Friday, February 29, 2008

Help Sderot's Needy This Purim

From an email:

American Friends of Yisrael Hatzair, in conjunction with the Young Israel movement, is once again providing top of the line Mishloach Manot packages for delivery ANYWHERE in Israel. This is a great way to share Purim with friends and loved ones while supporting Young Israel's charitable efforts in Israel.

We also have a package for IDF soldiers - Young Israel will visit several IDF bases and distribute packages of Mishloach Manot to the brave men and women protecting Eretz Yisrael.

AND - TO SUPPORT THE FAMILIES LIVING IN SDEROT, Young Israel will be distributing Matanot L'Evyonim on Purim to help alleviate the pain and suffering of their battered lives.

DEADLINE IS FAST APPROACHING!! To order and for more information, please visit our website:

Purim Sameach!
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Rally And Concert In NYC For Jerusalem, March 23

From an email:

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UN Chief Endorses Session on Suicide Terror

From a press release from The Wiesenthal Center:
BREAKING NEWS February 28, 2008
UN Chief Endorses Session on Suicide Terror Following SWC Meeting

Following a meeting earlier this week with Wiesenthal Center leaders, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas confirmed that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is supporting an initiative presented by the Wiesenthal Center to hold a special session of the General Assembly on Suicide Terror.

The UN head told the Wiesenthal Center delegation that he would personally present the initiative to General Assembly president Srgjan Kerim after he labeled suicide terror, "an unacceptable political weapon".

"The time has come to place suicide terror at the top of the international agenda," said Rabbi Marvin Hier Center Dean and Founder. "This scourge is only going to get worse, and the world must act before it is too late."

For the past four years, the Center has been urging the international community to take action against suicide terror and designate it a 'Crime Against Humanity'. After the murder of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the Center launched an online petition campaign for the Special Session which generated thousands of signatures from 85 countries including Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan.

The group expressed their concerns about the upcoming UN World Conference Against Racism taking place in Durban, South Africa in early 2009 and the fear that the Durban II process could become a repeat of the debacle of the 2001 Durban I Conference which degenerated into an anti-Semitic hatefest. The Secretary General was also presented artwork from schoolchildren in the embattled Israeli community of Sderot.

Also in the delegation were Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, (pictured 2nd right), Executive Director Rabbi Meyer May, (far left) and UN Representative in New York, Mark Weitzman, (far right). [emphasis added]
Wait and see.

One reason to be optimistic that there may be a serious attempt to deal with the issue:
One of the major changes, he [Rabbi Abraham Cooper] said, has been the “big response from the Arab world and Muslims.” He said that shouldn’t be surprising because “today the largest number and percentage of victims of suicide terror are Muslims.”
The same kind of enlightened self-interest that helped turn Iraqis against Al Qaida, may help here as well.

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Medical Chutzpah

There are some things that a medical degree does not confer.

Rabbi Avi Shafran

Asked by The New York Times in 2005 what today-taken-for-granted idea or value he thinks may disappear in the next 35 years, Professor Peter Singer, the Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University's Center for Human Values, responded: “the traditional view of the sanctity of human life.” It will, he explained, “collapse under pressure from scientific, technological and demographic developments.”

This past January 30, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba, Canada issued a policy statement that may come to permit the professor to add “prophet” to his curriculum vitae.

In that document, the governing body of the Canadian province’s medical profession directs that doctors have the final say with regard to ending life-sustaining treatment of patients – regardless of the wishes or religious beliefs of the patients or their families. It also establishes a baseline for justifying life-sustaining treatment – including a patient’s ability to “experience his/her own existence” – below which a doctor is directed to end life-sustaining treatment, regardless of the wishes of the patient’s family. The new policy paper has garnered much attention, and may well have ramifications throughout Canada and, conceivably, elsewhere.
Underlying the document – saturating it, actually – is the premise that ending a human life is a medical decision, not a moral one. Or, alternately, that medical training somehow confers the ultimate moral authority to pass judgments on the worthiness of human lives.

Either contention is offensive. A foundation of what has come to be called civilization is that people are not mere things or even animals, that human life has a special, sacred, nature. Historically, the right to take steps to end a life has been regarded first and foremost as an ethical issue, not a medical one. And doctors, for all their training, are no more inherently qualified to address ethical issues than CEOs or plumbers.

As it happens, the Manitoba policy goes beyond the ethical dumbing down of life and death decision-making. It actually betrays a preference for ending patients’ lives. For while it gives physicians the final say (even against the family’s wishes) for terminating life support, it puts the final decision (literally) in the family’s hand when the family feels the patient should die and it is the doctor who feels otherwise. In Manitoba medicine, it seems, death is the desideratum.

That contention is further evident in the Manitoba policy statement’s self-awareness baseline, which exemplifies the pitfalls of what might be called iatro-arrogance – or, put more prosaically, medical chutzpah.

Last year, the prestigious journal Science published a report on a young woman who was declared vegetative. For five months, she showed no signs of awareness whatsoever. Scientists, though, decided to put her in a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner, a machine that tracks blood flow to different parts of the brain and that was only developed a few years ago. When they asked her to imagine things like playing tennis and walking through her home, the scan lit up with telltale patterns of language, movement and navigation indistinguishable from those produced by the brains of healthy, conscious people. The report’s authors, while stressing that the patient may still be classified as “unconscious,” conclude nonetheless that she has a “rich mental life.”

That young woman seemed entirely unaware of her environment. Only the development of a new diagnostic technology revealed active brain function. Is it unreasonable to wonder what future technologies might yet be developed that will detect other layers of human consciousness? Or what layers might forever elude scientific instrumentation?

And then there is the misguided assumption of medical infallibility. In Calgary last year, doctors were ready to pull the plug on Zongwu Jin, who had suffered a brain injury. After his family obtained a court order to maintain life support, Mr. Jin’s condition improved markedly and he is now doing exercises aimed at helping him walk again.

More recently, doctors at Manitoba’s own Grace Memorial Hospital sought to disconnect Samuel Golubchuk from the ventilator that was helping him breathe, claiming that he was unconscious and unresponsive – presumably never to recover. Mr. Golubchuk’s children, Orthodox Jews whose religious convictions opposed terminating their father’s life, promptly sought and obtained a court injunction. The judge in that case recently announced that there were sufficient grounds to doubt the hospital’s analysis of the patient’s condition, and Mr. Golubchuk’s children report that he is now alert and making purposeful movements.

Neither those cases, nor scores of similar ones, seem to have given the Manitoba College of Physicians pause before arrogating to doctors the final say in matters of life and death. One thing is certain: In the wake of Manitoba medicine’s new rules, physicians in that province will in the future be spared such embarrassing outcomes. Dead patients tell no tales.

