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Monday, June 30, 2008

June Qassam calendar

As usual, this is far from complete, and it is more to show how ignored the Qassam issue is rather than to show how many are being fired. Many Qassams never make it in the news, and the rare times that the IDF publishes statistics shows that I am usually undercounting . Also, these are Qassams that don't make it to Israel; many that are fired explode in Gaza itself, often causing damage or even deaths.


This list does not include mortars being shot from Gaza, which are usually much more numerous on any given day. The mortars are turning deadlier as well. It also does not count the occasional rocket from Lebanon. It does attempt to count Grad/Katyusha rockets from Gaza.


June 2008

Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
3
4
1 11
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
4

5
7
25
1

15
16
17
18
19
20
21

4
8
29



22
23
24
25
26
27
28


3R, 1M

2R
2M
2M
29
30
1
2
3
4
5

2R


1R


6
7
8
9
10
11
12

1M, 1S
1M

2R



Previous calendars:

May 2008
April 2008

March 2008
February 2008
January
December 2007

November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February

German sports knucklehead

From JTA:
A German sports expert has raised hackles for saying that Israeli Olympic athletes wanted to die to gain sympathy for Israel.

Arnd Krueger, director of the Sport Sciences institute at the University of Goettingen, said at a recent conference that this was the only way he could explain why the athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists in the 1972 Munich Olympic Village did not leave the village, even though they had felt insecure there. He later told Ha'aretz that he had been at the Munich games as a young reporter, and that one of the Israeli athletes had told him the village did not seem safe.

At the conference, Krueger also suggested that Israelis had a "different concept of the body" from that in other western countries, which he also linked to their supposed "self-sacrifice." According to his thesis, Israel tries "with all possible means" to avoid disabilities, and he added that Israel has a higher abortion rate than other western countries.

According to Der Spiegel, Krueger repeated his theories in a written statement to the university, with the disclaimer that he is not an anti-Semite.
Nah, of course not. He's just projecting his own Aryan theories on Israel.

By the way, Israel's abortion rate is listed at #65 out of 95 countries listed on this website, well behind the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France and, of course, Germany. (It is still way too high, though. If you are interested in lowering that number, give generously here.)

See also SnoopytheGoon's take.

Palestinian Arab women killed in 2007

PCHR came out with a report last month on human rights violations in the PA. They significantly undercount the number of Palestinian Arabs killed by each other, but even according to their own numbers here is an interesting statistic:















Total number of Palestinian Arab women killed by their own people in 2007: 47
Number of Palestinian Arab women killed only by "honor killings" in 2007: 14
Total number of Palestinian Arab women killed by Israel in 2007: 4

(My own count was that 41 women were killed, so I will adjust my 2007 count upwards by 6.)

Those dastardly Western X-Rays

From AFP (h/t Global Freezing):
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the target of an "X-ray radiation plot" during his trip to Rome for the UN food summit earlier this month, the official IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

The news agency quoted Iran's ambassador to Italy, Abolfazl Zohrehvand, as saying that the plot was to use extreme radiation in the place where Ahmadinejad was due to stay.

The diplomat spoke out after Ahmadinejad himself charged that he had been the target of an assassination plot during his landmark trip to Iraq in March and his aides spoke of a similar attempt in Rome.

"One day before Ahmadinejad's trip, I checked and found out that the (security) X-ray machine set up in the place where he was staying gave off excessive radiation," Zohrehvand said.

He said that the regular radiation level of such equipment in Italy was "300" but on this machine it had reached "800".

He gave no indication of the units he was using but radiation is normally measured in millirems with the average American experiencing a total annual exposure of an average of 360, according to medical websites.

"First we suspected the machine was broken and after replacing it with another one it turned out that the radiation was controlled from another source," the ambassador said.

"When the president entered this place, the radiation increased and exceeded '1,000' so that the intensity of the radiation was completely felt inside the building," he added.

The diplomat did not say if the place where Ahmadinejad was staying was a hotel or official residence.

Ahmadinejad said in mid-June that enemies had planned to kidnap and kill him in Iraq but the plot was foiled after the Iranian delegation changed their travel plans.

Some reformist newspapers openly ridiculed his suggestion, with one daily saying that if the Americans had wanted to kidnap him they would have done it during Ahmadinejad's annual visit to the UN General Assembly in New York.

To quote the Kinks, "Paranoia, the destroyer."

Fatah accuses Hamas of "collaboration"

In the wake of yesterday's arrest by Hamas of the Fatah Gaza spokesman Abu Qusay (since released,) Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades accused Hamas of arresting him on the orders of "their Zionist masters."

Once again proving that anyone considering Fatah to be "moderate" is nuts.

Palestinian Police Phunnies XXXI

From Ma'an:
Israeli border police pursued and arrested a Palestinian man driving a stolen Israeli jeep on Sunday, the Israeli newspaper Maariv reported.

According to Maariv, the man was a high-ranking Palestinian police officer from the Barghouthi family, who had been wanted by Israel.

Amit Louzin, the director of a company named "Autoran," which helped the police track the car electronically, said, "A new Mitsubishi Bajero jeep was stolen from Qisariya [in Israel] two weeks ago, just a few days after the owners received it from the company. It seems that robbers used a copy of the key, and that they knew the secret start-up code. Autoran knew that the jeep was taken to Ramallah, but the Israeli military did not allow the company to enter the West Bank and try to get the car back."

Autoran continued to monitor the car and until last Thursday it was seen traveling from Ramallah towards a village near Israeli settlement of Ofra. The company alerted the border police who tracked down the jeep and arrested the driver.
It is always heartening to know that not only are the police of Israel's "peace partners" the biggest criminals, but also that their crimes are far more innovative and organized than their policing.

UPDATE: It gets better:
The jeep had PA police license plates, a communications system, a siren and blue police lights.
h/t Yerushalimey

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Now, we can say that Hezbollah won the war

It has always been problematic to say that Hezbollah won the 2006 Lebanon war, notwithstanding their bragging about it. After all, Hezbollah and Lebanon suffered far more during the war than Israel did, and the UN resolution that ended it did place severe restrictions on Hezbollah, even if they knew they were going to ignore it.

Unfortunately, in one sense, Israel just handed Hezbollah its victory.

In February, 2006, months before Regev and Goldwasser were abducted, Hezbollah chief thug said at a large public rally in Lebanon, "We are working on making this year the year to free our brothers in Israeli detention. Samir Kantar and his friends, which will in turn pave way to free our Syrian and Jordanian brothers detained in Israeli prisons."

In other words, Hezbollah planned to kidnap Israeli soldiers specifically to bargain them for the disgusting child-killer Samir Kuntar months before it happened. While he later stated that he did not anticipate that Israel would go to war over the issue, this was his explicit motivation.

Now, two years later, Israel is ensuring that Nasrallah's plan worked as well as he had hoped. And from all indications, he didn't even have to keep the two brave soldiers alive in order to effect this swap.

I cannot imagine the pain that the Regev and Goldwasser families have been going through, but giving Hezbollah their stated prize - in which they give up nothing that is of any value to themselves - is doing nothing less than giving them total retroactive victory in the Lebanon war, by their own stated goals. We know by now that the UN forces in Lebanon are not enforcing their own mandate and that Hezbollah has more than recouped their losses from 2006, and now Israel is doing nothing less than conceding defeat.

