Thursday, August 17, 2006

All The News That's (un)Fit To Print

While I haven't had time to keep up on blogging this find by Ariel over on Blogs of Zion is a gem. The sad truth is that it's probably pretty close to accurate.

Lots more on the media war against Israel coming soon.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Iranian Malware Update

Despite The Register publishing an article claiming that Iranian President Ahmadenijad's does not spread malware, it turns out I have been able to confirm this. Actually, the Register article headline claims it's false but the actual text of the article says no such thing:
"The most likely explanation is that there is some scripting on the site that, although not malicious, triggers an alert from Symantec's firewall software," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at UK-based net security firm Sophos.

"It is possible that malicious content has once been on the site, but has since been removed. It is also theoretically possible, though very unlikely in our opinion, that the malicious content targeted visitors from an Israeli address," she added.

So, it could have been there and been removed from the site or else hidden in code she can't find from the U.K. Not a convincing argument that it's all a hoax, is it?

I have lots of family and friends in Israel, including one information security expert, so I did check it out. Yep, the code was there. Is it still there? Nope. Was this real? Yep. Was it removed once this story spread across the blogosphere? Yep. FWIW, I doubt the madman of Iran is computer savvy enough to have done it for himself.

FWIW, I am writing this from a computer running Ehad Linux and the Hebrew version of Firefox

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Ahmadenijad Blog Contains A Little Surprise For Israeli Readers Using Windows and Internet Explorer

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad now has his very own blog. That's fine. The content is entirely what you might expect with one notable exception. Several Israeli bloggers, including Yael K.'s Step By Step, which I read regularly, report that if you access the Ahmadenijad blog from an Israeli IP address the site sends you a little gift, a cyberattack in the form of a virus or trojan (reports vary) designed to exploit an Internet Explorer vulnerability.

To quote Yael:
Does Iran now use the Internet to harass Israeli citizens? To take advantage of the increasing Iranian-Israeli dialog online?

In a word: yep. The attack is smart enough to mostly ignore IP addresses from anywhere other than Israel, though it has been reported to have been triggered from Spain as well.

My one little piece of advice for friends and readers in Israel: Ehad Linux, an Israeli Linux distribution based on Mandriva 2006, is really quite easy to install and use. (Yes, I plan to write a review.) Those of us who run Linux have been blissfully immune to all the security nonsense which routinely plagues Windows users.

No, installing Linux is not a security panacea. You still need to patch regularly and become educated about keeping your system secure. It is, however, a very good start.

[NOTE: This piece is a first. It appears not only in Blogs of Zion, but in the O'reilly Linux Dev Center blog as well.]

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Wise Words

Unfortunately, there will be another round [in this war] because the government's just demands weren't met. The [kidnapped] soldiers weren't returned home, the Hizbullah was not disarmed. Right now, we are in an interim period between wars, and there is no one who will prevent our enemies from rearmed and preparing for the next round.

We were a responsible opposition. We aided in every way, including in the media war. Our public duty is to tell the truth, because unfortunately there will be another round.

We were living in a coma, and received an alarm warning telling us to return to reality as it is, and to return to ourselves and to those values that will secure our existence in the future.

These words are excerpted from former Prime Minister and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu's speech to the Knesset plenum (in translation) as reported by The Jerusalem Post. Sadly, he is absolutely correct. Without the return of Israel's kidnapped soldiers, as called for in UN Resolution 1701, and without the disarming or Hizbullah, the acceptance of the resolution and the cease fire it called for were a major mistake. The United Nations has never, ever been trustworthy and has always sided with Israel's enemies. Why should anyone think this has changed?

[NOTE: This piece also appears in Blogs of Zion.]

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Latest Israeli Attack On Beirut?

Courtesy of the blog Esser Agoroth, here is a photo of the latest brutal Israeli attack on Beirut:

Hey, it's every bit as real as the stuff Reuters publishes which ends up in your local newspaper. Heck, if anything this piece of fauxtography is more creative than what Reuters used and every bit as believable.

OK, it's a fake. As other blogs have pointed out there is no Star of David on the Enterprise so it can't be real.

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Photos Of the Destruction In Haifa

Photographer Lenny Maschkowski has been taking pictures all over the Haifa area right after every rocket attack, sending them out in PowerPoint presentations which circulate among Israelis all over the world. I've been receiving them from one of my cousins in Israel.

Now Bert at Dutchblog Israel has posted some of the photos of the destruction for all the world to see. To quote him:
Just to give you an idea of the devastation caused by the various rocket that have landed in and around Haifa, and of their deadly load. These are the kind of things that Israel should leave unanswered, if we are to believe many European leaders and officials.

I think not, and I think this illustrates perfectly well why Hizbullah must never be allowed to rearm and redeploy along the border no matter what anyone in the so-called world community or the media might say.

Meanwhile the Israeli daily Yediot Ahranot reports that Israeli casualties and losses often go unreported, especially in the British media. Their report is especially critical of The Guardian and the BBC. I guess those two were too busy fabricating stories about Israel massacring Lebanese civilians. No wonder so many people in the U.K. have such an incredibly distorted view of the Middle East.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Media and the Massacre That Wasn't

Yesterday it was widely reported that Israel deliberately massacred 40 innocent Lebanese civilians. Reuters, the BBC, and others falsely reported that the IAF hat targeted a funeral procession. Then it was 40 Lebanese killed in air strikes. The only place you'll still find that reported is in The Guardian. No other even vaguely reputable western media outlet still carries the story. Why? The total number of people actually killed in Lebanon by these attacks: just one. Even the BBC eventually corrected their story, with a small note at the bottom noting the previous error. Reuters published an apology. That won't undo the damage done but at least they don't maintain a blatant lie on their website the way The Guardian does.

Yael K., commenting on the BBC coverage, wrote in her blog:
And how about those 40 people killed in a deliberate Israeli massacre yesterday, hmmm? Oh, ooops, you mean it was really only 1? And amazingly, from my own observation of the BBC yesterday to see how this would be handled since they had a screaming headline about the massacre of 40 civilians --it took them several hours after the ticker on Ha'Aretz was showing that the number had been revised to just one person for them to change it. And no, of course they didn't make it a headline: the 40 massacred headline got changed to Israel bombs...and in the text description beneath there was a little note that it was one person and not 40 as previously reported. Of course.

The BBC is notorious for anti-Israel bias, but The Guardian wins today's "to hell with the truth" award, beating out CNN and The Washington Post for having the least regard for facts.

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The Latest Wild, Unsubstantiated Charge Against Israel (CNN, Washington Post)

When charges were made that Hizbullah was deliberately using civilian casualties for PR purposes at Qana the charge came from Lebanese sources and even from members of the Lebanese armed forces. That charge was backed up with lots and lots of evidence. Do mainstream media outlets like CNN and The Washington Post investigate these charges? Heck, no! They are too busy vilifying Israel to be bothered with something as petty and trivial as the truth.

