Sunday, November 30, 2008

Israel Must Remain Heroic

Dr. Helen Smith has an initial post about a book she is reading: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why. Dr. Smith writes about the chapter about heroism, noting that according to the book, heros
have confidence in their abilities. They tend to have an "internal locus of control"--that is, a sense that they shape their own destiny rather than looking to someone else.
Read the whole thing.

Her link to Wilderdom defines Locus of Control as addressing the question
Do you believe that your destiny is controlled by yourself or by external forces (such as fate, god, or powerful others)?
Could that definition, broadly stated, shed light on the success that Israel has had in general as well as militarily? Re-establishing the State of Israel, the Six Day War, the rescue at Entebbe, successfully and destroying Iraq's nuclear reactor are all events in Israel's modern history that take on heroic proportions.

Similarly, the opposite of Locus is defined as
Individual believes that his/her behaviour is guided by fate, luck, or other external circumstances.
That is a definition that could readily be applied to Palestinian Arabs, not only because of their reliance on external aid, but also because of the Islamic belief in fatalism.

The actual study was focused on the US, where it found that a high proportion--80%--of the heroic acts studied
happened in places with less than one hundred thousand people. The author opines that this might be because in small towns, people know one another and acts of kindness are recognized and remembered. A strong sense of duty to help others was also mentioned.
People knowing each other...a strong sense of duty--these are also traits one finds in Israel as well.

The question, though, is what happens when Israel's image changes, not only in her own eyes but also in the eyes of other countries as well. Take for instance the US, as described in this article from April 2006--3 months before the Israel-Hezbollah war:

Bush's attitude toward Israel has changed as well. Until 2002, Bush saw Israel has a powerful ally of the United States and able to deter its enemies. Today, the president sees Israel as weak and Bush has publicly pledged to protect the Jewish state from an Iranian attack. Quietly, Israeli defense officials dismiss Bush's pledge was little more than symbolic given the start of the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

"The feeling in both the administration and among belatedly among many conservatives in Congress is that Israel has to accept the fate of a small nation reliant on a superpower patron," a leading U.S. analyst who is close to the administration said.

Regardless of whether the article is accurate or not, I think we can all agree that such a view, if internalized by Israel, would be dangerous and detrimental to Israel's continued survival. That of course is just what the Iran-backed terrorist attacks by Hamas and Hizbollah aim to do.

Recent events, such as Israel's putting up with a Hamas truce with more holes than Swiss cheese, half-hearted incursions into Gaza and an easy compliance with US pressure may be signs of a lessening in Israeli self-confidence.

The upcoming Israeli elections in February, contested between Kadima and Likud, may turn out to be not so much a struggle for the soul of Israel as its confidence that Israel truly is in control of her own destiny

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Turns Out That Obama Is NOT The First Black President Of The US

That's because Obama is not black:
He is also half white.

Unless the one-drop rule still applies, our president-elect is not black.

We call him that -- he calls himself that -- because we use dated language and logic. After more than 300 years and much difficult history, we hew to the old racist rule: Part-black is all black. Fifty percent equals a hundred. There's no in-between.

That was my reaction when I read these words on the front page of this newspaper the day after the election: "Obama Makes History: U.S. Decisively Elects First Black President."

The phrase was repeated in much the same form by one media organization after another. It's as if we have one foot in the future and another still mired in the Old South. We are racially sophisticated enough to elect a non-white president, and we are so racially backward that we insist on calling him black. Progress has outpaced vocabulary.

...To me, as to increasing numbers of mixed-race people, Barack Obama is not our first black president. He is our first biracial, bicultural president.
Of course, calling Obama black was not a question of racism--it was a question of politics. There is a better draw in running as America's first black president. Calling for the election of the first biracial president of the US? Ummmm, not so much.

There was an awful lot of packaging that went into selling Barack Obama.
And it's going to take a long time to remove all the wrapping before we know just what's inside.

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The Myth Of Obama's Small Donors

Together with the myth that Obama is a radical liberal, here is another Obama myth to toss into the wastebasket:
Everybody knows how President-elect Barack Obama's amazing campaign money machine was dominated by several million regular folks sending in hard-earned amounts under $200, a real sign of his broadbased grassroots support.

Except, it turns out, that's not really true.
Not really true because it all depends on definition--on a Clintonian level:

It comes down to which definition of "small donor" you accept:

Someone who donated to the Obama campaign by scraping together $199, period.

Or someone who donated $199 to the Obama campaign several times, perhaps totaling close to the $4,600 legal limit for the primary and general elections. In aggregate, that would vault him/her out of the small donor category that was so useful to the political campaign's public relations campaign portraying the donor base as about two times as broad as it really was.

The reported numbers show that Obama actually received 80% more money from large donors (those giving $1,000 or more total) than from small donors.

It's all a question of presentation.

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Mumbai: Why Were Israelis Singled Out For Torture And Death? (Update)

The spin is on. Some in the media already take the approach that disenfranchised Muslims are striking back against discrimination, as Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek claims:
One of the untold stories of India is that the Muslim population has not shared in the boom the country has enjoyed over the last ten years. There is still a lot of institutional discrimination, and many remain persecuted. There's enough alienation out there that there are locals who can be drawn in to plots. That tends to be a pattern, from Madrid to Casablanca to Bali—some hard-core jihadis who indoctrinate alienated locals they can seduce.

What's also new and different about this was that it involved suicide attackers. There have been planted bombs in the past. But this is a different level than we've seen in India.
Time magazine takes the same approach--the Muslim terrorists are acting out of a profound sense of injustice:
The disembodied voice was chilling in its rage. A gunman, holed up in the Oberoi Trident hotel in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), where some 40 people had been taken hostage, told an Indian news channel that the attacks were revenge for the persecution of Muslims in India. "We love this as our country, but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?" he asked via telephone. No answer came. But then he probably wasn't expecting one.

The roots of Muslim rage run deep in India, nourished by a long-held sense of injustice over what many Indian Muslims believe is institutionalized discrimination against the country's largest minority group.
Neither of the 2 articles mentions Israelis, Jews, or the Chabad House. As far as Time and Newsweek are concerned, this was all about India and the suffering of Muslims. But if that were really true, why were there Israeli hostages--and why were Israelis tortured especially viciously before being murdered:

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.

Corroborating the doctors' claims about torture was the information that the Intelligence Bureau had about the terror plan. "During his interrogation, [the sole terrorist captured alive] Ajmal Kamal said they were specifically asked to target the foreigners, especially the Israelis," an IB source said.

It is also said that the Israeli hostages were killed on the first day as keeping them hostage for too long would have focused too much international attention. "They also might have feared the chances of Israeli security agencies taking over the operations at the Nariman House," he reasoned.

Apparently there was the 'public' face of the attacks for garnering national attention--allegedly to highlight the plight of Indian Muslims, while there was other business to be taken care of behind the scenes.

To call the men who carried out the attack anything but terrorists is to ignore the facts.

