Tuesday, July 31, 2007

WHAT'S THE HURRY? Condoleezza Rice seems to be a lady in a hurry:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be keen on keeping alive the fledgling sense of momentum in the diplomatic process during a 24-hour visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority beginning on Wednesday afternoon, government officials said in advance of her arrival.

...The sense of momentum that Rice wants to build on stems from events since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June, and the steps that have been taken to create a PA in the West Bank that Israel can view as a partner.
If Rice is keen on getting things going, then Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit is even more keen on getting things to go even faster--much faster:
The Egyptian foreign minister indicated he would like to see an elaborate agenda for the U.S.-hosted meeting, giving high priority to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the near future.

"I believe that what is needed is accelerated moves in order to reach the horizon of that [Palestinian] state, and an agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority," Aboul Gheit said.

"This settlement ... will be presented to the Palestinian people. If we wait, I believe this will have a negative impact on the general situation in dealing with the Palestinian issue," he added.
Somehow, you get the sense that the speed with which these two want things done is in reverse proportion to their desire to think through what is actually happening--and what the long-range consequences are.

Kind of like when Haman is rushed off to the party with Esther and Achashveirosh.

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DENNIS PRAGER ON "ISLAMOPHOBIA" (UPDATED): Dennis Prager has written an article describing "Islamophobia" as a deceptive term. Here is part of that article, followed by an excerpt of his discussion of his article on CNN and debate with Christopher Hitchens, and Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR.
Why "Islamophobia" Is a Brilliant Term

What do anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia have in common?

In fact, nothing.

But according to Islamist groups, Western media and the United Nations, they have everything in common. Anti-Semites hate all Jews, racists hate all members of another race, and Islamophobes hates all Muslims.

Whoever coined the term "Islamophobia" was quite shrewd. Notice the intellectual sleight of hand here. The term is not "Muslim-phobia" or "anti-Muslimist," it is Islam-ophobia -- fear of Islam -- yet fear of Islam is in no way the same as hatred of all Muslims. One can rightly or wrongly fear Islam, or more usually, aspects of Islam, and have absolutely no bias against all Muslims, let alone be a racist.

The equation of Islamophobia with racism is particularly dishonest. Muslims come in every racial group, and Islam has nothing to do with race. Nevertheless, mainstream Western media, Islamist groups calling themselves Muslim civil liberties groups and various Western organizations repeatedly declare that Islamophobia is racism.

...The fact remains that the term "Islamophobia" has one purpose -- to suppress any criticism, legitimate or not, of Islam. And given the cowardice of the Western media, and the collusion of the left in banning any such criticism (while piling it on Christianity and Christians), it is working.

UPDATE: I notice a link to here from Muslim Online, a forum where they were commenting on Hooper's false claim that Robert Spencer wrote that if you treat Muslims badly enough they will leave--the poster there claimed it was in a book. It was not. It was on Spencer's blog. Spencer himself responds to this and notes that this was in a comment, not part of something he himself wrote on his blog--a key distinction Hooper neglects to mention. When Spencer found out about it, he deleted the comment and banned the person who made it.

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PRESIDENT BUSH'S BROKEN PROMISES. Especially in light of President Bush's new initiative, it is helpful to judge where we may be going by where we have been.

Arutz Sheva noted that:

Bush has clearly stated the need for mutuality:
Pres. Bush also stopped short of saying Israel must withdraw from all of Judea and Samaria. Bush said rather that future Israel-PA negotiations must "lead to a territorial settlement, with mutually agreed borders reflecting previous lines and current realities, and mutually agreed adjustments."
This is all well and good, but as Michael Rubin reminds us, Bush has given rosy assurances before that have not been lived up to.

Promises have been broken:
On June 24, 2002, Mr. Bush declared, "The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure." Less than a year later the State Department reversed course, eliminating the cessation of terror as a precondition for engagement. Palestinian terrorism grew.
Terrorists have been reinvented into peace partners:
While the White House condemns Hamas terrorism, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, to which Mr. Bush promised a half billion dollars in July, is equally culpable. A year ago Fatah's military wing threatened to "strike at the economic and civilian interests of these countries [the U.S. and Israel], here and abroad," and it claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on the Israeli town of Sderot in June.
The US has dishonestly propped up a corrupt leadership:
Mr. Bush has yet to act on his promise to resolve the case of Palestinian banker Issam Abu Issa, whose visa the State Department revoked in February 2004 as he prepared to testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Palestinian Authority corruption.
Unlike in Iraq, instead of a surge--Israel is being subjected to more of the same watered-down policy that has continued to weaken Israel and strengthened her enemies. Unlike in Iraq, President Bush--and the US--do not have a personal stake in what happens to Israel.

And it shows.

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NO HOLDS NAHR AL-BARED. Khaled Abu Toameh writes about the irony that:
For the past three months, a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East has been under attack, resulting in the death of hundreds of people and the displacement of nearly half of the camp’s 40,000 residents. Yet the United Nations Security Council has not held an emergency session to condemn the attack. Nor have the governments of France and Britain issued statements condemning the “atrocities” against the Palestinian refugees in the Nahr al-Bared camp in northern Lebanon. For those who may wonder why there is no public outcry, the answer is simple. The army that is attacking the camp with heavy artillery and helicopter warships is not the IDF. It’s an Arab army—the Lebanese Army.
But for all the hypocrisy and double-standards evident in the world (lack of) response to what is happening, keep in mind Toameh's conclusion--that the Lebanese tactics are no more successful than Israel's more restrained approach:
Militiamen and armed gangs continue to operate in most of these camps, especially in the Palestinian territories and in Lebanon. The Lebanese army and the IDF still have a lot of difficult work ahead of them. Sadly, many civilians will continue to pay the price—unless they wake up one morning and decide to expel the terrorists from their streets.
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SUICIDE IS CONTAGIOUS--AND NOT JUST IN GAZA. While The LA Times is reporting that obesity is contagious, Seth Godin in "since 1968" blogged back in 2004 about copycat suicides by children--in India, reported by the BBC. Since 1968 writes:
Incredibly, the wave of suicides in India is nothing new; according to [author Malcolm] Gladwell, Micronesia recently experienced a suicide epidemic among teenage males in which the suicide rate peaked at 160 per 100,000 (the comparable rate in the United States is 22 per 100,000). According to Gladwell, suicide rates temporarily rise when a suicide is reported by the media, and the type of mimicked suicide corresponds to the type of reported suicide; for instance, a famous suicide by car accident would cause a rash of other suicides by car accidents, but not a rise in suicide by gun or pills. Gladwell writes:

Here we have a contagious epidemic of self-destruction, engaged in by youth in the spirit of experimentation, imitation, and rebellion. Here we have a mindless action that somehow, among teenagers, has become an important form of self-expression. In a strange way, the Micronesian suicide epidemic sounds an awful lot like the epidemic of teenage smoking in the West. [emphasis added]

These suggests a more complex explanation for Islamist suicide bombers than the simplistic blaming of economic conditions--an explanation most recently discredited by the number of Muslim doctors who have been revealed to be involved in terrorist plots. Even among Palestinian Arabs who methodically train their children to murder Jews, their culture has already evolved into a self-perpetuating epidemic self-destruction and despair that may be mirroring what Gladwell describes.