Elephants sometimes do, though, albeit silently. Like the imposing one that lurked in the room where the Manitoba medical group crafted their new policy statement. It was the pachyderm that answers to the name of Professor Singer’s polite phrase: “demographic developments.”

We live in times when the elderly and diseased are rapidly increasing in number, and where the medical profession has made great strides, increasing longevity and providing cures for many once-fatal illnesses. Add skyrocketing insurance costs and the resultant fiscal crisis in health care, and life runs the risk of becoming less a holy, invaluable divine gift than... a commodity.

And every businessman knows how important it is to efficiently turn over one's stock, clearing out the old to make way for the new. Apparently, doctors can learn that lesson too.

Making things worse still is the great and increasing demand for transplantable organs. A doctor in California currently stands charged with injecting an incapacitated patient with inappropriate medications in order to harvest his organs more quickly. No one knows how often similar things happen – or will happen if society becomes accustomed to allowing doctors to decide when a life is no longer worth living.

What does Judaism have to say about all this? Far more than can be summarized in a paragraph or two, to be sure, but certain guiding principles can be briefly stated: Jewish religious law, or halacha, does not always insist that life be maintained; in some cases of seriously ill patients, Judaism forbids intercessions that will prolong suffering. But the active removal of connected life-support systems or withholding of nourishment are another matter entirely. Halacha requires that death be clearly established, and does not permit any action that might hasten the demise of a person in extremis.

Put succinctly: Judaism considers life precious, indeed holy, even when its “quality” is severely diminished.

Quite a different approach from that of the Manitoba College of Physicians and Surgeons. Or from Professor Singer, who has supported the termination of what he calls “miserable beings” – people whose lives he deems devoid of pleasure.

And even as grise an eminence as The New York Times has euphemistically advocated “more humane policies for easing the last days of the terminally ill” – leaving the rubbery phrases “humane policies,” “last days” and even “terminally ill” for future clarification.

That may well be, as Professor Singer suggests, the wave of the future. But Judaism was born out of resistance against wrong. Abraham’s rejection of paganism was what merited his becoming the forefather of the Jewish people; he was willing, in the words of the Midrash, “to be on one side of the river, while the rest of the world was on the other.”

And so, Judaism today finds itself similarly standing opposite a world going mad. Amid the shouts of “Progress!”, “Science!” and “Fiscal Responsibility!”, Jews who care about their religious tradition must quietly, resolutely, stand the Jewish ground, and say: “No. Even a moment of human life is invaluable.”

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

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Would Any Of The Candidates Be A Friend Of Israel?

Gary Rosenblatt, editor of the New York Jewish Week, thinks they're all the same. We'd like to think that one would be better than the others:
But the reality is that each of the three remaining frontrunners would approach the Mideast conflict with essentially the same outlook and intention, and with the premise that Israel-Palestinian negotiations should be encouraged and supported, much along the lines of the Clinton and now Bush efforts.

Upsetting? Comforting? That’s your call, but don’t come away believing one or the other will be dramatically different when it comes to Israel any more than you believe the long line of empty pledges to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

So base your choice on a host of other very real factors from personality to integrity to domestic issues to Iraq to a variety of foreign policy concerns, including acknowledging and identifying the very real threat of Islamic militancy.

Fact is, in past presidential elections Jews have voted along party affiliation anyway.

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Will The State Department Give In To Terror On February 29? (Updated)

Today we find out:
In a leap of logic, the State Department has been forced to reveal by leap year day whether an important element in the “war on terror” — the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990, which enables victims of terror to sue in federal court — has teeth or is little more than a sound bite. Much is at stake.

By Feb. 29, the State Department must advise a federal court if it will succumb to Palestinian pressure (read: blackmail) and take the side of murderers by sabotaging a final judgment of $174 million against the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization.
The op-ed is by Neal M. Sher, who has served as the executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the director of the Office of Special Investigations in the Justice Department.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Andrew McCarthy examines the contradictions in this US policy at The National Review:
After nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered in the atrocities of September 11, 2001, President Bush boldly announced that the United States would not distinguish between terror networks and the regimes that support them. They would all be regarded as hostile and dealt with accordingly.

What a sad commentary it is that, less than seven years later, we are left to wonder whether our State Department will stand with the American victims of terror or join forces with the other side: a regime with a long, remorseless record of practicing terrorism, preaching terrorism, and murdering Americans.
Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Scott Johnson at Powerline focuses on one contradiction in particular, namely:
the contradiction represented by the administration's efforts to create a Palestinian state when the PA has failed to take the first step of the roadmap requiring the renunciation of terror and the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure reflected in the Ellis lawsuit.

It is the administration's abandonment of the roadmap -- Secretary Rice's declaration that the administration was no longer "stuck in the sequentiality of the roadmap" -- that perhaps most seriously contributes to the dilemma confronting the Bush administration today.

Now we wait.

UPDATE: The US has made an announcement, of sorts: US Will Not Interfere With Law Suits Against PalestinianTerrorists

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Olmert's Blog (sort of)

Olmert's trip to Japan is the occasion for a blog:
Travel Diary - PM Visit to Japan

With Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's departure on a diplomatic visit to Japan, we have decided – for the first time – to post a blog on the Prime Minister's Office website. The blog, written by personnel from the Prime Minister's Bureau, will deal with the goals and objectives that we have set for the trip and with the meetings that Prime Minister Olmert will hold during his visit. The goal is allow those surfing the website to learn directly about the course of the visit and to obtain regular updates about its developments. [emphasis added]
There is hint that this might even be an ongoing thing--which is good, since many of us have an interest in Olmert's activities outside of Japan:
For our part, this is another tool to increase the transparency of the Prime Minister's activities in general and to reveal some of his wide-ranging diplomatic work.
Transparency? Good! Maybe they will post about Jerusalem.

Apparently, they are also open to comments--I assume they are referring to the feedback button.

Have at it.

[Hat tip: BackSpin]

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Is Israel Bound by International Law to Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?

It appears that critics of law are confusing international law with their own personal philosophy of morality.

Is Israel Bound by International Law to

Supply Utilities, Goods, and Services to Gaza?

Abraham Bell

  • British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Development Secretary Douglas Alexander recently alleged that Israel's decision to respond to ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks by limiting the supply of fuel to Gaza violated international law. The new UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H. Serry, also asserted: "Israeli measures amounting to collective punishment are not acceptable. We call on Israel to meet its obligations toward the civilian population of Gaza under international law." Yet international law does not require Israel to supply Gaza with fuel or electricity, or, indeed, with any other materials, goods, or services.

  • Article 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention permits states like Israel to cut off fuel supplies and electricity to territories like Gaza. It only requires Israel to permit passage of food, clothing, and medicines intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers, and maternity cases. Moreover, Israel would be under no obligation to provide anything itself, just not to interfere with such consignments sent by others. Article 70 of the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1977 creates a slightly broader duty regarding the provision of essential supplies, but it does not list fuel and electricity as items for which passage must be permitted.