The sickening piece of filth called Samir Kuntar was the only thing that stopped Hezbollah from being able to declare total victory. Now, victory is theirs.

And now we need to examine the second half of Nasrallah's remarks from 2006, that Israel's release of Kuntar will "pave the way" for more such releases. Just as the Shebaa Farms is not the end of Hezbollah's territorial claims, neither is Kuntar the end of Hezbollah's goals in gaining prisoners. Nasrallah has already shown that he can get Israel to do whatever he wants, even if not as directly as he would wish. Kadima is Nasrallah's puppet, albeit a reluctant one.

Israel's current government has just made the lives 121 soldiers and 44 civilians who were killed during the Second Lebanon War to be worthless. They died, literally, for nothing. Not only that, but Israel has just created circumstances where it is a certainty that there will be more attempted abductions and murders.

This exchange is the height of immorality, ensuring the suffering of countless future Regev and Goldwasser families. Their pain, as heartbreaking as it is, does not justify this capitulation of Israel to the demands of Nasrallah and the pigs he commands.

The most reliable PalArabs are the most bloodthirsty

Despite the mounting number of violations of the "cease fire," all indications are that Hamas is really trying to adhere to its terms. This is evidenced not only in Hamas statements made in Arabic but also in their actions.

Hamas has gone on a spree of arresting members of the Al-Aqsa Brigades, which perhaps is nothing new, but their latest arrest is noteworthy: they abducted Abu Qusay, the Fatah spokesman who on Thursday and Friday criticized Hamas for the truce.

While Hamas has acted in duplicitous ways in the past, they have always been comparatively far more honest than their Fatah counterparts. Even in the "truce" of late 2006, Hamas could argue that they had never formally accepted a truce nor had they agreed to enforce one among other groups.

Obviously Hamas continues to smuggle explosives and weapons into Gaza in opposition to the Israeli understanding of the "calming" (Hamas never publicly accepted that position, as far as I can tell.) And it is entirely possible that Hamas considers this truce minimally binding because they made these promises to fellow Muslims in Egypt and not to the Jews directly. It does, however, bring up an interesting question:

What should a state that cares about democracy and human rights do when its most credible negotiating partner has zero concern for democracy or human rights? What is the moral course to take when the conditions of the agreement involve the partner acting immorally?

For better or for worse, both ancient and modern Israel is situated in a really bad neighborhood, and it has enough of a hard time existing in relative security without adding concerns about how the neighbors act towards themselves. On the other hand, any ultimate peace - if it is remotely possible - will be based on all the actors in the region accepting basic human rights for everyone else, and any short-term solutions might endanger the longer-term ones.

I don't have a good answer.

Turkish TV star responsible for 6 Arab divorces

Firas Press reports on a Turkish TV drama that stars a handsome character named Muhannad (when dubbed into Arabic.) Apparently, he is so good looking that he is now responsible for 6 divorces in the Arab world.

The most recent case was ion Saudi Arabia, where a woman complained that her husband didn't show emotion the way her dreamy Muhannad does. This caused the husband to get upset and he divorced her on the spot.

In Jordan, a man divorced his wife after seeing that she put a picture of the Muhannad character on her cell phone.

Four cases occured in Syria, including one where a man overheard his wife jokingly say that she just wanted to spend one night with "Muhannad" and then she could die.

If my research is correct, the actor playing that part is a former "Best Model of the World" named Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ. The name of the show is Noor, which is the name of Muhannad's wife in the Arabic version (translated as "Light" in the Firas autotranslated article.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Clan clashes!

From Ma'an:
Akram Abu al-A'atayah, 60, was killed by a relative Saturday afternoon in what appears to be a family fued.

Sources close to the family said that Abu al- A'tayah, a resident of the al- Sheja'iyah neighborhood east of the Gaza city, was stabbed with a knife by a family member and was killed instantly.

Tulkarem – Ma'an - Security sources in Tulkarem said that a local man had burned his uncle during a family clash Saturday.

The police in Tulkarem arrested the attacker following an initial investigation. According to the police, the man poured petrol over his uncle during a family clash. The Thabet Thabet Hospital reported that the man has third degree burns all over his body.

The police have opened a file for continued investigation into the incident.
Our 2008 PalArab self-death count rises to 101.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Man tortured to death in Hamas prison

PalPress reports on a 57-year old man who was arrested six days ago by Hamas, and whose family was informed by Hamas today that he had unfortunately died in custody.

He was in good health before this sudden, coincidental deterioration that just happened to occur while he was under Hamas' benevolent control.

The 2008 PalArab self-death count now hits the grim milestone of 100.

UPDATE: Firas Press says the man was 72.

Friday links

YNet: 3 female paramedics save lives in Gaza

MEMRI: Liberal Syrian Journalist Abi Hassan: My Day in Haifa

PalPress (autotranslated): Attempted bombing at Islamic University in Gaza

Israel eNews: Israeli Musician Idan Raichel Stars On Al-Jazeera

The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy

A small but illuminating brouhaha erupted over the past two days.

Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for yesterday's rocket attack, but then another statement was released denying those claims and saying that the person who made them, Abu Qusay, were wrong and he was banned from the Brigades.

Then this morning the Brigades reclaimed responsibility and denied the denial.

Beyond the amusement at watching bumbling terrorists try to figure out how to best manage their PR, some of Al-Aqsa's statements are worth examining. Al Aqsa has been criticizing Hamas for the truce, saying that it should have included the West Bank (an indeed they claimed that their rocket attacks have been in retaliation for Israeli raids in the WB.) Even so, in response to an appeal by Mahmoud Abbas, Al Aqsa now say they will respect the "calm."

Fatah and Hamas can't stand each other. This does not in any way imply that one of them hates Israel any less. When it is convenient, Fatah will take an even harder line than Hamas against Israel, even though Western journalists are loathe to mention it. Similarly, any conciliatory gestures towards Israel are also based on convenience, nothing else. And when that "peaceful" Holocaust-denying Fatah leader wants to exercise authority over this "rogue" organization, he can - which means that when they do terror attacks, they have his tacit agreement.

It is a major mistake to think that one of these competing organizations is any more peaceful than the other. One could credibly argue that Hamas' current "calm," as flawed as it is, is more effective than anything Fatah ever accomplished since 2000. The fact that Fatah and Hamas compete with each other has essentially no bearing on whether one or the other is more pro-Israel - that term is completely foreign to both organizations, and both still share the goal of eradicating Israel even if their tactics differ.

Israel's "Physicians for Human Rights" make stuff up

Reuters reports:
Israel's Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) group accused Israeli doctors on Thursday of ignoring what it described as the torture of Palestinian detainees during interrogations.

The PHR said its findings were based on testimony from two Palestinians who developed trauma-related symptoms, such as weak hearing, panic attacks and incontinence during and after their detention.

Israel said those findings were "fraught with mistakes, groundless claims and inaccuracies".

Palestinian prisoners undergo medical examinations before, during and after their interrogation, but doctors in detention facilities fail to report such symptoms, making them complicit in "prisoner torture", the PHR said in a statement.

PHR Executive Director Hadas Ziv told Reuters her organization's findings were also based on reports by other Israeli human rights groups.

Last year, two groups, B'Tselem and HaMoked, said they had found Israeli security interrogators routinely mistreat and sometimes physically torture Palestinian detainees.

The PHR urged the Health Ministry in a letter to forbid doctors from participating in interrogations carried out by Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet.
I found the original PHR Israel report, strangely only as a link to a Word document on their home page.

