May 2003 Archives

He's back!!!

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I'm delighted to announce the return, at long last, of Michael Kielsky (my original blogfather) to the blogosphere. And he's off and running with a characteristically thorough trouncing of the Arizona Dept. of Public Safety's published interpretation of that state's concealed weapons law.

Then there's this link to a fascinating Flash animation on the Libertarian view of liberty. Being the rebellious but forthright blogdaughter that I am, I'm constrained to mention that I agree with very little of this particular presentation (it's basically a polemic against the recent war) and even less with most of the content of its parent website. But it's well done and it's got a great soundtrack (Tubular Bells). Worth a gander.

Hey, it's great to have you back, Michael.

Slacking off

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Yeah, well, this was the first truly nice day we on this part of the east coast have had in almost a month and I've been unable to force myself inside. Sunshine and a warm breeze. Paradise.

Shabbat Shalom

Glick on the Roadmap

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Column One: Washington's Betrayal, By Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, May 30, 2003

Critics of the president's newest actions against Israel have argued persuasively that this new hostility toward Israel and embrace of Palestinian terrorists is inimical to US national security interests and deals a harsh blow to the US war on terrorism. From Israel's perspective, however, the largest problem with this policy is the one with which we never imagined having to contend.

This problem is that when judged solely on its actions, the Bush administration has shown that while in the past it could be relied on for at least a modicum of support, today it no longer views such support as concordant with its interests. Therefore we can no longer blindly trust its intentions.

Whether the current, openly hostile US policy toward Israel is the result of the president's own preferences or of bad advice he has received from his advisers is impossible to know. But whatever the case, this crushing and heartbreaking reality cannot be swept under the rug. The threats arrayed against us are too foreboding.

We must accept the truth. As presently constituted, the Bush administration's Middle East policy is hostile to the national security interests of the State of Israel.

That's just her conclusion. It's well supported by what precedes it. And if you can't deal with the JP's registration, you can also find the full text here.

'The Call'

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Several months ago, I mentioned in passing an organization called "Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace." But I've only recently become aware of what exactly it is they're up to.


Their latest project is "A Call to Bring the Settlers Home to Israel" and, while it doesn't sink to the level of, say PETA's "Holocaust on Your Plate," it's one of the more offensive and racist campaigns against Israel I've encountered lately. That's in large part due to the fact that it masquerades as being supportive of the Jewish state while advocating a Judenrein 'West Bank.'

We are American Jews who care deeply about Israel and who are filled with sorrow by the continuous cycle of violence and death in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,

coo the editors in the introduction to "The Call." Under the guise of concern for Israel's security and economy, Brit Tzedek is promoting a program to bribe Israelis living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza to abandon their embattled communities and "return" to the safe haven of Israel. Gee. According to "The Call," the settlers in general are a bunch of vapid, ideologically challenged opportunists anxious to jump ship at any chance to take a scrap of "compensation" thrown their way (a characterization BT claims is supported by a 2002 Peace Now "study" which, oddly enough, appears nowhere but on the webites of BT, Peace Now and Islam Online). Relying on this rock-solid foundation, the campaign seeks:

to provide generous foreign assistance and to solicit contributions from the European Union, other major industrial democracies and the United Nations for this massive relocation effort, irrespective of whether the Israeli government is ready to participate.

So much for democratic ideals. Well known Jewish "peace activists" like Ed Asner and Michael Lerner and Rabbi Arthur Waskow are included in the list of "endorsers" of this farce. So you know where they're coming from.

Regardless of how one feels about "settlements," this is the sort of patently dishonest oblivious-to-reality nonsense that makes my stomach churn. There are "settlements" and there are "outposts" and there are neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem, and in the long run some of these will stand and others will fall, but it won't be due to the efforts of the Jews Without CluesTM.

Let me return to a point I've made too many times before. Until there are Arab groups advocating the "surrender" of Tel Aviv, there shouldn't be Jewish groups advocating the surrender of Ariel. And that's a "necessary," not a "sufficient," condition.

Six billion dollars

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Sounds like Ocean Guy is pissed off.

We bluster on and on about fighting a worldwide War on Terrorism, while rewarding the PLO for their terror, while appeasing Arafat and the rest of the Arabs with more payments and more legitimacy. We speak and ignore their actions. They ignore our speech and learn from our actions. Who are the crazy ones? We believe their blustering lies about their desire for peace while they blow up more kids and continue to preach and teach hate. We pay the price in money and lives only to see peace prospects disappear. And we offer to pay them more? Who are the crazy ones?

Read the whole thing.

Smoke

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Ok, I realize this is turning into a one-track blog. And I'm trying to turn my attention to other things, really I am. But this 'Map' thing keeps coming up. That's probably because I really do think this is a potential disaster of major proportions, but I've thought that before about other things and been wrong. I keep trying to remember that and, when I do, it keeps me from sinking into deep despair. Or something like that.

Anyway, I've been thinking about that comment by the "congressional source close to the administration" I posted earlier. You know, the one where he/she says that the White House "sees the roadmap as a major element toward the reelection of the president."

Something's wrong with this picture. I've spent some time reviewing articles and essays on this "Roadmap" published over the past few months and a couple of things stand out. First, a lot of pro-Israel pundits and politicians were predicting as far back as February that once Iraq was liberated, Israel was going to get screwed. Second, most of them expressed concern over the effect that development would likely have on Bush's chances for reelection. It seems to me that great gobs of the President's electoral base aren't at all happy with the 'Map.' And I'd venture to say that the 'Map' is also unlikely to win him many new votes from the Left. So how exactly is the 'Map' supposed to help his numbers in the 2004 Presidential election? I don't see it.

Yes it's true that there are no other tenable choices. But there weren't in '92, either, when Bush's daddy managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Whatever this is about, it's not about the election. So someone is playing a smoke and mirrors game here. Not that I could tell you exactly who or why, but it does have a State Dept. stink all over it.

Pretty accurate

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From Cal Thomas, in Jewish World Review, February 13, 2003:

When Iraq is liberated from Saddam Hussein, watch for the U.S. State Department to begin another diplomatic offensive against Israel in an effort to mollify Arab states angered by the war. One does not need to be on the receiving end of leaks to know -- based on past behavior -- that the pro-Arab diplomats are promising to "do something " about Israel, which to them means the immediate creation of a Palestinian state from which Israel's enemies can gobble up the rest of that tiny country.

Thomas was far from being alone in this prediction, by the way.

Big bad US

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Ordinarily, I'd have expected to see this up at LGF, but Charles has been on vacation and there's more than enough fresh material to keep him busy on his first full day back. So here's a little morsel from yesterday's (supposedly more moderate) Arab News:

Terrorism — An American Product
Dr. Ayman Habid • Okaz

Terrorism remains an American product. Were it not for the blood spilled as a direct result of terrorist acts committed by the United States all over the world, American blood as well as much innocent blood in many places would have been spared. In the flood of American accusations that do not spare countries, institutions or individuals, it is our right to ask about crimes committed by various American and Western bodies, including armed extremist organizations, that target Arabs and Muslims under various pretexts, one being upholding freedom. This has become part of the ceaseless war against those identified as Arab or Muslim. Jerry Falwell, as well as the organization he represents, is known for his anti-Arab and anti-Muslim diatribes and provocative actions. Falwell gave his blessing to the 1981 massacre committed by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin when he murdered 200 Lebanese civilians, and thus made clear the terrorist nature of his organization.