UPDATE: Roger L. Simon detects a pattern in the willingness by the media to ignore evil when it is staring you Jews in the face:
The Times of India and other sources are reporting the terrorists did thorough reconnaissance of the Mumbai Chabad Center in advance of their action, apparently staying there disguised as Malaysian students, no doubt under the good offices of the Holzbergs. Somebody should tell the New York Times who, as of this writing, is still reporting the Jewish center as an “unlikely target.” In fact, at first the Times seemed to disbelieve the center could have been a target at all. But that’s no surprise. They have missed Jewish target stories, even the most important ones, in the past:

The reason is that the American media in general and the New York Times in particular never treated the Holocaust as an important news story. From the start of the war in Europe to its end nearly six years later, the story of the Holocaust made the Times front page only 26 times out of 24,000 front-page stories, and most of those stories referred to the victims as “refugees” or “persecuted minorities.” In only six of those stories were Jews identified on page one as the primary victims.

Nor did the story lead the paper, appearing in the right-hand column reserved for the day’s most important news – not even when the concentration camps were liberated at the end of the war. In addition, the Times intermittently and timidly editorialized about the extermination of the Jews, and the paper rarely highlighted it in either the Week in Review or the magazine section. [bold mine]

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Read the whole thing.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Evaluating How India's Dealt With The Terrorists In Mumbai--Errors Were Made (2 Updates)

On Thursday, Israel was offering assistance to India for combating the terrorists in Mumabai. Apparently, the help needed would have been minimal:
The Israeli officials said that Indian counter-terrorist forces were well trained but failed to gather sufficient intelligence before engaging the terrorists.
Fox News seems to back up the assessment that there was an intelligence failure:
While terrorism experts say Indian special forces performed with remarkable bravery and professionalism in their battle with the terrorists, they believe the attacks should — and could — have been thwarted by better intelligence.
But there are also questions being raised on the training of the anti-terrorist unites and how they implemented the rescue:

From Let's Put DA:
Commandos are landing on the Nariman Building. They seem to be tip-toeing down. They are communicating to each other through hand signals. Secrecy & surprise are paramount. And NDTV is showing this live!!! With informative commentary on how many commandos have landed and so on. Perhaps NDTV's research has shown that terrorists only watch cartoon network during missions.
James S. Robbins point out that The New York Times was doing the very same thing:
I wonder if it occurred to Keith Bradsher that his extremely precise, minute-by-minute accounts of the locations of the security forces trying to free the hostages in the Chabad House in Mumbai provided very useful tactical information for any terrorist who might be reading it. E.g., "Fri, 28 Nov 2008 03:32:15: At least five commandos are on the rooftop balcony of Nariman House, trying to look over the row of small red flowerpots at the side of the building." Who benefits from knowing that information in real time, other than the terrorists?
From The Mumbai Mirror:
Sources said though the plane carrying NSG Commandos was ready by midnight, it could not take off due to the delayed arrival of a VIP, who wanted to accompany them to Mumbai, at the Delhi airport. Worse, the Commandos had to wait for a vehicle at the Mumbai airport until morning.
From The Belfast Telegraph:
But what angered Mr D'Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. "There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything," he said. "At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, 'Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!' but they just didn't shoot back."
The police and military were faced with an enormously challenging and dangerous situation, but they better do better next time--because there will be a next time.

UPDATE: Check out Neo-Neocon, who puts the refusal of the Mumbai police to shoot in context:
The problem in the Mumbai station could have been the presence of the crowd of innocents. The police may have been waiting for an opportunity to get off a clear and unobstructed shot, one with little likelihood of striking an unarmed traveler instead of a terrorist. Of course, when the terrorist in question is engaged in calmly murdering scores of people in the crowded station, it seems obvious that the policemen should have taken that chance. Even if a police bullet killed an innocent bystander, the action would end up saving far more people than it killed.
Neo-Neocon backs this up, quoting from today's New York Times:
On Saturday afternoon, a sharpshooter who had spent over 60 hours perched outside the Taj Hotel said neither he nor his partner had fired a shot because they were not sure how to distinguish the gunmen from ordinary civilians trapped inside the hotel.

Similarly, a commando told a private Indian television station, CNN-IBN, that the gunmen seemed to be firing from so many different parts of the hotel that security forces did not quite know where to strike without inflicting civilian casualties. “There were so many people, and we wanted to avoid any civilian casualties,” he said.

Read the whole thing.

India's forces faced the same dilemma as the IDF--would Israel have acted differently?

UPDATE 2: Apparently it's hard to find good security. Mark Steyn relates this story:
Somali pirates hijacked a chemical tanker with dozens of Indian crew members Friday and a helicopter rescued three British security guards who had jumped into the sea, officials said...
Steyn comments:
So the Indian and Bangladeshi crew are now the hostages of the Somali pirates. But the high-priced "anti-piracy" elite (albeit unarmed) security team from London immediately jumped into the water and swam away. What "security" did the owners of the MV Biscaglia get for their money?
[Hat tip: India Uncut]

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Terrorists In Mumbai Target Chabad House (Update: 5 hostages killed--are Identified)

This post will remain at the top for the time being. Please scroll down for newer posts.(Also, on the left side of the blog you can check out Twitter updates about Nariman House.)

Friday, 11:02AM

The commando raid was still going on late Friday, with the bodies of five Jewish hostages having been recovered from the facility, including those of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, quoted diplomat Haim Choshen telling Israel's Channel 2.

"Apparently the hostages did not remain alive," officials of the Israeli rescue organization Zaka said in a statement without identifying the hostages or saying how many may have died.

[Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon]

Keith Bradsher of NYT was giving live updates of the situation at the Chabad House. He has now moved from the area, but you can read his updates from there up to 7:55am this morning. (Posts are in London time--subtract 5 hours.

Five hostages have been killed by terrorists holed up inside Nariman House, a Jewish centre, in Colaba (Mumbai) even as National Security Guard commandos have secured major parts of the building.
It is not clear who those 5 hostages were.

Note: In addition to Life of Rubin, Israellycool and The Yeshiva World are also updating the story.

The Financial Times reports:
For thousands of Jewish travellers visiting Mumbai each year – ranging from Orthodox business people to young Israeli backpackers – the five-year old Chabad House was an important port of call, offering services that ranged from Kosher meals to holiday services to the sympathetic ear of a young rabbi.

But on Wednesday night, the Chabad House was one of the carefully-selected targets of the devastating terror attacks that rocked Mumbai. An Israeli rabbi connected to Chabad House was among at least three people being held hostage by gunmen. According to Reuters a woman and a child were released and one of the gunmen was killed. However, at least four armed men remained in the building by mid afternoon on Thursday Mumbai time.

The choice of the Chabad House as a target, heightening suspicions about the attackers’ potential international links, or influences.

India’s own radical Muslims have traditionally focused their wrath on the dominant Hindu population and has never previously targetted India’s tiny and diminishing indigenous Jewish community, which number just a few thousand.

The founders of the Chabad centre, Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg, a young Israeli who also holds US citizenship, and his wife Rifka, were part of the Chabad Lubovitch movement, which is dedicated to deepening religious practice and observation among Jews – both faithful and secular. [emphasis added]

I highlighted the names of Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rifka because they have been taken hostage by the terrorists. I received the following email from the Rabbi of the Chabad in Cyprus:

Dear friends,

As you are all aware of from the news, yesterday morning there was a huge scale terrorist attack in Mumbai India.

