Jewish Right To Israel

Jewish Right To Israel
Jewish Right To Palestine (click on image)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Preliminary Report on Hizballah’s Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel

From Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Here is the summary that comes with the article:

Hizballah’s Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel: A Preliminary Report

Uzi Rubin


* From July 13 to August 13, the Israel Police reported 4,228 rocket impacts inside Israel from rockets fired by Hizballah. No geographical area in the world has sustained such a large quantity of rocket strikes since the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s.

* Most rockets fired by Hizballah at Israel were taken from the Syrian arsenal rather than from Iran. On most occasions, the rocket warhead contained anti-personnel munitions, a mixture of explosives and steel balls or fragments that were lethal to all those caught outside.

* One-fourth of the rockets that landed within Israel landed within built-up areas. During the first two weeks, rocket attacks averaged about 100 per day. Then in early August, Hizballah proceeded to double its rate of fire to a daily average of 200 rocket attacks. There was a decline during the final week, but on August 13, the day before the cease-fire, 250 rockets landed in Israel. Israeli counterattacks apparently had no serious influence on Hizballah’s rate of fire, but had an effect on the accuracy and geography of the attacks.

* Israel’s losses and damage from Hizballah rocket attacks include 53 fatalities, 250 severely wounded, and 2,000 lightly wounded. There was extensive damage to hundreds of dwellings, several public utilities, and dozens of industrial plants. One million Israelis lived near or in shelters or security rooms, with some 250,000 civilians evacuating the north and relocating to other areas of the country.

* Early Warning sirens provided timely alarms, saving innumerable lives. Israel’s long-standing policy of constructing public shelters, combined with building codes that require reinforced spaces in private dwellings, proved to be generally effective as a system of passive defense against most of the rockets fired by Hizballah. Nearly 80 percent of fatalities involved persons caught in the open.

* Rockets and rocket launchers emerged as one of the defining weapons of the second Lebanon War and will remain so in the foreseeable future. This impacts on the security of U.S. and Western interests in the Middle East. Effective response measures must be devised and deployed as soon as possible. Two objectives should be pursued: first, to reduce the “Flash to Bang” (Hizballah rocket launch to Israeli response) cycle time to a few seconds from the time of launcher location pinpointing; and second, to develop and deploy effective and affordable active defense against rockets to protect vital civilian and military installations.

You can read the entire article here

Technorati Tag: and and and .

For Hezbollah, Charity Begins At Home

..in the back room where you keep your printing press.

In Counterfeit News, David Frum writes:
Perhaps you saw the images in your newspaper or on television:
"A Lebanese man counts U.S dollar bills received from Hizbollah members in a school in Bourj el-Barajneh, a southern suburb of Beirut, August 19, 2006. Hizbollah handed out bundles of cash on Friday to people whose homes were wrecked by Israeli bombing, consolidating the Iranian-backed group's support among Lebanon's Shiites and embarrassing the Beirut government. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (LEBANON)"
This scene and dozens more like it flashed around the planet. Only one thing was missing--the thin wire security strip that runs from top to bottom of a genuine US$100 bill. The money Hezbollah was passing was counterfeit, as should have been evident to anybody who studied the photographs with due care.
Care was due because of Hezbollah's history of counterfeiting: In June, 2004, the U.S. Department of the Treasury publicly cited Hezbollah as one of the planet's leading forgers of U.S. currency.

But this knowledge was disregarded by the news organizations who queued up to publicize Hezbollah's pseudo-philanthropy. The passing of counterfeit bills was detected not by the reporters and photographers on the spot, but by bloggers thousands of miles away: SnappedShots.com, MyPetJawa and Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs. These sites magnified photographs and showed them to currency experts and detected irregularity after irregularity in the bills. (Links to all the sites mentioned here can be found at frum.nationalreview.com)
Frum goes on to outline the various other fakes and fraudulent claims surrounding Hezbollah, Reuters, and the war in Lebanon.

And the list is only going to get longer.

Technorati Tag: and and and .

The Questions Not Being Asked About the Centanni/Wiig Kidnapping

At The Corner, Cliff May writes about his impressions about what was left out of the interview Greta Van Susteren did with Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig:
1) Has any Palestinian religious or political leader publicly condemned the coerced conversion? Has U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anan said a word about it? (Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the U.N. Charter.) How about the leading Muslim organizations in the U.S. and Europe? If not, why not and what does this tell us?

2) Centanni and Wiig continue to emphasize that their experience should not discourage news organizations from covering Gaza, from "telling the story of the Palestinian people...Come and tell the story. It's a wonderful story," Centanni said. Is the mission of Fox's London bureau to tell the "wonderful story" of the British people? Do reporters cover the White House in order to tell the "wonderful story" of George W. Bush? This is patronizing and it's pandering. Journalism and public relations are both respectable professions. But there is a difference between them. When dealing with violent groups in the Middle East do journalists somehow seem to forget this. (BTW: Will Centanni and Wiig return to Gaza? Since I assume they did not sincerely convert, they will not now be practicing Muslims – they will be apostates and therefore targets for capital punishment. No story in that?)

3) Will Palestinian authorities prosecute those responsible for this crime? Or have they already guaranteed the perpetrators amnesty and other benefits? Will the media aggressively attempt to find the answer? Or will the failure of Palestinian authorities to hold criminals accountable not be seen as part of the "wonderful story" that needs to be told?

4) Will journalists investigate whether there is any connection between those who committed this crime and the murder, in 2003, of three Americans who were part of a delegation on its way to interview Palestinian candidates for the Fulbright Scholarship? Those responsible for that crime have never been brought to justice and the issue has been allowed to fade.

5) The fact that Palestinian leaders managed to secure the release of these journalists surely suggests that they could secure the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier as well. Why has that not happened?

6) Is there any chance that there will be some self-examination by the media about the extent to which kidnappings and other threats intimidate journalists and influence their coverage, not least in such places as Gaza and Lebanon? Surely, anyone who fancies himself a media critic should be all over this story.
Andrew Bostom has an article outlining how Centanni's and Wiig's forced conversion was not exceptional, but is part of the long history of forced conversions to Islam.

Meanwhile, some have suggested that Centanni and Wiig have been mum about their Moslem status because it would be an asset for working again in Gaza.

Maybe not.

True, as Moslems they may be saved from being beheaded, but not from being shot:

Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip complained on Tuesday that they were being subjected to a campaign of intimidation and terror by various armed groups and urged the Palestinian Authority to punish those responsible.

Several Palestinian journalists and editors have been killed or beaten over the past few years by unidentified gunmen, especially in the Gaza Strip. Until today, none of the assailants have been caught.

The blind eye the media has shown towards the implications of the kidnapping should not be surprising. There is a thin line between being blind...and being scared.

Technorati Tag: and and and .

How Do You Define a 'Moderate' Moslem?

The dictionary definition of a moderate is "professing or characterized by political or social beliefs that are not extreme"

You'd think you knew what that means, except when talking about moderate Moslems.

Abbas is a moderate, not because he eschews violence, but because he 'recognizes' it has not been effective.

The Imam Zaid Shakir is apparently a moderate because he is willing to wait for the US to become a Moslem country under Islamic law.

Over at The Corner, Cliff May quotes from an interview with Pierre Rehov, a French documentary maker. His latest film is Suicide Killers, based on interviews he conducted with the families of suicide bombers and would-be bombers.

At one point Rehov is asked whether the principal motivation of suicide bombers is religious.
Yes, it is their only conviction. They don't act to gain a territory or to find freedom or even dignity. They only follow Allah, the supreme judge, and what He tells them to do. …

The main difference between moderate Muslims and extremists is that moderate Muslims don't think they will see the absolute victory of Islam during their lifetime, therefore they respect other beliefs.
The extremists believe that the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Islam and ruling the entire world as described in the Koran, is for today. Each victory of Bin Laden convinces 20 million moderate Muslims to become extremists. …
Rehov is not an expert on Islam, nor is it clear what forms the basis of his opinion. Nevertheless, why does the definition of the term 'moderate' change--and is accepted in its changed meaning--when talking about Islam? Why suddenly is a moderate accepted not as someone who actually eschews extremism as wrong, but someone who pragmatically eschews extremism because it is ineffective--but would gladly use extreme measures, such as violence, the moment they would be effective.