In effect, the Palestinian leadership has developed something that is more fitting for the overused phrase "cycle of violence."

Seth Godin updated this post in another blog:
The most important thing you can do is choose who you're hanging out with. The second high-leverage thing is to put dynamics in place that reinforce the ideas you'd like to see spread. Celebrate the heroes. Make it easy for those ideas to spread...
Or as Chazal put it: “Oy LaRasha VeOy LeShcheino”...“Tov LaTzaddik VeTov LeShcheino.”

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Israeli President Shimon Peres, in a radio interview on Monday, called Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a “joke” and said he appeared to worship “the bomb more than he’s worshipping the Gd in heaven”.
As opposed to worshipping Oslo?

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DESECRATING A BIBLE IS NOT A HATE CRIME. At least that is the conclusion you get from The Washington Times:
Asked whether someone was ever charged with a hate crime over the Bible, [Stanislav Shmulevich's attorney] Mr. Thorpe said "that would take a paralegal a couple of days to research, but this whole situation is fraught with this kind of question."

A search of Lexis/Nexis did not disclose any hate-crime prosecutions for destroying a Bible.
Meanwhile, Allahpundit--who does not find the Lexis/Nexis search conclusive--has a post delving deeper into the legal aspects, including Eugene Volokh’s take on New York’s hate-crime statute. Allahpundit also writes that the idea to charge the hate crime came from the police and not from Pace University--and he explains why that is a good thing.

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THE CANDIDATES ON DAY SCHOOL TUITION: The Jerusalem Post asked an assortment of presidential candidates:
The cost of education has become almost unaffordable for parents who send their children to parochial schools, Jewish or other. No one is asking for the state to pay for religious studies. Americans want to keep Church and state separate. But what is your platform/plan/program to assist parents who want their children to have a religious as well as secular education?
Answers were provided by:
  • Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico (D)
  • Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York (D)
  • Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina (D)
  • Senator Barack Obama of Illinois (D)
  • Senator Joe Biden of Delaware (D)
  • Senator John McCain of Arizona (R)
Read what they said.

Personally, I found their comments overall to be vague and canned--just what you'd expect from someone running for office.

[Hat tip: SchmoozED]

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HOW MISTAKES ARE MADE AT THE TIMES. Soccer Dad links to Marty Peretz of The New Republic that at The New York Times, mistakes are put into the article during the editing process.

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OLMERT IS FIRST PRIME MINISTER TO OPEN PANDORA'S BOX. Israel Matzav has the details. (And IM is right--come to think of it, Olmert does bear a resemblance to Ed Norton of The Honeymooners.)

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IDF HASBARA GETS ITS OWN 'WINOGRAD' REPORT. Elder of Ziyon posts a scathing letter from Omedia detailing it's failure to provide ready information to the media.

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Springtime for Osama?

[Hat tip: LGF]

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O'REILLY VS. MALKIN ON STANISLAV SHMULEVICH. O'Reilly is happy Shmulevich is being charged with a hate crime; Malkin looks at the context at Pace University--and is critical in general of hate crime law.

Link: sevenload.com

Check out Bryan Preston's post which seems to mirror Malkin's argument.

[Hat tip: Hot Air]

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Monday, July 30, 2007

THE TELEGRAPH'S "MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR OF GAZA" In an audio report from The Telegraph, a journalist tells about his tour in Gaza--courtesy of Hamas, aboard a bus with the sign "Sweety Tour". While admonishing "lets not be fooled by the normality we see now," the British reporter ignores terrorist attacks on Israel--limiting the chaos in Gaza as being the kidnapping of Alan Johnston and the civil war with Fatah, as if Israel is unaffected. The only mention of Israel is to blithely blame the economic hardships of Gaza on Israeli control, while neglecting to mention the rockets fired at Israel.

The reporter is fooled by the same normality he lectures the interviewer against--pitiful.

The actual article is more balanced, including this interesting juxtaposition:
A great deal was made of the fact the portrait of Mr Abbas still hung in the main reception room. But then a few minutes later the bus passed a vast mural of Yasser Arafat, the former Fatah leader. The mural was pockmarked with fresh-looking bullet holes.

"We believe in freedom of speech and democracy," said Ahmed Bahar, the deputy speaker of the Palestinian parliament and a senior Hamas figure.
Terrocracy in action.

Listen for yourself.

[Hat tip: Hot Air Headlines]

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BLOGGERS VISITING ISRAEL. Scott Johnson of Powerline is visiting Israel--and he is not alone:
I'm on a whirliwind four-day, three-city tour of Israel as a guest of America's Voices in Israel. It's the first-ever bloggers tour sponsored by America's Voices.
My traveling companions include Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, Jeff Emanuel of Redstate and Jeff Emanuel, Andrew Breitbart of The Drudge Report, Breitbart and Breitbart TV, and Andrew's attorney Larry Solov. Our host from America's Voices is the lovely Fern Oppenheim.
Today, Gateway Pundit has a short clip from a talk given by Natan Sharansky on the war in Iraq, including a critique of Bush's conduct of that war and of the media coverage of it.

It will be interesting to read the posts that result from the trip.

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Political Correctness
News item: The Iranian newspaper Kayhan, has criticized officials there for allowing the sale of the new Harry Potter book, claiming the series is a Zionist project in order to disrupt the minds of young people.

“The main thing is to try and convince as many people as possible that You-Know-Who came back, Harry….[Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge] is absolutely refusing to believe it’s happened.”
“But why?” said Harry desperately. “Why’s he being so stupid?”…
“Because accepting that Voldemort’s back would mean trouble….”
“It’s hard to convince people he’s back, especially as they really don’t want to believe it in the first place.”
—Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, pp. 93-94.

By Barry Rubin

Harry Potter was angry. He had been used to all the abuse and criticism, the danger and adventure, the fear that Lord Voldemort would return and turn the world into a living hell for wizard and Muggle alike. But why were people who should have defended their civilization pretending that nothing was happening or even becoming apologists for the other side?

There it was, the lead story in the Daily Prophet newspaper:

“Minister Fudge Urges Engagement; Accuses Harry Potter of Voldemortphobia”

“What’s going on here?” Harry said angrily. “I personally saw Voldemort gathering his followers but when I read the Daily Prophet it would seem there is no real threat. And now they want to negotiate with Voldemort?”
“That’s not all,” Hermione explained. “The newspaper is trying to make you sound deluded for exposing the truth.”

“Yes,” Ron added, ”and there are a lot of people now who favor giving aid to Voldemort in order—they claim—to moderate him.”

