Friday, July 31, 2009

Not so much

So our President has been reaching out, again, to the Arab world. And, again, he's finding the door slammed in his face. The latest is no surprise.

Saudi rebuffs US on improving ties with Israel

By MATTHEW LEE (AP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia on Friday bluntly rejected U.S. appeals for improved relations with Israel as a way to help restart Middle East peace talks, saying the Jewish state is not interested in a deal.

After talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said his country will not consider steps suggested by U.S. Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell until Israel accepts Arab demands to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories.

And there you have it. A textbook example of what happens every time an attempt is made to appease and conciliate those whose goal is nothing less than Israel's destruction. It's a gap that will never be closed, because every step taken in their direction, whether by America or Israel herself, results in a larger step backward by the target of the rapproachment. The harder we try, the deeper they entrench. But some people never learn.

There's a wealth of good analysis out there. Soccer Dad, for example, has a terrific post today on some of the subtler nuances of this dance. Who's paying attention?

I've been away on my usual July vacation. I'm back now but only sort of. Kind of hard to tear myself away from this.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tour stuff

This so sucks.

VITTEL, France -- Lance Armstrong's teammate Levi Leipheimer withdrew from the Tour de France before Friday's 13th stage after breaking his wrist in a crash, his Astana team said.

Leipheimer fell off his bike about 1.86 miles from the finish line Thursday in a crash involving two-time Tour runner-up Cadel Evans.

The American was fourth overall, 39 seconds behind race leader Rinaldo Nocentini of Italy.

Levi can't get a break ... ok, bad choice of words. But he missed the race last year due to stupid bureaucratic BS (or something worse) and a lot of people were really looking forward to seeing him on the Champs-Élysées. Damn damn damn.

On a cheerier note, good decision.

TONNERRE, France -- Earpieces will be allowed Friday on the Tour de France after the International Cycling Union lifted a ban an all communications between sports directors and their riders for the 13th stage.

"To put an end to the controversy which is compromising the running of the Tour de France, the UCI management committee has decided not to repeat the experiment of a stage without radio communication on Friday 17th of July," the UCI said in a statement on Thursday.

Earpieces were banned on Tuesday in order to spice up the race, but 14 of the 20 teams protested, filing a petition to the sport's governing body and riding the 10th stage at a leisurely pace.

Heh. I used to think race radios were a cop-out. But it's become clear they perform both an important safety and strategic function and are now considered pretty much indispensible by the riders. Sounds like TPTB got the message.

In other Tour news ... oh! There were Senate confirmation hearings this week for Judge Sotomayor? Yes, indeed there were. Yes, I did watch. I thought her performance was abysmal. I thought she contradicted herself and meandered all over creation in her "answers," many of which weren't answers at all. I thought she was embarrassing and confusing. I think she'll continue to be embarrassing and confusing on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately.

There are at least dozens of qualified liberal judges out there who could run circles around her. The job she's seeking does, after all, require coherent thinking, communication and persuasion skills, none of which appear to be her strong suit. It's a shame and just a part of the legacy of poor choices and policies that Obama is piling up. But who knows? Maybe she'll grow into the job. I believe Clarence Thomas (whose appointment also caused me some concern) did just that. Of course, he'd only had two years' experience on the federal bench while she's had seventeen. But now I'm rambling and the sun is setting.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, July 10, 2009


A question that has been bothering me for weeks is this: what's up with all of the misleading reports out of the Arab press about Gilad Schalit? It seems that every day there's another false rumor planted and duly published by the Western (including the Israeli) media, usually with a caveat attached but WTF?

Today's item:

'Israel, Hamas agree to discuss Schalit'

Israel and Hamas have agreed to renew negotiations for the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat reported Friday morning.

G-8 leaders urge Hamas to release Schalit, give Iran till September on nukes

An unnamed Egyptian official told the paper that Cairo wants to understand the new Israeli government's position on a prisoner swap.

"So far, the Israeli government has not given any offer that we can work with," the source said. He said that much progress had been made with the previous government and that it would be a shame to start again from scratch.

"The agreement to renew talks is a positive step, but we are waiting to hear the Israeli position," he said.

The Jerusalem Post could not independently verify the Al Hayat report.

Of course they couldn't. Two weeks ago, it was this:

Report: Schalit release imminent

The London-based Asharq Alawsat reported Saturday significant progress in negotiations to release captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for over three years.

According to the report, Israel and Hamas reached a compromise according to which Israel would eventually release 1,100 Palestinian prisoners, of which 400 would be picked by Hamas.

Hamas ministers and parliamentarians would also be released, according to the reported agreement.

Israel would also remove the siege of the Gaza Strip, open the southern Rafah Crossing and return it to the level of operation that existed before the Hamas coup two years ago.

The paper reported that the plan received the blessing of the United States.

Israeli and Palestinian sources both doubted the veracity of Asharq Alawsat's report, and The Jerusalem Post could not verify its reliability.

Moshe Feiglin asks why Schalit isn't home yet. There's an unpleasant answer lurking between the lines in another recent report:

Hamas says has no knowledge of Shalit's life

GAZA, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic Hamas movement on Thursday said it cannot confirm or deny if the captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is still alive.

"The crazy war on the Gaza Strip wiped out everything so we don't know if Shalit is still alive or if he has died," Osama al-Muzini, a Hamas official authorized to speak on this issue, told Xinhua, referring to a 22-day Israeli offensive against the Hamas-controlled territory in January.

Al-Muzini, however, said Israel has to go ahead with talks to exchange Shalit for a number of Arab prisoners "whether the soldier was dead or alive."

"The Zionist enemy has to pursue negotiations without any signal confirming or denying this argument," al-Muzini added.

Hamas has gotten a heck of a lot of mileage out of hiding the ball when it comes to Schalit. They would lose all that if they either released him or acknowledged that he's no longer alive and I doubt there's any price high enough to make up for that. It's extremely unlikely, sad to say, that there will be any reliable information on the true fate of this brave soldier any time soon.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Wishing a big, bright Happy Birthday to the USofA.

233 years young and still going strong. Well, still going, anyway, and hopefully soon to be stronger again. We'll see what year 234 brings.

Shabbat Shalom.