Can it be that there are no moderate Moslems?
Or is the media just afraid there might not be?

See also The Prototypical Hamas Moderate

Technorati Tag: and and .

A Possible Tool For Dealing With the Growing Number of Faked Photos

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, aka Instapundit, has an article appearing on TCS Daily, dealing with the growing number of faked photos being foisted upon the unsuspecting consumers of the media.

Reynolds article is noteworthy in particular not only for its mention of the degree of the problem, but also for a potencial developing tool for a possible solution:
the accumulation of episodes of fakery in recent weeks, both sophisticated and crude, leads me to believe that we'll see faked video of professional quality becoming a commonplace political item in the pretty near future.

And this poses a significant problem. In a democratic polity -- or even one that's driven by things like "world opinion" -- faked news poses a real threat to decent decision-making. Worse yet, the likely outcome of widespread fakery will be a tendency on the part of people to simply dismiss news that they don't want to hear. (And we already see enough of that phenomenon as it is).

I wish there were a technical solution to this problem, but that's probably pretty far away. May sent me a link to the Columbia University TrustFoto project, which is aimed at detecting fake still images. So far, it's not very good -- I gave it an obvious fake and got a rather inconclusive response. It's a great idea, and the technology will no doubt improve, but will it ever be good enough to reliably distinguish between genuine and phony images? Not anytime soon, anyway. And identifying phony video is probably even harder.
In the meantime, the most effective tool out there for uncovering the faked photos being used by the media is your friendly neighborhood blog.

Technorati Tag: and .



Mearsheimer and Walt Was Just the Beginning

I suppose this was inevitable:

In a case in Illinois of a man on trial for channeling millions of dollars to Hamas, the defense lawyers are asking a federal judge to hold a hearing to examine connections between the persecution and Israel
In a motion filed yesterday, attorneys for Muhammad Salah asked to call witnesses and present other evidence to prove that the criminal case is the product of "the joint venture, cooperation, and partnership" between the American and Israeli governments. The defense lawyers said Israel should be compelled to turn over evidence favorable to Mr. Salah because the Israeli and American governments have acted in lockstep in the case.

...A defense lawyer, Michael Deutsch, described a "longstanding and profound political military and law enforcement relationship" between Israel and America. One authority he cited is an academic paper published in March, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." The hotly disputed treatise by a political science professor at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer, and the academic dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Stephen Walt, argues that pro-Israel elements have effective control over American strategy in the Middle East.

Mr. Deutsch also asked to present evidence about the role of the Anti-Defamation League as a "conduit and facilitator" between Israeli and American authorities.
Personally, I think there should be a panel similar to the one CAIR hosted for Mearsheimer and Walt--to look at the influence of the Islamic lobby in general, and CAIR in particular.

And I would love to have a judge look at the role of CAIR as a "conduit and facilitator" for terrorists.

Actually, there have been judges looking at the connection between CAIR and terrorists--and indicting CAIR officials and Board members.

According to Anti-CAIR:
CAIR Employees And Officials Support Terror

Senior CAIR employee Randall Todd Royer, a/k/a "Ismail" Royer, pled guilty and was sentenced to twenty years in prison 0for participating in a network of militant jihadists centered in Northern Virginia. He admitted to aiding and abetting three persons who sought training in a terrorist camp in Pakistan for the purpose of waging jihad against American troops in Afghanistan. Royer's illegal actions occurred while he was employed with CAIR.

CAIR's Director of Community Relations, Bassem Khafagi , was arrested by the United States due to his ties with a terror-financing front group. Khafagi pled guilty to charges of visa and bank fraud, and agreed to be deported to Egypt. Khafagi's illegal actions occurred while he was employed by CAIR.

On December 18, 2002, Ghassan Elashi , founding board member of CAIR-Texas, a founder of the Holy Land Foundation, and a brother-in-law of Musa Abu Marzook , was arrested by the United States and charged with, among other things, making false statements on export declarations, dealing in the property of a designated terrorist organization, conspiracy and money laundering. Ghassan Elashi committed his crimes while working at CAIR, and was found Guilty.

CAIR Board Member Imam Siraj Wahaj, an un-indicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing, has called for replacing the American government with an Islamic caliphate, and warned that America will crumble unless it accepts Islam.

Rabih Haddad served as a CAIR Fundraiser. Haddad was co-founder of the Global Relief Foundation ("GRF"). GRF was designated by the US Treasury Department for financing the Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations and its assets were frozen by the US Government on December 14, 2001.
Also, Daniel Pipes notes that:
A class action lawsuit in the name of John P. O'Neill, Sr., stemming from the 9/11 atrocity, has named the Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR] as a defendant.
Funny how those who express concern about undue influence on America studiously ignore the obvious.

Technorati Tag: and and and .

Journalists Blame Israel for War Coverage

Note: This post was based on an article at YNetNews.com.
There are other accounts at the Jerusalem Post and Haaretz that paint a different picture of the nature of the comments made.
Media Line will be providing a transcript of what was actually said.

In the meantime, it may be that the comments made here are based on incorrect information


That's the headline from an article from YNet News.com. Amazing.
A number of journalists claimed during a convention in Jerusalem Monday evening that Israel and the IDF were mostly to blame for the way the foreign media covered the Lebanon war.
The panel of journalists, largely from the international media, convened to discuss their coverage of the war, at a conference arranged by the Media Line agency's Mideast Press Club.
On the one hand you have claims by the Chairman of the Foreign Press Association, and Bureau Chief of ABC News, Simon McGregor-Wood that "Journalists' access to the battlefield is controlled exclusively by the IDF...We are very disappointed that the IDF didn't give us more opportunities."

Complaints like that are expected.

But on the other hand is Steven Erlanger, the New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief, who claimed to be surprised that Israel's view of the war differed from that of its critics, and seems to be under the impression that Israelis didn't "quite grasp how the war was perceived outside of Israel." [Erlanger apparently was not taking US opinion into account]

Left unclear is why Israel should give weight to her critics' opinions at a time that thousands of rockets are raining down on Israel's cities and setting her forests on fire. McGregor-Wood and Erlanger share a hubris bordering on petulance at not getting their way. Erlanger himself is still stuck on the concept of proportionality in war and seems genuinely surprised that Israel did not further limit her defence of her citizens.

At the same time, during the convention:
Erlanger added that during the war, he "took General Yadlin (who briefed the press on IDF operations) too seriously."

'You are free to say what you like about us'

Erlanger told the panel he turned down an offer by the IDF Spokesperson Unit to gain access to IDF efforts aimed at enabling humanitarian aid to reach Lebanon, saying he was not interested in the story.
Considering how little attention was paid by the media to the casualites in Israel and the effect of 3,000-4000 Kassam rockets falling on her cities, it is not unexpected that Erlanger would have no interest in an angle that might cast Israel in a favorable light. Thus, while some of his colleagues mentioned the strict control Hezbollah enforced on the media, Ernlanger insisted that the only threat his own colleague faced in Lebanon was from Israel's missiles.

Another revealing remark was made by the Associated Press' Chief Jerusalem Correspondent, Ravi Nessman, who admitted that it was impossible to confirm what the death toll was:

"All we can do is report what everyone's telling us."

That is a recipe for confusion and bias--not reporting. It goes back to the 'Katrina Complex'.