Certainly, the MSMM (Mainstream Magical Media), had long been blind to the return of Voldemort and his Death Eater movement. The Order of the Phoenix, the group formed to fight Voldemort, had a lot of blogs but the followers of You-Know-Who seemed to control all too many of the biggest institutions. Even on the Internet, Draco Malfoy had even developed one of the most popular blogs of all, “The Daily Draco” and some of the blander naïf’s from one of Hogwarts’ houses had created the “Hufflepuff Post.”

Harry just didn’t understand. How could anyone not see the terrible things going on around the world: the suicide bombing attacks; the organized incitement of hatred, the attempt by an extremist movement to take over and enslave millions of people? Why were they constantly attacking the victims and ridiculing those trying to expose these dangers, distorting their words and slandering their characters?

Even Hogwarts could no longer be counted on to fight the threat. The school had been taken over by teachers who brainwashed students into thinking that the Voldemort movement was all the fault of Dumbledore and others trying to fight it. The Death Eaters’ deeds were simply being exaggerated, said the professors. They had grievances, after all, and if only these were addressed and understood, there wouldn’t be any conflict. And hadn’t all wizards committed crimes in the past? Let him who was without sin cast the first spell. This was certainly the line taken by the Magical Events Studies Association, the organization of those who held such views, producing studies like, “Dementors: Legitimate Resistance As A Response to Oppression.”

Nothing could be taken for granted. No matter what the other side did there was always some excuse made to rationalize it. With Voldemort working to develop extreme new magical weapons and threatening to wipe the Muggles off the face of the earth, there were those who explained that his statements were being taken out of context. He was merely expressing the hope that they would come to see the error of their ways and peacefully commit suicide.

Moreover, despite Dumbledore’s efforts to block aid or negotiations with Voldemort, delegations were constantly traveling to his headquarters, posing with him in photo opportunities. He was really quite nice in person, visitors explained. And he really does want peace. After all, he said so and why would Lord Voldemort tell a lie?


Author’s note: As popular as the Harry Potter series has been, it is still just a set of novels about a fantasy situation. Thank goodness nothing like this could happen in the real world.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center(GLORIA) Center, at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzilia, Israel. His latest book is The Truth about Syria

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JIHAD: THE MUSICAL! The British producer has already started to defend the show:
He said: "We have no intention of causing offence or insult with this show.

"It is simply a comedy musical, following the British tradition of high-kicking, high-spirited musical theatre about a fictional Afghan poppy farmer who falls in love with the wrong person and finds himself caught in a dilemma."
Hijacks Hijinks ensue.

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GAZA AS FANTASY ISLAND. Jonathan Rosenblum on President Bush's latest speech on initiative for Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.
The President's New Initiative

by Jonathan Rosenblum
Yated Ne'eman
July 25, 2007

It's too bad that President Bush was not able to attend a recent conference sponsored by the Shalem Center on the aftermath of Hamas's takeover of Gaza . Had he been there he would have heard Palestinian human activist Bassam Eid declare, "There is no Palestinian today who demands a state. We want health, education, and a chance to work." Eid went on to say that there is not one Palestinian leader today who can be counted on to keep his word in any matter or who is capable of imposing any order on Palestinian society, The last thing that Israel or the United States should be contemplating, he said, is giving Mahmoud Abbas more arms. "We [the Palestinians] are a nation that does not deserve a state," Eid concluded.
A Palestinian state has never seemed further away than it does in the wake of Hamas's seizure of power in Gaza, leading to a complete separation between the West Bank and Gaza. Abbas proved himself totally hapless in the wake of the Hamas onslaught in the Gaza. Even if Abbass's intentions were as pure as the driven snow, Eid is surely right, that he has proven himself totally ineffectual and incapable of making good on any commitment he might make.

Abbas's newly appointed prime minister Salaam Fayad says the right things: he calls for governmental transparency and the end of endemic corruption: advocates large-scale building projects that could house many of those still living in refugee camps after 60 years where they have remained a bottomless pool of hatred for Israel and a breeding ground for terrorists (though Fayad does not explicitly declare any such purpose); and urges the centralization in the government of the means of force, though he has also declared that he will not resort to force to achieve that goal.

But as Evelyn Gordon pointed out in the Jerusalem Post last week, even if these goals could once have been achieved, a lot of water has passed under the dam since the first Oslo Accords, and the experience since then has made their achievement far more difficult today than at the outset of the Oslo process.

Then Israel was eager to help in the Palestinians economic development. But the escalating terrorism under Oslo, eventually shut-off the Israel to both Palestinian workers and products. And the checkpoints and other security measures that Israel has been forced to impose in the West Bank make economic development that much more difficult.

Yasir Arafat might have had the authority, if he had wished to use it, of creating a single security apparatus, but he preferred for his own reasons to proliferate the number of militias, each one on his payroll. Similarly, he preferred skimming off most of the unprecedented international aid lavished on the Palestinians for arming his various militias – approximately 60% of the Palestinian Authority budget under Arafat went to the various security forces --and to padding his bank accounts to investing in Palestinian infrastructure. As a consequence, trust in Fatah is near zero. Nor is there reason to believe that the Arafat cronies who joined him at the feeding trough will willingly give up their perks, even if Fayad were serious about transparency.

At the same conference at which Eid renounced any aspirations for a Palestinian state in the near future, Gen. Giora Eiland, former head of the National Security Council under Ariel Sharon, listed four reasons why there will be no two-state solution under the current model of dividing up the territory west of the Jordan between Israel and Palestine: (1) Hamas is strong enough to torpedo any settlement; (2) The gap between what Israel will offer and what the Palestinians will accept has only widened; (3) The Palestinians will not do anything to stop terrorism until Israel has agreed to their political demands; Israel will not negotiate final status issues until the Palestinians undertake serious efforts to curb terrorism and end incitement against Israel; and (4) Any Palestinian state will be inherently unstable (with the current population of the Gaza Strip projected to double by 2020). .

MY GUESS IS THAT PRESIDENT BUSH KNOWS that there will be no Palestinian state any time in the near future. The Palestinians have convincingly demonstrated to the world that they are very far indeed from being able to run a state of their own.

Nevertheless, the President chose to reprise last week his Rose Garden speech of June 22 2002, in which he first declared his support for a Palestinian state. And in last week's address, he expressed his hope that "we can soon begin serious negotiations toward the creation of a Palestinian state." The President announced his intention to convene an international conference to "review the progress that has been made toward building Palestinian institutions [and} to look for innovative and effective ways to support further reform."

Like the two leaders he seeks to bring together – Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas – Bush knows that this is pure political theater. But each man has his own reasons for furthering the illusion of movement. Bush would like to distract attention from Iraq for awhile, and also to get those critics who blame a lack of American involvement for the stalled Palestinian-Israel peace process off his back. (In fact, it was the hyper-involvement of the Clinton administration in the Oslo years and the failure to hold Arafat to account that gave rise to the present impasse.)

