Somewhat like the Senator himself, Levine's puff piece is full of uplifting platitudes and low on substance. And I wouldn't have bothered to even mention it if Mere Rhetoric hadn't posted this pithy response, which I just had to share. Classic Omri.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
As I've confessed here before (I think), I was not a fan of Ronald Reagan and I voted against him. Twice. Not because of any fondness for either of his opponents, but because back then I was still suffering from Sixties Derangement Syndrome when it came to all things Republican. Since then, my consciousness has been expanded in new directions.
Today, there are still few Republican politicians that I find palatable on most "social issues," although Rudy came pretty close. And there are even fewer Democrats that I believe have a clue when it comes to fiscal, economic and foreign policy, not to mention national security. So election time has become particularly stressful. I was no doubt singing these same blues four years ago. In fact, I was singing them two years ago. I do on occasion, however, find a kindred spirit or three out in this wasteland. Helps keep me sane.
So, yes, I'm moping today. And I'm cranky. I will get over it. I have two months to go before the Pennsylvania primary, and despite my best intentions, I'm still registered as a Dem. So even though it's unlikely to matter, I have to decide which stinker not to vote for. I continue to flip flop daily, so who knows? At least I (hopefully) won't have to listen to John Edwards droning on any more about "two Americas." That's the good news.
See ya around, Rudy. It was a nice dream while it lasted.
Friday, January 25, 2008
But now, with huge stakes taken by China, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia in U.S. financial companies such as Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bear Stearns, not to mention in the NASDAQ, and as we appear to be becoming more and more dependent upon these investments, concerns are increasing that "these stakeholders are interested in more than profits."
The issue has been getting some serious attention at Davos, but there it seems that so far only Larry Summers has expressed serious apprehension. Meanwhile, the Saudis are complaining that they're being discriminated against ("found guilty before being proved innocent") and there are some rumblings out of Dubai to the effect that they can take their money elsewhere if we don't want it. Well, yeah.
It's the proverbial spot between the rock and the hard place. I'd like to be the trusting sort, but I can't help but wonder ... why all the opposition to establishing an international code of conduct that would work to preserve the sovereignty of those nations on the receiving end of the largesse (which, after all, isn't largesse in the first place)? Even CNN is asking questions. I don't like it one little bit.
But I'll worry about it next week.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Instead, here's a nice little photo from Ha'aretz of an almond tree in bloom in the Galil.
A sure sign, as the caption says, that Tu B'shvat has arrived.
And here's the story that accompanies it.
The Jewish National Fund is marking Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish holiday of the trees, with a virtual tree-planting drive this year, giving visitors to its Web site a chance to plant saplings online. The departure from the traditional JNF tree-planting campaign is because this Jewish calendar year of 5768 is a shmita year. Under Jewish law, shmita is the seven-yearly ban on agricultural activity in Israel, letting the land lie fallow for 12 months.
"It's the year of the shmita and we are forbidden from planting," said Zvi Lidar of the JNF. "On the other hand, this is Tu B'Shvat, when people want to express their connection with the ground and with this land, people in Israel and all over the world."
The virtual trees ordered on the JNF site will be planted once the organization's forestation work picks up again in the autumn, once the new the Jewish year has begun.
Here's the JNF website, where you can Click to Plant a tree in Israel for Tu b'Shvat. Or any other day.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
As I have said before, I completely disavow all racist and neo-Nazi ideas. I also disavow all race-based approaches to the jihad threat, for the reasons explained above, and will not work with the VB or the BNP. I hope other anti-jihadists will find those arguments compelling and follow suit. In the recent bitter controversy between Charles Johnson and a group of counterjihadists over the nature of the VB, it does appear quite clearly from this new alliance, if it wasn't already, that Charles was right. The VB needs to do much more, and much more clearly, if it really wishes to avoid appearing to oppose Islamization solely on racial grounds. This angry, ugly rift between people I love and respect has disheartened me greatly. I hope now that it can be healed, and that out of it will come a more clearly defined sense of who we are and what we are trying to do.
Charles weighed the evidence and reached his conclusions a few months ago and he's been taking a lot of heat for it ever since. Robert strove mightily to maintain a non-partisan outlook but only as long as he could do so in good conscience.