Their response: make the same charge about Israel with no evidence whatsoever. First a CNN anchor claimed Israel could shoot down all of the 150-200 Katyusha rockets fired by Hizubullah each day. Now Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks, appearing on CNN, claimed Israel is deliberately leaving Hizbullah rocket launchers intact to kill Israeli civilians for PR purposes. Video is available in this article, which is definitely recommended reading.

CAMERA's outrage is something I very much share:
One wonders who these "military analysts" are and why they have apparently not gone on the record. And why has Ricks so far not written the story in the Post? Can it be that his claims are too much even for the Washington Post to publish?

Whatever the reason, the fact is that a reporter who thinks that Israel would intentionally allow Hezbollah's Katyushas to rain down on Israeli civilians would believe anything about Israel, no matter how monstrous or unfounded. And any reporter who believes that reserve Israeli soldiers would follow orders to not attack rockets that are aimed at their children and wives, and that these soldiers would not immediately go to the Israeli media with the story, is an idiot. Furthermore, Israel encouraged its civilians to leave the danger zones, which is why thousands of Hezbollah rockets have killed relatively few civilians. If Israel cynically wants its civilians to die, why would Israel do all it could to get its civilians out of harm's way?

How can anyone believe that CNN is a reputable news sources? It seems to me that their bias is now so extreme that they do little if anything to hide it. If Mr. Ricks remains a reporter with The Washington Post that would speak volumes about their regard, or lack thereof, for the truth.

[NOTE: I've also posted this piece on Blogs of Zion.]

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An Excellent Analysis By Binyamin Netanyahu

Vide of an excellent analysis of the current situation by former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sky News can be found here courtesy of Aharon on Blogs fo Zion. Well worth watching...

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Counting Civilian Casualties

If you read, watch, or listen to news reports about casualties in Lebanon you always learn about innocent civilians killed. They are poor farmers or villagers. All the victims in the war seem to be civilians even though Israel only targets Hizbullah strongholds and sites were rocket fire originates.

Tell me this: how can you tell that all these people are civilians? Hizbullah fighters don't wear uniforms, do they? Of course they don't. They're not a regular army. So... some, possibly many of these "civilians", at least among the Shiite Muslims killed or injured, are actually Hizbullah.

Think about this: Where do these civilian casualty numbers come from? Local leaders, witnesses, or the Lebanese government are the sources. In other words, Hizbullah, at least in part, helps with the counting. Might the numbers of civilian casualties be rather inflated? Here is some evidence to indicate just that:

Bottom line: lots of media bias, lots of inflated casualty numbers, and many of those dead civilians in Lebanon aren't civilians at all.

[NOTE: This piece is also posted at Blogs of Zion.]

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

War Crimes Committed At Qana

In today's Wall Street Journal, Orde F. Kittrie, professor of international law at Arizona State University, wrote an excellent article titled War Crime At Qana? [subscription required]. His argument is that, indeed, war crimes were committed. Here are some relevant excerpts:
The Qana tragedy has intensified accusation that Israel's actions in Lebanon violate international law. . . . but there is no evidence Israel has committed any war crimes. In contrast, Hezbollah, Iran and Syria have clearly violated international law . . .

International law has three major prohibitions . . . one forbids deliberate attacks on civilians. Another prohibits hiding forces in civilian areas . . . A third prohibition, the proportionality
restriction . . . involves a complicated and controversial balancing test . . . governed by 'customary international law', it [hinges] on the intent of the combatant.

At Qana, . . . the aircraft did not deliberately target civilians; but Hezbollah rockets are targeted at civilians, a clear war crime. . . . If Hezbollah used Lebanese civilians in Qana as human shields, the Hezbollah not Israel, is legally responsible for their deaths. . . . Hezbollah and Iran--which provides this terrorist group with arms, direction and over $100 million a year--are in continual violation of international law. Their calls for Israel's destruction violate the international genocide treaty's prohibition of 'direct and public incitement to commit genocide.' . . .

Israel is acting in self-defense . . . the track record of many Israel's most powerful accusers--including China, Russia and the European Union--is not nearly as good at balancing civilian risk against military goals. . . . Compared with how China, Russia and the EU have dealt with non-existential threats . . .Israel's responses to the threats of its existence have been remarkably restrained rather than disproportionately violent.

It seems that there are two standards of international law among Israel's accusers at the U.N. and elsewhere: one for Israel and one for everyone else.

[NOTE: This piece also appears in Blogs of Zion.]

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Members of the Lebanese Forces Speak Out On Qana and Hizbullah (Part 2)

The first piece on The Ouwet Front (the Lebanese Forces blog) attacking Hizubullah was the strongest, a rant truly from the heart titled "The sad truth about Hezbollah tactics…" Here are some powerful excerpts:
For the last two weeks, we have been screaming that HA are hiding amongst civilians to attack Israel…we posted on boards, we mass mailed, some wrote to news papers and major news channels…


Today, the proof is with you, in front of you and yet some of you refuse to see…you refuse to see that HUMAN BEINGS are being used as SHIELDS…yes HUMAN BEINGS…kids, women, infants…


You vowed Jihad on the Israelis…but the whole country has not…you vowed their destruction and care less if in the process you loose your life…but the whole country has not…

Lebanon and the Lebanese Mr. Nasrallah are people that want to live…we want peace…we do not want to be torn to pieces or suffocated by imploding bombs…

When those people stayed in Qana despite the warnings issued by the Israelis to evacuate, they did so because they had put their faith in the men of the resistance…they believed that those men would protect them, would keep them safe from the Israeli enemy…

Alas…they discovered, and it was too late when they did, they discovered that those men who were supposed to protect them, were in fact hiding behind them.

They discovered that those men were taunting the Israeli by firing at him from behind inhabited buildings, daring him to reply…your men, Mr. Nasrallah, were playing Russian roulette but with the gun aimed at the heads of the innocent victims instead of theirs…


Pray tell me, were you counting on the public outcry to force the Israelis into a cease fire and thus claim your victory??? Like what happened in April 1996??? Is this what you were aiming at when you fired rockets from the vicinity of the UN post not three days ago, causing a retaliation that killed four UN soldiers???

The outcry wasn’t strong enough…lets do a Qana II…it will have an impact for sure…it never fails…people are so gullible…we get the cease fire and come out as heroes…and in the way we cause Israel to suffer humiliation…

Some victory for Lebanon Mr. Nasrallah…

The thing is that it didn't work for Hizbullah. Not at all. There is no cease fire and now the truth is coming out. This also strongly reinforces Alan Dershowitz' claim that Hizbullah actually wants massive Lebanese casualties for propaganda purposes.

Huge thanks to Yael K. who made me aware of this.

[NOTE: This piece also appears on Blogs of Zion.]

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Members of the Lebanese Forces Speak Out On Qana and Hizbullah (Part 1)

The Ouwet Front is a blog which describes itself as "Personal Views and Opinions of Lebanese Forces Members". They've had lots to say about Qana, and none of it is at all kind to Hizbullah. They, in fact, blame Hizbullah for the deaths at Qana rather directly.

