Somewhere on A1A...

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Mad Mel

In an earlier post on Gibson’s new artistic project I received this comment:

Isn't it a bit funny, the ADL lecturing Christians on how to interpret scripture? Not to deny past wrongs to Jews by Christians, but Jews were involved in Christ's crucifixion. If Gibson paints all Jews as being guilty of deicide and goes of onto the old blood libel riff then he will be wrong. Similarly if he absolves the Jewish hierarchy of their complicity with the Romans in the death of Christ he will be equally wrong. I suspect Gibson will portray Christ as he was. A practicing Jew in first century Palestine who was judicially murdered by the Roman government and members of the Jewish priestly hierarchy.
First of all, I don’t believe the ADL is lecturing anyone on interpreting scripture. Gibson is presenting his film as a factual account. It is troubling, to me, that he is marketing his film as an accurate account, even painstakingly accurate. On that point alone he has opened himself up to question. It is entirely proper to question him on points of fact, and to point out any inconsistencies that he apparently refuses to acknowledge. If he wants to present his beliefs, fine, but don’t expect everyone to accept your view as fact. When he goes out of his way to seemingly ensure the project’s historical accuracy, he and his defenders ought to expect honest criticism and questioning of his version of the truth. It appears that he is not very accepting of scholarly criticism or questioning of his motives.

The subject of his film is a tenant of deeply held faith for many. It is an emotionally charged issue for both Christians and non-Christians. It is, according to the few reviews available, a deeply moving work of art. Surely Gibson sees the possibility that such a powerful work might have unintended consequences. It seems prudent, then, that Gibson would encourage some of the skeptics to view the same version others have seen. Instead, he has been defensive if not disingenuous when confronted by those questioning his work and motives. Gibson has fueled the controversy through his dealings with scholars and critics. My guess is he enjoys the controversy and is happy for the attention it is bringing to his project. The problem I see is his cavalier attitude regarding others’ fears.

Am I overly sensitive to have already been offended by well-meaning people defending Gibson's art as truth? On an intellectual level, many of the films viewers will be blissfully ignorant of any points of contention of the historical record. The danger lies in a powerful work of art moving powerful emotions.

The danger lies in the reaction of those with strong faith if and when their beliefs are questioned. Far too many bad things have happened to those who lack the same faith that those who assume they have the purest understanding of the truth, the only truth. The danger lies in attempts to impose those beliefs on others. The danger lies within those reasonable people who see an obligation to convince me to see their version of truth.

The film is months from being released and already the emotional pot is simmering. It’s up to Gibson to either turn the heat up or down. If he’s presenting fact, then let his facts be subject to scholarly evaluation. Let the work be a focal point for open and honest study and debate of the history. For therein lies the controversy.

Gibson appears to assume his work is fact, even claiming divine inspiration. Many see faults and mistakes in what he’s allegedly presenting. Many are defending Gibson.

If you are defending Gibson’s right to say what he wants to say, you are preaching to the choir. If you are defending Gibson’s version of the truth, please be prepared to be questioned. There’s danger in not knowing the difference. I fear many do not and will not understand the difference, and that many of those who do will have closed minds.

Watching Syria

Things in Syria are getting interesting, although it is not getting much press in the US, as our attention is focused elsewhere. As I mentioned below the Syrians are understandably concerned about the Syrian Accountability Act, now before congress which would:

1) A ban on military and dual-use technology exports to Syria;
2) A ban on any financial assistance to U.S. businesses for their investments or other activities in Syria.
3) Also, the President must impose two additional sanctions from a menu of six, including a ban on U.S. exports to Syria, a ban on U.S. business investment in Syria, downgrading the U.S. diplomatic representation to Syria (at present, there is a U.S. ambassador), and travel restrictions on Syrian diplomats in the U.S., and others.
Here is a Talking Points from AIPAC, and a CounterPoints from the Middle Eass Intelligence Bulletin, which concentrates on Syria and Lebanon.

It’s interesting that Lebanese Americans seem to be split in supporting the Act, largely in the details of its enactment, not over whether Syria should end its occupation of Lebanon.

For more goings on in our tempestuous relationship with Syria, see:

Stupid American Administration Fears Israel

From the Lebanese Star: Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah believes that [US] pressure will not lead to the end of Syria’s role in Lebanon

Bashar Assad is being bullied while aiming ballistic missiles with VX nerve gas warheads at their Israeli neighbors. Who's in charge?

Threats from Hizbollah

And for General News from the Syria Times.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Experiments & Consequences

Thomas Friedman, today, attempts to correlate the situations with new political authorities in Iraq and within the PLO. In theory, his essay is comforting... The reality is not.

The main disagreement I have with Mr. Friedman is his assumption that there has been real change in the palestinian Authority. There has not, and likely will not be. He even goes so far as to describe the new power in the territories as one that the "Palestinians brought about by a vote of their own legislature". He is imputing democratic motivations on the Arabs, which do not exist. It is foolish to think that the Arabs in power will willfully adopt a system of rule, which, by its nature, will remove their source of power and wealth. In a democratic system, Arafat/Mazen would lose their power of patronage and favoritism. They will not give up that power voluntarily.

The opportunity for real change in the Middle East is upon us. Change in Iraq was brought about by the defeat and overthrow of the violent, corrupt regime that ruled through terrorizing its opponents and rewarding its friends. But, absent the overthrow of the violent corrupt regime that rules the territories by terrorizing its opponents and paying off its friends, there will be no real change in the PLO's rule, and no real chance for a New Middle East.

As widespread and deep that the hatred for Israel is throughout the Arab world, I fear that for real change in the region, the kind that Mr. Friedman is talking about, that all of the regimes will have to be violently overthrown, either through internal upheaval or by external interference. Simply hoping for change while appeasing the PLO has not and will not be effective.

The one thing I feel strongly about is that there is NO chance of change in the PLO if we keep appeasing them. There is no chance for change in the PLO unless we get tough and show them that terrorism does not work. There is no chance for real change as long as there are NO consequences for their continued campaign of terror.

Change in Iraq, just as in Germany and Japan, is happening as a result of the utter defeat of a brutal regime. The regime was warned, it was given options that would have allowed it to stay in power, and when those warnings went unheeded they suffered the consequences.

We have not been so clear with the PLO. We have not coerced them. Instead we have rewarded their terror campaign with Israeli concessions and continued legitimacy. Instead of defining consequences for failing to move towards peace, we excuse their violent behavior. I understand the reasons for coddling them, but our actions are not encouraging them to change.

The main obstacle that is keeping us from clearly articulating consequences for PLO misbehavior is our government’s failure to recognize that the PLO is not the real problem. The real antagonists are the rest of the Arab regimes that support and use the PLO to their advantage. Having a common enemy is the only glue that holds Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Iran, et al, together. The Arab world, despite generations of trying, cannot get past tribal jealousies. As long as they keep the spotlight on the Israeli-PLO conflict, they maintain the appearance of a unified group, and are able to ignore their real internal problems. Solving the Arab-Israeli conflict is NOT in the interest of the larger Arab world. And neither the PLO nor the Arab world see any consequences in continuing the conflict.

