Wednesday, April 30, 2008

As we pause to remember

As we pause to remember
One of our own disgraces himself. And insults their memory.

In the new science-bashing movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein and the rest of the filmmakers sincerely and seriously argue that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution paved the way for the Holocaust. By "seriously," I mean that Ben Stein acts grief-stricken and the director juxtaposes quotes from evolutionary biologists with archival newsreel clips from Hitler's Reich. Prepare for an intellectual night at the cinema.

No one could have been more surprised than I when the producers called, unbidden, offering Scientific American's editors a private screening. Given that our magazine's positions on evolution and intelligent design (ID) creationism reflect those of the scientific mainstream (that is, evolution: good science; ID: not science), you have to wonder why they would bother. It's not as though anything in Expelled would have been likely to change our views. And they can't have been looking for a critique of the science in the movie, because there isn't much to speak of.

Rather, it seems a safe bet that the producers hope a whipping from us would be useful for publicity: further proof that any mention of ID outrages the close-minded establishment. (Picture Ben Stein as Jack Nicholson, shouting, "You can't handle the truth!") Knowing this, we could simply ignore the movie—which might also suit their purposes, come to think of it.

Unfortunately, Expelled is a movie not quite harmless enough to be ignored. Shrugging off most of the film's attacks—all recycled from previous pro-ID works—would be easy, but its heavy-handed linkage of modern biology to the Holocaust demands a response for the sake of simple human decency.

Indeed it does. Charles Johnson has compared this gross juxtaposition to PETA's "Holocaust On Your Plate" campaign. He's got that exactly right.

Yom HaShoah starts at sundown tonight, Ben. Is your mother proud of you?

Reality Intrudes

It doesn't happen often, but when it does ... watch out.

Those in Washington pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian deal by the end of President Bush's term may have to scale down their expectation as the gaps between the two sides only seem to be growing larger.

A new bout of discord arose after a blowout between the Palestinian Authority's head negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, and Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni. Qureia angrily rejected a proposed map presented by Livni in which any future agreement would see Israel retaining control of the larger settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as the Jordan River Valley and Jerusalem.

Qureia grabbed the map spread out on the table and pushed it away with both hands.

The divide over the border fall-out was only further exacerbated after Qureia vehemently rebuffed comments made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday, in which he demanded a special security arrangement be made for a mountain ridge in Palestinian territory east of Ben Gurion Airport.

The recent turbulence indicates a permanent deal or even an
agreement on certain basic principles may be even farther from reach.

I'm shocked. No, really. I am. Shocked that Olmert and Livni at least still pay lip service to the importance of Israel retaining control of the larger settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as the Jordan River Valley and Jerusalem. It's a no-brainer but that doesn't mean they get it.

And Qureia's pals were obviously shocked senseless, as witness this delusional response by one of them.

A senior Palestinian official told Ynet he was unsurprised by Barak's comments. "Once he blew-up the Camp David talks and blamed it on Arafat and now he is panicking that the current negotiations may succeed. That is why he doing all this and making declarations that sour the atmosphere. Barak has taken the Labor party from the peace camp to the side of settlers and extremists. He poses an obstacle to the talks."
Uh. huh.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And, finally ...

Ok, I really need to stay away from the subject of the election for a while now, but I didn't want to let this one get away because it's just such a perfect example of both the idiocy the Obama campaign has inspired among many of its supporters and the atrocious arrogance of the liberal media.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is western Pennsylvania's oldest and largest circulation "newspaper." I use the word loosely because (Wikipedia notwithstanding) it's an unabashed left-wing propaganda rag that I long ago gave up relying upon for even a pretense of objectivity.

Never has this been more obvious than in this editorial, published after the Pennsylvania primary and bemoaning its results. (Need I point out that the P-G endorsed Obama?) It's a revealing look into the mind-set of editors who believe that their personal opinions should control what their readers think and do and how they vote -- and who respond with, well, this kind of hissy fit when they don't.

O bummer: Clinton's Pennsylvania win promises only trouble

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pennsylvania's moment in the sun Tuesday brought a dark cloud with a sliver of a silver lining, one that can only be attractive to the many supporters of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

To give Mrs. Clinton her due, the former first lady scored a solid victory in the Democratic primary and her campaign, plainly doomed just months ago, now claims to be re-energized. For her purposes, a 9.2 point margin -- slightly tighter than originally reported -- was as good as a landslide. Her prospects have changed from doomed to merely unlikely.