For his part, Abbas is grateful for any increased international aid he can commandeer and for the international legitimacy that Bush confers upon him. Olmert knows that only the appearance of movement on the peace process can win the Israeli press to his side. He is caught, however, in a vise, since virtually any concession he offers to the Palestinians at this point will be deeply unpopular in Israel.

Not that Bush's speech lost all touch with reality. He did not claim that the time is ripe for final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The first item on his agenda, as Michael Oren pointed out in the Wall Street Journal, was not negotiations between Abbas and Olmert, but laying the foundations for Palestinian state-building. President Bush emphasized that the mandate of the newly appointed Quartet representative Tony Blair is to help the Palestinians build their institutions not to involve himself in peace negotiations. First, the Palestinians need to establish the rule of law and a sound financial system, move towards economic development, and dismantle the various militias.

In short, claimed Oren, the President clearly placed the onus on the Palestinians for showing a commitment to peace as a pre-condition for negotiations. They must demonstrate, the President said, a desire for a future of "decency and hope" and not a future of terror and death." In addition, the President reiterated the United States' commitment to Israel's existence as a Jewish homeland, an implicit rejection of the Palestinians' claimed "right" of return. The President also anticipated that the eventual border between any Palestinian state and Israel will have to take into account not just previous lines (i.e,, the 1949 Armistice Lines), but also "current realities," thus leaving the door open for Israel's retention of the major settlement blocs.

The Oren view of the speech is the one that the administration chose to emphasize: It sent thousands of copies of his WSJ op-ed to journalists, and at a press conference shortly after the speech, Press Secretary Tony Snow was at pains to stress that the international conference called for by the President was not "a big peace conference. . . . This is a meeting to sit down and try to find ways of building fundamental and crucial institutions for the Palestinians that are going to enable them to have self-government and democracy."

But even Oren has to admit that the President's message was not quite as "unequivocal" as one might have wished. And even if the President's intentions were exactly as stated by Oren, there are still dangers ahead in the President's call for an international conference. For one thing, the United States will not be the only party at such a conference, and other invitees will surely have agendas of their own. Those will likely include efforts to extract from Israel a whole slew of concessions and "confidence-building" measures. Even Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice cannot be counted on to hold unswervingly to the focus on Palestinian institutions. She has been trying to coax Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert into final status negotiations for months.

In addition, the President's speech contained a fair amount of wishful thinking about the true desires of the Palestinian people. He described at length the savagery of Hamas in the recent fighting in Gaza. But throwing enemies to their deaths from rooftops was not a technique confined to the Hamas. Fatah engaged in plenty of savagery of its own, just less successfully. In short, the effort to contrast a brutal Hamas to an almost civilized Fatah fails.

Among the positive developments of the past five years, according to Bush, is that the PA is now headed by a President committed to peace. But the fact that Hamas continues to seek Israel's destruction, does not suddenly turn Fatah into Israel's friend, just because Fatah and Hamas are bitter rivals. Sometimes my enemy's enemy is also my enemy.

The evidence for Abbas's commitment to peace is scanty. He has consistently refused to take the slightest risk for peace. He has done nothing to stop Kassam fire at Sderot and beyond, or to stop the incitement on the official Palestinian TV and radio, or to disarm the militias, or to stop the flow of heavy armaments into Gaza across the Egyptian border or to foster economic development in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal.

Some of Bush's rhetoric was dangerously naïve, as, for instance, his call for Israel to reduce its "footprint [in the West Bank] without reducing its security." That's like calling for the squaring of the circle. The Israeli checkpoints and nightly patrols in Palestinian cities have resulted in a huge reduction in terrorist activities. Amazingly, however, Israel picked up on the hint. Last week, Prime Minister Olmert granted amnesty to over 200 highly sought after terrorists, in return for their pledge to forswear terrorist activity and give up their weapons (which they can quickly retain by joining the local security services.

Even if President Bush knows in his heart how far the Palestinians are from accepting Israel's existence – Palestinian polls consistently show majority support for non-recognition of Israel and ongoing attacks on Israeli civilians – the way these issues are discussed has a way of coming back to haunt. Stupid talk tends to generate stupid policies. (The British government's refusal to discuss the religion and religious beliefs of the terrorists who sought to detonate two car bombs outside of London clubs and attacked Glasgow Airport last month hardly gives one confidence that the government will prove capable of dealing with Britain's internal Islamic threat. It's hard to develop strategies for a problem one dare not name.

At the end of his Mideast speech, President Bush described a 16-year-old girl in Gaza who allegedly told a reporter that the Hamas executioners "want to destroy the culture of our fathers and grandfathers. We will not allow them to do it. I'm sayings it enough killing." This girl was meant to stand for all the non-Hamas Palestinians, as if clan-based Gaza society was some kind of peaceful paradise before Hamas came onto the scene, and as if the killings she regretted also included those of Israelis.

That, unfortunately, is a fantasy. And if President Bush believes it, then it is a dangerous fantasy.
Read all of Jonathan Rosenblum's articles at Jewish Media Resources.

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NACHUM SEGAL'S INTERVIEW WITH MALCOLM HOENLEIN. Every Friday JM in the AM's Nachum Segal speaks with Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:
Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in for the latest Weekly Update. Nachum and Malcolm began this week's update by discussing Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's alleged remarks regarding Israel and where the Israeli's should consider living. Nachum asked Malcolm to address the planned amnesty for 178 Fatah members as well as the planned strike in Israel this past week. They covered several other topics including: Prime Minister Olmert's expected reaction to statements regarding Jerusalem being a joint capital for both Israel and a Palestinian state, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's involvement in Middle East affairs, the feud between The Jewish Agency and Nefesh B'Nefesh, and MUCH more.
Listen to the interview.

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LET'S HAVE THE OLYMPICS IN GAZA! (I just wanted to be the first to draw the obvious conclusion...)
Earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2014 Winter Games to Sochi, a Russian resort near the Black Sea. “It was a historic decision for all countries,” said Dmitry Chernychenko, the city’s bid chief, after the announcement. “Russia will become even more open, more democratic.” He may be right. The IOC claims it’s only concerned about a city’s ability to stage the Games, but many awards appear to have been made to encourage a host country’s political liberalization. That’s largely why Moscow got the 1980 Summer Olympics and Seoul the 1988 ones. Many analysts, pointing to these two events, have maintained that hard-line governments do not last long after the athletes go home. [emphasis added]
Of course, Abbas might outbid Haniyeh for the right to have them in the West Bank.