  • Dependence on foreign supply - whether it be Gazan dependence on Israeli electricity or European dependence on Arab oil - does not create a legal duty to continue the supply. Absent specific treaty requirements, countries may cut off oil sales to other countries at any time. In addition, neither Israel nor any other country is required to supply goods in response to its foes' resource mismanagement or lack of natural bounty.

  • There is no precedent that creates legal duties on the basis of a former military administration. For instance, no one has ever argued that Egypt has legal duties to supply goods to Gaza due to its former military occupation of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, control of airspace does not create a legal duty to supply goods either. For instance, UN Security Council-ordered no-fly zones in Iraq and Libya were not seen as the source of any legal duty to supply those countries with electricity, water, or other goods.
On Feb. 9, 2008, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Development Secretary Douglas Alexander attacked Israel's decision to respond to ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza by limiting the supply of fuel to the Hamas-ruled territory. The two British leaders alleged that Israel's action violated international law. On Feb. 27, 2008, the new UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert H. Serry, also asserted in a briefing to the UN Security Council: "Israeli measures amounting to collective punishment are not acceptable. We call on Israel to meet its obligations toward the civilian population of Gaza under international law."

International officials are entitled to object on political grounds to Israel imposing even limited economic sanctions in response to Palestinian terrorism. However, they err in insinuating that international law forbids Israel's actions. International law does not require Israel to supply Gaza with fuel or electricity or, indeed, with any other materials, goods, or services.

Read the whole thing.

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Abbas: If We Can't Make Peace, We'll Go Back To Murdering Israeli Women And Children

Abu Mazen, moderate:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he does not completely rule out the possibility of resuming the armed conflict with Israel.

In an interview to the Jordanian newspaper al-Dustur, Abbas said that he is against an armed conflict at this time, but things may differ in the future.

Abbas, a leading figure of the Palestine Liberation organization, was quoted as boasting about the fact that he was the one to "fire the first bullet of the resistance" back in 1965, adding it was the PLO that taught many around the world "how to resist, when resistance is most effective and when it is not."

"I had the honor to lead… we taught everyone, including the Hizbullah, the ways of resistance. They were all educated in our training camps." [emphasis added]

Nice of Abbas to highlight the fact that the creation of Fatah had nothing to do with land captured by Israel in the Six Day War. Maybe someone should ask Abu Mazen just how he defines occupation.

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Before Muslim Protests Were All The Rage

Muslim groups protested and made demands even before 9-11, in the US. Daniel Pipes recalls an incident when CAIR made an unsuccessful attempt to have a statue of Mohammad removed:

In 1997, the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded that part of a 1930s frieze in the main chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. be sandblasted into oblivion, on the grounds that Islam prohibits representations of its prophet. The seven-foot high marble relief by Adolph Weinman depicts Muhammad as one of 18 historic lawgivers. His left hand holds the Koran in book form (a jarring historical inaccuracy from the Muslim point of view) and his right holds a sword.

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, however, rejected CAIR's pressure, finding that the depiction "was intended only to recognize [Muhammad] … as an important figure in the history of law; it is not intended as a form of idol worship." Rehnquist only conceded that court literature should mention that the representation offends Muslim sensibilities. His decision met with riots and injuries in India.

But not all attempts were equally unsuccessful.
In contrast, back in 1955, a campaign to censor a representation of Muhammad in another American court building did succeed. That would be the New York City-based courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the New York State Supreme Court. Built in 1902, it featured on its roof balustrade an eight-foot marble statue of "Mohammed" by Charles Albert Lopez as one of ten historic lawgivers. This Muhammad statue also held a Koran in his left hand and a scimitar in the right.

Daniel Pipes' point?

Recalling these events of 1955 suggests several points. First, pressure by Muslims on the West to conform to Islamic customs predates the current Islamist era. Second, even when minimal numbers of Muslims lived in the West, such pressures could succeed. Finally, contrasting the parallel 1955 and 1997 episodes suggests that the earlier approach of ambassadors making polite representations – not high-handed demands backed up by angry mobs, much less terrorist plots – can be the more effective route.
But note that Pipes' point is more than just to suggest that Muslims can and should utilize the normal channels available for protesting and bringing about change. Instead, the point he is trying to make is a good deal more controversial:
This conclusion confirms my more general point – and the premise of the Islamist Watch project – that Islamists working quietly within the system achieve more than ferocity and bellicosity. Ultimately, soft Islamism presents dangers as great as does violent Islamism.
Read the whole thing.

Pipes writes at The Islamist Watch Project about what he refers to as The Threat of Lawful Islamism--particularly about the changes being attempted in Western society:
Lawful Islamists advance their cause through lobbying politicians, intimidating the media, threatening international boycotts, making predatory use of the legal system, advancing novel legislation, influencing the contents of school textbooks, and in other ways exploiting the freedoms of an open society. They advance their agenda in incremental steps, each of which in itself is minor but in the aggregate point to fundamental changes in society. Here is a sampling of such steps taken by non-Muslims to accommodate Islamists:
And you thought Campus Watch was controversial.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buckley and the Jews

William F. Buckley Jr. passed away today.

In his post, Jason Maoz at Contentions, addresses both with Buckley's view of Israel and how Buckley opened up conservatism for Jews:
Conservatism in the early 1960’s was, fairly or not, largely defined in the Jewish mind as a downscale hothouse of paranoia, racism and resentment fronted by such figures as the Christian Crusader Rev. Billy James Hargis, the anti-Semitic columnist Westbrook Pegler and, of course, Robert Welch, whose John Birch Society was never officially racist or anti-Semitic but attracted a fair number of those who could accurately be classified as such.

By basically reading the more conspiratorial-minded organizations and polemicists out of mainstream conservatism (a story engagingly told by the liberal journalist John Judis in his 1984 biography William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives), Buckley made it that much more difficult for the media to portray the right as a redoubt of angry kooks and Kleagles. His having done so no doubt smoothed the way for those liberal Jewish intellectuals who would eventually — and at first somewhat ambivalently — make their journey into the conservative camp.

A devout Catholic who wrote with remarkable frankness about the anti-Semitism of his own father, Buckley (who characterized anti-Semitism as an “awful, sinful practice”) always seemed comfortable around Jews. Indeed, several of the editors and writers who helped Buckley launch National Review were Jews; “without them,” wrote historian George Nash, “the magazine might never have gotten off the ground…”

When it came to Israel, Buckley’s support may have been a little spotty during the state’s early years — in 1958, responding to what he took to be Israel’s slow response to an American request that U.S. military aircraft be permitted to fly over Israeli territory, he snappishly wrote, “If Internal Revenue started to disallow tax exemption of gifts to the United Jewish Appeal, Israel wouldn’t be able to pay the cable-cost of sassing our State Department” — but certainly by the mid-1960’s he was a consistent champion of the Jewish state, a position he maintained for the remaining four and a half decades of his life, despite occasional differences with Israeli policy.