In the aftermath of Katrina, during a discussion of the reporting that was done, Keith Woods, former newspaper reporter and editor at the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and currently dean of the faculty at the Poynter Institute-- a school for journalists in Florida waxed eloquently on the great job done by the press:
Well, I did like the aggressiveness of the journalists throughout, I liked the fact that for a good part of this reporting the journalists brought themselves to the reporting a sense of passion, a sense of empathy, a sense of understanding that they were not telling an ordinary story any more than the Sept. 11 attacks were an ordinary story. So I like the fact that journalism understood the size of this story from the very beginning and brought to bear the kinds of resources and the kind of passion in the coverage that we saw.
This is a description that could easily sum up the attitude of journalists in Lebanon. In Mr. Woods case, Hugh Hewitt pointed out the "the lurid, the hysterical, the salaciousness of the reporting...they let in all the rumors, and all the innuendo, all the first-person story because they were caught up in this own emotionalism."

This was something Hezbollah recognized, was ready for, and manipulated to a degree that the media is still not willing to admit.

Woods' response sheds light not only on the exaggerated over-the-top reporting at Katrina, but in Lebanon as well:
The kind of reporting that journalists have to do during this time is revisionist. You have to keep telling the story until you get it right.
This is not so different from Nessman's claim that "All we can do is report what everyone's telling us."

Nessman though is less honest. If indeed all the media can do is report what eveyone is telling them, then the question arises why equal time was not given to the casualties in Israel with the reporting done in Lebanon. Likewise, the stories told by Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian stringers are accepted without question without equal time for the Israeli view. The reporting of manufactured stories of Israeli attacks on Red Cross ambulances and Reuters vehicles is a current example of accepting stories whole.

At the conclusion of the convention:
"You are free to say what you like about us, in the same way we are free to say what we like about you," the ABC's Simon Wood told the audience, which largely consisted of US immigrants to Israel.One would have hoped that journalists would report the facts and not just feel "free to say what we like about you," but yes, Mr. Wood--people are free to say what they think of the job of the media, to a far larger audience than ever before.

Glad you noticed.

Technorati Tag: and and .

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Success with the IRA is Not a Reason to Legitimize Hezbollah

Oded Haklai, a professor of political studies at Queen's University, writes a column in The Ottawa Citizen responding to suggestions that Hezbollah be removed from Canada's list of banned terrorists by addressing the comparison made between Hezbollah and the IRA. Hezbollah, like the IRA--goes the argument--has both a political as well as a military wing. More importantly, if the British government had not openned up talks with the political wing of the IRA, the conflict in Northern Ireland would likely have continued.

According to Haklai, the comparison is weak.

1. The IRA was resisting the British occupatoin of Northern Ireleand, its goal was the liberation of Northern Ireland, not the destruction of England. But Hezbollah is not resisting any occupation--Israel withdrew 6 years ago. Actually, Hezbollah is the proxy of Syria and Iran, who are interfering in the internal affairs of Lebanon.

Hezbollah itself challenges the authority of the Lebanese government, by virtue of its independent 'militia'. The political arm of Hezbollah, even with the provision of social services, does not negate that chanllenge.

2. In Northern Ireland, the autonomy and independence of the people living there led the way to a negotiated political solution. But in the case of Hezbollah, its stated objectives as well as its association with Iran clearly show that its hostility towards Israel is not open to any such negotiated political solution.

Haklai does not offer a long list of reasons, but his points are sound.

Canada is listening.

But who will Europe listen to?

Technorati Tag: and and and and and .

The Kyoto Conference is Over...Didn't You Hear?

The eighth World Assembly of Religions for Peace in Kyoto, Japan ended on Tuesday with the adoption of the Kyoto Declaration. According to the declaration, religious communities and leaders must cooperate on the basis of mutual respect in order to confront violence while building institutions for collaboration among governments, societies as well as religious communitie--by advancing the notion of shared security.

Nope. I don't know what that is supposed to mean either.

But among the interesting highlights was Prince Hassan of Jordon, who said
The Arab leaders stole billions of dollars from the Arab people and spent it on weapons to fight Israel, which they will never defeat, instead of using the money for health and education purposes to aid their people
Considering the lack of significant coverage by the media, I doubt if anyone will take much note of anything said--just as Arabs in general, and Palestinian Arabs in particular, are unlikely to get all excited over Prince Hassan's statement.

Apparently dealing with the minimal level of mutual respect required for kidnapped Israeli soldiers to at least be visited by the Red Cross was not on the agenda.

Or forcing journalists to convert to Islam


Technorati Tag: and and .



Hillel and Shammai on Posting to Haveil Havalim

I'm hosting this weeks Haval Havalim, and I was noticing that it's already Wednesday and I have not received that many submissions for this week's edition. It seems that while there are a number of people who already sent in posts at the beginning of the week, most are going to send in their posts much later in the week.

In wondering why there are two different shitot in sending in submissions for Haveil Havalim, it occured to me that this could boil down to a machlokes Hillel and Shammai found in Beitzah 16a
It was said of Shamai the Elder that all his days he would eat for Shabbat. How so? When he came across a prime quality animal, he would buy it and say: “This is for Shabbat.” When he found a better one, he would buy the second one for Shabbat and eat the first.

But Hillel the Elder had a different approach. He did everything for the sake of Heaven. [He would say:] “Blessed be G-d, who every day provides us with the day’s needs.”
Most bloggers follow the shita of Hillel, thinking that since we usually posken like Hillel against Shammai, so too here. Therefore, just as Hillel bought food on Sunday to eat on Sunday, and bought food on Monday to eat on Monday’s--so too these bloggers will blog each day for that day and wait for the end of the week to submit for Haveil Havalim, whose deadline is at the end of the week.

The other bloggers posken according to Shammai and when they find they have posted a particularly good post on any given day--even at the start of the week--will not hesitate to send it in for Haveil Havalim, knowing that if later in the week they have an even better post, they can always submit that one too.

For those in doubt, please note that in posting to Haveil Havalim, this is one of the cases that we posken according to the minority opinion of Shammai. Therefore, in order to be mikayaim your post with a greater hiddur, please send in you post for Haveil Havalim as soon as possible.

The sooner your post is haveilable, the better.

Next time: Rav and Shmuel on the proper way to do trackbacks.

Technorati Tags: , , , .

Video of Actual IDF Combat in Lebanon

Hat Tip: Hot Air

Michael Totten is guest-blogging at Andrew Sullivan's blog, where he links to a video you should see:
Israeli video journalist Itai Anghel went into Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon with the Nahal Brigade and shot 25 minutes of riveting house-to-house combat footage with a night vision lens.

The Hezbollah fighters wore Israeli uniforms.

Note: To watch the movie, copy and paste the url below into a new window. For some reason it won't work if you click on it.

http://switch248-01.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ClipMediaID=209947&ak=63628786
The movie is very, very intense.

Technorati Tag: and and and and .

Flash Presentation: Friday in Jerusalem

Someone was kind enough to email me the link to an illustrated Flash presentation by Gil Ronen entitled Friday in Jerusalem

It is beautifully done.

You can also see other, earlier, Flash presentations by Gil Ronen at katzir.com

Go take a look.

Technorati Tag: and .

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pallywoodland

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance
Thomas Jefferson

Caroline Glick has written a must-read article in the Jerusalem Post that puts gives the kind of perspective that you get blinded to when watching the mind-numbing media go through its paces.

Glick fleshes out the point made by Mere Rhetoric in reaction to the New York Times' gratuitous invocation that Centanni and Wiig "were released unharmed". As Mere Rhetoric responds:
You idiot! You total blistering idiot! Being forced to convert is a harm. It might be the oldest harm short of death - being forced to renounce your faith and your god. Millions of people - literally millions - have died rather than deign to utter words that would force them to give up their faith. No wonder liberal journalists are utterly baffled by fully half of the United States - they don't think having to give up your religion is harmful. We are beyond certain that if Muslim prisoners at Gitmo were forced to convert away from Islam as a condition of their release, the New York Times would not be putting the phrase "released unharmed" into their lede. Way beyond certain.

