Jewish Right To Israel

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Difference Between Islamists and Rodney Dangerfield

In Misreading the Enemy, David Ignatius writes about the difficulty of negotiating with Iran and Al-Qaeda. Iran is theocratic regime, and therefore:
For a theocratic regime that claims a mandate from God, the very idea of compromise is anathema. Great issues of war and peace will be resolved by God's will, not by human negotiators. Better to lose than to bargain with the devil. Better to suffer physical hardship than humiliation.
He points to similar difficulties with Al-Qaeda and the fact that bin Laden has expressed the willingness to show patience and wait for the West to tire--"being patient and steady is much better, and the end counts."

Ignatius gets to his point at the end of his column:

A word that recurs in radical Muslim proclamations is "dignity." That is not a political demand, nor one that can be achieved through negotiation. Indeed, for groups that feel victimized, negotiation with a powerful adversary can itself be demeaning. That's why the unyielding Yasser Arafat remained popular among Palestinians, despite his failure to deliver concrete benefits. He was a symbol of pride and resistance. Hamas, too, gains support because of its rigid steadfastness, and a strategy that seeks to punish pro-Hamas Palestinians into compromise will probably fail for the same reason.

The Muslim demand for respect isn't something that can be negotiated, but that doesn't mean the West shouldn't take it seriously. For as the Muslim world gains a greater sense of dignity in its dealings with the West, the fundamental weapon of Iran, al-Qaeda and Hamas will lose much of its potency.

The problem is that Ignatius is himself misreads the enemy. What is dignity...what is respect? It is to be treated as an equal. Rodney Dangerfield's persona, in complaining about the lack of respect he got, was asking for nothing more than equality, to be treated like everyone else. However, what Islamists are demanding is not being treated as an equal.

It is all very well and good for Ignatius to write that "for a theocratic regime that claims a mandate from God, the very idea of compromise is anathema." However, in this case we are talking about the mandate as recorded in the Koran, on the basis of which Moslem countries have historically treated non-Moslems as dhimmis--second class citizens, with predictable results. And on the basis of which:

o Moslems in India claim the Taj Mahal
o Hamas demands the return of the Spanish city of Seville
o Other Islamists go one step further:
Unfortunately for Spain's Muslims, the militants who swear loyalty to Osama bin Laden are history buffs too. In claiming responsibility for the March bombings, they cited the loss of "Al Andalus" as motivation.

"We will continue our jihad until martyrdom in the land of Tarik Ben Ziyad," they said in a communique issued after the massacre, alluding to the Moorish warrior and original Islamic conqueror of the Iberian peninsula.
In a post from last year--Defender of the Faith--David Frum writes about “Islam in Britain,” a report by the UK Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity, available from www.isic-centre.org. The report quotes Zaki Badawi, president of London’s Muslim College, holder of the Order of the British Empire, who is also widely recognized as the “unofficial leader, representative, and advocate of Britain’s mainline Muslims.” According to Mr. Badawi
”A proselytizing religion cannot stand still. It can either expand or contract. Islam endeavors to expand in Britain. … Islam is a universal religion. It aims at bringing its message to all corners of the earth. It hopes that one day the whole of humanity will be one Muslim community, the Umma...This reflects the historical fact that Muslims, from the start, lived under their own law. Muslim theologians naturally produced a theology with this in view – it is a theology of the majority. Being a minority was not seriously considered or even contemplated. … Muslim theology offers, up to the present, no systematic formulation of the status of being in a minority.” [ellipses added]
The report concludes:
”Muslims find it difficult to assume minority status in a majority non-Muslim society. More than other minority communities, they constantly, sometimes subconsciously, strive to redress the balance and assume an expanding and dominant position in their host countries.”
If, according to Ignatius, "as the Muslim world gains a greater sense of dignity in its dealings with the West, the fundamental weapon of Iran, al-Qaeda and Hamas will lose much of its potency," then why is it demanding ever more on the one hand, while seeking to put limits on the Western value of free speech and cultural symbols (going so far as to have the crown or the cross of St. George removed from police badges) on the other?


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Haveil Havalim #67 Is Up

The Hashmonean brings you the latest issue of Haveil Havalim: Haveil Havalim #67

There are a wide assortment of posts contained in the following categories:

o Yom HaShoah
o Politics, Zionism, and the War for Israel
o Food for Thought
o Picture This

Next week's host for Haveil Havalim #68 is Crossing the Rubicon2. You can email your links to her at gailmail at gmail dot com or fill out the form here.

Listed by the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival



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Bush Proclaims May: Jewish American Heritage Month

According to the Proclamation
I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities that honor the significant contributions Jewish Americans have made to our Nation.
The date on this is April 21. I just heard about it on Friday when someone told me. I asked around for confirmation and no one knew what I was talking about--a friend suggested I misunderstood and actually it was actually announced by the President of Iran, not the US.

I don't know what projects or activities are being planned or if the Jewish community is going to receive this all with a yawn.

For those interested in early Jewish history in the US, here are a handful of biographies of Jewish immigrants from the 1700's and 1800's that you can read online, from the Art Scroll series of Jewish biographies:

Rabbi Raphael Chaim Yitzchak Karigal (1732-1777) He was born in Hevron and ended up as Rav in Rhode Island

Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816) Chazan and general religious functionary in New York City's Kahal Shearith Israel

Rabbi Abraham Joseph Rice (1802-1862) The first ordained rabbi to hold a position in the US in Baltimore.

Samuel Myer Isaacs (1804-1878) He faced the battles of Torah Judaism that we often hear about.

Rabbi Yissachar Dov Illowy (1814-1871) Originally from Pressburg, he became a Rav in New Orleans during the Civil War from 1860 until 1865.


Here's the actual Press Release:
Jewish American Heritage Month, 2006
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

When the first Jewish settlers came to this land, they sought a place of promise where they could practice their faith in freedom and live in liberty. During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate the rich history of the Jewish people in America and honor the great contributions they have made to our country.

As a nation of immigrants, the United States is better and stronger because Jewish people from all over the world have chosen to become American citizens. Since arriving in 1654, Jewish Americans have achieved great success, strengthened our country, and helped shape our way of life. Through their deep commitment to faith, family, and community, Jewish Americans remind us of a basic belief that guided the founding of this Nation: that there is an Almighty who watches over the affairs of men and values every life. The Jewish people have enriched our culture and contributed to a more compassionate and hopeful America.

Jewish American Heritage Month is also an opportunity to remember and thank the many Jewish Americans who defend our ideals as members of the United States Armed Forces. These courageous men and women risk their lives to protect their fellow citizens and to advance the cause of freedom. By helping to bring the promise of liberty to millions around the world, they lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

NOW, THEREFORE, I GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2006 as Jewish American Heritage Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities that honor the significant contributions Jewish Americans have made to our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.

GEORGE W. BUSH
Does anyone know of actual projects in the works?