Another anti-Arab and anti-Islamic terrorist, Pat Robertson, fully supports Israel’s occupation of Arab lands. Such terrorist tendencies are part of Western absolute and unreserved support for the Zionist entity and its crimes in the occupied Palestinian lands. Western religious establishments continue to support and bless Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem. Homegrown terrorism fluorishes in the United States where crime rates are the highest in the world.


Yes, there's more.

A wake-up call

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For those who thought Bush wasn't serious about his "Road Map," this may come as a bit of a shock.

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The Bush administration has prepared a list of sanctions against Israel should it refuse to comply with a plan for a Palestinian state by the end of the year.

U.S. government and congressional sources said the list was prepared by the State Department and relayed to the National Security Council in April amid the administration's effort to press Israel to agree to the so-called roadmap. The roadmap, drafted by Washington as well as the European Union, United Nations and Russia, calls for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian war and the establishment of an interim state in 2003.

The sources said the State Department's proposed list of sanctions included an examination of the use of U.S. weapons in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel has employed such platforms as the AH-64A Apache helicopter, the AH-1G Cobra helicopter and the F-16 fighter-jet in air attacks on Palestinian insurgents.

"It's hard to overestimate the anger within the administration toward Israel regarding the delays in the roadmap," a congressional source close to the administration said. "The White House doesn't regard the roadmap merely as foreign policy. It sees the roadmap as a major element toward the reelection of the president."

So far, the State Department has rebuffed efforts by pro-Arab lobbyists in Congress for the review. Officials said that so far they have not received evidence that U.S. weapons specifically targeted Palestinian civilians.

The threat of U.S. sanctions against Israel was relayed to a senior Israeli official, Dov Weissglass, through who the sources termed were individuals close to the White House. Over the last two months, Weissglass, an envoy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, held several meetings in Washington with senior administration officials in an effort to revise the roadmap. The sources said Weissglass understood that the sanctions threat stemmed from White House officials and relayed the information to Sharon.

The sources said the Israeli acceptance of the roadmap has suspended any action on the list of proposed sanctions. But they did not rule out that the administration would reconsider should Israel fail to implement the roadmap over the next few months.

It's clear where the onus will lie for any failure of this plan.

The sources said Bush has pledged to Arab allies that he will continue to remain involved in the implementation of the roadmap. They said Bush has also pledged that a Palestinian state will emerge by the end of the year.

No conditions, no contingencies. I'd say that's pretty much what you call a free pass.

(via IMRA)

Tin hat alert

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Haggai and Alisa have both graciously called my attention to some of the other material published lately by Prof. Francisco Gil-White. Such as this, for example. Haggai has the full scoop (although {surprise} permalinks aren't working).

The title of Haggai's post is "The weirdest Israel supporter ever" and it just so happens that you could apply that label to a number of people I've come across in recent months. Like this one. And this one. And probably this one, too (although this site itself is of highly questionable reliability and is now laced with pop-up ads -- warning for those without protection).

Thanks to Haggai and Alisa for the heads up. NEVERTHELESS, the points that the nutty professor makes in the essay quoted below are valid.

Whitewashing

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Thanks to Ocean Guy for bringing attention to this fascinating essay, first of a series, it seems.

This part, while the details aren't new, is especially worth keeping in mind.

And consider this: The PLO was created at an Arab summit meeting in 1964.[10] The date is quite significant. In 1964, Israel did not control the disputed Judea-Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza territories. Not a single Jewish settlement existed in those areas. So, we can ask the question: in its original, 1964 founding Charter, what was the position of the PLO towards those territories?

“Article 24: This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.”[11]

In other words, when Egypt and Jordan owned, respectively, Gaza and the West Bank, the PLO stated that these countries were the rightful owners of those two territories. This means either (1) that the PLO did not consider these lands to be Palestinian lands, or (2) that it did not mind foreigners ruling Palestinian lands.

It is only after 1967 that the PLO ‘discovered’ that these territories were supposedly Palestinian. The Charter was amended in 1968, as Arafat’s forces were taking control of it (Arafat was elected PLO chairman in 1969).[12]

What happened? In 1967, Israel’s Arab neighbors provoked a war that had the goal of genocide against the Jews,[13] but they lost, which resulted in Israeli control of the Gaza strip and the West Bank. In a spectacular move, unprecedented in history, Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, though victorious against a genocidal provocation, offered to return those territories in exchange for a mere promise of peace. The Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, however, refused to talk.[14] Israel was left with no choice but to keep those territories. And it was then that the PLO decided these had now become Palestinian lands, which needed to be liberated.

[footnotes omitted here, but they're also quite instructive]

Some comments on the 'Map'

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Shimon Apisdorf, at Israel Insider:

Why do I feel like we've been the way of this Road Map before, and that the fee for another trip will be paid with the blood of more innocent Jewish women and children?

Jeffrey Rubinoff, also at Israel Insider:

Israel obviously differing from all other nations in the war against terror is being coerced by those nations participating in the global war on terror into accepting a hypocritical peace initiative. Israel is being pressured to make a sacrifice which no other nation in the world would be willing to accept. Israel is being pressured to exchange her children's safety for the empty words of peace from a terrorist regime.

The news reports today have been interesting. The Israeli cabinet has voted to accept the "Road Map," by a vote of 12 to 7, with 4 abstentions. Those abstaining, among them former Prime Minister/current Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, were under intense pressure to do so, as all of them were inclined to vote against.

The point that's been downplayed all day, however, is that what the Israeli cabinet expressly agreed to accept was "the steps set out in the Roadmap," rather than the 'Map' itself. That distinction is important, because the resolution then goes on to state that Israel's reservations to the 'Map," as previously expressed to the Bush administration, "will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of the Roadmap."

Those reservations, by the way, include the two that were dismissed out of hand by the White House, i.e., a requirement that the palestinians forswear their claims to a "right of return" to Israel and the elimination of reference to the Saudi "Peace Plan," which subtlely incorporated the preservation of that claim. In fact, the cabinet resolution specifically states that, whatever ultimate solution may be found to the problem of refugees, it will under no circumstances include their "entry into or settlement within the State of Israel."

You can find the full text of the cabinet resolution, including the "14 remarks" that are attached, here.

In the meantime, Washington and the EU are making satisfied noises about Israel's decision and the PA has so far expressed guarded optimism as well. It's hard to fathom. In many respects, this "acceptance" reminds me of the palestinian "revocation," back in 1998, of the clauses in their charter that call for the destruction of Israel. In other words, window dressing designed to deflect attention to other matters. We'll see.

A very bad week

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There are just a few points I'd like to make to close out a very bad week in the so-called "war on terror" or "war on terrorism," whichever euphemism you prefer. I prefer neither. It would be more accurate to say, at this point, that this is a war on certain aspects of those manifestations of terrorism that appear to be of particular concern to the undisclosed interests of someone or other in Washington.

It's becoming quite clear that terrorism, per se, is not only to be tolerated but is to be encouraged so long as it doesn't cross that particular line. This policy direction has been made manifest during the past week in which multiple sucide bombings, shootings and mortar attacks have been launched (the latest today) against Israeli citizens by various arms of a singular terrorist entity, resulting in several deaths and dozens of horrific injuries. And our government's incomprehensible response has been to pressure the Israeli government into publicly agreeing that it would be best to give these murderers a sovereign state from which to lauch such attacks in the future.