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A QURAN DESECRATION LIBEL IN JEWISH HISTORY. Reminiscent of the blood libels when evidence was planted to incriminate Jews in using blood to bake Matzahs, Andrew Bostom relates this incident from 1910:
Another false accusation of Koran desecration by non-Muslim infidels—with even more horrifying consequences—a brutal pogrom against the defenseless dhimmi Jews of Shiraz, Iran—took place in October, 1910. David Littman has provided the full translation of an Alliance Israélite Universale report of the 1910 Shiraz pogrom which was precipitated, in large part, by a mendacious allegation against the Jewish community: desecrating copies of the Koran by placing them in cesspools (latrines).
…about three weeks ago, some scavengers were busy cleaning out the cesspools of a Jewish house when they brought to light an old book, a few pages of which were unsoiled and which was recognized as a Koran…On the first day of the festival of Succoth, some Jews were returning home from synagogue in the morning when they noticed at the entrance of their house a veiled Muslim woman holding a parcel under her arm. As soon as she saw them approaching, she hurriedly threw her parcel into the cesspool…then she ran away. The parcel was hastily pulled out. Once again, it was a Koran…not sure, in effect, that other Korans had not been thrown, likewise as the first ones, into Jewish houses without the knowledge of their inhabitants…it was [deemed] prudent for this dignitary [the leading Muslim religious leader of the city] to be informed, in case one of these books should be discovered and seized on as a pretext to molest the Jews. [emphasis Bostom's]
This appeal was to no avail, and in the ensuing carnage and destruction,
Not a single one of the Jewish quarter’s 260 houses was spared. [emphasis added] Soldiery, …sayyids [descendants of the prophet and/or Muslim dignitaries], even women and children, driven and excited, less by religious fanaticism than by a frenetic need to plunder and appropriate the Jews’ possessions, engaged in a tremendous rush for the spoils. At one point, about a hundred men from the Kashgaīs tribe, who were in town to sell some livestock, joined the first assailants, thereby completing the work of destruction.

But these fanatics weren’t satisfied to rob the Jews of their possessions. They engaged in all sorts of violence against their persons. As soon as their quarter was stormed, the Jews fled in all directions, some to the houses of Muslim friends, others to the British Consulate, on to the terraces, and even into mosques. A few remained to try and defend their property. They paid for it with their lives or a serious injury. Twelve of them were killed in this way in the mêlée. Another fifteen were stabbed or hit with bludgeons or bullets from rifles or revolvers; they are in an alarming condition. A further forty sustained light injuries. An unlucky woman was wearing gold rings in her ears. A soldier ordered her to surrender them. She made haste to comply and had taken off one of the rings and was trying to remove the other when the impatient fanatic found it more expeditious to tear off the ear lobe together with the ring. Another woman was wearing around her neck a big silk braid to which was attached a small silver case containing some amulets…[an assailant] tried to snatch it from her and, seeing that the braid held, cut it with his knife, making at the same time a deep gash in the flesh of the unfortunate Jewess. How many more such atrocious scenes have occurred, of which I have not yet heard!

In short the outcome of yesterday’s events is as follows: 12 people dead and about 50 more or less seriously injured, whilst the five to six thousand people comprising Shiraz community now possess nothing in the world but the few tatters they were wearing when their quarter was invaded. [emphasis Bostom's]
This is independent of whether Stanislav Shmulevich is actually guilty of what he is accused of doing.

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BLACKLE IT! On second thought, Knoxnews is right:
Of course, "Googling" something still has a better ring than "Blackling" something.
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WHAT IS IT ABOUT PRIME MINISTERS? These days, you just can't get a leader to resign.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Sunday to stay in office despite leading his scandal-stained ruling coalition to a humiliating defeat in parliamentary elections.
Is it inertia?
Or Olmertia?

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

HAVEIL HAVALIM #127 IS UP! This week, Soccer Dad is hosting the 127th iteration of Haveil Havalim. Being the 127th edition, the theme relates to Sarah Imeinu, with the usual wide variety of posts for your viewing pleasure.

You can submit entries to Haveil Havalim using the submission form at BlogCarnival--where you can also find past posts and future hosts.

You can email Soccer Dad (dhgerstman at hotmail dot com) if you'd like to host an upcoming edition.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.

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Afghanistan's top political and religious leaders invoked Afghan and Islamic traditions of chivalry and hospitality Sunday in attempts to shame the Taliban into releasing 18 female South Korean captives.
Apparently, it's not just the kidnapping of women that Islam appears to frown upon.
Echoing Karzai's words, Afghanistan's national council of clerics said the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, taught that no one has the right to kill women.

"Even in the history of Afghanistan, in all its combat and fighting, Afghans respected women, children and elders," the council said. "The killing of women is against Islam, against the Afghan culture, and they shouldn't do it." [emphasis added]
It's a good thing that Muslim clerics bravely took a stand on this apparently unclear and not so very obvious law. But don't expect there to be any carryover to the Palestinian terrorists or to Iraq. It seems you can't fool the Taliban: They know Islamic law, which apparently includes a literal interpretation of lex talionis:
But the Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, instead invoked the religious tenet of "an eye for an eye," alleging that Western militaries are holding Afghan females at bases in Bagram and Kandahar, and saying that the Taliban can do the same. He said the Taliban could detain and kill "women, men or children."

"It might be a man or a woman. ... We may kill one, we may kill two, we may kill one of each (gender), two of each, four of each," Ahmadi told The Associated Press by satellite phone from an unknown location. "Or we may kill all of them at once."
Ahmadi has obviously spent a lot of time calculating this.

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THE LA TIMES AND ITS UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF MEANING. When the LA Times addresses the Middle East and asks, "Why not teach the truth," you know that the LA Times--who gives free space on its Op-ed page to Hamas--must be addressing Israel. Prof. Barry Rubin responds.
The Los Angeles Times And Its Naivete of Bias
Barry Rubin
July 28, 2007

What is really amazing about something like this Los Angeles Times editorial is that those writing it don't have the least consciousness of the fact that in Arab and Palestinian media, books, politics, etc., there is not the slightest acknowledgement to anything Israelis and Jews say, feel, or have experienced is acknowledged in any way. In other words, they and others demand that Israel be completely balanced--and criticize anything that appears not to be--while not demanding anything of the other side. I might add that I am not opposed to a passage being put in Israeli textbooks saying that the Arabs consider the creation of Israel a disaster for themselves.

But for the Los Angeles Times, one might expect some minimal attempt at balance, even if only to protect those writing it from well-grounded accusations of bias or stupidity. Something along the lines of: And Palestinian textbooks and media should also be revised. Yet in this seven-paragraph-long editorial there is no mention of how the Arab world deals with Israel or Jews. And if one points out how ridiculously imbalanced what they are doing is, those parts of the media and Western intellectuals who say such things would either be startled or dismissive. Let's assume that Israel's coverage of the Arab/Palestinian world view is just barely passing. That would make the score 80 for Israel and 0 for its enemies.

But there is still more ignorance here.
First, every Israeli knows about how the Palestinians view the situation. Palestinians, both leaders, and average people, are constantly quoted. The observance of Nakba Day, a recently created Palestinian commemoration mourning Israel's creation, is widely covered in the Israeli media. When a long series on Israeli history was televised about two years ago this point was included.

But the opposite does not apply. Any survey of the Palestinian media--and that includes the television and newspapers controlled by the Palestinian Authority--will rarely if ever find any examples of empathy or even honesty about Israel, its people, or its history. MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch, and the U.S. government's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, can and have supplied huge numbers of examples of this situation.

