Friday, August 31, 2007

ROLE CHANGE IN GAZA. The Palestinians are rebelling against their oppressor:
"We are one people and our enemy is one. We should unite against our enemy."
In this case though, it's Fatah talking about Hamas.
At least eight people, including two foreign journalists, were hurt in Gaza when thousands of men from the Fatah movement used open-air Friday prayers to protest against the Hamas Islamist takeover of the Palestinian enclave.

...Fahmi al-Zahrir, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said the secular group would continue to protest Hamas's Gaza takeover until it is ended and accused the group of being undemocratic.
The media prefers to pigeonhole using well-used templates, including oppressor vs. oppressed--an old favorite, and Fatah seems to be taking advantage of this.

What happens when 2 groups adept at manipulating the media collide?
I don't know, but we are going to find out.

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CHARTER SCHOOLS--JEWISH AND MUSLIM--IN THE NEWS. According to the National Education Administration:
Charter schools are publicly funded elementary or secondary schools that have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools, in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each charter school's charter.

NEA believes that charter schools and other nontraditional public school options have the potential to facilitate education reforms and develop new and creative teaching methods that can be replicated in traditional public schools for the benefit of all children. Whether charter schools will fulfill this potential depends on how charter schools are designed and implemented, including the oversight and assistance provided by charter authorizers.
Of course the fact that these schools are publicly funded is a plus--as in the case of the Ben Gamla Charter School, modeled after the Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Minneapolis. The Wall Street Journal has a piece on this: Do culture-themed public schools cross a legal line?
Ben Gamla Charter School has kosher food in the cafeteria and Hebrew posters in the classrooms. In the planning of the Florida school, Tarek ibn Ziyad's experience was taken into account.

The success of Tarek ibn Ziyad's model, and its adoption outside of Minnesota, heralds a potentially explosive new trend in America's charter schools: publicly funded schools tied to a particular religion. The founders of Ben Gamla are already promising more branches in other states, and parents from other religions are sure to venture into similar territory, pushing the constitutional limits even further. As Peter Deutsch, the Orthodox Jewish congressman who started Ben Gamla, has said, it "could be a huge paradigm shift in education in America."

To be clear, both Ben Gamla and Tarek ibn Ziyad have worked to ensure that their actual curricula have no discussion of religious doctrine. Their language classes have been carefully scrubbed of any mention of God--and in Ben Gamla's case, Hebrew classes were suspended after state inspectors found a few questionable lines remaining. (The matter will be taken up at the next school board meeting in September.)
This charter schools are not the answer to an affordable yeshiva education, but it will be interesting to see how Jewish charter schools develop, and how far they can actually go.
So, the natural question is, what comes next? Not too surprisingly, the most concrete planning has been within the Jewish community, where culture and religion dovetail the most seamlessly.

Kevin Hasson, the Irish-American founder of the Becket Fund, says he would like to see an Irish school that touches upon the country's Catholic tradition and religious wars. "Only Jews have approached us for now," Mr. Hasson said, "but I believe there is no reason in the world to limit it to that."
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PALESTINIANS PLOW TEMPLE MOUNT, AND WHAT DO THEY FIND? The Palestinian Arabs who have recklessly conducted demolition work on the Temple Mount, may have uncovered a section of the Bayis Sheini--the Second Temple.

Check out Gateway Pundit, who was sent pictures from the scene of how the Wakf digs a narrow channel on the Temple Mount to lay a small pipe for electrical wiring.

About the discovery itself, AFP reports:
Remains of the Jewish second temple may have been found during work to lay pipes at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in east Jerusalem, Israeli television reported Thursday.

Israeli television broadcast footage of a mechanical digger at the site which Israeli archaeologists visited on Thursday.

Gaby Barkai, an archaeologist from Bar Ilan University, urged the Israeli government to stop the pipework after the discovery of what he said is "a massive seven metre-long wall."
The question now is whether Olmert will finally take action.

So far they haven't. (video from One Jerusalem)

Also check out The Temple Mount Archaeological Destruction
[Hat tip: Larwyn]

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IS HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH'S 'HALO' SLIPPING? It's good to know that a year after Israel's war with Hezbollah, HRW has finally gotten around to condemning Hezbollah for targeting civilians--but it is telling that their report is less of a revelation than the fact that they finally came out with the report at all.

Last year, HRW was all about condemning Israel--and according to NGO-Monitor, the media has not forgotten that:
A recent Harvard study of reporting on the 2006 Lebanon War shows that most of the media around the world continued to cite HRW’s claims on the Qana incident, even after HRW was forced to admit their errors. And there are many other examples, not only with respect to Israel, but in Colombia, Iraq, and wherever NGOs rely on “eyewitnesses” and lack independent capabilities. Similarly, the illusion of NGO “balance” and political neutrality continues among journalists – in July 2007, a reporter wrote “During the [2006] war, Human Rights Watch issued several reports criticizing both sides.” A simple review of these reports demonstrates the one-sided condemnations of Israel. However, serious journalists are starting to look beyond the “halo effect”, as in the case Jackson Diehl at the Washington Post, who exposed HRW’s biases, and in the Economist, which took on Amnesty.
The fact that the "halo effect" is starting to lose its shine may be part of HRW's larger problem. Another article by NGO-Monitor reports that:
While still a political superpower with a massive budget, HRW has reportedly lost some important donors, and [Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Kenneth] Roth is coming for another attempt to salvage his reputation and his position.
Indeed, HRW may have come out with a condemnation of Hezbollah, but apparently Roth is not done with Israel. He will be speaking next week at Hebrew University.

Ken Roth, the perennial leader of Human Rights Watch, attacks Israel with great regularity, but only spends little time here, and his knowledge is superficial and highly distorted. His next foray is scheduled for September 6 2007, when he will speak on “The 2006 Israel Hezbollah War: The Real Reason Civilians Died”.

The presumptuous headline notwithstanding, neither Roth nor HRW have the capability to determine “real reasons” nor distinguish “civilians” from terrorists. On the contrary, HRW is a political organization whose officials regularly exploit the language of human rights to demonize Israel (and other democracies involved in terror conflicts), as demonstrated in NGO Monitor’s detailed reports, and confirmed in the Washington Post, Wall St. Journal, the Weekly Standard, and elsewhere.

...On the substance, expect Roth to again cite “eyewitnesses” (probably Hezbollah operatives since no one else could move freely in Southern Lebanon), low-credibility journalists using the same sources, and HRW’s “researchers” to support false claims that Israel responded “indiscriminately” to Hezbollah’s attacks. According to almost daily HRW press statements during the war, the Israel Air Force only struck at areas free of Hezbollah forces. Detailed photos and other verifiable information exposed HRW’s fabrications and lack of credibility, including claims of an Israeli attack on an ambulance.