There's a deeper explanation for how paragraphs like this can get written. It's not really bias, as much as it is the blind spots imposed by any ideology. And within that dynamic are questions about the degree of myopia and the room for self-reflection that particular ideologies allow.
Glick also notes this myopia in the coverage of Centanni and Wiig, and it is not limited to the New York Times:
While their remarks were covered extensively, no one seemed to think that the fact that their first post-release statements were made at a Palestinian Authority sponsored media extravaganza in Gaza was significant. No one noted that the men were flanked by Palestinian "security forces," and stood next to Hamas terrorist leader and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

No mention was made of the fact that the two were initially kidnapped by just such PA "security officials," or that Haniyeh is one of the leaders of one of the most fanatical jihadist organizations in the world, an organization that the majority of the "beautiful, kind-hearted and caring" Palestinians voted into office last January.

That is, no mention was made of the fact that until the two men left Gaza, they remained unfree. No one asked whether they had been given the option of not giving a press conference in Gaza. And now that they have spoken, there can be little doubt that a second press conference by the two men, in Israel or the US where no one will force them to convert to Judaism or Christianity or threaten to kill them, will draw far less media interest. After their press conference, the two men became yesterday's news.
But that was not the only item that was in the news that day. Reuters claimed that Israel had fired missiles at their reporter, Fadel Shada.

Yet it is unclear why anyone should believe either Shana or Reuters. Shana told Reuters that as he was driving to the battle scene, "I suddenly saw fire and the doors of the jeep flew open." He claims to have been wounded by shrapnel in his hand and leg. These are minor injuries for someone whose vehicle was just hit by a missile.

But then, the photographs taken of his vehicle after the purported missile attack give no indication that the car was hit by anything. There is a gash on the roof. The hood is bent out of shape. But nothing seems to have been burned. Cars hit by missiles do not look like they have just been in a nasty accident. Cars hit by missiles are destroyed.

Yet the glass on the windshield and the windows of Shana's vehicle isn't even shattered. In the photographs taken of Shana on the way to the hospital in Gaza, he lies on a stretcher, eyes closed, arm extended in full pieta mode. He is not visibly bleeding although there are some blood stains on his shirt, but then his undershirt is completely white.

I did not see these pictures in the media coverage of the purported IDF attack on the Reuters and Iranian cameramen. I saw them on Powerlineblog Web site [see here and here]. I did not see any questions raised from either the Israeli or the international media on the veracity of Shana's tale, which of course, provides a nice balance to the Centanni-Wiig hostage story.

All of this of course brings us back to the problem of the manipulation of the media by Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as the complete willingness of the media to be led by the nose in what information is available and how it should be presented.

AS IS the case with the Palestinian war against Israel, one of the most notable aspects of Hizbullah's latest campaign against Israel has been the active collaboration of news organizations and international NGO's in Hizbullah's information war against Israel. Like their rogue state sponsors, subversive sub-national groups like Hizbullah, Fatah and Hamas, see information operations as an integral part of their war for the annihilation of Israel and defeat of the West. And their information operations are more advanced than any the world has seen. As becomes more evident with each passing day, they have successfully corrupted both the world media and the community of NGOs that purportedly operate in a neutral manner in war zones.

Glick sees this as part of a wider problem.

It is not a coincidence that I saw the pictures of the Reuters' vehicle on Powerline and not in the media coverage of the purported attack. Both the global media and the international NGO community abjectly refuse to investigate themselves. As democratic governments and their militaries have proven incapable of dealing with the phenomenon (in part because they seek to curry favor with the media and the international NGO community), the blogosphere has taken upon itself the role of media watchdog.

The role of the blogosphere in all this is helpful, but a citizenship that is more critical and skeptical of its media is essential.

Some say that the falling readership of the newspapers is a sign of this.
But what if that just means they are reading the same newspapers online?

Technorati Tag: and and and and and and and and .

Muslim Baalei Teshuva in America

Geneive Abdo, liaison for the Alliance of Civilizations at the United Nations and author of Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11, has written a piece for the Washington Post that may not be reassuring.

According to the Amazon review of her book:
The younger generation of Muslims in particular is charting a different way of life. They are following new imams and placing their Muslim identity before their American one.
This is the theme of her article for the Washington Post as well, America's Muslims Aren't as Assimilated as You Think:
If only the Muslims in Europe -- with their hearts focused on the Islamic world and their carry-on liquids poised for destruction in the West -- could behave like the well-educated, secular and Americanizing Muslims in the United States, no one would have to worry.

So runs the comforting media narrative that has developed around the approximately 6 million Muslims in the United States, who are often portrayed as well-assimilated and willing to leave their religion and culture behind in pursuit of American values and lifestyle. But over the past two years, I have traveled the country, visiting mosques, interviewing Muslim leaders and speaking to Muslim youths in universities and Islamic centers from New York to Michigan to California -- and I have encountered a different truth. I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.
According to Abdo, this is due not only to the overall resurgence of Islam worldwide, but also--paradoxically--a result of 9-11, which has led American Muslims to feel more isolated on the one hand, but also has pushed them to rediscover Islam.
From schools to language to religion, American Muslims are becoming a people apart. Young, first-generation American Muslim women -- whose parents were born in Egypt, Pakistan and other Islamic countries -- are wearing head scarves even if their mothers had left them behind; increasing numbers of young Muslims are attending Islamic schools and lectures; Muslim student associations in high schools and at colleges are proliferating; and the role of the mosque has evolved from strictly a place of worship to a center for socializing and for learning Arabic and Urdu as well as the Koran.
In a sense, on some level you might even call them Ba'alei Teshuva.

But in keeping to that comparison--everything depends on the Rebbe you follow:
Imam Zaid Shakir -- who teaches at San Francisco's Zaytuna Institute, America's only true madrassa -- refers to such young Muslims as the "rejectionist generation." They are rejectionist, he says, because they turn their backs not only on absolutist religious interpretations, but also on America's secular ways. Many of these young American Muslims look to Shakir (and to celebrated Zaytuna founder Hamza Yusuf) for guidance on how to live pious lives in the United States.
According to the New York Times, in an article on both of these men:
Both Mr. Shakir and Mr. Yusuf have a history of anti-American rhetoric, but with age, they have tempered their views. Mr. Shakir told the Houston audience that they are blessed to live in a country that is stable and safe, and in which they have thrived.
The question is: how tempered are those views and how does that view reflect itself in the Islam that they teach.
While leading a mosque in New Haven in 1992, Mr. Shakir wrote a pamphlet that cautioned Muslims not to be co-opted by American politics. He wrote, "Islam presents an absolutist political agenda, or one which doesn't lend itself to compromise, nor to coalition building."

While he did not denounce Muslims who take part in politics, he pointed out the effectiveness of "extrasystemic political action" — like the "armed struggle" that brought about the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. A copy of the pamphlet was found in the apartment of a suspect in the first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993. Mr. Shakir says he was questioned by the F.B.I., but had no link to the man, and that was the end of it.

While studying in Syria a few years later, he visited Hama, a city that had tried to revolt against the Syrian ruler, Hafez al-Assad. Mr. Shakir said he saw mass graves and bulldozed neighborhoods, and talked with widows of those killed. He gave up on the idea of armed struggle, he said, "just seeing the reality of where revolution can end."
The impression you get from Shakir's words is that he gave up the idea of armed struggle for purely pragmatic reasons. But that does not mean he has given up on the idea of the struggle itself--or its goals: the takeover of the US.
He said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law, "not by violent means, but by persuasion."

"Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country," he said. "I think it would help people, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be a Muslim. Because Islam helped me as a person, and it's helped a lot of people in my community."
Maybe we just need more honest Moslems.
Or maybe they need different Rebbes.

Technorati Tag: and and .

The Prototypical Hamas Moderate

Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority government, seems to be a voice of reason in an area sorely lacking in rationality.
When you walk in the streets of Gaza City, you cannot but close your eyes because of what you see there: unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street.
It is not description of the chaos in Gaza that is novel--it is whom he holds responsible.
Dismissing Israel's responsibility for the growing state of anarchy and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip, Hamad said it was time for the Palestinians to embark on a soul-searching process to see where they erred.

