Monday, December 31, 2007

Always helpful

Oh, brother ...

A Jerusalem square will be symbolically dedicated to Jonathan Pollard ahead of President Bush's visit to Israel.

Mina Fenton, a Jerusalem city councilwoman, announced this week that the capital's Paris Square will be symbolically renamed "Pollard Square" in a ceremony on Jan. 7, two days before George W. Bush begins his first visit as U.S. president to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The move is meant to help lobby Bush to pardon Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst who is serving a life prison sentence for spying for Israel. Bush leaves office in 2009.

Because it's always helpful to remind the President of the United States (and the rest of the American public) that a certain sector of Israeli nutjobs lionizes a man who exploited a position of trust in order to steal and pass on classified information to our friend and ally, Israel.

What are these people smoking?

Sunday, December 30, 2007


It must be the end of the year, putting me in a retrospective mood. (And, fair warning, I've dug up some stuff going back to the 1930s that I'm hoping to get up soon.) This one goes back to February, 2005, and my original "Is it Peace Yet?" post, which sounds so suspiciously like something that could have been written last month (if you replace Ariel Sharon with Ehud Olmert and Sharm-e-Sheikh with Annapolis) that I just had to reproduce part of it here.

Is it peace yet?

What do you think?
Israeli and Palestinian Authority representatives are meeting Saturday night to patch up differences regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails ahead of Tuesday's Israel-PA summit in Sharm e-Sheikh, Egypt.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's top aide, Dov Weisglass, who is heading the meeting, is expected to arrive in Cairo on Sunday to finalize arrangements for the summit.

PA officials warned that without the release of thousands of prisoners, the summit would not succeed. "If Israeli intransigence on this issue continues, the summit will fail," said Minister of Communications Azzam al- Ahmed. "If the prisoners aren't released, we will return to the cycle of violence."
That sounds a lot more like a threat than a prediction.

Yes, indeed. Although now, almost three years later, we've become pretty much numb to that refrain. If the prisoners aren't released, we will return to the cycle of violence. And if they are released, we will return to the cycle of violence anyway, meanwhile demanding the release of yet more prisoners. So it goes.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

No, really

You just can't make this stuff up. I mean ... can you?

Nearly two thousand Palestinian pilgrims returning from Mecca were stranded in the Red Sea on Saturday after refusing to sign an agreement with Egyptian authorities to re-enter the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Among the pilgrims were senior Hamas operatives, several of whom are wanted by Israel, Israel Radio reported. Fearing arrest once they arrived at the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing, the Hamas members insisted on returning to Gaza via Rafah Crossing, which is not under Israel's control.

The pilgrims had sailed to the port city of Nuweiba on the Sinai Peninsula from Jordan's Aqaba Port but the Egyptians were stopping them from disembarking.

Hamas said there were a total of 1,900 pilgrims who had been waiting since Friday in the Red Sea.

The Palestinians were refusing to accept food or medicines until they received permission to use Rafah and some even threatened to set the ferries on fire.

Hmmm. They're threatening violence if they don't get their way? How novel!

Israel filed a complaint with Cairo after Egypt allowed the Palestinians to pass through Rafah on their way to Mecca and after Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent visit to Egypt, Israeli officials said the Egyptians agreed to have the pilgrims use Kerem Shalom Crossing on there way back to Gaza.

IDF intelligence estimates released on December 5 indicated that up to a couple of dozen Hamas terrorists were among the so-called pilgrims Egypt allowed out of the Gaza Strip. In recent years, hundreds of Hamas terrorists have traveled abroad to Iran and Lebanon for military training, and officials said it was possible that these terrorists would do the same.

The IDF also fears that if the pilgrims are allowed to return to Gaza through Rafah they might smuggle millions of dollars to Hamas.

Senior Palestinian officials dismissed Israel's concerns, saying the Egyptians could search the pilgrims for smuggled cash.

Yeah, sure they could. And they probably would so they could take a little for themselves before letting the rest through. See, that losing control of the Rafah Crossing thing continues to have really nasty implications for Israel's security. Who could've guessed?

"Israelis raise trivial issues and complicate things to cover up criticism over continued construction of settlements," said Mohammed Sobeih, the Arab League's undersecretary general.

The standoff angered Hamas, who said Egypt has a responsibility to bring the pilgrims back to Gaza as quickly as possible.

Some 5,000 people waving Palestinian and Hamas flags gathered on the Gaza side of the border with Egypt on Saturday and demanded the pilgrims be allowed to enter.

Egyptian riot police are on the scene. With a machine gun. I wonder how this one will turn out?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Endings and beginnings

So the end of this secular year corresponds with the beginning of a new book in the annual cycle of the Torah. Shemot. Exodus. And a parasha (by the same name) that's full of apparently strange and mysterious passages. The more to ponder, study and learn.

Shabbat Shalom.

Campaign promises

Puttering around in my archives yesterday, I came across a pointer to this item, posted at IMRA back in January, 2003.

Monday, January 6, 2003
Labor Campaign manager Vilnai: I disagree with Mitzna on policy
Aaron Lerner Date: 6 January 2002

Matan Vilnai, who is serving as the Labor Party's campaign manager, stunned Channel 2 Election Magazine host Gabi Gazit this afternoon when he declared that he disagreed with Mitzna on policy and that the Labor Party. Vilnai went on to say that Labor has yet to formally accept Mitzna's program ofunilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to be followed by unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank if a withdrawal can't be negotiated with the Palestinians.

Vilnai noted he opposed Mitzna's program and expected the Labor Party to decide on this matter later. Vilnai added that he hoped his position would be accepted by the Party.