It's nice that HRW has condemned Hezbollah, but let's not recognize what HRW is and the damage they have done.

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IS THERE PEACE BETWEEN EGYPT AND ISRAEL? Egypt sure doesn't act the part:
The chairman of Egypt’s Actors’ Union said Thursday that the group planned to investigate one of the country’s brightest young movie stars for appearing in an upcoming miniseries with an Israeli actor.

..."Who will hold Amr Waked accountable?" read a headline Monday in Egypt's opposition daily el-Wafd.
I don't know, but who will hold Egypt responsible for their peace treaty with Israel?

[Hat tip: Hot Air]

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FREE WILL: ACCEPT NO IMITATIONS. Jonathan Rosenblum on Rav Dessler's insight into the awesome meaning of free will--and its implications for our Avodas HaShem and the Chinuch of our children.
Coercion is not Chinuch

In his Kuntras HaBechirah, Rav Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler makes a truly frightening statement. No matter how elevated one's actions, if those actions are only the result of one's training, then they confer no merit upon the one performing them. Only those actions that result from the exercise of one's free will are attributed to a person.

That which we do as a form of imitation of our role models or as a result of some form of coercion is not truly ours. One only can only lay claim to those mitzvos to which one brings something of oneself – some thought, some feeling while performing the mitzvah.

Rav Dessler taught that we define ourselves only through the exercise of our free will. And that only takes place when there is an aspect of internal struggle. That struggle is the opposite of rote behaviour – mitzvos anoshim m'limuda.

Our very relationship with Hashem depends on the exercise of our bechirah. Any true relationship must be based on the individuality of both parties – on what is intrinsic to them and not compelled by circumstances beyond their control. And that process of self-definition requires the exercise of our bechirah.

With this insight, we can understand a puzzling Rashi.
The Torah tells us that Yitzchak Avinu and Rivka Imeinu stood opposite one another – each davening for a child. Hashem answered Yitzchak (and by implication not Rivka) ( Bereishis 25:21).. Rashi explains that Yitzchak's prayer was answered because his merit as a tzaddik who was the son of a tzaddik was greater than that of Rivka, a tzadekes who was the daughter of a rasha.

Most of us experience a certain puzzlement upon first confronting this Rashi. After all, isn't it more meritorious for Rivka to have formed herself into tzadekes, despite having no models to emulate? One possible answer is that we do not fully appreciate what it means that Yitzchak was a tzaddik.

Yitzchak was the son of Avraham Avinu, the greatest man who had ever lived, the one who discovered Hashem through the power of his own reason, and proclaimed His existence to the world. With such an overwhelming image in front of him, the natural thing would have been for Yitzchak to emulate his father's derech avodah (path of Divine service). Had he done so, however, Yitzchak Avinu might have been an exemplary person, but he would not have merited the title tzaddik.

Only by adding an entirely new aspect of avodas Hashem to that of Avraham Avinu did Yitzchak merit to be called a tzaddik. Despite the power of the parental example in front of him, Yitzchak initiated an entirely new aspect of Divine service – gevurah ­– and added it to the chesed of Avraham. Even when performing the same external actions – e.g.., redigging the same wells that his father had dug previously – Yitzchak made those actions his. And that achievement, Rashi informs us, is even greater than Rivka's ability to escape the negative example of her father Bethuel.

IN ADDITION TO THE IMPLICATIONS OF RAV DESSLER'S INSIGHT for our own avodas Hashem , it relates to each of us in our roles as parents and educators. In those roles, our success will be determined not just by our children's conformity to halachic norms, but by the degree to which we inspire them and provide them with the tools to make their mitzvah observance something more than mitzvos anoshim m'limuda.

To coerce our children, either negatively through punishment through praise and rewards or praise, is relatively easy at an early age. And at an early age, it is perfectly valid, even necessary, to accustom them to the performance of mitzvah. At an early age, the child can understand little of the deeper significance of a mitzvah or why it is incumbent upon him to perform the mitzvah.

Yet while various forms of coercion have a place within a proper program of chinuch , coercion should never be confused with chinuch itself. Indeed it can be antithetical to true chinuch, which involves the development of a person's own understanding and capacities from within, not the imposition of patterns of behavior from without.

I recently read an interview with Rabbi Moshe Goldstein, Rosh Yeshivas Sha'arei Yosher and widely considered Israel's foremost expert on yeshiva students who have experienced spiritual crises, in which he emphasized this distinction between coercion and chinuch. "The goal of chinuch, " he said, "is to cause the child to perform because he understands why he is do what he's doing. Proper chinuch has as its goal that the child will do what is incumbent upon him from his own free will. . . . [That process of internalization] requires explanation, dialogue, and influence."

Rabbi Goldstein makes the striking point when a child's behavior is consistently perfect, and his parents find themselves the envy of other parents, this can often be a warning sign of dangers ahead. Such perfect behavior often reflects a pattern of behavior imposed from without. When a young person's mitzvah observance it internally generated, and results from his or her own personal struggles, it will not be perfectly consistent because in that internal struggle there will inevitably be ups and downs.

But what is imposed from without triggers an impulse to rebel. The external behavior may remain perfect on the outside, especially in the presence of the coercive agent, while internally everything is fraying, until one day the whole structure collapses.

Chinuch is a long, slow process. Its results are cumulative and rarely evident immediately. By its very nature, it must be individualized to each particular child. Coercion, on the other hand, has an immediate impact. But the benefits of proper chinuch are long-lasting, while those of coercion can vanish into thin air.

Yet the temptation to focus exclusively on coercion remains strong precisely because it yields immediate results and is easier than providing inspiration. Our educational institutions lack the resources to provide each student individual attention and thus tend to emphasize conformity to norms – too often without proper explanation of their significance. Every yeshiva, Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky, zt"l, once said, is to some extent a Sdom bed, cutting or stretching talmidim to a certain standard.

The temptation of the quicker and easier path must be resisted. That requires constantly stressing that the goal of chinuch is provide our children with the internal resources to exercise their free will properly in order that their mitzvos be truly theirs and not ours.

Only by doing so can we be confident of their long-term adherence to the proper path. As the wisest of men taught us, "Educate the youth according to his way, so that even as he grows old he will not swerve from it" (Mishlei 22:6).
Read Jonathan Rosenblum's other articles at Jewish Media Resources

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

HEZBOLLAH VS. HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH. Hezbollah is trying to silence Human Rights Watch's report condemning Hezbollahs attack on civilians during the war last year--but HRW is not taking this lying down. Truth be told, it's hard to imagine Hezbollah reacting in any other way,especially when HRW arranged a press conference in Lebanon itself.

From the HRW website:
Lebanon/Israel: Hezbollah Smear Campaign Won't Silence Report

Human Rights Watch today canceled a news conference planned for Thursday, August 30, 2007 in Beirut, citing reports by Hezbollah-controlled media about planned demonstrations to prevent the scheduled event at the Crowne Plaza hotel, and the hotel’s decision to disallow the news conference.