Therein lies the problem. The Democratic nomination has come to resemble Iraq. A war that seemed to be over has flared up anew with a startling viciousness. At the end of the Pennsylvania campaign, both sides were trading blows as if their opponent were a Republican, but Mrs. Clinton stooped lower, even genuflecting to Karl Rove's politics of fear with an ad that summoned the bogeyman, Osama bin Laden, to make her case.

All this for a victory that realistically neither she nor Sen. Barack Obama can win in the remaining primaries, guaranteeing that the issue will go to the convention and certain, bitter controversy. Like Iraq, there is no real victory to be won as long as the fighting goes on and lays waste to all it touches.

If he wins at the convention, which still seems likely, Mr. Obama will no longer seem to be the hope of a new day. Already his star has been battered and it will be mauled some more before this is over. Already it is said that he may go directly on attack, which would subvert his claim that he is a different sort of politician.

But he has to do something. Mrs. Clinton will go on manufacturing questions that the Republicans will continue to exploit in the fall. Faithful to what she says, her own followers will be the first to believe them.

Manufacturing questions? Really? Hillary "manufacturered" Rev. Jeremiah Wright, William Ayres and Obama's "bitter" speech in San Francisco? Who knew? But there's more.

If Mrs. Clinton somehow manages to capture the nomination, she will seem less the bold fighter than someone who has pushed her all-consuming ambition beyond the best interests of her party. In her negativity, she will have reminded Americans across the country of the seamier side of the Clinton years.

Worst of all, she will have rebuffed the grass-roots army that is Mr. Obama's fresh and vital contribution to the campaign -- young people, independents, former Republicans, the great hope of a Democratic Party revival.

This isn't a suggestion that Hillary drop out of the race. It's a demand. Quit now or forever destroy that mythical Democratic Party revival the media's been touting forever. Quit now, Hillary, before you ruin ... everything.

Having said that, the P-G proceeds to lay it all on the line and tells Pennsylvania voters that we're just plain stupid, thoughtless morons who should have stayed home last Tuesday.

Pennsylvania could have put a stop to this civil war, but the voters were not inclined to think their votes through. In this old commonwealth, older voters voted the old way, going with the familiar name and face, returning an emphatic "No, we can't." There were communities where voters put aside their resistance to change and voted for Mr. Obama -- the city of Pittsburgh, among them -- but not enough to matter. Allegheny County pretty much tracked the state.

Now it will be up to other states such as Indiana and North Carolina to stanch the bleeding that just keeps flowing. With a Bush administration legacy of ill-advised war and economic woe, the Democrats would have to go out of their way to lose the general election -- and in Pennsylvania they unthinkingly went down that road.

No, the real winner in Pennsylvania was not Hillary Clinton but John McCain ...

... and back to the Iraq war analogy. Gotta love it. Here's a letter from a couple in Butler, PA, that eloquently expresses what every "unthinking" Democrat in the Keystone State ought to be thinking after reading that editorial. My own response, frankly, would have been considerably shorter but unprintable.

BTW, Ron Paul got almost 16% of the Republican vote in PA. No comment.

So that's it

Following Barack Obama's long overdue repudiation of Jeremiah Wright today, we can all heave a sigh of collective relief and get back to the "real issues" of the presidential campaign. Right?

Well, it was a good speech. Really, it was. Not because it was smooth and polished (it wasn't) and not because it was credible (he never saw this side of Rev. Wright until yesterday?) but because it was filled with righteous indignation and despite all evidence to the contrary, he made you want to believe it. It'll work for a lot of people. And it'll let all (well, most) of those squirming Obama supporters off the hook of having to defend the indefensible. That will be a relief -- for all of us.

But, no, I doubt that it's over. What it is, I'm not sure. I've read a lot of interesting conspiracy theories, one of which holds that Wright's antics over the past few days were all political theater designed to give Obama the excuse he needed to (how sick of this phrase are we already?) throw him under the bus so his campaign could ... move on. Another one suggests that Wright's trying to sabotage Obama's campaign in order to reinforce his vision of a hateful, racist America in which a man of color could never be elected President. And then there's the one that claims Karl Rove put him up to it.