"We're always afraid to talk about our mistakes," he added. "We're used to blaming our mistakes on others. What is the relationship between the chaos, anarchy, lawlessness, indiscriminate murders, theft of land, family rivalries, transgression on public lands and unorganized traffic and the occupation? We are still trapped by the mentality of conspiracy theories - one that has limited our capability to think."

Hamad admitted that the Palestinians have failed in developing the Gaza Strip following the Israeli withdrawal and in imposing law and order. He said about 500 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded since the Israeli pullout, in addition to the destruction of much of the infrastructure in the area.
All of this is very nice.
It makes for a nice article and for nice sound bites for the media.

The only problem is, it may be that Hamad is from the pragmatic Abbas school of moderation:
...[Hamad] said about 500 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded since the Israeli pullout, in addition to the destruction of much of the infrastructure in the area.

By comparison, he said, only three or four Israelis have been killed by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the same period.

"Some will argue that it's not a matter of profit or loss, but that this has an accumulating effect" he said. "This may be true. But isn't there a possibility of decreasing the number of casualties and increasing our gains by using our brains and making the proper calculations away from demagogic statements?"
Sadly missing is any call for peace or recognition of Israel.
The article, the first of its kind by a senior Hamas official, also questioned the effectiveness of the Kassam rocket attacks and noted that since Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip, the situation there has deteriorated on all levels. It holds the armed groups responsible for the crisis and calls on them to reconsider their tactics and to stop blaming Israel for their mistakes.
That is just the point: all Hamad has done is that he "questioned the effectiveness of the Kassam rocket attacks" and asked the Palestinian terrorists "to reconsider their tactics".

Hamad may question the tactics, but not the strategy.
The strategy remains the destruction of Israel.

Technorati Tag: and and .

Monday, August 28, 2006

What is Kofi Annan doing for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers?

From the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page

Hostage Crisis
What is Kofi Annan doing for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers?

BY JUDEA PEARL AND RUTH PEARL
Monday, August 28, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

As the parents of Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal's reporter who was kidnapped and brutally murdered in Pakistan in 2002, we share the anguish of the families of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, and their frustration with the international community for failing to secure the release of their loved ones. For more than six weeks now, these soldiers and their families live each day tortured by unimaginable fears and shattered hopes, praying desperately for the nightmare to end; we relive this nightmare each time an innocent person falls victim to the inhumanity of terrorist abduction.

Whatever success the U.N. Security Council would presume to claim, it cannot be said that Resolution 1701 has effectively addressed the direct cause of the fighting--the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser, 31, and Eldad Regev, 26, by Hezbollah, and the earlier abduction of Gilad Shalit, 19, by Hamas. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the unconditional release of these soldiers has been ignored. Moreover, in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, the terrorists have not only seized the soldiers as hostages for political blackmail, they have not allowed the Red Cross to visit them. Their families do not know their physical condition; they have no proof they are even alive.

And so now these families of Ehud, Eldad and Gilad are asking to meet with Kofi Annan. They wish to plead with the secretary-general to use the full weight of his moral authority to mobilize and intensify the efforts of the international community he leads--an influential body that has managed to compel two fierce armies to cease hostilities--to address this flagrant violation of humanitarian law.

On that score, these families are correct: The time has come for Mr. Annan to personally and aggressively intervene, and to insist publicly that, at the minimum, the Red Cross, or his personal humanitarian representatives, be given immediate access to these soldiers.

Will he? It seems unlikely. Sadly, this is not the first time that concerned parents have turned to Mr. Annan in much the same circumstances. Six years ago, another delegation of distressed families came to the U.N. with a similar tragedy, following the abduction of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah from under the noses of Unifil and, by some accounts, with their help. The investigation that was subsequently conducted found that the U.N. had made "serious errors in judgment" by hiding information that "would have been helpful in an assessment of the condition of the three abducted soldiers." At that time, the U.N.'s interest in appearing "neutral" overshadowed its commitment to the preservation of human lives. The world cannot afford a repeat of such inaction and poor judgment.

Undoubtedly, the secretary-general will tell the families of Ehud, Eldad and Gilad that he has dispatched a high-level team to Beirut that will urge the release of their loved ones. But that team negotiates behind closed doors. And by not publicly demanding the unfettered access of humanitarian representatives to the kidnapped soldiers, Mr. Annan has deprived his team of the force of credibility and seriousness they need in those negotiations.

When our son Daniel was in captivity, millions of people around the world prayed for his safe return. In that prayer, they made a solemn pledge never to allow abductions of innocent people to become the norm of civilized society, no matter the political purpose, regardless of grievance or goal.

Kofi Annan's resolve against these acts of terrorism will determine to a great extent what norms will govern our society in generations to come, and whether organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas will gloat in unruly appetite or be reined in by moral principles. We urge Mr. Annan to make bold and brave efforts to ensure--as a legacy and gift--that we will not allow our children and our world be taken captive by terror. Mr. Secretary-General, this time, help bring the boys back home.

Mr. and Mrs. Pearl are co-founders of the Daniel Pearl Foundation (www.danielpearl.org), a U.N.-affiliated NGO.

Technorati Tag: and and and and and and and and and .

You Haven't Met The Wizard of Oz Till You've Read the Book

My 6-year old daughter is going into 2nd grade and had to read 5 books over the summer--so we bought a few, and since the list we were given included it, we also bought a copy of The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

I was surprised to see the book on the list, because based on the movie--I assumed that the book would be aimed at an older audience.

Not only was I wrong, but the book and the movie are very different from each other.

Unlike the movie, in the book:

o Oz is across the desert, not over the rainbow
o There are no farmhands or travelling mindreader to parallel the Oz characters
o The Wicked Witch of the West does not appear in the story until the Wizard of Oz sends them after her
o Dorothy and the Lion are captured by the winged monkeys, while the Tin Man and Scarecrow are badly damaged
o The Wizard gives bran and pins ("a bran new brain") to the Scarecrow, a felt heart to the Tin Man and a liquid to drink to the Lion.

And that's just for starters.

With all the news going on in the world, this is not exactly dynamite stuff.
But it will make for an interesting English paper.
I just hope I remember to tell my daughter about this ten years from now.

At Columbia, for my senior paper, I compared Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamatzov and the Talmud.
Like father, like daughter.

Technorati Tag: .

Mearsheimer and Walt Meet CAIR

Here we have two guys who have written about the Israel Lobby and how it has inordinate control over the US, which sacrifices its own interests for those of Israel--and who do these two great scholars go speak in front of?
CAIR-DC: 'Israel Lobby' Press Club Panel 'Sold Out'

Mearsheimer, Walt to discuss lobby's impact on U.S. response to Lebanon war

DC: 'ISRAEL LOBBY' PRESS CLUB PANEL 'SOLD OUT'

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/22/06) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) announced today that all the available spaces for a panel discussion on "The Israel Lobby and the U.S. Response to the War in Lebanon" at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., have been reserved.

The panel will feature Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of a recent Harvard University paper titled "The Israel Lobby."
If Mearsheimer and Walt need a proper introduction to CAIR, they couldn't do any better than take a look at the Anti-CAIR site: the one that CAIR sued--and then dropped their suit.

After hearing the claims that Mearsheimer and Walt made, and then to see them go and address CAIR--who epitomize everything that the two of them have claimed to be opposed to--is as good an indication as any of the emptiness of their claims.

While looking around, I noticed that Judeosphere has already dealt with the implications of this meeting of the minds in a post on his blog.

I'll just add my own too cents on the absurdity of Mearsheimer's and Walt's paper in light of who they like to associate with.