Human Rights Watch said that Hezbollah’s justifications for its attacks on Israeli towns – as a response to indiscriminate Israeli fire into southern Lebanon and to draw Israel into a ground war – had no legal basis under the laws of war.

The 128-page report, “Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War,” presents more than 20 case studies based on extensive field research in northern Israel into rocket attacks that killed or injured civilians in Jewish, Arab and mixed villages, towns and cities. It also draws evidence of Hezbollah’s intent behind these rocket attacks from more than 100 Hezbollah communiques and declarations.
There is also a summary of the HRW report, as well as a media presentation of the effects and casualties of the Hezbollah rocket attack on Israel.

The response by Hizbollah is predictable:

Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Rahal said Human Rights Watch should start by criticising Israel.

"We were the victims during this war and people have a right to defend themselves," he told AFP. "We did not target civilians but Israel on the other hand did target the civilian population in Lebanon."

It's one thing for Hezbollah to pick a fight with Israel--this time, Hezbollah may be up against a tougher adversary.

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DID SHIMON PERES KNOW--AND WHAT ABOUT US? Hillel Fendel writes in Arutz Sheva:
In fact, Peres himself, in a book he wrote in 1978 (Tomorrow is Now, Keter Publishers, Jerusalem; page 232), accurately outlined the dangers of a Palestinian state:
"The establishment of such a [Palestinian] state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces (more than 25,800 men under arms) into Judea and Samaria; this force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other [military] equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Israel will have problems in preserving day-to-day security, which may drive the country into war, or undermine the morale of its citizens. In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel's existence, to impede the freedom of action of the Israeli air-force in the skies over Israel, and to cause bloodshed among the population in areas adjacent to the frontier-line."
So what happened? Why has Peres gone along with this today?

Last year, I wrote a post quoting an idea from Rabbi Yisroel Reisman that the underlying principal of Secular Zionism is yei'ush, despair. He said that politicians such as Shimon Peres do not advocate the policies they do because they are stupid, but rather because of the sense of despair that is part of what Zionism is and where it historically comes from. After all, Theodore Herzl's Zionism originated as a reaction to Anti-Semitism, to a threat to Jews, seeing the only hope for Jewish survival in the creation of a Jewish State.

A friend of mine mentioned an idea that he heard that one of the underlying forces behind the surrender of territory that we are seeing is itself a subconscious reaction against Judaism and the frum Jews in society. It is as if to strike back against religious Jews and what they say is holy and special and intrinsic to Israel--and then b'shitah to give it away in the interests of peace in the real world.

I don't know what the reason is, but I lean towards the idea of yei'ush as the cause. As Jews, we do not seem to have handled the idea of holiness, of kedusha, too well. We tend to surrender it, without a fight.
  • Hebrew--Lashon HaKodesh--was to a large degree abandoned in favor of Yiddish, leaving it to Eliezer ben Yehudah, an irreligious Jew, to create modern Hebrew today.

  • Chumash we abandoned to the Bible Critics.

  • Nach has been abandoned to Christians, who seem to be more familiar with it than we are.

  • The Temple know the story.

  • And the land itself--Eretz HaKodesh--is given away at the slightest excuse.
Jonathan Rosenblum wrote in an essay about Torah Extremism and its Opposite:
Indeed Goldwater’s defense of extremism was preceded by the Chazon Ish. In Igros Chazon Ish (III, 61), the Chazon Ish identifies extremism as deriving from the quest for perfection, and writes that without extremism perfection is impossible. Those who are forever proclaiming their disdain for extremism, he writes, "will inevitably find themselves consorting with counterfeiters [of Torah] and the feeble-minded."
We seem as a group to lack the inner-strength to insist on what is ours historically, legally, and Biblically. Muslims are not alone in having religious claims, but if we as Jews do not repeatedly, consistently and confidently express our right to what is ours--and take a stand--then we will surely lose it all. We will continue to find ourselves with the US dictating feeble-minded ideas requiring that Israel unilaterally make concession after concession to a known terrorist group led by a weak, ineffectual and corrupt leader.

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NOT RESPONDING TO MEARSHEIMER AND WALT. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel and AIPAC will not be responding to the new book: Israel doesn't want to help promote sales of the book; AIPAC doesn't want to get into the distraction of a mud-slinging contest.

So what should be done?
The position advocated in the book, [former Israeli ambassador to the US, Danny] Ayalon said, remains on the fringes of American society. He said rather than reacting to books such as this or Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, Israel and Jewish groups in the US should undertake a comprehensive proactive campaign on university campuses to introduce Israel and to counter the Middle East Studies departments funded by the Saudis and Gulf states on many campuses.
All well and good, but Ayalon's suggestion is something that should be going on in any case, considering the challenges facing Jews on university campuses.

Abraham Foxman of the ADL has written a book in response to M&W's book: The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control--it remains to be seen how it does.

After writing a paper and a book, hopefully M&W won't follow Jimmy Carter's lead and make a movie:
Jonathan Demme's Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains has been picked up by Sony Pictures Classic for distribution in North America. According to Variety, the documentary will premier at the upcoming Venice Film Festival.

The film follows ex-president Jimmy Carter on his recent book tour touting the controversial tome Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Demme and his camera crew filmed Carter as he delt [sic] with the negativity that met his book while he visited different parts of the country.
Considering the age of self-indulgent 'scholarship' we live in, anything is possible.
After all, Oliver Stone will be making a move about Ahmadinejad, after all.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No plan to present Olmert-Abbas understanding to cabinet before presenting it to international conference

IMRA asked the following question this morning to an "Israeli Government
If Prime Minister Olmert develops some form of understanding of principles with PA head Mahmoud Abbas before the international conference will the Government vote on it before the international conference?
The "Israeli Government Official", returned shortly thereafter with the
following reply:
"There is no such plan at this point to bring it before an additional forum for further discussion."
"Additional forum"?
What was the first forum--Olmert and Abbas?

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The US has signaled a major intensification of its campaign against President Chen Shui-bian's plan for a referendum seeking membership in the UN under the name "Taiwan," warning publicly for the first time that it sees the referendum as a move toward independence.

In an exclusive interview on Monday with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte called the proposed referendum a "mistake" and warned that it would be seen as violating Washington's policy against any attempt by Taiwan to alter the "status quo" with China.

..."We believe it's important to avoid any kind of provocative steps on the part of Taiwan," Negroponte said.
This sounds awfully reminiscent of the White House refusal to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and thus officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Negroponte's soothing words to Taiwan also sound a bit familiar as well:
"Taiwan has no better friend than the United States," he said. "We strongly support Taiwan's democracy...And we're also, as you know, committed to the defense of Taiwan..."
Arthur Waldron notes at Contentions that according to the CIA’s World Factbook, Taiwan is in fact listed as “Taiwan”--which is how the US has been referring to Taiwan for decades. Nevertheless, the US is opposed to formalizing the name Taiwan and in favor of the official name: The Republic of China, cementing Taiwan's tie to Beijing.