While there is some debate over exactly what current Palestinian textbooks contain--whether they reject Israel's existence altogether--there is certainly nothing that says, for example, "The Zionists felt a strong connection with their ancient land and argued that reestablishing a state there was necessary for their people's survival and well-being." The book could then go on to explain why Palestinians rejected this idea. Palestinians and Arabs in general are taught by every source--sermons, government statements, textbooks, etc.--that Israel is evil and illegitimate. The great majority of the time, the few statements that contradict these claims are discouraged, censored, or punished.

In general in the Arab world, Israel and Israelis are presented as monstrous murderers. In the Israeli media--tv, radio, and the four main daily newspapers--the presentation of the Palestinians is not that much different from what appears in the American media. There is considerable sympathy for their plight coupled with exposure and scathing criticism of any action that Israel's government or army commits that is deemed illegal or immoral. Soldiers who kill or injure civilians are punished or put on trial. On the Palestinian side, no one has ever been punished for terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. (At most, they are convicted of staging attacks at the wrong time, and even these people are quickly and quietly released.)

How then can such nonsense appear in elite American newspapers, so totally one-sided, demanding perfection from Israel and nothing from the other side? Clearly this must be an example of a philosophical standpoint which is distorting the truth and greatly damaging--I am tempted to write here the words, possibly helping to destroy--the side of truth-seeking, democracy, and freedom in the world. The roots and effects of that world view, which applies nowadays to far more than Israel, need to be explored and combatted.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His latest book, The Truth about Syria was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in May 2007. Prof. Rubins columns can be read online at: http://gloria.idc.ac.il/articles/index.html.

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Well, if had burned an American flag the issues would be clear. If he had put a crucifix in a glass of urine, it would have been art.

On the other hand, a book in a toilet, regardless of the book, can damage the toilet and cause property damage, so there may be a fairly simple cause of action on that basis.

Or if the Quran was not his own, well, then, Mr. Shmulevich is on his own.

The good news - with a name like that, tracking this case via Google should not be difficult.
UPDATE: For the legal implications of the case--whether Shmulevich is being properly charged--check out this post by Allahpundit, which goes into deep detail on the relative statutes.

Also see Little Green Footballs: Pace University Koran Case - Unbelievably Outrageous

Michelle Malkin asks: Which of these is a crime in America?

Malkin links to a New York Times editorial from September 1999 entitled The Museum's Courageous Stand, in defense of artist Chris Ofili's "The Holy Virgin Mary;"-- a depiction of a black Madonna adorned with elephant dung:
The Brooklyn Museum and its lawyer, Floyd Abrams, have found a fittingly aggressive way to make this point in the face of Mr. Giuliani's unremitting attack. Their suit argues that no one can be punished for exercising First Amendment rights.
Unless you express those rights about Islam.

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Even as we students of the Maimonides School spent half of every school day immersed in what was unabashedly a medieval curriculum, our aim was to seem to outsiders — and to ourselves — like reasonable, mainstream people, not fanatics or cult members. Noah Feldman
Or breakdancers?
Hey Noah, loosen up!

[Hat tip to Rubicon3, for introducing me to Yideoz]

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THE OTHER SIDE OF ISRAEL'S EVANGELICAL ALLIES. Sultan Knish warned back in May about a Christian channel in Israel that deceptively claimed to be solely targeted towards Christians. Now he writes that Israeli HOT cable TV is trying to drop Daystar TV from its programming schedule.

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MAYBE NOT SO COZY WITH SARKOZY. In the middle of Iran, 2; Israel 0, Caroline Glick notes:
Israel hoped that with Nicholas Sarkozy's victory in the presidential race, France would take a more pro-Israel stance. Unfortunately, the opposite occurred. Sarkozy has warmed French ties with the Iranian-Syrian-Hizbullah axis. Sarkozy legitimized all three when he invited Hizbullah representatives to participate in talks he held with Lebanese factions outside of Paris this month.

Additionally, early this month France led 10 EU member states in meddling in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The foreign ministers of these largely Mediterranean EU member states sent a letter to Quartet envoy Tony Blair, demanding, among other things, that Israel agree to the deployment of international forces in Judea and Samaria, and that Hamas be invited to participate in an international conference on the issue.
Let's face it: no country sees Israel as a friend or ally--merely as an interest.
And interests wane...and change.

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AT LEAST 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been killed or recaptured after taking up arms against allied forces following their release.
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WHAT SOME PEOPLE WILL DO FOR ATTENTION: Strategy Page discusses why Ahmadinejad just can't seem to get along with foreign countries. Now that he has proven himself a failure and people are openly mocking him in the street, he needs something that will make him look like a hero, something like...
The kidnapping of fifteen British troops earlier this year was but one of several attempts to grab foreign troops, and try to trigger a military response. Increasing Iranian support for Iraqi terrorists is another attempt to provoke an attack. So is the continued Iranian work on nuclear weapons.
But Iran's other activities, such as its connections with Syria and Hizbullah are another matter.

[Hat tip: Instapundit]

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Friday, July 27, 2007

ABBAS STILL KNOWS HOW TO TALK THE TALK. 'Armed resistance' excluded from PA gov't platform for first time:
The Palestinian Authority government published its platform on Friday, which for the first time does not include a reference to armed struggle against Israel.

Nonetheless, the government stressed that it is committed to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' call for a "popular struggle against the Israeli occupation."
And of course Israel rushes right in with arms held wide open welcoming this groundbreaking move:
Israel welcomed on Friday remarks by ministers that Palestinian Prime Miniser Salam Fayad's government program, yet to be presented to parliament, does not feature a commitment to "armed resistance" - unlike those of its Hamas-led predecessors.
That's quite a deal that Abbas has--all he has to do is talk the talk, while Israel is the one expected to walk the walk.

Before popping open the champagne, let's see: has the Fatah Charter been changed? Remember, the one's with the Charter that still contains the goal for their peace partner:
Article (12) Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.
Let him change that first. Then we can talk.

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Congress to vote on DoD budget proposal asking for tens of millions of dollars for development, purchase of new systems to defend Israeli skies against ballistic missiles
Unfortunately, this seems to be a case of both too little and too late:
David's Sling, a collaborative effort between Israel's RAFAEL (Armaments Development Authority) and US military contractor Raytheon, is expected to be operational within four years and is designed to defend against Fajar missiles, which during the Second Lebanon War were fired at Israeli cities. The system does not provide defense against the shorter range Katyusha rockets however.
And the defense that could have stopped the Kayushas--had its funding stopped.

See MTHEL and Sderot.

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A congressional delegate to the United Nations is pushing for the United States to cut off funding for the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying the watchdog group's focus on Israel and failure to investigate other countries made it a "disaster."

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said Wednesday the council "has essentially one issue on its agenda - Israel. You've got countries like North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe where you have state-sponsored brutality, and what we have is deafening silence."