US policy, for 55 years, has allowed the conflict to fester and continue. We have preferred regional stability to reform for a variety of reasons, with oil being the primary factor. Until US policy, and to a lesser extent EU policy, changes, there is no reason to hope for any real change in the situation. Appeasement doesn't work.

The Arabs are already way behind in meeting their obligations of the Road Map. My reading of the document clearly puts the responsibility for first action on the Arabs. They have not met their requirements. Still we continue as if everything is OK. There has not been a public announcement that even the timeline for statehood will be delayed. The Arabs complain that Israel is not doing enough, even though they've done more than was required. Our response has been completely wrong.

We continue to coddle appease and mollify the PLO by letting them change the debate to include issues outside the working framework. We give them unwarranted legitimacy by inviting the representatives of a corrupt regime to the White House, and sent them the signal that lack of real reform is OK with us. They make statements absolutely contrary to the Road Map flatly refusing to confront the terrorists or to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and we respond by pressuring the Israelis to concede even more. It’s absolutely ludicrous.

We have to give the Arabs a choice. They must realize that there are consequences for their continued intransigence. We haven't given them any decisions to make. They must realize that failure to accept Israel as Jewish state, that continued incitement to hatred will mean loss of any hope for a second palestinian state.

How can they choose if we don’t give them a choice to make? We continue to offer only one option, that of PLO statehood. They continue to work towards one end: PLO statehood. How can we expect them to change their behavior?

Every peace plan offers the same end. Regardless of how the PLO and the Arab world acts, no matter how uncooperative the Arabs are, we continue to offer them the same prize and then are confused as to why they don’t choose to cooperate.

We continue to show them that regardless of their behavior we are going to give them another state. The more Israelis they kill the better the terms they will get. That has been the lesson they’ve learned through our actions for 55 years. WE must change before we can expect any change in their behavior.

We must give them a choice. Statehood for the PLO or NOT. Only when they see that intransigence has a consequence can we hope for real movement to peace. If we are not ready to back our demands for civil behavior from the PLO, then we shouldn’t fool ourselves that peace is likely, it isn’t. We have to be ready to discuss “transfer” as a real possibility. If transfer is impossible to talk about, if it is truly unthinkable, then we must recognize that there is no consequence to continued Arab intransigence and there is no hope for peace between Israel and the Arabs.

Saddam chose unwisely and reform is underway in Iraq. The PLO has no real choice to make and is unlikely to change... the situation remains stagnant.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

EU's Double Standard

Don't miss this exchange of letters. Isi Leibler, in an editorial in the Jeruslaem Post on July 6, was writing largely in response to Miguel Moratinos' farewell message. Moratinos was the EU representative to the Peace process. (sorry link is dead) He wrote about the EU's bias and double standard it exhibits towards Israel.

He received an unsolicited response from Cristina Gallach, spokesperson for Javier Solana, the European Union High Representative. It seems Ms Gallach isn't aware of any double standard nor bias, nor favoritism of the palestinians. Mr. Leibler responds to her including this summary:

You state that your vision is one in which hatreds do not carry the day. Yet as a former (now disillusioned) supporter of Oslo, I can assure you that there are no people more desperate for peace than the people of Israel. They entered into a peace process with a partner who demonstrated that he remained a duplicitous murderer who, at no stage, ever had any intention of conceding the right of sovereignty to the Jewish people in this region. As Hitler transformed the Germans into an evil nation, Arafat transformed Palestinians into a society suffused with evil in which suicide bombers are considered holy martyrs and kindergarten children are taught from infancy to kill Jews. Are you aware that Palestinians polls indicate that 80 percent of the people endorse suicide bombings? Yet you repeat the mindless moral equivalency which suggests that we and the Palestinians are simply two people hating one another, captured in a "cycle of violence." To resolve that, Javier Solana and his colleagues will be the saintly mediators who remain even handed and make no distinction between victims and killers and between those who seek peace and those who seek to annihilate their neighbors. And you persist in recognizing Arafat as the "elected" leader of the Palestinian people, although I doubt whether you would suggest that we should have applied the same approach in relation to Hitler or Milosevic -- also "elected" leaders.

I hope that in the near future the more responsible leaders in Europe will appreciate why so many of us are outraged by the double standards they apply in relation to us. Mr. Solana's activism in Yugoslavia and his inability to recognize the inconsistencies in his subsequent condemnation of acts of self-defense on our part exemplify this.

Syria Getting Frustrated or just more Arab Bluster?

From MEMRI is this translation of Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shar'a's comments to a couple of London based Arabic newspapers.

"Pay attention to the name: The [ Syria ] Accountability Act . Had [this law] been issued by a divine power, it would have been more modest, as Allah is merciful and forgiving. The top American officials think any law issued by Congress is a law descended from the heavens. Washington recognizes only itself and ignores international legitimacy. The administration of President Bush is exceptional. Perhaps there have been similar administrations in the past, but never one at the same level of violence and stupidity. The disputes between the hawks and the doves [in Congress] do not reach the level of violence directed [towards Syria ]. Israel plays a central role in legislation connected to the Middle East and Syria ."
The rest is short and sweet.

Monday, July 28, 2003

28 Blank Pages

In a quick trip around news sites this morning, why is it the right-leaning Washington Times is the only one paying any attention to the information redacted from the Congressional Report on 9/11? Granted, the Report came out last week, but it appears to me to be a much bigger story, and opportunity for the Democrats, than the yellowcake crap.

Who and what are being protected by the Administration by the blanking out of any material? Is the Administration protecting Saudi Arabia? If they are, Why? Something stinks.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Time for Hope?

Thanks to Solomon, who pointed me to this... I hope she's right. In the NRO Barbara Lerner seems to have faith that the President has not lost his commitment to win the war on terror, that he is not ignoring the palestinian terrorists.

I think Dubya knows the odds against ever reaching peace on the Oslo Road are a million to one. I don't think he's counting on the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians to stop celebrating and practicing terror any more than he counted on the U.N. to stop appeasing it. I think he is giving the Palestinians a last chance to choose — statehood or continued terror — for the same reason he gave the U.N. a last chance to choose between defeating Saddam Hussein's terror state or continuing to appease it. He did it because a democratic leader cannot simply tell his countrymen that widely believed fantasies are just that. He has to show them.

...Dubya had to blow away the fantasy haze and make America see the U.N. as it is, and he did. He went to the U.N. and issued a ringing challenge: Don't let the threat to America and the world that Saddam Hussein's Iraq poses continue to fester and grow. Back us in bringing it to an end. And then he waited and waited and waited some more, allowing a full six months to pass while U.N. types ran through their routines — strutting and preening, dodging and dealing, and gleefully dissing us. As he often says, "I'm a patient man."