One would be generous to say that their arguments are flimsy. Here, in brief, is their proof that physicians are complicit in torture:

1) We hear that torture exists. Not from any physicians, mind you, but from a couple of alleged victims and other "human rights" groups who also get their information from the same alleged victims.

2) We know that physicians are employed by the Israel Prison Service and that others have seen these patients in emergency rooms.

3) None of them corroborate any of these allegations of torture.

4) Therefore, the allegations must be true and the hundreds of physicians who don't say a word must be afraid of losing their jobs, or guilty of racism, or supportive of torture.

There is not an iota of proof, or even logic, behind this report. It is purely an attempt to try to add relevance to the PHR organization itself. It is an absurd conspiracy theory that lacks even the shreds of evidence that most such theories use.

Ironically, it also indicates that most Israeli physicians consider IHR a joke, as the IHR cannot even find a single left wing doctor one with first-hand knowledge to support their theory.

Reuters, of course, is only too happy to parrot their claims.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Olmert giving Hamas millions of shekels. Really.

The acronym WTF has rarely been more appropriate. From Arutz-7:
The Prime Minister's office has admitted, in a letter to the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, that it is enabling the transfer of huge amounts of shekels into Hamas-run Gaza.

Asked about this issue by Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of human rights organization Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center, the PM's office replied, "The transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip takes place with the knowledge of the Israeli government, for diplomatic reasons."

Notably, the letter states that the money is transferred to the PA, when in actuality, Hamas - not the PA - runs Gaza.

The PM's Bureau letter continues, "The money transfer takes place after consultations on the matter with the relevant elements, in which are taken into consideration various possibilities and ramifications of the stoppage of the transfers. At this stage, in light of the conclusion that was reached that it was an Israeli interest that the money transfers continue, it was decided to continue to transfer certain sums to Gaza."

Law Centers Demands Stop to Money Transfers

Shurat HaDin, an organization representing hundreds of terror victims in ongoing global battles against terror funding, had sent letters to the Prime Minister, the Bank of Israel and the Israel Postal Bank, demanding an immediate cessation to the transfer of funds to Hamas.

Israel Launders Hamas Money
A Law Center representative explained that the funds are transferred in two ways: "For one thing, trucks from Arab banks in Judea and Samaria bring new banknotes and shekels issued by the Bank of Israel to the Gaza crossings, where the money is exchanged for dollars and euros smuggled into Hamas under the Philadelphi Corridor from Iran and elsewhere. This means that Israel is essentially laundering Hamas's smuggled money."

Replacing Old With New

"In addition, the Bank of Israel sends Brinks trucks to the Gaza crossings to replace old, unusable shekel banknotes. It replaces the old ones with shiny new ones - and last November, just days after such an exchange took place, the whole world saw pictures of Hamas terrorists holding their Kalachnikov rifles kissing Israeli banknotes with pictures of Yitzchak Ben-Tzvi and Shmuel Yosef Agnon that they had just received as their salaries; they had not been paid in months, and the Hamas government appeared to be on the verge of collapse, when Israel stepped in with this delivery."

"Without these criminal acts," the Law Center writes, "Hamas' financial hold on the Strip would collapse, and thus these measures are directly responsible for shoring up the Hamas control over Gaza and its continued terrorist activity launched from the region."

Shurat HaDin director Darshan-Leitner had sharp words for the government of Israel, saying it "cannot fight against the Hamas terrorist organization with one hand, and continue to secretly finance it with the other. Hypocritically, the Prime Minister demands that governments around the world isolate and and embargo the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, and stop transferring funds to them, while at the same time he authorizes the transfer of Israeli currency into the hands of the enemy. "

"There can be no doubt," Darshan-Leitner said, "that the Israeli government's policy of transferring shekels is assisting the Hamas terrorists with their missile attacks on the Negev communities. If the Prime Minister does not immediately halt the currency transfers to Gaza, Shurat HaDin will take all legal means available against the government to bring this terror financing to a close."
I knew that the PA was giving the lion's share of its money to Gaza but I didn't realize that Israel was the source as well as the conduit.

Throughout the siege, Hamas managed to hang on to power, and now we understand why - there was no siege. It has been known for months that Hamas has taken over the PA institutions in Gaza and that any money that goes to PA/Fatah elements there really go to Hamas.

As a result, Hamas' prestige and power increased during Israel's closing the Gaza border, rather than the stated opposite goal by this same Israeli government.

And this Kadima government is staying in power. Unbelievable.

See also Israel Insider and Seraphic Secret. As of yet, nothing in the mainstream Israeli news media.

Hamas: Teaching children how to kill Jews (video)

From the Al Qassam Brigades website of Hamas, a smiling child learning hate and murder from his now-dead father.

Hamas publishes Shalit letter

The Hamas website published a letter written by Gilad Shalit to his parents. I do not think this is the same letter as the one delivered earlier this month - that one was undated and this one says "June '08."

The Hamas Al Qassam website is using this letter as supposed proof of its humanity, although Shalit does say that he is suffering both physically and psychologically. Of course, the Red Cross has not been allowed to see Shalit.

In the letter, he also calls for negotiations for his release.



Translation by Annie:
Dear Mum and Dad, my dear family, I send to you my many homesick feelings. Two long hard years have passed for me since I left you and have been forced to live in prison conditions.

I continue to suffer from health and emotional difficulties and depressions that exist in this kind of life.

Like in my previous letters, I very much hope that your health and emotional situation has not been harmed since you began to live without me.

I still continue to think and dream of the day when I will be released and meet you again, and I still have the hope that this day is close, although I know it is not dependent on me or on you.

I turn to the government that it should not neglect the negotiations for my release, and it should aim its efforts only at releasing the soldiers in Lebanon.

Missing you,
Gilad
June 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A murder I missed

The PHRMG has a poorly organized and belated count of various deaths in the PA territories, and I just saw this one where a man in Nablus was beaten to death on February 22 that I had not counted before.

So the 2008 PalArab self-death count is at 99.

Also, a hat tip to Eric from The Israel Situation who has placed my self-death count pseudo-widget on his blog.

PalArabs get even more money to throw away

AP reports:
An international conference aimed at strengthening the Palestinian police force and judicial system has secured commitments of US$242 million for specific projects, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday.

The outcome of the one-day conference, which brought together representatives from more than 40 countries, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, "exceeded our expectations," Steinmeier said.
"The result, I must say, is that a clear signal of support for the building of a Palestinian state was sent from here today," Steinmeier said.
This is very interesting. The Palestinian Arabs had a judicial system before the 2000 intifada that had been functioning - with severe problems but functioning - for a number of years since Oslo. The money the put that in place and kept it going has certainly not disappeared; in fact the amount that donor countries have given the PA has increased since then. And there have been no shortage of other funded security initiatives, such as training a special force of officers in Jordan. So why do they need a special conference just to get even more money for "security" when there are already more police per capita in the PA than anywhere else in the world?

PA prime minister Fayyad has managed to pare down the security forces somewhat - from 83,000 to 60,000 according to some - which is still a huge number and included PA police in Gaza who are either doing nothing or working for Hamas. More pointedly, the way he has done so was not a way that would impact the payroll - he has offered thousands of police to "retire" on full-salary pensions. Why would he not try to find real work for these people? Why is he telling international conferences that he needs even more policemen? And what is he doing to ensure that the newly idle "police" don't take their free money and join that other Fatah organization known as the Al Aqsa Brigades?