In one post they echo the Israeli claim that Hizbullah was firing missiles from Qana, even linking Israeli military video showing the missiles being launched. In another post titled "How Hezbollah hides in civilian buildings" they add:
May Hezbollah and Nasrallah rot in hell for what they are doing. If Israelis were war criminals, Hezbollah are ruthless killers.

They once again provide a link to video proving their point.

These Lebanese servicemen also make an appeal:
Anyone who has substancial info, eye witness accounts, pictures or any kind of proof of Hizbullah using and abusing civilians please mail them at :

We strongly condemn the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, we strongly condemn any invasion against our country or interference in our internal affairs BUT we cannot tolerate a LEBANESE party using innocent Lebanese civilians as human shields for purposes that only serve terrorist countries like Iran and Syria.

May the truth prevail.

I don't feel Israel has any choice when it comes to attacking Israel. I will be posting photographic evidence of why very shortly. In any case if Hizbullah had not attacked Israel in the first place and if they did not persist in these attacks right up until the present there wouldn't any need for Israeli military action in Lebanon.

[NOTE: This post also appears in Blogs of Zion.]

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Who Is Really Responsible For the Carnage At Qana?

The Lebanese website Libanoscopie, which is anti-Syrian in its viewpoint, directly accuses Hizbullah of deliberately planning the Qana massacre, and of even deliberately bringing disabled children to the side to be killed, all for the benefit of the propaganda machine. The article, which is in French, says, in part:

Mais pourquoi une bavure pareille, une erreur ? Un massacre prémédité ? Une source généralement bien informée nous raconte sa version :

« Le Hezbollah, coincé par les 7 points proposés par le premier ministre Fouad Siniora, qui mettait un plan de déploiement de l’armée libanaise sur tout le territoire et essentiellement au Sud Liban, et donc le désarmement de la milice du parti de Dieu, a voulu faire échouer ces négociations. Il a mis en pace un plan machiavélique en créant un événement qui lui permettrait d’annuler ce projet. Sachant très bien qu’Israël n’aura pas d’état d’âme pour bombarder des cibles civiles, des militants du Hezbollah ont installé une base de lancement de roquettes sur le toit d’un immeuble à Cana et y ont entassé des enfants infirmes dans la ferme intention de voir une réplique de la part de l’aviation israélienne et créer une nouvelle situation, utilisant le massacre de ces innocents pour reprendre l’initiative des négociations. »
Ajoutant : « ils ont utilise Cana qui a déjà été un symbole d’un massacre d’innocents, ils ont fomenté un Cana 2 ».

For those who don't speak French, here is a translation courtesy of the Israeli daily Yediot Ahranot:
"We have it from a credible source that Hizbullah, alarmed by Siniora's plan, has concocted an incident that would help thwart the negotiations. Knowing full well that Israel will not hesitate to bombard civilian targets, Hizbullah gunmen placed a rocket launcher on the roof in Qana and brought disabled children inside, in a bid to provoke a response by the Israeli Air Force. In this way, they were planning to take advantage of the death of innocents and curtail the negotiation initiative," the site stated.

The site's editors also claimed that not only did Hizbullah stage the event, but that it also chose Qana for a specific reason: "They used Qana because the village had already turned into a symbol for massacring innocent civilians, and so they set up 'Qana 2'." Notably, the incident has indeed been dubbed "The second Qana massacre" by the Arab media.

Ariel Beery's comments in Blogs of Zion pretty much sum up my thoughts:
Shocking? Shouldn't be. Any one who is willing to strap bomb-vests upon their children and send them to their deaths is a true believer. And Qana was simply Martyrdom by other means.

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Hizbullah, Hamas Take Advantage of the Media & "Human Rights" Groups

In an excellent op-ed piece published in The Jerusalem Post on 22 July Alan Dershowitz, as usual, hits the nail squarely on the head in describing how "The Predictable Condemners" of Israel in the media and among human rights groups are used to further the aims of Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, and the other terrorist groups currently waging war on Israel with the aid of Iran and Syria. As I see more and more condemnations of Israel in the media it seems like an appropriate time, to me, to note Dr. Dershowitz' words:
The Hizbullah and Hamas provocations against Israel once again demonstrate how terrorists exploit human rights and the media in their attacks on democracies.

By hiding behind their own civilians the Islamic radicals issue a challenge to democracies: Either violate your own morality by coming after us and inevitably killing some innocent civilians, or maintain your morality and leave us with a free hand to target your innocent civilians.


There is one variable that could change this dynamic and present democracies with a viable option that could make terrorism less attractive as a tactic: The international community, the anti-Israel segment of the media and the so called "human rights" organizations could stop falling for this terrorist gambit and acknowledge that they are being used to promote the terrorist agenda.


IT SHOULD BE obvious by now that Hizbullah and Hamas actually want the Israeli military to kill as many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians as possible. That is why they store their rockets underneath the beds of civilians; why they launch their missiles from crowded civilian neighborhoods and hide among civilians. They are seeking to induce Israel to defend its civilians by going after them among their civilian "shields." They know that every civilian they induce Israel to kill hurts Israel in the media and the international and human rights communities.

They regard these human shields as shahids - martyrs - even if they did not volunteer for this lethal job. Under the law, criminals who use human shields are responsible for the deaths of the shields, even if the bullet that kills them came from the gun of a policeman.


The very idea that terrorists who use women and children as suicide bombers against other women and children shed crocodile tears over the deaths of civilians they deliberately put in harm's way gives new meaning to the word "hypocrisy." We all know that hypocrisy is a tactic of the terrorists, but it is shocking that others fall for it and become complicit with the terrorists.

[NOTE: This piece also appears on Blogs of Zion]

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Qassam Rocket Strikes Kindergarten Near Ashkelon

Yesterday a Qassam rocket fired from Gaza struck a kindergarten just south of Ashkelon injuring several children. Yael K., writing in her Step By Step: Making Aliyah blog comments:
We should be surprised? They only fire their qassams at civilian targets, never at the military installations. This was bound to happen sooner or later. After all, they've already managed to hit a college, two high schools, and a middle school over the past couple of months.

CNN had no comment. They were too busy reporting on Lebanese children who were injured or killed to have time to recognize that this is a two front war and that children on both sides of the borders are victims. They also gave barely a mention to Hizbullah rockets striking a hospital in Nahariya. To their credit PBS, on The News Hour With Jim Lehrer, not only covered the story but showed video of the damage and also showed how the hospital continued to operate in an underground bunker, treating the victims of the Hizbullah attacks.

CNN, like the BBC and the Guardian in the U.K., only mourns the casualties on one side of the war. Reporting on injured or dead Israelis doesn't fit into their agenda of vilification of Israel.

[Note: This piece also appears in Blogs of Zion.]

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Comments You Will Never Read

Since the new Lebanon war started I have received lots of comments. One particularly vile comment, promising to introduce me to the gas chambers, caused me to turn on comment moderation in addition to deleting the anti-Semitic vitriol.