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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Totten on the Israeli-Lebanese Border

“They are watching you right at this second,” the lieutenant said. “You are definitely being photographed. It’s possible you’re being watched through a sniper rifle.”

In “Everything Could Explode at Any Moment”, Michel Totten reports about a visit to the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Lebanon and Israel technically have been at war for many decades. But Israel and Lebanon have never actually fought any battles. Israel has been involved in plenty of fighting in Lebanon, but none of it ever involved the Lebanese army or government. Neither side has ever actually fired on the other. Neither side wants to. All Israel’s Lebanon battles were waged against the PLO and Hezbollah.

...The rhetoric that comes out of Beirut in Arabic rarely has anything to do with reality. The Lebanese government regularly affirms its "brotherhood" with Syria, its former murderous master that still knocks off elected officials and journalists. Undying loyalty to the Palestinian cause is constantly trumpeted, even while Lebanon treats its hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees worse than neglected zoo animals. Arab Nationalism is another regular theme, even though Arab Nationalism is more dead in Lebanon than in any other country around.
Totten's visit to Israel is more than just to relate stories about meeting Israelis and showing the human side to the country. On this occaison, at Israel's border with Lebanon, he saw first hand what developed into breaking news about Iran's latest move in their war on Israel:

“What’s happening here is very unusual," Zvika, the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman, said. But he wouldn't tell me what, exactly, was so unusual. Shortly after I left the country, a story broke in the Daily Telegraph that explained it.

Iran has moved into South Lebanon. Intelligence agents are helping Hezbollah construct watch towers fitted with one-way bullet-proof windows right next to Israeli army positions.

Here's what one officer said:
This is now Iran's front line with Israel. The Iranians are using Hizbollah to spy on us so that they can collect information for future attacks. And there is very little we can do about it.
Please read Michael Totten's entire article.
At the end of the article there is a button for supporting him through PayPal.

Michael Totten's next post will be about a visit to a kibbutz along the border and a look at some of Hezbollah's methods in keeping the hatred alive.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Michael Totten in Israel

Michael Totten has been reporting from the Middle East for the past 6 months--but not in the same way as other reporters there. Totten has been conducting an experiment as a free-lance journalist on his own time, posting to his website and relying on reader contributions. He has been in Israel too, and if his readership responds favorably in supporting him, he plans to go back.

Yesterday, Totten put up his first post about Israel, “You Just Can’t Believe Anyone Hates You That Much”:

He writes about first impressions, starting with those from the air:

Arab countries have a certain feel. They’re masculine, relaxed, worn around the edges, and slightly shady in a Sicilian mobster sort of way. Arabs are wonderfully and disarmingly charming. Israel felt brisk, modern, shiny, and confident. It looked rich, powerful, and explicitly Jewish. I knew I had been away from home a long time when being around Arabs and Muslims felt comfortably normal and Jews seemed exotic.

First impression are just that, though. They tend to be crazily out of whack and subject to almost instant revision. Israel, I would soon find out, is a lot more like the Arab and Muslim countries than it appears at first glance. It’s not at all a little fragment of the West that is somehow weirdly displaced and on the wrong continent. It’s Middle Eastern to the core, and it has more in common with Lebanon than anywhere else I have been. The politics and the history are different, of course. But once I got settled in Tel Aviv I didn’t feel like I had ventured far from Beirut at all.

The rest of the post is his time spent sitting and talking with Lisa Goldman--a journalist who made aliyah and has been writing for the Guardian lately--about life in Israel and specifically about "The Conflict."

“Hamas propaganda requires dehumanization,” she said. “When you meet someone face to face you become a real person. Then they can’t hurt you.”

But some of them can. The worst of them do. It takes a special kind of moral, emotional, and physical bravery to venture regularly into the West Bank and Gaza - as an Israeli civilian - and forge meaningful lasting friendships with people who say they want to destroy you. Lisa does it. I like to think I would, too, if I were Israeli. But I honestly don’t know if I could, not if I lived through the terror and rage of the intifada as she did. That’s one reason I wanted to meet her.

Take a look at Totten's site.
Read what he's been writing.
See what you think.


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Stress Test

Looking through some old emails, I found the following--which I found helpful.
I am posting it in the hope that it will be as beneficial to others as it was to me:

I'm not sure exactly how it works, but this is amazingly accurate.

The attached photo has 2 almost identical dolphins in it. It was used in a case study on stress level at St. Mary's Hospital.

Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water. The dolphins are identical. A closely monitored, scientific study of a group revealed that in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical; a person under stress would find differences in the two dolphins.

If there are many differences found between both dolphins, it means that the person is experiencing a great amount of stress.

Look at the photograph and if you find more than one or two differences you may want to take a vacation.

Now, scroll down and examine the picture very closely and take your time.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Welcome To: Islamic Terrorist Idol!


The following is a short transcript of a potential show. Every word comes straight from Video Shows Another Side of Al-Zarqawi, a Yahoo News article.
Ryan Seacrest:Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's new video marks a shift by the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq toward a less radical image, one that might appeal to the Iraqi insurgency more than the beheadings for which he's become notorious.
Paula Abdul: The video released Tuesday, the first by al-Zarqawi that shows his face, features scenes of the black-garbed terrorist firing a gun and hunkered over a map plotting strategy. The Sunni Muslim extremist, 39, looks youthful and healthy in the springtime desert.
Randy Jackson:It's a departure from the past. There's no strident anti-Shiite rhetoric and no beheadings.
Simon Cowell:He wants to be a 'good' insurgent in a more moderate sense — an Iraqi sense — to appeal to Iraqis.
Randy Jackson: He feels very worried that he's losing popularity inside Iraq...This is a change of strategy. He feels that he needs to make himself visible more in order to get support.
Paula Abdul: The video shows a "softer image" of al-Zarqawi. It suggests he isn't just the leader of a fanatical band, but a more general-like figure, and also an action man himself.
Randy Jackson: Al-Zarqawi has done audiotapes, including one in January. But he has kept a relatively low profile since then, when his group merged with five other Iraqi insurgent groups to form the Mujahedeen Shura Council.
Simon Cowell:The tape suggests al-Zarqawi is working to shore up his position within the insurgency...He appeared to have a sense of mystique by never showing his face. In choosing to come out of the shadows, he may be changing tack."

And who might they bring in to help the contestants? Perhaps media consultant Nashat Aqtash. A Guardian article from January helpfully concludes with a summary of advice for Hamas on improving its image:

Helpful hints

The advice Nashat Aqtash gave to Hamas:

· Say you are not against Israelis as Jews

· Don't talk about destroying Israel

· Do talk about Palestinian suffering

· Don't celebrate killing people

· Change beard colour (if red)

Don't talk about it.
Don't celebrate it.
But no need to stop it.

Image is everything.



Crossposted at Israpundit

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Links Early Wednesday Morning...