What a message we're sending to those who are at this moment considering whether or not to employ such tactics against us and others in the future. It's a clear, unambiguous message, and it speaks much more eloquently than all the firey and impassioned words our leaders have been reading to us from their teleprompters and paper scripts over the past 20 months. It is, in fact, diametrically opposed to those words, especially to the ones our President uttered on June 24, 2002.

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

What has changed since then? Only the implementation of dozens of successful terrorist attacks under the protection of those same "Palestinian authorities" and the prevention, by Israeli action, of hundreds more. What part of "will not support" does President Bush not remember? What part did he not mean?

Campaigns are being organized, finally, belatedly, to "block" the "Road map." But weren't we all just a few months ago laughing at similar campaigns designed to stop the liberation of Iraq? It's too little, and it's too late. The fix is in. And it isn't mitigated by the fig leaf (metaphor courtesy of Aaron Lerner) that Powell and Rice slapped over it today.

The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace. The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap.

The United States shares the view of the Government of Israel that these are real concerns, and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the roadmap to fulfill the President's vision of June 24, 2002.

This statement has no meaning and no authority. It's completely open-ended and ambiguous and it will vanish in smoke like all such assurances inevitably do. Its only purpose, in fact, is to give Sharon something to point to as explanation for his capitulation.

If I sound bitter and disgusted, it's because I am. I don't know how many more blood spattered buses and sidewalks and baby carriages we need to see (hundreds?) and I don't know where we need to see them (in Boston? Chicago? Omaha?) before we get that there is no compromise with terrorists, no appeasement, no accomodation. I don't know how many more foreign policies need to go badly awry, like our rapproachment with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, like our love affair with Oslo in the 1990s, before we face up to the cruel fact that we aren't going to win this "war on terror" by being nice, lovable guys and by looking the other way when atrocities are being committed by those we feel compelled, for some reason, to support. And since this "war," ultimately, is for our own freedom, our own way of life and our own existence, we'd damn well better get that message soon. Very soon.

And now I'm going over to Meryl's place to read her post on Sorena's school play, which I'm hoping will put me a more Shabbosdiche mood.

Shabbat shalom.

Not so funny, really

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It's sometimes hard to resist trying to find humor in the constant barrage of lies and deceits that come pouring out of every orifice in the Arab world these days. It's equally hard to resist the temptation to succumb to the type of inflamatory rhetoric I've just employed in the previous sentence. Obviously, I'm having a low resistance week here. So sue me.

Having (unfortunately) had my attention returned to the Zayed Centre, however, I find I need to elaborate a bit on the whimsical post below. Because this outfit is no laughing matter.

First, a further quote from their press release.

To conclude, since its foundation in 1999, the Centre has been committed to free dialogue between conflicting and diverse views and opinions. Therefore. the Centre is not bound by any cultural taboos. Within this spirit, we, therefore, are the right to claim that the MEMRI report has no space within human civilization.

Finally, what motivated us to respond to the MEMRI report is our concern to
inform the reader of the true mission of the Centre.

So let's take a look at their "true mission." Here, for example, is an unedited list of the "Reports" published on their website this year to date.

10/05/2003 - Report from the Occupied lands

04/05/2003 - Zayed Centre receives a Report from Palestinian Occupied Lands

27/04/2003 - Zayed Centre Receives a Report on Israeli Occupation Crimes

13/04/2003 - Zayed Centre receives a Report on Israeli’s Assaults against Journalists

22/03/2003 - More crimes perpetrated by Israel in the Palestinian Territories

20/03/2003 - Palestine Center for Human Rights Calls upon the world to Provide Protest and Humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

09/03/2003 - Zayed Centre : Report on Israeli War Crimes

16/01/2003 - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) report on Israeli crimes against Palestinians

09/01/2003 - Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) report on Israeli crimes against Palestinians

You get the picture. And the "Reports" from the last months of 2002 are virtually identical. Don't take my word for it. Check it out. (And remember that the dates are in European format.)

There used to be lots of links to lecture summaries like this:

Al Buraq Wall Not Wailing Wall

This study is released in line with the Centre’s message to serve Arab causes and refute the false Zionist allegations in regard to Palestine.

The study highlights the cultural and religious importance of the City of Al Quds (Jerusalem) and shows the falsehood of the Zionist religious claims and anthropological fabrications.

The study gives a historical account of the Jews from the days of the Temple of Solomon, which was destroyed in 586 B.C. through their persecution under the Roman rule to the and the occupation of Al Quds in the 20th century and the immergence of the Guardians of Temple Mount Movement.

The study also underlines that Al Aqsa Mosque was built over more than a thousand years before Solomon, giving evidences that refutes the Zionist allegations that the Mosque was constructed on the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. It also shows that Al Buraq Wall, at the Western boundary of Al Haram Al Sharif (the holy Sanctuary), is sacred to Muslims because they believe that it was the place that Messenger of Allah Muhammad (may peace be upon him) had honoured and blessed by tying Al Buraq (a riding animal) to the wall, during Night Journey and Nocturnal Ascent (Isra Wa Al Mi'raj) and this Wall is an integral part of Al Haram Al Sharif.

But it would appear that due to recent pressure, they've found it expedient to take most of them down. For example, the following links, cited in MEMRI's report, now go nowhere.

On March 11, 2003, Michael Collins Piper, an American journalist, lectured at the Zayed Centre. [2] A summary of his speech on the Zayed Centre website states: "Regarding the book named 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' he asserted that the Jewish conspiracy is not a mere theory but a real fact… Piper said that no American politician dares to cross the Israeli lines, otherwise he/she would lose his/her position and be subject to many problems, as was the case with President Kennedy and President Nixon.

In an August 25, 2002 press release titled "The Arab League to Participate in Symposium on 'Semitism' to be Held at ZCCF," the Zayed Centre reported:[3] "Israel has indulged in spreading lies and exaggerations about [the] Holocaust in order to squeeze out huge sums of money from European countries through [the] worst forms of blackmail, and to create false legends in support of the concept of Semitism and [the] establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine."

And then there was the April 9, 2003, lecture by Dr. Umayma Jalahma, which apparently raised such a stink that not only the summary but all subsequent references to it (see Appendix A of MEMRI report) have been deleted from the Centre's website. (You may remember Dr. Jalahma as the author of the notorious Purim pastry blood libel that was published last year in the Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh.) Here are a few snippets of MEMRI's quote from it, though.

"[Dr. Jalahma] said that the American war on Iraq started in March to concur with Purim Feast, often celebrated in this month, which symbolizes the Jewish victory over Haman in Babylon [sic]."

And,

"In another context, [Dr. Jalahma] said that the Jewish woman is politically and socially oppressed by the Jewish fundamentalists and secularists alike, mentioning that the Jewish woman lives in a miserable condition that requires the intervention of the international humanitarian organization to protect her.

Pot..., kettle..., whatever.

This one, however, is still up.

"Does Israel Rule the World" is the title of a report released by the Zayed Centre on August 18, 2001. The report is described as being one in "a series of specialized political and intellectual studies, in contribution to the ongoing cultural battle fought by the Arab Nation for a brighter future."