I have also received four very long diatribes from a Palestinian man full of the usual Palestinian propaganda. His comments were longer than my last four posts put together. He accused me of getting all my news from that "fair and balanced" network. He also told me I had no clue what is going on in the region. Clearly he hadn't read most of my blog. I rarely look at Fox News, which I do agree is biased, and almost never link them. He clearly didn't realize that I have spent time in the region or that I am an Israeli-American woman. Please, there are plenty of Palestinian propaganda sites. Don't expect me, an ardent Zionist preparing to join most of my family in Israel, to publish such nonsense. There are plenty of "mainstream" media outlets that tout the Palestinian line. My job here is to debunk them, not to get into endless debates. The best I can do for you is to try an be factual and to link my posts to lots of really good sources.

Well-meaning liberals who want to tell me that it's horrible that Jews don't want to intermarry, and that ethnocentrism is evil need not apply to post pages of long diatribes either. Clearly I value my Jewish heritage and I am not about to abandon my basic beliefs for yours.

Finally, anti-Zionists cannot redefine the meaning of Zionism. We who are part of the Zionist movement are the only ones who can tell you what Zionism means. Huge clue: it isn't about dispossession or oppression. It was, is, and always will be about Jews, who have been persecuted for centuries in the Muslim and Christian worlds alike, returning to the land we were dispossessed from and rejoining the Jewish community that had remained in what is now Israel throughout the centuries. Zionism is Jewish nationalism, period. Nothing more, nothing less.

Zionism is not at all incompatible with sharing the land with the Palestinian Arabs provided they are willing to live in peace with us as good neighbors. Most Israelis support a two state solution--the only possible just solution to the conflict. The rejection of Prime Minister Barak's offers at Camp David and Taba without so much as a counter proposal, the abandoning of the peace process in favor of the intifada, the election of Hamas, the unceasing rocket fire out of Gaza even after Israel withdrew, and the current war and support of Hizbullah makes it clear the Palestinians are the ones who have no interest in peace.

You want me to have sympathy for Palestinians suffering? Fine, stop the wars. Stop trying to kill me and mine and offer to return to negotiation. Otherwise I have little sympathy for self-inflicted injury.

Will I ever accept comments from those who disagree with me? Sure, always. Just not pages of diatribe, anti-Semitic hate, or long winded propaganda. This isn't a debate page. It's a Zionist blog.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Are Israelis Crazy?

FAIR WARNING: There is a rather graphic description of a truly disgusting event carried out by Palestinians. Part of this post is not recommended for those who do not have a strong stomach.

The Muqata has been giving almost a minute-by-minute account of what has been happening in the war. On last Thursday night there was this little tidbit:
All of the West Bank is alight tonight with fireworks from the Palestinian villages (along with scattered automatic gunfire), as our neighbors celebrate...the shelling of Haifa.

Palestinian celebrations reached new heights of barbarism on Monday as reported in The Jerusalem Post:
A body part belonging to the dead soldier was left at the scene [...] Earlier, hundreds of Palestinians had gathered at the scene of the explosion to view parts of the soldier's leg, and many of them reacted with celebratory chants, witnesses said.

Yael K., commenting on Palestinian and wider Arab celebrations at the deaths of Israel civilians both during this war and after prior acts of terrorism, asked if Israelis are crazy:
The majority of Israelis simply want to live in peace, to engage in trade with our neighbors or simply to live completely separately.

When news comes that civilians have been killed by an IDF attack against terrorists in Gaza, or now in Lebanon, people sigh, they shake their heads, their expressions are pained. They feel pain and sadness. There are calls for more care to be taken so that civilians are not harmed when attacks are made on the terrorists.

When our citizens are killed by suicide bombers there are celebrations on the streets of Gaza. [...] They celebrate the deaths of our children and yet we regret and feel sorrow over the deaths of theirs. You will see no celebrations of death, ours or theirs, here.


And yet, despite finding ourselves under constant attack by rockets, by suicide bombings that are successful and the many more that are stopped --such as the one in Jerusalem today-- despite the fact that the majority of even the liberals on their side wish to see us destroyed, despite all this many Israelis continue to work for peace, to build bridges, to call for moderation of response when no moderation is shown to us. The rest do not call for blood nor celebration when innocents are killed.

Given their responses versus ours, I must conclude that we are crazy. But I would rather be crazy than to allow myself to become blinded by hate, to give in to the grief, pain and fear that we suffer and become callous to the sufferings of 'the other.'

Yael later decided that Israelis aren't crazy after all but "neither are they". I must disagree. The Palestinian culture of death that celebrates suicide bombings and the murder of civilians is indeed insane in my eyes. I would also argue that the compassion that Israelis show and the lack of compassion among Israel's enemies is why Israel enjoys such strong support in the United States.

[NOTE: This is another piece I've crossposted to Blogs of Zion.]

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

War Brings Unity To Israel

Naomi Ragen has written a new column describing how war has united Israel's society which, until recently, has been fractious and divided. I received it by e-mail and it isn't on her website yet so I'm going to post some significant excerpts here. The original piece is called "Unity At Last" and hopefully it will show up online soon. While I often disagree with Ms. Ragen this piece is truly excellent and reveals a small silver lining to the tragedy currently forced on the Israeli, Lebanese, and Palestinian people by Hamas and Hizbullah and their patrons in Iran and Syria.
Many have asked me: How does it feel to be in Israel right now? My answer has to be this: fearful, amazing, heartbreaking and full of love and pride for our country and our people.

Gone are the petty, sectarian fights. There is no religious-secular divide. There is no right-left divide. Except for a bunch of loonies who demonstrated in Tel Aviv demanding Israel negotiate with Hamas and Hezbollah, the government and the people of all political stripes have banded together in almost total unity. This is a war we didn't want. This is a war we have to win, hands down, whatever it takes. Except for a die-hard leftist here and there, like Amnon Levi, who wrote a really pathetic plea for immediate negotiations, no serious voice has been raised. And Mr. Levi got close to 500 responses of outraged citizens calling him every name in the book.

In the meantime, all over the country, people are reaching out to each other. Every death, is a death in the family. Every soldier is our son. The television has a running text with people's names and phone numbers who are willing to host families from the war zone. Kibbutzim in the south have made room for the members of kibbutzim in the north, inviting parents and children to enjoy a little vacation, pool side. The immigrant absorption center in Safad, crowded with new Ethiopian immigrants who spent days squashed together in a bomb shelter that didn't even have room to move, have been picked up by Jewish Agency buses and taken to youth centers for a vacation. The television broadcasting authorities are making an effort to put on quality children's programming and good movies.

There is a sense of all of us being one family, all the bitter divisions of the past years disappearing like smoke as we band together to support each other and our soldiers in a life and death struggle to reclaim our sovereignty and security. And the government, which has so far and to our great pride and satisfaction, stood fast in its decision not to stop this war before victory, has unprecedented support from its citizens.