A startled Gazit pointed out to Vilnai that elections are being held in a few weeks.

The issue came up when Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert (Likud) who was also appearing on the program warned that if Mitzna wins the elections he would unilaterally withdraw, thereby creating a situation that instead of fighting terror at the source in Palestinian cities, Israel would find itself defending itself from the Green Line.

Just three weeks later, Ariel Sharon, with Olmert at his side, handily lead the Likud to victory in those elections over the Labor party under Mitzna. One of the key factors credited for Sharon's success was his adamant rejection of Mitzna's "unilateral withdrawal" plan. But by November, 2003, Olmert was already floating the "disengagement" agenda and in December Sharon officially signed on himself.

Stranger than fiction but more or less par for the course. And something to keep in mind during this season of presidential campaign rhetoric. George Herbert Walker Bush asked us to read his lips but raised taxes anyway. His son repeatedly promised that one of his first acts as president would be to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. We know how that turned out.

Caveat emptor.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

However you cut it

I've been struggling with what to say about the Bhutto assassination all day. Whatever justifiable ambivalence people may have about her, I haven't been able to escape the feeling that this is, on so many levels, a very, very bad thing.

Rich Lowry pretty much nails it.

Because what we always feared has happened -- an assassin has killed a strategically significant target. Bhutto's martyrdom will understandably obscure her misrule the first two times she was prime minister. But on her return, she was a frank voice against Islamism, and no one can deny her this: She was very brave.

Update: Two other widely divergent views representing two different agendas, here (Mansoor Ijaz) and here (Ralph Peters). They do help to round out a very complex picture.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Last week (or was it the week before?) presidential candidate Mike Huckabee published his much maligned foreign policy statement in Foreign Affairs magazine. In it, he attributed this quote to the 4th century Chinese military strategist, Sun-Tsu:

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

Embarrassingly, SeeDubya at Junkyard Blog pointed out that the quote, while sometimes erroneously attributed to Sun-Tsu, actually appears to have originated (rather more recently) with Michael Corleone. When the quote is (mis-)attributed to an actual source, it's always cited as Sun-Tsu's treatise "The Art of War," the full text of which appears to be posted on line here. The, um, quote isn't there. Check your local movie listings.

A few days later, in response to a question about Huckabee's Christmas ad, presidential candidate Ron Paul responded:

"It reminds me of what Sinclair Lewis once said. He says, 'when fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.'

Now there are questions being raised as to whether this quote was misattributed as well. A number of people, including the president of The Sinclair Lewis Society, are skeptical about its origins. These folks are more than skeptical, and do a passable job of looking for the real source. Paul, of course, continues to claim he got it right. When the quote is (mis-)attributed to an actual source, it's usually cited as Sinclair's novel "It Can't Happen Here." Well, the full text of that novel appears to be posted on line here. The, um, quote isn't there (and as for the rest of the website ... you're on your own).

It will be interesting to see if either of these candidates manages to come up with a backstop, or if they even need to. Will the media just let these faux pas slip away into oblivion? And can we look forward to more misquotes by the other presidential candidates?

Fact-checking. It's the new black.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Historical analogies

Browsing through the links at Real Clear Politics last night, I found this riveting essay at Commentary. Entitled "Who Owns the Vietnam War?," it's a must-read for anyone who's perplexed about the discontinuity between the MSM reporting of world events, on the one hand, and, well, reality on the other. And for those of us who lived through the Vietnam War era but were partaking heavily of the Kool-Aid at the time, it's disconcerting. No one likes to be played for a fool, much less with such devastating consequences.

In this essay, Arthur Herman discusses (and debunks) the various myths that the liberal left and their media accomplices have successfully transmuted into "facts," both in claiming the victory and ownership of their view of the Vietnam War and in superimposing that view on every international conflict the U.S. has been involved in ever since. In the process, he provides disturbing insight into the process of the brainwashing of the American public and the politicians who supposedly "lead" us, how it's worked in the past and is most likely working still today.

Historical analogies are never entirely accurate. They may not even be useful. But it remains true that our present and future actions are always based, to some extent, on our evaluation of past experience. Generals are often accused of fighting the last war. This is something that, when it comes to Vietnam, liberals and leftists have been doing for more than three decades, by refusing to confront (in words Peter Marin once flung in the face of American authorities) “their own culpability” and “their own capacity for error and excess.” Whatever the differences or similarities between Vietnam and Iraq, or between Vietnam and our global war with Islamic radicalism, the real analogy between then and now may lie in this tenacious refusal of self-examination by the liberal Left—especially when the facts utterly contravene its reflexive indictment of the motives, purposes, and actions of the American government.

I remember, when I first starting learning some of the things that Herman writes about here, feeling completely stunned. Everything I thought I knew was wrong. It was a long and sometimes painful recovery, but it taught me to actually "question authority," regardless of the source, rather than just play at it. This essay brings together so much that I've never seen quite so clearly laid out in one place before. Highly recommended.

'Tis up

Haveil Havalim #146 is up at Soccer Dad's. As always, lots of good stuff.

Friday, December 21, 2007

And you shall write

[Yariv] Oppenheimer [secretary-general of the Peace Now movement] chastised the military for the incident. "Instead of preventing provocation, the soldiers, led by the rabbi, decided to take part in the event and assist the settlers. They acted against military regulations and took part in a political provocation that was unlawfully carried out.

"IDF soldiers are stationed in the city in order to maintain security and not to take part in controversial political acts," Oppenheimer wrote.

Peace Now issued a statement calling for Rabbi Peretz and the soldiers who participated in the ceremony to stand trial.