I'm sitting here in the basement wishing I had an idea for something to write about, but I had less than 3 hours sleep last night. Nothing is coming to me right now--but fortuantely I happen to know 2 or 3...dozen people personally (by pen name, no less) who scribble, scribe, and scriven...

AbbaGav presents Internecine Palestinian Squabble, Blow by Blow, With Pictures (and captions)

Soccer Dad finds some pictures that are not quite so funny.

Adloyada shows no mercy as she compares the Foreign Minister of the PA with...Dan Quayle.

A Simple Jew has a photo essay: Remembering Dov Gruner

Boker Tov, Boulder's dog had a sock surgically removed...and Wednesday is her 3rd Blogiversary. Mazel Tov!

ConservaJew writes about a different kind of divestment.

Crossing the Rubicon writes about Israelis in Iran...helping to rebuild.

Elder of Ziyon writes about The Holocaust in the New York Times of 1942-43

Treppenwitz shares the special story of Fred Basci

The Hashmonean writes about Israel's successful satellite launch.

Heichal HaNegina
reminds us that this past Sunday was the 130th Yahrzeit of Rebbe Chaim Halberstam of Sanz

The Ignoble Experiment links to what others have written about Yom HaShoah and adds her own thoughts.

I'm Haaretz, Ph.D notes the burial of the Satmar Rebbe tz"l and the unusual eulogy given at the burial of the previous Satmar Rebbe tz"l.

Israel Perspectives
presents A Tale of Two Cities - Israel Edition

Israel Matzav covers some of the ongoing back and forth on whether the Walt-Mearsheimer paper is Anti-Semitic.

Random Thoughts has some thoughts about Yom HaShoah in the context of statements by the leader of Iran.

Judeopundit notes that the President of Iran slams EU anti-Semitism

Le Mont de Sisyphe
notes the need to remember some lessons of history

Letters of Thought
explains the Post Pesach Pizza Syndrome

Life of Rubin writes about deciding on a policy about listening to music during Sefirah.

me-ander is now carrying Kosher Cooking Carnival #5

Mere Rhetoric Notes how Palestinians "shoot through" bureaucratatic red tape.

Mirty's Place writes about the Joy of Bread.

Perspectives of a Nomad
writes about Penn State and Free Speech

SerandEz writes about the difficulty of connecting with Yom HaShoah.

Shiloh tries to keep a sense of humor

Smooth Stone writes about the Moslem rally outside of the Israeli Consulate in NY.

The Sunken Synagogue proposes some new ministerial positions for Olmert's new government.

WestBankBlog
recommends an article about the Jewish Partisans

Meryl Yourish celebrated her 5th Blogiversary at the end of last week. Mazel Tov!

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It Gains Something In Translation

Never mind why, but I took a post from a Spanish blog and put it through Babelfish--with interesting results.

Here is the original post, from Herut--obviously about Al-Qaeda:
No dar respiro ni a Al-Qaeda ni a Hamas.

Antonio Sanchez-Gijón habla del último comunicado de Al-Qaeda y de la falta de capacidad operativa de Ben Laden.

"Se puede entender lo dicho por John Negroponte, director de la Oficina de Inteligencia Nacional, de los Estados Unidos, el jueves de la pasada semana, en el National Press Club de Washington: "las capacidades operativas de Ben Laden se han visto substancialmente reducidas. No cuenta con un santuario y el alto mando de Al-Qaeda ya no es lo que era". En efecto, ese alto mando se halla reducido a tratar de dirigir la lucha desde sus escondites. Pero su estilo de conducción refleja distancia respecto de las terminales que causan el terror en otros lugares del mundo".
Now if you go to Babelfish, plug in the text and set it to translate from Spanish to English, you get the following:
Not to give breathing neither to Al-Qaeda nor to Hamas. Antonio Sanchez-Gijón speaks of the last official notice of Al-Qaeda and the lack of operational capacity of Horseradish tree Laden.
Yeah. Sounds about right.


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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The EU (Lexi)Con Game

It seems that the EU has been busy:
EU officials are working on what they call a "lexicon" for public communication on terrorism and Islam, designed to make clear that there is nothing in the religion to justify outrages like the September 11 attacks or the bombings of Madrid and London.
According to the article, though the project is just starting, some of the terms that need to be modified are known:


Old TermAccording to the EU Lexicon
Islamic TerrorismTerrorists who abusively invoke Islam
JihadSpiritual struggle
FundamentalistTBA
IslamistTBA


Of course, there is already another lexicon in use--the one the media uses. As a matter of fact, 2 new additions have been made to the media lexicon.

Meryl Yourish notes that the AP has introduced the term "criticism" as the correct word used to describe a speech where the leader of one country calls for the destruction of another, as in:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today renewed his criticism of Israel, calling it a “fake regime” that cannot continue to exist.
Another word that has been introduced--pointed out by Little Green Footballs--is "dissident," as in:
Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden in an undisclosed place inside Afghanistan.
"Dissident" will join such words as "militant", "activist", and "freedom fighter" in describing the various catagories that formerly were subsumed under the vague term "terrorist."

This may cause some confusion, since Natan Sharansky refers to President Bush as a "Dissident President" and uses the word in a context such as:
Now that President Bush is increasingly alone in pushing for freedom, I can only hope that his dissident spirit will continue to persevere.
Another problem may be a possible conflict between the EU and media lexicons. If "Islamic Terrorism" will now be referred to as "Terrorists who abusively invoke Islam," the media--which no longer uses the term "terrorist"--will have to choose among:
  • "Dissidents who abusively invoke Islam"
  • "Freedom fighters who abusively invoke Islam"
  • "Activists who abusively invoke Islam"
  • "Militants who abusively invoke Islam"
We assume that the media will think of something.

Some of the most well known terms used by the media are listed below:

Old Term
According to the Media Lexicon
TerroristDissident
Terrorist
Militant
Terrorist
Activist
Terrorist
Freedom Fighter
A call for the destruction of another country
Criticism
Disputed Territories
Occupied Territories
Fire missle
Launch rocket
Gun battle
Protest


The EU is somewhat late in comparison with the media in launching their lexicon. It may be that they have taken their cue from Hamas.

Back in March, Arutz Sheva reported on Hamas' government guidelines:
The guidelines also demand the return of all the Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence, together with their children, grandchildren and subsequent generations, and justify continued terrorist attacks on civilians. The guidelines read, "opposition in its various forms is a legitimate right of the Palestinian people for the purpose of ending the occupation." The word "opposition,” in the Hamas lexicon, is a euphemism for terrorism. [emphasis added]
I actually hope that the EU is successful in their attempt to "make clear that there is nothing in the religion to justify outrages like the September 11 attacks or the bombings of Madrid and London."

Maybe then the EU can work on making it clear to the Moslem world that there is nothing in the West nor in Israel to justify Moslems abusively invoking Islam either.

Crossposted at Israpundit

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Does Olmert Have The Support Of The Media?