According to Anti-CAIR:

Sept. 2003 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security U.S. Senator Richard Durbin said, "[CAIR is] unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect" whule U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has stated that "we know [CAIR] has ties to terrorism" and "intimate links with Hamas"

On its home page, Anti-CAIR also notes:
Since its founding in 1994, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its employees have combined, conspired, and agreed with third parties, including, but not limited to, the Islamic Association for Palestine ("IAP"), the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development ("HLF"), the Global Relief Foundation ("GRF "), and foreign nationals hostile to the interests of the United States, to provide material support to known terrorist organizations, to advance the Hamas agenda, and to propagate radical Islam. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, and certain of its officers, directors, and employees, have acted in support of, and in furtherance of, this conspiracy.
On that last point, Anti-CAIR give the specifics on five employees and officers of CAIR--not just members--who have supported terror.

Meanwhile, Daniel Pipes has information on a class action lawsuit in the name of John P. O'Neill, Sr., stemming from 9/11 which has named the Council on American-Islamic Relations as a defendant.

Hey, if Mearsheimer and Walt want to give credibility to CAIR, no one is going to stop them. But by showing what they are really made of, Mearsheimer and Walt have lost whatever credibility they may have still had.

Technorati Tag: and and .

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Does It Even Matter What the Koran Says--Centanni Conversion

Here is the YouTube video of the conversion--it may take a minute to come up:


Reuters reports that Steven Centanni and Olaf Wiig have been released by the Palestinian terrorists.

And what is the Reuters headline?
Kidnapped Fox journalists convert to Islam on video

Two kidnapped Fox journalists appeared on a new videotape released by their captors on Sunday in the Gaza Strip, in which the reporters said they had converted to Islam, the Fox News Channel said.

...They were shown separately sitting cross-legged, reading a statement which Fox said was an announcement that they had converted to Islam. At times in the video they were wearing long Muslim robes.
If that is indeed the highlight of the entire story, then maybe Reuters should tell the entire story, which is left to Fox News.

On the one hand, like Reuters, Fox provides the storyline that the Palestinians are anxious to push on a gullible world:
The day had begun with promises by senior Palestinian officials that the two would be released in coming hours.

At the same time, before the journalists' release, a new video was released, showing Wiig and Centanni dressed in beige Arab-style robes. Wiig, of New Zealand, delivered an anti-Western speech, his face expressionless and his tone halting. The kidnappers claimed both men had converted to Islam.
But Fox also gives Centanni's side of this part of the story as well:
Both of the men were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint, Centanni said.

"We were forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint," Centanni told FOX News. "Don't get me wrong here. I have the highest respect for Islam, and I learned a lot of good things about it, but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns, and we didn't know what the hell was going on."
The issue with Reuters pointedly making the conversion the headline is summed up by Andy McCarthy at The Corner:
Will Reuters, which thought the "conversion" was newsworthy, report on that?

Or will we get the usual slew of "mainstream" Muslim experts who tell us that in Islam "there is no compulsion in religion," and that jihad is "the inner struggle against sin"?
According to the Koran Surah 2:256: "There is no compulsion in religion"

Apparently holding people at gunpoint does not count.
Neither does forcing Jews and Christians to pay the jizya tax as part the package of living as second class citizens under Islam--dhimmis--count either, apparently.

On this verse, Michael Cook writes in The Koran: A Very Short Introduction:
It does not compromise the notion of absolute religious truth, but it strongly suggests that the true religion can nonetheless coexist with any and all forms of false religion. For the traditional scholars, as we will see later, such a declaration of unconditional - not to say indiscriminate - tolerance was an embarrassment; they had to find ways and means of getting it out of the way. [emphasis added]
But does it even matter what the Koran says when those 'traditional scholars'--who are clearly in control of Islam today--have obviously been very successful in getting this verse out of the way in practice.

These days it is just trotted out for show by groups like CAIR.

Crossposted at Israpundit

Technorati Tag: and and and and and .

Haveil Havalim #84 Is Up!

This week, me-ander is hosting this week's of Haveil Haveil #84

me-ander has a wide assortment of diverse posts from across the J-Blogosphere.

Don't miss it.

You can submit one or two of your best Israel or Judaism related posts to dhgerstman at hotmail dot com.

If you'd like to host an upcoming edition you can e-mail Soccer Dad at the same address.

You can also submit entries to Haveil Havalim using either Conservative Cat's submission form or the submission form at BlogCarnival.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.

Technorati Tags: , , , .

Death to Israel!--Hey, It's Only an Opinion

LGF links to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune:
Members of Utah's Jewish community are alarmed by a proposed demonstration that will call for "Death to Israel."
A man - whose name wasn't available Thursday - has applied for a free-speech permit from Salt Lake City to demonstrate on sidewalks near City Hall on Wednesday. The city is reviewing the application.
City officials cannot constitutionally deny it based on the content of the message.
But according to the police, there is no reason to be unduly concerned. The group sponsoring the event has an innocuous name, only 9 people on average show up for such events and of course:
"It's not like they're threatening to kill people," [police spokesman Joe] Cyr said. "They're just [expressing] their opinion."
Whew! What a relief.
Mayor Rocky Anderson, who will speak at an anti-Bush rally on Wednesday, said he doesn't know if the city will grant the Death to Israel permit.

''Do I agree with that sort of hateful expression? I don't. It's so reminiscent of the 'Death to America' slogans that we hear around so much of the militant Muslim world,'' Anderson said.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported thousands of Iraqi Shiites chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" in Baghdad to show support for Hezbollah militants fighting Israeli troops in Lebanon.
Or reminiscent those Moslem protests we've seen in London:

Hey, it's only an opinion.
Sleep tight.

Technorati Tag: and .

Putting the 'UN' in UNIFIL

During the war between Israel and Hezbollah, UNIFIL--which has already aided Hezbollah and thwarted Israel in the past--does what it does best:
During the recent month-long war between Hezbollah and Israel, U.N. "peacekeeping" forces made a startling contribution: They openly published daily real-time intelligence, of obvious usefulness to Hezbollah, on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.

UNIFIL--the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978--is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah "fired rockets in large numbers from various locations" and Hezbollah's rockets "were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations" are as precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.
As an example of UNIFIL's helping hand, on July 25th there was the following included as part of its report:
Yesterday and during last night, the IDF moved significant reinforcements, including a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, bulldozers and infantry, to the area of Marun Al Ras inside Lebanese territory. The IDF advanced from that area north toward Bint Jubayl, and south towards Yarun.
This may be the mildest form of UNIFIL overt aid to the terrorist group Hezbollah. There are other, more overt, kinds of aid that UNIFIL has been happy to provide Hezbollah, such as when UNIFIL abetted the Hezbollah kidnapping of Israeli soldiers on October 7, 2000:
An Indian soldier who served in the UNIFIL brigade on the Israel-Lebanese border reportedly told interviewers in Israel that the soldiers in his brigade "could have prevented the kidnapping" of three Israeli soldiers last October, Eitan Rabin of Maariv reported in an exclusive report Friday.

Dozens in the UNIFIL brigade reportedly watched the kidnapping but did nothing. Moreover, at least four Indian soldiers reportedly had been bribed [reportedly hundereds of thousands of dollars] by the Hizbullah to offer active assistance in carrying out the abduction.

...The Indian soldier said that at least four UN soldiers collaborated with the Hizbullah to help them reach the ambush location, and to assist them in locating the IDF soldiers.
UNIFIL, under Frence leadership, refused at the time to provide Israel with uncensured tape of what happened following the kidnapping when Hezbollah removed evidence. UNIFIL claimed to be doing this in the name of neutrality.

UNIFIL is not neutral, it is neutered, and has no business being anywhere in the vicinity where peace and people's lives are at stake.

But then again, neither does the UN.

Technorati Tag: and and and and and .