No matter what it is, the Obama campaign will now offically relegate it (again) to the dustbin labeled "distraction" and they will likely have more success this time. It will be interesting to see if Wright now takes his bow and leaves the stage or continues to bask in his new-found notoriety (any bets?). It will also be interesting to see how Senator Obama is received at his church now, as it appears that the good reverend is a rather popular figure there.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A life of its own

When the Jeremiah Wright videos (finally) broke in the media last month, some thoroughly embarrassed Obama supporters were quick to point out that, at least in the (arguably) most disgraceful part of his post 9-11 sermon, Wright was only "quoting the ambassador from Iraq." So he was taken out of context. Yeah. Wright reiterated this bogus excuse again this morning in response to a question at his National Press Club speech.

Well, it's true that he claimed he was referring to comments by Ambassador Edwin Peck (who was the U.S. ambassador to, not "from," Iraq, BTW). But at the time, he didn't claim to be "quoting" him. Paraphrasing, maybe? With a little extra reference to Malcom X thrown in? But, hey. Why speculate? Here's the full text of the pertinent part of Wright's 9-16-01 sermon (it's long and it's tedious and maybe you're read it or heard it before, but bear with me):

I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday did anybody else see or hear him? He was on FOX News, this is a white man, and he was upsetting the FOX News commentators to no end, he pointed out, a white man, an ambassador, he pointed out that what Malcolm X said when he was silenced by Elijah Mohammad was in fact true, he said Americas chickens, are coming home to roost.

We took this country by terror away from the Sioux, the Apache, Arikara, the Comanche, the Arapaho, the Navajo. Terrorism.

We took Africans away from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear. Terrorism.

We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel.

We bombed the black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenage and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hard working fathers.

We bombed Qaddafi’s home, and killed his child. Blessed are they who bash your children’s head against the rock.

We bombed Iraq. We killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy, killed hundreds of hard working people, mothers and fathers who left home to go that day not knowing that they’d never get back home.

We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon and we never batted an eye.

Kids playing in the playground. Mothers picking up children after school. Civilians, not soldiers, people just trying to make it day by day.

We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff that we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.

Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that y’all, not a black militant. Not a reverend who preaches about racism. An ambassador whose eyes are wide open and who is trying to get us to wake up and move away from this dangerous precipice upon which we are now poised. The ambassador said the people we have wounded don’t have the military capability we have. But they do have individuals who are willing to die and take thousands with them. And we need to come to grips with that.”

So did Ambassador Peck say this or anything like this on Fox News on 9/15/01? Not according to Alan Colmes (yes, that Alan Colmes), who reported on Friday night:

... Hannity & Colmes can report exclusively tonight that after reviewing the Peck interview, Peck never used the phrase 'chickens coming home to roost' and that Wright went much further in criticizing U.S. policy than Peck did in his interview on FOX. So if Peck didn't say what Wright insinuates, are the ideas expressed in the sermon really Wright's and were they therefore taken out of context?

So what's the damage? Well, as with all lies, this one has taken on a life of its own and it will be interesting to see if the genie can be put back in the bottle. Take Sherri Shepherd, who parroted it today on "The View"

Well, you know, with the "chickens have come home to roost," it’s very interesting because he took that quote from Ambassador Edward Peck, who is a white man, who said that, that the chickens were coming home to roost.

Or take Bob Conway, a newly minted Obama supporter from Monroeville, PA, who was quoted (without challenge) in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a week before the Pennsylvania primary:

"The most inflammatory aspect of Rev. Wright's speech was a direct quote from a white Fox News analyst, who also saw our foreign policy chickens coming home to roost," Mr. Conway said, referring to a YouTube video. To view it, go to The video shows a much larger and in-context segment of Mr. Wright's "chickens coming home to roost" 9/11 sermon.

Mr. Wright was quoting former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Edward Peck, and the minister's real message, taken in context, called for introspection and asked people what the proper response to violence should be, he said.

Poor Mr. Conway. Did he follow that link? Did he honestly think that tirade was a "direct quote" from anyone? And did he miss, by chance, the rest of that sermon about the "proper response" to 9-11? Because after the "first" part about introspection and self-examination comes the "second" part -- about "social transformation." The part that comes a few minutes after that particular video link cuts off.

... We have got to change the way we have been doing things as a society, social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as a country, social transformation. We have got to change the way we have been doing things as an arrogant, racist, military superpower, social transformation. We just can't keep messing over people, and think ain't nobody do nothing about it. They have shown us that they can, and that they will. ...

So who's that talking? Just Jeremiah Wright.

For the record, I doubt that Ambassador Peck found much to disagree with in Wright's remarks. Peck has, for example, opined that both the U.S. and Israel are have committed "international terrorism." But that's not the point. Wright is lying about his "chickens coming home to roost" remark (the true source of which is, as he actually suggested, Malcolm X, who said it in reference to the assassination of President Kennedy). And too many Obama supporters are mindlessly repeating the lie, praying all the while the the Rev. Wright will just STFU.