Knesset members also weighed in on the contentious move. MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that "this is a thuggish act vis-à-vis Palestinians who have not been able to live their lives for years. Even worse than that, this time it was not only done under IDF auspices but by soldiers who were engaging in severe political provocation."

MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) called on Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to convene a discussion on the matter and deal with the perpetrators "to the fullest extent of the law."

"A uniformed rabbi who participates in an act with lawbreakers disgraces the IDF and should be punished," said Vilan.

What horrible, humiliating, "thuggish" crime did Rabbi Eliyahu Peretz (a captain in the IDF) and his soldiers commit to bring such unholy wrath of the Israeli left down upon themselves? They hung a mezuzah at the entrance of the marketplace in Hebron. Yes. Hung. A. Mezuzah.

As Dave at Israelly Cool points out, all of the heat on this ... incident ... has come from the Peace Now people and their idiotic allies. Not a peep from the Arab community of Hebron or of anywhere else, for that matter (but wait...).

V'ahav'ta eit Adonai Elohekha b'khol l'vav'kha uv'khol naf'sh'kha uv'khol m'odekha.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

[ ... ]

Ukh'tav'tam al m'zuzot beitekha uvish'arekha.

And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

The "disgrace" is on Peace Now and Meretz.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, December 14, 2007

On intelligence

Or lack thereof. Three pieces on the NIE I've noticed over the past week (more or less) have struck me in one way or another. They're far from upbeat, but since I can't think of anything more optimistic to expound upon right now, I'll share:

Victor David Hanson's "Three-Letter Menace"

David Horovitz's "Bushwhacked"

Dennis Ross' "The Can't-Win Kids"

Read 'em and weep.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's it all about?

What is Hanukah? Asked and answered by Reuven Hammer in the JPost.

But wait. What about this answer? (It's all about politics.) Or this one? How about the green interpretation?

Here's the San Francisco version (and this is a news site ... why?)

Heh. Chanukah according to our enemies. (It's all about arrogance.)

Muslim Clerics Light Hanukkah candles? Well, ok. All good.



Friday, December 7, 2007

Hanukka fun with Legos


(From left) Eric Floyd, Rabbi Howard Hersch, Joan Hersch and Ben James celebrate the completion of a 13-feet-by-6-inch menorah made of Legos at Congregation Brothers of Israel in Newtown [Pennsylvania]. About 180 people helped build the menorah, composed of 60,000 Lego pieces provided by architect Stephen Schwartz, who travels to different congregations to set up the temporary exhibits -- topping it off, of course, by lighting the candles.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Heavenly Jerusalem

Rabbi Berel Wein reflects on our intrinsic ties to the holy city.

The Talmud asks: "Why are the hot springs baths of Tiberias not located in Jerusalem?" Why are the great and tasty fruits of the Ginossar area not grown in Jerusalem?"

The Talmud responds: "So that no one should ascend to Jerusalem for the sweet fruits or for the hot baths. Rather, one ascends to Jerusalem for the sake of Jerusalem itself."

JERUSALEM is its own attraction. It does not rely upon natural wonders, outstanding weather or unusual surroundings for its attraction. It is holy, mysterious, the soul of Jewish history and longing. The rabbis taught us that there is a heavenly Jerusalem perched over the earthly Jerusalem. In order to truly appreciate the earthly Jerusalem one must also be able to glimpse the heavenly Jerusalem as well.

To see Jerusalem as a piece of real estate, a place on the map, is not to see it at all, let alone appreciate its role in Judaism and Jewish life and thought. The driving force behind Zionism, even its most secular format, was the hunger of the Jewish people for Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the emotional battery that charged all of the movement of the return to Zion by Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries. The earthly Jerusalem with all of its wonders and problems, greatness and shortcomings, is a product of seeing the heavenly Jerusalem with eyes of tears and hope.

[ ... ]

There has never been a Jewish power in our history that contemplated willingly ceding Jerusalem or any part of it to others, especially to sworn enemies who denigrate our faith and question our right to exist. It is the complete disregard, whether out of ignorance or ideology, of the heavenly Jerusalem that brings one to compromise the very existence of the earthly Jerusalem, a Jerusalem that we should feel so blessed and appreciative to control.

Yes, there's more.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Chanuka... ()

Sorry. No ASCII chanukia this year. I thought it was time for a break.

If this is a terrible disappointment (yeah, right), here are the links to last year's first light and second light.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting it exactly right

In "Accept Israel as the Jewish State?," Dr. Daniel Pipes sums up the crystal clear problem with the "peace process" that has emerged from the Annapolis side show, and he even gives PM Ehud Olmert kudos for bringing it into the light of day.

Surprisingly, something useful has emerged from the combination of the misconceived Annapolis meeting and a weak Israeli prime minister, Ehud ("Peace is achieved through concessions") Olmert. Breaking with his predecessors, Olmert has boldly demanded that his Palestinian bargaining partners accept Israel's permanent existence as a Jewish state, thereby evoking a revealing response.

Unless the Palestinians recognize Israel as "a Jewish state," Olmert announced on November 11, the Annapolis-related talks would not proceed. "I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state. This will be a condition for our recognition of a Palestinian state."

He confirmed these points a day later, describing the "recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people" as the "launching point for all negotiations. We won't have an argument with anyone in the world over the fact that Israel is a state of the Jewish people." The Palestinian leadership, he noted, must "want to make peace with Israel as a Jewish state."

Raising this topic has the virtue of finally focusing attention on what is the central topic in the Arab-Israeli conflict – Zionism, the Jewish nationalist movement, a topic that typically gets ignored in the hubbub of negotiations. Since nearly the birth of the state, these have focused on the intricacies of such subsidiary issues as borders, troop placements, armaments and arms control, sanctities, natural resources, residential rights, diplomatic representation, and foreign relations.