Once again, Palestinian Arabs are soaking the world for more money but they are unwilling to make the hard decisions that would allow them to save money on their own. So the world can kiss another quarter of a billion dollars goodbye, to chase the billions already wasted into trying to convince Palestinian Arab leaders to act responsibly.

Gaza man murders his 3 year old nephew

Ma'an reports that a 3 1/2 year old Gaza child was killed by his uncle. Apparently the killer was insulted by his brother so he decided to take revenge by drowning the child in the bathroom.

Although this happened on the 14th, I did not see it mentioned in any PalArab newspaper until now.

The 2008 PalArab self-death count is now at 98, of which 17 have been children.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lebanese follies

The international community is pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild the Nahr al-Bared camp in Lebanon, destroyed last year in factional fighting.

Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora wants to make absolutely sure that these donors don't even think that this money will go towards giving Palestinian Arabs permanent homes in Lebanon. In response to a question at the donor conference, Siniora stressed that while Lebanon needs to maintain its sovereignty over all its territory this cannot mean that Palestinian Arabs who have lived there for generations will ever become normal citizens. So Siniora needs to make himself look like he cares about Palestinian Arabs who have lost their homes due to fighting, just not too much. Just enough to soak the international community for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ironically, at the same time there is more factional fighting in Lebanon, with a death toll so far of eight. A Kuwaiti newspaper is reporting that Syrian soldiers are behind the latest clashes, between Alawites and Sunnis. Siniora won't comment on that one, though.

Hamas coup?

Ha'aretz reports that things are not all sunshine and flowers in Hamasland (h/t EBoZ):
The Hamas military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, has split into two groups after an attempt to depose its military commander, Ahmed Al-Jabari. Palestinian sources say the attempt to replace Al-Jabari with Imad Akal failed, but has split the organization into two camps: one led by Al-Jabari and the other by Akal.

Mohammed Deif, the former head of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, was behind the attempt, according to the sources.

The crisis in the Hamas military wing started, among other reasons, because of the long-standing disagreements and tension between Al-Jabari and the political leadership of Hamas in Gaza. But the tension exploded into the public eye as a result of the Hamas police's attempt to arrest members of the military group who were suspected of criminal activities. The Hamas militants resisted arrest, and the police and Iz al-Din al-Qassam members exchanged fire.

The head of the Hamas police in Gaza, Taufik Jabar, who is not a Hamas member, asked one of the heads of the Hamas political side, Said Siam, to intervene and ask Al-Jabari to hand over the militants - but Al-Jabari refused.

After the refusal, Siam turned to Deif, who was considered Israel's most wanted man for years; he holds no official post, but Deif is still considered to be a symbol to the movement and one of the most respected activists by Hamas militants.

Siam asked him to arbitrate between the sides, examine the matter and make a decision. After a short time Deif announced that Akal would replace Al-Jabari, but he refused.

In recent weeks assassination attempts have been made against one of Al-Jabari's closest supporters, Ali Jundiyeh, and Gazans assume Akal is behind the attempts.
I did not read about any of these in the Palestinian Arab newspapers yet, even the anti-Hamas ones. They did report on a number of violent arrests by Hamas over the weekend of Fatah members as well as a bomb outside the offices of a different terror group.

What is the world coming to when you can't trust bloodthirsty terrorists to act responsibly?

Press-release terrorists

The "Freedom for Galilee Brigades" (also known as the "Imad Mughniyah Brigades"), an Arab terror group based in Israel itself, has claimed a number of high-profile terror attacks - of which very few seem to have actually occurred.

The latest is the claim that they exploded a bomb in a Tel Aviv restaurant today. They even specify the address: 18 Balfour Street. Yet there is nothing in the Israeli media about this.

Even stranger, they claim to have kidnapped a female IDF soldier, named "Dana", and have published her picture (original link lost, this picture is from June 6.

They have previously taken credit for the Mercaz Harav massacre.

They do seem to be a real terror group and to have done real attacks in the past, but these specific claims are very strange.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gazans suffering from severe math deficiencies!

It is not only shoes and chocolates that Gazans have been unable to get during the "siege" - they also seem to have been suffering from a severe shortage of mathematical ability:
Five days into the truce between Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel, vital supplies of goods are continuing to trickle into the besieged enclave.

Israel allowed 80 lorry loads of goods into the Gaza Strip on Monday - twenty more than the number allowed in per day before the truce was agreed, a Palestinian security source at the Sufa crossing told Ma'an.

The source confirmed to Ma’an that under the truce an increase of 30% in food supplies was agreed. But what is actually being allowed in is no more than 20%, which is not sufficient for the 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip.
If Israel allowed 60 truckloads a day into Gaza beforehand, and now allows 80, that is an increase of 33%, not 20%. Which means that Israel is exceeding the agreement, not falling short.

The fact that Ma'an quotes this unidentified source approvingly shows that the math deficiency is widespread.

The ethnic cleansing of Arabic Jews (JPost)

A nice summary of the true facts of "ethnic cleansing" in the Middle East, by Ashley Perry:
Israel is perhaps the least efficient "ethnic cleanser" in the history of mankind, calumnies to the contrary notwithstanding.

In 1947 some 740,000 Palestinians lived in the British Mandate for Palestine. Today, the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza, together with Arab citizens of Israel, comprise a total of over five million Palestinians (altogether over nine million people worldwide refer to themselves as Palestinian.)

Using a popular population growth rate equation, the Palestinian growth rate has been calculated as close to double that of Asia and Africa over a comparable period of time.

Drazen Petrovic defines ethnic cleansing as "a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory." By this definition, only one type of ethnic cleansing has occurred in the Arab-Israeli conflict - that of the Jews of Asia and North Africa. Whereas before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews living in Arab lands, by 2001 only 6,500 remained.

THOSE WHO claim Israel carried out ethnic cleansing of Arabs can point to no official command to that effect. Jewish ethnic cleansing from Arab lands, on the other hand, was often official state policy.

Jews were formally expelled from many areas in the Arab world. The Arab League released a statement urging Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out through a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees that made it untenable for Jews to remain in their native lands.

On May 16, 1948, The New York Times recorded a series of measures taken by the Arab League to marginalize and persecute the Jewish residents of Arab League member states. It reported on the "text of a law drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League, which was intended to govern the legal status of Jewish residents of Arab League countries. It provides that, beginning on an unspecified date, all Jews except citizens of non-Arab states would be considered 'members of the Jewish minority state of Palestine.' Their bank accounts would be frozen and used to finance resistance to 'Zionist ambitions in Palestine.' Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned and their assets confiscated."

IN 1951, the Iraqi government passed legislation that made affiliation with Zionism a felony and ordered "the expulsion of Jews who refused to sign a statement of anti-Zionism." This pushed tens of thousands of Jews to leave Iraq, while much of their property was confiscated by the state.

In 1967, many Egyptian Jews were detained and tortured, and Jewish homes confiscated. In Libya that year, the government "urged the Jews to leave the country temporarily," permitting each to take one suitcase and the equivalent of $50.

In 1970, the Libyan government issued new laws confiscating all the assets of Libya's Jews, issuing in their stead 15-year bonds. But when the bonds matured, no compensation was paid. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi justified this on the grounds that "the alignment of the Jews with Israel, the Arab nations' enemy, has forfeited their right to compensation."