The terrorists have been holding hostages in three locations. The targets were 2 Hotels and the Niramar house which is the “CHABAD HOUSE” in Bombay that serves business people who come to India and all the Israeli backpackers.

At the current moment Rabbi Gabriel (who was my classmate in the school) and his wife Rivky are being held hostage. According to the housekeeper who was released from the building last night holding their two year old child in her hands both were not conscious but alive.

Please take a moment today to give charity, do a good deed and recite a prayer and psalms for the safe release of Gavriel Noach ben Fridah Bluma, his wife Rivkah bat Yehudit and all hostages whose names we don’t know.

Rabbi Arie Zeev and Sheindel Raskin

Life of Rubin has been following the story closely and has some updates on the situation vis-a-vis the Chabad House there and Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife.

UPDATE: According to Reuters:

The Israeli rescue service Zaka also said that Rabbi Gabriel Hertzberg's wife, whose name they gave as Rivka, had been released along with his two-year-old child.

Apparently she and her son are "woman and a child" referred to in the Financial Times article above.

It now appears that the woman who came out with the boy was the nanny, not the mother.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Palestinians and Israelis: Friends of India

Both are friends, though they show it differently:

From Ma'an:
The Indian nation was and will remain loyal and friendly to Palestinians since the days of Mahatma Gandhi's revolutionary period. The great man’s daughter Indira Gandhi then her son the President Rajiv Gandhi and even to this very moment the Palestinian people have felt the support of India. We will not forget Indian strength as Palestine stands up against Israel.

The generous aid to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the many scholarships offered to Palestinian students from India has endeared to us a nation whose history is not so different than our own. Palestine is a nation suffering from a siege, an occupation and constant aggression and we stand alongside India as forces act against the safety of its people.
From The Jerusalem Post:
Barak offered Israel's help in an advisory capacity and in any other way it could be of assistance, be it humanitarian or professional.

The two countries have close defense ties. India is the Israeli defense establishment's top customer in annual defense exports and has bought more than $5 billion worth of Israeli equipment since 2002. Two weeks ago, a senior Indian defense delegation, led by Defense Secretary Vijay Singh, visited Israel to discuss the purchase of AWACS planes and missiles from Israel Aerospace Industries.

Israel is also training Indian military units. In September, Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi, OC Ground Forces Command, paid an unscheduled visit to the disputed state of Kashmir to get a close look at the challenges India faced in its fight against Islamic insurgents. Mizrahi was in India for three days of meetings with the country's military brass and to discuss a training plan the IDF is currently drafting.

Under the proposed agreement, the IDF will send highly-trained commandos to provide instruction in counter-terror, urban warfare and anti-guerrilla tactics.
As Elder of Ziyon points out, the Palestinians are not missing out on an opportunity to politicize the situation--an odd situation where Muslim terrorists commisserate with the victims of other Muslim terrorists. But other than commisseration--and accepting aid from India--the Palestinians (who never missed a chance to side with Saddam Hussein) have nothing to offer.

While the Palestinians offer politics, Israel offers both military and humanitarian aid.

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Tefilah For The Tragic Events Unfolding In Mumbai India

From an email I received from YU

In light of the tragic events unfolding in Mumbai India I would like to share with you a tefillah that Dr. Moshe Sokolow, Professor and Associate Dean of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, wrote on behalf of those injured in this tragic event. Please share it with others.

May we be zoche to witness a time in which all humankind speaks on behalf of peace and mutual respect.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

(click to enlarge)

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Vatican: Thank The Muslims For Returning God To Europe

Yeah, and they did it with a bang...
A senior Vatican cardinal has thanked Muslims for bringing God back into the public sphere in Europe and said believers of different faiths had no option but to engage in interreligious dialogue.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, head of the Catholic Church's department for interfaith contacts, said religion was now talked and written about more than ever before in today's Europe.

"It's thanks to the Muslims," he said in a speech printed in Friday's L'Osservatore Romano, the official daily of the Vatican. "Muslims, having become a significant minority in Europe, were the ones who demanded space for God in society."
Overlooked is the fact that actually they have demanded space for Allah and Sharia in society.

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Terrorism In Mumbai: It Worked For Palestinian Arabs--It Will Work For Muslim Indians Too

Abe Greenwald contemplates how the “mounting sense of persecution” of Muslims in India will be covered by the media in the aftermath of the Muslim terrorist attacks:
One of the terrorists who seized the Oberoi Trident hotel told an Indian news station by phone, “We love this as our country but when our mothers and sisters were being killed, where was everybody?” and then his colleagues went and set off bombs to kill all the neglectful Indian lawmakers in . . . a Jewish outreach center.

Yet, the terrorist’s claim of injustice will launch a thousand “thoughtful” articles on the plight of today’s Muslims in India. And when the Jewish death toll is determined, it will constitute a sort of somber personal-interest sidebar. Yesterday, Mumbai native, Fareed Zakaria said, “One of the untold stories of India is that the Muslim population has not shared in the boom the country has enjoyed over the last ten years. There is still a lot of institutional discrimination, and many remain persecuted.” Fear not, Fareed: It will now be told, and told, and told. And if it turns out that some of the terrorists were in fact British, the story of England’s institutional discrimination of Muslims will be jammed down our throats as well.
Elder of Ziyon has a post about PalArab press politicizing Mumbai, where--according to Ma'an:
Palestinians follow what is happening hour by hour in Mumbai; the results of the bombings, shots fired at tourists, at hotel workers. Palestinians watch with painful understanding the death of innocent people and police officers in a country not their own.
Elder of Ziyon notes:
As usual, the Palestinian Arabs are noticing only too well the parallels between the terror attacks against India and the terror attacks that they engineer and celebrate against Israel. And they want to publicly distance themselves from the international terror that, in many ways, they pioneered in the 1970s, and even try to score political points from it.
Read the whole thing.

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Looking Back, Did Bush Really Delay Getting Involved With The Peace Process?

Noah Pollak writes that
it is always amazing to listen to people criticize Bush for shelving the peace process. They absolutely never talk about the context in which the decision was made. That context was the Karine A, the Iranian arms ship that was captured by Israel in transit to the Palestinian Authority carrying 50 tons of weapons. Israel had also discovered that Arafat was personally directing the terror war. It would have been unfathomable that four months after 9/11, the United States would commence a war on terrorism by insisting that its closest Middle East ally try to make peace with a man who was writing checks to suicide bombers.
People seem to find blaming Bush good for whatever ails them.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why Are Israeli Children From Secular Homes Being Sent To Charedi Schools?

Addressing "the connection between educational failure and societal breakdown."
What makes Parents do it?
by Jonathan Rosenblum
November 27, 2008

Recently I visited the Center for Science and Judaism in Hadera, a school with 540 students, almost all of whom have at least one non-shomer Shabbos observant parent. Yet the administration and most of the staff of the school are charedi.