He won't, though. So much the worse for Obama. So much the worse for the racial divide in this country. It's a crying shame.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The biggest obstacle

So Israeli "settlements" are back in the headlines again, as Ehud Olmert has made public reference to a secret Bush letter to Ariel Sharon back in April, 2004 (as opposed to this public one), giving Israel permission to expand existing settlements. The Bush administration, naturally, denies the existence of any such letter. And currently (though hopefully not for long), a Jerusalem Post sub-headline reads

PA president says he's pessimistic about peace deal with Israel this year; says biggest obstacle to an accord are Israeli settlements

But the story itself (currently) says no such thing. The "biggest obstacle ... are settlements" (sic) language appears to be as still-born attempt by the AP to plant those words on President Bush (here, too), but of course a very little digging reveals that they have an entirely different source. AP again:

Abbas said the biggest obstacle is Israel's continued expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian-occupied territories.

And here.

As for the relative significance of Israeli settlement activity on the overall peace process, Soccer Dad addresses the issue succinctly. And Charles Johnson injects a well-earned extra dose of sarcasm into his treatment, here.

Yes, the real problem is those Israeli settlements.

Not the ongoing rocket attacks, not the suicide bombers, not the indoctrination of children, not the idolization of murderers, not the constant barrage of antisemitic propaganda, not the funding from Saudi Arabia for terrorism, not the jihad clerics preaching genocidal hatred.

It’s those settlements.


Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


So. Here we are, waiting for the polls to close in Pennsylvania. Oh, good. The sun's coming back out. Anyway, Barack O. managed to snag himself a last bit of bad press yesterday with this little act.

Barack Obama kicked off a day of campaigning in Pennsylvania by dropping by a Scranton diner for a breakfast of waffles, sausage and orange juice.But the press corps went hungry — hungry for an answer that is.The Illinois senator brushed aside a question from one reporter on his reaction to former President Jimmy Carter’s description of a positive meeting with leaders of the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas.“Why can’t I just eat my waffle?” Obama replied.

And pressed for an answer, he reiterated his dedication to his waffle. No, this is not an event of momentous importance, but, yes, it's newsworthy. The man is making himself less and less available as the election looms nearer. Odd, that, for a serious presidential contender. Odder still that he still seems happy enough to respond to the puffball questions.

This commenter at Hot Air summed it up rather well, I think.

If he doesn’t want to be questioned about issues he should maybe take his waffles back to his hotel room. Or, you know, maybe not run for president altogether.

Either way, it sounds pretty retarded to say, “I know I’m running for the most powerful office in the world and I’ve blasted the last televised debate as a travesty and a sham because it distracted us all from the real issues, but don’t ask me about any of those real issues when I’m out pressing the flesh in public one day before a huge election because you’re distracting me from these tasty waffles.”

BTW, in all fairness, BO has now answered the question (or at least a facsimile thereof).

WASHINGTON (AFP) — White House hopeful Barack Obama Tuesday slammed last week's meeting between former US president Jimmy Carter and the exiled leader of Hamas militants as "a bad idea."

"As I said before I think it was a bad idea for president Carter to meet with Hamas without having recognized Israel or denounced terrorism or acknowledged previous agreements given that they are not heads of state," he told a Pittsburgh press conference."To sit down with them, I think it gave them a legitimacy that was unnecessary."

Friday, April 18, 2008

On chametz

As you probably know, there's been a big brouhaha in Israel over the past several days over the public sale of chametz (leven) inside stores. Although the "public sale" of chametz is forbidden by law, some stores were quietly continuing to sell bread and pasta to those who wanted it during the holiday without rubbing it in the face of those who didn't. Not content with this compromise, the Shas party tried (and failed) to introduce legislation banning the sale of chametz in Israel during Pesach, period.


An enlightening and inspirational analysis of this controversy is provided by Rabbi David Hartman (who provides enlightening and inspirational analyses of most everything he sets his mind to).

One is caught in this dilemma. I can appreciate the aversion people have for legislating religious principles. I appreciate the feeling of some that the government should not enter into your own private spiritual domain and dictate to you what you can and cannot eat on Pesach. Freedom of religion or non-religion is an option that should be decided by the individual and not by the legislative power of the Knesset.