These are just a few examples of what would became common measures throughout the Arab world - not to mention the pogroms and attacks on Jews and their institutions that drove a major part of the Jewish exodus.

THE ECONOMIC suffering on the part of the two refugee populations was equally lopsided.

According to the newly released study "The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Rhetoric vs. Reality" by former CIA and State Department Treasury official Sidney Zabludoff in the Jewish Political Studies Review, the value of assets lost by both refugee populations is strikingly uneven.

Zabludoff uses data from John Measham Berncastle, who in the early 1950s, under the aegis of the newly formed United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), undertook the task of calculating the assets of the Palestinian refugees. Zabludoff calculates that their assets were worth $3.9 billion in today's currency.

The Jewish refugees, being greater in number and more urban, had almost double those assets.

On top of this equation, it must be taken into account that Israel returned over 90 percent of blocked bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and other items belonging to Palestinian refugees during the 1950s. This considerably diminishes the UNCCP calculations.

THESE FACTS are conveniently forgotten or not publicized, leaving the way open for Israel-bashers like Exeter University history Prof. Ilan Pappe to omit any mention of the Middle East's greatest ethnic cleansing.

However, a few recent events are clearing the world community's perception of this history. On April 1, the US Congress adopted Resolution 185, which for the first time recognizes Jewish refugees from Arab countries. It urges that the president and US officials participating in Middle East discussions ensure that any reference to Palestinian refugees "also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries."

Just as importantly, the first-ever hearing in the British parliament on the subject of Jewish refugees from Arab countries takes place today in the House of Lords. It will be convened by Labor MP John Mann and Lord Anderson of Swansea, a joint briefing organized by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) in association with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Greater recognition of the refugee issue and the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the wider Arab world will bring clearer definition of the area's history to a greater number of people.

A people cannot be said to have been "ethnically cleansed" from an area in which it has grown at double the rate of its geographic neighbors. On the other hand, a people that lost more than 150 times its number from an area over the course of a few decades can make a very strong case for having undergone ethnic cleansing.

The writer, a political analyst who has worked with many organizations including the Israel Prime Minister's Office, is the editor of the Middle East Strategic Information project.

www.mesi.org.uk

Ha'aretz belatedly notices poll

Ha'aretz reports today on a recent poll of Israeli Arabs that shows that 77% of them would rather live in Israel than anywhere else.

What it doesn't mention is that this poll was released nearly four weeks ago, mentioned in IMRA and Daily Alert and afterwards linked and blogged here.

Well, better late than never, Ha'aretz. Maybe one day you can learn what "news" means.

Today's AP photo bias

Palestinian children sit next to bottles they filled at a drinking fountain in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, June 22, 2008. Israel increased the trickle of badly needed goods flowing into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, a military spokesman said, in the latest stage of a four-day-old truce with Hamas militants. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian children carry bottles of waters in Khan Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, June 22, 2008. Israel increased the trickle of badly needed goods flowing into the Gaza Strip on Sunday, a military spokesman said, in the latest stage of a four-day-old truce with Hamas militants. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Why would cute Palestinian Arab children be forced to carry bottles of drinking water home? According to AP, it must have something to do with Israel's "siege" of Gaza, because it is illustrating a story about Israel "increasing a trickle" of "badly needed goods" into Gaza, and what is a more badly-needed good than water?

The implication is that Gaza water problems are Israel's fault, and not the fault of Palestinian Arabs who have invested more in Qassam rockets rather than their infrastructure. Furthermore, it is implying that Israel has been restricting shipments of water into Gaza, when in fact Israel has been bending over backwards to help Gazans get clean water. The more paranoid can see an analogy with age-old anti-semitic canards of Jews poisoning the wells of gentiles, a standard Muslim accusation.

AP - doing what it does best.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yemen facing starvation, too stoned to care

From Yemen Times:
Yemen is at the threshold of starvation and could probably face a significant food crisis within the next five years unless farmers stop growing qat and adopt modern agricultural techniques, says Ismail Muharam, director of the General Authority for Agricultural Research.

It’s currently impossible to dispense with outside wheat and grain donations. According to Muharam, “We’re trying to be self-sufficient, but this will take at least 10 years and will only happen if – and only if – we get rid of qat and use efficient methods of agriculture.”

During the past two years, there was a 75 to 92 percent gap between consumption (needs) and production of wheat. Muharam points out that Yemen could produce a hundred-fold more than what it is now – but only if there’s a proper system in place and the country stops growing qat.

He adds that qat is taking up 141,000 hectares out of 1.5 million hectares of fertile land, whereas wheat takes up only 100,000 to 140,000 hectares.

...The other main problem in Yemen is lack of water and fertile soil for agriculture, as most farmers prefer growing qat instead of other crops, which would bring in greater income.

The debate on qat cultivation and its role in supplanting food crops recently has resurfaced and fueled resistance from a society that views the controversial narcotic as a traditional necessity.

Because they fear for the future, farmers’ production of fruits, vegetables and coffee has increased; however, wheat and grains remain the same – and are even decreasing – whereas qat is increasing.
Indeed, we have an entire country that might starve to death because they like their qat. Their addiction to qat explains a lot:
Khat consumption induces mild euphoria and excitement. Individuals become very talkative under the influence of the drug and may appear to be unrealistic and emotionally unstable. Khat can induce manic behaviors and hyperactivity. Khat is an effective anorectic and its use also results in constipation. Dilated pupils (mydriasis), which are prominent during khat consumption, reflect the sympathomimetic effects of the drug, which are also reflected in increased heart rate and blood pressure. A state of drowsy hallucinations (hypnagogic hallucinations) may result coming down from khat use as well.
Duuuude!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Arab honor, prestige and relevance

Much has been written about the honor/shame psyche that the Arab world has. The seminal work on the topic in the blogosphere was written by Dr. Sanity back in 2005 and has been touchedupon in many places, including on this blog.

One aspect of this mindset that has perhaps been overlooked one specific component of honor: prestige. At first glance it would appear that prestige is almost identical to honor, but they are not quite the same. People who want honor will do everything to avoid shame, while those who crave prestige will want to avoid irrelevance.

Much of recent Arab history is the story of Arab leaders doing everything they can to prove their own importance and to avoid irrelevance. Yasir Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Hafiz Assad, as well as Gamal Nasser all strove to get into positions where their decisions would reverberate worldwide, and where they become key to decisions made by superpowers.

In Arafat's case, he used any means possible to remain relevant. Two times in his life he was faced with irrelevance - once during the first intifada when the Palestinian Arab national movement seemed to leave him behind, and secondly when he decided to launch the second intifada and he was shunned by all world leaders. He managed to co-opt the first intifada but never recovered from the second, although he still maintained prestige among his people despite his corruption and counterproductive decisions.

Likewise, Assad and Hussein enjoyed placing themselves in positions where they could wreck any plans by their enemies, usually through terror.

Terror is in fact one of the favored tools of those who fear irrelevance. One well-placed bomb can destroy a peace treaty, and the importance of dealing with those who have such abilities makes them, perversely, powerful.

Israel's current government has recently given incredible gifts of prestige and relevance to two parties who deserve it least: Hamas and Syria. By negotiating with Hamas and Syria, Olmert has elevated their statures immensely. In the space of a month, Hamas has gone from being viewed as an illegal terror organization into the de facto leader of 1.5 million people with defined borders, and Syria has changed from the despised sponsors of terror in Lebanon into someone whose favor is desired.