The Palestinian leadership responded quickly and unequivocally to Olmert's demand: ...

In a word, no. Absolutely, positively not. Never. For the details and his conclusions, see Dr. Pipes' article.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Revolving door

A modicum of justice...
The Jerusalem District Court on Monday [12/3/07] sentenced the killer of former tourism minister and war hero Rehavam Ze'evi (nicknamed Gandhi) to life plus 100 years in prison.

Hamdi Qur'an, 33, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was convicted of killing Ze'evi six years ago. He was apprehended by security forces in March 2006, after international inspectors left the Jericho prison where he was held.

Qur'an, from the West Bank village of Al-Bireh, admitted last August that he was the one who pulled the trigger, killing the leader of the staunchly right-wing Moledet party.

He was also convicted of five other terror offenses, for which he received the additional 100 years in prison.

And that should be the end of the story. He should rot. But, no ...

Upon leaving the courthouse, Qur'an's mother said she hoped for a deal between Israel and the Palestinians that would bring peace and the release of her son.

She has every reason to hope. Qur'an, after all, was only exercising his right to resist occupation when he murdered Ze'evi in cold blood.

In its sentencing, the court wrote that "the murder of a government minister is not just the murder of a person but also an attack on the state and its sovereignty."

The court also said that Qura'n never expressed remorse for his actions and that he even said he would commit such an offense again if needed.

During the trial, Qur'an said: "I am being tried for using my right to defend myself against the Israeli occupation, the same right you use to kill us Palestinians," adding, "I accuse you of crimes against all of humanity."

Which is why our "moderate" "peace partners" in the Palestinian Authority feel perfectly justified in demanding the release of criminals like Qur'an as part of any deal. Here's an interview that IMRA's Dr. Aaron Lerner conducted just last week with Saleh Nazal, Director of the PA Minister's Office - Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs:

IMRA: I wanted to understand the Palestinians position demanding the release of all Palestinian prisoners by the time of the signing of an agreement. Would this also apply to Palestinians arrested for activities they carried out after Annapolis - during the negotiation period until the signing.

Would those people also, by the Palestinian view, have to be released by the time of the signing or would they have a different status?

Nazal: You are talking about people detained for resistance operations that take place during the negotiations between Abu Mazen and Mr. Olmert - right?

IMRA: Yes.

Nazal: It is the position of the Ministry that all prisoners should be released during this process. They are engaged in resistance against the Israeli occupation - not against the peace process.

We want all the prisoners to be released because the reason that they wereretained was resistance to the occupation.

IMRA: So that is to say that people detained for activities they carry out between Annapolis and the signing of an agreement should also qualify for release at the time of an agreement.

Nazal: As I told you before. This is resistance against the occupation. Not resistance against the negotiations.

The Israeli forces are arresting people, building settlements, building barriers. You are looking only now at one party and not looking at the other one.

The Israeli forces are arresting criminals, building communities and protecting civilians from terrorist attacks. The palestinian arabs are murdering and maiming scores of Israelis. Criminals can be released and barriers can be removed. And, as we have seen to our sorrow, communities can even be dismantled. But the dead cannot be brought back to life. What compensation for past (and future) atrocities against our people can the palestinian arabs possibly offer in any imaginable peace agreement? And yet, for their part, they demand that everything be set back to the way it was before they launched the wars seeking Israel's destruction. This is indeed chutzpah.

Note: Almost 40 years ago, another young palestinian arab extremist similarly justified his assassination of a US Senator and former cabinet member due to the latter's support for Israel and perceived complicity in Israel's "occupation" of the disputed territories exactly one year earlier. Sirhan Sirhan is still sitting in prison, having been denied parole for the 13th time in March, 2006.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Did you know???

Since Teddy Bears have been in the news this past week, I thought I'd pass this on to others who might be wondering ... who exactly is "Teddy" and why is no one offended that toy bears are named after him?

The teddy bear is a stuffed toy bear. It is an enduring, traditional form of stuffed animal, often serving the purpose of comforting children. In recent times, some teddy bears have become expensive collector's items. Teddy bear collectors are known as arctophiles from the Greek words 'arcto' (bear) and 'philos' (lover).

The name Teddy Bear comes from one of President Theodore Roosevelt's hunting trips to Mississippi. There were several other hunters competing, and most of them had already shot something. A few friends of Roosevelt who were hunting with hounds treed an American Black Bear after a long and exhausting chase and suggested Roosevelt shoot it. He refused to shoot it himself, deeming this un-sportsmanlike, but instructed that the treed bear be killed to put it out of its misery, and it became the topic of a political cartoon. A Brooklyn store owner, Morris Michtom, saw the drawing of Roosevelt and the bear cub and was inspired to create a new toy. He created a little stuffed bear cub and put it in his shop window with a sign that read "Teddy's bear." The toys were an immediate success and Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Co., which still exists today.

Thank you, Wikipedia (where you can see the cartoon).

The week that was

Last week was pretty tightly packed with news and analysis thereof, and Soccer Dad has assembled a prodigious Haveil Havalim for our reading and linking benefit.

HH #143: now up.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

CAIR steps up -- sort of


This most recent episode can be used as a learning opportunity for people of all faiths who wish to promote mutual understanding. It can also be viewed as a “teaching moment” for Muslims who want to emulate the Prophet through the example of their good character and dignified behavior.