Two separate instances of integrity in action. Not something we see a lot of these days.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Over 10 years ago, then 11-year old Gilad Shalit wrote a story entitled “When the Fish and the Shark First Met”. Saturday, a book based on the story written by the kidnapped IDF soldier was launched at the Edge gallery in Nahariya. Shalit’s parents, members of the Israeli Association of Illustrators, and a myriad of western Galilee resident all participated in this hope-filled event.
Noam Shalit, Corporal Gilad Shalit’s father, spoke at the book launching and referred mainly to the book’s contents, and the message of peace and hope that they convey.
“The story speaks for itself,” said Noam Shalit. “An 11-year-old child wrote this story, which is so very relevant to the situation he finds himself in today. It speaks of two mortal enemies who come to the conclusion that it is better to live peacefully side by side than eat the other alive. They overcome their mothers' mutual suspicions and fears to become fast friends.”
“Gilad is still in Palestinian hands somewhere in Gaza, and a year and a half after his kidnapping we still hope and pray that he comes home safe and sound," Shalit added.
Amen and amen. The question is how best to assure that result (that he comes homes safe and sound) if it's still an option. It certainly isn't by sending condolences to the parents of Hamas terrorists who are killed fighting to annihilate the State of Israel. Nor is it by agreeing to release unrepentant murdererers like Marwan Barghouti in exchange.
Hope is good. But in the real world, mortal enemies do not come to the conclusion that it is better to live peacefully side by side without an incentive to do so.
Hope is good. But it has to be tempered with at least a dash of realism. Otherwise, it all too quickly degenerates into either despair or madness. Or both.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
If Israel continues to intensify its military campaign in the Gaza Strip, than Hamas will change it's [sic] policy regarding kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit, Osama Mazini, the Hamas official in charge of negotiations over the captured soldier, said on Wednesday.
Military expert Ron Ben-Yishai on the situation in Gaza
"We will not be able to quietly take the continuation of assassinations and raids that the enemy is conducting in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," Mazini said during an interview on the Hamas television station, Al-Aksa, warning that there is "no doubt" that such activity "affects the Schalit affair."
Mazini said that "it is very possible that we will cut off contact," warning that this will turn the issue into something similar to that of missing IAF navigator Ron Arad.
Cut off contact? What contact? You mean the Red Cross visits? The non-existent Red Cross visits? The phone calls, the videos, the verifiable evidence that Shalit is still alive? Never happened. One letter and one audiotape in almost 19 months, both of which were obviously made under duress and neither of which can conclusively be dated (despite the reference in the latter to "one year")? The repeated promises of pathological liars and murderers who have no accountability to anyone for their words? What contact???
It seems to me that "the issue" turned into something "very similar to that of missing IAF navigator Ron Arad" long ago. Sadly. If Hamas had evidence that Gilad was alive, they'd be dangling it in front of the family and the Israeli public and it would no doubt generate understandable pressure for capitulation and appeasement. Instead, they're trying for the capitulation and appeasement gratis, and twisting the knife as they do.
There's a special corner of hell reserved for these vermin. I hope and pray their arrival is accelerated expeditiously.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
One point that Omri didn't mention was Ambassador Gold's pointed indictment of the 2005 Sharon/Olmert 'disengagement' debacle. He pointed out that the comprehensive pullout allowed international terrorist organizations and their state sponsors to greatly increase their activity and involvement in Gaza. The situation has rapidly deteriorated, he said, due to the fact that Israel, under great pressure from the U.S., abandoned its security contol over the Philadelphia corridor, relying on the short-lived presence of EU observers and the worthless assurances of the Egyptians.
As a result, Gaza continues to be flooded with weapons, money and equipment intended to supply and abet Hamas. And, of course, the Israeli communities near the border have been subjected to ongoing rocket attacks on a daily basis. Ambassador Gold drew the obvious conclusion that an Israeli pullout from Judea and the rest of Samaria and/or from Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, can be expected to yield a similar result, with the new targets being Jerusalem itself as well as Ben Gurion airport.
You can listen to the whole thing here, at One Jerusalem. Please do.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Despite strong objections from Israeli politicians to Israeli pianist Daniel Barenboim's act of accepting a Palestinian passport, Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has no plans to annul his Israeli citizenship.
Shas faction chairman, MK Yakov Margi, was quick to denounce Barenboim and call for his status as an Israeli citizen to be annulled. "It's an embarrassment to the State that a person like this has Israeli citizenship...I am sure that in the eyes of Israeli citizens, he has lost the moral authority to be Israeli."