Similarly, Condoleeza Rice has given similar prestige to Hezbollah, bringing its own grievances against Israel to the forefront and effectively recognizing it as governing Lebanon, even to the point of claiming that Syrian meddling in Lebanon is what the Lebanese people want.

There has been little given back to the West for these gifts. Terrorists and their supporters have been catapulted back into the positions they most desire; for free. None of them are likely to moderate as a result; on the contrary, they have just been hugely rewarded for their years of causing chaos by being elevated on the world stage.

The West needs to understand the psychology of its enemies, of people who daily call for its destruction. Boosting them is exactly the wrong thing to do, as it empowers them and gives them incentive to up the ante in behaving like spoilers.

This month has been a huge setback for those who want to eradicate Arab terror, and reverberations will be felt for years.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hamas leader's life of luxury

Palestine Press Agency published pictures from Israel's Channel 10 showing Khaled Meshaal in a luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi:




Life is really tough when you are forced to keep your people miserable while you are forced to enjoy such depravity.

One of these things is not like the others





By the way, the US Consulate to Jerusalem is located in the Western part of the city, within the Green Line.

I've discussed other interesting things about the US Consulate to Jerusalem and how it exclusively caters to Palestinian Arabs previously.

CORRECTION: A commenter points out that the consulate is indeed in East Jerusalem.

CORRECTION 2: Indeed the main office is in West Jerusalem; there is a separate leased satellite office in East Jerusalem.

The bicycle and the kite

The relative calm in Gaza gives us a chance to look yet again at how news photographers and editors use their biases to either evoke a mood or subtly tilt a story. They use a combination of selecting the photos and choosing the captions to get their point across.

Here are two pictures from Gaza:



In the first picture we see a a young man flying a kite on top of a ruined building. The second shows a man riding a bicycle in what appears to be a fairly idyllic town.

The caption for the first:
A Palestinian boy flies a kite as he stands on a building destroyed in recent years of conflict with Israel in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, June 19, 2008. Guns went quiet as a six-month truce between Israel and Gaza Strip militants took effect early Thursday, but there was widespread skepticism about its ability to hold. The cease-fire, which Egypt labored for months to conclude, aims to bring an end to a year of fighting that has killed seven Israelis and more than 400 Palestinians — many of them civilians — since the Islamic militant group Hamas wrested control of Gaza a year ago
In what is almost certainly a staged photo, the youth chooses to fly a kite in a place where he cannot easily run and the kite could probably get caught in a building or pther ruin. The caption together with the contrived photo subtly make the point that Palestinian Arab youths just want to play like all kids, but Israel has created a situation where that is all but impossible.

How about the second photo? It can certainly be used to evoke the same idea, that of Palestinian Arab lives slowly returning to normalcy during the cease fire. But it was taken a month ago, before the cease-fire, and its caption means to blame Israel for something else:
A Palestinian man rides a bike with his child on board in the Jebaliya Refugee Camp, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday May 20, 2008. Defiant Gaza residents are persistently finding ways around Israeli-imposed fuel restrictions. Owners of gas-run cars are converting to liquid gas. Drivers of old diesel cars use vegetable oil mixes, and two engineers converted a car to run on electrical batteries - and are now open for business.
Did no Palestinian Arabs ride bikes before fuel shortages? Did none of them fly kites before the cease-fire?

The implication in both cases is no, they did not. They are forced to ride bikes because of Israel and they were all cowering in fear before the cease fire.

For further indications of media bias, do a Google image search on "Jabalya refugee camp." You will see many violent images - bombed out buildings, people firing guns. You will be hard-pressed to find any images like the one above, of a clean, wide residential street with no visible damage, in what looks more like a small town than a refugee camp.

When photographers want to blame Israel for all of Gaza's problems, they will make sure that their photos reflect the idea that all of Gaza is a war zone with constant fear of Israeli bombings. But when one wants to blame Israel in a different frame of reference, his image of Jabalya is suddenly different - we are accidentally seeing a side of Jabalya that almost certainly represents how it really looks and that few news photographers would ever purposefully reveal.

Egypt grabs more weapons meant for Gaza

Part of the "truce" between Israel and Hamas includes a halt to all smuggling of arms to Gaza. At least that's what Israel's negotiator is claiming:
Gilad described the conditions according to which the terror organizations were to be judged during the ceasefire. "We need a total ceasefire – all included. If tomorrow morning one single rocket is fired, it will be a violation of the agreement. There is no room for interpretation, and no mediating body is needed. We will not accept the firing of even one Qassam.

"Egypt, on its side, is committed to preventing the smuggling activity from Gaza. It's simple; Egypt has a border with Gaza, through which weapons and terrorists are smuggled. Smuggling is a serious violation of the terms. Any such infraction will lead to a change in Israel's stance from the way in which it was presented to the Egyptians," he said.
Well, Hamas didn't seem to waste any time in trying to break that condition. From AFP:
Egyptian authorities on Friday found a large cache of weapons and explosives hidden in the mountains of the Sinai peninsula, a security official told AFP.

North Sinai authorities found "25 anti-aircraft missiles, 12 anti-personnel and anti-armour grenades, eight mortars, as well as five surface to surface and surface to air missiles," the official said.

"A large number of gun barrels and large amounts of detonators used for explosives and mines were also found," the official added.
For every cache found by Egypt, how many are missed?

Likely terrorist's family donates his organs to Israelis

Ma'an reports:
The family of an 18-year-old Palestinian civilian, who died after being shot by Israeli security guards a few weeks ago, have donated his organs to save the lives of six Israelis.

Patient "A" was clinically dead when he was transferred to the intensive care unit in Shiba medical center in Tel Hashomeir. But doctors were unable to resuscitate him.

The Hebrew daily newspaper Ma’ariv reported that his family decided to donate his organs to those who needed them, regardless of their race, religion or identity.

The National Center for Organ Transplants promised to keep information concerning his identity confidential for the safety of his family who live in the Palestinian Authority area. The families of the recipients were told about the identity of the donor but have also agreed to keep the information confidential, according to the newspaper.

On Wednesday evening the Patient "A"'s father had an emotional meeting with the patient who received his son’s heart.

Patient "A"'s father described his son as "a great person who was loved by everyone. He was big-hearted and I didn’t hesitate to donate his organs to needy patients, even though he was killed by Israeli security guards.”

“At first it was hard for me, but God inspired me to take the right decision to help the patients by donating my son’s organs. I’m happy with this decision and I don’t differentiate between Jews and Arabs. All I care about is saving people's lives. That’s why I didn’t ask about the patients' identities,” he added.
My best guess is that this is how the man was killed (from PCHR's weekly reports of Palestinian Arabs killed and arrested by Israel):
on 9 May, a Palestinian civilian was shot dead and another was arrested by the guards of “Ofra” settlement, northeast of Ramallah. IOF claimed that the victim attempted to get close to the settlement in order to fire at it from a hunting rifle.
This is the only West Bank death I could find that remotely fits the description in the Ma'an/Maariv article, so it appears that "Patient A" was a terrorist who tried to kill as many Jews as possible - and his family ended up saving them.

UPDATE: More details on the Ofra incident from Ma'an:
A Palestinian gunman was killed and another detained in Ein Yabrud village north-east of Ramallah on Friday after an alleged attack on five Israelis.