The Jerusalem Post reports that Olmert said on Sunday that he will be quick to redraw Israel's borders in the West Bank as part of his "convergence plan" now that it is clear that there is no peace partner to talk to after Hamas has defended the terrorist attack that killed 9 Israelis in Tel Aviv. Apparently Olmert finds support for Disengagement from the West Bank from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Olmert:
pointed to editorials that appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and even in Britain's Guardian, which he characterized "as Left as can be," that praised "the Israeli position and essentially said it has been proven that Israel does not have a partner and that this will necessarily lead to unilateral Israeli steps." [emphasis added]
True, The Times and The Post are negative on Hamas--see the Honest Reporting Communique on this point--but there is a difference between the media saying that Olmert is going to take unilateral steps and actually supporting the necessity those steps.

What The New York Times actually said was:
Hamas's support for terrorism encourages Mr. Olmert's strategy of a unilateral separation from the Palestinian people. It's a sure bet that if Israel carries out this separation without input from the Palestinians — as it is now doing — the Palestinians will not end up with enough land for a viable state.
This is nothing new--it is simply stating the fact that Olmert wants to take unilateral steps and what the result will likely be on a future Palestinian State.

The Washington Post, on the other hand, does not even mention Olmert. The editorial notes that "Hamas's position will also justify tough new measures by Israel, which cannot be expected to accept a neighboring government's open embrace of suicide bombers who attack its cities. "--but those 'tough new measures' have nothing to due with redrawing borders:
The Israeli army already wages a ruthless but narrowly targeted war against Islamic Jihad and has killed a score of its members in the past several months while arresting hundreds of others. A separate campaign of artillery barrages and airstrikes is aimed at suppressing rocket launches into Israel from the Gaza Strip, which are being carried out by several Palestinian factions. Yesterday the Israeli cabinet reportedly decided to refrain from renewing military action against Hamas itself. But if more suicide bombers succeed in the coming days and weeks with Hamas's support, this restraint will surely be abandoned.
This contrasts with the Times that praises Olmert for "taking the high road" in not retaliating, but instead revoking the residency permits of Hamas officials in East Jerusalem, conducting raids in the West Bank to make arrests, and conducting a police crackdown on the smuggling of Palestinians into Israel--no praise for any unilateral action.

And what about The Guardian? I don't know what editorial Olmert is pointing to as condemning Hamas and accepting unilateral action as inevitable, but if the Guardian is saying it, it is not with a unanimous voice. From April 19, there is an article entitled "Last chance for two states: Negotiation rather than unilateralism is the way out of the spiralling Israeli-Palestinian crisis." Another article is no better, harsher on Israel than on Hamas:

The Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, said violence was against Palestinian interests and urged the international community to encourage peace negotiations "to stop the grave deterioration the region is witnessing".

But Israel seized on the Hamas statement, even though it has suspended its attacks against Israel and said it would not carry out suicide attacks in the future. Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for Mr Olmert, said: "This Palestinian Authority, which has clearly defined itself as a terrorist entity, has tried to instigate terrorist support more than the previous one did, and we will act accordingly."[emphasis added]

Olmert may yet be justified in believing that world governments as a whole may yet side with Israel against Hamas, but if he thinks that these newspapers are the tea leaves that reveal the coming approval of world opinion--he's better off reading blogs instead.

More importantly, as Powerline points out:

What really matters is whether Israel has a true peace partner, not whether "foreign ministries around the world" think it does. If Israel lacks such a partner, as is surely the case, it must act accordingly regardless of what various foreign ministries and editorial writers believe. To be sure, Israel must also worry about how the Bush administration views things, but only to that limited extent should the opinions of foreigners matter.

It's a bad sign that Olmert thinks otherwise, and a terrible sign that he's interested in what liberal editorial writers at the Times, Post, and Guardian are saying.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Survey Says! Some Results From The Palestinian Poll

Meryl Yourish links to the latest poll of Palestinian opinion. The whole poll can be found at the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Despite the fancy title, I don't know how reliable the poll actually is--but some of the results are interesting. Here are the questions/answers I thought were the most interesting/contradictory, with some comments:

PSR - Survey Research Unit: Poll No. 19 - Main Results in Numbers

PSR poll No. 19
16-18 March 2006


Total West BankGaza Strip
06) Given the results of PLC elections which took place about two months ago, some say that Hamas won because most voters wanted first and foremost (select one only):
1) a fighting authority that resists occupation6.76.96.4
2) a clean authority that fights corruption35.636.434.3
3) a strong authority that ends anarchy and chaos9.49.29.7
4) an Islamic authority that rules according to Sharia and religion 36.635.438.7
5) other reasons: specify ----9.310.17.8
6) DK/NA 2.4 2.13.0
First of all, who is "some say"? Are these people being asked what they themselves think or what they think the general attitude of Palestinians is?
Secondly, according to the answers to this question the majority of those polled are evenly divided between voting for Hamas because they want Sharia law and an end to corruption--and less than 7% voted for Hamas as an anti-Israel move. Very nice and good PR.
Less than 10% voted to end the chaos and anarchy--how would they vote now?

Total West BankGaza Strip
07) Some say that Fateh Lost these elections because most voters first and foremost (select only)
1) punished it for the failure of the peace process 5.1 5.2 4.8
2) punished it for the spread of corruption in the PA 51.9 53.8 48.6
3) punished it for its inability to put an end to anarchy and chaos 17.2 14.8 21.3
4) it was divided leaderless 18.9 19.5 17.8
5) other reasons: specify ----- 3.7 3.5 4.0
6) DK/NA 3.3 3.2 3.4
No surprise that Fatah lost because of corruption.
About 5% voted against Fatah because of failure in pursuing peace
*What was not offered as an option: "punished for taking part in negotiations with Israel."
Gaza was much more concerned about the anarchy in voting against Fatah--but there is less of a gap in anarchy being a reason to vote for Hamas. Why? (I should have taken statistics in college...)

Total West BankGaza Strip
10) The PLO and the PA have recognized the state of Israel as part of the peace process which was based on the Oslo Agreement. Hamas refused and still refuses to recognize Israel. What do you think? Now that it has won the elections, should Hamas recognize or not recognize the state of Israel?
1) It should recognize the state of Israel 35.7 36.3 34.7
2) It should not recognize the state of Israel 60.8 59.6 63.0
3) DK/NA 3.5 4.1 2.3
Let's not quibble over the fact that the PLO Charter still does not recognize Israel. The fact is that a healthy share of Palestinians don't want Hamas to recognize Israel--see next question.

Total West BankGaza Strip
12) For the assistance to continue, the donor community demand that Hamas must recognize the state of Israel. Do you think Hamas should accept this demand and recognize Israel?
1) Certainly yes 11.6 11.4 12.1
2) yes 25.5 24.8 26.6
3) no 42.0 44.0 38.5
4) certainly no 17.2 16.0 19.5
5) DK/NA 3.7 3.8 3.4
I assume this means that under duress some Palestinians will begrudgingly be willing to recognize Israel. A large chunk still do not.
You can't negotiate in good faith with a country that you do not recognize...unless you're a Palestinian Arab.