A Senate Foreign Relations Committee panel will take up the Human Rights Council's performance at a hearing Thursday. The committee last month approved legislation Coleman proposed to end U.S. funding of the council. The House last month approved similar legislation by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.
Barbara Boxer also seems to be behind this.
Is it possible--can the UN unite Republicans and Democrats?

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"POLITENESS IS AN EXQUISITE ART IN IRAN" So writes William O. Beeman, formerly of Brown University--and now professor and chair of the department of anthropology at the University of Minnesota and president of the Middle East section of the American Anthropological Association. Campus Watch has more from his How to Talk the Talk With Iran
Politeness is an exquisite art in Iran; it is especially appreciated in difficult negotiations. One can see this demonstrated in public encounters between Iranian officials themselves.

If the talks are to be about stability in Iraq, the United States must not bias them by making pre-conditions about other issues - such as Iran's nuclear program. It must acknowledge that Iran has an equal and respected position in creating stability in the region. Language must be unfailingly polite and humble.

The United States must avoid making accusations against Iran. Frankly, from Iran's perspective, the United States has no standing to make such accusations. It is neither respected as a social or cultural superior, nor has it acted as an acknowledged patron of Iran or its people. If talks are productive, the accusatory matters can be handled once relations are on a more even keel.

…The first rule in Iranian negotiations is that both sides must exhibit mutual respect, even if they harbor virulent hatred for each other. Iran is a hierarchical society, and negotiations are stabilized by balanced reciprocity in terms of respect. Each party elevates the other party in status and humbles him or herself in turn. In this way hierarchy is preserved, but mutuality is maintained.

…Second, Iranians will not tolerate accusations or accept blame except from those with whom they have a personal relationship that embodies respect because of their superior social or political position, morality or accomplishments.

…Finally, the United States must speak with sincerity about mutual desires to cooperate with the Iranian government on matters of mutual interest. Nothing could be more essential to both nations than stability in Iraq. There can be ho holding back here. The message must be from the heart, and unqualified.

If the talks are to be about stability in Iraq, the United States must not bias them by making pre-conditions about other issues - such as Iran's nuclear program. It must acknowledge that Iran has an equal and respected position in creating stability in the region. Language must be unfailingly polite and humble.
Very odd, especially the polite way Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

Even more odd if you consider how Bemman seems to be describing the way the West seems to be approaching Hamas.

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TODAY IN HISTORY: THEY WENT TO THE GALLOWS SINGING HATIKVA: This is a summary of the original article in The Jerusalem Post, from Daily Alert.
They Went to the Gallows Singing "Hatikva" - Yehuda Avner

The 12th day of the Hebrew month of Av, which falls this year on Friday July 27, marks the 60th anniversary of the execution by the British authorities in Palestine of three members of the Irgun underground - Avshalom Haviv, Yaakov Weiss, and Meir Nakar. This column is dedicated to their everlasting memory.

As 1947 dawned, the British governing authorities, driven by an irresistible hubris of self-interest and colonial blindness, and embracing the delusion of decaying imperialists in every age that punitive brutality will cow the rebels into giving up their resistance, began sentencing captured Irgun fighters to the most severe forms of capital punishment: flogging for relatively minor offenses, and hanging for relatively major ones. The executions were frequently carried out in the Acre fortress, a Crusader citadel restored by the Turks and considered impregnable. In May 1947, in what was probably the Irgun's most daring exploit, a wall of this great bastion was breached, allowing for a mass escape. Three of the attacking party - Haviv, Weiss, and Nakar - were captured, tried and condemned to death. The writer served on the personal staff of five Israeli prime ministers. (Jerusalem Post)
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ABBAS WANTS ISRAEL PEACE DEAL IN A YEAR: But of course he does! Why risk Olmert being voted out of office in the next election?

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CELLPHONES ARE WMD'S FOR MUSLIM DESPOTS. That's what I thought when I read this line from Patty Noonan's piece Rich Man, Boor Man:
Cellphones are wonderful, but they empower the obnoxious and amplify the ignorant.
Nuclear weapons--unfortunately--fulfill a need, but not one these madman can begin to appreciate.
RESPONDING TO NOAH FELDMAN. Rabbi Avi Shafran responds to Noah Feldman's article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Rabbi Avi Shafran

One can’t help but feel sad for Noah Feldman. In spite of his considerable professional accomplishments – a law professorship at Harvard, three books, a slew of well-received essays and a fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations, to name a few – the young Jew is clearly stewing. A bubble of his own imagining has burst in his face.

What he imagined was that, in its embrace of both Judaism and elements of contemporary culture, the “Modern Orthodoxy” of his youth granted Jews license to abandon as much of Jewish religious observance as they deem appropriate. Expressing his anger – coolly, to be sure, but the hurt seeps thickly through the poised prose – in a recent New York Times Magazine piece, “Orthodox Paradox,” Professor Feldman describes how the Boston Jewish school he attended as a child and teenager went so far as to crop a class reunion photograph to omit him and his non-Jewish Korean-American fiancée , whom he later married.
But the Photoshopped portrait is only the professor’s anecdotal hook. What he really resents is that his erstwhile school, along with some of his mentors and friends, spurn him for his decision to marry outside his faith.

No one, he admits, is rude to him. None of his former teachers or friends, he writes, would refuse to shake his hand. But he knows that they deride him for the life-path he has chosen. And that offends and perplexes him.

Does not “Modern Orthodoxy,” after all, embrace the “reconcil[iation of] Jewish faith with scholarship and engagement in the public sphere”? Should it not, therefore, regard his intermarriage as an expression, if somewhat extreme, of his effort at such reconciliation? Were he and his classmates not taught to see themselves as “reasonable, modern people, not fanatics or cult members”?

Leaving aside whether un-“Modern” Orthodox Jews are in fact disengaged from the public sphere (a visit to any of a number of financial firms, law offices and hi-tech retail businesses in New York or other places with large “ultra-Orthodox” populations might yield evidence to the contrary), much less whether they are fanatical or cultist, Professor Feldman’s umbrage is misplaced. There is a reason why, to Orthodox Jews (and many non-Orthodox no less), no matter how embracing they may be of the larger world, intermarriage represents a deep betrayal. It is more than a violation of Jewish religious law. It is an abandonment of the Jewish past and an undermining of the Jewish future.

Because marriage, arguably the most important choice in a Jewish life, is not a partnership but rather a fusing – “and they shall be as one flesh,” in Genesis’ words. Since a spouse is part of oneself, the personal consequences of intermarriage are profound. As, in Professor Feldman’s case, are the communal ones; his children are not Jewish.

Judaism views the Jewish People as a special and hallowed entity. Members of the nation are to care for all – “we are to support the poor of the nations along with the Jewish poor,” as the Talmud directs. And the righteous among the other nations, the Talmud goes on to teach, will receive their eternal reward. But the Jewish faith is clear about the ultimate redemption of the world: It is dependent on the Jewish People’s remaining a nation apart in fundamental ways. One way is in our basic beliefs – for instance, that G-d gave our ancestors His law, and never subsequently changed it. Another is in our commitment to the integrity of the Jewish people qua people. Our commitment, in other words, to marry other Jews.