Our critics, used to immediate capitulation, are finding a new wind blowing. The International Federation of Journalists, which issued an appalling statement condemning Israel for bombing the Hezbollah television station, got the following response from Israel: Withdraw the statement, or Israel is quitting the organization for its overt support of terror. I guess all of us who have been wondering why press reports on terrorism are so screwed up now have official proof who journalists back in the war on terror.


I thanked God for the miracles that keep our hearts strong, our minds determined, and our nation, finally, amazingly, united at last. I feel privileged to be here.

My mother, who has no desire to live in a war zone, commented when the war started that she wished she could do something. Even just going to Israel at this time would be good. Of course, it would do no good for Israel so she goes on with her life. I understand how she feels and now, even though a war rages on, I am looking seriously at moving up my planned aliya from next year to later this year. There is no better place than Israel for a Jew to be and there is strength in numbers.

[NOTE: This piece also appears in Blogs of Zion.]

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Jihadists Gone Beserk

David Brooks wrote an excellent op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Times titled As Israel Goes for Withdrawal, Its Enemies Go Berserk. Here is an excerpt:
Israel's main enemies in this crisis are not normal parties and governments that act on behalf of their people. They are jihadist organizations that happen to have gained control of territory for bases of operations. Hamas and Hezbollah knew their kidnappings and missile launches would set off retaliation that would hurt Gazans and Lebanese, but they attacked anyway for the sake of jihad. They answer to a higher authority and dream of genocide in his name.

What's happened over the past few years, in short, is that public opinion in Israel has moved to the center at the same time that decision-making power on the other side has moved to the extreme.

Now there is a debate over how Israel should respond to this situation. Some say Israel should temper its response so Arab moderates can corral the extremists, which would be great advice if the moderates had any record of ever doing that or any capacity to do so in the near future. Others say Israel simply must degrade the capabilities of its fanatical opponents.

But this is a secondary issue. The core issue is that just as Israel has been trying to pull back to more sensible borders, its enemies have gone completely berserk. Through some combination of fecklessness and passivity, the Arab world has ceded control of this vital flashpoint to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad. It has ceded its own destiny to people who do not believe in freedom, democracy, tolerance or any of the values civilized people hold dear.

And what's the world's response? Israel is overreacting.

President Bush, speaking candidly at the G8 Summit without realizing his microphone was on, said it best. I'll join NPR is warning that there is what some might consider strong language in what he said:
See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it's over.

The President gets it. Those who complain about Israeli actions against Hizbullah and Hamas do not. The only way Israel can protect it's population and end the threat of massive casualties and damage is to take away the terrorists' toys and reestablish deterrence. Weakness is the last thing Israel needs to show. As I've argued before, Israeli military action in this war has been, if anything, too restrained. The best thing the world community can do now is shut up and keep from interfering since they lack the courage or stomach needed to enforce the six year old U.N. resolution calling for Hizbullah to withdraw from southern Lebanon.

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The Kidnapping Of Democracy

On Friday Thomas Friedman wrote a New York Times piece titled "The Kidnapping of Democracy" that explains some of the dynamic behind the current conflict between Israel and Hizbullah/Hamas. Here are a couple of excerpts:
What we are seeing in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon is an effort by Islamist parties to use elections to pursue their long-term aim of Islamizing the Arab-Muslim world. This is not a conflict about Palestinian or Lebanese prisoners in Israel. This is a power struggle within Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq over who will call the shots in their newly elected "democratic" governments and whether they will be real democracies.

The tiny militant wing of Hamas today is pulling all the strings of Palestinian politics, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shiite Islamic party is doing the same in Lebanon, even though it is a small minority in the cabinet, and so, too, are the Iranian-backed Shiite parties and militias in Iraq. They are not only showing who is boss inside each new democracy, but they are also competing with one another for regional influence.

As a result, the post-9/11 democracy experiment in the Arab-Muslim world is being hijacked. Yes, basically free and fair elections were held in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iraq. Yes, millions turned out to vote because the people of the Arab-Muslim world really do want to shape their own futures.

But the roots of democracy are so shallow in these places and the moderate majorities so weak and intimidated that we are getting the worst of all worlds. We are getting Islamist parties who are elected to power, but who insist on maintaining their own private militias and refuse to assume all the responsibilities of a sovereign government. They refuse to let their governments have control over all weapons. They refuse to be accountable to international law (the Lebanese-Israeli border was ratified by the U.N.), and they refuse to submit to the principle that one party in the cabinet cannot drag a whole country into war.


Why don't the silent majorities punish these elected Islamist parties for working against the real interests of their people? Because those who speak against Hamas or Hezbollah are either delegitimized as "American lackeys" or just murdered, like Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

The world needs to understand what is going on here: the little flowers of democracy that were planted in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories are being crushed by the boots of Syrian-backed Islamist militias who are desperate to keep real democracy from taking hold in this region and Iranian-backed Islamist militias desperate to keep modernism from taking hold.

It may be the skeptics are right: maybe democracy, while it is the most powerful form of legitimate government, simply can't be implemented everywhere. It certainly is never going to work in the Arab-Muslim world if the U.S. and Britain are alone in pushing it in Iraq, if Europe dithers on the fence, if the moderate Arabs cannot come together and make a fist, and if Islamist parties are allowed to sit in governments and be treated with respect while maintaining private armies.

The whole democracy experiment in the Arab-Muslim world is at stake here, and right now it's going up in smoke.

While I agree with Mr. Friedman's basic premise and his conclusions I'll quibble with one key point he makes: Hizbullah and Hamas are not tiny and both represent a significant part of the population in their respective areas.

Hamas was elected overwhelmingly by the Palestinian people and all polls show that they still enjoy widespread report. I also don't believe you can divide Hamas into a "tiny militant wing" and something else. One needs only read Hamas' charter to understand that it is an Islamist/jihadist organization dedicated to the destruction of not only Israel but of Jordan and other western-leaning Arab governments as well and their replacement with a pan-Arab Islamist state. There is no moderate, non-terrorist element to Hamas and there does not appear to be a moderate majority among the Palestinians.

Similarly Hizbullah is enjoys widespread support among Lebanon's Shiite Muslims and most polls show it's support level at 30% or so of the Lebanese people as a whole. That is a very significant minority, particularly in a multi-party parliamentary system.

In order for their to ever be peace in the region there has to be a sea change in Arab opinion. There has to be an acceptance, however grudging, of Israel's existence and it's permanent nature. Until that happens the region is doomed to a cycle or warfare. Arab leaders have to do what Israeli leaders like Yitzhak Rabin did: build a consensus for peace.

Can democracy take root in the Arab world? Someday, maybe. Right now I'd settle for stability and sane leadership, something that Jordan, Egypt, and several of the gulf states enjoy. The move towards democracy in the region will have to happen through a natural evolutionary process, not a process of imposition by foreign powers. In that Friedman is absolutely correct.