Waldron concludes:
Our government takes this position, very much at odds with fundamental American beliefs about people and their rights, for one reason: pressure from China.
Of course pressure from Israel's Arab neighbors block the US formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The US likes to paint itself as the friend of countries like Taiwan and Israel, but it is a friendship tied to external considerations and pressures which do not have the best interests of America's friends at heart.

UPDATE: The Taiwan/Jerusalem parallel works from the other direction as well. Eric Olander writes about the point of view of Mainland China:
While a student at Beijing University, I onced asked my professor why it was that everyone from the taxi driver on the streets of Changsha to the highest government official in Zhongnanhai was uniform in their determination on the Taiwan question, it was simply put to me: "Taiwan is our Jerusalem."
China, though, has the clout to pursue what is dear to it--unlike Israel.

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UN FOLKLORE. From the UN News Centre, on the UN-supported learning centers in the West Bank and Gaza:
Because most of the 300 youth clubs in Gaza and the West Bank are under-funded and ill-equipped, most adolescents do not have access to safe recreational areas. At the Jabalia centre, however, they are able to socialize with their peers and learn new things, including dabkeh, the traditional Palestinian folkloric dance.
Actually, according to the Center for Arabic Culture, the dabkeh is an Arab, not a Palestinian dance:
Debka is a Middle Eastern folk dance done in a line at happy gatherings like weddings. Often professional Debka troupes perform at festivals, but Debka, an important part of village life, is really a dance for everyone! People stand in a line and hold hands or put their hands on their hips with their elbows out. Debka is done by men only, women only, or mixed. The steps involve stomping rhythmically, fancy footwork and hopping. The leader, the person on the farthest right, may twirl a small white scarf as they dance in a semi-circle. Debka is done in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
It may be a minor point--especially to the UN--but to say that the dabkeh is a traditional Palestinian dance implies a unique Palestinian national culture, when in fact historically there has never been an independent Palestinian nation, except for the Jewish one.

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In a unanimous vote, Council members agreed to extend UNIFIL until 31 August 2008, saying the deployment of the peacekeeping mission “together with the Lebanese Armed Forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon.”
For Hizbullah--yes...we know.

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There has been an estimated 40 per cent decline in armed conflict around the world since the 1990s, with recent research crediting expanded UN peacemaking, peacekeeping and conflict prevention activities as a major factor behind the decline.
Has anyone noticed that during the same period there has been a marked rise in the number of civilians killed by Islamists?

Apparently, this claim is all a part of the UN's claim that, "United Nations’ capacity to deal with the world’s most difficult crises needs to be enhanced."

Maybe what should be enhanced is the UN policing themselves--especially in light of year after year of reports of incidences of rape by UN peacekeepers: in Bosnia, as detailed by Michelle Malkin and elsewhere as detailed by World Net Daily.

As Claudia Rosett wrote at the beginning of this year:
Before the United Nations can save the planet, it needs to clean up its own house. And as scandal after scandal has unfolded over the past decade, from Oil for Food to procurement fraud to peacekeeper rape, the size of that job has become stunningly clear.
And huge.

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SHORT ON TAR? The Daily Mail has an article on an alleged drug dealer who was tarred and feathered:
The punishment is probably best known, however, from its widespread use in America during the War of Independence in the 1770s, when it was used to punish those accused of loyalty to the British colonial power.
Things have changed from then to the streets of Gaza.

[Hat tip: Hot Air Headlines]

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HAMAS GOES BACK TO DISNEY. According to CBS, Hamas admits to using a character reminiscent of The Lion King. Here is the video. On the legal ramifications, a Hamas spokesterrorist offered this defense:
"Disney stole a lion from the forest. We stole another lion," Sharawi said with a chuckle.
If the West only admited that the terrorist defense for murdering civilians is similarly vacuous.

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HAMAS IS IN THE DETAILS. While Olmert and Abbas trudge on with the most general discussions, everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train named Hamas. Here is a summary from an article in the Jerusalem Post from today's Daily Alert:
Full Gas in Neutral? - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

  • As swell as it might be that Olmert and Abbas are holding these talks, all the optimism and good cheer and willingness to revisit what are essentially the Clinton parameters of 2001 cannot paper over the fact that Abbas can't implement any agreement on Jerusalem, borders, or refugees. Abbas does not rule Gaza, and his grip on the West Bank is not all that tight.

  • The Israeli public, following seven years of unrelenting terror, is - according to all opinion polls - not in the same giving mood that it was before the onslaught of Palestinian violence that began in September 2000.

  • The major challenge facing both Olmert and Abbas is not producing a paper that will please Secretary of State Rice, but rather what to do with Hamas - Iran's new local proxy. Any agreement that Olmert and Abbas might work out will be meaningless if Hamas retains its current strength in Gaza. Unless Hamas is defanged, it will retain its ability to scuttle any agreement through terrorist actions.

  • The idea that if you just show the Palestinians a skeleton of a potential agreement, then they will eject Hamas and hop on board the peace train seems somewhat simplistic. What if they don't (as they didn't in the past when this same political horizon was offered by Clinton and Barak), or what if Hamas simply doesn't let them?
Of all the details that Olmert and Abbas are ignoring, Hamas is the one that is most likely not to go away.

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SEEMS EVERYONE WANTS TO CLOSE AN ISLAMIST CHARITY. Seems Fatah has become inspired to crack down on Hamas corruption:
The Palestinian government said it has ordered more than 100 charities closed following a review that the rival Hamas movement has slammed as a crackdown on the Islamists.

In an interview with several Palestinian newspapers published on Tuesday, prime minister Salam Fayyad said 103 associations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip had been ordered to close.

The charities and local associations affected had "committed legal, financial and administrative violations," Fayyad said.

He denied the move targeted Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement that derives much of its support from a network of welfare agencies and associations.
The article has an interesting line referring to a statement by a Hamas spokesterrorist:
He said that the government move would only affect Hamas organisations in the West Bank, "and not those working in Gaza, as here we have a government."
The fact that the first 'government' refers to Fatah and the second 'government' refers to Hamas--both of which were put into office in one election emphasizes the extent of chaos.

This could be a lot more amusing if not for the fact that the Israeli government is not doing that much better.

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My biggest job in life is to teach my children how to be menschen. It is a parent's obligation to instill values within our children. It is not the school or societies responsibility to teach them how to become good people. It is mine. This is a large part of why I make time for my kids.