By the way, why do we care what these flakes think or say? Well, because an awful lot of our co-called "leaders" seem to. Among the list of august American personalities who have actually lectured at or sent letters of appreciation and admiration to this cesspool since 9/11: former president Bill Clinton; former president Jimmy Carter; former vice-president Al Gore; former Secretary of State James Baker; former Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker and, well, Lyndon LaRouche.

'Scuse me, please. Time for a shower.

LOL

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It appears that the distinguished (cough) Zayed Centre for Coordination and Followup has managed to confuse Little Green Footballs with The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

In a dazzling display of complete cluelessness, the Centre has issued a press release in which it claims that MEMRI had referred to it as (among other things) "the stray black stone in the Islamic galaxy." No such reference appears in MEMRI's report. But compare and contrast this hilarious description of the Centre by Charles last week

The Boston Globe has a disturbing report that Harvard Divinity School accepted a $2.5 million donation from the “president” of the United Arab Emirates, a radical Islamist with ties to the lunatic black hole of the Islamic galaxy—the Zayed Center for Communication and Followup, an Arab “think tank” which has sponsored talks by Lyndon LaRouche, David Duke, Thierry Meyssan, and numerous other insane antisemitic and anti-American nutjobs: Harvard is pressured to return $2.5m gift.

Charles' version is much funnier -- and more accurate -- dontcha think?

Predictable?

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While the press seems to be suffering its own brand of shock and awe over the lawlessness and disorder following the liberation of Iraq, I came across this item published by MEMRI way back in November. It's a collection of excerpts from an article by Gen. Najib al-Salhi, who served, among other things, as a commander of Saddam's Republican Guard tank brigade before his defection in 1995. Any of this sound accurate?

"The regime of the despot Saddam Hussein is nearing its end and, for the first time, since the establishment of the modern Iraq state in 1921, there are signs of a new order that would replace the pits of crime and the abyss of disasters the Iraqi people [have] suffered from."

"The removal of the Saddam regime will not usher the season of spring immediately. Saddam's legacy would fall as a heavy burden on the incoming regime in terms of a destroyed infrastructure and a country ridden with economic, political, social, cultural, financial, and legal problems. Add to this a quasi-disjointed social environment - men and women exhausted by coercive despotism, state police, the drums of war, suffocating sanctions and a legacy of arbitrariness, injustice, and corruption."

"The social and political map of Iraq comprises a variety of groups-Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians, Muslims, Christians, and Yazidies ready to pounce for revenge, each looking for a lost right or a stolen identity. The danger for internal security could be profound if the security apparatus would be forced to escape from people's fury and from its own crime-ridden past."

"Here are a people emerging from a frightful prison, seeking freedom without boundaries. This will be one of the significant scenes in the days and weeks that will follow the collapse of the ancient regime and the rise of a new one. This will raise a number of critical questions: What will be the nature of the new regime? What will be its strategy for putting the country on the right course? What are its abilities to provide a sense of social, psychological, and political stability? The failure to address these issues early on will place a question mark on Iraq's ability to survive as a unified political entity."

Sounds almost prescient to me. More likely, though, it sounds like someone who simply knew of what he spoke. And I especially appreciate this suggestion.

"The Iraqi women ought to be liberated and their legitimate rights restored. There is a need for legislation that would protect the rights of women and children after years of Saddamist abuses. It is important to underline the constitutional rights of women in terms of equality in education, work, culture, and politics. It is a fiction, and absurd, to rebuild a destroyed country with half of its people paralyzed or unemployed."

And this one.

"We have to seek political, economic and cultural relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, Syria, and Jordan. Iraq will take into consideration the attitudes of countries which helped liberate it from Saddam's despotic rule. These countries will be accorded priority in political, economic and technological cooperation."

Although I do hope he wasn't expecting the countries he named to be among those "which helped liberate it [Iraq] from Saddam's despotic rule." Heh. Yes, the liberators should be accorded all those priorities. And the weasels (remember them?) should be accorded squat.

Listen carefully

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PNA “Strongly” Condemns, Explosion in Afula Leaving Four Killed

Sounds good. We've been hearing a lot about these "stong" condemnations in the last few days. So can we have a quote, please? Ah!

“Palestinian leadership strongly condemns the explosion took place in the city of Afula on Monday May 19,” the PNA said in an official statement issued Monday by Palestine News Agency (WAFA).

There it is. The "strong" condemnation is "strong," not because there's any substance to it whatsoever, but rather because those making the statement are characterizing it that way. What's missing here? Well, for one thing, any condemnation of the exploder. What's condemned is the explosion, not the act that resulted in it and certainly not the taking of innocent lives. Just an awkward translation, you say? I don't think so.

In fact, though, the "strong" condemnation is immediately followed by speculation (masquerading as fact) as to the intent of those who orchestrated it.

The PNA said the goal of such attack targeting Israeli citizens is to destroy the International peace efforts and all opportunities aiming implementation of the “Road Map” peace plan.

It's interesting to note that neither the PNA, Yasser Arafat nor any of his various mouthpieces ever accuse Hamas, Islamic Jihad or any other palestinian terrorist group of trying to destroy peace efforts or sabotage the "Road Map." No, that accusation is usually reserved exclusively for Israel. So what are they really trying to say here? And what's the solution to this dire problem? But of course.

Palestinian leadership called on the Israeli Government for immediate cease-fire and to withdraw its forces from the Palestinian cities and stop killing of Palestinian civilians.

And that is exactly what Israel should do in the face of five suicide bombing attacks in three days. Withdraw, concede, cease and desist. Here's an axiom upon which you can rely: you will not find a palestinian "condemnation" of palestinian terror against Israelis that doesn't include the words "killing of Palestinian civilians."

Let's be fair. At the end of this article, we are told who perpetrated this crime and against whom. Right?

A Palestinian militant blew himself up at the entrance of a mall in the northern Israeli city of Afula when a female security guard tried to stop him/her from entering, Israeli sources reported.

I've highlighted those last three words because, in this context, they're intended to convey the suspicion that there is at least some degree of untrustworthy bias in the account (factual errors aside).

So let's review. The Palestinian National Authority has "strongly" condemned an explosion, reported by "Israeli sources" to have been perpetrated by a palestinian "militant" at a mall in Israel, because it threatens the progress of the "Road Map" which is intended to assure the establishment of a palestinian state by 2005. And the PNA further demands that in response to this "explosion," Israel immediately stop all efforts to secure itself against further explosions of this nature. And for this "condemnation," the PNA expects, and will probably receive, the undying gratitude of the free world.

I'm sick to death of hearing about how these terrorists are trying to undermine Abu Mazen and the "new" palestinian leadership. Please get this. There is no new palestinian leadership. Abu Mazen has no intention of doing a damn thing to interfere with ongoing terrorist attempts against Israelis, and the terrorists know it. If he tries, he'll be dead, and he knows it. What he has every intention of doing is the same thing his boss has been doing for the past ten years -- mesmerizing the international community with the words it wants to hear while the murder and mayhem continue unabated.

How many repetitions of the same script do we have to live through before we're ready to move on?

Moral responsibility

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Friday's Supplement to the Israeli Hebrew langugage daily, Yediot Ahronot, had a very interesting commentary on Naqba Day by Shlomo Avineri, a well-known professor of policial science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This translation was provided by the Israeli Government Press Office, via IMRA.

Every year, Palestinians - including those who are Israeli citizens - mark May 15 as a day of national mourning, in remembrance of the disaster, which befell Arabs in the Land of Israel in the 1948 war. As human beings and as Jews, we must be attentive to their pain and suffering: Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were uprooted from their homes - some fled, some were expelled.

