to highlight the dire ecological situation of the Dead Sea, has been somewhat mixed.

But the news and photos have now been seen – or ogled at – by hundreds of millions of people, since the coverage was, literally, world wide .

As that world included China – maybe that figure is in the billions!

Media reactions have varied from serious to snide.

Some commentators dismissed the whole thing as a publicity stunt by Israel to deflect world attention from the political problems in the region, whilst others condemned it as an ego trip for Spencer Tunick himself.

The tabloids were happy to be able to splash “tits and bums” all over the front page whilst referring to them as art.

And the reaction from religious leaders was much as one would expect. You know, “fire and brimstone will rain down and punish the children of Israel as in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah” and similar crap.

Mind you, in this respect, the religious right and orthodox Jews inside Israel were also, naturally, extremely hostile, both before and after. The “desecration of the sabbath” was what got to all of them.

But I’m not sure that the reaction would have been SO different on any other day. You need to understand that these are people who believe that even the glimpse of an ankle or wrist is shocking. The women cover their natural hair, either with a wig or headscarf and the men are forbidden even to listen to the sound of a woman singing, lest they be consumed by lascivious thoughts.

To them,  the sight of the naked human body is unacceptable.

 I never quite understood the Adam and Eve thing.

Something about nudity, apples and a snake. Just one of the fairy tales upon which at least two of the three monotheistic religions are built. I don’t know about Islam.  Are the 72 virgins naked?

As an aside, I  have never understood why people – religious or otherwise- feel the need to get fully dressed in order to go to bed.

Apart from all of the other aspects of this event,  I was happy to have a rare opportunity,  in this increasingly religiously dominated country, to make a personal statement about secular values of freedom and openness.

This was, for sure , a contributory factor in my decision to apply for registration.

As one of the oldest participants ( almost THE oldest) ,  I feel proud of the fact that my body ( together with 1199 others) has created such attention. .

Until now all the shots have been long range – so only I know which one is me!

When Spencer publishes the final selection it will be interesting to see the closeups.

And I think that  there will eventually be a video published of the whole shoot, including the setting up. None of us could hide anything from the ever present cameras, even if we wanted to.

Never expected to end up naked on You Tube

– and my children and grandchildren will also be a bit surprised.

Finally, I have always claimed to be a totally non- spiritual person. I cannot say that these few hours at the Dead Sea changed my total outlook. But there was something unique and magical about floating in the sea with 1200 hundred silent souls as the sun rose over the horizon.

Truly a life influencing – if not absolutely life changing  – experience. I feel very honoured to have been selected and to be a part of that tiny, exclusive group that can say “I posed naked for Spencer Tunick” .

I will always be grateful for that opportunity – and I have crossed it off my “bucket list! “

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

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Naked in the Holy Land -Part Two

Naked in the Dead Sea for Spencer Tunick

Naked in the Dead Sea for Spencer Tunick… (photo credit: Emil Salman)

What was special about this particular Spencer Tunik  Art Installation?

Well for me, personally, it was the fact that I was one of the 1200 participants.

For security reasons we travelled to the location in special buses. It is a strangely surreal feeling,   journeying with a busload of strangers,  when you know that, in a few hours, you, the passenger next to you and everyone else in the bus – except the driver – are going to strip naked in front of each other!

And such a diverse mixture of people; young and old, fat and thin, white and black, gay and straight, a real cross section of  the part of Israeli society that values freedom of expression above religious bigotry. In Israel – being an open democracy – we have both!

Spencer Tunick started the photo shoot before dawn

So, we were all stripped and standing inside the  Dead Sea in semi -darkness, waiting for the sunrise. Spencer Tunick was photographing us, but directly into the rising sun. A great photographic effect – but the timing was crucial. no second chances!

Then came the next set -up;  the 1200 people  had to lie motionless on the surface of the water with their  bodies all pointing in the same direction

The Dead Sea that Spencer Tunick wants to save

The Dead Sea that Spencer Tunick wants to save

After this came other set-ups on the beach area. All in all, we worked very hard in he hot sun for several hours,  and had to contend with the sharp salt encrusted ground – no shoes allowed – very painful!

But the logistical arrangements were very good; dozens of volunteers were on hand with water , both to drink and also to help remove the mineral rich, oily seawater clinging to the body and the eyes.

I am sure that you would like my answer to the question:

” How did you feel, at the moment of truth, when the clothes had to come off?”

Speaking for myself, the sense of strangeness lasted only a few seconds. It appeared to be similar for everyone else – although I did detect that the women were marginally more reticent than the men.

But all this disappeared once we got to work and, if anything, nakedness became the norm, and it was the fully dressed volunteers who seemed out of place. I got the feeling that the participants were not experiencing any sense of shame – people were just comfortable with each other.

Also, the spirit and willingness to do what was being asked, quickly and without complaint, in order to make the project a success, showed a rarely seen aspect of the Israeli character. Whilst some were motivated, like Spencer Tunick,  by the desire to help promote the Dead Sea in the  “7 natural wonders of the world competition,” I think most people were motivated more by the ability to express themselves in such a free and open way.

This type of freedom is under constant attack by the religious zealots, which is understandable from their point of view. One just hopes that, ultimately, their view will not prevail.