I love my children and want them to be happy. So I provide them with structure, with guidance and with a framework that they can apply to life. The primary set of values is what they receive at home. It is nice for that to be supplemented by the school, but a public school shouldn't touch upon religion for all the reasons I mentioned above. There is strength in plurality.
In a parallel vein, in recent times, the public school has been made the guardian for too much. Neil Postman wrote in Teaching As A Conserving Activity:
As Henry Perkinson wrote in The Imperfect Panacea, Americans have not hesitated to use their public schools as instruments to solve the myriad and intractable social and political problems their other institutions have been unable to handle.

...If you heap upon the school all of the problems that the family, the church, the political system and the economy cannot solve, the school becomes a kind of well-financed garbage dump...
Everything in a child's life--including healthy meals and sex ed. has become the responsibility of public schools. It wouldn't hurt for parents to agree to put the responsibility for a child where it ultimately belongs--isn't that part of schepping nachas?

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FREEDOM OF THE PRESS FOR ME, BUT NOT FOR THEE. Soccer Dad compares the high-minded defense offered by The New York Times and The Washington Post for offering a forum for Hamas--with some unpleasant realities.

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DID MAJOR ROI KLEIN HAVE TO DIE? Sultan Knish examines the scandal of the death of Major Roi Klein--and what it implies about Olmert's policy.

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INTERVIEWING A TERRORIST. Media Backspin notes what makes CNN's Cal Perry feel uneasy when interviewing Hamas terrorists leader Khaled Meshaal.

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WHEN JOURNALISM PLAYS TELEPHONE. Here is the news from Prensa Latina on Norman Finkelstein being let go by DePaul University. According to Prensa Latina, they got their news from Fox News TV. I couldn't find a clip of the video online, but there is the Fox News article to compare against:
US Professor Fired for Criticizing Israel
Washington, Aug 28 (Prensa Latina) The University of DePaul, in the US city of Chicago, fired a professor of political theory for accusing Israel of using the Jewish holocaust to hide its current crimes, the TV channel Fox News reported on Tuesday.[No, what Fox News actually reported was:
DePaul University canceled the one remaining class taught by a controversial professor who has accused some Jews of improperly using the legacy of the Holocaust.
Fox News was describing what Finkelstein is known for--not what he was 'fired for'. Prensa Latina can make assumptions, but shouldn't imply that is what Fox News is saying. More importantly--Finkelstein was not fired, as the Fox News article makes very clear:
Denise Mattson, the university's associate vice president for public affairs, released a statement saying Finkelstein was on administrative leave with full pay for the academic year.
PL is way off-base on that one.

The administration of the university told Prof. Norman Finkelstein that it would let him go, although he will continue to be on the school's payroll for another year, in compliance with his work contract.

[If Finkelstein is having his contract honored, but not having his contract extended--that is not 'being fired']

However, the administration cancelled Finkelstein's classes and sent emails to the students informing them of its decision. It also instructed to seize all books written by the professor from DePaul's library.

[No, actually Fox News reported:
On Friday, however, the university e-mailed students saying that Finkelstein's sole political science course had been canceled. By Monday, the books for the course had been pulled from the DePaul bookstore's shelves.
Prentsa Latina implies that a number of different classes were canceled--actually at this point he only was teaching one class. Finkelstein was denied tenure in June and this was the remaining class he was teaching. The entire issue of tenure is not mentioned in the PL article. Also--the PL article claims that books written by
Finkelstein were pulled from the shelf: this is clearly not true. It was the books for the class that were pulled, since they were no longer required. The PL version implies something much darker.]

Some critics of the measure accused the university dean of yielding to pressure from external groups, because Prof. Finkelstein's course was very popular and his colleagues backed him up.

[Actually, there is nothing in the Fox News article about the popularity of the class or that this was the reason for his class being canceled. All that the Fox News article said was:
The American Association of University Professors is preparing a letter to the university protesting Finkelstein's treatment as a serious violation of academic ethics, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.
Also, according to Fox News it is
American Association of University Professors. When PL writes that Finkelstein's colleagues back him up, that implies fellow teachers at DePaul. They may very well support him, but the Fox News article makes no mention of it.]

The professor said he planned to go to his office on the first day of classes and if he is arrested for civil disobedience, he will go on a hunger strike to be released, and will repeat his actions until his rights are respected.

Finkelstein, who was born to survivors of the holocaust, said in his latest book that the Israeli government is playing with the people's sentiments to justify violence against Palestinians. He also accused the media of hiding the truth.

[Unlike the Fox News article, the PL article ignores the reason actually given by DePaul for denying Finkelstein tenure and getting into this situation to begin with:
"In the opinion of those opposing tenure, your unprofessional personal attacks divert the conversation away from consideration of ideas, and polarize and simplify conversations that deserve layered and subtle consideration," school President Dennis Holtschneider wrote in a letter dated June 8. DePaul at the time verified the letter was authentic.
In other words, DePaul thought he was a lousy teacher. Instead, PL gives a one-sided piece implying dark intentions. ]
This kind of sloppy reporting has the opposite effect of what journalism is supposed to have--or at least what it used to be. These days, though, error-ridden material like this can get you a 6-hour special on CNN.

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HEZBOLLAH TO SPONSOR LAWSUITS OF ISRAEL. Israel Matzav invokes Shakespeare. Me, I am partial to Dickens.

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OLMERT AND THE SPIRIT OF RAMADAN. Elder of Ziyon writes about Olmert's planned gesture in the spirit of Ramadan.

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THE SHOAH OF IRAN. That is the title of an editorial in Investor's Business Daily:
The biblical term "Shoah" means "destruction" in Hebrew and was used by European Jews early on in referring to the Nazis' genocide of their people. Speaking to veterans in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday, Bush cautioned that "Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who both denies the Nazis' mass murder of Jews and promises to wipe the state of Israel off the map, announced on Tuesday that Iran would fill the vacuum in Iraq that would result in the event of a U.S. withdrawal.
The editorial quotes a study that claims that the US has not put the onus of stopping Iran on Israel's shoulders after all:

A new paper from the University of London's Center for International Studies and Diplomacy concludes: "The U.S. has made military preparations to destroy Iran's WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order." While there is unlikely to be an invasion of troops, the attack would go beyond destroying only nuclear facilities, according to the report, because that "would leave Iran too many retaliatory options." [emphasis added]
A copy of the report [PDF] is available here; there is also a summary of the report.
We can only hope that the report is true--and that such an attack will be unnecessary.