This is a human tragedy beyond its national dimensions. Whoever hopes for peace and reconciliation between us and the Palestinians, cannot be indifferent to their sorrow. However, whoever wishes to be attentive to the Palestinians' pain must see things in their proper political and moral contexts.

It is no coincidence that the Palestinians chose the phrase naqba, meaning "disaster". This is a neutral term, as if one were discussing a natural disaster. But what happened to the Palestinians in 1948 was the result of a political decision on their part, and political decisions have consequences.

We should say it openly and forthrightly: The Palestinians who mourn on May 15 do not believe that the decision to prevent the carrying out of the partition of the Land of Israel was either incorrect or immoral. What they regret is that they lost that war, not that they began it.

Avineri makes so many important points here that I'm tempted to quote the whole essay (but I won't). Among them, that the Arab states hawking strict adherence to U.N. resolutions and "international legitimacy" today were singing a very different tune back in 1948 when the U.N. and the international community recognized the legitimacy of both national movements seeking a home and refuge in "Palestine." Also among them, a reminder that there has always been a price for failed military aggression, and that relocation of non-combatants has long been a common and accepted component of that price.

Somewhat ironically, in light of the events of the past 24 hours, Avineri's piece continues with this.

It is possible to understand the heart of the Palestinians in particular and that of the Arabs in general: From their point-of-view, the Zionist settlement was an act of colonialism that came to rip away a section of the Arab homeland. Arab consciousness finds it hard to accept this fact and therefore, the Arab response to the Zionist attempt to gain a foothold in the land was, from the outset, a total war - in which the murder of civilians is considered a legitimate tool.

Some things never change.

So I will quote Avineri's conclusion, and I'll keep quoting it and repeating it and paraphrasing it in the hope that, somehow, it will get through to those who need to hear it.

However, with all the understanding for the suffering of fellow men, the truth must be told to our Palestinian neighbors: Just like Germany in 1939 went to war - and lost; just as in the German case, the fall was bound with much suffering; but just as Germany internalized the messages of the World War, in the same way - with all the pain and understanding - if the Palestinians want peace, they must take moral responsibility for the decisive outcome in 1948, to go to war, not just against Israel, but also against international legitimacy, which accepted the Jews' right to sovereignty.

Musings on Babylonian Jewry

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Meryl Yourish clears the air about the potential, past and present, for a tolerant, democratic Iraq. The prevailing view that Saddam was the root of all evil in Iraq is not consistant with the historical record.

In mentioning the long and rich history of the Jewish community in Iraq, Meryl has reminded me of another detail that's often forgotten. When Jews (and others) speak of "the Talmud" in casual conversation, the compilation they're usually referring to is more properly known as "the Babylonian Talmud. That's because Babylonia, as a prominent center of the Jewish world for more than a dozen centuries, was the home of the sages who produced that august work or, to be more precise, the commentaries (gemara) that make up the vast bulk of it. But it's also because that work must be distinguished from another -- the "Jerusalem Talmud" (also called the "Palestinian Talmud"). The latter work is less complete and, in light of its integral connection in many respects with life in the Land of Israel, large parts of it came to have less and less relevance for Jews living in the Diaspora. Nevertheless, it's still studied today.

What may be surprising to some is that a vibrant Jewish community had existed in Babylonia since the First Exile in the sixth century B.C.E. This community grew and prospered, eventually becoming the recognized global center of Jewish life and authority. For centuries, it shared this authority with the Palestinian academy, but in the sixth, seventh or eighth century (depending upon whose account you read), power gradually shifted completely to Babylonia. There it remained until, following challenges by the Karaite sect and the ascendancy of the Jewish communities in Spain and Germany, it gradually withered away in power and prestige. Its singular authoratative work, however, remains to this day the legal, spiritual and ethical guide for observant Jews the world over.

The Jewish community in Babylonia, although off center stage, continued to flourish until the early 20th century. What happened then is a story that was repeated throughout the Arab world. The increasingly organized immigration of Jews into the area known as Palestine, their settlement and agricultural work and their growing autonomy there in the absence of any other indiginous authority enraged those who believed that the homelessness of the Jews was God's special stigma for their refusal to accept the prophecy of Muhammed. On a more pragmatic level, it also threatened to disrupt the homogeneity of Muslim domination of the entire region. The Jews in modern Babylonia (now called Iraq) as in so many other Arab countries, became personae non gratae.

More about this, some additional implications of Naqba Day and the renewed reign of terror in Israel shortly.

One of those days

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There are too many different things clamoring in my brain to get put into prose right now and I can't seem to sort them all out. This seems to happen a lot on Fridays. Oh, well.

Shabbat Shalom.

Speaking of alternate realities

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Today, May 15th, is the day the palestinians observe as "Catastrophe Day," the catastrophe (Al Naqba) being, of course, the declaration of the State of Israel. Every year, the historical accounts that accompany this commemeration get more and more bizarre. Here are some excerpts from one of this year's versions.

For 55 years, Palestinians at home and in exile have been marking the anniversary of Al-Nakba, meaning catastrophe, on May 15 when thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes by Zionist paramilitaries.

On that land and on that day, the State of Israel proclaimed itself a state, and with it over 400 Palestinian villages were wiped off the map and nearly one million Palestinians were rendered homeless.

You know, the funny thing is, May 15th isn't the day that Israel declared its Independence. That was on May 14th, although it didn't take effect until midnight (when the British Mandate expired). Small point. May 15th, however, is the day that four Arab armies invaded Israel in an attempt to remove it from the map permanently. But what's truly amazing is the instantaneous physical effect that this declaration of statehood allegedly had. In that instant, 400 villages disappeared and one million (!) people became homeless. It's quite a story. Hardly a believable one, of course. But perhaps they're indulging in just a bit of poetic license here.

For decades, Israel’s ruthless perpetrations of bloodshed, disposition of Palestinians, confiscation of land, illegal settlement and destruction of homes remain unabated.

Even during the peak of peacetime between Palestinians and Israelis, the Jewish state continued to pepper the occupied territory with illegal Israeli settlements to make it virtually impossible for a contiguous future Palestinian state to be created.

Not so long ago, on this day, Palestinian parents and grandparents were forced to flee the ruthless Zionist paramilitary militias to the nearby Arab states of Jordan, Lebanon, Syria to name a few.

Okay. Keep in mind, we're talking about the "catastrophe" of May 15, 1948, here, not the "catastrophe" of June, 1967. Or are we? It's hard to tell. Frankly, I don't think they quite know the difference. Because here's what comes next.

Some have returned when the Palestine National Authority—under the Oslo Peace Accords—took over control of some areas in 1993.

"Returned" to what? To the land they were supposedly chased off of by Zionist paramilitaries on May 15, 1948? Not exactly. The only land to which palestinians "returned" under Oslo was land lost by Jordan and Egypt to Israel in the Six-Day-War.

Am I picking nits here? Well, I think not, and this is why. It's exactly this sort of compression and confusion of history that makes up so much of the basis for the various "claims" that are being made by the palestinians against Israel today. Read further, and you'll hear again about the mythical keys to homes, "now inhabited by Israelis," that no longer exist. And then we return to this.