Interior Minister Sheetrit told Ynet that "the matter is not even up for discussion."
That's right, of course.
According to the law, the interior minister is conferred the right of abrogating the citizenship of an Israeli in the case of fraud or a breach of trust. Emigration or receiving citizenship in an enemy state are considered breaches of trust and are liable to lead to the annulment of citizenship.
The Palestinian Authority, which is not officially considered an enemy state, does not fall into the category of such a state.
Only, IMO, because it isn't considered a state at all. Yet.
Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim received an honorary Palestinian Authority citizenship on Saturday.
Barenboim, who had been playing regular concerts in the PA - the only renowned Israeli musician to do so - said he was honored by the gesture.
Other Israelis playing in the PA usually did so under Barenboim's baton and as part of his Diwan Orchestra comprised of both Israelis and Muslims from Arab countries - Palestinians as well as Syrians, Egyptians etc.
"I hope that my new status will be an example of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence", said Barenboim as he received the new passport at the end of a concert he played in Ramallah, Saturday. "We have been blessed - or cursed - to live with each other. I personally think we have been blessed."
And there's a motive behind the madness.
Despite being perhaps one of the best-known Israeli musicians of all times, he is considered a controversial figure in the country. Aside from the concerts in the PA, he drew fire for conducting a Wagner piece in Jerusalem in late 2000, breaking on his own initiative a 50-year-old ban on the music of "Hitler's favorite composer". The Wagner movement played that evening was not detailed in the concert's programme, but was suggested as an encore, pending the agreement of the audience.
He was also criticized by the Israeli right-wing for establishing the Diwan Orchestra, in partnership with Palestinian-American academic Edward Said, a vocal critic of Israel.
Nevertheless, he never until now obtained foreign citizenship aside from that of his native Argentina, and never played in countries that would not allow him in with his Israeli passport.
"The fact an Israeli can get a PA passport, means that this is possible. I accept this citizenship because it symbolizes the everlasting bond between the Israeli and Palestinian people", said Barenboim.
Oh, goody. So this means that now he'll be able to play in Teheran and Riyadh? (Oh, probably still not in Riyadh.) Things that make you want to go puke.
On a related note, SoccerDad has announced that he'll be passing on the administrative reins of HH to the asute editor of Jack's Shack after next week. Many thanks to David for a job extremely well done these past three years!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Meanwhile, the news about Meryl's Tig is not good. And condolences to Lair Simon on the passing of his Friskie. I've noticed that it's really hard for some people to relate to the pain that the loss or impending loss of a pet can inflict. It's not like it's a person, they say. Well, speaking from experience, yes, it is. It's not the same but it is sometimes very much like.
On the other hand, I had my first EKG on Tuesday and my doctor was impressed. Very impressed. I must be doing something right. And it's looking very much like I will be getting back to Israel in March. That's a big up. If everything goes according to plan, I should be there for Purim -- all three days of it in Jerusalem, which this year falls on Good Friday as well as Easter with Shabbat in between. Now that should be interesting.
Here's hoping next week is more up than down.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning.
says she. How dare she! How dare this ignorant woman presume to dictate where Israel may and may not build homes for its people! How dare she insist upon a Judenrein wasteland surrounding whatever she believes should be the final claustrophobic defenseless borders of Israel. That is, of course, what her blitherings inevitably point to. Not clear enough?
Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the PA would reiterate during Bush's visit its demand for a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders, including east Jerusalem.
"There will never be real peace unless Israel accepts the two-state solution," he said. "This means a full withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967. But Israel is working toward building a state for the settlers in the West Bank. Israel is also working toward changing the Arab and Islamic character of Jerusalem."
/Excuse me ... the what?? Never mind. Another post./
Abdel Rahman said "the Palestinian security forces would not provide security to the settlers and settlements in the West Bank. All the settlements are illegal, and the settlers have no place in Palestinian territories."
The PA official said Israelis were deceiving themselves by thinking that the Palestinians would accept the presence of settlements in the West Bank.
"We will never accept one settler or occupation soldier on our lands," he stressed.
There's no ambiguity there. Not one settler. Not one soldier. Not one Jew. Crystal clear. We get it. We've always gotten it. And, when they're done, not one settler, not one soldier, not one Jew between the river and the sea. It's the only "peace" they'll ever settle for. But Condi Rice doesn't get it. She doesn't want to get it.