Total West BankGaza Strip
17) If Israel agrees to conduct peace negotiations with a Hamas-led PA, do you think the Hamas-led PA should or should not negotiate with Israel?
1) certainly it should negotiate 26.2 26.1 26.3
2) it should negotiate 48.9 51.1 45.0
3) it should not negotiate 16.7 15.3 19.2
4) certainly it should not negotiate 5.2 3.9 7.5
5) DK/NA 3.0 3.6 2.0
But what do they mean by negotiating? Bottom line, would Palestinian Arabs be willing to make any kind of concessions? If so, what and under what circumstances.
I can't help but think that negotiations for the Palestinian Arabs is just negotiated concessions. They have never show the political maturity to indicate they see it as anything else.

Total West BankGaza Strip
19) Are you worried or not worried about your personal freedom now that Hamas has won the elections?
1) very worried 8.1 7.4 9.4
2) worried 22.2 21.4 23.7
3) not worried 43.3 45.8 39.0
4) not worried at all 25.4 24.4 27.0
5) DK/NA 1.0 1.0 0.9
See the first question, where a little more than a third voted for Sharia law. Do the Palestinian Arabs really know what they are getting themselves into?

Total West BankGaza Strip
21) We would like to ask you about your expectations from the PLC you had just elected. Do you want it to
1) implement the Road Map Plan 53.0 49.9 58.5
2) not to implement the Road Map Plan 39.7 42.0 35.6
3) DK/ NA 7.3 8.1 5.9
Okay, so the majority want the Road Map to be continued to be followed, and a majority are in favor of negotiations--but 60% are opposed to recognizing Israel.

Total West BankGaza Strip
22) And with regard to the arms in the hands of the armed factions, do you want it to:
1) to pass laws to collect arms from all armed groups whereby the PA security services would be the only armed force in PA areas? 49.3 45.1 56.6
2) to pass laws to keep arms of the armed factions in the hands of the armed factions 27.1 27.0 27.2
3) not to interfere in the issue of the arms of the factions 20.8 23.8 15.5
4) DK/NA 2.8 4.1 0.7
If you combine 2 & 3 they are almost even divided on the question of allowing armed factions to keep their arms--which seems to jive with their apparent lack of concern for "anarchy and chaos". Don't they read the news?

Total West BankGaza Strip
23) What do you expect to happen to the Palestinians and Israelis now that Hamas has won Palestinian elections?
1) Negotiations will resume soon enough and armed confrontations will stop 17.8 16.5 20.1
2) Negotiations will resume but some armed attacks will continue 40.8 37.4 46.8
3) Armed confrontations will not stop and the two sides will not return to negotiations 34.1 37.7 27.8
4) DK/NA 7.3 8.4 5.3
The majority agree that the future holds more bloodshed

Total West BankGaza Strip
25) Would you welcome or not welcome a further Israeli disengagements and withdrawals in the West Bank whether they were unilateral or by agreement?
1) definitely welcome 32.0 27.3 40.3
2) welcome 53.9 56.2 49.9
3) do not welcome 10.3 11.6 8.0
4) definitely do not welcome 2.2 2.7 1.4
5) DK/NA 1.6 2.2 0.5
The majority of Palestinian Arabs welcome the idea of more unilateral disengagements--and why shouldn't they?

Total West BankGaza Strip


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Haveil Havalim #66 is UP!

This week Haveil Havalim #66 is being hosted by Perspectives of a Nomad.

His collection of posts from this past week include a wide gamut:

o The Holidays
o The Religion
o Inside Israel
o Terror Attack
o Hamas
o Israel and the World
o Politics
o Other Stuff

Please send you submissions for the April 30 edition of Haveil Havalim (#67) to Hashmonean You can e-mail him at saus at hashmonean dot com.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bare Ubercarnival.
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The A-Z Meme

The A-Z Meme

Soccer Dad, passed on this meme to me...

Accent:
Joisey. (with a faint hint of Brooklyn--so dey telz me.)

Booze.
For the 4 kosos--JoyVin red and white. But I miss the Manischewitz Malaga

Chore I Hate:
I can choose only one? How about cleaning for Pesach?

Dogs/Cats:
None now, but as a kid we had both:

o Friskey (cat; he predated the cat food)
o GG Mittens Tranquility (cat; my mother named her. GG for Gorgeous Girl. Mittens, because she was a mutant with 6 toes on one front paw and 7 on the other. Tranquility, because she was born in 1969 on the day they landed on the moon)
o Champ Muttel Kelev Klugge-Kup (dog)

All things considered, I got off pretty lucky.

Essential Electronics:
My alarm clock--so I can keep my job that pays for this computer.

Favorite Perfume/Cologne:
The sweet smell of success

Gold & Silver:
Nope. Haven't won the bronze either.

Hometown:
Born in Brooklyn

Insomnia:
Blogging is the cure...and the cause.

Job Title:
Webmaster

Kids:
one so far.

Living Arrangements:
we're married, thank you.

Most Admired Trait
They're all recessive

Number of Sexual Partners:
Monogamist, thank you.

Overnight Hospital Stays:
Well, there's the day I was born...

Phobia:
Having overcome my fear of baby diapers, there is nothing else that makes my skin crawl.

Quote:
Incongruity is the springboard of laughter (Peter's Quotations)

Religion:
Jewish.

Siblings:
2 cats and one dog (see Dogs/Cats above)

Time I Usually Wake Up:
10 minutes after the alarm goes off; 5 minutes after my wife asks me "didn't you hear the alarm?".

Unusual Talent:
sleeping through everything: storms, my daughter crying in my arms, and other things that I can't tell you since I slept through them.

I have also fallen asleep while listening to: an alarm clock, my room mate playing his trumpet, and the suicide scene in the opera Madame Butterfly.

Vegetable I Refuse To Eat:
Okra (does anyone really eat it?)

Worst Habit:
Not answering questions directly

X-Rays:
No, my eyes don't emit anything of the sort. You must have me confused with someone else.

Yummy Foods I Make:
Plain omelets.
Cheese omelets.
Mushroom omelets.
Cheese and mushroom omelets.
Onion omelets
Cheese and onion omelets
(you get the picture)

Zodiac Sign:
Aries.

...and I will pass it on to WestBankBlog, I'm Haaretz, Ph.D., Life-Of-Rubin, Psycho Toddler.