Thanks to Aharon at Blogs of Zion for the link and for quoting the Friedman article.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

News From Family In The North of Israel

I heard from a cousin in Israel after Shabbat. As of then nobody in our family was hurt. My cousin's wife has family in the north. Two of her brothers live on the Lebanese border. A Katyusha landed not far from their moshav. She has two nieces in Mizpe Hila and a third brother in Haifa. One cousin lives with her family in Haifa as well. Since receiving this news nine people were killed in Haifa as Katyusha rockets slammed into the city again. Hizbullah also hit Acre, Kiryat Haim, Naharayim, Kibbutz Sa'ar, Kfar Maimon and Nahariya. An additional 25 people were injured as Hizbullah continues to target Israeli civilian population centers.

My cousin added:
We hope Zahal will be given the time to do enough work before the so called liberal democratic justice seeking world will interfere. I hope that eventually some sense will come to them and they will know who we are facing and figure when their time will come to face another act of terror on their liberal righteous countries.
I couldn't agree more.

To be honest I am filled with rage, not only at Hizbullah but at the international press and those in the international community who enable these attacks through their support of the terrorists and their demonization of Israel. I hope Prime Minister Olmert does something no Israeli Prime Minister has done since Yitzhak Shamir: resist and ignore international pressure even when there are consequences, both in terms of financial hardship and damaged international relations. Israel shouldn't restrain itself at all in insuring that neither Hizbullah nor Hamas can fire rockets into Israeli cities and towns in the future. The first obligation of any government is to protect its citizens. If France or Russia or anyone else fails to understand that applies to Israel as much as anyone else, well... too bad.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

On Israeli Restraint

I read editorial writers in the San Francisco Chronicle and politicians in the European Union decrying Israel's lack of restraint and "disproportionate" use of force in response to the kidnapping of soldiers and the rain of rockets landing on Israeli cities. I wonder what kind of drugs these people are taking. Tell me, if rockets rained down on Chicago, America's third largest city, as they do on Haifa, Israel's third largest city, with over one hundred injured as there are in Israel right now, what would Americans want the government to do? Act with restraint? Be proportional? Nope, they'd want the attacks to stop and want the government to do whatever it took militarily to make them stop.

You know what's really sick? Israel is showing restraint -- too much restraint, in fact, and it works against their own interests. Yael K., a leftist American-born Israeli living in Tel Aviv, wrote this piece in her blog which, in part, describes in detail the Israeli restraint that the Chronicle and CNN and the BBC aren't reporting.. and it's consequences.
I'm thinking of the leaflets and flyers our forces have been dropping into the populated areas that we plan to attack --since this fiasco began -- warning civilians to please leave the area because an attack will be coming. We do this to try to avoid killing innocent civilians. We do this despite the fact that it alerts many of the terrorists we would like to target so that they also can leave beforehand. We do this despite the fact that it endangers our own troops by giving the militants a clear signal of where we will be striking and where they can thus strike our forces. I cannot think of any other country that has ever ever taken such steps to warn an opposing civilian population. Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the five million smaller terrorist groups certainly don't return the favour. No, they actively target our civilians.

I am thinking of what Hamas, led by Meshal, and Hezbollah, led by Nasrallah, and both backed by Syria and Iran have done, what suffering they have caused and are causing to Israelis, yes, but to Palestinians and Lebanese too --in theory to their own people--and I am really beyond words. They do not have the interest of their people in mind. They have power and power of a very personal nature in mind. They should be very glad that we are acting with restraint. They should be very glad that we take more precautions on behalf of "their" people than they would ever deign to.

Gerald A. Honigman, writing for the right-wing Arutz Sheva, puts it this way:
Following the European Union's current demand for "proportion" only perpetuates this conflict. And Israel has been doing just that for far too long.

Again, the recent actions of the enemy are blatant acts of war. And they are committed by those whose openly-stated goal is the utter destruction of their neighbor. No compromise that permits the long-term survival of a Jewish Israel, regardless of size, is acceptable to the Arabs Israel is now confronting.

What would the Brits do with such a neighbor? The French? America? Russia? Who would consent to self-destruction? Would any of these folks agree to a mere wrist-slapping of those aiming to destroy both themselves and their countries, as well?

We all know the answer and all know that the calls for proportionality, while quoting the Geneva Convention, are rooted in hypocrisy and decades of championing the Palestinians as innocent victims and Israel as an aggressive oppressor nation. Facts no longer matter. The political agenda is all that counts.

[NOTE: One more that's crossposted in Blogs of Zion]

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Iran Is Deliberately Provoking A Regional War

Today the Bush administration, both the White House and the State Department, blamed Iran and Syria for the latest attacks on Israel, which they termed "unprovoked". Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, stated that Iran and Syria are "playing with fire" by escalating the current conflict in the Middle East. I believe both the Bush administration and the Ambassador are correct. However, I also believe that Iran knows precisely what it's doing and a conflagration is exactly what they have in mind. They are deliberately provoking a regional war and perhaps even a world war.

In a piece published today the Middle East Media Research Institute, citing articles in Lebanese, Syrian, and Iranian media, put the Teheran regime squarely behind the latest violence:
In statements published over the last few weeks, senior Iranian officials advocated an escalation of the violent activity against Israel and against "Zionists" around the world.

Additionally, in mid-June 2006, Syria and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement. The Syrian defense minister stated on that occasion that the two countries "are establishing a joint front against Israel... [since] Iran regards Syria's security as its own."


It is possible that the escalation on Israel's borders, set off by elements supported by Iran - Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria - is meant to take the pressure off Iran by triggering a major military clash in the Middle East, which will divert international attention from Iran's nuclear program.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking on Iranian television on Tuesday, stated:
Today, it has been proven that the Zionists are not opposed only to Islam and the Muslims. They are opposed to humanity as a whole. They want to dominate the entire world. They would even sacrifice the Western regimes for their own sake. I have said in Tehran, and I say it again here - I say to the leaders of some Western countries: Stop supporting these corrupt people. Behold, the rage of the Muslim peoples is accumulating. The rage of the Muslim peoples may soon reach the point of explosion. If that day comes, they must know that the waves of this explosion will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region. They will definitely reach the corrupt forces that support this fake regime.
I think it's fair to say that Hamas and Hizbullah are expressing what Mr. Ahmadinejad called "the rage of the Muslim peoples" in their latest unprovoked attacks on Israel.

Speaking in Joffa on Wednesday Mr. Ahmadinejad added:
In the near future we will witness the rapid collapse of the Zionist regime. The nations of the region will record the names of states that support the Zionist regime alongside the Zionist's crimes
I think it's safe to say that the actions of the past few days are Mr. Ahmadinejad's attempt to begin to make good on that threat.

Today Mr. Ahmadinejad upped the rhetoric further according to a Reuters report, stating in a phone call with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:
If the Zionist regime commits another stupid move and attacks Syria, this will be considered like attacking the whole Islamic world and this regime will receive a very fierce response.
Can he deliver on a united Islamic response? No, of course not, but he may be able to drag more Arab and Muslim nations into the war. That, I believe, is part of the Iranian plan.