But the American people paid attention to the real U.N. this time — they had a felt stake in the outcome — and they hated what they saw. When their illusions were stripped away and their patience was exhausted, Dubya went to war.
The news today, after the Abbas visit to the White House is not nearly as gloomy as I feared. The President let Abbas have his say, but gave him little to take home. He was tough in his words in rooting out the terrorists, an act that Abbas/Arafat have repeatedly refused to do. So maybe Ms. Lerner is right. I hope so. Take the time and read the whole article.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tikkun Olam

Tikkun Olam is the concept of Repairing the World, of making the world a better place. From Deuteronomy 16:20 “Justice, Justice shall you pursue.” I believe it is everyone’s duty to leave the world a better place than it was when we arrived. I believe we should pursue Justice for every one, and I believe that our society is better than any previous or existing society in providing justice for all. It’s far from perfect, but a wider spectrum of our society enjoys more individual liberties and comforts and is more educated than any before.

Whether or not you believe as I do, you have the same choices to make on whether or not to put your ability to work to improve our world. By acknowledging that our world is imperfect, we cannot help but envision ways to improve it, and the vast majority of us try to make some difference. Different cultures and different people will have different ideas on how to make those improvements, but the aim is the same… to make things better.

The Armed Liberal in a post at Winds of Change, makes the outlandish statement,

And here’s my fear. I don’t want to be a part of a society that eradicated another culture; I don’t want to commit genocide.

I don’t want to be put in a position where genocide is either a reasonable option, or where my fellow citizens are so enraged that they are willing to commit it, and my opposition will be washed away in a tide of rage.
His fear is paranoiac, and his use of the term is offensive. It's not genocide to encourage another culture to modernize at least to the point that they can have peaceful relationships with its neighbors and trading partners. It’s not genocide to advocate changing society for the benefit everyone.

All cultures change over time as they adapt to modern realities. Some deal with the change better than others. The Arab Islam is struggling to fit into a modern world that doesn't quite fit their culture. For at least 600 years they have been struggling with the problem of modernizing while maintaining their culture. They have not been particularly successful.

Some, we call extremists, are demanding a return to the ways of old. Others are living in western society, trying to assimilate and to exert influence to make changes in their host nations. Do you accuse the latter of genocide if they work to institute some form of Sharia? The glory Days of Arabia are far in the past, that culture is no more… was it genocide? No, of course not.

A progressive culture and progressive people cannot preserve other cultures while, at the same time, extending a hand of cooperation for our mutual benefit. Peaceful coexistence demands compromise.. from all sides. How can one be an advocate and believer in making the whole world a better place while keeping distinct cultures isolated and stagnant?

To be progressive is, by definition, to be an advocate of change. We hope and work to make the change for the better of everyone. It is not genocide to work for change in Western culture any more than it is genocide to advocate change and modernity in Arab Islamic culture. The problem is that segments of the Arab Islamic culture are resisting any change, both from within and without.

Much of that resistance is violent and involves confrontation with non-Muslim modernity. But the fact remains, the Islamic world is changing, and as it changes, as it struggles to find itself, it is trying to keep its culture distinct from the West. But change is inevitable and it is not committing genocide to advocate change for our mutual benefit.

I refuse to apologize for Western strength and cultural dominance. While not perfect, we have much to be proud of and there is much that even the Arab world admires about our culture. We have much to teach but we also have much to learn from others as we all try to repair the world. Our culture, too, will change... it must...and it won’t be genocide.

As part of the ongoing struggle within the Arab Islamic world, called a civil war by some, we have been and are being attacked. We inserted ourselves squarely into that civil war by invading Iraq and ousting the Saddam regime. I think it was the right thing to do.

In changing the government in Iraq and managing a change in that culture that encourages personal freedom, respects individual liberty and gives the Arab world a working view of our democratic values instead of the Hollywood view they’ve come to know, we are doing a very good thing. Just by getting rid of Saddam we have made the world a better place. By giving the Iraqis the tools to provide themselves with liberty and prosperity, we are showing the Arabs how they can modernize while preserving the best of their culture. That’s far from genocide.

Jewish Mothers

Want to know what a real Jewish Mother sounds like? Go to Meryl's and read her mother's note. Then PLEDGE!

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Mistake to let the PLO Loose in Washington

First of all, the Arabs don't get it. From the Road Map
At the Outset of Phase I:

* Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

* Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.
They haven't even pretended to comply. As for declaring an unequivical end to violence, they've done just the opposite and are demanding that Israel make concessions which are NOT part of the Road Map even before they talk about a ceasefire, let alone ending the violence against Israelis.

But what really pisses me off is Senator Lugar promising the terrorists even more aid than the $200 Million they are already getting from us this year. And Colin Powell saying, "I think it is still possible to keep going and then speed things up as more confidence is gained." When are the Arabs going to DO something to cause anyone to gain confidence that peace is their goal.

Mad Mel

I'm looking forward to what else Diana has to say about Mel Gibson's controversial movie project The Passion. But for now she's posted what a few Biblical scholars have to say about it. For those of you, like me, who are a bit uneasy about the film, this will make you moreso.

The ADL has this to say.

Here's more...

Update... I Found more at Orcinus that's well worth the time to read. Here's a bit from a Playboy interview that Orcinus posted:

PLAYBOY: So you can't accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?

GIBSON: No, I think it's bullshit. If it isn't, why are they still around? How come apes aren't people yet? It's a nice theory, but I can't swallow it. There's a big credibility gap. The carbon dating thing that tells you how long something's been around, how accurate is that, really? I've got one of Darwin's books at home and some of that stuff is pretty damn funny. Some of his stuff is true, like that the giraffe has a long neck so it can reach the leaves. But I just don't think you can swallow the whole piece.

Da Goddess has The Carnival of the Vanities #44, go browse.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Textbooks and Maps

Every day it becomes more apparent that Israel is on a one-way street as it follows the Road Map. While noting the big crime being committed by the presence of Jews on the Temple Mount, Arafat tells the school children:

"This is a big crime which cannot be ignored. Before this they (the Jews) entered the Ibrahimi mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron) and tried to pray there..."

… At the meeting with the summer camp children from St Georges' School in Jerusalem, Arafat praised them as a generation "representing sacrifices and steadfastness" and urged them to learn from the example of Fares Odeh, a 13-year-old boy from Gaza who was photographed throwing stones at an IDF tank before he was shot dead. "I tell you that we will march together towards Jerusalem," he said. "You represent the strong will and determination of this people."
Those kids are certainly learning a great lesson in working for peace. Their textbooks are no more helpful.
Despite proclamations by new Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas that his side is making strides for peace, the textbooks clearly show otherwise. The new materials were introduced in November 2002 and February 2003, months after President Bush's June 24, 2002, speech that supposedly served as the basis of the "road map." If the leaders of the Palestinian Authority had any real intention of peacefully living side by side with Israel, the indoctrination of Palestinian children would stop. Immediately. But it hasn't.
To this day, jihad and martyrdom are exalted. Palestinian schoolchildren are taught not just to hate Jews but to kill them. Grooming young children to become human bombs is a means to an end - the end of Israel.
The Palestinian textbooks make no bones about the real goal of the intifada. Of all the maps in the materials examined by Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, not one had a country labeled "Israel" - the entire region is called "Palestine."