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SOME FRIENDS ARE ALLOWED TO SPY ON THEIR 'ALLIES'. The US, for instance, can spy on India:
When the Indian Air Force sent six Su-30MKI Flankers and a couple of Il-78MKI Midas tankers to RAF Waddington [air base] on June 28 [for a two-week exercise], the U.S. and U.K. airborne intelligence agencies were provided wiSu30mkix002th a major coup. It gave them a chance to learn more about the radar frequencies of one of the most feared combat aircraft in the world -- even if it meant "eavesdropping" on their Indian friends.
And why is this important?
Why does this matter? Because the Flanker's "Slot Back" radar will also be used by Chinese and Venezuelan jets -- and if you know its frequency, you can jam. it.
It's OK for the US to do this, because it will help the US against her enemies--in spite of the fact that it will also compromise the defense of an 'ally'. But Jonathan Pollard--one of 9 Israelis held captive in a foreign country--will always be a special case.

Just as Israel is treated differently.

[Hat tip: Hot Air Headlines]

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BUT NO ONE CARES WHAT ISRAEL WANTS. Yet Israel is supposed to think about--and care about--what everyone else wants. Israel is the one--the only one--that is expected to always think of the full consequences of their actions. And The New York Times thinks that is a good thing. At least that is what this article seems to emphasize:
Hamas, which is classified by Israel, the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization, and which gets support from Iran and Syria, has a free hand in Gaza. Some leaders in the Israeli Army, including the commander of the southern division, Maj. Gen. Yoav Gallant, argue for an Israeli incursion soon.

But his superior, General Kaplinsky, is in no rush for a lengthy campaign in the crowded cities and refugee camps. “We can do it tomorrow,” he said. “But we also understand the price. And given the way Hamas fights, we’ll hurt a lot of civilians, and we don’t want to do it.
Of course, Olmert cares too--about what Abbas thinks and wants:
The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also does not want to damage new political progress with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who will meet again on Tuesday with Mr. Olmert in American-sponsored discussions of the principles of a final peace agreement.
But The New York Times is more concerned about what General Kaplinsky is concerned about:
In Gaza, too, there are signs of disaffection with the heavy-handedness of Hamas, General Kaplinsky said, and Israel is not eager to provide Hamas an excuse to escape the difficulties of governing Gaza amid international isolation.

...Israel has time to watch developments, General Kaplinsky said. “What happens with Fatah?” he asked. “What will be the Egyptian attitude, which may change? What will happen inside Gaza?”
And what is best for Israel? Israel doesn't seem to think too much about that. But that is just as well--it is not as if anyone else does either. And of course, there is no one whose feelings and wants are as important as the Palestinian Arabs:
Israel and Mr. Abbas have an opportunity, the general said. “It’s maybe even a new era. But the Palestinians have to decide where they’re going, if they want the situation as in Gaza or not.”

...Hamas and another militant group, Islamic Jihad, can create political havoc, General Kaplinsky said. “The situation in the West Bank is very fragile,” he said. “Any mistake, any failure on our side to prevent terror can change the situation in a day. If tomorrow morning there is a suicide bomber in Jerusalem, we’d have to change a lot of things.”
And of course, it's not just the Palestinians that Israel has to worry about, has to be concerned about:
...Neither Israel nor Syria wants war, General Kaplinsky said, but he said he worries about Syrian intentions and miscalculations. “We are aware of what we see, and we can’t ignore it,” he said, so Israel has increased its preparations in the north. “It would be very helpful for us to understand what they really want.”
It's as if when you really come down to it--Israel, that intrusive country that runs the world and has the US wrapped around its little finger, is nothing more than the big mommy in the region. Israel is the Middle East Earth Mother off of which the aspirations of every two-bit Middle East dictatorship and terrorist group is supposed to be weaned.

Kind of poetic, I suppose.

Until you realize that that these tyrants and monsters are not feeding off of mother's milk--they're feeding off of Israel's blood. And Israel being the only one to make sacrifices--that is getting real old, real fast.

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MSNBC'S DAN ABRAMS SKEWERS AMANPOUR: CAMERA, which has already done a detailed fisking of the CNN program, has the video from Live With Dan Abrams. From the CAMERA introduction to the video clip:
MSNBC's Dan Abrams tonight slammed CNN's "God's Warriors" as biased shoddy journalism, saying at the outset that the three-part series "was not what it claimed or promised to be." In the segment, titled "CNN's Holy war?", Abrams also said "CNN should have called it what it was, a defense of Islamic fundamentalism and the worst type of moral relativism."
According to Abrams, CNN's Christiane Amanpour, "avoided getting bogged down in objectivity."
View the clip.

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Half of the IDF's young combat officers are religious Jews, according to statistics published as the lead story Sunday in Maariv, Israel's second largest daily newspaper. The report also says that about 40% of the cadets of the most recent Officer Course in Bahad-1, the IDF's officer training school, were religious; this number refers to all officers, as opposed to just combat officers.
The author of the Maariv article is a respected secular Israeli, who is publicly agreeing with Religious Zionists who have been making this claim--thus giving it more credeence.

The article also notes one of the implications of these growing numbers is that since many religious soldiers have refused orders to evict Jews in Gaza, Yehudah, and Shomron, with the growing percentage of religious Jews in the IDF, the "refusal movement's" impact on the IDF and the government could grow.

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BARBARA'S TCHATZKAHS IS OUT OF THE HOSTPITAL! Barbara is out of the hospital after a minor procedure and has started blogging again--Go take a look.
"We did not blackmail Israel, and we gave free information to Gilad Schalit's father and his family that Gilad Schalit is still alive. When he asked us to bring him glasses for his sight, we did so as a humanitarian duty. We treat Gilad Schalit in a humanitarian way that is in line with the Palestinians' morals," Hamas leader in Syria, Khaled Mashaal told a CNN reporter on Monday.
And just what are these morals? According to The Telegraph:

Hamas Honeymoon Ends With Torture

...As many as 50 people are thought to have been arrested in Gaza's Beit Hanoun district around the night of the wedding, and similar sweeps have taken place elsewhere in Gaza since then. The detentions and beatings appear to mark the end of a relative honeymoon period for Hamas, which seized control of Gaza after five days of battle in June.

The early days of the group's reign saw aggressive crackdowns on drug dealers, theft, and violent clans, as well as the freeing of BBC journalist Alan Johnston from the clutches of a criminal faction aligned to al-Qaeda. Such moves led to calls for Britain and Europe to open formal dialogue with Hamas, despite its commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel.

Now though, human rights groups and ordinary Gazans say Hamas is committing exactly the same crimes as its Fatah predecessors, whose corruption and brutality were one of the main reasons why support for Hamas grew.
This is apparently a problem who actually expected better from Hamas:
Similar treatment is often meted out in the opposite direction in the Fatah-controlled West Bank, where dozens, if not hundreds, of Hamas activists have been jailed - but since Hamas has long portrayed itself to the Palestinians as an upright alternative to decades of corrupt Fatah rule, such behaviour rankles all the more.
Yeah, especially if you are The New York Times, Washington Post, or LA Times--which like to give op-ed space to Hamas to sing their own praises. Of course, they can always give equal time and invite Fatah to write an op-ed of their own.