Just yesterday the Iranian daily newspaper Jomhouri-ye Eslami published comments from 23 May by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah:
We can hit Israel's entire northern region with thousands of rockets... All of Israel is now within the range of our missiles. Its seaports, [military] bases, industrial plants and everything else are all within our range... I repeat and say that our stockpile of weapons is significant, both in quantity and in quality... Another advantage that I wish to mention is the geography of Lebanon and Palestine. Most of Israel's vital areas are concentrated in the northern [half] of occupied Palestine, while the south is uninhabited and desolate. More than two million Jews live in the north of occupied Palestine, which contains the recreation centers and [tourist] resorts, the industrial plants, the agricultural [areas] and the important military airports and bases. This is an advantage for us... Our presence in South Lebanon, in proximity to the north of occupied Palestine, is our greatest advantage...
I believe the Iranians actually believe that if they can get enough of the Islamic world behind them that they now have the means to destroy Israel even without nuclear weapons. Israel's withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza along with Prime Minister Olmert's realignment plan have been misconstrued as Isreali weakness and a lack of willingness to fight. When people's homes and very lives are threatened they do unite and fight with great determination, and this is where Iran has miscalculated.

Further, I believe the Islamists see the United States as weak. They see resolve in Iraq failing as public opinion turned against the war and remember U.S. withdrawals from Somalia and Beirut. I expect Iran will try to drag the U.S. into the war by meddling in Iran and/or Afghanistan, possibly with Syrian help. That would give them the justification they need to complete their nuclear program. Indeed, they may be close enough to completing the program to believe they can use nuclear weapons to finish the war if necessary.

These are incredibly dangerous times. President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime see jihad as an obligation, one commanded by Allah. Israel has no choice but to defend itself. I think it is in everyone's interest if they do so with a bit less restraint and a bit more haste. Fewer lives will be lost that way.

[NOTE: This piece also appears on Blogs of Zion, where I write under my Hebrew name.]

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Ian Anderson To Play In Israel (Aliya Diary, Page Three)

Blogging is dangerous. It can cost you money. At least I would love to find a way for it to cost me lots of money right now, and for me to have the money to spend in the first place...

OK, it happened like this: I listened to Ian Anderson's wonderful CD called Rupi's Dance last night. When I got to "Old Black Cat", a song lamenting the passing of his 12 year old cat, Mauser, I started mentally changing the words to fit Nyssa, my much loved ferret who died last week. The net result was this post in my ferrets' blog in Nyssa's honor with the rearranged words. Of course, in finding the links to use both in that post and now this one I went to the Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull website and did a little browsing. Are you with me so far?

Anyway, Ian Anderson is touring his Orchestral Jethro Tull album right now. There are no concerts anywhere near me. The nearest is in Michigan (lower peninsula) and that isn't going to happen. One confirmed date did stand out: September 16, near Tel Aviv, Israel. Israel? Ian Anderson is playing in Israel!

Why does any of this matter? In my misspent youth I loved Jethro Tull. Between 1973 and 1999 I saw them play eight times. I still really like the softer, folk-influenced albums from the late 70s like Songs From The Wood and especially Heavy Horses. I also like the blues and blues-influenced stuff they did in the late 60s on albums like This Was and Stand Up. More recently Ian Anderson's solo works have been brilliant, particularly the classical meets world music meets folk of Divinities: Twelve Dances With G-d and the folky and only slightly world music flavored Rupi's Dance. I saw Ian Anderson as part of his "Rubbing Elbows..." tour in 2004 in Durham, NC and while some of the things he said were... well... stupid at best, when he isn't offering his opinions and he is just playing his music and singing he is absolutely fantastic. He is the consummate singer and songwriter and multi-instrumentalist musician.

Now, take some of my favorite music, add that Ian Anderson is one of the few who have attained rock star status who don't say stupid or negative things about Israel, add that he is going to Israel for a concert, and add that I am planning to move to Israel and want to spend more time there first, and... well.... Does it make any sense yet? Probably not.

I am planning aliya sometime in 2007 and between that and the whole career change thing I'm penny pinching now in a big way. On the other hand I want to make at least two trips to Israel before moving there. Those trips should be closer to the move, though, so that I can do exciting things like find housing. Visiting family is always good though...

Let's just put it this way. If I could afford it without messing up any of my other life plans I'd be in Israel in September. The sad news is that this September is probably not be meant to be. It just would be an amazing and wonderful convergence of different elements of my life if I went to see Ian Anderson playing near Tel Aviv.

Oh, and yes, this is the first time I've publicly even vaguely talked about when I plan to make aliya a reality in my blog or anywhere else. No, I am NOT going to be more specific... yet.

Mental note to self: time to renew passport (American one) in any case.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An Excellent Defense of Unilateral Withdrawal

An editorial in today's Yediot Ahranot by Dr. Yossi Beilin, the leader of the left-wing Meretz party, provides an excellent defense of Prime Minister Olmert's plans to withdraw unilaterally from large parts of Judea and Samaria. I freely admit that my politics moved quite a bit to the right in the wake of the collapse of the peace process in 2000 and the subsequent Palestinian decision to launch a war of terror against Israel. I have rarely agreed with Dr. Beilin or Meretz in general in recent years but he squarely hits the proverbial nail on the head in today's editorial.

While I do recommend reading the piece in its entirety, here are some particularly strong parts:
If we stick to the idea of the complete Land of Israel, we will soon be left with no State of Israel, and if we are left with no State of Israel, we will be left with no Land of Israel. In the best case scenario, we will become beholden to the good graces of a Palestinian state that will include the Whole Land of Israel.

That's the whole story. It is also the reason that Ariel Sharon changed his mind, and Ehud Olmert changed his mind, as did Tzipi Livni, Dan Meridor, Tzachi Hanegbi, Michael Eitan and many other "Whole Land of Israel" proponents both in and out of the Knesset.


Either we will have a Jewish democracy here, with a stable Jewish majority and equal civilian rights for all – or we will have nothing.


The Land of Israel west of the Jordan River will have a Palestinian majority in another four or five years. If we continue to rule this entire area (directly or indirectly), the Palestinians will come to us with a simple demand: One man, one vote. They will tell us not to worry about taking down settlements, dividing Jerusalem, creating a Palestinian state or anything else.

This, in turn, will create one, large state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, but it will not be the State of Israel.

The Whole Land of Israel – or in other words, Israeli control of the western portion of the Land of Israel – is not an alternative to a Jewish state in part of that territory.

For those who dismiss realignment or convergence or disengagement or whatever the current nom du jour is as some sort of retreat in the face of Palestinian terrorism I can only quote Prime Minister Olmert's words yesterday before the British parliament:
We'll never agree to pull out of all of the territories, because the borders of 1967 are indefensible

A withdrawal to borders that make sense for Israel without any Palestinian Arab input is the last thing the Palestinians or their supporters want because it takes the territorial issue and "occupation" off the table. This is why supporters of the Palestinians cry "annexation" so loudly even as Israel makes what amount to unprecedented concessions.

