Monday, January 30, 2006

Jewish Geek Humor: Shabot 6000

In this blog I've written about Iran, the Palestinians, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism. It's all quite depressing. It really was time for something lighter and a friend sent me just the thing: some Jewish geek humor.

I think most people have been exposed to some Jewish humor. By now most people are aware of geek humor, most famously Dilbert and User Friendly. Now I've found that some bright Jewish guy named Ben Baruch has a sense of humor and has combined the two and the result is Shabot 6000. Yes, that's bot as in robot. It's is just too funny.

Fair warning to my goyishe friends: This comic really requires some knowledge of Judaism. If you grew up in New York and/or have lots of Jewish friends it will still hit the spot. If you're from Billings or Brisbane, well... not so much.

P.S.: Bloggers' spellchecker was probably written by someone from Billings. It doesn't know from Yiddish at all and wanted to change goyishe to geisha.

P.P.S.: For those of you who might be distrubed at a post such as this on a serious political blog I promise to be back writing articles about depressing news from the Middle East by tomorrow.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

On Iran: President Bush Gets It Right

Yesterday, after a meeting with new German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Bush made some comments on Iran that clearly demonstrates that on this one issue he clearly understands what the stakes are:
Iran armed with a nuclear weapon poses a grave threat to the security of the world
The current president of Iran has announced that the destruction of Israel is an important part of their agenda, and that's unacceptable, and the development of a nuclear weapon, it seems to me, would make him a step closer to achieving that objective.
The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany now all agree that Iran should be referred to the United Nations Security Council. What is not clear is if a resolution with any teeth at all, especially one calling for sanctions in the event of Iranian noncompliance, can be drafted and passed without drawing a veto from Russia or China.

As I reported in my post on January 1 Israeli intelligence believes it will be impossible to stop Iran's nuclear program if concrete action is not taken by March. I think it is unlikely that the Security Council will agree on any sort of military action if Iran ignores a resolution, something Iranian President Ahmadinejad has made clear his country would do:
I tell those superpowers that, with strength and prudence, Iran will pave the way to achieving peaceful nuclear energy. The Iranian nation is not frightened by the powers and their noise.Clearly President Bush doesn't believe Iran's intentions are peaceful. Neither do I.

The main question is whether or not the Europeans will go along with an American-led action this time despite what has happened on Iraq. I can only hope that Prime Minister Blair, President Chirac, and Chancellor Merkel all understand that Iran is not Iraq and there is no doubt about the threat posed in this case. The more unified the action, the broader the coalition, the less the likelihood of serious retaliation or an escalation into a larger regional war.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Prayers for Ariel Sharon

At this hour Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is in surgery for the second time. A six hour long surgery at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem failed to stop the cerebral hemorrhaging after a serious stroke and he was brought back into surgery. He is still alive but in very serious condition.

At this hour I ask everyone to offer prayers for Prime Minister Sharon that he may recover.

I also ask for prayers for wisdom for acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. May he guide Israel well in his time leading the country.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Missed Opportunities... Again

The Palestinians "...have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity--Abba Eban, 1978That quote, about the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, has been used by Israeli politicians and their supporters for decades now. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak extended it to the Palestinians as a whole. I have used the Barak version in a previous post myself. Sadly, Abba Eban's words seem more true now than ever and seem to be true of every aspiring Palestinian leader on the scene today.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, now leading his new centrist Kadima (literally "forward") party, has made the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel a part of his election platform. Polls show Kadima with a wide lead over all other parties with elections scheduled for March.

The Palestinians, for their part, seem ready to vote Hamas into power. Part of this is certainly due to current President Mahmoud Abbas' ineptitude and corruption. According to Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, a Hamas takeover of the PA would put would the entire Roadmap peace plan in question. He added:
A Hamas takeover would endanger any aid offered to the Palestinians, since no country would provide financial or any other kind of aid to an authority headed by an armed organization of terroristsGaza is the scene of chaos and anarchy. Leaders of various Palestinian factions are announcing they share they view of Iranian President Mahmoud Adhmadinejad that Israel must be "wiped from the map" and replaced with a Palestinian state. Various armed Palestinian groups, some of which did, at times, abide by the cease fire called for by Palestinian President Abbas, now say they have called off any truce and will resume their attacks on Israel. Even during the so-called truce Qassam rockets rained down on Israel, landing next to a kindergarten classroom and damaging a power plant in the city of Ashkelon, prompting increasing calls in Israel to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable.

During all of this there seems to be no even vaguely moderate Palestinian voice, no calls for a renewed peace process. The Bush administration, which had seemed to be moving towards a more pro-Palestinian position since the President's reelection last year, clearly has grown frustrated and has supported Israel's military response in Gaza. Even European leaders over the past year have said there will be no Palestinian state without an end to terrorism and a return to the peace process.

