Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's a wrap

So both my vacation and the suspense over when and how Ehud Olmert will finally, actually, exit stage left, are now in the past.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert held a special press conference on Wednesday at 8 p.m. where he announced he will not run in the Kadima primary scheduled to take place in September.

Olmert said he would resign from office upon selection of a successor, and would allow his successor to attempt to form a coalition.

And that's all we need to know. If you want to read more about Olmert lashing out against his opponents, protesting his innocence, whining about how mean everyone has been to him and declaring what a resounding success his premiership has been, it's all here. I'll pass.

Ah! A caveat.

While Prime Minister Olmert clearly stated that he would resign after the election of a new Kadima head in the upcoming Kadima primaries, Israel Radio has been broadcasting the following clarification in its hourly news bulletins starting with the 9 PM news:

"Our state affairs correspondent Shmuel Tal clarifies that the person who is elected to head Kadima will be asked to form a government and until he succeeds in doing it Olmert will continue to serve as prime minister. If the new chairman of Kadima fails to form a government Olmert will serve as prime minister until after the coming general elections."
He's said this before. The cat and mouse game is getting a little ... tired, Ehud. Give it up already.

Monday, July 21, 2008

And he's outta here

Well, it took long enough but it appears (appears) that Ehud Olmert is on his way out of office in disgrace. His party (or, rather, Arik Sharon's party) has at long last shown him the door and placed his hat firmly in his hand.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be replaced as Kadima leader in mid-September, barring unforeseen circumstances, after the Kadima council received the necessary votes on Monday to initiate a party leadership primary.

It took 12 days of voting, but a majority of the council's 180 members voted to change the party's constitution to allow the primary to take place. The next step is for Kadima's election committee to set a date for the primary and a mid-August deadline for potential candidates to join the race.

Sources close to Olmert said he would likely wait until the last possible moment to announce that he is not running in order to minimize the time that he would be considered a lame duck. Olmert's associates said there was almost no chance that he would run, because he is aware that he would have no chance of winning.

Ya think?

The damage that Olmert has done to his country and his people probably won't really be known for years. It remains to be seen whether his successor (probably Livni) will be able to forestall new elections and keep Kadima in power and whether the changing of the guard will actually signal the dawn or a new day or just more of the same.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fluffy kitten pix

Ok. This is cool. Heh. (via Solomonia)(update: ooops...never mind...TGTBT)

Treppenwitz has three excellent posts this week relating to the Worst Deal Ever. The first one, I linked a few days ago and the last one is a re-post that needed re-posting, but maybe you missed them. Please don't.

Karnit Goldwasser's father (poor man) made what's arguably the stupidest among a boatload of stupid comments that have been made about the WDE.

Speaking of Smadar Haran, who lost her husband Danny and her two daughters Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, in the 1979 terrorist attack in Nahariya led by terrorist Samir Kuntar, Avni said that it was brave of her to support a deal which brought the release of her family's killer.

"She understood with this exchange which led to the return of the two men, Kuntar has finally been involved in something positive," he said.

Try to wrap your mind around that.

So how do you end a week like this on an up note? Well, the stock market made a decent recovery and oil is still way off its high. And then there's this ... some nice fluffy kitten pix from Meryl.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Worst deal ever

Solomonia has a round-up of some of the round-ups. And some worthwhile comments of his own. I don't have the heart to write any more about it right now.

And it begins

From Ynet:

VIDEO - Celebrating in Gaza and Ramallah as well: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday welcomed the execution of the prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hizbullah. Abbas congratulated the family of released Lebanese murderer Samir Kuntar and sent his condolences to the Lebanese families receiving their loved ones' bodies as part of the deal.

More on the same page:

Shortly after the implementation of the Israel-Hizbullah prisoner exchange deal, candy was handed out to residents in Gaza.

Ziad abu al-Enain, director-general of the Ministry for Prisoner Affairs of the Salam Fayyad government and one of Fatah's senior members in the territories, said Wednesday morning, "The Palestinians congratulate Hizbullah and its leader and send their best wishes to all the Lebanese people and to all the Palestinians upon the completion of the deal and the release of heroes, headed by the prisoners' leader, Samir Kuntar."