In 1972 Buckley famously proposed that Israel become the 51st American state, pointing out that Jerusalem is no more geographically remote from Washington than Anchorage or Honolulu.
A remarkable man.

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Al-Dura Trial: Now We Wait For The Verdict (Correction)

The verdict itself will be delivered on March 21 May 22.

What are the prospects?
HonestReportings blog Media Backspin initially described Karsenty's presentation as persuasive, particularly when compared to France 2's case, which boiled down to a case of character assassination. By their last post, Media Backspin cautioned that Karsenty's presentation may have gotten too caught up in the details.

Roger L. Simon, reporting for Pajamas Media also seems to have had a change of heart. Initially he writes:
The first trial went against Karsenty, but the appeal is looking better for him, according to Richard Landes, a Boston University history professor who has been covering the Al Dura affair.
but at the end of the post has an update:
In the latest podcasts from Richard Landes, news is not as good for Karsenty. At the end of today’s session - the last before the reading of the verdict iin a few weeks - the Avocat Générale gave a closing statement unfavorable to the French media gadfly. Very rarely, said, Landes are the opinions of the A. G. overturned by the judges in a French court.
We'll have to wait till March 21 May 22 to find out.

Check out Simon's 3-part podcast and overview of the trial coverage.

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Nader On Obama's 'Pro-Palestinian' Past

From a press release:
During his interview on "Meet the Press," Nader said that Sen. Obama had reversed his positions on Israel. Nader said Sen. Obama's "better instincts and his knowledge have been censored by himself" and that Sen. Obama was "pro-Palestinian when he was in Illinois before he ran for the state Senate" and "during the state Senate."
Read the whole thing.

[Hat tip: Instapundit]

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Al-Dura Trial Today Going On Longer Than Expected

From the HonestReporting blog
Endre Mozes, our Take A Pen colleague attending today's legal proceedings...described Philippe Karsenty's presentation on al-Dura as "excellent with lots of sources" and Karsenty himself as "cool and articulate."

Not so the France 2 lawyers. "In the last hour and-a-half, they were trying to use handwriting analysis to try showing Philippe's a megalomaniac," said Mozes. "Philippe was shocked by the personal attacks, and twice, the judge stopped the proceedings to address the lawyers."

The presentation is still continuing despite the late hour.
The purpose of the proceedings is supposed to be to rule on the original raw footage.
(Someone tell France 2)

See Al-Dura Trial: Now We Wait For The Verdict

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Update On Today's Al-Dura Trial

HonestReporting is closely following the Al-Dura trial that resumed its proceedings between Philippe Karsenty and France 2. Karsenty is currently making a lengthy and detailed presentation.

It is too soon to know whether the trial will finish today or continue tomorrow.

Check out HR's Al-Dura resource page.
Check out the exclusive interview with Mideast expert and media analyst Tom Gross about the al-Dura controversy.

See Al-Dura Trial: Now We Wait For The Verdict

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Obama To Jews: Ich Nisht Bin Ein Muslim!

“I am not a Muslim and I never have been. I never studied at a Madrassa and I have never sworn on the Koran. I am committed to Christianity.”
Barack Obama

And to think that when they started comparing Obama to Kennedy, I didn't take them seriously.

Allison Kaplan Sommer looks at Obama's first personal appearance in front of a group of 100 Jewish leaders in Cleveland, in an effort to allay their fears.
Instead, some of his statements in the forum raised concerns, notably when he was quoted as saying
“I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you’re anti-Israel, and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel… If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we’re not going to make progress.”
Now, Obama has an interview with Yediot Aharonot. The full interview will come out at the end of the week, but in the meantime, Sommer has a translation of 3 questions with Obama's responses.

We assume Obamas will not make the same mistake twice.

Read the whole thing.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Palestinian 'Gridlock'?

Abbas cannot prove himself by making the trains run on time, but he is going to show Gazans that he is the man by connecting more areas of Gaza to Egypt's electricity grid:
The proposal also would bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' claim to represent Gaza, which was taken over last June by the Hamas militant group after routing Abbas' forces. Abbas now rules from the West Bank and wields little control over Gaza.
Hamas is actually on board with this, claiming that it will strengthen ties with their fellow Arabs and make them less dependent on Israel.

At Contentions, David Hazony notes who the actual winners of this tactic actually are:
The transfer of Gaza to Egypt’s electrical grid is a major step towards enabling Israel to wash its hands of Gaza, making it Egypt’s problem–which is what I had previously insisted was really happening with the blockade and its subsequent breach. The winners in this transfer are Israel (which wants to be able to say it’s not occupying anything in Gaza) and Hamas (which is becoming increasingly in charge of what happens in the Palestinian territories); the losers are the PA (which is incapable of maintaining control over the territory it has been given) and Egypt (which has no desire whatsoever to be responsible for Gaza, but now finds itself with little choice). Now we just need to wait for the international community to recognize that when Israel pulls out of “occupied” territory and cuts its economic ties, it cannot be simultaneously blamed for both a “blockade” and an “occupation.” It’s one or the other–or maybe neither.
On the other hand, while Eric Trager agrees with Hazony for the most part, it could be that it's the Palestinians as a whole who will lose. The Hamas view that "the better you know us, the more you'll love us" is not panning out:

Consider the sudden shift in public debate at the American University in Cairo. Although AUC has long been a hotbed of anti-Israel activism, students are exhibiting a staggering decline in their enthusiasm for the Palestinian cause, with a rift developing between a small cadre of pro-Palestinian activists—most of whom are Palestinian—and the rest of the student body. Last week, the pro-Palestinian Al-Quds Club organized the “End the Siege on Gaza” sit-in—an effort that was heavily promoted on campus and via Facebook. During the demonstration, protesters held posters accusing Israel of terrorism and ominously vowing, “Palestine, we die so we can live!” Meanwhile, student speakers compared Gaza to a cage—all in all, typical rhetoric that the AUC student body had long embraced as doctrine.

Yet the student body—which is roughly 80% Egyptian—was hardly impressed. According to The Caravan, turnout was far less than expected, with students noticeably uninterested in the sit-in.
Come to think of it, there really is no reason for Palestinian Arabs to be any more popular in Egypt than they are in Lebanon, Iraq and Kuwait.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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How Many Arabs Does It Take To Fill A Chair Of Israel Studies? (Updated)

Answer: 2

Martin Kramer writes:
Columbia president Lee Bollinger, back in 2005, tried to calm the raging waters by announcing the establishment of a chair of Israel studies. Four trustees quickly anted up $3 million. The university then appointed a search committee that included Palestinian agitprofs Rashid Khalidi and Lila Abu-Lughod.
Read the whole thing.