Birthright Israel--Love of More Than Just Zionism

Nathaniel Popper of the Forward writes that there is more to Birthright Israel than love of just Zionism:
Birthright Israel, which has taken more than 100,000 young Jews to the Holy Land, is generally thought to be a tool for inculcating Zionism. But when it was organized, Yossi Beilin, then Israel's justice minister and the official at the center of the project, reflected the sentiments of the philanthropists behind it when he said, "I see myself as a Jewish shadchan," using the Hebrew word for matchmaker.
Ths success of Birthright Israel has encouraged all kinds of grants for other projects as well--a federation-sponosred dating game for Russian Jews in San Francisco, a singles initiative in Los Angeles funded by the Newton D. and Rochelle F. Becker Foundation and in New York: Makor, which sponsored a sold-out speed-dating session last week. Then there is Michael Steinhardt--who turned from hedge-funds to impresario turned matchmaker--who has given millions to Birthright Israel, and founded Makor. At the Manhattan Jewish Experience he promises a honeymoon on his Anguila estate to any couple in the room who meets that night and eventually marries. He claims to have paid for 20 honeymoons so far. The Manhattan Jewish Experience itself counts some 60 couples as a result of its work.

Meanwhile, Popper gives a clue why Birthright Israel has succeeded--not only in matchmaking and increasing numbers:
It was the allure not of a Jewish woman but of a free trip that inspired me to go on the Birthright tour.

Maybe, though, that's the key to its success. Critics would be quick to say that matches like mine will only push the problem of assimilation one further generation down the line--without a deep attachment to Judaism, they'd say, there's no substance to my Jewish identity. But my new partner has shown me the wonders of candle lighting, the Yiddish language and the holidays, and the beauty of these Jewish rituals is much more evident through the rose-colored glasses of love.

Technorati Tag: and .

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Lebanese View of Hezbollah's 'Victory'

The issue of victory in the recent war in Lebanon has been argued back and forth. Israelis for the most part recognize their failures and are working on learning from the mistakes--including pushing for Olmert's ouster from power.

On the Lebanese side, Michael Young--opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon--is not impressed by Hezbollah's claim to victory:
But what kind of victory is this that, even by Hezbollah's unexacting standards, must qualify as a major setback? In its public appraisals of the conflict, Hezbollah has ignored what Israel did to those parts of Lebanon the party cannot claim as its own. Its cries of triumph have been focused on the stubborn resistance put up by Hezbollah combatants in south Lebanon. Nothing has been heard from party leaders about the billions of dollars of losses in infrastructure; about the immediate losses to businesses that will be translated into higher unemployment; about the long-term opportunity costs of the fighting; about the impact that political instability will have (indeed has already had) on public confidence and on youth emigration; and about the general collapse in morale that Lebanon faces.
Young finds that Hezbollah has even failed according to their own definition of victory.

The reason for Hezbollah's 10,000 to 15,000 rockets was to act as a deterrence, but Hezbollah's use of those rockets will result more suffering and traumatizing of the Shiite community, creating only more political fallout. Even the money that Hezbollah is now distributing can only go so far in compensating for the suffering, lost lives, lost businesses, and lost livliehoods.

Furthermore, Hezbollah's base of support among the Shiites may decrease in the face of being sacrificed for Iran, thousands of miles away.

After refusing to allow the Lebanese army into southern Lebanon, he has now allowed it in. Hezbollah's deterence value to Iran is decreased if it goes against the Lebanese concensus and the international community. [Personally, I would imagine that Nasrallah cares about the Lebanese concensus more than about international opinion, assuming he cares about the welfare of the Lebanese at all]

Meanwhile, for its efforts Iran now is giving out large amounts of money to Lebanese Shiites to hold onto its base of support while at the same time Iran's own poor complain that Iran has abandoned them. In return, a situation has been created where Lebanese sentiment might hinder Hezbollah's ability to deter Israel from attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. Furthermore, new attacks from Israel in reaction to Hezbollah attacks might cause the Shiites to turn against Nasrallah.

Young suggests that both the government and the parliamentary majority in Lebanon--which includes those hostile to both Syria and Hezbollah, are working against Nasrallah's efforts to transform his 'victory' into political gains. As the costs of the war become apparent, the Lebanese unenthusiastically see the war as nothing more than a calamity--and Hezbollah has not been able to reverse this mood.

Young concludes:
So perhaps a victory it is, but in that case Hezbollah's victory is no different than most other Arab victories in recent decades: the "victory" of October 1973, where Egypt and Syria managed to cross into Israeli-held land, their land, only to be later saved from a thrashing by timely United Nations intervention; the "victory" of 1982, where Palestinian groups were ultimately expelled from West Beirut, but were proud to have stayed in the fight for three months; the Iraqi "victory" of 1991, where Saddam Hussein brought disaster on his country but still held on to power. Now we have the Hezbollah "victory" of 2006: the Israelis bumbled and blundered, but still managed to create a million refugees, to kill over 1,000 people, and to kick Lebanon's economy back several years. One dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss.
While Israel does not see the war as a victory, it may be that a significant number of Lebanese do not either. That Nasrallah and Hezbollah claim victory may put them in the minority--among the very people upon whom they have brought so much suffering.

If Young's analysis is accurate, Nasrallah may need to ask Iran to hold his room at their Lebanese embassy.

Technorati Tag: and and and and and .

List of the Victims of the Hezbollah Rocket Attacks

In a comment to my post about the 123 Israeli children killed by Palestinian terrorists, someone asked me if there was information about the children murdered by the rockets fired by Hezbollah into Israel--the rockets with shrapenel to increase the number of casualties.

Yisrael Medad emailed me that a list of the casualties of the rockets fired by Hezbollah can be found at the website of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

One difference between the pictures Israel provides and the Hezbollah-aided media provides is that Israel tends to provide pictures of the people in life; not in death staged for maximum propaganda effect.

Apparently, for Hezbollah the Moslem concept of modesty has its limitations. And does Islam permit these other 'businesses' of Hezbollah as well:
· Drug trafficking
· Illegal arms trading
· Cigarette smuggling
· Currency, video and CD counterfeiting
· Fraud
· Robbery
· Operating illegal telephone exchanges
· Extortion
If the Hezbollah 'victory' has restored Arab honor, just what is it that Arabs are honoring?

Technorati Tag: and and and and .

Israel's 'Right of Return' is Made in Japan (and Armenia and Bulgaria and Finland...)

In a piece on the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal--"Does Japan have a right to exist as a Japanese state?"--David Bernstein asks why the concept of 'the right of return', basing citizenship in part on ethnic descent, is only called into question in regards to Israel. He notes that:
judging by immigration laws, there are quite a few, and with a few exceptions (Armenia and Germany), their discriminatory immigration policies exist, unlike Israel's, without any justification resulting from persecution of that group.

For example, according to Wikipedia: "Japanese citizenship is conferred jus sanguinis, and monolingual Japanese-speaking minorities often reside in Japan for generations under permanent residency status without acquiring citizenship in their country of birth." Why does Japan have the right to exist as a Japanese state? Has this question ever been asked?

An Irish government Web site states: "If you are of the third or subsequent generation born abroad to an Irish citizen (in other words, one of your grandparents is an Irish citizen but none of your parents was born in Ireland), you may be entitled to become an Irish citizen"--if, as I understand it, you register properly. Does Ireland have the right to exist as an Irish state?

Several other countries recognize a "right of return" similar, but often broader, than Israel's (via Wikipedia):

• Armenia. "Individuals of Armenian origin shall acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia through a simplified procedure."

• Bulgaria. "Any person . . . whose descent from a Bulgarian citizen has been established by way of a court ruling shall be a Bulgarian citizen by origin."

• Finland. "The Finnish Aliens Act provides for persons who are of Finnish origin to receive permanent residence. This generally means Karelians and Ingrian Finns from the former Soviet Union, but United States, Canadian or Swedish nationals with Finnish ancestry can also apply."

