June 2003 Archives



I hate to bring this up. Truly I do. I wouldn't want to point to any hard, cold evidence that might disrupt the comfortable fantasy world of the 'Road map.' But I will. And it's this.

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.

That's an essential part of "Phase I," (to be completed by May, 2003) which, according to the palestinians' official evaluation of their own performance, is "in progress."

But here's what the man in charge of implementing this "confrontation" in the Gaza Strip had to say yesterday on this subject:

The Palestinian Authority has no intention of disarming armed Palestinian groups, the head of the PA Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip, Rashid Abu Shabak, announced Sunday. "Those who think that the road map plan means disarming Palestinian factions are mistaken," he said.

Shabak further denied that attempts are being to made to arrest members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Instead, he says he is busy rounding up accused collaborators with Israel.

He noted that some of the suspects have been executed and others have been sentenced to death.

"We are waiting for President Yasser Arafat to approve the death sentences so that we can execute them," he added.

Nor is Shabak alone in this disposition. A poll taken of 731 palestinian adults last week revealed that in response to the question:

If the Palestinian Authority orders "Fatah Tanzim" and other organizations indirectly linked to the PA's security services to hand over their weapons for confiscation or destruction. What do you believe that "Fatah Tanzim" and other organization should do?

49.2% responded "Hide their weapons," and another 41.7% responded "Do nothing." A whopping 9.1% said "Hand them over".

Nor were the responses regarding support for Abu Mazen's declared intentions to end instigation and violence much more encouraging.

So. Tell me. Are we there yet?

On the fence


I'm not a big fan of the fence. Like so many of the "solutions" proposed over the years for terminating the "cycle of violence," it's a short term fix to a long term problem and one that will just allow to problem to continue to grow and fester. Daniel Pipes said it most concisely in an article in Commentary back in February:

As for fences and buffer zones, they offer poor protection. Terrorists can go over a fence in gliders, around it in boats, or under it in tunnels; they can fire mortars or rockets over a wall, pass through checkpoints using false identification papers, and recruit Israeli Arabs or Western sympathizers on the wall's other side. Once a wall goes up, moreover, Israel would effectively surrender its influence over what happens beyond it, within the Palestinian Authority, including the latter's ability to import weapons and foreign troops. Nor, finally, would hunkering down behind a fence send the Palestinians the intended message, convincing them to give up on violence; on the contrary, it would likely reinforce an impression of Israel as a cowering and essentially passive society, thus spurring further violence. In sum: a fence may have utility as a tactical tool to save lives, but none as a basis for ending the conflict.

We have recent evidence of the ability of terrorists to tunnel under a security fence. They did it the week before last. But, as Pipes acknowledges, the fence "may have utility as a tactical tool to save lives." And right now, saving lives has to be Priority One for Ariel Sharon. That's why it's important that he continue to stand up to the Bush administration on the fence. And he's doing it eloquently. Quote:

In choosing between Israeli victims and daily funerals and potential problems to be caused by the construction of the fence, I choose the problems with fence, which can be dealt with through negotiations. If the funerals continue, the negotiations will lead to nowhere. On the subject of Israeli security, there will be no compromises or concessions - even if there are difference of opinion with the U.S.

I'm still wondering whatever happened to this?

PHILADELPHIA (August 2 [2000]) - As president, George W. Bush would support Israel even if it decides not to take risks for peace, former president Ronald Reagan's secretary of state told a Jewish audience gathered here for the Republican National Convention.

[. . . ]

Former secretary of state George Shultz, who served in the Reagan administration during Yitzhak Shamir's premiership and who is now a foreign policy adviser to Bush, echoed the Republican platform's Middle East position, saying "it is up to the Israelis to decide" what is best for them.

He recalled a speech made by Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential candidate, last year in which Gore said America should stand by Israel when it takes risks for peace.

"I said I didn't agree with that. I think the US should stand by Israel. Period. When you say risks for peace you are saying risks to your security," Shultz told the audience of about 150 Republican Jewish activists and leaders, who responded with a loud ovation.

"I've discussed this at some length with Governor Bush. I know he has the same view I do," he added.

Oh yeah. I forgot. Election campaign over.

I got Alabama!


There's something about these state quarters. Collecting 'em, accidentally and without making a conscious effort, makes me feel like a kid again. And every time I find a new one in my wallet, it's a little thrill. Maybe I'll have to spring for one of those maps they advertise on TV, where you can plunk a quarter in a hole representing every state. Right now, they're in a film can, but it's almost full.

Alabama. Home of Helen Keller. Joined the union in 1819. There's an onoing American mini-history lesson in my film can.

Rushing off....