Which gets to the core of the problem: the current Palestinian Authority leadership will never accept Israel. And the Arab and European nations that have been funding Yasser Arafat and his long-running jihad are equally complicit.
Some might find solace in the softening of the incitement, but the real message, "Even Jews also need to be liberated from Israel," gives me no comfort.

Israel is about to free over 500 more terrorists to appease the Arabs, who have brazenly taken an Israeli gesture of goodwill and turned it into a make or break issue. I say let it break.

The Road Map is a charade, the Hudna’s only purpose is to allow the terrorists to get stronger. The Arabs don’t want peace. For 55 years US actions have shown the Arabs that we will always step in to save them. We have, time and time again shown Arafat through our actions that his terrorism works. Our strong rhetoric, “We do not negotiate with terrorists,” is simply bluster, for our actions do not back it up.

After 9/11 the President set us on the course of confronting terrorism with the goal of defeating the terrorists. Unfortunately, Arafat and his ilk are exempted from the fight. Mahmoud Abbas will be visiting the White House this week, and I’m supposed to be glad? Are we supposed to have hope that a terrorist is coming to Washington for negotiations? Has Arafat/Abbas done ANYTHING to meet their Phase I obligations? Why, then are they being given the President’s blessing?

The President has surprised me before, and the behind the scenes and behind the headlines maneuvering have sometimes been impressive. Maybe there is hope that Abbas/Arafat will get the ultimatum that the Taliban and Saddam received. But given 55 years of history, it’s much more likely that we will appease the terrorists and place more hardship and ask more sacrifice of our friends.

Sometimes I'm Right

My referral logs linked me to a prediction I made at Martin Devon's Patio a few months back. Makes me happy that someone noticed I was right. The debate in the comments seems to be whether she deserves the Bronze Star. From a purist's perspective she does not, however, the awards inflation in the Armed services is such that, today, it is an appropriate award. You can dislike the way praise has been inflated, but it doesn't change the fact that, just like the dollar, the awards don't mean what they once did.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Moderate Islam Watch

MEMRI has a translation that needs to read in its entirety. It’s a summary of a series of articles appearing in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, which is a London Based Arabic Daily Newspaper. If only this was a majority view… or if by some chance it is the majority view, If only we heard more of it.

I would like to ask [some] questions that have been bothering me since the demonstrations [in solidarity with the Palestinians] that marched through the streets of Arab countries – which brought to mind the demonstrations flooding the streets to defend the honor of the [Arab] nation, as they believed was personified by comrade Saddam. Is there even one Arab country in which these demonstrations were spontaneous? I have heard that [Arab] governments and political parties had jointly formed committees to organize them, and in some Arab countries, senior officials marched in the front line. I ask: Why don't these officials hasten to protest the terrible state (indeed, the absence) of basic services in their countries, which have no health, education, or [social] services. [These countries] are below the poverty line (and beyond disgrace). They are all preoccupied with Palestine, and with the slogan 'No voice is higher than the voice of battle'…"
"Here I ask again: Why don't these [senior officials] undertake to teach the people about the importance of contributing to improve education, health, and social [welfare] services in their countries? What would have happened if, from 1948 onwards, every Arab country had dedicated itself to domestic construction and not made the Palestinian problem its main preoccupation and relentless concern? Wouldn't this have been more useful than expenditures for establishing and equipping armies [only] for the purpose of enjoying a military parade from time to time? What would have happened if every Arab country had concentrated on educating its citizens and improving their standard of living in the areas of physical and mental health and culture?…"

…"Has the Arab League ever called an Arab summit to discuss the state of education in the Arab world? Japan complains of decline in its standard of education; the United States has made education one of its main election campaign issues; and European leaders have met innumerable times to discuss what they consider an educational disaster on their continent…"

"This [Arab] nation needs a calm, rational dialogue, far from the spotlights, in which the participants would not be preoccupied with composing letters of gratitude and support to the leader of the host country – a dialogue with only one question on its agenda: Why have we become backward?" …

…A society that lives in a state of internal fear avoids investigating its causes [and avoids] acquainting itself with and opening up to the cultures of others. [Such a society] can never make peace with itself and will never be able to hand down positive achievements to the [coming] generations."
"A society that lives in a state of secretiveness and seclusion and hastens to blame others for its catastrophes cannot escape from being encased in its shell and from the web it has woven for itself through its passivity and its false claims and fantasies. Societies that have overtaken us in every sphere are neither embarrassed nor ashamed to expose their nakedness to others – and it does not harm them. On the contrary – by doing so, they try even harder to shed the complexes and residues of the past…" it all

Arabs Ignore Obligations

Once again, Mahmoud Abbas explains that he and the Arabs have no intention of meeting their obligations for the Road Map to Peace.

"Cracking down on Hamas, Jihad and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all," Abbas said before leaving Egypt to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II. "We are applying the law which we accepted under the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, and that is what we will do." The Palestinian Authority says a crackdown could trigger civil war, while militants warn such a move could nullify a shaky three-month truce in attacks on Israelis.
Why, then is he being rewarded with a visit to the White House? Why are we heaping credibility on his shoulders when he has no intention of cooperating? Why do we think he can change Arab attitudes? Why do we think he wants a peaceful coexistence with Israel? Why do we continue to lap up Arab lies while ignoring the truth in Arab actions?

Monday, July 21, 2003

I Fear He's Right

From Uzi Landau:

Minister Uzi Landau (Likud), who served in the previous government as Minister for Public Security, said that whatever positive gains Israel is currently enjoying from the hudna - more tourism, less security concerns, etc. - are very temporary and dangerous. "Everything we achieved against the terrorists and their infrastructures in the past two years are now down the drain," Landau said. "They are preparing 1,000 Kassam rockets, and building up terror cells, and digging tunnels, and we can't do anything to stop them... We have been sucked into this hudna, and when we come to the Americans and tell them that the PA has not dismantled the terrorist infrastructure, they'll tell us to calm down. They'll say that we have to strengthen Abu Mazen, make more concessions, and keep on going towards the establishment of a Palestinian state."
And how do you think the Arabs see the new palestinian State?
A large ad in the PA newspaper Al-Ayam offers to help and encourage PA residents who had property in Israel to prepare to sue for its recovery. The ad, sponsored by "The Palestinian Institute for Guidance and Data," which is an organ of the Palestinian Authority, appeared in Saturday's newspaper. "If you would like to reach a successful conclusion [in this matter]," the ad states, "we will stand by your side and help you with facts and pictures." The symbol of the sponsoring organization is a map of "Palestine," without Israel, surrounded by a PLO flag-like emblem in the form of arrows enveloping the land.

Abu Mazen's Swan Song???

I think it's way too early for the President to bring any palestinian leader to Washington. The pals have done little to even make it appear as if they might live up to their obligations of the Road Map that were supposed to have been completed almost 2 months ago.

The question, for me, is how will the President handle it? Will he prop up Abu Mazen by forcing the Israelis to concede even more than they already have? Or, will he get tough with the palestinians and tell them they get nothing more until they demonstrate good faith?