SHUVU, a chareidi-staffed school system, employing 1,500 teachers in 25 cities, was originally created for immigrant children from Russian-speaking homes. Today approximately 1,700 students from veteran Israeli families also learn in SHUVU schools. Thousands more children from secular homes have been registered in recent years in various charedi frameworks by Lev L'Achim.

Why would a secular parent put his child in a school with intensified Jewish studies taught by charedi teachers? Why run the risk that their children will end up religious? What is the risk of keeping children in the state school system that is so great that parents are willing to put their children in chareidi frameworks?
Admittedly Israel's state education system is a shambles. Year after year, Israeli students rank near the very bottom of industrialized nations on international math and reading comprehension exams. Both student and teacher satisfaction are commensurate with those achievement levels – i.e., at the bottom of the pack. Over 60% of teachers report being the victims of physical or verbal abuse in the past year.

Those dismal statistics make it easier for parents to consider alternatives to public education. Still I doubt that the parents in Hadera or in SHUVU schools were primarily seeking to improve their children's math or reading comprehension scores, though they would be justified if they had. The Hadera school provides four hours of weekly instruction in a state of the art science lab powered by solar energy. SHUVU schools cover 20-25% more math material per year that the state schools, and they start computer and English instruction earlier.

True, most of the parents would not have registered their children in chareidi-run schools if they felt it was at the expense of a decent (or at least equal) secular education. But the real attraction of charedi-run education, I believe, lies in the widespread perception that Israeli families and society are not producing the same type of children they once did. Today's young are seen as lacking respect for elders, whether their parents or teachers; being uninterested in anything besides what's on TV or the Internet; and aspiring only to be rich and famous.

A few years back, then Maariv editor Amnon Dankner explicitly drew the connection between educational failure and societal breakdown. It will be impossible, he wrote, to create an atmosphere of stricter discipline within the educational system, when such discipline is antithetical to everything that Israeli youth, who recognize no authority, experience at home, on the street, or view on television.

In his new autobiography, Moshe "Boogie" Yaalon, describes the idealism of the society in which he grew up. "We had the sense of participation in something great, and to that great project all were obligated. . . . As a result, in the balance between the needs of the larger society and that of the individual, the scales inevitably tilted towards the societal. . . . These matters were understood without being stated. Memories of the Holocaust, the youth movements, the labor movement all combined together to create a strong framework of values." But he writes of a long-gone world.

Fueling the willingness to consider haredi frameworks, then, is nostalgia for a lost, values-oriented society. Hadera mayor Yisrael Sadan specifically mentioned his desire for a school where children again stand up for the teachers and teachers are not addressed by their first name.

Accompanying me on my visit to Hadera was Eli Livni, the older brother of Foreign Minister Tzippy Livni and the chairman of the Friends of the school. Though it was the day of the Kadima primaries, and he was being pursued by the media for interviews, he traveled from near Caesaria to talk about the school. For him, the school represented the type of education he had received as a boy, but his children missed. "We had one-tenth of what we have today," he told me, "and we were ten times happier."

A school like that in Hadera, he said, is necessary to restore students' connection to what it means to be a Jew, knowledge of the holidays, how to pray. At the top of the list, he placed teaching respect for parents.

One major attraction of the chareidi-run schools is the lack of violence. Over 80% of SHUVU parents say that the levels of violence are lower in SHUVU. Rabbi Benzion Nordman, the principal in Hadera, explained to me that the students know that respect for teachers is not subject to negotiation. Not even an errant word towards the playground supervisor will be ignored.

Decorum and respect is but one aspect of instilling values, something many parents feel themselves increasingly incapable of doing. The latter have decided that it is better for their children to learn in an environment with a strong sense of values – even if not necessarily the parents' own – than one in which there are no limits, and children grow up thinking life has no purpose beyond the pursuit of money and pleasure.

Israeli parents sense that without instilling a strong feeling of Jewishness in our young, Israel will not ultimately prevail. As Professor Ruth Gavison writes, "The secular Zionist majority in Israel does not receive [an] education which is rich in identity. . . . [And] that endangers Israeli in terms of its chances to survive in the long-term as a state defending the Jewish people's right to self-definition. . . . "

Another value supplied by haredi education is belief in the importance of education itself. Even the sharpest critics of the content of charedi education concede that charedi children of all ages learn a much longer day than their secular counterparts and that the content of their learning is intellectually rigorous.

Once PhD.s taught in Israeli high schools. Today teaching is a dead-end, low prestige job. But for haredim teaching is still the highest prestige profession – a calling as much as a job. Professor Tamar Horowitz of Ben_Gurion University states that SHUVU has the greatest degree of teacher accountability of any Israeli school system. It is the only one in which parents can count on being regularly updated on their child's progress.

A story Rabbi Nordman told me captures the sense of mission charedi teachers bring to their task. A first-grade teacher noticed that one of her students did not hand in his homework three days in a row. She decided to make a home visit, during which she discovered that the boy lacked a table to work at and a bed of his own. Together with the school, she raised the money to purchase both.

More mayors are following the lead of Hadera's Sadan in recognizing the value of charedi-run schools. Mevasseret Zion mayor, Aryeh Shamam, recently offered SHUVU a complete school facility, after the closure of all the town's religious schools. Yitzchak Ohayon of Petach Tikva calls SHUVU "the best school in the city," and Nazereth Ilit's Menachem Ariav told a group of SHUVU supporters, "Our town needs SHUVU to bring Judaism to us."

Some mayors and the Education Ministry have often fought against the growth of chareidi schooling for secular students, as a threat to the secular schools. But the smart ones have recognized that instead of trying to suppress charedi education, the state school system should draw the proper conclusions from the success of the former and begin to reform itself accordingly.
You can read other articles by Jonathan Rosenblum at Jewish Media Resources

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

UN: One Man's Pirate...(Updated)

No wonder the UN has so much trouble defining what a terrorist is:
What about international law? Article 110 of the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Convention -- ratified by most nations, but not by the U.S. -- enjoins naval ships from simply firing on suspected pirates. Instead, they are required first to send over a boarding party to inquire of the pirates whether they are, in fact, pirates. (emphasis added)
I think it's time we send over someone to the UN and ask them if they are for real.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: By the same token, some caution is a good thing...
Pirate 'mothership' was really Thai fishing boat

The pirate “mothership” destroyed by the Indian Navy in the Gulf of Aden was a Thai fishing boat that had been hijacked and whose crew were tied up below decks.

The vessel, which was sunk by INS Tabar, an Indian frigate, on the night of November 18, was the Ekawat Nava 5, a deep-sea trawler, rather than a floating pirate armoury loaded with supplies of ammunition and explosives, as India had claimed.

Wicharn Sirichaiekawat, the manager of the Bangkok-based Sirichai Fisheries, the ship’s owner, said that the facts emerged when one of his crew was found alive, adrift in the Indian Ocean. He said that 14 others were still missing and at least one was confirmed dead. The new development was confirmed by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

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Oyyyyy, Me Matey!