Most Palestinians remain living in exile in crammed, poverty-stricken refugee camps, which lack the most basic of humanitarian services. For those, the right of returning to the homes they were forced to leave behind is as scared [sic] as the ancestral land itself.

This description is, of course, true for most palestinian refugees of the Six-Day-War. Not so, however, for the 1948 refugees, with the possible exception of those in Lebanon. It's a distinction with a difference, but the blurring of the lines is intentional -- intended to blur the line betwen their aspirations for Ramallah and Bethlehem and their aspirations for Tel Aviv and Haifa. That's why it's important to keep an eye on this particular ball.

Reloaded

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Loved it. Wanna see it again. Can't wait for "Revolutions." Only, can someone 'splain to me the significance, if any, of that thingy that Cornell West was wearing around his neck? Come to think of it, can someone tell me why Cornell West was in this movie at all?* A completely incongruous disruption in what was otherwise a pretty thoroughly entertaining film.

*Jonathan Last has one explanation (I think he's right) in a review you can read without spoiling the film (via Glenn).

Spinning away at NPR

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Yesterday's national protest against National Public Radio's unbalanced coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict was reported on NPR itself in predictable fashion. I happened to overhear it during the course of the day, and although I can't find a verbatim account, I recall that the substance of it went something like this.

There was a brief rambling explanation of the protest by one of the ZOA's less articulate leaders, followed by a slick, scripted denial by an NPR spokeswoman, the gist of which was that all of NPR's reporting is balanced, unbiased and fair, despite ongoing pressure to favor certain interest groups. In other words, that's their story and they're sticking to it, and international Zionist pressure isn't going to change their minds.

NPR has gotten so aggressive and, frankly, brazen in their denials of their own bias that, due to "intense interest," they are actually posting free transcripts of all of their Middle East coverage on their website. I strongly recommend, if you have any doubt about the "balance" of NPR's reporting, that you browse through some of the stories posted there.

Here, for instance, is a classic example of NPR coverage: a story entitled "Mideast Violence Continues Despite Release of Peace Plan," in which reporter Peter Kenyon interviews people across a broad spectrum concerning the "Road map." His interviewees: Mofeat Sahd, "who lost a cousin in the [Israeli] incursion" into the Gaza Strip following the latest suicide bombing in Tel Aviv; "Ismael," another "victim" of the IDF action, Ahmed Ayad, whose two-year-old son was killed during the raid, and Mahmoud Al-Shia, another angry Gazan. Yeah, that's it. End of spectrum.

Kenyon's closing:

KENYON: These are the images that accompanied the release of the road map last week: Israeli families sobbing at the funerals of the Tel Aviv bombing victims and Ahmed Ayad carrying his dying baby boy down a Gaza street. These are the images Secretary of State Powell will be asking people to look beyond as he struggles to get another peace effort off the ground.

Except that there were no "soundbites" of sobbing Israelis or suicide bombers detonating during this report, only the rumbling of Israeli tanks and the street noise of a "raucous" palestinian funeral procession. And, as usual, there were no interviews with relatives of the victims in Tel Aviv, nor with anyone who might contradict the indictments of the Gaza residents.

Fair. Balanced. NPR style.

Déjà Vu

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Think back, almost ten years, to September 13, 1993. How many of us were cautiously optimistic, after that forced handshake on the White House lawn? How many of us were euphoric? How many deeply cynical? But most of us (not all) back then were informed largely by the same sources -- what we saw and read in the newspapers, network TV, NPR, CNN.

Today, it's rather different. It's as likely as not that anyone with whom you discuss the "road map" will be basing his or her opinion on a very different set of sources than you will. Reasonable minds could always differ. Now, they can differ even more subtlely.

Here, from one web source, are two entirely different points of view on the subject of what sort of pressure the U.S. administration intends to bring to bear to implement this newest Osloian quick fix. This one and this one. (Hopefully the links are working, but it's Blogger....)

I don't make much of a secret which way I go. You read, you decide.

The power of an icon

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In the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows puts another nail in the coffin of the Mohammed Al-Dura myth.*

The image of a boy shot dead in his helpless father's arms during an Israeli confrontation with Palestinians has become the Pietà of the Arab world. Now a number of Israeli researchers are presenting persuasive evidence that the fatal shots could not have come from the Israeli soldiers known to have been involved in the confrontation. The evidence will not change Arab minds—but the episode offers an object lesson in the incendiary power of an icon

Not that this will prevent that myth, in or out of its coffin, from being continually paraded angrily through Arab streets for an indefinite time to come, but the rest of the world is starting to wake up to the outrageous hoax that was perpretrated here, and they may be starting to get just a bit angry, too. Angry that their goodwill and natural human empathy have been played like a cheap violin.

. . . [A]lmost since the day of the episode evidence has been emerging in Israel, under controversial and intriguing circumstances, to indicate that the official version of the Mohammed al-Dura story is not true. It now appears that the boy cannot have died in the way reported by most of the world's media and fervently believed throughout the Islamic world. Whatever happened to him, he was not shot by the Israeli soldiers who were known to be involved in the day's fighting—or so I am convinced, after spending a week in Israel talking with those examining the case. The exculpatory evidence comes not from government or military officials in Israel, who have an obvious interest in claiming that their soldiers weren't responsible, but from other sources. In fact, the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, seem to prefer to soft-pedal the findings rather than bring any more attention to this gruesome episode. The research has been done by a variety of academics, ex-soldiers, and Web-loggers who have become obsessed with the case, and the evidence can be cross-checked.

This is by far the most comprehensive, intensively researched piece of work on the death of Mohammed Al-Dura I've seen to date. Read the whole thing.

*(Credit to IMRA for the heads-up on this article.)

One stupid suit

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There are those who whine a lot about "frivolous lawsuits." While I often challenge some definitions of frivolity in this regard, I have to take this opportunity to poke some fun at my own profession. Especially since this one takes place in the context of estate planning which is, well, an area in which I practice. (When I practice.)


From The Estate Analyst (Chicago Trust Company, September 2002) -- page 7:

They may have looked like the classic farming couple, standing with a pitchfork in, American Gothic, a 1930 painting by Grant Wood,* but Earl and Mildred Koester, a modest farm couple from Minnesota, have left us with a lesson about the American tax system.

Mildred Koester died in 1988 with an estate of $201,000 that she left to her husband. Earl Koester died in 1996 with an estate worth $1 million and an estate tax liability of $109,000. That liability could have been avoided with better estate tax planning since, based on the estate tax rules in effect at the time, a married couple could have transferred up to $1.2 million of assets free of transfer tax.

The Koesters could have avoided the tax, but didn’t. Who, if not themselves, is to blame? The estate argued that considering the complexity of the estate tax system, the Koester’s, having limited education, were disadvantaged and denied equal protection under the law, a violation of the Constitution. (Mrs. Koester had graduated high school. Mr. Koester had completed eighth grade.)

The Tax Court was not swayed by these arguments. The Koesters were free to obtain any legal or tax advice they wanted and arrange their own affairs as they saw fit. Moreover, the Koesters had, in fact, hired an attorney who assisted them in drafting their wills.

The estate also argued that the Koester’s lack of higher education made it impossible for them to hire a competent attorney. This, of course, would mean that anyone short of a college education would be vulnerable not only to complex tax codes and attorneys who look smarter than they actually are, but to all the challenges of a modern world where there are sophisticated choices and unscrupulous people.