I fear the former is how it will play out. The palestinians have already taken an Israeli gesture of goodwill and are complaining it doesn’t go far enough. Even though prisoner release is not mentioned in the text of the Road Map, the Arabs are now acting as though it is a prerequisite to further action. Arafat is even using the West’s infatuation with his Abu Mazen puppet to make it more likely they’ll get more criminals released from jail. More criminals on the street is just the prescription for peace that Gaza needs.

Yasser Arafat gave his blessing for the trip. That was necessary because after he became prime minister Abbas was asked when he would go on state
missions overseas, and he said it was unreasonable to expect him to travel the world while Arafat is imprisoned in his office. Arafat's blessings were accompanied by
a veiled warning: "This is a decisive test of the American position," said Arafat's aide,
Ahmed Abdul Rahman, and the intention was clear - we'll see what Abu Mazen can get out of the Americans.

One PLC member, Hatem Abdul Kadr of Jerusalem, said it even more bluntly. "If Abu Mazen doesn't bring about an Israeli withdrawal (meaning a lifting of the checkpoints), and freedom for the prisoners, then he won't last and will have to resign."
I’m rapidly losing confidence in the President. And then there's the fence
This will also be the message Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will deliver to US President George Bush in their meeting at the White House on Friday, he added.

"The fence will kill everything it will destroy hope of the Palestinians...Israel should immediately stop building it", he said.

According to Qurei who will travel with Abbas to Washington, the fence will be one of the main issues on the agenda, and Palestinians expect to get US backing on that issue.
The Arabs are sounding like Navin R. Johnson, "All I need is some prisoners released. That's all I need. That and the fence, all I need is for all the prisoners to be released and for the fence to come down. That's all I need, that and the checkpoints, all I need is for the fence to come down and all our prisoners to be released and the checkpoints to disappear. That's all I need........."

Bigwig is NOT a Rabbit

Back from a long road weekend taking a circuitous route to Raleigh. Not only is Bigwig a funny guy, he is a southern gentleman and he passed my 15 year old daughter's evaluation of coolness, "He's a pretty cool guy," so she said.

It's probably a good thing that we had a young chaperone, otherwise the afternoon may have continued incoherently into the evening. Please don't think either of us is a lush, but it was a relaxing afternoon. I was surprised to learn the Big man is a liquor snob... How wrong I was to think he might be a beer snob. Some other time we may have to delve into the finer points of Single Malts and some guy, Evan Williams, but for an initial meeting of two bloggers I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The Raleigh Ale House is an acceptable knock-off of the Florida Chain, although Bigwig did tell me the Raleigh business was sued by the other over the name. However, their stock of specialty Beer seemed to be rather low. Bigwig must have heard, "We're out of that," at least half a dozen times. Still he managed to find something to sample.

One line that I remember from my time as an exchange pilot with the Royal Navy, was appropriate for the occasion. I was the helicopter pilot on one of the Brit's smaller warships. Since alcohol is allowed on Her Majesty's Ships, the Captain of the ship had to set the guidelines for its use. His words, in one of the Ship's official documents were, "Alcohol is a social lubricant, and shall be used as such." Beer was a fine lubricant over lunch.

I think we decided that it was more difficult for bloggers disguise their true character in their blogs, that our blog personalities were closer to our real selves than what may have been perceived in chat rooms. Still it was very nice to meet face-to-face and see the real person behind all that Hraka. In particular it was nice of to him to point out to my daughter how easy and acceptable it is to meet internet friends!… She appreciated both the humor and the wisdom of his subtle caution. As for the solutions to the rest of the world's problems, they'll just have to wait until our next meeting.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

The Hudna is no ceasefire

From Arutz Sheva:

Quietly but persistently, the Oslo War continues - despite the declared hudna ceasefire and Israel's accompanying concessions. A Palestinian-launched mortar shell exploded last night near Gadid in Gush Katif, and Arabs attacked an IDF outpost - twice - in the same region. In the Shomron, Arabs threw rocks at cars near Azoun and Peduel, causing damage but no casualties. Palestinian terrorists have murdered three people in the 19 days since the hudna was announced, amidst dozens of attacks...

Land of Hraka

I was looking forward to a trip to the Watership Down this weekend, where the Hraka is piled knee deep? But this image of such a horrible spectacle has me a bit frightened. Hopefully I can avoid that beast entirely, but, I'll be ready to try and tame him with the Beer of the Day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003


Reading at Pickle Juice how she loathes doing laundry, brought back an awful memory.

At one time, not too long ago, I was the proud owner of four dry cleaning stores. The pride is long gone and thankfully so are the headaches of ownership. The realization that my life was on the wrong path and that other people's laundry was not in my future, came one busy morning as I was working behind the counter in the main store.

I was greeting and taking customers’ dirty clothes and checking them in, which includes tagging each item and checking the pockets for things like ball point pens, or anything else that might damage the garment and any others that are cleaned with it.

That morning I was checking and tagging a large load of clothes, separating laundry from dry cleaning and picked up a ladies suit, a large ladies suit. I picked up the pants of one suit and could feel something in one of the pockets. Holding the pants by the waist, flat, in front of me, my hands were over 2 feet apart, they were large pants with large pockets.

I reached into the pocket to remove what appeared to be a big wad of crusty tissues. At least they felt dry. Handling other peoples’ dirty clothes is bad enough, but handling strangers’ dirty handkerchiefs and tissues is disgusting.

Anyway, these large pants had deep pockets and my hand was in the pocket well past my wrist as I was grabbing the big wad of tissues. As I got my hand clear and looked at the offensive bundle I was both amazed and sickened to see I had pulled a bloody tampon wrapped in tissues from this woman’s suit. I freaked, dropped it into the trash, and ran to the rest room to wash my hands…. a couple of times. I had those awful feelings in the base of my throat of oncoming nausea, and it took me almost two hours to completely calm myself. Then it started to hit me.

How on earth did that get into a woman’s pocket? It was not a cheap suit, none of her clothes were cheap. What, on earth, made her put it in her pocket? What circumstances did she find herself in that she didn’t have another means to dispose of it? Did she change it in her car? I never saw the woman again, and couldn’t have asked her if I did. It’s an unsolved mystery.

I sold the stores within a month of that happening. As it was another disgusting event happened the day after and I finally got the message that investing in a dry cleaning business was nothing I was meant to be involved in.

The second event was a nursing home who brought in a big bag of laundry from one of their residents which had been separated into little garbage bags with notes on them “Dry Clean ASAP.” The man had had diarrhea for a few days and they just put his clothes into plastic trash bags for a few days. As soon as I opened the first bag I knew what it was, went to the rest room to vomit, told my manager to take care of them and I left for the day. Two sickening events in two days finally drove me to sanity. But I learned a few lessons.

1. I’ll never complain about the cost of dry cleaning.
2. You get what you pay for in dry cleaning service.
3. Handling strangers dirty clothing is disgusting and sometimes nauseating.
4. Check your pockets before you drop your clothes at the cleaners.