Pirates from Somali have been in the news. In fact, they have been downright busy:
Year-to-date, Somalia-based pirates have attacked more than 90 ships, seized more than 35, and currently hold 17. Some 280 crew members are being held hostage, and two have been killed. Billions of dollars worth of cargo have been seized; millions have been paid in ransom. A multinational naval force has attempted to secure a corridor in the Gulf of Aden, through which 12% of the total volume of seaborne oil passes, and U.S., British and Indian naval ships have engaged the pirates by force. Yet the number of attacks keeps rising.
All of this activity has culminated in their capture of a Saudi Arabian oil freighter.

Back in August was another case, albeit a good deal stranger:
On August 21st, 2008, the MV Iran Deyant, 44,458 dead weight bulk carrier was heading towards the Suez Canal. As it was passing the Horn of Africa, about 80 miles southeast of al-Makalla in Yemen, the ship was surrounded by speedboats filled with members of a gang of Somalia pirates who grab suitable commercial ships and hold them,, and their cargos and crews for ransom. The captain was defenseless against the 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades blocking his passage. He had little choice other than to turn his ship over to them. What the pirates were not banking on, however, was that this was no ordinary ship.

...Within a period of three days, those pirates who had boarded the ship and opened the cargo container with its gritty sand-like contents, all developed strange health complications, to include serious skin burns and loss of hair. And within two weeks, sixteen of the pirates subsequently died, either on the ship or on shore.

...Although American intelligence and government sources are maintaining a strictly observed silence, the same does not apply to the Russians and so it is that we learn the real story of the MV Iran Deyanat. She was an enormous floating dirty bomb, intended to detonate after exiting the Suez Canal at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and in proximity to the coastal cities of Israel. The entire cargo of radioactive sand, obtained by Iran from China (the latter buys desperately needed oil from the former) and sealed in containers which, when the charges on the ship are set off after the crew took to the boats, will be blasted high into the air where prevailing winds will push the highly dangerous and radioactive cloud ashore.
Granted that there is reason to be skeptical of the report, seeing that Israel--as well as the US--would have the perfect opportunity here to make an issue of Iran's actions in the region in general and their accumulation of nuclear material in particular, yet did not. The whole thing is odd.

But even more odd is the report from the Middle East Online, which reports that the real threat of piracy in the region comes from Israel:
Not only do columnists and analysts openly accuse Israel of sponsoring acts of piracy that multiply off Somali waters, but they also do not hide their fears of an internationalization of security in the Red Sea, where Israel plays a decisive role.

“What is happening in the Horn of Africa is not a simple case of piracy. These acts of piracy raise various questions about the capabilities and equipment of simple outlaws who are seeking ransoms,” wrote Tuesday (November 25) Nawaf Al-Meshal Sabhan in the Saudi daily Al-Iqtissadia.

“These acts triggered statements on the internationalization of the Red Sea, in which the enemy state of Israel would be a crucial element,” he adds.
These "columnists and analysts" are not identified. Pity. Apparently, according to the article, Israelis are not the actual pirates--merely their sponsors. This is not to say that there have never been Jewish pirates. There were Jews who took up piracy in the 15th century (such as Jean Lafitte), to make a better life for those Jews who were expelled from Spain or to take revenge for the Inquisition.

The motives for early Moslem pirates were nothing like that. If the Arab countries are really all that interested in investigating piracy in the region, it would be a good idea to look at that history. Three years ago, Joshua E. London wrote an article for National Review Online entitled, "America’s Earliest Terrorists: Lessons from America’s first war against Islamic terror."
The Barbary states, modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, are collectively known to the Arab world as the Maghrib (“Land of Sunset”), denoting Islam’s territorial holdings west of Egypt. With the advance of Mohammed’s armies into the Christian Levant in the seventh century, the Mediterranean was slowly transformed into the backwater frontier of the battles between crescent and cross. Battles raged on both land and sea, and religious piracy flourished.

The Maghrib served as a staging ground for Muslim piracy throughout the Mediterranean, and even parts of the Atlantic. America’s struggle with the terror of Muslim piracy from the Barbary states began soon after the 13 colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776, and continued for roughly four decades, finally ending in 1815.

...The Islamic basis for piracy in the Mediterranean was an old doctrine relating to the physical or armed jihad, or struggle.

Of course a crucial difference between the pirates then and now is that back then the Barbary pirates were working off of the principle of jihad. Today, based on the fact that these pirates went after a Saudi ship, it appears that pure greed is the motivation.

Back then, Thomas Jefferson finally took action against the pirates--at a time when Europe was content to pay up. As the problem grows worse today, what action will Obama take?

Obama has been compared to Abraham Lincoln and FDR. Why not add a dash of Jefferson to the mix?

[Hat tip: J.G. Thayer]

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Note To Self...

When getting the baby dressed during the morning rush, remember to make sure that the bottom of the onesy is unbuttoned.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Why No One Takes US Diplomacy In The Middle East Seriously

From Time Magazine:
U.S. officials have also cautioned Israelis against launching a ground assault inside the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza in a bid to stop militants there from firing rockets into southern Israel. Bush Administration officials warn that such an attack could cost many lives and jeopardize the painstaking, thus far futile efforts of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

To strengthen the case against Israel invading Gaza, U.S. officials turned to Jordan's King Abdullah for help in stemming the rocket attacks from Gaza, according to knowledgeable Palestinian and Jordanian officials. Because the U.S. has avoided direct talks with the militant Hamas movement, which runs Gaza but which the U.S. deems a terrorist organization, Abdullah was approached to act as a go-between, these sources told TIME. The Jordanian monarch complied with the U.S. request and last week dispatched a senior intelligence officer to Damascus to warn exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal that Gaza was in danger of an Israeli attack unless the rocket fire was immediately stopped.
Even granted that it is clear that under the current leadership no such Israeli attack is forthcoming: considering that the US is pressuring Israel to do nothing in Gaza, just how effective is this warning to Mashaal that Gaza is in danger of an attack supposed to be?

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Caroline Glick: 2 Things Left For Bush To Do In The Middle East

According to Glick:
With just six weeks remaining to his tenure in office, much of what Bush will leave behind him has already been determined. But there are two things he can still do that will impact greatly both the world he leaves behind and how he is judged by history: He can take action against Iran's nuclear program, and he can embrace Israel as an ally by pardoning four men who have been persecuted for assuming the alliance exists.

On the surface, these two agenda items couldn't be more disparate. By neutralizing Iran's nuclear installations Bush would save the lives of millions of people. By pardoning Jonathan Pollard, Larry Franklin, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, he would save the lives of four people.
The situation these 4 men find themselves in is due to a large extent not merely what they did, but for whom they did it. As Glick puts it, President Bush now has the opportunity to "embrace Israel as an ally by pardoning four men who have been persecuted for assuming the alliance exists":
In 1985, when Jonathan Pollard was arrested for transferring classified information to Israel, he was not treated like a man who had transferred secrets to a US ally. He was treated like a man who had transferred secrets to al-Qaida. His sentence of life in prison was meant to serve as a deterrent for anyone who dared question the view that Israel is nothing more than an albatross placed around the US's neck by a powerful American Jewish lobby and by dimwitted politicians.

Whereas Pollard's fate was sealed long before Bush entered the White House, Franklin, Rosen and Weissman's nightmare began under his watch.