Unofficial Israeli sources told Ma'an that five Israelis were vacationing in the mountains near Ein Yabrud village when they were attacked by a Palestinian gunmen who opened fire on them. Israeli armed men then responded and opened fire on the gunmen. One was seriously injured and later bled to death. Another Palestinian was arrested.

Official sources have still not confirmed the details of the incident.

The Al-Aqsa Brigades affiliated to Imad Mughniyya later claimed responsibility for the attack. They told Ma'an that their resistance fighters survived the counter attack, but that the Palestinian who was killed and the other who was detained were bystanders and were not part of their armed group.

They said in a statement that the Brigades opened fire on a group of settlers and clashed with them in Ein Yabrud.

Amazing video of smuggling tunnels in Rafah

From Israel's Channel 10 (in Hebrew).

It shows a tunnel 20 meters deep and 900 meters long, used for smuggling. It also shows the construction of another.

The Gazans repeat a claim I've seen lately that Egypt is pumping poison gas in the tunnels and killing people, although I have never seen anyone specify who exactly was killed in such a way.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gaza groups criticize journalists - then shoot one

A political forum was held in Gaza today called "The role of media intellectuals in the dialogue and the restoration of national unity." Hamas spokesman - and former newspaper editor - Ghazi Hamad said that "the Palestinian media has become part of the problem rather than a solution" and they are too negative and partisan.

Almost as if to underscore how bad journalists are in the minds of some Gazans, a prominent media personality, Mostafa Alsua, the editor of the Journal of Palestine, was shot in his office in Gaza City today.

That'll teach 'em!

Hezbollah goes back to its roots

More recently, in the aftermath of the 2006 war, Hezbollah has stated that it only uses weapons for the "resistance" and implied that this was a temporary state of affairs:
"No army in the world will force us to drop our weapons, force us to surrender our arms, as long as people believe in this resistance," said Hassan Nasrallah, who claimed Hezbollah victorious in the fighting.

But he added, "We do not wish to keep our weapons forever," because they should not be part of domestic life.

"When we build a strong and just state that is capable of protecting the nation and the citizens, we will easily find an honorable solution to the resistance issue and its weapons," he told the flag-waving crowd gathered in Beirut's bombed-out southern suburbs.

Hezbollah has, for years, used the Shebaa Farms as its excuse to keep its weapons, saying that part of Lebanese soil is still being "occupied" in spite of the UN ruling otherwise. And its constant harping on the issue has gained them apparent support from the US State Department:
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice spent the weekend in Israel and on Monday made an unannounced visit to Lebanon, where she said "the time has come" to deal with the Shebaa Farms, an area occupied by Israel and claimed by Lebanon. Hizbullah has long cited the liberation of the Shebaa Farms as a reason for its men to keep their arms...
So when the issue is put back on the table, what does Hezbollah say?
The Shiite movement Hezbollah said on Thursday that Lebanon would still need its armed presence even if Israel finally quit the disputed Shebaa Farms district in the south.

"Any Zionist retreat from the Shebaa Farms would be a big achievement for the 'resistance' for this would be the result of its role and its pressure," Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah was quoted as saying by the state-run National News Agency.

But any retreat "will not change the fact that Lebanon needs the resistance," he said.
Resistance against what?

Rice, as all people who suffer from wishful thinking about Arab terror groups, is not looking at the big picture. She is not taking into consideration Hezbollah's own stated objectives, listed at its founding over two decades ago. Like all terror groups, Hezbollah espouses a philosophy that needs to be revisited in order to understand its actions.

In Hezbollah's case, its guiding principles were formed in 1985 with a letter called "The Hezbollah Program" which enumerated three objectives:
(a) to expel the Americans. the French and their allies definitely from Lebanon, putting an end to any colonialist entity on our land;
(b) to submit the Phalanges to a just power and bring them all to justice for the crimes they have perpetrated against Muslims and Christians;
(c) to permit all the sons of our people to determine their future and to choose in all the liberty the form of government they desire. We call upon all of them to pick the option of Islamic government which, alone, is capable of guaranteeing justice and liberty for all. Only an Islamic regime can stop any further tentative attempts of imperialistic infiltration into our country.
Because of Hezbollah's constant anti-Israel rhetoric, people think that it will just disappear if its enemy surrenders. But Israel is only a part of Hezbollah's program, and its real goal has been to replace Lebanon's multi-ethnic government with an Islamic state (and eventually a pan-Islamic ummah that includes Palestine, Syria and probably Jordan as well.) Its weapons are a critical part towards achieving this goal, and it will not hesitate to use them (all in the name of Lebanese "unity," of course.)

Rice is utterly ignorant of Hezbollah's real positions and goals, and she is willing to sacrifice America's best friend yet again in order to support her ignorance.

Minor victory in Google News

Uruknet.info, one of the most virulent anti-semitic and pro-jihadi sites on the Internet, has finally been removed from Google News as a legitimate news source.

The People's Voice, a similar rag that we have written about before, is freaking out:
One of my Associates, Uruknet.Info, is once again the victim of Google’s zionist inspired polices. Just a month ago, the co-founder of Google was in Israel to ‘celebrate’ its 60 years as an occupying power… he obviously was inspired by his visit as his Company’s policies seem to have shifted even more to the right than they were before his trip.

Uruknet has been hacked, taken of Google News indexing and now, the latest… taken off Google completely. How can this be done? We really don’t know, but we do know that Google has refused to respond to the thousands of requests by readers to reinstate Uruknet on Google News. They came up with a response after weeks only to the site itself where it “reasoned” that Uruknet was “only” an aggregator. All of us know that it is an exceptionally important aggregator, but it is far more than that! It contains original material, has editorial choices and space for commentary and it presents for an international public much material that otherwise would not be translated or disseminated.
Indeed, uruknet is pretty much the major place on the Internet to disseminate direct translations of Osama Bin Laden's audio tapes. Whether they do this as news or as a mouthpiece for OBL is a different story.

The writer is not even competent enough to know how to use Google, as clearly uruknet.info is available through Google search. But its exclusion from Google News is welcome and much overdue, and The People's Voice and similar pro-terror rags should hopefully follow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why Americans support Israel

A very nice article in Foreign Affairs shows quite well that Americans have overwhelmingly supported the right of Jews to have a state, well before modern Zionism, and that this is why America has had pro-Israel policies - not because of the "Israel lobby" or an influential Jewish minority.

Highlights:
The story of U.S. support for a Jewish state in the Middle East begins early. John Adams could not have been more explicit. "I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation," he said, after his presidency. From the early nineteenth century on, gentile Zionists fell into two main camps in the United States. Prophetic Zionists saw the return of the Jews to the Promised Land as the realization of a literal interpretation of biblical prophecy, often connected to the return of Christ and the end of the world. ...

Other, less literal and less prophetic Christians developed a progressive Zionism that would resonate down through the decades among both religious and secular gentiles. In the nineteenth century, liberal Christians often believed that God was building a better world through human progress. They saw the democratic and (relatively) egalitarian United States as both an example of the new world God was making and a powerful instrument to further his grand design. Some American Protestants believed that God was moving to restore what they considered the degraded and oppressed Jews of the world to the Promised Land, just as God was uplifting and improving the lives of other ignorant and unbelieving people through the advance of Protestant and liberal principles. They wanted the Jews to establish their own state because they believed that this would both shelter the Jews from persecution and, through the redemptive powers of liberty and honest agricultural labor, uplift and improve what they perceived to be the squalid morals and deplorable hygiene of contemporary Ottoman and eastern European Jews. As Adams put it, "Once restored to an independent government and no longer persecuted they would soon wear away some of the asperities and peculiarities of their character and possibly in time become liberal Unitarian Christians." For such Christians, American Zionism was part of a broader program of transforming the world by promoting the ideals of the United States.