[Hat tip: Solomonia]

UPDATE: The name of the new professor is Yinon Cohen, and he is a reflection of the biased committee that selected him.

Officials at a Columbia University department established in 2005 to balance an anti-Israel tilt in Middle Eastern scholarship at the university have appointed as its director a professor who signed a letter labeling Israeli policy "the occupation and oppression of another people."

...In May 2002, Mr. Cohen, then a professor at Tel Aviv University, endorsed a statement that supported Israelis who refused to serve in military operations in Gaza and the West Bank during a violent uprising by Palestinian Arabs.

He sounds like a perfect fit at Columbia University.

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Al-Dura Trial Resumes Tomorrow--Here Is A Primer

The Al-Dura Trial resumes February 27. Mideast analyst and media expert Tom Gross reviews the facts. A transcript of his comments is also available.

See Al-Dura Trial: Now We Wait For The Verdict

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The Original Two-State Solution--In The US

I thought this was interesting.
From the conclusion of Malcolm X's introductory remarks in a debate at Rutgers in 1961:
And since no sane white man really wants integration, and no sane black man really believes we will ever get anything more than token integration, the only immediate solution is complete separation. Therefore, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad is demanding that several states be set aside for the twenty million ex-slaves, and with the help of Allah he will show our people how to solve our own problems. We won't be forcing ourselves into white communities, into white schools, and into white factories. We will set up and run our own. [Quoted in Winter 2007-08 issue Columbia alumni magazine]
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gazans Stage Mass Protest--At Least THEY Can

The BBC helpfully provides video.

I'm not impressed.

By contrast, the people of Sderot cannot afford to spend so much time out in the open in such large numbers--for fear of Kassams being fired by these very same people.

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In Proportion To What?

In The Sderot Calculus, Bret Stephens addresses the absurdity of some of the arguments made against Israel's attempts to defend Sderot.

There is the argument that no matter how unbearable life may be in Sderot, life in Gaza is worse, an argument that conveniently ignores the fact that to the degree that conditions in Gaza are caused by Israel--as opposed to Hamas misrule--it is a direct result of those Kassams launched against Sderot. Without these terrorist attacks, there would be no siege.

More common is the argument that any Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism much be 'proportionate'. When viewed objectively, this argument is just absurd, especially when we see that every attempt by Israel to comply with claims of humanitarian concerns is just met with new claims, while the most basic right of self-defense is ignored:
Does the "proportion" apply to the intention of those firing the Kassams -- to wit, indiscriminate terror against civilian populations? In that case, a "proportionate" Israeli response would involve, perhaps, firing 2,500 artillery shells at random against civilian targets in Gaza. Or should proportion apply to the effects of the Kassams -- an exquisitely calibrated, eye-for-eye operation involving the killing of a dozen Palestinians and the deliberate maiming or traumatizing of several hundred more?

Surely this isn't what advocates of proportion have in mind. What they really mean is that Israel ought to respond with moderation. But the criteria for moderation are subjective. Should Israel pick off Hamas leaders who are ordering the rocket attacks? The European Parliament last week passed a resolution denouncing the practice of targeted assassinations. Should Israel adopt purely economic measures to punish Hamas for the Kassams? The same resolution denounced what it called Israel's "collective punishment" of Palestinians. Should Israel seek to dismantle the Kassams through limited military incursions? This, too, has the unpardonable effect of resulting in too many Palestinian casualties, which are said to be "disproportionate" to the number of Israelis injured by the Kassams.

By these lights, Israel's presumptive right to self-defense has no practical application as far as Gaza is concerned. Instead, Israel is counseled to allow goods to flow freely into the Strip, and to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.
Compliance with international demands, with their limited concern for real human rights, will only continue to help Palestinian terrorists while tying the hands of Israel.

Stephens concludes with a precedent for Israel in American history. While Congressman Weldon compares Palestinian terrorists in Gaza with Japan in WWII, Stephens looks earlier:
On March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa attacked the border town of Columbus, N.M., killing 18 Americans. President Woodrow Wilson ordered Gen. John J. Pershing and 10,000 soldiers into Mexico for nearly a year to hunt Villa down, in what was explicitly called a "punitive expedition." Pershing never found Villa, making the effort something of a failure. Then again, Villa's raid would be the last significant foreign attack on continental U.S. soil for 85 years, six months and two days.
Once upon a time, countries did what they thought was necessary to protect their citizens from attacks. Today, we have to look in history books to find examples of countries that take who they are and what they stand for seriously.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Abbas Survives His Own Winograd Report

No word yet if Abbas knows how to hold a pair of binoculars:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his security chiefs had detailed evidence of Hamas’ plans to seize Gaza, yet did not mobilize to stop the Islamic militants, an investigation concluded Saturday.

The 76-page report, which was ordered by Abbas, did not hold him, security adviser Mohammed Dahlan or any other political leaders responsible for the takeover in June.
Noah Pollak notes the implications:
So this is the crew that the U.S. government is currently dumping hundreds of millions of dollars on? This is the gang of buffoons and incompetents that the world demands Israel trust to deal with terrorists in the West Bank? According to the very report Abbas commissioned, when he received information that his own government was going to be usurped in Gaza, he shrugged his shoulders and did nothing — but we expect that he is going to leap into action like a superhero to stop the same terrorists from killing Jews in Israel?
You can see how Olmert and Abbas tend to balance each out each other--the biggest difference being that there is not nearly as much coverage of Abbas' blunder.

Of course, in both cases the big losers are the people who elected their leaders.

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Comparing Japan In WWII With Hamas

From Arutz Sheva:
...US Congressman David Weldon (R., Florida), who visited Israel last week, said Israel should strike back at Gaza in one fell swoop. "During World War II," Weldon told the Makor Rishon newspaper, "the U.S. attacked Japan mercilessly. Despite the ethical problems, everyone now agrees that this caused Japan to surrender, thus saving many lives, including Japanese lives. This is the reason I think Israel should hit the Palestinians with one fell swoop, thus defeating them. Otherwise, this cruel situation of today will continue year after year, decade after decade."

"Just like parents have to protect their children," Weldon said, "a state must protect its citizens, especially those who are threatened such as those in Sderot. If a country would attack the U.S., I would support turning that country into dust. If it’s right for the U.S., it's right for Israel."
Congressman Weldon does not make the connection explicitly, but the fact remains that Japan in WWII also relied on suicide bombings.

Interestingly, last year Fox News had an article on how Kamikaze pilots were being looked at as role models for Japanese Youth:
No one is publicly calling for young Japanese to kill themselves for the nation these days. But the renewed hero-worship of the kamikazes coincides with a general trend in Japanese society toward seeing the country's war effort as noble, and mourning the fading of the ethic of self-sacrifice amid today's wealth.