In 2006, former Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin was sentenced to 12 years in prison for seeking the assistance of two AIPAC lobbyists - Rosen and Weissman - in bringing the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weapons program to Bush's attention. By speaking with Rosen and Weissman, Franklin was behaving as countless government employees behave. He was prosecuted not for sharing information with the men, but for mistakenly assuming that his view of Israel as a US ally was shared by the powers-that-be in Washington.

Weissman and Rosen are in the midst of a long, costly, drawn-out trial and stand charged with mishandling classified information under a statute that has not been enforced since World War I. For more than four years they have been treated as criminals for doing nothing more than their job as lobbyists - for a lobby that was founded on the understanding that the US and Israel are strategic allies.
Now we need to speak up for these 4 men. Today saw the launching of the campaign to request a Presidential Pardon for Jonathan Pollard.

Who is speaking up for Larry Franklin, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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National Grass Roots Effort On Behalf Of Jonathan Pollard Is Launched

This is from a Press Release, which I saw on Yeshiva World News:
November 25, 2008
Behind the scenes, askonim from all walks of communal life have been diligently working together in unprecedented cooperation - and using every available angle to free Jonathan Pollard. Now is your chance to stand up for the silent suffering and make a difference!!

A nationwide grass roots effort on behalf of Jonathan Pollard was officially launched today. People are encouraged to click to join the effort to help set Jonathan Pollard free.

With less than two months until President George Bush leaves office, this grass roots effort is intended to remind the White House of Jonathan Pollard’s plight and to push for a commutation of his prison sentence.

Because it is critical that the White House hear from as many people as possible in the next several weeks, visitors to are urged to call, fax, and send letters to President Bush on a daily basis. The website provides contact information for the White House, a sample letter that people can fax or mail, and an online petition that will be sent to President Bush. Visitors to are reminded that just 60 seconds a day can help Jonathan Pollard go free.

Pollard, who just began his 24th year in federal prison, has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. His health has deteriorated significantly during his more than two decades in prison.

In addition, Pollard’s life sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to the sentences of others who have spied for allied nations. Countless elected officials, individuals from the national intelligence arena and the legal world, as well as religious and community leaders, have described Pollard’s sentence as excessive, and have called for his sentence to be commuted.

“There are individuals across the United States who have expressed interest in helping Jonathan Pollard,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel (for identification purposes only), “This grass roots campaign gives people the opportunity to participate in a respectful and coordinated effort intended to help enable Jonathan Pollard to go home to Israel to his family.”

Rabbi Lerner, one of the driving forces behind, communicates regularly with Jonathan Pollard and his wife Esther, and is considered by Jonathan to be his clergy.

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A Report Card For UN Security Council Resolution 1701

J.G. Thayer gives a rundown of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War in Lebanon to a close--what the resolution called for, and how successful it has been:
1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

Well, that one went all right. Both sides stopped shooting. Of course, since Hezbollah was getting the crap kicked out of it at the time, they were willing to go along. And Israel was, as always, vulnerable to international pressure to end its stubborn and entirely unreasonable policy of hitting back at those committed to its destruction.

2. Upon full cessation of hostilities, calls upon the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL as authorized by paragraph 11 to deploy their forces together throughout the South and calls upon the Government of Israel, as that deployment begins, to withdraw all of its forces from southern Lebanon in parallel;

This one was partially fulfilled. Israel pulled out, and UNIFIL went in. But the Lebanese government never sent its armed forces south to fill the void. Rather, Hezbollah simply re-fortified and re-ardmed.

3. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the
Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the rovisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant rovisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there ill be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon and no uthority other than that of the Government of Lebanon;

This one is almost laughable. It’s a declaration that there will be no armed forces within Lebanon’s southern sector that are not part of the Lebanese armed forces. In other words, Hezbollah has to disarm entirely. That one, too, turned out to be utterly toothless.

4. Reiterates its strong support for full respect for the Blue Line;


5. Also reiterates its strong support, as recalled in all its previous relevant resolutions, for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognized borders, as contemplated by the Israeli-Lebanese General Armistice Agreement of 23 March 1949;

So Israel can’t keep any Lebanese territory. Seeing as how that was never Israel’s intent, they might as well have declared an import tax on cheese from the moon and forbidden people from kissing their own elbows.

6. Calls on the international community to take immediate steps to extend its financial and humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people, including through facilitating the safe return of displaced persons and, under the authority of the Government of Lebanon, reopening airports and harbours, consistent with paragraphs 14 and 15, and calls on it also to consider further assistance in the future o contribute to the reconstruction and development of Lebanon;

Yup, Lebanon gets rebuilt by the international community. How about the towns and cities in Israel that were bombarded before and during the war?

7. Affirms that all parties are responsible for ensuring that no action is taken contrary to paragraph 1 that might adversely affect the search for a long-term solution, humanitarian access to civilian populations, including safe passage for humanitarian convoys, or the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons, and calls on all parties to comply with this responsibility and to cooperate with the Security Council;

This was mainly directed at Lebanon and Hezbollah. And the only “interference” they made was in making sure there were plenty of (often staged or faked) photos showing just how much the people of southern Lebanon had suffered under Israel’s attack.

8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a longterm solution based on the following principles and elements:
– full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;
– security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including theestablishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of anyarmed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of
Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;
– full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of 27 July 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State;
– no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its Government;
– no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its Government;
– provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of landmines in Lebanon in Israel’s possession;
Again, the elements aimed at Israel have all been met, occasionally under threat of force, while those aimed at Hezbollah are ignored.

9. Invites the Secretary-General to support efforts to secure as soon as possible agreements in principle from the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel to the principles and elements for a long-term solution as set forth in paragraph 8, and expresses its intention to be actively involved;

10. Requests the Secretary-General to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa farms area, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within thirty days;

Blah blah blah.

11. Decides, in order to supplement and enhance the force in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operations, to authorize an increase in the force strength of UNIFIL to a maximum of 15,000 troops, and that the force shall, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426 (1978):
(a) Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
(b) Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy hroughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed orces from Lebanon as provided in paragraph 2;
(c) Coordinate its activities related to paragraph 11 (b) with the Government f Lebanon and the Government of Israel;
(d) Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian opulations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
(e) Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the
establishment of the area as referred to in paragraph 8;
(f) Assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, to implement paragraph 1
Considering that the Lebanese have not sent their armed forces into southern Lebanon, this one has been largely moot.

12. Acting in support of a request from the Government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;

Again, Lebanon has eItalicssentially ceded its southern portion to Hezbollah, not sending its troops in as required.

13. Requests the Secretary-General urgently to put in place measures to nsure UNIFIL is able to carry out the functions envisaged in this resolution, urges member States to consider making appropriate contributions to UNIFIL and to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Force, and expresses its strong appreciation to those who have contributed to UNIFIL in the past;

Yup, UNIFIL has covered itself in glory in the past. For example, they skillfully avoided a previous shooting war when they actively covered up (if not actually participated) in a prior kidnapping invasion of Israel by Hezbollah, who used UNIFIL-marked vehicles.