He added that processions would be held in the territories Wednesday to express the Palestinians' solidarity following the completion of the deal.

And yet more:

Samir Kuntar's mother joined the cries of joy on Wednesday afternoon, praising Hizbullah leader Nasrallah for "the huge achievement."

In an interview with the al-Manar network, Kuntar's mother, also known as Um Jabar, said that "there is no limit to my joy today. I cannot express my feelings. This is complete liberty. For three days I have been getting phone calls from residents of Palestine, Yemen, Morocco and other countries, who congratulate me and I congratulate them."

I can't express my feelings, either. Joy, however, is not among them. I hope and pray that the smile will be wiped off that woman's face. Soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008


IDF Completes Identification Process

The identification process has been completed and the IDF has confirmed that the two coffins transfered to the IDF from Hezbollah contained the bodies of of First Sergeant Ehud Goldwasser and Sergeant First Class Eldad Regev

Time to lock and load.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

R.I.P. Tony Snow

Man. This hurts.

And I prefer Newt Gingrich's remarks to most others I've heard today because they best embody the spirit of the man as I perceived him.

May he soar on eagles' wings and find peace everlasting. And may his family be comforted in the trust and faith that he will.

His wisdom, humor and talent will be missed.

Friday, July 11, 2008

And again

AP/Ha'aretz reports:

Two Israelis were wounded in a shooting attack Friday at an entrance to Jerusalem's Old City, police said. The two were seriously wounded the Magen David Adom rescue service said.

The attacker shot toward a group of Israelis at the Lion's Gate of the walled Old City from a Muslim cemetery, police said.

One of the victims was reportedly hit in the head and the second in the chest. Both were evacuated by helicopter from the scene.

Armed people in the targeted group shot back and it was not immediately clear if the attacker was hit, police said. The perpetrator was not immediately found when police began searching the area, police said. Several suspects have reportedly been brought in for questioning, though it is not certain yet if the shooter has been apprehended.

(update note: have the AP editors gone on strike?)

Just to the south of the Lion's Gate is the Golden Gate. Now about that Muslim cemetery that the "attacker" shot from. I'm pretty sure it was this one.

Muslims expect the Golden Gate to be a part of the last judgment of men at the end of history. In 692CE the Dome of Rock was built by Caliph Abdel-Malik on the top of the Temple Mount. It's believed that it was right around that time when Muslims sealed off the Golden Gate with 15 foot thick stone structure in order to prevent the fulfillment of Zachariah's prophecy and keep the Jewish Messiah from entering the Temple Mount.

Just to be on the safe side they also built a large cemetery all along the Golden Gate gate in a belief that the messiah will not pass through it due to the Old Testament law that prohibits the high priests (the Kohanim) from coming into contact with the dead. But many Jews believe that the Messiah will be the descendant of King David and not the Kohen and therefore can pas through the cemetery without breaking any Jewish laws.

(~) See also Wikipedia for a slightly different version.

Yeah. That's just not going to work. But today, it looks like the cemetery is providing shelter for terrorists. Or "attackers," as AP is calling them. Whatever.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, July 4, 2008

And now for some fireworks

WOW! ...... or you can make your own.


And Shabbat Shalom.

That handshake thing again

Posturing by Iraqi politicians? Or something else?

Several members of the Iraqi parliament called on President Jalal Talabani on Friday to apologize for shaking hands with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a conference in Greece this week.

Talabani, a Kurd, was introduced to Barak by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a Socialist International meeting near Athens on Tuesday, where they shook hands.

The handshake, largely ignored by Iraq's media but covered in the Israeli press, sparked heated debate in Iraq's parliament on Thursday.

Like most Arab countries, Iraq does not recognize Israel. Some members accused Talabani of breaking Iraqi law, although it was unclear what the law says about Israel.