If anyone can explain to me how on earth that woman got that package into her pocket, or more importantly Why??? I’d love to hear it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

The Left and Anti-Semitism

Fiamma Nirenstein's essay, How I became an 'unconscious fascist' is developed from a speech she gave at the YIVO conference last month in New York. Judith Weiss of Kesher Talk has kindly provided her first-hand account as well as links to mp3s of the lectures (including Fiamma's)

As a self-identified teen-age communist, Fiamma was sent to Israel by her parents to live on a Kibbutz in 1967. While there she was caught up in the Six Day War by learning how to shoot in self defense and to dig trenches. Her experiences are uncommon only in the degree that they changed the way her peers saw her. So it goes for all Jews who believe and work for social justice.

When I went back to Italy, some of my fellow students stared at me as somebody new, an enemy, a wicked person who would soon become an imperialist. My life was about to change. I didn't yet know that, because I simply thought that Israel rightly won a war after having been assaulted with an incredible number of harassments. But I soon noticed that I had lost the innocence of the good Jew, of the very special Jewish friend, their Jew: I was now connected with the Jews of the State of Israel, and slowly I was put out of the dodecaphonic, psychoanalytic, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Philip Roth, Freud shtetl, the coterie that sanctified my Judaism in left wing eyes.

I have tried for a long time to bring back that sanctification, and they tried to give it back to me, because we desperately needed each other, the left and the Jews. But today's anti Semitism has overwhelmed any good intention.

Throughout the years, even people that, like me, who had signed petitions asking the IDF to withdraw from Lebanon, became an "unconscious fascist" as a reader of mine wrote me in a letter filled with insults. In one book it was simply written that I was "a passionate woman that fell in love with Israel, confusing Jerusalem with Florence." One Palestinian told me that if I see things so differently from the majority, this plainly means that my brain doesn't work too well. Also, I've been called a cruel and insensitive human rights denier who doesn't care about Palestinian children's lives. A very famous Israeli writer told me on the phone a couple of months ago: "You really have become a right-winger." What? Right winger? Me? An old feminist human rights activist, even a communist when I was young? Only because I described the Arab-Israeli conflict as accurately as I could and because sometimes I identified with a country continuously attacked by terror, I became a right-winger? In the contemporary world, the world of human rights, when you call a person a right-winger, this is the first step toward his or her delegitimization...

...The basic idea of anti-Semitism, today as always, is that Jews have a perverted soul that makes them unfit, as a morally inferior people, to be regular members of the human family. Today, this Untermensch ideology has shifted to the Jewish state: A separate, unequal, basically evil stranger whose national existence is slowly but surely emptied and deprived of justification. Israel, as the classic evil Jew, according to contemporary anti-Semitism, doesn't have a birthright, but exists with its "original sin" perpetrated against the Palestinians. Israel's heroic history has become a history of arrogance...

...On the front pages of European newspapers Sharon munches Palestinian children and little Jesuses in cradles are threatened by Israeli soldiers. This new anti-Semitism has materialized in unprecedented physical violence towards Jewish persons and symbols, coming from organizations officially devoted to human rights. Its peak occurred at the United Nations summit in Durban when anti-Semitism officially became the banner of the new secular religion of human rights, and Israel and Jews became its official enemy...
The left has turned its back on Israel and the Jews, most American Jews haven't realized it. On the other hand, does the right provide any real comfort and/or support? Time will tell.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Bush and Einstein...

Jonathan Gurwitz in comparing WWII in Europe to the ongoing War in Iraq:

Hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their lives in the war in Europe, millions more European civilians were killed. Cultural monuments were destroyed and cities laid waste, including the baroque treasure of Dresden, and priceless works of art disappeared or were destroyed as Allied forces advanced on Berlin.

As the war drew to a close, Allied troops discovered camps where the Nazis killed political opponents, artists, intellectuals and one religious minority in particular by the millions.

But in the end, nearly six years after Einstein had warned Roosevelt about the threat of the first weapon of mass destruction, Hitler had no atomic bomb.

There remains today a lunatic fringe of revisionist historians who believe that the war in Europe was contrived by Jews, that the Holocaust is a hoax whose primary function is to extort money from innocent Europeans and land from innocent Palestinians, and that the true criminals of World War II were Churchill, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Truman, not Hitler, Tojo, Goebbels and Goering...

...To read the fallacious charges today about the war in Iraq is to re-read that history: that the war was foisted on the United States by a neo-conservative Jewish cabal; that President Bush is a puppet of the war Cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; that the war was a diversion from the real threat posed by al-Qaida and from more pressing economic needs at home; that the destruction of buildings and artifacts has greater moral bearing than the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people; and that the failure to find Saddam's weapons of mass destruction renders his removal from power immoral.

Why is this news?

The fact that this is newsworthy is more a condemnation of Arab integrity than it is new information.

The 35 page study, which is based on primary sources, clearly illustrates that Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas prepared themselves thoroughly with automatic weapons, grenades, anti-tank missiles and explosives and perceived the confrontation with IDF troops as nothing less than a "military to military battle."

The study refutes claims by PA leaders at the time that IDF forces were attacking innocent civilians and that the only Palestinians who had perished in the battle of Jenin were innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children.

"The study directly contradicts the baseless charges made by PA leaders including Saeb Erekat, that Israel had massacred 500 Palestinians in Jenin," former UN Ambassador and JCPA director Dore Gold told The Jerusalem Post. "That blatant lie made its way from the screens of CNN to the UN security council".

Our World is Bizarre....


It's a new form of adult entertainment, and men are paying thousands of dollars to shoot naked women with paint ball guns. They're coming to Las Vegas to do it. This bizarre new sport has captured the attention of people around the world, but Channel 8 Eyewitness News reporter LuAnne Sorrell is the only person who has interviewed the game's founder.

George Evanthes has never been hunting. "Originally I'm from New York. What am I going to hunt? Squirrels? Someone's cats. Someone's dogs? I don't think so," said Evanthes. Now that he's living in Las Vegas , he's finally getting his chance to put on his camouflage, grab a rifle and pull the trigger, but what's in his scope may surprise you. He's not hunting ducks or even deer. He's hunting woman. Naked women.
To use Michele's description of a different topic, "Yes, it's horrifying, demoralizing, disgusting, depraved, sick, contributing to the decline of moral civilization and tasteless."

Also, welcome back to Spoons who has his own bizarre, nay, creepy and gross story.

Friday, July 11, 2003

Moderate Islam Watch

The BBC is reporting:

Grand Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi of the Al-Azhar mosque of Cairo - which is seen as the highest authority in Sunni Islam - said groups which carried out suicide bombings were the enemies of Islam.
But more promising is this acknowledgement:
Worried that Islam's image is being damaged by terrorists who have hijacked the religion for their own ends, delegates also considered banning books which fuel extremism. "We have to block them from channels that are meant to spread Islam," Sheik Husam Qaraqirah, head of an Islamic charity association in Lebanon, said.

"Their books must be banned and lifted off the shelves of mosques, schools, universities and libraries," he added.

Thursday, July 10, 2003


Hat Tip to Shark: Just in case you think that it means cease-fire or truce, here’s a rather large file, a Power point presentation on the meaning of the term Hudna.