New Daniel Pipes Project: Islamist Watch

First there was Campus Watch,
a project of the Middle East Forum, reviews and critiques Middle East studies in North America with an aim to improving them. The project mainly addresses five problems: analytical failures, the mixing of politics with scholarship, intolerance of alternative views, apologetics, and the abuse of power over students. Campus Watch fully respects the freedom of speech of those it debates while insisting on its own freedom to comment on their words and deeds.
Now Daniel Pipes is coming out with a new project: Islamist Watch, which
combats the ideas and institutions of nonviolent, radical Islam in the United States and other Western countries. It exposes the far-reaching goals of Islamists, works to reduce their power, and seeks to strengthen moderate Muslims.
The EU is working on ways to eliminate the phrase "Islamic Terrorism" from our vocabulary, to be replaced by 'terrorists who abusively invoke Islam'--which is a neat trick considering that the word "terrorist" is already being disappeared from our vocabulary as well. Other terms on the chopping block are "Islamist", "fundamentalist" and "jihad".

In contrast to the EU and the media manipulations, Pipe writes that:
Islamists ultimately seek hegemonic control via a worldwide caliphate that applies the Islamic law in full. Afghanistan under the Taliban offers one model of what they would establish globally.

Terrorism is one method to advance these projects but it is not the only one. Indeed, the activities of nonviolent Islamists arguably will prove a more effective tactic in the long term. For while the public intuitively understands the threat of terrorism and is mobilized by it, and while states have well-developed institutions (law enforcement, intelligence agencies, the military, the justice system) to protect and fight against it, the activities of nonviolent extremists are not alarming and institutions do not exist to deal with this problem. [emphasis added]

Pipes gives an introductory list of the types of tactics used by nonviolent Islamists thus far, including:

Pipes has already upset the applecart with Campus Watch.
Islamist Watch is going to be something to watch for, read, and link to.



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Mohammed: Thomas Jefferson of Arabia?

Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy.
Senator Lloyd Bentsen to Senator Dan Quayle during 1988 Vice Presidential Debate

On April 10, President Bush discussed the war on terror at John Hopkins Univesity, after which he answered questions from the students. Here is one of them:
I have a more general question about the United States' work to democratize the rest of the world. Many have viewed the United States' effort to democratize the world -- especially nations in the Middle East -- as an imposition or invasion on their sovereign rights. Considering that it was, in fact, the Prophet Mohammed who established the first known constitution in the world -- I'm referring to the constitution he wrote for the city of Medina --and that his life and the principles outlined in his constitution, such as the championing of the welfare of women, children and the poor, living as an equal among his people, dissolving disputes between the warring clans in Arabia, giving any man or woman in parliament the right to vote and guaranteeing respect for all religions, ironically parallel those principles that we hold most precious in our own Constitution. I'm wondering how might your recently formed Iraq Study Group under the U.S. Institute for Peace explore these striking similarities to forge a new relationship with Iraqis and educate Americans about the democratic principles inherent in Islam?
At The Corner, they give a link to an english translation of the Medina Constitution. One commentor notes an incongruity in that the document includes "A woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family," and that the Athenian Constitution actually predates the Medina one by about 1000 years. But another commentor claims that:
Actually, that thing is pretty interesting. There's a lot of Jew-regulation (i.e. regulation of Jews), but some of it seems benign, given the period. It's certainly more friendly to Jews than, say, much of the stuff you find in the Arab press today (at least going by what Memri puts up).
This of course assumes 2 things:

o The line of the Medina Constitution that reads "(16) To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided" is translated from the Arabic accurately.

o This constitution, as translated, was actually put into effect.

Some things do seem to make the assumptions unlikely. First of all, Mohammed himself. As Mitchell Bard points out:
Muhammad, the founder of Islam, traveled to Medina in 622 A.D. to attract followers to his new faith. When the Jews of Medina refused to convert and rejected Muhammad, two of the major Jewish tribes were expelled; in 627, Muhammad's followers killed between 600 and 900 of the men, and divided the surviving Jewish women and children amongst themselves.(3)

The Muslim attitude toward Jews is reflected in various verses throughout the Koran, the holy book of the Islamic faith. "They [the Children of Israel] were consigned to humiliation and wretchedness. They brought the wrath of God upon themselves, and this because they used to deny God's signs and kill His Prophets unjustly and because they disobeyed and were transgressors" (Sura 2:61). According to the Koran, the Jews try to introduce corruption (5:64), have always been disobedient (5:78), and are enemies of Allah, the Prophet and the angels (2:97­98).
Bernard Lewis, who generally downplays the disadvantages of the Dhimmi status, writes in The Jews of Islam, about the recent vintage of the claim of equality under Islam:
The claim to tolerance, now much heard from Muslim apologists and more especially from apologists for Islam, is also new and of alien origin. It is only very recently that some defenders of Islam have begun to assert that their socety in the past accorded equal status to non-Muslims. No such claim is made by spokesmen for resurgent Islam,' and historically there is no doubt that they are right. Traditional Islamic societies neither accorded such equality nor pretended that they were so doing. Indeed, in the old order, this would have been regarded not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. How could one accord the same treatment to those who follow the true faith and those who willfully reject it? This would be a theological as well as a logical absurdity.
Mohammed as a Moslem Thomas Jefferson?
Not really.

More on the propogation of the myth of Islamic equality at Soccer Dad.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Islamist Terror Is More Than Academic

Is Islamist terrorism the result of occupation?

As Islamist terrorism both in Israel and elsewhere continues, defining the enemy is becoming more than academic. Last year, Robert Pape came out with Dying to Win : The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. Labeled as "One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject" of suicide terrorism, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape's book is summarized by Amazon.com as follows:
FACT: Suicide terrorism is not primarily a product of Islamic fundamentalism.

FACT: The world’s leading practitioners of suicide terrorism are the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka–a secular, Marxist-Leninist group drawn from Hindu families.

FACT: Ninety-five percent of suicide terrorist attacks occur as part of coherent campaigns organized by large militant organizations with significant public support.

FACT: Every suicide terrorist campaign has had a clear goal that is secular and political: to compel a modern democracy to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland.

FACT: Al-Qaeda fits the above pattern. Although Saudi Arabia is not under American military occupation per se, one major objective of al-Qaeda is the expulsion of U.S. troops from the Persian Gulf region, and as a result there have been repeated attacks by terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden against American troops in Saudi Arabia and the region as a whole.

FACT: Despite their rhetoric, democracies–including the United States–have routinely made concessions to suicide terrorists. Suicide terrorism is on the rise because terrorists have learned that it’s effective.
Pape's main point that is being widely quoted is that the current wave of terrorism is a response to occupation. Gateway Pundit writes about former Democratic Senator Jim Abourezk's reaction to the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in CounterPunch:
I am realistic enough to know that, because the Congress is pretty much reliant on money from radical Zionists, stopping the flow of American taxpayers' money to Israel will not come soon. But the sooner it does end, the sooner the violence will stop...Racism against people of Arab descent is getting worse...Terrorism does not exist in a vacuum. It does not come from thin air. It is a result of people who believe that their lives cannot be improved by occupation and that there is nothing left for them to do except to commit acts of terrorism.
The attempt to blame the current wave of Islamist terrorism around the world on 'occupation' in general--an on Israel and the US in particular--does not hold water.