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Tel Aviv Birthday Party Rally for Shalit

Family and friends of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit are planning a large 21st birthday party rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Tuesday. Organizers will hand out small magnets with slogans stating "Don't let apathy kill them" and "We're waiting for you back home."

Hamas has refused a request by Shalit's father Noam to publish in its newspaper a birthday letter to Gilad. Independent Arab newspapers previously have published personal letters to his son, who was kidnapped by Hamas and other terrorists more than a year ago.
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9 ISRAELS 'HELD CAPTIVE IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES'. That is the way Artuz Sheva puts it--one person on that list may surprise you.
Captured by Hamas 13 month ago
Gilad Shalit

Captured by Hizbullah 13 months ago
Reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev

Disappeared in the Golan Heights, on the Syrian border, in 1997
IDF soldier Guy Hever

Captured in Lebanon in 1986
Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad,

Incarcerated in US since 1985 after being convicted of spying for Israel
Jonathan Pollard

Captured during the 1982 war in Lebanon
o Zechariah Baumel,
o Tzvi Feldman
o Yehuda Katz
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Monday, August 27, 2007

MIDDLE EAST PEACE: IT'S ONLY AN ILLUSION. The kind of illusion that tends to be put back into perspective when major attacks on Israel are in the air. AFP reported on Sunday:
Hamas is seeking to launch a "large-scale" suicide attack inside Israel to torpedo chances of a peace deal with moderate Palestinians, a senior security official warned on Sunday.
Noah Pollak writes on Commentary Magazine's blog Contentions that news like this reveal the fragile--and illusionary--nature of the so-called peace process that Rice and friends are frantically pulling out all of the stops in order to achieve:
This remains the fundamental dynamic of the conflict, and the reason for the terminal fragility of the peace effort. The negotiations now being conducted between Olmert and Abbas are taking place in an alternate reality, in the realm of diplomatic resolutions whose purview aspires to be sweeping, but which is actually limited to the paper on which such agreements are written and the press conferences at which they are affirmed. Where the peace process does not exist is on the ground in the West Bank, Gaza, and Damascus—in the realm of facts.

When Hamas does manage to carry out a major suicide bombing, all of the hopeful diplomatic print-on-paper will be obliterated (along with Israeli lives), and Israel will be forced to respond. The IDF presence in the West Bank will be strengthened, violence will escalate, and hopes for a real peace (which requires as its first step, rather than its last, a sea change in Palestinian public opinion regarding terrorism and its use against the Jewish state) will once again be lost.

Hope for peace will be lost for a while, but only until the next 'breakthrough' when 'peace partners' will take advantage of the 'momentum'.


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DURBAN II: JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE. And so it begins...again. Remember The Durban Conference 2001:
The lead-up to Durban in 2001 was hijacked by the 57-strong Organization of the Islamic Conference. A February 2001 preparatory meeting for Asian nations was held in Tehran. (Israelis were a priori excluded.) The preparatory committee adopted a text singling out Israel for "ethnic cleansing" and of a "new kind of apartheid, a crime against humanity."
UN Watch has coverage of the first day of this year's Durban Conference:
In plenary speeches today, Egypt on behalf of the African Group immediately singled out Israel by complaining about "continued occupation of Palestine and violations arising therefrom [which] have been subject of condemnation from international community." Egypt also invoked the "new and dangerous incitement against religion" from the Danish cartoons. The 57-strong Organization of the Islamic Conference announced its intentions from the start: "The Conference should move the spotlight on the continued plight of Palestinian people..." The OIC speech quoted from a Boston Globe op-ed by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer, and complained of a "smear campaign" against the Durban Review Conference. The OIC also introduced new accusations, not appearing in the original Durban program, of "defamation of religions."

Syria today said that 9/11 opened the door to new forms of racism and associated intolerance against “Semitic” people. This brings us right back to the pernicious subversion of language that surrounded Durban I, where the word antisemitism -- the term for hatred or persecution of Jews -- was gutted of all meaning. Recall article 46 of Durban's NGO Declaration: "...Anti-Arab racism is another form of anti-semitism and Islamaphobia." And article 79: "Arabs as a Semitic people have also suffered from alternative forms of anti semitism, manifesting itself as anti-Arab discrimination and for those Arabs who are Muslim, also as Islamophobia."

Activist groups who wish to prevent the anti-discrimination agenda from being hijacked once again must speak out -- immediately, before it is too late, before we are back to the darkest days of Durban I.

I've got news for you: they're baaaaack...

[Hat Tip: The Corner]

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PRO-PALESTINIAN IN NAME ONLY. On the escalating Palestinian violence in areas where Israel has left, James Taranto writes:
The tragic condition of the Palestinians underscores the lack of realism behind the view that the Middle East's problems could be solved if only Israel were willing to make peace. At this juncture, the Palestinians simply do not have a political culture capable of producing peace, even domestically. There is nothing "pro-Palestinian" about those who accept this state of affairs and seek to blame Israel for the Palestinians' problems. [emphasis added]
Gee, it's almost as if these people were more interested in the destruction of Israel than in the establishment of a Palestinian state...

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Video-sharing Web site YouTube has met with harsh criticism in Germany for hosting clips that incite racial hatred, according to a news report due to be broadcast on German public TV late on Monday.

The videos hosted on YouTube include clips of a 1940 anti-Semitic propaganda film "Jud Suess" and two music videos of outlawed German far-right rock band Landser, which show footage from World War II depicting Nazi military operations.

Report Mainz, which is due to air the program, said in a statement that Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentarian Dieter Wiefelspuetz said airing the clips on YouTube in Germany was scandalous. Report Mainz quoted him as saying: "Publishing these films amounts to aiding and abetting incitement of the people."

...Neo-Nazi violence in Germany has reached its highest level since reunification in 1990.
You can expect Google/YouTube to come back with protestations of Free Speech and how intelligent people know the score etc., but it is good to see some attention given to YouTube's bias: you'll be hard pressed to find parallel videos that criticize--let alone attack--Islam.

[Hat tip: Hot Air Headlines]

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THE PALESTINIAN CHOICE AFTER FATAH AND HAMAS IS NOT AL-QAEDA. While everyone has been operating under the assumption that the the battle for the hearts and minds of Palestinian Arabs was between Fatah and Hamas, the third option exists and is growing stronger--and we are not talking about Al-Qaeda.

According to The Telegraph
But by night, the growing number of supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic fundamentalists who reject modern democracy in favour of a pan-Islamic religious caliphate, are gathering in the West Bank to recruit the thousands who have grown disillusioned with the vicious stand-off between the secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas.
But the question of whom Palestinians are prepared to support is not the real story. TigerHawk points out the real implications:
The linked article from the Telegraph mostly focuses on Hizb ut-Tahrir, and whether it is in fact a dangerous foundational organization of the jihad. I think the Telegraph has buried the lede. The real story is that the quoted Palestinian Arabs have, first, given up on the idea that they can arrive at an effective government on their own; second, rejected popular sovereignty as a source of legitimacy; and, third, decided that Palestinian Arabs should not exist as a separate national group but as a constituency in a "caliphate" encompassing all Muslims.