Arab Rope-a-Dope

David D. Perlmutter writing in Jewish World Review wonders why none of his hate mail comes from palestinians. I wonder if other pro-Israeli writers have noticed the same phenomenon?

I flattered myself that they don't write because they have no facts on their side with which to contradict the ones I offer: The Palestinian cause is founded on lies, hate, and hysteria.
Indeed, only a handful of Muslims have ever written me, half of them to tell me how right I am that their leaders are duping them into blaming the Jews, Christians, Hindus and America for all their problems. The latter are now friends of mine. They are patriotic Muslim-Americans: They blame Muslim leaders for the problems of the Muslim world; they know that the Palestinian refugee problem was created by Arab leaders seeking to distract their own oppressed people; they love America; and they don't subscribe to ethnic hatreds and conspiracy theories.
It’s the non-Arabs that are being duped, and the Arabs have been particularly skillful at spreading their lies and exaggerations.
Then one of my sensible non-radical Muslim friends told me about his earlier days when he was radical. The group he was a member of instructed other radical Muslims in America to "rope-a-dope." Kiss up to gullible white and black Christian Americans and make friends with them, ply them with sob stories about the plight of the Palestinian people, downplay any radical agenda (like, say, their plan to destroy America) and generally use the dupes as a sort of rhetorical human shield.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

No cause for celebration

Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the Jerusalem Post, is cautiously celebrating, I'm not. He thinks this is promising:

"Everything has been destroyed. All that we built since the Oslo Accords is gone. Now we have to start from square one. This intifada was a big mistake, and we shouldn't have allowed it to continue for such a long time. Even worse, we made a mistake by turning this popular uprising into an armed conflict. This played into the hands of Israel, and justified its use of military force against our people."
With Hamas in tune with the Gaza street, this is what I fear:
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, on the reasons why his movement agreed to the hudna: "Our acceptance of the hudna doesn't mean that we have recognized Israel's existence. We believe that Israel has no right to exist on this part of land. We accepted the hudna first and foremost to avoid a Palestinian civil war. We didn't want to be responsible for intra-Palestinian fighting, because this would only serve the enemies of the Palestinian people and Islam.

"The hudna is the result of a Palestinian initiative, and Israel has nothing to do with it. Anyone who tries to disarm the Palestinian resistance would be committing a grave sin against the Palestinian people, and could cause a civil war, which we are trying to avoid..."

..."The hudna will collapse with the first Israeli aggression. There is no doubt about that, because we will then see ourselves as free to act. We are convinced that this process will fail based on the past experience of Oslo. They have sat in all the world capitals and signed more than 10 agreements, and the result was that Israel reoccupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. What is happening now is a cloned experience of the Oslo process, and the days ahead will prove that we are right. Justice can never be achieved as long as Israel exists."
Why, when they are out-numbered Fifty-to-one, does Hamas carry so much clout? I can only assume that Arafat wants a powerful Hamas as part of his manifold security apparatus.

No Peace for You...... NEXT!

For 55 years the Arabs have refused peace with Israel. For 55 years the Arabs have turned their backs on every deal for peace. because the option to accept Israel's legitimacy is unacceptable. There will be no peace until that changes. Any concessions offered by Israel will be greedily taken and two additional demands will appear.

Laurence or Frank could probably write write a script with Yasser Arafat playing a petulant soup vendor telling Prime Minister after Prime Minister, and President after President, "No Peace for You." Meanwhile the rest of the world continues to lap up his because it's the trendiest shop on the block.
(Maybe a Blogathon project Lair?)

IMAO One year old

Can it really be true? Was Frank ready to give up blogging until I Linked to him? Little Ol' me? I'm glad he stuck with it, even if you aren't.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Dismantling Terrorist Infrastructure the Arab Way

The Israeli goodwill gesture to release prisoners is met by Arabs washing graffiti from walls in Gaza. Those Arabs sure know how to meet you half way. We might want to take a good look at ALL of the whitewashing they're doing.

The PA has more than 20,000 policemen in the Gaza Strip, while the number of all the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah gunmen is estimated at fewer than 400. The PA is not expected to encounter any serious problem in crushing them, but it is still not prepared for such a move for fear of being accused of triggering a civil war.
Since Oslo, the PA has had the ability to reign in Hamas and to fight terror, instead they encoiuraged it. Is washing walls really a newsworthy accomplishment? Does it show any progress at all in undertaking "visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conduction and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere?"
"These are small steps, but they are important because they show that Abbas's government is trying to open a new page," said a former PA cabinet minister. "At this stage, I don't believe we can do more than this because of Israel's refusal to release all the Palestinian prisoners and end its policy of collective punishment. If anyone thinks that PA prisons are going to be filled with Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, they are mistaken."
So, anyone who expects the PA to put Arab terrorists into prison is mistaken. Why then are we even messing with this Road Map? The Arabs aren't even pretending to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.

Monday, July 07, 2003

Mission Creep, Arab Style

More, More, More..... As if they haven’t been given every benefit of the doubt, as if they were NOT the ones who invaded Israel in its infancy to begin their war to destroy the Zionist entity. I re-read the text of the Road Map, and no where did I see that releasing palestinian prisoners is an obligation for the Government of Israel (GOI).

Meanwhile, the Arabs’ continued failure to live up to their obligations is being ignored, and Israel continues to offer concessions beyond their obligations. The hudna is being used exactly as the Arabs wanted, and we, in the west continue to misunderstand its meaning.

Hudna is an ancient Arabic term used commonly by the followers of Islam over the centuries to denote a temporary truce called by the weaker party in order to garner additional strength for a future offensive. Hardly the kind of deal Israel was looking for.
Update: It looks like Charles beat me to it, he posted yesterday on the same topic. One manifestation of American arrogance is the way we impute our values and cultural mores on the Arabs. We assume they want the same peace and same liberties that we enjoy. The connection between cease-fire and hudna is one minor example of the differences in our cultures. It's not that we don't see the warts in Arab culture, we simply ignore them.

The tolerance that is inherent in our culture is anathema to most of the Arab world. We accept cultural differences and refuse to make moral judgments, because of a false belief that all cultures are equal. We should not accept attrocities begin committed simply because the guilty culture accepts them... but we do. Events like these barely raise an eyebrow as long as it happens in the Arab world... they're completely excused if not ignored.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

David Hornik left the US for Israel 19 years ago. His perspective on America's actions regarding Israel led him to his decision to Emmigrate. The issues which led him to his decision have not been solved.

America, in fact, has a history of subordinating Israeli security to its own perceived interests - from embargoing arms during the War of Independence to bullying Israel out of the Sinai in '56 to letting Egypt close the Strait of Tiran in '67 to rescuing the PLO in Beirut in '82, all the way to the present hudna that has rescued Hamas from Israel's offensive and allowed it to regroup and rebuild - and those are just a few examples. No doubt, the U.S. is Israel's only ally and gives it extensive military, economic, and diplomatic support. But it tries to balance that by looking out for its own, primarily economic interests in the Arab world.
Maybe, as the US experiences in Iraq some of what Israel lives with every day, America will be a little more sympathetic to the Israeli viewpoint and will begin to expect a little bit more from the Arabs. Sometimes balance is detrimental to progress.