A celebrated Orthodox television personality and pundit reacted to Professor Feldman’s article in a Jerusalem Post opinion piece with words of welcome. While he considers intermarriage “a direct threat to the very continuity of the Jewish people,” he nevertheless considers Professor Feldman “a prince of the Jewish nation”; and suggests that intermarrieds be treated no differently from the in-married, that they be offered our “love and respect.”

His suggestion stems from his Jewish heart but his Jewish head should have been more carefully consulted.

Yes, there is ample reason to feel sympathy for Jews who intermarry. Transgressions performed from desire, Jewish tradition teaches, do not reach the level of those intended to be transgressive. And on a personal level, there are reasons to not cut off connections to intermarried friends or relatives. (It is not unheard of for non-Jews married to Jews to actually guide their spouses back to Judaism and to themselves convert; precisely such a couple is the subject of “Migrant Soul,” a biography I was privileged to write.)

At the same time, though, there is simply no way – not in the real world – to warmly welcome intermarrieds without welcoming intermarriage. No way to make Professor Feldmans feel accepted for who they are without making potential Professor Feldmans view intermarriage as innocuous. No way to “devalue” the gravity of intermarriage without dulling the truth that every Jew is an invaluable link in the Jewish chain of generations.

If one begins with the premise that intermarriage is dangerous to the Jewish people and the Jewish mission, the intermarried cannot enjoy our acceptance. There may be quibbles about the means by which we express our rejection of their choice. But the absence of any communal expression of reproach is nothing less than an invitation to intermarriage.

To my lights, it doesn’t seem extreme in the least for a Jewish school to make clear to an intermarried alumnus that, despite his secular accomplishments, it feels no pride in him for his choice to intermarry. I wouldn’t expect an American Cancer Society gathering to smile politely at a chain smoking attendee either.

It is painful, no doubt, to be spurned by one’s community. It is painful, too, for a community to feel compelled to express its censure. Sometimes, though, in personal and communal life no less than in weightlifting, only pain can offer – in the larger, longer picture – hope of gain.

[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

See also Noah Feldman vs. Hamas

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THE TRUTH ABOUT SYRIA. Michael Totten conducted an interview with Barry Rubin about his new book, The Truth about Syria, a detailed examination that includes Syria as America's main Arab state opponent in the Middle East. The full interview is here.
The Truth About Syria:
Interview with Barry Rubin, by Michael J. Totten
Barry Rubin
July 4, 2007

This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Professor Barry Rubin about his new book The Truth About Syria. The timing of the book’s publication, as well as this interview, could hardly be better.

MJT: Your new book is called The Truth About Syria. For those who haven't yet read your book, tell us, what's the truth about Syria? Give us the short version.

Rubin: To begin with, to understand Syria--like other regional forces--one must first examine the nature of the regime and its real interests. The way to do this is not to cite the latest interview or op-eds by Syrian leaders or propagandists in the Western media or what one of them told some naive Western "useful idiot" who traveled to Damascus but rather to look at what the Syrian rulers say among themselves, what they do, how they structure the regime and perceive of their interests.

Syria is not a radical regime because it has been mistreated by the West or Israel but because the regime needs radicalism to survive. It is a minority dictatorship of a small non-Muslim minority and it offers neither freedoms nor material benefit. It needs demagoguery, the scapegoats of America and Israel, massive loot taken from Lebanon, an Iraq which is either destabilized or a satellite, and so on.

Take the simple issue of the Golan Heights. It is commonplace to say that Syria wants back the Golan Heights. But one need merely ask the simple question: what happens if Syria gets it back? If Syria's regime made peace with Israel it has no excuse for having a big military, a dictatorship, and a terrible economy. The day after the deal the Syrian people will start demanding change. The regime knows that.

Or economic reform. Again, many in the West take it for granted that the regime wants to take steps to improve the economy. But it would prefer to keep a tight hold on the economy rather than open it up and face enriched Sunni Muslim Arabs who hate the regime both due to their class status and their religious community.

The list goes on. Yet few of these points figure into the debate over Syria where statements like "engagement," "a common interest in Iraq," "getting Syria away from Iran," "the benefits of peace with Israel," and the reasonableness of Bashar al-Asad get repeated like mantras.

While the Syrian regime poses as being desirous of peace and engagement with the West, in fact its institutions, ideology, propaganda, and activities go in the exact opposite direction. To survive, the minority-dominated, dictatorial, and economically incompetent government needs radicalism, control over Lebanon, regional instability, anti-Americanism, and using Israel as a scapegoat.

Syria is sponsoring a terror war against Iraqi civilians and American forces in Iraq; it is subverting Lebanon, not even stopping at killing the most popular political leaders there; playing the leading role in being the patron of radical Palestinian forces against Israel; promoting anti-Americanism; formulating the new "resistance" strategy which combines radical Arab nationalism and Islamism; being Iran's main Arab ally; and even being the main Arab state sponsor of revolutionary Islamism.
Read the entire interview here.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

WHAT TO MAKE OF THE PEW SURVEY? Check out the NRO Symposium with Peter Brookes, Nonie Darwish, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Raymond Ibrahim, M. Zuhdi Jasser, Judith Klinghoffer, Victor Davis Hanson, Aaron Mannes, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and Bat Ye’or.

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LATEST FROM DALLAS HAMAS TRIAL: During the trial in Chicago this year of Muhammad Salah, not only did the judge found that Hamas is a political party, but the defense is also trying to claim as part of their defense that the Israel Lobby was at work. The defendant was found innocent.

Not surprisingly, in the face of facts, the defense in the current Dallas case is using the Israel Lobby defense as well.

[Dr. Matthew] Levitt, the prosecution’s first witness, testified as a HAMAS expert about the group’s methods of recruitment and their violent attacks. In contrast to descriptions by defense attorneys in Tuesday’s opening statements, where the first Intifadah was described as occasional rock throwing by children, Levitt explained to jurors that “HAMAS’ role in the first Intifadah was much more violent then rock throwing.” “They were involved in shooting attacks,” he said.

Levitt also spent considerable time discussing the charitable Zakat Committees. He called them “HAMAS’ most effective tool… they build grassroots support for the organization…(and) provide a logistical support mechanism to the terrorism wing by providing day jobs to HAMAS terrorists.”

In her cross examination, Nancy Hollander, defense attorney for Shukri Abu Baker, focused on Levitt’s employment with the Washington Institute, which was founded by Martin Indyk, as a way of questioning his objectivity. Indyk previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Hollander also asked Levitt a series of questions about his relationship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Jewish Federation, both of which have hosted Levitt as a speaker.
In the absence of evidence, alot of smoke and mirrors will be used by the Hamas attorneys.

See the New York Sun for background on the case.

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