On the other hand, if we are interested in some shared, collective space that mediates some flavor of Jewishness and gives a Jewish quality to our public life, then it is the role of the Knesset to establish the minimum conditions that would give expression to our Jewish historical heritage.

Should Jewishness be legislated or should it be the result of a personal freedom of choice?

There's more, of course. So while you're munching your matzah (or whatever) next week, take a read.

Wishing all Israel a joyous, peaceful Shabbat and a happy and kosher Pesach.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Calling cr@p

Few bloggers do it as well as Soccer Dad. Today, he sets his sights on the morass of denial, sanctimony and self-abasement known as "J-Street."

Does it matter that when the administration did press Israel and Israel acceded to the pressure that it led to more violence and less security for Israel? No. They still advocate more of the same. So not only do they advocate policies that failed in 1996 (when Israel withdrew from cities in 1995, it led to an increase in terror in 1996), in 2000 (when Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon it strengthened Hezbollah) and in 2005 (Israel's withdrawal from Gaza strengthened Hamas), these progressive organization advocate policies that increase violence and hurt Israel. Yet they have the chutzpah to claim that they are pro-peace and pro-Israel. They are neither.

Indeed, they are not. Oh. And there's more ...

Update: More "peace" dividends

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blogosphere superstar

If you didn't catch Anne Lieberman's appearance on last Wednesday's ZOA Middle East Report, you can still listen to the archive here (until this coming Wednesday). She was talking with Steve Feldman and Lori Lowenthal Marcus about the alarming report she broke last week in this post: Your federal government at work ... for Palestinians.

Your federal government and your tax dollars. Yes indeedy. If you haven't read it yet, please do.

Hey, Steve called Anne "one of the superstars of the blogosphere." As indeed she is.

A working brain cell

Reported Friday (and coming to my attention, as so much does, via LGF) ...

TEL AVIV — Former President Jimmy Carter will receive the cold shoulder in Israel next week over his plan to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in the Syrian capital during a tour of the Middle East.

Citing scheduling difficulties, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu turned down requests for meetings from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“You draw your own conclusions,” said an Israeli official who declined to be identified. “Israeli officials have expressed outrage at the possibility that he'll meet Mashaal. ... He's the leader of a terrorist organization.”

And so Ehud Olmert proves that he does, in fact, have at least one working brain cell. But there's some more stuff buried later in the WashTimes report ...

Mr. Carter, who will stop in Israel before going to Syria, also is scheduled to visit Sderot, the Israeli border town that has been bombarded by missiles from Gaza.

Now that, I'd like to see. Because, somehow, I don't think old Jimmah's going to be too welcome in Sderot. We'll see. But then there's this ...

To be sure, Mr. Carter won't face a full-on boycott in Israel next week: he has meetings scheduled with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and even such right-wing politicians as parliament member Avigdor Lieberman and Trade Minister Eli Yishai.
A top lawmaker from the dovish Meretz party commended Mr. Carter for seeking the meeting, though doubted anything would come of it.

“Khaled Mashaal is the hardest nut in Hamas,” said Ran Cohen. “I don't think he is someone who it is possible to convince to give up his terrorist fanatical approach.”

“I want to strengthen Carter and not weaken him,” he added.

A Carter-Mashaal meeting would be the first public contact in two years between a prominent American figure and Hamas officials. In 2006, the Rev. Jesse Jackson met Mr. Mashaal during a visit to Syria.

Ok, well, which of the above politicians is actually in (theoretical) imminent danger of losing his job? Answer: the one who (exhibiting uncharacteristic perception) is allegedly refusing to meet with (arguably) America's Worst President Ever. That's in no way intended to excuse Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Avigdor Lieberman or Eli Yishai, none of whom have far left to fall in my estimation. But fall they will if they disgrace themselves by giving Mr. Carter the time of day.


(Oh, and Jesse Jackson is "a prominent American figure?" Sez who?)

Shavua tov.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Ok, so here I am, a typical Pennsylvanian in my small Pennsylvania town, clinging to my guns, my religion, my antipathy and my xenophobia as a way to explain my frustrations. And waiting, hoping and praying for Barack Obama to tell me what else I am and how to fix it. 'Cause yes he can!


One of my primary frustrations at the moment is how many Obama signs I see going up in my neighborhood. Not my immediate neighborhood. That's mostly Hillary, if anything, and so far not much of anything. But in the surrounding area, they're popping up like noxious weeds (and we've got plenty of those, too, this spring).