Cease Fire?

Isreal restrains itself, but don't expect the patience to last.

8 bombs were fired at Kfar Darom and N'vei Dekalim yesterday and last night, 4 people were wounded, shots were fired at IDF soldiers several times - and the IDF responded by filing a complaint and briefly closing the Tancher Route for three hours this morning.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

EU Knowingly funding Terror?

Todd Pitock, a freelance journalist and Paul Kirby of the BBC, have examined new claims and lawsuits that the European Union is knowingly funding terrorists.

Between the signing of the Oslo Accords in May 1994 and June 2002, the international community sent $4.5 billion -- including almost $1.4 billion from the EU -- to the Palestinian Authority to pay salaries for bureaucrats, doctors, nurses, teachers, and garbage collectors, among others, and to help establish the building blocks, such as roads, electrification, and schools, that an autonomous Palestine would need to make itself viable.

The money, paid into a bulk account for the benefit of the PA and monitored only loosely by the International Monetary Fund, continued -- and continues -- to flow despite signs that much of the aid had not apparently been used for its intended purpose. Instead of seeing construction of new schools and hospitals, observers traveling in the West Bank and Gaza could see garbage piling high as workers went on strike over lack of pay. Indeed, even before the second Palestinian uprising started in September 2000, the Palestinian economy was flagging by almost any measure. Meanwhile, reports indicated that a number of leading Palestinians -- including PA president Yasser Arafat -- were treating aid accounts as personal honey pots, ladling millions into offshore banks. According to the Democracy Council, a nonpartisan nongovernmental organization charged with auditing PA accounts, Arafat has at least $300 million in offshore accounts. Apart from personal corruption, though, Israeli military intelligence suspected the aid money was being diverted to fund terrorism.
Four and a half BILLION dollars, yes $4.5B is a lot of money. Why then, are there any Arab public workers striking the PA for lack of pay... not for pay raises, but they are NOT getting paid? The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming but the EUnuchs, and Chris Patten refuse to acknowledge it. Ms. Darshan-Leitner is generous when she says,
"Chris Patten is in denial," says attorney Darshan-Leitner. "The evidence is as sharp as a knife, but they don't want to believe it. They don't want to admit it. It's not even a matter of belief. In their hearts, they know the money is used for terrorism."
Is the PA involved in terror? I don't know what else you could call it:
August 5, 2001 began as a normal mid-summer day for the Bloomberg family. Stephen and Tehiya, both 40 and parents of five, had recently learned the results of an ultrasound, and the five-month-old fetus in Tehiya's belly was a healthy boy. They went out shopping with their eldest, then-14-year-old Tzipora, and were on their way home when they got stuck behind a slow-moving car. Stephen, an aircraft engineer, waited until the coast was clear and pulled into the left lane to pass.

But the vehicle in front had slowed for a purpose, and as the Bloombergs pulled alongside, two men drew weapons and fired a fusillade, piercing their van with seventeen bullets. Tehiya and the baby she was carrying died instantly. Stephen and Tzipora survived. Their spinal injuries will keep them in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. The alleged assailants were senior members of the Palestinian police, one the chief of the Tulkarem force.
Mr Bloomberg is suing the EU to seek justice for his wife's murder by terrorists the EU supports. The EU has finally begun its own inquiries, but so far the EUnuchs have been silent:
How the findings might affect the Bloomberg and other potential lawsuits isn't clear. So far, the EU has ignored the suit altogether, claiming diplomatic immunity. In the initial proceedings in Tel Aviv District Court, the EU did not even send an attorney. Darshan-Leitner successfully challenged the defense in an Israeli appeals court, but the Europeans have already declared it will not be bound by Israel court decisions.

To Darshan-Leitner, the EU's unwillingness to go through the discovery process that a court case would require is significant. "In my eyes diplomatic immunity is the guilty man's defense," Darshan-Leitner says. "If you have nothing to hide, don't hide behind the diplomatic immunity. Come to court."

The Blogathon

Laurence... Meryl... and Michele, are all participating in the 2003 Blogathon to raise money for Magen David Adom. Their goal is to raise $60,000 to buy a new Ambulance. Please donate what you can. They have arranged to have their donations collected through MDA's online donation page, just follow the directions and make sure you put Blogathon in the comments section. (Credit Card only, No Pay Pal)

I hope everyone has the same problem I have in deciding how to support all three bloggers. Please contribute, help them buy that ambulance.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

The Road Map

It's July. The Arabs have failed to meet their obligations for May, yet I have not seen nor heard any discussion of adjusting the timeline. The Media are so eager to announce successes that they cheer the Arabs even though they are failing to meet their commitments. Meanwhile, held to a much higher standard, the Israelis continue to compromise on their security for the mere hope that peace is possible.

The fact is, from the very beginning, the Israelis wanted peace and the Arabs did not. Fifty-five years ago Jews danced in the streets to celebrate a state, while the Arabs prepared to destroy it. Arab obstinacy and intransigence has kept the entire region in turmoil, and has created a wretched group of Arabs with no pride and no history. These Arabs define themselves by who and what they hate, not by any sense of nationhood. Still the Road Map gives them legitimacy... legitimacy they have neither earned nor deserve. They’ve won through terror; they know terror works.

They also know that Israelis want peace so badly they’ll do almost anything to achieve it. The Arabs are betting the Israelis want peace badly enough that Israel will eventually destroy itself by seeking peace. The Road Map is emblematic.

For Israel the process brings hope for peace. For the Arabs the process gives them more Israeli concessions and land in exchange for promises. We in the west hold each side to vastly different standards; we have vastly different expectations of acceptable behavior for Arabs and Jews. The Arabs have much more latitude to lie and kill because we expect so little of them. Yet we want them to have another state.

Until we recognize that the conflict is not between Israelis and palestinians, but between Arabs and Israelis, there is very little chance for lasting peace. The Road Map does nothing to help in that regard, and, like the peace plans that preceded it, it is doomed to failure.

The Clash of Civilizations

Ten years later, Samuel P. Huntington speaks of his work on The Clash of Civilizations, and about the situation in the Middle East.

Many Israelis feel that the environment sees them as a different civilization which belongs more to the West, and therefore it doesn’t matter to which border they retreat, whatever remains of Israel will still be viewed as an insult in the eyes of the Muslim world.
This will be true concerning part of the Muslim world, but those of them who are willing to accept the right of Israel to exist after a retreat to the ’67 borders are many. It will be essential that the international community, and in particular the United States, takes measures which will ensure Israel a secure existence. This includes what is now being mentioned in the United States- American soldiers and NATO forces to ensure the stability of Israel and the Palestinians at the same time.
I don't share Professor huntington's optimism in the number of Arabs willing to accept Israel's right to exist, they've had countless opportunities to do that but the vast majority of the Arabs can't even speak it, let alone come to believe it.


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