...Despite the pilots' reputation abroad as suicidal fanatics, Japanese hearts have always had a soft spot for the kamikazes. Long celebrated in movies, books and comic books, the pilots are seen as innocent young men forced by a desperate military into sacrificing their lives to protect their country.
The Japanese reject the comparison of the kamikaze with terrorists, and perhaps they are more accurately compared with Lehi:
Museum director Takanobu Kikunaga said the pilots gave their lives for their families, not the emperor, and they were attacking military targets, not civilians. He also argued that it was hypocritical of Europeans and Americans to compare kamikazes with terrorists after colonizing wide swaths of the world, including Asia.
Another distinction is that for the Japanese, the Kamikaze represent an ethic of commitment and self-sacrifice. The same cannot be said for the culture of self-destruction upon which terrorist suicide bombers are weaned. The cultures of the Japan and Palestinian Arabs could not be more different.

In his book The Arab Mind, Raphael Patai recalls:
As a widely read Arab friend of mine once remarked in a critical vein, both the Japanese and the Arabs are ready to kill in order to regain their lost honor; but the Japanese will kill himself, while the Arab will kill somebody else. [p.224]

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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Hamas Version Of Million Man March Is A Flop (Updated)

At least this time, possibly due to the rain.

Israel Matzav compares Gaza with the West Bank on why such a protest is less likely in the latter.

UPDATE: At Contentions, David Hazony chimes in that the rally ended not in a wimper but a crash:
We have no idea exactly what went wrong. But we are left with two possibilities, and two alone: (1) Gazans don’t really care so much about the blockade, or (2) Israel outmaneuvered Hamas in its diplomatic and military preparations, and Haniyeh understood he had little to gain–in which case, we should never again believe that Gaza protests are spontaneous displays of genuine outrage, but rather programmed rallies dictated from above, as we always thought.

Looks like it’s lose-lose for Hamas.
I'd like to believe that, but when was the last time Israel actually outmaneuvered Hamas diplomatically?

Also, Little Green Footballs notes that Reuters dubs the event peaceful--even while mentioning the rockets fired from Gaza during the protest, and the rock-throwing that followed it. AP, for it's part, claims the protest passed peacefully, but declined to mention the rockets and rock-throwing at all.

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Nachum Segal Interviews Malcolm Hoenlein

Every Friday, Nachum Segal interviews Malcolm Hoenlein:
Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in live from Jerusalem for the Weekly Update. Malcolm discussed the latest news from S'derot as he personally visited the city with other members of the Conference of Presidents, during their annual Israel conference. Nachum asked Malcolm to address the Israeli government's reactions to his report and the possibilty of an armed response. They covered several other topics including: recent German and French interaction with Israel, the latest news and reactions regarding Kosovo, celebrating Israel's 60th anniversary, news from Cuba and Pakistan, upcoming Arab league meetings and their impact on Israel, and MUCH more. Click the link to listen.

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George Washington On The Rejection Of Tolerance

Sultan Knish has a post on a letter George Washington wrote to a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, rejecting the idea of tolerance. Sultan Knish explains what Washington meant then and what it means today.

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Update On The Two-State Solution

Soccer Dad takes a look at the current state of the ever popular two-state solution, through the eyes of various different blogs, highlighting details played down by the media--such as Saudi Arabia's willingness to view Israelis as Arab Jews.

It warms the heart.

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Is Hamas Planning Breach Of Gaza Fence Into Israel?

Israel Matzav has a rundown from Haaretz as well as word from DEBKA that the breach is planned to be more violent than the one into Egypt.

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"The International Citizens' Tribunal On War Crimes In The Middle East"

Elder of Ziyon has the lowdown on a special court being set up by human rights organizations for the sole purpose of dealing with war crimes committed by Israel in Lebanon and Gaza--a court that seems to be set up on the cheap.

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The Jerusalem Compass

From Boker Tov, Boulder--The Jerusalem Compass--always points towards Jerusalem, from Artscroll.

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Palestinian Have Prisons Too

Though you wouldn't know it from watching the media.
Check out Torture in Ramallah.

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Haveil Havalim #155 Is Up!

Jack is hosting Haveil Havalim #155 at Random Thoughts this week, featuring the usual wide assortment of posts from around the JBlogosphere--plus a special audio greeting via

Check it out.

For more information email Jack at talktojacknow-at-sbcglobal-dot-net.

You can submit your post to the next edition of haveil havalim using the carnival submission form.
Past posts and future hosts can be found at the blog carnival index page.

Listed at the Truth Laid Bear Ubercarnival.

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Gazans Already Sowing What They Reap

Aliyah! Step-By-Step wrote a post for Pajamas Media about Gaza's Culture Of Self-Destruction:
...Research in sociology and social psychology has long shown that once there is no longer an external enemy to focus on, those same violent tendencies and expressions used against the enemy will bloom within a society. Violence will erupt and it will be neighbor against neighbor, family member against family member, clan against clan. The people of Gaza will be shocked, “How could this young man do such a thing to a member of his own people?” He can, and he will, because he has been taught that human life has no value, that his own life has no value, and that killing someone is a first resort. The new enemy will be other Palestinians.

If you think I am wrong, remember how Gazan treated Gazan during the Hamas coup. Remember how attacks against members of Fatah resulted in headlining stories such as “Among yesterday’s dead was a 14-year-old boy and three women, all killed in a Hamas attack on a Fatah security officer’s home.” Remember the words of a Gaza citizen, minutes before he was dragged out into the street and killed,
“They’re firing at us, firing RPGs, firing mortars. We’re not Jews,” the brother of Jamal Abu Jediyan, a Fatah commander, pleaded during a live telephone conversation with a Palestinian radio station.
Far from being “collateral damage” — that is, women and children killed by accident in the attempt to kill an armed fighter — women and children within Palestinian society can and will become the targets to be murdered by other members of their society. Recall the three little children — Palestinian children, not those “worthy of death” Jewish children –who were gunned down on their way to school as a message to their father:
Balousheh’s three children — 3-year-old Salam, 6-year-old Ahmed and 9-year-old Osama — were in the family car on their way to school when gunmen opened fire from two vehicles. The three were killed along with their driver. Doctors said one of the boys was hit by 10 bullets to the head.
It has already happened and the “real” enemy was still just across the border.
Read the whole thing.

An example of Palestinian Arab 'culture' in action:

She also has a blog--Good Neighbors--which is described on its About page as:
dedicated to increasing dialogue and understanding between Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Saudis, Iranians, Iraqis, Libians, Sudanese, and Syrians on a cross-country level, as well as to increase understanding, respect and dialogue among the various strata of society within our individual countries.
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Keep Voting For Jerusalem!