The lesson taxpayers may learn from this is that grown ups have to live with their own choices, including their choice of attorneys and their tax decisions. Be advised, it’s called “life” and it’s not always fair. Carry a pitchfork. Estate of Koester v. Comm’r., T.C. Memo. 2002-82.

*The “couple” in American Gothic are intended to be a farmer and his spinster daughter. The artist used his sister and the family dentist as models.

Amen to that. The Tax Court's opinion was affirmed, by the way, on appeal.

Now, this is nuts

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A quick peek into the crazy quilt that is the legislature of the Jewish State.

As its first order of business, the Knesset rejected three motions of no-confidence against Sharon on issues of economics, security, and the government's laxness is allowing for the selling of hametz [leaven] over Pessah [Passover].

Meanwhile,

The number of attempted terrorist attacks has risen since the appointment of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Likud faction on Monday as the Knesset's summer session opened.

Increasingly, he said, he feels there are two centers of power among Palestinians, one concentrated around Abbas and the other around PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat continues to act in support of terrorism, Mofaz said, while Abbas is still at the organizational stage.

To some, the issue of hametz takes priority over the issue of terrorism. Ah, diversity.

A warm welcome for Powell

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Right on schedule. First, this:

Israel lifted the closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip Saturday night, in the midst of talks with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on the "road map" to Middle East peace, Israel Radio reported.

And then, predictably, this:

An Israeli was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Ofra early Sunday morning.

Let's hope that's the end of it and not just the beginning. Not much comfort to the victim, though.

Ending the week

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Summing up the recent jockeying for power in the Palestinian Authority, an interesting analysis by Ehud Ya'ari in The Jerusalem Report.

The result for now is the creation of a cohabitation arrangement between Arafat and Abu Mazen, or as Foreign Minister Nabil Sha’ath elegantly puts it, "a mixture of a presidential administration and a parliamentary system." In other words, Arafat has not been relegated to irrelevancy. He has been neither sidelined nor bypassed. He holds significant power within Abu Mazen’s cabinet and, ironically, he will try to exploit the very apparatus built to neutralize him as a bridge by which to escape his isolation in the Muqata’a and regain international recognition. Every gesture made to Abu Mazen will require a parallel payment to Arafat. Any rope given to the prime minister will mean a little extra for the rais.

So Hamas will not be too panicked by Abu Mazen and Dahlan if it reckons the two don’t have the backing of Arafat. Even the armed militias of Fatah will ignore the orders to store their weapons in hiding places if it is not clear that Arafat expects them to obey.

And some warnings from Congress that, "Road Map" or no "Road Map," the proposed palestinian state is not yet a done deal.

"The House International Relations Committee has spoken in a strong, bipartisan way, laying out the strict conditions that the Palestinians must meet in order for the U.S. to consider recognition of a Palestinian state, including the permanent destruction of the terrorist infrastructure and a proven willingness to accept and live in peace with the state of Israel," said Josh Block, AIPAC's spokesman.

Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., the committee's chairman, said the bill offers the Palestinians a carrot and a stick. "We're trying to send a signal, and we hope it's a signal that won't be ignored," he said.

We'll see.

Shabbat Shalom.

More squirm

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When last we left our intrepid palestinian leaders, Abu Maz had scored the last point by giving full ministerial responsibility to MoDa. Today, it seems that Yasser executed his next move, appointing 58 of his hand-picked tools to high-level posts in the Palestinian Authority. Arguably, the action violates the as-yet-unadopted draft Constitution. (So query whether anyone is actually bound by that document, anyway.)

It's further reported that Yasser has announced plans to stuff MoDa's Interior Ministry with 15 more of his (Yasser's) cronies, and that he's appointed a new minister of his own, a power he supposedly doesn't have.

The foregoing is all according to an anonymous "senior Palestinian official." Is it accurate? Or are these the machinations of yet another player getting ready to make his move? As always, stay tuned.

Medicaid made simple

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No, really. In case you missed it at this week's fabulously formatted Carnival of the Vanities, Carey Gage at CognoCentric has posted a remarkably clear and concise elucidation of the morass that is (just one part of) the federal health care entitlement system.

Not to mention, he thoroughly kicks Ben Cohen's ample butt in the process.

Still cooking

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I see that Zuni Cafe is still cooking. It's been 15 years since I first ate there, and I'll never forget that dinner, for many reasons, but Judy Rodgers' brick oven roasted chicken with bread salad remains one of my all-time favorite dishes. I've made a reasonable facsimile of it at home (without the brick oven) and it's still pretty damn good, but nothing compared to the original.

Well, I also see (via BVV) that Zuni won this year's James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant award at the gala dinner earlier this week. That's quite an honor.

A new home

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Congrats to the gang at Silent Running on their move to MT! Their new home is HERE.

Go say hi.

As the Goons Squirm

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Soap opera fans (who understand Arabic) may want to start tuning in to PATV. The story seems to be heating up. Here's a synopsis to date:

Yasser was determined to remain the Big Boss and the Only Big Boss, but his plan was foiled and he was forced to appoint Abu Maz as his Lieutenant. I mean, Prime Minister.

That was ok because Yasser still had no intention of really relinquishing control. And, indeed, he did not. When time came for Abu Maz to appoint his cabinet, lo and behold: Meet the new cabinet, same as the old cabinet -- more or less. The less was the absence of devoted Yasser stooge Hanni al-Hassan and the substitution of not-so-devoted Yasser stooge MoDa as Interior Minister. This is an important job, because it's the one that controls the guns. At least, it's supposed to be the one that controls the guns.

Yasser tried to block the appointment, which he wasn't supposed to be allowed to do, but, Abu Maz, being a good sport, offered a compromise. Abu Maz would appoint himself as Interior Minister and MoDa would answer to him. After lots of stomping and raging about, this arrangement was approved by the necessary parties last week, which triggered the release of the infamous "Road Map."

Everybody happy? This means that there is now "new leadership" (same as the old leadership -- more or less) and Yasser no longer has control of the guns. Right? Wrong.

In a stunning (but widely unreported) move, Yasser took the guns back. And here's how he did it. Contrary to the long-standing international demand that the numerous palestinian "security forces" be reduced in number (to three) and concentrated under a single, independent authority (free of terrorist taint), Yasser has now split off the business elements of the security forces (General Intelligence, National Security, "Force 17" (a/k/a terrorist central), Military Intelligence and the Naval forces) and put them under his exclusive control or, to be more precise, under the exclusive control of a committee that he heads, with the able assistance of, you guessed it, Hanni the Man. This leaves the Interior Ministry in control of, let's see, Counterintelligence and the Uniformed police. Wow.

Not to be outdone, Abu Maz announced last night that he's transferring all Interior Ministry responsibilities into the capable hands of MoDa. Big deal. Nevertheless, the announcement provoked a hissy fit on the part of Yasser. I don't really think he cares, though. He's already stripped the IM of any real power or authority, and the guns are all back in his hands.

So what's the next move? And will the Quartet continue to plunge its collective head deeper into the sand or will there be some acknowledgement of the fact that these shenanigans basically negate all of the conditions for the release of the "Road Map" and put us back at Square One. Stay tuned for what is clearly shaping up to become the long awaited sequel, "Oslo II." Or is this "Oslo III?" More bloodshed guaranteed.

For a more comprehensive account of these developments, click here.