In 1891, these strands of gentile Zionists came together. The Methodist lay leader William Blackstone presented a petition to President Benjamin Harrison calling on the United States to use its good offices to convene a congress of European powers so that they could induce the Ottoman Empire to turn Palestine over to the Jews. The 400 signatories were overwhelmingly non-Jewish and included the chief justice of the Supreme Court; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee; the future president William McKinley; the mayors of Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington; the editors or proprietors of the leading East Coast and Chicago newspapers; and an impressive array of Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic clergy. Business leaders who signed the petition included Cyrus McCormick, John Rockefeller, and J. P. Morgan. At a time when the American Jewish community was neither large nor powerful, and no such thing as an Israel lobby existed, the pillars of the American gentile establishment went on record supporting a U.S. diplomatic effort to create a Jewish state in the lands of the Bible.

The United States' sense of its own identity and mission in the world has been shaped by readings of Hebrew history and thought. The writer Herman Melville expressed this view: "We Americans are the peculiar, chosen people -- the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world." From the time of the Puritans to the present day, preachers, thinkers, and politicians in the United States -- secular as well as religious, liberal as well as conservative -- have seen the Americans as a chosen people, bound together less by ties of blood than by a set of beliefs and a destiny. Americans have believed that God (or history) has brought them into a new land and made them great and rich and that their continued prosperity depends on their fulfilling their obligations toward God or the principles that have blessed them so far. Ignore these principles -- turn toward the golden calf -- and the scourge will come.

Both religious and nonreligious Americans have looked to the Hebrew Scriptures for an example of a people set apart by their mission and called to a world-changing destiny. Did the land Americans inhabit once belong to others? Yes, but the Hebrews similarly conquered the land of the Canaanites. Did the tiny U.S. colonies armed only with the justice of their cause defeat the world's greatest empire? So did David, the humble shepherd boy, fell Goliath. Were Americans in the nineteenth century isolated and mocked for their democratic ideals? So were the Hebrews surrounded by idolaters. Have Americans defeated their enemies at home and abroad? So, according to the Scriptures, did the Hebrews triumph. And when Americans held millions of slaves in violation of their beliefs, were they punished and scourged? Yes, and much like the Hebrews, who suffered the consequences of their sins before God.

This mythic understanding of the United States' nature and destiny is one of the most powerful and enduring elements in American culture and thought. As the ancient Hebrews did, many Americans today believe that they bear a revelation that is ultimately not just for them but also for the whole world; they have often considered themselves God's new Israel. One of the many consequences of this presumed kinship is that many Americans think it is both right and proper for one chosen people to support another. They are not disturbed when the United States' support of Israel, a people and a state often isolated and ostracized, makes the United States unpopular or creates other problems. The United States' adoption of the role of protector of Israel and friend of the Jews is a way of legitimizing its own status as a country called to a unique destiny by God.

Besides a direct divine promise, two other important justifications that the Americans brought forward in their contests with the Native Americans were the concept that they were expanding into "empty lands" and John Locke's related "fair use" doctrine, which argued that unused property is a waste and an offense against nature. U.S. settlers felt that only those who would improve the land, settling it densely with extensive farms and building towns, had a real right to it. John Quincy Adams made the case in 1802: "Shall [the Indians] doom an immense region of the globe to perpetual desolation ... ?" And Thomas Jefferson warned that the Native Americans who failed to learn from the whites and engage in productive agriculture faced a grim fate. They would "relapse into barbarism and misery, lose numbers by war and want, and we shall be obliged to drive them, with the beasts of the forest into the Stony mountains."

Through much of U.S. history, such views resonated not just with backwoodsmen but also with liberal and sophisticated citizens. These arguments had a special meaning when it came to the Holy Land. As pious Americans dwelt on the glories of ancient Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon, they pictured a magnificent and fertile land -- "a land flowing with milk and honey," as the Bible describes it. But by the nineteenth century, when first dozens, then hundreds, and ultimately thousands of Americans visited the Holy Land -- and millions more thronged to lectures and presentations to hear reports of these travels -- there was little milk or honey; Palestine was one of the poorest, most backward, and most ramshackle provinces of the Ottoman Empire. To American eyes, the hillsides and rocky fields of Judea were desolate and empty -- God, many believed, had cursed the land when he sent the Jews into their second exile, which they saw as the Jews' punishment for their failure to recognize Christ as the Messiah. And so, Americans believed, the Jews belonged in the Holy Land, and the Holy Land belonged to the Jews. The Jews would never prosper until they were home and free, and the land would never bloom until its rightful owners returned.

The Prophet Isaiah had described the future return of the Jews to their homeland as God's grace bringing water to a desert land. And Americans watched the returning fertility of the land under the cultivation of early Zionist settlers with the astonished sense that biblical prophecy was being fulfilled before their eyes. "The springs of Jewish colonizing vigor, amply fed by the money of world Jewry, flowed on to the desert," wrote Time magazine in 1946, echoing the language of Isaiah.

...One thing, at least, seems clear. In the future, as in the past, U.S. policy toward the Middle East will, for better or worse, continue to be shaped primarily by the will of the American majority, not the machinations of any minority, however wealthy or engaged in the political process some of its members may be.
Read the whole thing.

Go crazy

I once had a coworker who would occasionally erupt in anger during department meetings and start yelling at the boss about something. He was a friend and he explained to me that these episodes were deliberate - designed to keep our boss on edge and to create an environment where he would be treated with kid gloves.

As he was an essential member of the team and the boss was relatively weak, this strategy worked perfectly. The boss would give my friend a wide berth and would not push him too much, out of fear.

In this case, my friend used the threat of acting irrationally in a rational manner, to put himself in a better negotiating position. And it was effective.

The reason I am thinking of this is from this quote from Ehud Olmert:
"I send a warm hug to all of the residents of the south, who have withstood the long and difficult months, and years, with great courage and strength, facing the daily threat and allowing the government to act in an intelligent, restrained, and responsible manner," he added.
Israel has been doing a lot of acting in an "intelligent, restrained, and responsible manner," mostly with an eye to keeping its Western audience happy. But Israel's opponents have no such restrictions on their behavior, and this gives them a competitive advantage in any interaction.

When Hamas knows that Israel is likely to act in a predictable way, it can use that knowledge to calculate exactly how much damage it can cause and how many Jews it can target on any given day without great fear of serious repercussions. They know that Israel will not target their leadership, they know that Israel will try to stay away from bombing residential areas, they know that Israel will not re-occupy land. This knowledge gives them great latitude in deciding how to act.

The Arabs, on the other hand, make their own assumed irrationality a central part of their collective psyche when trying to gain more concessions from the West. I have called this the "diplomacy of fear," and it is so ingrained in our thought processes that it has become accepted as fact. We are always in fear that the Arabs of Muslims will act crazy and we subconsciously adapt to it by pandering to them - and pressuring the rational side to do the same.

If the West isn't going to start treating Arabs as responsible human beings whose actions have consequences, then perhaps it is time for Israel to start acting a bit less rationally to even the playing field.