From an email:
Vote for Jerusalem Everyday!
Dear Friend of Jerusalem,

We're winning the battle of the board! Since One Jerusalem voters began hitting the polls a few weeks ago, CNN, the BBC, and countless other media outlets turned their heads around in surprise. Jerusalem is rising to #1!

One Jerusalem, with the help of dear friends like you, catapulted Jerusalem upward from #26 to #4, on Hasbro's Monopoly competition.

The success of our campaign caught the media and Islamic world by surprise.
Anti-Israel parties tried stopping our efforts, pressuring Hasbro to drop "Israel" from Jerusalem's listing, leaving Jerusalem as Hasbro's only city listed without a country.

We fought back, pounded Hasbro with letters and negative media, and compelled their PR division to bring Jerusalem to an equal playing field, dropping country affiliations for ALL cities in the contest.

While the Muslim world strives to push Jerusalem down, we are pushing it up. Jerusalem is the holiest city in the world, and we are determined to crown it, Number One.

Only five days remain. Hasbro's contest ends this Friday, February 29. Keep voting every day! Hasbro allows it. Honor Jerusalem. Vote Now! Encourage every family member and friend to cast their votes too! Full instructions here.


The One Jerusalem Team

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Kosher Cooking Carnival #27 Is Up!

This month's issue of the KCC is up at Gillian's Food History.
Next month KCC will be hosted at frumhouse.

You can send your links to any post concerning kosher food, kosher cooking, Jewish Law pertaining to Kashrut, menus, Jewish food traditions, etc--including

* Purim Food
* Pesach Food, menus and tips
* Kosher Food annecdotes
* Shmitta update

If you're interested in hosting a Kosher Cooking Carnival, please let me-ander know (shilohmuse at yahoo dot com).

Please submit your posts and any others you deem suitable for KCC via blog carnival.

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Quick,Call Mearsheimer & Walt: 3 in 4 U.S. Mosques Preach Anti-West Extremism

From World Net Daily:
An undercover survey of more than 100 mosques and Islamic schools in America has exposed widespread radicalism, including the alarming finding that 3 in 4 Islamic centers are hotbeds of anti-Western extremism, WND has learned.

The Mapping Sharia in America Project, sponsored by the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, has trained former counterintelligence and counterterrorism agents from the FBI, CIA and U.S. military, who are skilled in Arabic and Urdu, to conduct undercover reconnaissance at some 2,300 mosques and Islamic centers and schools across the country.

"So far of 100 mapped, 75 should be on a watchlist," an official familiar with the project said.

Many of the Islamic centers are operating under the auspices of the Saudi Arabian government and U.S. front groups for the radical Muslim Brotherhood based in Egypt.
According to the article, the survey found :
* Sermons that preach women are inferior to men and can be beaten for disobedience; that non-Muslims, particularly Jews, are infidels and inferior to Muslims; that jihad or support of jihad is not only a Muslim's duty but the noblest way, and suicide bombers and other so-called "martyrs" are worthy of the highest praise; and that an Islamic caliphate should one day encompass the U.S.

* Solicitation of financial support for jihad.

* Bookstores that sell books, CDs and DVDs promoting jihad and glorifying martyrdom.
But don't expect any of those brave people who uncover the "Israel Lobby" to speak out.

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The Church Of Spock

Rubicon3 has a post about a church that is the only one of its kind in the world--dedicated to the Vulcan philosophy.

The church is in Lynchburg, Virginia--which is also host to:
  • The Fletcher Farm Rhino
  • Lynchburg West End Sinkhole
  • The Dreaming Creek "Troll"
  • "Mags" the Headless Cat
  • The Great Popcorn Blizzard of '58
  • The "Kool-Aid Kar"
  • The World's Ugliest Building
And that is only a partial list.
The Church of Spock may actually be one of the more normal things in Lynchburg.

Read the Rubicon3 post.
Read what other sites Lynchburg has.

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Muslims: They Love Obama, They Love Him Not

Apparently both are true--take a look at Lee Smith's post on Michael Totten's blog: The Arabs and Obama. He quotes from a report on a conference in Qatar that the Gulf states are just wild about Obama:
A friend from the Gulf tells me her young relative was so excited about the Democratic candidate that he tried to donate money over the Internet, as he'd heard so many young Americans were doing. Then he found out he had to be a U.S. citizen to do so. Another young woman, visiting from next-door Saudi Arabia, said that all her friends in Riyadh are “for Obama.” The symbolism of a major American presidential candidate with the middle name of Hussein, who went to elementary school in Indonesia, certainly speaks to Muslims abroad.
There is an obvious logic to that. After all:
Barack Obama's father was Muslim and therefore, according to Islamic law, so is the candidate. In spite of the Quranic verses explaining that there is no compulsion in religion, a Muslim child takes the religion of his or her father.
This would seem to fit in nicely with Barack Obama's campaign since
one of the chief conceits of the Obama campaign is that a president of his biological identity will redeem our reputation around the world after George Bush enflamed the better part of humanity by invading two Muslim countries.
But not all Muslims are equally impressed. On the contrary:
there's already evidence that some Middle Easterners, or the people in whose part of the world the United States has expended vast human and material resources over the last six years, are not impressed with Obama.
There is criticism that Obama's approach to developing dialog and consensus in Lebanon shows a degree or ignorance:
Readers of this blog will find this painfully hilarious, and possibly indicative of Obama's ignorance of the situation in Lebanon. ..What kind of diplomacy that has not been tried before by the "Europeans and Arab allies" will help Lebanon? I am not going to defend the Bush administration's policy in Lebanon. It may reek of "empty slogans" at times, but how does talking to criminals create solutions? And pray explain how supporting the Hariri tribunal, as Obama said he does, can be reconciled with chatting up the ones who killed him?
Lebanese journalist Michael Young and Iraqi blogger Iraqpundit are quoted in their reservations of Obama advisor Samantha Power. Power's strong anti-Israel bent is noted by Powerline (here, here, and here) and by Noah Pollak at Contentions. Young and Iraqpundit, though, find Power equally off the mark about the Middle East in general. Smith sums it up:
The self-described “Genocide Chick” seems to them insufficiently concerned that an American withdrawal from Iraq will lead to genocide. Her solution? Move people from one area to another and give money to Iraq's neighbors to stabilize the country. You can't blame her for basically parroting the egregiously cynical recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, but in reality this means that US forces should be complicit in the sectarian cleansing of Iraq and pay off countries like Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia that have themselves funded and supported death squads targeting Iraqi Shias, Kurds and Sunnis as well as US troops.

It's true that the Lebanese and Iraqis have benefited, and suffered, more than anyone from the Bush White House's regional transformation program, so you can't hold it against them if they're more interested in a man's ideas than in the faith he professes or the color of his skin.