14. Calls upon the Government of Lebanon to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel and requests UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11 to assist the Government of Lebanon at its request;

Again, that’s worked out quite well. If you don’t mention that Hezbollah is now far better armed than ever before.

15. Decides further that all States shall take the necessary measures to revent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft:
(a) The sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and elated materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles nd equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, hether or not originating in their territories; and
(b) The provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical raining or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of he items listed in subparagraph (a) above; except that these prohibitions shall not apply to arms, related material, training or ssistance authorized by the Government of Lebanon or by UNIFIL as authorized in aragraph 11;
DARN those munitions fairies who have rearmed Hezbollah!

16. Decides to extend the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2007, and expresses its intention to consider in a later resolution further enhancements to the mandate and other steps to contribute to the implementation of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution;

17. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution and subsequently on a regular basis;

These pledges have zero substance, or at least zer demonstrable substance to date.

18. Stresses the importance of, and the need to achieve, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on all its relevant resolutions including its resolutions 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, 338 (1973) of 22 October 1973 and 1515 (2003) of 19 November 2003;

Because it must be constantly reasserted that the core problems of every problem in the Middle East is the fault of Israel.

19. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

God help the innocent people of Lebanon and Israel if the United Nations is going to “remain actively seized” of this matter.
The UN has botched the intent of this resolution thoroughly, yet it is the re-establishment of the State of Israel that the UN regrets.

Bad Ideas Do Not Get Better The More Often You Do Them

Weapons transferred last week by Israel to Force 17, the presidential guard units of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, will be utilized for attacks against Jews, a senior member of Force 17 told WorldNetDaily in an exclusive interview today.

The militant, Abu Yousuf, hinted the weapons already were used in two shooting attacks the past few days that killed one Israeli civilian and wounded another
In a speech commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the founding of his Fatah party, the PA chief called on Arab factions to put an end to weeks of infighting and instead fight Israel.

"Shooting at your brother is forbidden. Raising rifles against the occupation is our legitimate right, but raising guns against each other is forbidden. We should put our internal fighting aside and raise our rifles only against the Israeli occupation," said Abbas in a speech in the Muqata compound in Ramallah attended by World Net Daily.

Abbas' call to arms was not reported by most major media outlets featuring articles on the PA leader's speech.

His statements about using rifles against Israel come after the United States, aided by Ehud Olmert, over the last few weeks provided 7,000 assault rifles and more than 1 million rounds of ammunition to militias associated with Abbas' Fatah party, according to senior Fatah militants.

Israel is concerned with reports that the US plans to sell dozens of M60 main battle tanks to the Lebanese army, senior defense officials said over the weekend.

"There is a possibility these tanks will fall into Hizbullah's hands," one official warned. "At the moment, Hizbullah does not yet have heavy armor in its arsenal."


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The Government Gets It Right This Time: Holy Land Foundation Defendants Guilty On All Counts (Updated)

No mistrial this time:
A jury on Monday determined that the Holy Land Foundation and five men who worked with the Muslim charity were guilty of three dozen counts related to the illegal funneling of at least $12 million to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

..Over the past two months, prosecutors attempted to prove that five former charity organizers used Holy Land, once the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., to funnel an estimated $60 million to the militant group – most of it before 1995.

Hamas was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. in 1995, and the trial centered on the $12 million the government said Holy Land and supporters funneled to the group after that date.

The key to the Government's success this time around as opposed to last time was the streamlining of the charges brought and the effort taken to educate the jury on the issues involved. One of the criticisms of the case last time was how complicated it was.

According to The Investigative Project on Terrorism, the jury decided the defendants will forfeit $12.4 million in assets to the government due to the money laundering charges.

Phyllis Chesler writes that

According to M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, prosecutors triumphed because they were able to “connect the ideology of political Islam and the overriding mission of Islamist organizations like the Holy Land Foundation to their desire to contribute to the efforts of terror groups, like Hamas. When this connection is made we will see the return of a guilty verdict. In future [terrorism financing] cases DOJ will not only have to connect the financial dots but [will have] to demonstrate an overarching common Islamist mission.”

The question is whether the Department of Justice is both prepared and willing to put in the kind of work necessary for further successful prosecutions. According to Douglas Farah, an author and terrorism consultant, this will require a change in attitude. Granted that one result of the trial was to publicly show the terrorist agenda of the international Muslim Brotherhood, yet:

Given this complete victory for the government … it is now incumbent on U.S. government agencies to stop dealing with them as if they were engaging in benign efforts to push an agenda of tolerance and civil rights.

The question now is where do we go from here--particularly under the upcoming Obama Administration. It has become apparent that Obama is not going to enact left wing agenda he talked about during the campaign--which makes it just that much more unclear what he will do about the Islamist threat here at home.

UPDATE: David Hazony notes that those who honestly wanted to contribute to real Muslim charities were not without options:

Perhaps many donors to such organizations really are looking to help the Palestinians address their difficult humanitarian position. But as anyone involved in the non-profit sector will tell you, philanthropists are not powerless to influence the work of the organizations they give to. If building Palestinian schools were so important to them, how hard would it be to make sure the money stayed out of the terrorists’ hands? If the answer is “very difficult,” then there are plenty of needy Muslims elsewhere in the world who could use their money instead. And if they insist on giving to Hamas anyway, they should not be surprised to face jail time for supporting terror.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Nachum Segal Interviews Malcolm Hoenlein 11/21/08

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 for the latest Weekly Update. Nachum began this week's Update with the latest news from Hebron and the on-going issues regarding evictions and land ownership therein. Nachum asked Malcolm to share details from his visit to the site of historic archaeological finds that have been discussed on the air in recent Weekly Updates. They explored several other important issues including: The possibility of Senator Hillary Clinton becoming Secretary of State under the Barack Obama Presidency, the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Olmert and President Bush, the urgency of contacting the White House and our elected officials on behalf of Jonathon Pollard while President Bush is still in office, the new Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, international reactions to the upcoming Barack Obama Presidency, the latest news from Iran, and MUCH more. Click the link to listen.

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CAIR Sued By Former Clients For Racketeering

From a Press Release I received via email:
CAIR Sued by Former Clients for Racketeering, Fraud, & Breach of Fiduciary Duties; 
Officials presented with subpoena onstage at Annual Dinner in Virginia

Stay tuned to SANEWorks on YouTube
for more shocking video and audio from this event

Also on WorldNetDaily: Surprise! CAIR officials slapped with subpoenas; Terror-linked Muslim lobby's dinner turns into public relations nightmare

For more information:

David Yerushalmi, Esq.
Law Offices of David Yerushalmi

November 24, 2008 – Washington, DC: Four clients of the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) have filed a federal civil complaint alleging criminal fraud and racketeering against CAIR, a self-described public interest civil rights law firm. The lawsuit also names CAIR’s national leadership as individual defendants.

The defendants were served with the complaint and summons to appear while attending the CAIR 14th Annual Dinner Sunday night in Arlington, Virginia.