As the Quran states: “It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds.” (60:7)

This week’s unfortunate incident in the Sudan points to the need for an increased level of dialogue between ordinary people in the Muslim world and the West.

The complaint brought against Gillian Gibbons was an inappropriate use of Sudan’s legal system to deal with what was in essence a disagreement between parents and a teacher. Ms. Gibbons should never have been charged. She should be released immediately.

Putting the best spin on it and promoting their agenda, as always. But at least Ibrahim Hooper said what needed to be said on the subject of Ms. Gibbons' prosecution.

What he didn't do, and apparently is incapable of doing, is condemn the behavior of those who sentenced her and the mobs in the street who are calling for her execution in the name of Islam. Make a note.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Soul food

It's one of those Treppenwitz posts. The kind that just make you smile and smile and, if you're an overly sentimental type like me, go through a few tissues while you're at it.

So you don't want to miss My cab ride to Beirut. Trust me.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tony Auth -- at it again

The latest (Philadelphia Inquirer, 11-28-07):

Previously... (July 31, 2003)

Update: Soccer Dad sez:

Auth's almost right ... He just needs to change the word "occupation" to "capitulation."

Exactly. If there's anything that actually does feed into the "cycle of violence" and ratchet terrorism and the aspirations of its perpetrators ever higher, it's capitulation and appeasement.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dissecting Abbas

So what about that speech Mahmoud Abbas gave at Annapolis yesterday? I listened to it live. It was long. It rambled. And there was an awful lot of quoting of American presidents out of context. Maybe the simultaneous translation was bad, but I can't make any more sense out of it in print.

Or can I?

Take these few contiguous paragraphs, which I think contain the essence of the message:

I look forward, Mr. President, to see that our prisoners have been set free and returned to exercise their role in supporting peace and to stand by us in our mission to build our statehood and our homeland.

That sounds good. Except that the prisoners he's talking about are mostly terrorists who are dedicated to the antithesis of peace, who never had the slightest role in supporting peace to begin with (so how can they return to it?) and whose idea of building statehood is to destroy and plunder, both their own "homeland" and ours. One of things that's missing from this speech is even the slightest acknowledgement of these simple facts.

It is my duty to say that, to have peace, we need the fate of the city of Jerusalem to be a critical component in any peace accord that we might reach.

We need East Jerusalem to be our capital and to establish open relations with western Jerusalem, and to ensure for all the faithful from all religions their right to exercise their rituals and to access holy shrines without any discrimination and on the basis of international and humanitarian goals.

Now, I confess I was momentarily taken aback by that one. Was Abbas suggesting he would permit Jewish access to Jewish holy sites in Arab controlled areas? Because that would be news. That would be big. He'd have the devil's own time pushing it through, but was he really undertaking to make the effort? Well, no, I think I heard much more than he said. "... the right to exercise their rituals and to access holy shrines ..." -- What holy shrines? Rachel's Tomb? (What's left of) Joseph's Tomb? The Machpelah? The Temple Mount? The Western Wall? Intact or stripped of their Jewish character? And what is "access?" The right to visit? The right to pray? Well certainly not the latter. According to the PA, these holy shrines are all mosques, not synagogues. Jews are welcome to visit them, "on the basis of international and humanitarian goals," of course. But no praying. And no shofar blowing. That's been made crystal clear. "Access." It means nothing.

In this regard, I wish to emphasize that we shall pursue our obligations under the road map, in order to combat chaos, violence, terrorism, and to ensure security, order and the rule of law.

The government of the Palestinian National Authority works tirelessly and without any wavering under extremely conditions to achieve this noble goal that represents, first and foremost, a Palestinian national interest before it becomes a political requirement that is imposed by signed accords or the road map.

It does? Since when? The PNA has proven itself to be utterly incapable of any such thing. It has proven itself to be corrupt, inept and powerless, except at lining the personal coffers of its upper echelons. Ma nishtana? Why should this time be any different than all the other times? Who would be stupid enough to buy such a bill of goods at this point without a boatload of new and substantial guarantees? Well, there are no guarantees.

Our people distinguish completely between emphasis on the danger of terrorism and using it as a pretext to maintain the status quo and to pursue the current practices that we suffer from every day.

Clear as mud, right? Well, let me paraphrase: his "people" understand that when the U.S. and Israel talk about the danger of terrorism, it's only an excuse for the "occupation" (status quo), whereas the real terrorism is the suffering that Israel inflicts on the poor defenseless palestinian arabs every day.

See, that one was garbled up on purpose, because it wasn't intended to be understood by Bush and Condi or the American listening public. It was intended to be a wink to those poor defenseless palestinian arabs rioting in Jenin and demonstrating with the encouragement of Hamas in Gaza. It was intended to let them know that when Abbas says he's committed to combatting chaos, violence and terrorism, what he means is that he's still committed to the "liberation struggle" against Israel. He's been saying this for a while. Is anybody listening?

And now, the speech makes more sense. The wink is always there. It was always there in Arafat's speeches, starting the day after the Oslo handshake and it continues today. Nothing's changed.

Citigroup's ME connection

In other news, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority* made a big splash yesterday by infusing $7.5 billion cash into the floundering financial behemoth Citigroup, giving a much needed boost to the stock market. The investment leaves the Gulf emirate with a potential 4.9% in Citi, raising its stake slightly over that of the previous largest holder.

That previous largest holder, of course, would be Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, who owns approximately 4.3% of the company. Notice a trend? Business Week says: get used to it.