And, when it was all over we were thanked by Spencer Tunik and  we just got dressed, got back in the bus for the return journey, and returned to the real world again – with just a tinge of anti -climatic feeling after all the excitement of the day.

Whilst on the subject of freedom, I must inject a sombre note by referring  to the Holocaust.

Naked Jewish women stand in line for execution

The only twinge of doubt that I had when I first learned of the project, was the mental image of naked Jews on their way to the gas chambers of Auschwitz  or waiting in line to be shot by the Enisatzgruppen.

But, I rationalised to myself, the difference was that these Jews had no choice . They were forced to undress. The Israeli Jews in the project today were projecting the exact opposite image. What they did now, they did voluntarily,  as an expression of freedom in their own state. I think I satisfied myself with this explanation, even if  it didn’t satisfy all the other critics.

The main criticism of the Spencer Tunick concept

came. of course from the religious right. It was attacked in the Knesset ( parliament) where it was termed anotherSodom and Gomorrah .   And was subjected to a vicious campaign in the talkback forums. Spencer Tunick, himself, came under personal attack, as if he were a pornographer, not a photographer! Ultimately there were legal issues as well when a major backer –  the local regional council -withdrew its backing and financial support at the last moment. This matter is now before the courts.

There was also the suggestion that, at this momentous period of Israel’s history, with the pending application of the Palestinian Authority to the United Nations for the creation of a  Palestinian state,  a project like this was a frivolous distraction.

On the subject of Palestine, it is clear that such a project as this will never tale place on its soil.

Nor in any other Arab State

Nor in any Muslim country.

Freedom of expression has a different definition there!

Andyboy- telling it as it is!

Naked in the Holy Land

Hundreds of Israelis bare all to the world for Spencer Tunick – literally!

Spencer Tunick 03/05/2010

an Art Installation by Spencer Tunick

World famous photographer, Spencer Tunick,specialises in photographing groups of hundreds -or even thousands – of  ordinary people, in  unusual or famous locations.

So what makes the pictures of Spencer Tunick so special?

The people photographed by Spencer Tunick, are naked!

His work is so well known that , when a new location is announced, thousands apply to take part. His photo shoots – or installations – as he prefers to refer to them, have taken place all over the world.

London, New York, Amsterdam. Lyon, Barcelona. Sydney and Mexico City are just some of the locations, and there are many more.

And now- there will be an installation in Israel.

Yes – Israel!  At The Dead Sea!

 Spencer Tunick  wants to support the nomination of  The Dead Sea as one of the “7 natural wonders of the world”, and this is is way to do it.

 The Dead Sea  Spencer Tunick wants to save

The Dead Sea Spencer Tunick wants to save

Actually, the Dead Sea has reached the finals of the competition – and Kunick –  and the participants,  hope that the  publicity generated by this event will give the final boost!

Of course, being Israel, the project has not been without it’s critics from orthodox religious Jews. .

Only this week it was compared to another Sodom and Gomorrah by a member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).

Indeed, when the possibility of such an event ever taking place in Israel was mooted, I think that most people believed that it could not be done

They will not be joining us!

They will not be joining Spencer Tunick

It was felt that the religious and traditional Jews would use all their power and political strength to prevent it.

Well – if they did –  they didn’t succeed ,

because the event is taking place in 2 days.

For obvious reasons there will be very tight security and the  detailed arrangements are known only to the organisers and the participants

And to me – because your Andyboy is one of those participants!

When it’s over,  I’ll post an update in which, amongst other  things, I’ll deal with this event from a regional political perspective.

But not now. Now it’s about Spencer Tunick, me and the Dead sea!

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!

The Hamas Charter

Just because you’re paranoid –

it doesn’t mean that no one is out to get you!

A flag, with the Shahadah, frequently used by ...

The Hamas flag

Hamas apologists – of which here are many –  claim that the Hamas charter, originally adopted as the effective constitution of  the organisation in 1988, is no longer relevant and can be ignored.

Khaled Meshaal,  Hamas Political Bureau Head,  is on record as claiming that to attempt to revise it would cause too many internal problems.

And this claim is conveniently accepted by Palestinian supporters because, to do otherwise, is too embarrassing.

Because of the superficial nature of media reporting today, I doubt that many of those who accept that it can be ignored have even read it!

Which is good news for Hamas, because to read it is a really frightening experience.

The operational strategy is encapsulated in their slogan:


Hamas logo

Article Eight: The Slogan of the Hamas

Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.

English: Khaled Meshaal in a meeting with span...

Khaled Meshaal

Realising that the extreme nature of the charter would be political suicide if fully understood,   the easy way out is to pretend that what it states,  in spine chilling detail,  is no longer the Hamas objective.

To pretend to believe this claim is extremely dangerous for Israel.

And yet those that  warn that it can only be ignored at Israel’s peril open themselves up to the accusation of paranoia.

Lets us look at a further example of this “paranoia ” with this direct quote:

Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take.

The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: 

The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them);

until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry:

O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!

This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree (cited by Bukhari and Muslim).

And to take this at it’s face value is being paranoid?

Andyboy – Telling it as it is!