• Germany. "German law allows persons of German descent living in Eastern Europe to return to Germany and acquire German citizenship." My understanding is that this German descent may go back many generations. (Note that until recently, Germany's citizenship law was less liberal than Israel's, in that it did not allow people who were not ethnic Germans, including Turks who had lived in Germany for generations, to be become citizens.)

• Greece. " 'Foreign persons of Greek origin' who neither live in Greece nor hold Greek citizenship nor were necessarily born there, may become Greek citizens by enlisting in Greece's military forces."

Wikipedia provides a several other examples, none of which seem to ever raise the same questions about the legitimacy of the states involved as the Law of Return does for Israel.
Bernstein also notes the difference between Israel and these other countries in having a Right of Return: Hitler's attempted--and partially successful--genocide, Stalin's attempt that was pre-empted only by his death, and the history of violence both attempted and successful over the centuries requires the need of a homeland where Jews can find a refuge.

Even as that refuge itself is under attack.

Crossposted at Israpundit

Technorati Tag: and .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If Al Qaeda is Behind the Kidnapping of the Fox News Journalists--Why?

According to The Blotter, the kidnapping of the two Fox News Journalists--Steve Centanni and Olag Wiig--by a group identifying themselves as the Holy Jihad Brigades, may in fact have been carried out by Al Qaeda.

Besides the similarity in the language used by the terrorists to that used by Al Qaeda in the past, the nature of the kidnapping itself is not the kind done by Palestinian terrorists:
Also unusual for Palestinian militants was the extraordinary demand issued in the statement that "Muslim prisoners in U.S. jails be released within three days" in exchange for the two Fox journalists. Targeting journalists from an American news organization and making demands on the United States rather than Israel is not typical for Palestinian groups.
So why has Al Qaeda now taken an interest in this particular area of the Middle East?
Analysts believe that al Qaeda has expressed an increasing interest in the Arab-Israeli conflict for a number of reasons, one of which is their major setbacks in Iraq. Their tactics of beheading and mass murder of innocent civilians have not been popular with the majority of Iraqis, and their leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. air attack two months ago.

Al Qaeda's camps in Afghanistan have been dismantled after their allies, the Taliban, were overthrown by the U.S.-led war in October 2001, and their leadership has been forced to seek refuge in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Many of their top operatives have been arrested in the past four years.

By contrast, the increasing chaos of Gaza represents an opportunity for al Qaeda to tap into the growing rage of young Palestinians, frustrated with the corruption of their leaders and the lack of any real progress towards a viable state. The impoverished camps of Gaza represent a "fertile ground" for al Qaeda, according to Palestinian observers.

Finally, the huge political boost achieved by Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite organization, during the last engagement with Israel represents a major challenge for al Qaeda. "Al Qaeda has been overshadowed by Hezbollah. The only way to regain the limelight is to focus its attention on the Palestinian issue," said Gerges.
So far, the terrorists have in fact made this more of an anti-American than an anti-Israel attack.

But they have only just started.

Technorati Tag: and and and .

Hezbollywood Makes Pallywood Look Like B-Movie Producers

Pallywood is nothing like Hezbollywood.
The Palestinians orchestrate shootings...funerals.
Hezbollah orchestrated a war.
Public diplomacy for any country, not just Israel, has gone global. While the conflict may be determined in local terms, such as Israel's fight against Hizballah, the ramifications of the action itself are global in nature. Therefore, public diplomacy must be geared toward the global scene.

Ever since 9/11, we have been in a different type of war. We were exposed for the first time to a global network of terrorist organizations, sort of a multi-national corporation of non-state actors.
On the Lebanese scene, through the careful manipulation of evidence, the theater of war has turned into a crime scene. Every action that Israel takes in Lebanon - with its densely populated villages that Israel must operate in because that's the only way that we can uproot the terrorists in them - creates an opportunity for the other side to use public diplomacy with global ramifications. Thus, instead of the war being about Israel's right of self-defense, Hizballah was able to turn it around so that the issue on the international agenda became Israel's destruction of Lebanon and Israel as the cause of world instability. The victim becomes the criminal.

For example, Nasrallah ordered his men to remove their uniforms and blend in and continue to fight from within the civilian population. In this way, when Israel attacks Hizballah, the scene is one of Israel moving against what appears to be civilians, even though rockets fired from these villages are striking Israel. Attacks on what looks like civilian targets can then be called "crimes against humanity" and "war crimes." In addition, by blending in with civilians, it's easier to fight the Israelis who exercise self-restraint when fighting near civilians.

Another way to change a theater of war into a crime scene is by building Hizballah positions in close proximity to those of UNIFIL. Then there is always an opportunity for a potential mishap where Israel will hit the UNIFIL position by mistake. Or Hizballah may provoke an Israeli attack by firing from a specific location and ensuring that a human shield of innocent civilians will be present at the site.

These are just some examples of how Hizballah uses public diplomacy and the media as a tool of war. They create changes on the ground so that later they can manipulate the situation, and once the crime scene is created, the media look for the villain and his smoking gun.
The Hezbollah production was quite an achievement.

And it might be part of the reason that Palestinian terrorists have raised the bar by kidnapping Steve Centanni and Olag Wiig, the two Fox News journalists.

Technorati Tag: and and .

Voices in the Democratic Party About Israel--and Jews

In Is the Democratic Party Going European?, Jonathan Rosenblum writes about a growing trend within the Democratic Party vis-a-vis Israel.
A deep ambivalence towards Israel has infected the Democratic Party, which many political analysts are currently projecting to take over one or both houses of Congress in the next elections. A recent Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll comparing voter attitudes on the war in Lebanon and towards Israel shows Republicans to be far more supportive of Israel than Democrats. Though the Democratic Party is the political home of the vast majority of American Jews, 54% of Democrats advocate that the United States adopt a more neutral – i.e., less pro-Israel – stance to the Middle East, as opposed to only 29% of Republicans. Nearly two-thirds of Republicans felt the Israeli bombing in Lebanon was fully justified, as opposed to only 29% of Democrats.
This by itself is not really something new. In June of last year, while conducting a mock impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war, a number of Democrats took a swipe at Israel:
The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration "neocons" so "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

"Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," McGovern said. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq's threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his "candid answer."

At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations -- that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an "insider trading scam" on 9/11 -- that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks.
Howard Dean spoke out against those statement. But Rosenblum goes further, looking at the views expressed within the Democratic Party not only about Israel in particular, but about Jews in general:
On the angry Left blog sites, which play an ever larger role in Democratic Party politics, attacks on Jews are commonplace.

After spending several months campaigning for Senator Joseph Lieberman in Connecticut, Lanny Davis, former special counsel to President Clinton, revised his lifelong view that intolerance and hate-speech are more likely to be found on the Right. In a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Davis provided a sampler of the anti-Semitic attacks on Senator Lieberman posted on some of the most widely read and influential Democratic blog sites.

Lieberman was accused of supporting the war in Iraq so that American soldiers, not Israeli ones, would die. One post on Daily Kos, the most influential Democratic blog, read, "Jews only care about the welfare of other Jews . . . Ignore all the Jewish propaganda about participating in the civil rights movement of the ‘60s." Another Daily Kos reader described Lieberman as a "racist and religious bigot." And a reader at Huffington Post opined that Lieberman "cannot escape the religious bond he represents. His wife’s name is Haggadah or Diaspora or something you eat at Pesach." Yet another blogger made fun of the beard Lieberman grew during the Three Weeks, and suggested that he dye it "blood red."

Venomous caricatures of Israel as the new Third Reich have long been standard fare in respectable papers in Europe, but the migration of such views across the Atlantic is deeply worrying, if only because America is Israel’s one absolutely indispensable ally.
If anti-Semitic statements like this are more common among the more liberal left-wing members of the Democratic Party, then a lot will depend on the degree to which their influence within the Democratic Party as a whole increases. Their influence is not certain and still remains to be seen. But it is a warning sign that Israel--and Jews--can never be certain of who their friends and allies are.

Technorati Tag: and and and .