Neither does Olmert.
Rice, with her comments, went further than US officials have previously gone toward clarifying the US position on east Jerusalem. Her comments not only seemed to set the stage for a confrontation over the issue during the Bush meetings, but also stood in sharp contrast to what Olmert has said he believes is the US position on the matter.
Olmert, in an interview with the Post last week, said that when Bush thought of an overall Israel-Palestinian agreement, he had in mind an accord based on the 1967 borders "plus."
"He's the only president who has ever said that," Olmert said. "His reference is '67-plus. And that's an amazing achievement for Israel."
Rice's reference to Har Homa as a settlement, however, seemed to belie that belief.
Ah, yes. The disengagement fairy tale. That famous April 14, 2004, letter that so many Sharon supporters insisted would guarantee Israel could retain its most established communities in Judea and Samaria in return for throwing several thousand Jews under the train.
As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.
Well, I confess I was fooled as well. I thought the scam would continue through the end of Bush's term. It appears I was wrong.
As an American, I'm utterly appalled by the faithless behavior of my government. As a loyal citizen of this country who reluctantly voted for George W. Bush in 2004 (considering the alternative -- and, God help me, I'd do it again), I still remember the man who assured us that he said what he meant and he meant what he said. He had a lot of people fooled.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
I've been a big fan of Caroline Glick for years. I don't always agree with everything she writes and I know she often tends to go a bit over the top, but a lot of what she says is important and she says it well. So for a long time I've persisted in defending her in discussions with friends and other bloggers.
On November 30, 2007, Glick published a shot heard round the J-Blogoshere -- a JPost column entitled "Apartheid Not Peace" in which she made this shocking accusation:
This week the Bush Administration legitimized Arab anti-Semitism. In an effort to please the Saudis and their Arab brothers, the Bush administration agreed to physically separate the Jews from the Arabs at the Annapolis conference in a manner that aligns with the apartheid policies of the Arab world which prohibit Israelis from setting foot on Arab soil.
Evident everywhere, the discrimination against Israel received its starkest expression at the main assembly of the Annapolis conference on Tuesday. There, in accordance with Saudi demands, the Americans prohibited Israeli representatives from entering the hall through the same door as the Arabs.
Bizarre. Surreal. WTF? But she didn't stop there. A few paragraphs later, she added this extra, um, color to her account:
As [Condoleeza Rice] put it, "I know what it is like to hear that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are a Palestinian. I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."
Rice's remarks make clear that for the Secretary of State there is no difference between Israelis trying to defend themselves from a jihadist Palestinian society which supports the destruction of the Jewish state and bigoted white Southerners who oppressed African Americans because of the color of their skin. It is true that Israel has security concerns, but as far as Rice is concerned, the Palestinians are the innocent victims. They are the ones who are discriminated against and humiliated, not Livni, who was forced - by Rice - to enter the conference through the service entrance.
Now I'm sorry, but no way. That just rang false. In spite of everything I knew was amiss at the Annapolis Conference, in spite of everything I knew about the abysmal appeasements by Bush and Rice in their latest attempt to jump start the bogus "peace process," there was no way I was buying that story. A few days later, I found my sentiments politely reflected in a comment (#121) posted in the "Talkback" section by an American named Frederic Leder:
The accusation that the Israeli diplomats were forced to use the servants entrance is so bizarre that people here are having trouble believing it. Could Ms. Glick provide some corroboration or source material?
Could she indeed? Well, I searched high and low for one single corroborating account, one other article or essay independently reporting (rather than just repeating) the service entrance story independently and I found nothing. I asked other bloggers, friends and relatives, and no one, absolutely no one had heard or read or seen confirmation of that detail. Oh, there were plenty of essays and blog posts quoting Glick and adding their own indignation (and embellishments) to the mix. And there still are. There still are.
So I waited, and I watched, and I asked, and then things got crazy and I lost track of it.