Yom HaAtzma'ut

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Happy 55th Birthday, Israel!


Substantially completed

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That's what the palestinians are claiming with respect to most of their obligations under Phase I of the "Road Map." Fascinating.

Palestinian Obligation (Phase I):
+Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere.
+Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism.

Actions Taken:
[quotes from selected speeches, e.g., Arafat's of December 16, 2001]

Status:
SUBSTANTIALLY COMPLETED. President Arafat is prepared to reiterate past statements and to comply fully with this obligation.

Huh? President Arafat is prepared to reiterate . . . ? President Arafat will comply fully? But I thought . . . I could have sworn . . . Did I imagine this?

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. (GWB 6/24/02)

Anyway, on a lighter note:

Palestinian Obligation (Phase I):
+All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.

Actions taken:
[none]

Status:
Awaiting definition of incitement.

Yeah. BTW, surprisingly enough, the PLO didn't give Israel quite as glowing a report card. The "status" line for each of Israel's obligations reads:

Israel has not accepted the Road Map.

True. Very true.

Here, in glorious .pdf detail, is the complete palestinian assessment.


Update: Ocean Guy found the same chart somewhere else. Very interesting site.

Yom HaZikaron

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Yesterday, I realized that Memorial Day is only three weeks away. So quickly, the season is about to change again. In this country, most of us will celebrate with picnics and barbeques, trips to the shore and the opening of municipal pools. Patios and decks will be cleaned, storm windows and hardtops removed. It's the unofficial start of summer and an almost certain guaranty of warm sunshine, abbreviated work weeks and extended outdoor activities. Cause for celebration, indeed.

It's a bittersweet reality that many Americans are no longer burdened with an immediate sense of the cost of freedom. We all know that many brave men and women have given their lives to obtain and preserve it, and we know that this is the real meaning of the holiday, but, fortunately, thankfully, it doesn't touch too many of us intimately. For those who lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan, this coming Memorial Day will be different, more somber, a time to grieve and remember, as it has been for many Americans in previous years. But for so many more it will be a simple celebration of living free.

Tonight, though, in Israel, Remembrance Day has already begun. And, there, it is not a picnic. In fact, overall, the observance of this day couldn't be much more different than it is in America. In Israel, you'd be hard pressed to find a family that hasn't lost someone to at least one of the ongoing series of wars with which the country has been oppressed for the past 55 years. In Israel, this is the essence of Memorial Day.

Tomorrow night, the sadness and the grief will be thrown aside, as Israel begins the celebration of its hard-won Independence. I continue to be deeply moved by the poignancy of this juxtaposition. To mourn for the dead without forgetting to celebrate the fruits of their sacrifice. To abjure celebration until after the day of mourning.

A harsh indictment

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Israel Harel attacks the "Road Map" from yet another perspective in Friday's Ha'aretz. He's placing the blame squarely on Israel's shoulders, saying that in bending too far over to please its "allies," the Jewish State is repeating the mistakes of the past. A harsh indictment, but in many respects a fair one, I'm afraid.

If political gains are, by definition, the main fruit of victory in the battlefield, the road map proves the Palestinians - not Israel - have the upper hand in the war of terror that they initiated.

The attack in Tel Aviv - in the early morning hours after Holocaust Memorial Day and after Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was sworn in as the Palestinian Authority's first prime minister - is further proof that Israel does not have enough strength to put an end to that war.

Is it any wonder, then, that the United States is saying to itself: If Israel does not have the determination to put an end to the terror that is persistently striking it, its best friend must take the initiative to stop the bloodbath that Israel has been unable to halt - due to inhibitions that are characteristic of Jews, who are afraid to take the necessary steps, even when they would lead to the prevention of the continuous murder of Israeli citizens.

In order for the road map to have a chance, it must be pro-Palestinian because the initiative, even after 13 months of killing Jews, continues to be in the hands of the Palestinians.

The road map's main danger is not the harsh demands it makes on Israel but its very publication. The Arabs conclude, and rightly so, that America is declaring via the map that the terror against the Jews, unlike terror against the citizens of any other country, pays and is therefore permissible. The road map is also a personal victory for Yasser Arafat, the man who until recently seemed to have fallen, never to rise again.

It can be said that Arafat lost the battle but won the war. What's more, despite the fact that, in principle, his crimes against humanity, particularly in the past two and a half years, are no different from the crimes of Saddam Hussein and all the other war criminals who have butchered civilians, Arafat enjoys immunity like no other leader of mass terror. Perhaps it is because his victims are Jews.

There's more.

A mother asks for justice

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I had intended to comment at some length on this story, but I got sidetracked. Sorry.

Elderly Woman Suing New Palestinian PM

By Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com Jerusalem Bureau Chief
May 01, 2003

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - An American-Israeli citizen is filing lawsuits in Israel and the U.S. against Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas because, she claims, he ordered the terrorist murder of her daughter and son-in-law.

Dina Horowitz and her husband Rabbi Eli Horowitz were murdered by Palestinian gunmen who burst into their home on March 7, 2003, as they sat at their dinner table celebrating the Sabbath in Kiryat Arba, just outside of the West Bank city of Hebron.

Dina and Eli were both born in the United States. Dina's mother Bernice Wolf, 78, is a dual American-Israeli citizen, who has lived here for 15 years.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Wolf said in a telephone interview. "My whole life is shattered."

Wolf said she wants to meet with President Bush "to ask him to explain to me why [Abbas], who ordered the murder of my daughter and financed the murder of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes, should come and be a peace negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians."

Good question, Mrs. Wolf. I'd like to hear that explanation myself.

This week, news reports indicated that Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) had financed the PLO faction called Black September when the group attacked Israeli athletes and their coaches at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Eleven athletes and their coaches were killed, some during a botched German rescue operation.

Wolf noted that just days before her daughter and son-in-law were murdered, Abbas said in newspaper interviews that it was permissible to murder Jews who lived in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Yes, indeed. Read the whole thing.

Shabbat Shalom.

78% of nothing

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We're on a roll. Here's another absolutely on-target essay, this one over at Amish Tech Support, to which I have nothing to add except: read it.

Straight to the point

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Windrider on the "roadmap" and the suicide bombing at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv:

(since SR's permalinks aren't working, here are his comments in full):

Hand these idiots a road map, and the first thing they do is jerk the damned wheel and head for a tree while stomping on the gas. The apologists had best keep their distance, and their yaps shut. They have the freedom to open them to be sure, and they may get the lesson of a lack of FREE-dom in dental work. They can all go and toss themselves in front of buldozers for all I care. This isn't desperation. This isn't hopelessness. This is rabid, insane, out of all sense of control evil run amok. The timing and selection of this event could not have been better chosen to send a 'message'.

They may think the message is that they are unstoppable, that no one is untouchable. Wrong. The message they've just sent is 'yeah, we want some of that. Come and kick our asses.' The message that they've sent is that there is a cancerous growth, festering in the territories, that will not be treated with kind words, or medicine, or tender loving care. It is a tumorous infestation that must be cut out, and simply killed, for it has absolutely no place in a peaceful future, and will do everything in its power to ensure that such a future is farther and farther away.

No road map can be followed until they are gone. No plan can succeed lest they are stopped, forever. No peace can be had with these murderous bastards that will not stop until one or the other is dead.

Them or us.

And I would prefer to spit on their graves, thank you very much.

Yes, I'd say that about sums it up.

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