It is not yet clear what caused the destruction of the Russian airliner as it flew from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh over the Sinai toward Saint Petersburg. However, the betting is an explosive device. Maybe slipped on the plane by a Bedouin baggage handler doing the work of Allah and the Islamic State, carried on by a passenger with similar motives and willing to die for the cause, or shot from below.

 
Egypt is worried about its once flourishing tourist industry, now hanging on at a south Sinai beach a long way from the heart of the country. It is doing what it can to describe security provisions as adequate, and criticizing international air carriers for cancelling flights before knowing what caused the disaster.
 
Those saying they speak for the Islamic State are claiming credit, and that it was part of the campaign against Russian and American Crusaders. Neither the Russians nor the Americans were prominent in the Crusades, but details ain't all that important.

The accusation suggests the intensity of religious sentiments, as well as factions of Islam locked in the 11th century.


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Annual efforts by Palestinians to mark November 2 as a day of protest on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration suggests that our immediate neighbors are stuck in World War I. 


For those of us in this beleaguered Jewish State, the disaster over the Sinai raises, once again, the question of our importance. Maybe it's time for us and those who disturb us to recognize that we are small and marginal, playing no role in something that is far wider and more destructive than anything associated with us.


For the time being, however, the European Union is concerning itself with marking products from what it calls occupied territories.


That may be simpler than deciding what to do about how many refugees coming from more serious problems in the Middle East.


Our own media is focusomg on a wave of attacks that are low cost by current international standards. Currently they are mostly coming from Hebron and other locales in the West Bank. They occur either at key junctions where soldiers and police congregate to protect Jews, and thereby make themselves easy targets for attacks, or in cities of Israel that West Bankers have reached illegally, and express their fury on crowded shopping streets. Jerusalem has been quiet, due perhaps to police barriers and inspections at the exits of problematic neighborhoods. 


The balance of injury and death has been tilted against the attackers. Many have been killed on the spot. Others have been injured, arrested, and hospitalized. Recent numbers for events of more than a month are some 40 Palestinian and 10 Israeli deaths.


Those who say that the Israeli security forces aren't active enough should look again. There are nightly sweeps in West Bank cities that come back with bad people, or leave their bodies behind. Security personnel have tightened controls on exits roads from problematic West Bank cities, and have closed a Palestinian media source of incitement. The Knesset is getting tougher with its Arab members who don't play by the rules. 


We can guess that more attacks will bring further controls over Palestinians in the West Bank. If there's an escalation to explosives and suicide bombings, there will be more serious IDF action of the kinds that West Bankers should remember.


Meanwhile, as Israelis and Palestinians count recent casualties in double figures, the numbers elsewhere in the region have reached the hundreds of thousands or millions, depending on when the counting begins, what areas are included, whether refugees are added to the dead and injured, and the organizations making the estimates. 


The Middle East ain't what it used to be. Energy prices have fallen by more than half. Saudi Arabia is no longer flush with cash, and is spending much of what it does have in a war with Iran. Mapmakers are struggling to redefine what used to be Iraq and Syria. Egypt and Israel are cooperating against Islamic enemies in Gaza and the Sinai. Hezbollah fighters are dying in Syria.


There are still those who claim that Israel's failure to reach an accord with Palestinians is at the source of these troubles. 


Such people cannot read or cannot count.


One of my Internet friends fumes every time I use the term "Palestine" or "Palestinians." He is convinced that I am adding to the credibility of the Jews' enemies, while his grandchildren suffer from anti-Israel/anti-Semitic campaigns at Harvard and Princeton.


I've tried, without success, to justify the use of a label that has been with us since the Romans or Greeks, modernized by the British who took responsibility for the Mandate of Palestine and provided Varda with a certificate testifying to her birth in Palestine. It also helps Israelis' personal relations to allow neighbors and friends to refer to themselves as they choose. Not for us actions used by Turkey against the language and identity of Kurds as a means of population control.


For Americans worried about the younger generation's' education and safety, it seems appropriate to steer the kids away from high prestige, high cost campuses whose personnel have not learned how to maintain civilized discourse. A bachelors degree acquired at a mid-range state university isn't all that different from one that comes from colleges with high costs and unpleasantness. Should enough Jews go elsewhere, it shouldn't take long for the prestige indicators to change.


There is no quick fix for Palestine, or the Western governments obsessed with its future. 


The present uptick in violence seems to be moving more Israelis to the right, as reflected in comments supporting government actions by Knesset Members of parties ostensibly in the opposition.


Palestinians should not expect inducements to stop the violence. Signs are that those claiming leadership are not leading, and not capable of leading. 


Neither the West Bank nor Gaza has mechanisms capable of producing leadership change in anything like a reasoned and orderly effort by those having a better idea. 


The Palestinian diaspora used to be a significant actor, but its major centers have been under attack in Syria, marginalized in Lebanon, and subject to the manipulative skills of the monarchy in Jordan. 


If the center of action has moved to American and European campuses and BDS campaigns, the results so far have added to unemployment of Palestinians who had worked in Israeli industries located in the West Bank. They have also made many American Jews nervous, while other American Jews are enthusiastic about punishing Israel for its sin of existence. 


With those accomplishments, one should not expect the early creation of a Palestinian State. Palestinians have a label, but those who ponder its worth should remember a bit of Shakespeare.


"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet" (Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene II)


Wikipedia notes that "the reference is often used to imply that the names of things do not affect what they really are."


 
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