Now, thanks to Soccer Dad (who else?), I see that two weeks ago, Ms. Glick finally issued, not a corroboration, but a retraction. Of sorts. Down in paragraphs 10, 11 and 12 of her December 24 column about media lies and the Mohammed Al Dura hoax, she buried this convoluted rationalization:
Even when independent media outlets use their best efforts to report the facts in a credible way, they sometimes get it wrong. For instance, on November 27, the Jerusalem Post reported a quote made by an Arab diplomat to AFP news agency in Riyadh claiming that the Bush Administration had bowed to the Arab demand to force the Israeli delegation at the Annapolis conference to enter the conference hall through a separate entrance from the Arabs. In the diplomat's words, "The Saudis told Washington that they do not want to meet anyone from the Israeli delegation, either by chance or by prior arrangement. Hence it was decided that ... delegations would enter into the meeting room from different doors."
His assertion was made credible by statements from US officials regarding the Saudi demand for segregation between the Arabs and the Israelis at the conference. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "As the Saudi foreign minister put it, nobody's interested in these uncomfortable situations where there are theatrics for the sake of photographs. We'll of course be respectful and mindful of that as we'll put together the various events."
It was these twin reports that informed my own decision to begin my Nov. 30 column "Apartheid not peace" with the story of the separation of Israeli representatives from Arab representatives at Annapolis. Happily, after my column was published, both the State Department and Israeli officials denied that the US had enforced the Arab demand for segregated entrances.
Happily, yes. Unhappily, however, enough time had passed and enough righteous indignation had proliferated over Glick's original account that it's necessary to pour through several search engine pages of outrage before you'll find the first reference to this "retraction." Well, it's not as if she's tried to draw attention to it. (Yes, paragraph 12.) And of those who noticed, many are still sticking to her original story. In fact, some of them are insisting that the story was real and it's the retraction that's "got to be" false.
And ... wait. Was there an apology somewhere in that retraction? Because I certainly didn't see one. Worse, it appears that Glick made up the "service entrance" element out of whole cloth. No reference to a "service entrance" appears in her own account of the reports that "informed her decision" to include it. That separate entrances were requested, I could believe, given the Saudis' notorious phobia about touching Jews. That they were provided was dubious, and the quote from McCormack is far too vague to be considered as evidence that they were. But it was that last clever creative detail -- the "service entrance," the one that nailed Glick's "apartheid" analogy -- that pushed a lot of people over the edge and that, for me, flagged the story as total BS.
And now we know that it was.
Why am I so worked up over this apparently minor incident? Because it represents a breach of trust and one that will henceforth undermine my confidence in anything that this particular journalist has to say. And because advocates who feel the need to make things up in order to prove their point are incapable of persuading. They undermine their own cause (which, in this case, is my cause, too). I have neither the time nor the interest to start verifying every detail of Glick's columns. As a result, you probably won't see her name or her work on this blog again, unless she's the subject of the story.
I get enough lies and deceits from the other side. I won't tolerate it from my own. Full stop.
Friday, January 4, 2008
"We're expecting to hear an explanation from Egypt," a senior State official told Ynet on Wednesday night after hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims returning from Mecca were allowed into Gaza without going through inspection – in violation of the understanding between Israel and Egyptian authorities.The issue of the Palestinian pilgrims is only the latest crisis to add fuel to the flaring tensions between Israel and Egypt.
Hundreds of Palestinian pilgrims made their way back into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing on Wednesday after being stranded on Egyptian soil for almost a week following their return from the haj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, according to Palestinian sources.
The circumstances that allowed for the return of the pilgrims remain unclear, although unidentified sources in Gaza said the pilgrims did not employ force and their passage was coordinated with Egyptian authorities.
Among those returning to Gaza are dozens of senior Hamas political and military figures. Israel claims that some of the returning Palestinians raised millions of dollars for Hamas while in Saudi Arabia and Israel also suspects that some underwent military training in Iran.
And now, having shown that it's utterly faithless, dishonest and dishonorable, Egypt has the nerve to threaten Israel for trying to undermine Egyptian relations with the U.S. I know I'm spitting into the wind here, but Mubarak simply must be made to pay a price for this betrayal. At some point, enough is enough.
Soccer Dad has more here, including a survey of prominent MSM coverage.
And I just couldn't let the week end without mentioning ...
There ya go.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Hey, did you know that January 1st has only been celebrated as the beginning of the New Year in America since 1752? I didn't. Some call it the "secular" New Year. Others say it represents the reincarnation of an ancient Roman holiday. Still others, well, don't.
Hmmm. Nevertheless, sometimes, any excuse for a party will do.