* FWIW, the ADIA was established in 1977 by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, the former (now deceased) President of the United Arab Emirates. His sons now run it. You may remember the Sheikh as the patron of the (also defunct) Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-Up (ZCCF). Here's some stuff I posted a few years ago about the Centre but most of the links are now broken. Ditto. And some unsavory information on previous attempts by the late Sheikh and the ADIA to invest in American banks -- courtesy of the also (sadly) defunct Ideofact. (He's back!!! How did I miss it?)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World's biggest flag

I kid you not.

Beneath the ancient Jewish desert strongpoint of Masada, the world's largest flag was unfurled Sunday, covering a large stretch of sandy hinterland.

The huge blue and white Israeli flag, 660 meters (2,165 feet) long and 100meters (330 feet) wide and weighing 5.2 metric tons, breaks the record for the world's largest, according to the Tourism Ministry.

It was measured by representatives for the Guinness Book of Records.

Filipino entrepreneur and evangelical Christian Grace Galindez-Gupana said she decided two years ago to produce a giant Israeli flag as a testament to her love for Israel and the Jewish people, and as a celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Israel.

"God spoke to me in thunder and lightening," Galindez-Gupana said. "The Lord said, 'Make the flag of Israel, the standard of my people.'"

"This is a tall order," she said, as she broke down in tears.

The record-breaking Israeli flag was accompanied by a giant Philippines flag - huge, but not quite as big. It weighed only about 3.8 metric tons.

Sober analysis

It doesn't get much more clear-sighted than this. Ralph Peters in today's NY Post:

Today's session in Annapolis may or may not result in a we-the-undersigned statement or a few unenforceable commitments. And yes, there's merit just in bringing folks together and keeping them talking. But the baseline difficulty is that we want to solve problems for people who don't really want those problems solved.

Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah Party, for example, couldn't accept a genuine peace tomorrow morning - even though Hamas' coup in Gaza has put them up against the wall. Their problem? The most successful jobs program in the Arab world has been Palestinian "resistance" to Israel.

Consider what peace with Israel - real peace - would mean in the West Bank and Gaza, in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley: Tens of thousands of gunmen (and terrorists) out of work, with no marketable skills - and radicalized by decades of fanatic rhetoric.

Think a punk who's grown accustomed to swaggering around town in a face mask with a Kalashnikov is going to scrub squat toilets for a living?

Generations have grown addicted to the struggle - and its perks. It's the only bearable justification for their individual and collective failures in life. Real peace with Israel would probably spark a convulsion throughout the Arab world - as tens of millions realized that their sacrifices were a travesty that merely empowered thieves.

What Peters doesn't say but certainly appears to understand is that Israel does want the problems solved -- just not at the expense of her own annihilation. Understandable, you would think, as Israel is the party with the burgeoning First World hi-tech society just waiting for a respite from the terror and antipathy of her neighbors for a chance to show what she can really do. But it's a hard sell, nonetheless. It's far easier for many to believe that Israel has actually grown fond of the checkpoints, the fences, the reserve duty, the funerals and the "occupation." Go figure.

But Peters isn't done.

Another reason Arab states won't make peace: Most of their leaders have only survived in power because they have Israel to blame for every disappointment their people face. Israel has become the great excuse for every self-wrought failure in the Middle East - and that excuse is more valuable to Arab rulers than peace could ever be.

Were peace ever to arrive, Arabs might begin to demand good government. And the corruption that has thrived during decades of crisis could come into question. Worst of all, Arabs might have to accept responsibility for the catastrophic condition of their own societies.

This point has been made so many times it's almost a cliché. And yet, when you observe the behavior of the Arab delegates to Annapolis, it's pretty obvious. They're there for many reasons but peace is definitely not one of them.

And yet, America is once again placing its prestige and influence on the line in this seemingly eternal quest for the unattainable. Peters points this out quite eloquently.

If you want a sober perspective on the Annapolis dog-and-pony show, just ask yourself this: Who will leave disappointed, if nothing much results?

The Arabs won't care. They came because we got on our knees and begged.

The Israelis will just be relieved that their latest trip to the geostrategic dentist is over.

Any Russians soiling the furniture at the Naval Academy will be delighted if another American effort flops.

And the Europeans just popped in to check the "we care" box.

The only unhappy campers will be us. We set ourselves up. Again.

Oh, and even if there's some sort of agreement, only the Israelis will honor it. Grudgingly.

We're dealing with people who are fighting for their lives and homes. Our team's fighting for poll numbers. Now that's asymmetrical warfare.

Any questions?

(heads up courtesy of Soccer Dad)

Olmert's idiotic red tie

What was he thinking?

Monday, November 26, 2007


Paula Stern:

The borders of 1947 and 1967 are non-starting points, Olmert. We didn't go to war in 1947, they did. We did not reject the UN Partition Plan, they did. We did not launch wars of terrorism and murder on their cities, as they did on ours. The war that resulted from their attack in 1948 secured our land and the war they would have waged (if we hadn't anticipated it first) in 1967 solidified it. Walk if they suggest Israel must return to these impossible borders.

As Israel was created, hundreds of thousands of Jews left Arab lands for Israel, just as hundreds of thousands of Arabs left Israel to go live in the neighboring Arab countries. It was a transfer of populations and what one population is entitled to receive, so too is the other. If we must compensate the Arabs who left, they must compensate the Jews who were forced from their homes.

If the Arabs chose to keep their brothers as refugees, that is their fault and their problem. We accepted our incoming refugees. We integrated them and gave them homes. We accepted them as part of us until there is no difference today. If the Arabs dare to suggest that we clean up the mess they made, the damage they have instigated and compounded over the years, walk, Olmert. Walk if they suggest Israel must grant any so-called "right of return" or any compensation for only one of those who were displaced by the war they started against us.