Yossi Beilin is right this time. Israel is following the only practical course open to her.

[NOTE: This piece also appears in Blogs of Zion, where I write under my Hebrew name.]

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Better Late Than Never

For years Palestinian refugees, as in those who fled when the State of Israel was created in 1948, have been une cause célèbre in the world press, at the United Nations, and in the world community in general. We rarely if ever heard about the much larger number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries in the wake of World War II. That is finally changing. On 24 May The New Republic published a piece by Joseph Braude titled The Jewish Refugee Problem: Due Recognition. He says, in part:
Later this week, a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen are expected to introduce a resolution that would make the Arab-Israeli conflict a little easier to resolve--by making it a little more complicated to discuss. The resolution urges the president to make sure that, during international discussions on refugees in the Middle East, "any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees is matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees, as a matter of law and equity." Sponsors of the measure include everyone from Rick Santorum on the right to Dick Durbin on the left, and a number of congressmen and senators in between.

The resolution constitutes a long-overdue acknowledgment of a tragedy which, for decades, Arab states have denied and the international community has ignored. Nine hundred thousand Jews have been forced to flee their homes in Arab countries and Iran since the years leading up to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. (Most left in two waves--immediately before or after Israel's independence, and during the years following the Six Day War.) Some were deported outright; others faced widespread campaigns of violence and intimidation so unbearable as to render their ancestral homelands unlivable.

This recognition has been a long time coming, and it is better late than never.

Ariel Beery, writing in Blogs of Zion a couple of days later, adds:
The current identification of those Arabs who lived in the Mandate (Palestinians and Jordanians and other groups who self-identify in diverse ways) as the only victims of the post-World War Two shake-up is ridiculous. It's time we realize that there were many victims of the war of 1948--and both sides deserve to have a State of their own as a way of repairing those wounds over time.

This is, indeed, an answer to those who claim Israel was founded strictly by European invaders and those who try to delegitimize Israel. 42% of Israel's population are sephardim, these Jewish refugees and their descendants.

It is also high time that the world starts to recognize that the blame for the ongoing Palestinian refugee problem rests largely with the Palestinians themselves and their Arab brethren. It is they who insist that the refugees remain in camps (actually slums within cities) and forbid them to resettle, own land, or take jobs elsewhere in the territories or the Arab world. The Palestinian and wider Arab leadership perpetuate the suffering of their own people for political reasons, namely to blame Israel and foster sympathy abroad and to have a fertile ground in which to sow hatred and breed terrorists. This needs to change if there is ever to be peace in the Middle East.

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British University Boycott of Israel Ends

Less than two weeks after it began the boycott of Israeli professors and universities by the British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) has been cancelled. A number of former American university Presidents had written in opposition to the boycott in this letter to the editor of the Financial Times on 30 May:
Proposed boycott of Israeli academics is appalling


We are appalled by the possibility that the British National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) may vote to boycott Israeli academics who do not publicly dissociate themselves from their country's alleged "apartheid policies."

The proposed boycott would violate fundamental academic norms, undermine efforts to promote scholarly co-operation between Arabs and Jews, and perpetuate flagrant distortions about the nature of Israeli government and society.

We find it odd that Israel, a democracy with a vigorous exchange of ideas on all topics including policies toward the Palestinians, has been singled out for a boycott, rather than the many authoritarian nations that ruthlessly suppress academic and political discourse. Open exchange, collaboration, co-operation and free debate are the hallmarks of academic life. To isolate and sever ties with a community of scholars based on their national or religious identity, ostensibly as a protest against their government's policies, is a serious breach of academic norms.

Although one might imagine circumstances that justify such action, the threshold needs to be kept high. Notwithstanding all of its geopolitical problems, Israel is a genuine democracy: the Knesset has long included members from various Arab parties, the vice-president of Haifa University is an Arab sociologist, there is a slim gap between the percentages of Jewish and Arab students who qualify for the rigorous high school exit certificate, affirmative action programs have been implemented in various sectors, and the list could go on.

The simple fact is that Israel does not come close to meeting the standard of "apartheid." In the name of academic integrity and common decency we call on our British colleagues to end their efforts to boycott Israeli scholars.

Richard C. Atkinson, President Emeritus, University of California

John Brademas, President Emeritus, New York University

Thomas Ehrlich, President Emeritus, Indiana University

Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus, Stanford University

David Ward, Chancellor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sadly it wasn't this letter or other similar efforts by British and Israeli academicians that ended the boycott, nor was it any realization by NATFHE that their proposal amounted to no more than anti-Semitic McCarthyesque blacklisting designed to further a misguided political agenda at British universities. Condemnation of the boycott by the British government also had little effect. Rather it was a business necessity. NATFHE wanted to merge into the larger Association of University Teachers (AUT). AUT opposed the boycott. While some are touting the end of the boycott as a victory for academic freedom and fairness it was not a decision based on any sort of principles at all.

This incident serves, more than anything else, as a stark reminder of the blatant anti-Israel bias at major universities in the United States, Canada, and across Europe that I wrote about back in April. At the time I quoted Alan Dershowitz from his 2005 book The Case For Peace and his accusation bears repeating:
I will demonstrate that there is an explicit campaign of vilification against Israel ...the goal of this well-coordinated campaign is entirely negative: namely, to produce a generation of future leaders--political, economic, religious, academic--who are virtually programmed to be stridently anti-Israel.

The anti-Israel crowd may have suffered a minor setback with the end of the boycott but they continue to teach hatred of Israel to young, impressionable students and stifle any dissenting voices.

[NOTE: This post also appears on Blogs of Zion.]

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Israel Perfects Time Travel

Unknown to most of the world until today it appears Israeli scientists have perfected a method of time travel. No details have been released nor have any scholarly papers been published but I know it must be true. How do I know this? The Syrians are the ones who revealed this startling breakthrough at the U.N. Security Council meeting today. In the words of Syrian diplomat Ahmed Alhariri:
If we examine the matter, we will find that Israel was behind the eruption of both World War I and World War II.

Israel was created in 1948. World War I started in 1914 and World War II started in 1939. Therefore the only way Israel could have started those wars was by sending it's people back in time. Brilliant! I mean, that has to be it, doesn't it? The Syrians would never engage in historical revisionism in the esteemed halls of the United Nations, would they?

In other developments Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dan Gillerman warmly thanked Syria and Iran for bringing their unparalleled expertise to the Security Council. Ambassador Gillerman expressed his:
appreciation, which I hope is shared by members of the Security Council, for the opportunity afforded to all of us to hear lectures about terrorism by two of the world's greatest experts on that subject.

Unfortunately their expertise on terrorism is real even if their history is faulty.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. Aussie Dave at Israellycool wrote about the Zionist Time Machine in a post titled Time Bandits, or at least his future self from 2026 did.

[NOTE: This piece also appears on Blogs of Zion, where I write under my Hebrew name.]

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