"I told the speaker it was a slap in the face for the Iraqi people," said Ahmed al-Massoudi, from the movement of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. "(The handshake) was a violation of law," He told Reuters.

We've seen this before. And then there's this.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A murderer, not a terrorist

I'm getting kind of tired of beating this lonely drum, but then what's a blog for?

The tendency to slap the label of "terrorist" on any Muslim, Arab or Jew who goes berserk and starts indiscriminately killing people is in serious need of a reality check. Part of the problem stems from the lack of a consensus as to the meaning of the word "terrorist." As some are fond of saying, "one man's 'terrorist' is another woman's 'freedom fighter.'" But this is a definition that I would hope rational people could agree upon, regardless of whether they see such conduct in the name of any specific cause as justifiable:

Wikipedia actually helps to clarify this picture by identifying three separate but necessary elements of terrorism:

  • intention to create fear (terror)
  • perpetration for an ideological goal (as opposed to a lone attack)
  • deliberate targeting of or disregard for the safety of non-combatants.

So I find myself in agreement with the attorney for the Dwayat family when he says that the man who perpetrated the slaughter in Jerusalem yesterday was a murderer, not a terrorist.

Husam Taysir Dwayat, the 30-year-old east Jerusalem man who carried out Wednesday's terrorist [sic] attack in the capital, was "a murderer and not a terrorist," according to his family's attorney, Shimon Kukush. Dwayat "went berserk and ran over everyone in his vicinity," Kukush told Israel Radio, pointing out that "We're talking about the center of Jerusalem, and Arab residents could have been there as well. He could have killed anyone and there is no evidence that it was terrorism."

According to Kukush, Dwayat's family was "hurting and aching" over their son's action and condemns the killing of innocents. He insisted that Dwayat had not been sent by any organization. "Minutes before the attack he was eating with a group of coworkers and did not show any signs that anything was about to happen. But then he went amok."

Is murdering people in cold blood for no reason any more laudable than committing an act of terrorism? And shouldn't we distinguish, for the sake of clarity, between people who murder for political or ideological gain and those who murder for the sake of murder itself? If not, why not simply call all murderers by one name, regardless of their motivation? When we say "terrorist," it's supposed to mean something.

I frankly couldn't care less that Dwayat once lived with a Jewish woman or was reputed to be a drug addict or whether he was attacked by a group of haredi teenagers. So what? None of those things has any bearing on whether or not he was a terrorist. So what does? Unless he left a written or spoken record of his intent, we probably can't know for sure, but it certainly sounds as if this was an unplanned, non-politically and non-ideologically motivated mental and moral collapse. Why it occurred when and where it did are matters for speculation and evaluation. I suspect that a significant part of the answer to those questions lies in the unending stream of vitriol, hatred and scapegoating with which residents of Arab communities in most (not all) parts of Israel and certainly in the terrorities are bombarded. Is that an excuse? No. A justification? Absolutely not.

Terrorism, at least in my conception of it, is not a crime of passion or revenge. Those elements may be present or they may not. Terrorism is a deliberate, despicable, cowardly crime committed with a goal and a purpose in mind and it can best be fought by thwarting the goals that motivated it, by "rewarding" it with the opposite of what it was designed to achieve. That's why those are correct who suggest that every terrorist attack, every kassam launch, should result in a clear and measurable loss for the side that perpetrated it.

Mindless murder, on the other hand, has no goals and can only be deterred by punishment of the perpetrator and/or amelioration of the social conditioning that fosters the growth of such disease. The victims (z"l) are still dead. But the distinction is nevertheless important and will continue to be important if we're to effectively combat both of these scourges. L'havdil, as we say.

Update: This, on the other hand, would appear to be evidence to the contrary. Assuming it's true.

"He yelled Allah Akhbar and hit the gas," recounted the soldier,whose brother-in-law, Cpt. David Shapira, took out the terrorist who killed eight seminary students at the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in March.

"I did what is expected of any soldier or civilian," he said.

No question about that whatsoever. Amazing and appalling that anyone would raise one.

For more on the implications of Dwayat's reported last words, see Soccer Dad.