She's good. She's very good. Read the rest.

Romney on Annapolis

Ok. This should be interesting. For at least five seconds.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized the timing of the Annapolis peace conference in an interview with The Jerusalem Post Saturday and said the Palestinians have not taken the steps necessary for peace.

"I do not believe that this is a time when my expectations would suggest a major peace breakthrough," Romney said of the international meeting beginning Monday night.

He pointed to the tenuous hold Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has on power following the coup which left Hamas in control of Gaza, as well as "the fact that the Palestinians have not put in place the security institutions or the governmental institutions which were the doorway to the road map."

Romney backed the phased implementation approach of the internationally backed road map peace plan, which calls for Palestinian security and governance reform - as well as a freeze on Israeli settlements and removal of outposts - before substantive negotiations begin.

He stressed, though, "It's important to me that we not in any way place pressure on Israel to take action which would further weaken its negotiating hand."

So he's backing the phased implementation plan of the 'roadmap.' Which is suddenly looking mighty good in comparison to what Condi Rice is suggesting will be the Bush administration's new position at Annapolis. Funny how the goal post keeps moving left while those who are moving it keep pointing to the right.

>>>> Hey! Look thataway! Kittens! >>>>

Call me jaded, but I put no stock in the pronouncements of any campaigning Presidential candidate on his or her preferred policy toward Israel. Candidate George W. Bush promised repeatedly that he'd move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But (6/12/2001)...but (12/17/2001)...but (6/19/2002)...but (10/01/2002)...but (6/13/2003)...but (12/09/2003)...but (6/15/2004)...but (12/15/2004)...but (6/15/05)...but (12/14/2005)...but (6/15/2006)...but (12/18/06)...but (6/01/2007)...

A promise he forgot before the hanging chads had even been counted (yes, I know he's continued to claim he's "working on it" but come on). Why no outrage? A good question. And it will come up again in just a few weeks when, for the 13th time, Bush will exercise his "national security" waiver to delay the move once again.

Shame on him!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Theater of the absurd

Only it's real.

SOS Israel's plan to post signs reading "Olmert is running from the police to Annapolis" on buses was shelved by Egged at the last minute, Ynet reported on Sunday.

A member of the right-wing organization said the campaign was meant to "emphasize the absurd situation whereby prime ministers who are under investigation try to escape their predicament by embarking on diplomatic adventures".

A previous example of this, according to the right-wing activist, was seen during former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank in the summer of 2005.

SOS Israel told Ynet that the signs were to be posted on some 1,000 buses, first in Jerusalem and then throughout the entire country.

The organization said that on Thursday night it was informed that Egged had refused to post the ads on its buses, adding that the cancellation cost the group tens of thousands of shekels. SOS Israel has threatened to sue the bus company.

Egged spokesman Ron Ratner told Ynet that the campaign was canceled on the grounds that it would "divide the nation".

So much for Egged's contribution to the mix. But who, exactly, is SOS Israel? Their website isn't very informative, but here's the English version. Ah! Here we go.

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo, also Sholom Ber Wolpe[1], (born 1948) is a messianic Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi, religious author and political activist in Israel. He has written more than forty books in Hebrew, some of which deal with the position of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitcher Rebbe, as the Jewish messiah. He help set up the Chabad Yeshiva in Kiryat Gat. He has become associated in recent years with right-wing political causes, and has set up a campaign group - SOS Israel - an organisation that runs press and postering campaigns for shleimus ha'aretz.

Previous campaigns orchestrated by Rabbi Wolpo have included this one, in which he opined that Jews shouldn't celebrate Yom Atzma'ut and offered free copies of his book, "Between Light and Darkness", to anyone who would pledge to ignore the holiday. And this one, in which he and a few other rabbis invoked the wrath of God and Ariel Sharon's stroke in an attempt to dissuade PM Olmert from evicting Jews from Hebron two years ago. So, no, he's not one of those anti-Zionist rabbis, but he does sometimes seem to be playing one on TV. This is a dark and creepy side of the religious right-wing extremist movement in Israel that I admit I just don't get -- or want to.

So if I was an Egged spokesperson, I think I might have been able to come up with a better excuse than the posters would "divide the nation." Because, you know, it's not as if "the nation" could get much more divided than it already is. Plus, SOS Israel is no doubt correct that Olmert is hoping to drown his legal troubles in Annapolis hype.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Anticipating failure

In the lead-up to the Annapolis surrender summit, expectations seem to be dropping like kassams. Since any outcome that would be measured by those promoting the conference as "success" would be an unmitigated disaster for Israel, this is, unfortunately, good news.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have failed to draft a joint statement to be presented at next week's US-sponsored Middle East conference, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on Friday.

During a briefing on the progress of talks between Israel and the PA, Abbas said the negotiations were genuine, but both sides stuck to their positions, and Israel brought about the talks failure.

And this, of course, is true. Israel is always and without exception responsible for the failure of Middle East peace talks. I say this without a hint of sarcasm. And the reason is this: any solution that leaves Israel standing, any compromise that doesn't place Israel's very existence in serious jeopardy, any resolution that includes the continuing viability of Israel as a Jewish state, will be completely and utterly rejected by the representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the rest of the Arab world.

It's Israel's fault. It really is. Because without Israel, there would be peace in "Palestine." Or, rather, there would be the absence of a conflict of any interest to the chattering masses and foreign governments who find themselves so deeply committed to ending the "cycle of violence" and resolving the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Arabs murdering Arabs and Muslims butchering Muslims don't ever excite the extreme moral outrage that Israel's attempts to defend herself against genocidal terrorists always does.