Some points to keep in mind:

o According to Religion of Peace, in 2005 alone, 6991 people were murdered and 12,382 people injured in Islamist attacks in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Chechnya, Dagestan, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, India, Indonesia, Ingushetia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kabardino-Balk., Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine (Jebaliya and Gaza City), Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, UK, and Yemen--and the majority of those countries do not fit Pape's model of democracies occupying Moslem territory. (For numbers on Islamist attacks thus far this year see here)

o According to TigerHawk:
there have been a great many foreign occupations and counterinsurgencies in the world that were not resisted with suicide bombings. Other than Japanese kamikaze (who in any case confined themselves to military targets), why are Muslims the only people who resist occupation with suicide bombings if Islamic fundamentalism is not the main cause of suicide bombings? Is this because moderate Muslims become suicide bombers? What, precisely, is his point?
o Bernard Lewis, in The Crisis of Islam, notes the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late December 1979, which finally brought a watered-down condemnation from the UN General Assembly "strongly deploring the recent armed intervention in Afghanistan"--Syria and Algeria abstaind, South Yemen voted against, Libya was absent, and the PLO observer defended Russia. In the end:
it was left to the United States to organize, with some success , an Islamic counteratack to Soviet imperialism in Afghanistan. [p. 91-92]
Where was the resistance to foreign occupation--and the suicide bombers?

o Why is Pape forced to hedge? In an interview, Pape claims:
the facts are that since 1980, suicide terrorist attacks from around the world over half have been secular. What over 95 per cent of suicide attacks around the world [are about] is not religion, but a specific strategic purpose - to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly and this is in fact a centrepiece of Al Qaeda's strategic logic, which is to compel the United States and Western countries to abandon military commitments on the Arabian Peninsula. [emphasis added]
Besides insisting on limiting his model to modern democracies--letting Russia's invasion of Afghanistan off the hook--he applies his model to territory that is 'viewed' as homeland or 'prized'. Papes odd articulation avoids dealing with the history of 'Palestine' that was never a country of a Palestinian people. But it also allows any imagined right by Islamist terrorists as justification for murder. For example, the model would give legitimacy to the Moslem claim to the Taj Mahal. Another example: Dhimmi Watch quotes an article in the LA Times, commenting:

At least the article is honest enough to acknowledge the traditionalist basis of the jihadist claims to Spain:

Unfortunately for Spain's Muslims, the militants who swear loyalty to Osama bin Laden are history buffs too. In claiming responsibility for the March bombings, they cited the loss of "Al Andalus" as motivation.

"We will continue our jihad until martyrdom in the land of Tarik Ben Ziyad," they said in a communique issued after the massacre, alluding to the Moorish warrior and original Islamic conqueror of the Iberian peninsula.

o In A War On Jihadism -- Not 'Terror', Jonathan Rauch quotes Islamic Imperialism: A History by Efraim Karsh who writes that "The Islamic imperial dream of world domination has remained very much alive in the hearts and minds of many Muslims" and that "Declaring a holy war against the infidel has been a standard practice of countless imperial rulers and aspirants since the rise of Islam."

If Pape, Mearsheimer, and Walt are any indication, academics and supposed experts are ready to tell us 'provocative' and 'radical' explanations about who the real enemy is, who is really to blame, and what really needs to be done.

In the face of such academicians, it is more necessary than ever to have the facts.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

9 Israelis Randomly Murdered

Today a Palestinian terrorist randomly murdered 9 Israelis.

Arutz Sheva points out:
The Islamic Jihad terror group and the Al Aksa Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah party, have claimed responsibility for the attack. Fatah is the party of PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) leader Mahmoud Abbas, and his predecessor, PLO terrorist chieftain Yassir Arafat.

In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo Accords and ceded control of heavily populated Arab areas to the Palestinian Authority. When the accords were signed, the PLO and its largest component, Fatah, pledged in writing to refrain from carrying out terrorist attacks or from using violence of any kind against Israel.
Not that the West seems to notice or care.

ZOA has a list of promises broken by the PLO/Fatah--from the Oslo Accords in September 1993 to December 2001--including The Gaza-Jericho Agreement, Oslo II, The Hebron Accord, The Wye Memorandum, and The Tenet "cease-fire", among others.

There wasn't much outcry about that either.

Meanwhile, the terrorists are doing what they can to make it easier for the West to keep their moderates. Captain's Quarters refers to the 'triangle offense', where radical groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Al Aksa Brigades carry out the terrorist attacks, allowing Fatah to appear moderate and Hamas to avoid blame now that it holds the reins of power--and now has received funding from Iran (some of whose citizens are not too happy about the contribution--hat tip LGF) and Qatar, each contributing $50 million.

The result is the lulling of the West. Condemnation of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians is given lip service--even as Israel is castigated in no uncertain terms when accidental Palestinian civilian occur when she retaliates. The tired old faux-condemnation by Abbas--the "moderate" whose Fatah Party's Constitution still declares its goal to destroy Israel--continues, while Hamas and its friends sing the praises of Palestinian self-defense. The script by now if very familiar, where there is no shortage of words, but an eerie lack of action. Israel is condemned to this Groundhog Day as long as Palestinian Arabs are protected against the consequences of their actions. This is not a conflict; it is a war--and the time is long overdue for Israel to stop bombing empty buildings.

Following the terrorist attack, AP is reporting that Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman has come out saying that:
recent statements by the Palestinian government, Iran and Syria "are clear declarations of war, and I urge each and every one of you to listen carefully and take them at face value."
It is unclear that anyone in the West is going to listen, especially now that cracks are appearing in the heretofore united front to cut off funding to Hamas. On the other hand, according to the New York Times, Europe is looking at bolstering its
surveillance and prosecution powers, and beginning to realize they are facing a problem that goes beyond criminal law. But if Israel is really going to call this a war, then it is up to her to act like she means it.

The Times article has a quote that is indicative of what may be a slow turning point in Europe:
"We always think about the rights of the terrorists," said August Hanning, Germany's deputy interior minister and a former intelligence chief. "But if there is an attack that you could have prevented, you also have to be able to look into the eyes of the relatives."
That is not going to help Israel--and Olmert needs to realize that he must look into the eyes not only of relatives, but of World Jewry as well.

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UN Takes Action On Iran--Appoints It To Commision

Ahmadinejad was quoted as having said last week that "The Zionist regime is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm."

Just six months ago, when Ahmadinejad spoke about wiping out Israel, the UN reacted:
The U.N. Security Council has condemned recent comments by Iran's president that Israel should be "wiped off the map" but did not say if the world body planned any action against Iran.
Back then Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman commented:
"I certainly think that a country whose head of state calls for the destruction of any other member state of the United Nations does not deserve a seat in this very civilized organization."
So it is no surprise that the UN has taken action and today Iran in fact does get a position in "this very civilized organization":
Under threat of United Nations Security Council sanctions for its own nuclear program, Iran has been elected to a vice-chair position on the U.N. Disarmament Commission, whose mission includes deliberations on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
This from the people who brought you Libya chairing the UN Human Rights Commission in 2003.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chag Kasher V'Sameach

Wishing everyone a Chag Kasher V'Samech.