I don't know. Maybe people out here don't actually consider themselves "small town." We prefer to think of ourselves as Philadelphia suburbs. Obama probably wasn't talking about Chester or Montgomery or Delaware or Bucks counties in his San Francisco fundraising speech. He was surely talking about other places, further to the north and west of here. Anywhere other than here. That's one way to avoid feeling insulted by basically being called an ignorant backwards hick by the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

No, 'round these parts, people are sophisticated. Savvy. Politically astute. No clinging to guns, religion or xenophobia around here. Need proof? Obama signs abound. 'Nuff said.

Hey. Here's one more photo to close out the week. Crows at Masada.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Where's the (international) outrage?

Wait. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights is "gravely concerned." Well, ok then.

A Child Killed and His Brother Wounded in al-Boreij

On Sunday evening, 6 April 2008, ‘Abdullah Mohammed Bahar, 4, was killed and his brother, ‘Abdul Jawad, 8, was wounded when a mortar shell fell near their house in al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 15:00 on Sunday, a mortar shell fell near a house belonging to Mohammed Suleiman Bahar, 51, in the east of al-Boreij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, two of the owner’s children were wounded when they were playing near the house: ‘Abullah, 4, wounded by shrapnel to the head and the chest; and ‘Abdul Jawad, 8, wounded by shrapnel to the head. The two children were evacuated to al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah town, but ‘Abdullah died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

PCHR is gravely concerned for the increasing number of casualties resulting from the misuse of weapons. PCHR calls upon concerned authorities to take necessary measures to ensure the non-recurrence of such incidents, which cause civilian fatalities, and to ensure protection for civilian and their property.

via IMRA)

Time for another photo

I can never get enough snaps of the Dead Sea. Imagine how much more incredible this would look if not for the haze of a few tons of Sahara sand and dust in the air. Oh, well.

Here are some people floating.

Monday, April 7, 2008

To boldly go ...

Yes, I am late with this as well, but if you haven't yet read Diana Muir's superb article ("A Land without a People for a People without a Land") in the Spring edition of the Middle East Quarterly, go read it now. It's long overdue and extremely important reading for anyone who's involved at any level in Israel advocacy or who even just wants to better understand the issues surrounding Israel's ongoing battle for acceptance of its existence. Huge kudos to Diana for putting this together.

"A land without a people for a people without a land" is one of the most oft-cited phrases in the literature of Zionism—and perhaps also the most problematic. Anti-Zionists cite the phrase as a perfect encapsulation of the fundamental injustice of Zionism: that early Zionists believed Palestine was uninhabited,[1] that they denied—and continue to reject—the existence of a distinct Palestinian culture,[2] and even as evidence that Zionists always planned on an ethnic cleansing of the Arab population.[3] Such assertions are without basis in fact: They both deny awareness on the part of early Zionists of the presence of Arabs in Palestine and exaggerate the coalescence of a Palestinian national identity, which in reality only developed in reaction to Zionist immigration.[4] Nor is it true, as many anti-Zionists still assert, that early Zionists widely employed the phrase.

Please do click through. And while you're at it, think about going for a subscription to the MEQ. (You've heard this before here, right?) You won't regret it.

Just my opinion

McCain/Rice -- very bad.

McCain/Romney -- not bad.

Once upon a time, I wouldn't have minded seeing Rice at the top of the ticket. Now, she's done enough damage. It's time for her to collect her reward from the foreign sources she caters to and go off on a nice lecture circuit. Or buy a football team. Whatever.

And Condi Rice may be a household name, but in most households she's inextricably linked with George W. Bush. That's not a good direction for the Republicans to be going in right now. If they actually want to win the election, that is.

Meanwhile, the "social conservatives" notwithstanding, there are a lot of reasons why Romney would make a very good choice for VP. He won't get it, though.

Hey, I thought Ron Paul dropped out of the Presidential race a month ago. Seems not, at least according to this item at WorldNetDaily (caveat), backed up by some blitherings at (no, I will not link to that).

BLAINE, Minn. – Ron Paul supporters shook things up in at least three of Minnesota's congressional district conventions yesterday when they captured nearly all of the national delegates and alternates for the Republican National Convention this fall.

[ ... ]

Paul has remained in the presidential race despite the fact McCain has now earned enough delegates to become the Republican nominee for president.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Working, now not working

Late again. But, ahhhhhh. The week is at an end.

Here's a view of (what's left of) the Dead Sea and Jordan beyond it, from Qumran.

Shabbat Shalom.