In other words, these Palestinians agree they are not a nationality, that they should not determine their own government, and that they must be governed by others. They simply prefer that the "others" be Muslim rather than Jewish. And, when you get right down to it, what Arab Muslim wouldn't prefer that? Other than those who live inside metropolitan Israel, of course, who for whatever reason have chosen not to emigrate.

My question: What proportion of Palestinian Arabs would have to hold these views before the rest of the world admits that they are not, really, a nationality? [emphasis added]
Probably 100%--and then some.
The world is far too set in certain notions, that it can never let go and look at the Middle East in any way other than it has be led to.

See also Fatal Misconceptions.

[Hat tip: Larwyn]

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MENTIONED MORE AND MORE IN THE NEWS. Whether it's to find a different angle on putting Iraq in a bad light or out of a genuine concern, publicizing this news in the media is welcome:
Sixty years ago, Iraq's flourishing Jewish population, a third of Baghdad, fled in the wake of coordinated bombings and violence against them. Today, a handful of Jews remain. Unless Washington acts, the same fate awaits Iraq's million or so Christians and other minorities. They are not simply caught in the crossfire of a Muslim power struggle; they are being targeted in a ruthless cleansing campaign by Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish militants.
While preventing the other minorities from meeting the same fate as the Jews, how about getting those Jews out of there?

While Kurds are mentioned, I had the impression that they were not antagonistic towards Jews. See Kurds: Fond Memories of Israel.

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FATAL MISCONCEPTIONS. Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe Yaalon, Shalem Center Distinguished Fellow, has written an opinion piece in today’s Los Angeles Times about the key misconceptions that prevent an accurate view of the Middle East. The piece is an abridged version of an oopen letter to Tony Blair, published in Ma'ariv.

Among the fatal misconceptions Yaalon covers:
Resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a pre-requisite for Middle East peace. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only one of a number of conflicts that divide the region, and is unrelated to the others.

Israeli territorial concessions are key to progress toward Middle East peace. The central issue in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ideological, not territorial. This is why Israeli attempts to cede territory have inflamed the conflicted, instead of bringing it closer to resolution.

The “Occupation” blocks the possibility of reaching an agreement.
The parties involved don’t even use the term, “Occupation” in the same way. While most of the West means the lands captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, many Palestinians--and Israeli Arabs--use the term to refer to all of Israel.

The current Palestinian leadership has an interest in establishing a state that will live peacefully alongside Israel.
The Palestinian leadership has demonstrated time and again that it is not interested in the welfare of its people, who now live in far worse conditions than before Yasser Arafat’s return and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.
Yaalon concludes:
The emissaries who travel to Israel must draw on their rich diplomatic experiences, free themselves from misconceptions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the petty politics that flows from them -- especially the binds of political correctness -- to lead us all toward freedom, security and peace. Anything else is mere meddling.
And we've had more than enough of that.

Read the whole thing.

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ANOTHER WASHINGTON POST WHITEWASH. Back in June, The Washington Post gave a member of the terrorist group Hamas the opportunity to do an op ed. Now, The Post enters a controversial issue and muddies the waters. In the issue of the Brooklyn Madrassa and the former principal, Dabah "Debbie" Almontaser, the article's sub-headline reads: Arabic Educator's Brief Defense of 'Intifada' T-Shirts Makes Her a Target--prefacing an article that boils the entire issue down to an apparent mis-statement, exaggerated by blogs and conservatives.

Unlike The Washington Post, Investor's Business Daily looks into who the advisers of the school are:

One is a local imam by the name of Talib Abdul-Rashid. He preaches at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem. A simple visit to the mosque's Web site reveals its mission:

"Allah is our goal. The prophet Muhammad is our leader. The Quran is our constitution. Jihad is our way. And death in the way of Allah is our promised end."

This mirrors the motto of the dangerous Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihadist movement that gave rise to Hamas and al-Qaida.

The Washington Post can take whatever side it likes in the issue, but it would be appropriate for it to present more than a fluff piece with which to do it.

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NACHUM SEGAL INTERVIEW WITH MALCOLM HOENLEIN. Each Friday on JM in the AM, Nachum Segal interviews Malcolm Hoenlein. This week:
Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in to JM in the AM for the latest Weekly Update. Nachum and Malcolm began this week's update by discussing the public outrage at CNN over a 3 part series regarding "G-d's warriors" and religious extremism. They also briefly spoke about 3 news items regarding Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, his plans for re-election, and deals he may be making with Israel. Nachum asked Malcolm to address a possible rift in Israel's Kadima party this week to which Malcolm responded "there's always a rift in the Kadima party." They covered several other topics including: The Iraqi Prime Minister's visit to Syria, the use of children by Hamas and other Muslim groups as shields and pawns in battle, developments of the academic boycott situation in the United Kingdom, a New York Times analysis of the situation in Iraq, and MUCH more.
Listen to the interview.

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BACK FROM OHIO...Got back 4am this morning, after having successfully avoided most of the repercussions of Hurricane Dean. Now, after taking off a week, it will take a week to catch up with everything I missed.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

ZIONSIM: ISLAMISM FOR JEWS? Ed Husain has an essay in The Guardian where he claims that both are evil:
Zionism and Islamism are both political perversions of ancient Abrahamic faiths of Judaism and Islam. They were both born out of protest and anger: Zionism in response to tsarist pogroms and Islamism as a retort to colonialism. The heavy political content of both ideologies came from men who had no theological training in the centuries-old traditional understanding of the Torah or the Koran. Theodore Herzl, an Austrian journalist, mapped out Zionism in an age of ubiquitous nationalism. Syed Qutb, an Egyptian literary critic, was the chief ideologue for Islamism. And yet they appealed to people of religious faith. Or did they?
Someone get this guy a copy of The Zionist Idea.

Richard A. Macales points out in his review of the book on the page that Arthur Hertzberg's book includes:
Orthodox rabbis and Zionist leaders Yehuda Alkalai, Zvi Hirsch Kalischer, Yechiel Michel Pines, Meir Bar-Ilan, Shmuel Chaim Landau, Samuel Mohilever, Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook and Isaac Reines.
Of course, Husain's ignorance of who's who in the history of Zionism--or its long history--is the least of his essay's shortcomings. When you start describing President Bush as an 'ardent Zionist,' you really have problems.

Husain claims to have left Islamism and rediscovered Islam--good for him.
Unfortunately, he does not seem to have abandoned what he learned about Jews, Judaism, and Zionism as an Islamist.

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