So please. Let the talks "fail." And let's blame Israel. Let's go on blaming Israel. It's vastly preferable to the alternative.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another agenda

While we here in the US are celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, another agenda is at work behind the scenes.

In Brooklyn, New York, a public school named the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) has opened. Its primary purpose — demonstrated by its advisory board, its apparent curriculum and the lining of school walls with pictures of Arab figures and heroes, appears to be is to teach Arabic and Muslim language and culture as well as to inculcate the children with Islamist ideology.

One of the school’s more notorious public supporters is convicted cop-killer and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. The school’s advisory board includes several imams, one of whom has displayed the Muslim Brotherhood slogan on his mosque’s website: “Jihad is our way, and death in the way of Allah is our promised end.”

A spokesperson for the school speaks not of the duties of American citizenship but the aspiration towards “global” citizenship. Perhaps that is why this public school, unlike P.S. 132, calls itself an “international academy.”

Many New Yorkers are appalled that taxpayer money is being used to finance a public school whose purpose will likely advance the Islamic religion and Islamist ethnic identity. Three local parents, two of whom are teachers, started a grassroots effort called Stop the Madrassa to question this inchoate madrassa disguised as a neutral public school.

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes has written extensively about KGIA and other such schools now spreading across the country. Dr. William Donohue, a former professor and leader of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, contacted dozens of elected officials to express his concern.

Learn more.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


If anyone out there can make sense of this, please let me know.

Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami, in a meeting of the Geneva Initiative said, "we have wasted much time and human life. We find ourselves at the moment of truth and if we waste more time we will enter a cycle of violence the likes of which we have yet to see. If will be difficult then to reach peace."

Yeah, well ... ok.

I expect something must have gotten lost in the translation. Then again, most of the pre-Annapolis spin has been sounding pretty similar.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rabin redux

Isi Liebler has an excellent column in today's JPost on the ongoing abuse of Prime Minister Rabin's memory.

IT IS therefore clear that despite the best possible intentions, Rabin gambled and failed. As a consequence, the nation paid a bitter price. Since Oslo, 1,400 Israelis were killed and some 20,000 injured. Despite one-sided and unilateral concessions, our geopolitical position is at an all time low. Beyond that, we made an irretrievable blunder by literally resurrecting Arafat who at the time, in the wake of the first Gulf War, was effectively a political corpse, even reviled by the Arabs.

To make matters worse, Rabin was only able to pursue Oslo by indulging in one of the most cynical acts of political corruption in Israel's history, shamelessly bribing unsavory opposition members in order to achieve a Knesset majority. It is therefore surely surrealistic, year after year, to hear speeches sanctimoniously extolling and misrepresenting Rabin's allegedly glorious Oslo legacy and spuriously claiming that he was the first to achieve a historic breakthrough in peace with the Arabs. Promoting such fantasies renders a disservice to Rabin.

It is even more infuriating when Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Peres and Peace Now activists have the gall to claim that they are implementing Rabin's vision. How Rabin may have acted had he not been struck down by the assassin is open to conjecture. Some speculate that once he came to the realization that his gamble had failed, unlike his Labor successors, he would have reverted to his former stance and initiated tough and resolute military action.

However, what is surely beyond the realm of speculation is that Rabin was a genuine Labor Zionist and despised the Peace Now agitators. He displayed uninhibited contempt toward Beilin, Burg and the young radicals who were then steering the Labor Party toward post-Zionism. The bitter remarks about Shimon Peres which appear in his memoirs speak for themselves.

Most of it has been said before, but it bears repeating. So please read it. And, please, repeat it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Time to decide

What's wrong with this picture?

The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee unanimously decided Saturday to reject Israel's demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a "Jewish State" as a part of the peace negotiations. The Palestinians have also announced that they reject the Israeli demand.

The decision was made at the Committee's meeting in Nazareth after Hadash and the Israeli Communist parties demanded that an official stance against the Israeli demand be taken prior to the upcoming Annapolis conference.

[ ... ]

The demand was made due to fears that defining Israel as a "Jewish State" would bring about "a worsening in the condition of Arab-Israelis and will hinder the realization of the Palestinian refugees' Right of Return."

I hate to break the news but Israel already is and has been defined as a Jewish State since its inception. That is, after all, the point. Recognition of this fact by any arab palestinian entity is the issue here, and such recognition is virtually on a par with recognizing Israel's right to exist, which is why it's sort of a key element to reaching a "peace agreement" with these people. But wait.

What exactly is the "Higher Arab Monitoring Committee?" And who do they represent? Actually, it's a pretty much self-appointed body that claims to represent Arab Israelis. Israeli Arabs. Israel's Arab citizens. Except that there are strong hints that it defines its constituency in other terms.

Former Knesset Member Mohamed Naffa (Hadash) said: "We have no expectations of the Annapolis conference. Nothing good will come out of the White House. This is an important decision primarily for the Palestinian population inside Israel that comprises a significant percentage of the Palestinian people and will be the first to be affected by it."

Hadash Party leader MK Mohammad Barakeh said: "This decision is a new stage of our battle to stay in our homeland."

Some people have called the HAMC the clearest manifestation of a fifth column mentality among Israel's Arab population. MK Avigdor Lieberman recently called for the group to be outlawed for its consistent attempts to undermine Israel from within. If that's their goal, they certainly don't make any effort to hide it.

At some point, Israel's Arabs are going to have to make a decision as to whether they want to be "Arab-Israelis" or "the Palestinian population inside Israel." It's their insistence upon opting for the latter and aligning with those who seek to destroy Israel that's responsible for any "worsening" of their condition. And it's way past time they figured that out.