There is overwhelming support in the world community: in Europe, in the United States, even in Israel, for the Palestinians to have a state of their own. It is the Palestinians' own continued insistence on the destruction of Israel that will cause them, once again, to miss an opportunity for freedom and a hopeful future. The Palestinians face only further hardship and suffering until they abandon their terror war and truly accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

An Attack on Iran?

Yesterday the online edition of The Jerusalem Post, Israel's English language daily newspaper, lead with the headline US planning strike against Iran. The story, which actually quotes the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, claims that NATO, rather than the United States alone, are examining prospects for such a strike. It goes on to say:
According to the report, CIA Director Porter Goss, in his last visit to Turkey on December 12, requested Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide military bases to the United States in 2006 from where they would be able to launch an assault.I do believe the story to be accurate. I also believe it to be nearly meaningless.

The fact is that both the United States military and NATO plan for all sorts of contingencies and examine all sorts of possibilities. Most of that planning never leads to any concrete action. For those who know my politics here is where I will likely shock some people: in this case I do hope that concrete action in the form of a NATO strike against Iran's nuclear program is imminent.

Yes, I realize that I am advocating military action which will result in people, including many innocent people, being killed. Yes, I fully understand there is at least some small chance that this would lead to a wider war. However, I see only three possible outcomes to Iran's nuclear program:
  1. The United States and/or NATO strike Iran to stop the nuclear program
  2. Israel strikes Iran to stop the nuclear program
  3. Nothing is done and Iran becomes a nuclear power
Of those three the one that leads to the smallest loss of life is an American-lead series of surgical strikes to eliminate the nuclear threat. Please do read on and let me explain.

Iran is not Iraq. There is no question that the nuclear program exists. Iranian leaders, while repeatedly asserting that they are only seeking peaceful use of nuclear power also add that they have a "sovereign right" to develop nuclear weapons if they so choose.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has openly called for Israel to be "wiped off the map", a call which resulted in widespread international condemnation but no real action. President Ahmadinejad, in explaining his statement, correctly pointed out that he was merely quoting Ayatollah Khomeini. Every Iranian leader has called for the destruction of Israel since the 1979 Islamic revolution. What is different now is that Iran is about to acquire the means to carry out that threat.

Former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani openly called for a nuclear attack on Israel on December 14, 2001. His comments included:
... application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world,Just a few days earlier Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, speaking in nationally televised Friday prayers, stated:
You should make the world understand that Israel is the oppressor and that Israel must be destroyed.Mr. Rafsanjani is, according to numerous press accounts, a "moderate". If an Iranian moderate is someone who calls for an unprovoked nuclear attack on Israel what can we expect from a "hard liner" like President Ahmadinejad?

Clearly Israel takes the Iranian leadership at its word and takes the threat seriously. A story published in the Sunday Times of London on December 11 claims that Israel is preparing for a strike on Iran by the end of March if diplomacy fails. In a December 20 Knesset briefing IDF Chief of Intelligence, Major-General Aharon Ze'evi Farkash warned that by the end of March it would be impossible to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons.

Going back to my three possible outcomes, here is how I see each scenario playing out:
  1. If nothing is done Iran, either directly with Shahab-3 missiles or through it's proxies, Hizbullah in Lebanon or Islamic Jihad in Gaza, will launch a nuclear first strike on Israel. If the Israeli nuclear capability survives that strike there is undoubtedly a response in kind. The end result is a nuclear exchange with millions of casualties and untold destruction.

  2. Israel strikes at Iran and destroys the nuclear program. Iran, both directly and through it's proxies, strikes back at Israel, possibly including using chemical weapons. In addition other Muslim (likely Arab) countries may well join Iran. The result is a regional war with massive casualties and destruction throughout the Middle East.

  3. The U.S. and NATO strike at Iran and destroy the nuclear program. While it is distinctly possible Iran could strike back at U.S. and allied forces in Iraq or at Israel it is unlikely other Muslim nations would enter a war against the United States and Europe. The result is a smaller military conflict with less loss of life and destruction.
Why should Americans or Europeans support such action? After all, it's just Israel we're talking about, isn't it? Actually, no. We're talking about the oil supply that both the United States and Europe are dependent on. We are also talking about an Iranian regime that already has missiles that can strike most of Europe with the Shahab-4. Major-General Ze'evi Farakash also reported that Iran had purchased missiles from Ukraine capable of reaching Europe. Iran's Shahab-6 missile, being developed jointly with North Korea, would have the range to reach the United States. What would Iran use such missiles for? Nuclear blackmail, perhaps, or... Do we really want to find out?

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