The bottom line is that the reaction of the Arab world to Bush was based on one thing alone--his policies as he enacted them. Smith concludes about the Arab world in general that:
What made them like or dislike Bush wasn't the color of the president's skin or his religious faith, but his ideas. It's not clear to me why Americans seem now to be trying to export a very un-American idea - that a man's color and his faith matter.
Read the whole thing.

In the Arab world as well, there is something to be said for substance.

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Now You Can Leave Voice Messages On A Blog

Check out Grand Central, which lets you leave a voicemail message that can then be pasted into the blog post and be played.

Like this:

You can call by clicking on the Call Me button, or call 908-344-5681 and leave a message--either way, the call is free.

Let's see if this catches on.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

What A Study About Abuse Did NOT Find About Orthodox Women

A lesson in the difference between thinking critically and thinking negatively.

Rabbi Avi Shafran

Vindication is nice, but there’s sometimes bitter mixed in with the sweet.

Back in October of last year, a headline in the New York Jewish Week read: “No Religious Haven From Abuse.” The subheader amplified: “New study finds Orthodox women are sexually victimized as much as other American women.” As I wrote shortly thereafter, first in a letter to the Jewish Week and then in a longer essay, the study found nothing of the sort.
Because of the sample it recruited, the study, in the American Journal of Psychiatry, could not and did not make any claim at all about the relative prevalence of abuse in the Orthodox and general American communities.

The study’s authors themselves in fact stated as much, noting that “those who chose to participate may not be representative of the [Orthodox] population,” and that the unfeasibility of obtaining a representative sample constituted a “major limitation of this study.” What is more, over half the women comprising the recruited study sample were receiving mental health treatment at the time. Victims of abuse, needless to say, are more likely than others to seek counseling, and so the sample would be expected to yield a larger number of victims than one representative of the larger Orthodox community.

And so, by comparing the 25%-27% figure for American women claiming (in randomized surveys) to have suffered abuse at some point in their lives with the 26% figure yielded by the recent (self-selected and non-representative) study of Orthodox women, and concluding that “Orthodox Jewish women suffer as much [abuse] as other American women,” the Jewish Week writer revealed only her own innumeracy. If anything, the similar percentages between an Orthodox group disproportionately likely to have suffered abuse and a non-Jewish random sample arguably indicate a lower rate of abuse in the former.

After daring to call attention to all that, I was roundly and strongly censured. One subsequent writer to the Jewish Week, utterly uncomprehending of the point about the number of study subjects receiving mental health treatment, claimed it indicated the precise opposite of what it did, and accused me of denying that abuse exists in the Orthodox community, although I explicitly noted in both my letter and essay that abuse exists in every community, including the Orthodox.

Another letter-writer, this one a Long Island psychologist, condescendingly sniffed that without “a knowledge of… non-parametric statistics” I simply was not qualified to address the study’s findings. He too, incredibly, managed to misconstrue the entire point about the sample’s disproportionate share of mental health patients. Then blogs, of course, weighed in, demonstrating with their rantings just how widespread is the misconstrual of the word “critical” in the phrase “critical thinking” as “negative” rather than “analytical.”

Finally, though, several weeks later, some sanity came to reign. In a long and comprehensive article, the Director of Psychotherapy Training in the Psychiatry Residency Training Program at the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Nachum Klafter, asked by a blog to evaluate the study and the Jewish Week article, presented his conclusion that I had “correctly read the AJP paper” and that the Jewish Week writer had clearly misreported its findings.

That was followed by a joint monograph by a Professor of Psychology, a Professor of Education and Philosophy, a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology and a well-known and regarded author of essays and books on cultural issues. It stated that “to attempt to generalize from [the study highlighted in the Jewish Week article] to the Orthodox mainstream – or to draw grand comparisons between subgroups within this skewed sample – seems to be a gross misrepresentation of the data obtained.”

Both of the recent papers, moreover, noted that the study’s data in fact yields the remarkable (yet somehow unremarked upon by the Jewish Week) fact that the survey respondents who were raised Orthodox were 50% less likely to have experienced sexual abuse than those from non-Orthodox homes. Considering that the survey asked if abuse occurred at any point in respondents’ lives, it is plausible if not likely that much of the abuse reported among those raised non-Orthodox occurred before they joined observant communities.

None of which, of course, is to deny either that abuse exists in the Orthodox community (as it does in all communities) or that all communities, including the Orthodox, have a responsibility to put effective measures into place to prevent it. But the fact of its existence in the Orthodox world is no justification for drawing unwarranted conclusions about its extent there.

I am gratified, of course, that the record regarding the study and article has been corrected. But something still grates, and, I think, for good reason.

Because all that many, if not most, of the Jewish Week’s readers will likely ever remember about the entire business will be a mendacious headline. Despite all the setting straight of facts, what will remain in minds – not to mention in the eternal echo-chamber of cyberspace – will be only those deceptive, in fact slanderous, words.

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

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Would The US Support The Unilateral Declaration Of A Palestinian State?

In light of Kosovo declaring its independence, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack was asked how that differed from a Palestinian State:
Asked why Kosovo had to wait just nine years under UN administration to obtain its independence, while the Palestinians have been waiting since 1948, McCormack said the situations were different.

"The situation in Kosovo had run its course, in terms of trying to find a solution, a negotiated political solution," McCormack said.

"We believe that there still is the possibility of a negotiated settlement" in the Palestinian territories, he said, citing peace talks held in Annapolis, Maryland last year under the auspices of President George W. Bush.

"Witness the effort that we put into the Annapolis process and that we are now putting into that process to help it work. So they are different situations."
So, if it becomes clear that a negotiated settlement is not feasible, would the US likewise contend that the situation "had run its course" and ultimately back the establishment of a Palestinian state?

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Iran And Terrorist Financing

From The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

The Nexus Between Iranian National Banks and International Terrorist Financing

Shimon Shapira

* On December 19, 2007, a U.S.-based law firm succeeded in freezing the funds of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in France on behalf of American clients who, in the judgment of U.S. courts, were victims of terrorist attacks sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

* Iran has been using its state institutions as agents of the terror activity it perpetrates throughout the world. The funding for this terror activity is partly provided via Bank Melli and sometimes also via Bank Saderat.

* Bank Melli also played a pivotal role in financing the 1994 AMIA bombing in Argentina. AMIA was the central Jewish community center in Buenos Aires; as a result of the Iranian-sponsored terrorist attack, eighty-five people were killed and more than two hundred were wounded. Iran's Central Bank also has had a role to play in terrorist financing. In September 2006, the U.S. Treasury disclosed that the Central Bank of Iran was sending money to Hizbullah through Bank Saderat, which was also providing financial services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

* It would be extremely unfortunate if French courts decide to unfreeze Iranian funds in Paris that were originally frozen because of U.S. court rulings about Iranian funding of terrorist attacks.
Read the whole thing.

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