Personally, I am going to see how far I can go towards keeping thoughts of blogging out of my head till after Pesach, but I have avoided making a formal commitment along those lines.

Whether I can keep from reading blogs during Chol HaMoed is another story altogether. ;-)

Kol Tuv.

Will Your Grandchildren Be Jews?

The following is from "Will Your Grandchildren Be Jews?" by Antony Gordon and Richard Horowitz
Based upon the data and the various population studies that are now available, it appears that an extraordinary disintegration of the American Jewish community is in process. There was a time when every Jew could take it for granted that he or she would have Jewish grandchildren with whom to share Seders, Sabbath and other Jewish moments. However, the clear data indicates that this expectation is no longer well founded. Indeed, our studies show that within a short period of time the entire complexion of the American Jewish community will be altered inexorably.

Sample Population Count

Average Children Per FamilyIntermarriage RateFirst GenerationSecond GenerationThird GenerationFourth Generation
Orthodox6.43%1002958742588
Modern Orthodox3.233%100151228346
Conservative1.8237%100623824
Reform1.7253%100512613
Unaffiliated1.6272%1003613 5

AUDIO: Explanation Of This Chart / Study by the Authors (download) ANY MP3 PLAYER REQUIRED

You can read the entire report here

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

When The AP Writes About Hamas--Look Out!

From The Associated Press we get this opening paragraph of the article Hamas Working to End Rise in Gaza Violence:
The new Hamas-led Palestinian government is quietly working to end a surge in violence, urging rival militant groups in the Gaza Strip to refrain from launching rockets at Israel without official permission.
1. Hamas is not working towards ending the firing of missles at civilian populations--just to decrease their frequency.

2. Hamas wants to make sure that when civilian Israelis are killed, it is solely on Hamas' say-so.

And there is more:
Although the rocket attacks have not stopped and Hamas says it still supports violent resistance against Israel, its subtle efforts at persuasion look like an attempt to stabilize a chaotic situation so that it can focus on governing the West Bank
Oh. So Hamas--a terrorist group--is using "subtle efforts at persuasion" on rival terrorist groups that want to take power away from Hamas? As subtle as the the shootouts that we've been reading about so far?

AP does mention that Israelis have been killed by Hamas:
Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings, is under intense pressure from Israel and the international community to renounce violence and recognize Israel, demands it has so far rejected.
This matches what CAMERA says:
hundreds of Israelis have been killed by Hamas, and far more have been wounded.
except that CAMERA said this back in November 2000--before the outbreak of the 2nd Intifada (in response to CNN who put the number of
Israelis murdered by Hamas at "scores"). So when AP generalizes about the "hundreds" of Israeli citizens blown apart and murdered, are we talking a couple hundred--or closer to a thousand?

Pity that AP is as shy about the details of Israelis murdered as they are about the truth.

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Will Governing Tame Hamas--Or Destroy It?

Who would have thought that the West would actually get their act together and withhold funding from Hamas? Surely not Hamas. Despite their surprising victory and their reputation for being free from corruption, Hamas is facing problems on a number of fronts.

Lack of money to pay salaries appears to be only the begining of Hamas' problems. The BBC reports that while Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya is attacking the US and EU for their decision, privately he and his ministers are "deeply worried".

With good reason. While some Palestinians put the blame for the aid cuts and the resulting problems on the West, some Palestinians are beginning to blame Hamas:
Abu Hattab, 27, said that if even he eventually gets paid for March, he'll have to give nearly half his paycheck to the neighborhood grocery for last month's expenses and may not have enough left for rent.

If Hamas cannot provide for the Palestinians, it has no business remaining in power, he said.

"It's not simple for Hamas but we want to live, with or without Hamas," Abu Hattab said. "If it gets worse, then we can just say farewell (to Hamas)."

...Amin Makhboul, a clerk with the Palestinian Interior Ministry in the West Bank city of Nablus, said he believes the Palestinian people will throw Hamas out of power if the situation deteriorates further. The ministry doesn't even have office paper due to the lack of funds, Makhboul said.

"We will have a great mess without salaries," Makhboul said. "Hamas won't be able to stay in power more than three or four months like this."
While it is true that Fatah has the reputation for the corruption that created the current mess that Hamas is stuck with, apparently when it came to dealing with the deficits and shortfalls, Fatah had one thing going for it that Hamas will not:
moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and members of his Fatah Party made the payroll each month, often by borrowing from banks or appealing to foreign donors for more cash. Hamas does not have such an option.
Meanwhile, Hamas does not have control over the other terrorist factions. It cannot prevent missiles being fired from Gaza at Israel, at a time that for the first time, Hamas' fortunes rely on their ability to stop the missiles, not fire them. Moreover, Fatah retains control over security services, including the police.

At the same time, it's not clear how well Hamas will deal with those elements of the government that are under Hamas' control. Another BBC article notes that:
The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says the new Palestinian government has a severe lack of experience. None of its ministers have been in government before and they have taken over ministries packed with officials loyal to the Fatah party.
This of course is a recipe for trouble--if not for an outright civil war, then possibly the overthrow of the Hamas government:
Fatah leaders are planning to topple the new Hamas government through public pressure. The sources said senior Fatah members are planning to recruit armed factions affiliated to Fatah, such as the Al-Aq'sa Martyrs Brigades, as well as impoverished civilians, and organize mass protests against the government.
And if Fatah does not overthrow Hamas, maybe Al Qaeda will--
Analysts believe that, as its fortunes wane in Iraq, Al-Qaeda thinks some form of coup in Gaza or the West Bank could help it increase support across the Middle East, where the fate of the Palestinians is a symbol of the wider Arab cause.
According to The Counterrorism Blog:

Al Zawahiri's recent message to Hamas encouraging continuing their attack on Israel has been received coldly by some in the Hamas leadership. It seems as though there might be a fracture between the "political wing" and the military wing of Hamas. In fact, Hamas has been criticized by some of its own for running in the elections and implementing a "truce" with Israel.

That's why Al Qaeda is using this perceived weakness to recruit among disenchanted hardcore Hamas members.

So, to sum up, Hamas:

o Cannot get the aid it needs to pay salaries
o There are Palestinians who are willing to kick Hamas out of the government if it cannot get the money needed
o Fatah still controls key areas of the government, such as security
o Fatah wants to oust Hamas
o Hamas cannot stop the firing of missles from Gaza
o There is some friction between the political and military wings of Hamas
o Hamas lacks experience in government
o Al Qaeda is looking to stir up trouble and is attracting members of Hamas

That should keep them busy.

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