[To watch the video, see and stay tuned for more audio and video from the banquet-- available soon at the SANEWorks YouTube Channel]

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Morris Days, the “Resident Attorney” and “Manager for Civil Rights” at the now defunct CAIR MD/VA chapter in Herndon, Virginia, was in fact not an attorney and that he failed to provide legal services for clients who came to CAIR for assistance and who had paid for CAIR legal services.

While attorney David Yerushalmi represents the four plaintiffs in this particular lawsuit, two of whom are African American Muslims, the complaint alleges that according to CAIR internal documents, there were hundreds of victims of the CAIR-Days fraud scheme.

According to the complaint, CAIR failed to conduct a background check on Days prior to hiring him and when they did discover his massive fraud, they immediately set about to cover it up. CAIR officials purposefully concealed the truth about Days from their clients, law enforcement, the Virginia and D.C. state bar associations, and the media. When CAIR did get irate calls from clients about Days’ failure to provide competent legal services, CAIR fraudulently deceived their clients about Days’ relationship to CAIR, suggesting he was never actually employed by CAIR, and even concealed the fact that CAIR had fired him for criminal fraud.

“The evidence has long suggested that CAIR is a criminal organization set up by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas to further its aims of stealth Jihad in the U.S.,” Mr. Yerushalmi said referring to the fact that CAIR has been named by the federal government as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial.

“But our investigation and this complaint makes clear that CAIR’s criminal activities know no bounds,” Yerushalmi continued.

“According to the facts as carefully laid out in this complaint,” Yerushalmi explained, “CAIR has engaged in a massive cover-up of a criminal fraud in which literally hundreds of CAIR clients have been victimized and because of the CAIR cover-up they still don’t realize it. The fact that CAIR has victimized Muslims and non-Muslims alike demonstrates that CAIR is only looking out for CAIR and its ongoing effort to bilk donors out of millions of dollars of charitable donations thinking they are supporting a legitimate organization.”

The complaint also alleges that in addition to covering up the Days fraud scheme, CAIR officials in D.C. forced angry clients who were demanding a return of their legal fees to sign a release that bought the client-victims’ silence by prohibiting them from informing law enforcement or the media about the CAIR-Days fraud. According to the agreement, if the “settling” clients said anything to anyone about the fraud scheme, CAIR would be able to sue them for $25,000.

This enforced code of silence left hundreds of CAIR client-victims in the dark such that to this day they have not learned that Days is not an attorney and that he had not filed the legal actions on their behalf for which Days and CAIR publicly claimed credit.

The four plaintiffs contacted their attorney David Yerushalmi only after they had spoken to Dave Gaubatz, a private researcher who had been investigating CAIR for its connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and its ties to global jihad. Had Gaubatz not informed the plaintiffs of the fraud, they would still be under the impression that Days was a competent attorney representing their legal interests in various lawsuits and administrative proceedings.

The complaint identifies CAIR as a racketeering enterprise under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is a criminal racketeering statute that allows victims to sue the defendants in civil court. In addition to damages, the plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief under this and other statutes to shut down CAIR and to prevent the individual defendants from engaging in public interest legal work in the future.

The named defendants are: the Council on American-Islamic Relations Action Network Inc. (dba CAIR); Nihad Awad aka Nihad Hammad who serves as executive director of CAIR National; Parvez Ahmed who was the chairman of the board of CAIR National during the relevant time period; Tahra Goraya who was the national director of CAIR but who has since resigned; Khadijah Athman who is the manager of the “civil rights” division of CAIR; and Nadhira al-Khalili, Esq., who is in-house legal counsel for CAIR.

According to the complaint, CAIR’s in-house Washington, D.C.-based attorney Khalili was directly involved in taking the legal files out of the CAIR Virginia office and concealing them in the D.C. office.

Also named as defendants are Ibrahim Hooper and Amina Rubin, CAIR’s director of communications and coordinator of communications, respectively. According to the complaint, these two were directly responsible for issuing fraudulent press releases about the Days fraud scheme, thus aiding and abetting the CAIR cover-up.

About David Yerushalmi, Esq.

David Yerushalmi has been practicing law for almost 25 years. He is a litigator specializing in securities law, public policy relating to national security, and public interest law. Mr. Yerushalmi is licensed and practices in Washington D.C., New York, California, and Arizona.

For a copy of the complaint, email Contact

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Samir Kuntar: Poster Boy For The Arab World

Eric Trager notes that for all outpouring of praise the Lebanese had for the return of the murderer of a 4-year old, Syria has managed to go one better:
Well, moral depravity isn’t limited to weak Lebanese leaders–it infects domestically strong Syrian dictators as well. Yesterday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad outdid Beirut, presenting Kuntar with his nation’s highest medal at a ceremony in Damascus. In a press release, Assad hailed Kuntar’s “legacy of struggle and steadfastness,” further praising him as “a symbol of struggle and freedom throughout the Arab world.” It is further worth noting that the press release refers to Nahariya - the Israeli coastal city from which Kuntar and his associates staged their attack–as a “settlement.” The implication is clear: attacks on Israelis–toddlers or not, uniformed or not, in “Israel proper” or not–are 100% kosher. [emphasis added]
After Lebanon and Syria, can Iran be far behind?
How will Ahmadinejad top Assad?

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No Wonder Palestinian Terrorists Feel Slighted By Bush

Gordon C. Chang recounts how President Bush has looked the other way when it came to China:
Dubya apologized to the Chinese after they imprisoned the crew of our Navy EP-3 and stripped the plane of its electronic gear. Then he acceded to a Chinese demand for payment for the crew’s food and lodging. Bush then said nothing when Beijing attacked at least one of our satellites in 2006, and he’s been quiet about China’s daily cyber assaults against our military and civilian networks. He has failed to protect American workers against grossly unfair Chinese trade practices, refusing to demand reciprocity. He looked the other way as the Chinese supplied adulterated medicine and toxic products to American consumers, killing some of them. He almost always took Beijing’s side against democratic Taiwan. President Bush said nothing while China supplied small arms and components for roadside bombs to insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. His officials talk about China being a “responsible stakeholder” while it supports the nuclear weapons ambitions of Tehran and Pyongyang by blocking effective international sanctions at every turn and even supplying technology and materials.
Palestinian terrorists no doubt wish they received such consideration from President Bush. Then again, John Branchizio, Mark Parson, and John Martin Linde Jr. were murdered by Palestinian terrorists on October 15, 2003 and nothing has been done--or said.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

If Only Israel Would Disrespect Their Elders Too

From AP:
Zimbabwe has refused to let Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and a South African human rights advocate visit the impoverished country for a humanitarian mission, the three said Saturday.

The former U.N. secretary general, the ex-U.S. president and rights advocate Graca Machel had planned to assess the southern African country's needs. They are members of The Elders, a group formed by former South African President Nelson Mandela to foster peace and tackle world conflicts.

Annan said no official reason had been given for the refusal, but Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper reported that the group had been asked to "come at a later date" to accommodate the crop-planting season. It quoted an unnamed source as saying they were seen as antagonistic toward Zimbabwe's government.
The Elders website is here. I've also written about the group before.

The point is that not every self-appointed savior needs to be allowed into your country. Israel would do well to take a lesson--along with others it should have learned during Olmert's term.

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