Before I forget, again, double congrats to Laurence Simon on his new job. Mazal tov, Lair!

Shabbat Shalom.

Eyes playing tricks


Huh. I really thought I saw this headline on an article over at IMRA this morning:

Abu Mazen's Fatah Tried To Foil Attacks Wednesday & Thursday and Thursday Murder

But it turned out, of course, that it actually said this, instead:

Abu Mazen's Fatah Tied To Foiled Attacks Wednesday & Thursday and Thursday Murder


The plaque stays -- for now


For 82 years, this roughly 3 foot by 5 foot bronze plaque was displayed on the facade of what is currently my county courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Commandments WC.jpg

The plaque, which recites the King James version of The Ten Commandments, was a gift from the Council of Religious Education of the Federated Churches of West Chester, an organization that, admittedly, promotes religious study and education. But the text arguably reflects many of the principles upon which our country's laws were built, even if, over the years, they have evolved in somewhat different directions. So what's the big deal?

I'm a vehement advocate of the separation of church and state. I don't want anyone's religion crammed down my throat and I don't have any interest in imposing my beliefs on others. Not in the schools, not in the courthouse. But this plaque, as has been repeatedly pointed out, represented one aspect of the historical evolution of our system of law. It obliged no one to accept either its particularly Protestant rendition of the Decalogue or the overall sentiments expressed therein (though hopefully we can agree that some of them -- "you shall not kill, you shall not steal" -- are permanently embedded in the laws our court system manifestly seeks to uphold). It did not, I would suggest, represent an enforsement or establishment of a religion by the officials of Chester County.

Nevertheless, Sally Flynn, a then-72-year-old avowed atheist and resident of Chester County, the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia and (of course) the ACLU found the plaque offensive. A lawsuit ensued. In April of 2002, a Federal District Court judge ordered the plaque removed. A few days later, he stayed that order pending the county's appeal and required, instead, that the plaque be covered, so as to avoid further offense, "with an opaque drape of a color calculated to match, as closely as possible, the limestone on the … façade of the Courthouse." This was done and the plaque has remained modestly veiled ever since.

Earlier today, I'm pleased to report, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court decision. An excerpt from the opinion's introduction is instructive.

The Chester County Courthouse in West Chester, Pennsylvania, erected in 1846, was designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, renowned architect of the United States Capitol. In 1920, following a public dedication ceremony with both religious and secular overtones, the Chester County Commissioners accepted a bronze plaque displaying a Protestant version of the Ten Commandments for placement on the Courthouse facade from a group of local citizens who represented an organization known as the Religious Education Council. The plaque was affixed near what was then the entrance to the Courthouse. It has remained there for over eight decades, but during that time nothing has been done by the County to draw attention to, celebrate or even maintain the plaque.

Until a few years ago, visitors to the Courthouse would walk past the plaque on their way in. However, that entrance was closed, so visitors now enter via the modern addition to the Courthouse, some seventy feet to the north. While the title of the plaque, “The Commandments,” is legible to a visitor walking along the sidewalk to or from the north wing main entrance, a visitor would have to climb the steps in front of the former entrance to read the rest of the text.

The present lawsuit was brought by Plaintiff Sally Flynn, a Chester County resident who noticed the plaque as early as 1960 but was apparently not bothered enough by it to complain until 2001, and the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (of which Flynn is a member) after the County Commissioners denied Flynn’s request to remove the Ten Commandments plaque. Freethought, according to its founder Margaret Downey, is “a forum for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers to meet, socialize and exchange ideas.” The defendants are Chester County and the Chester County Commissioners, in their official capacities.

It's a long and carefully reasoned opinion, complete with photographs of the old courthouse entrance, so you can judge for yourself the level of religious coersion or advocacy inherent in the display. The decision will, of course, be appealed. It remains to be seen whether the plaque will be uncovered in the meantime or whether the danger it represents to our society will mandate its shrouding until the last appeal is exhausted.



And speaking of the Supremes, Moe Freedman has an outstanding essay on Monday's high court decisions in the U. Michigan diversity cases. Family obligations and small household emergencies have prevented me from responding in a timely manner to this and other recent developments in the thoughtful manner I would have preferred (in addition to which, Moe's much closer to the source).

So for now I'll consider myself at least temporarily off the hook and simply direct you to Occam's Toothbrush.

And yet more


According to Fox News (TV), World Net Daily and the New York Post, Sarah Saga is home with her mother in California.

Fox News is running segments of an interview with Linda Vester which will be aired in full tonight. So far, I've found very little about this on the web. It's unclear whether she was able to bring her children with her. If not, as appears likely, odds are good that Sarah's 3-year-old daughter, Hanin, will suffer the same fate as her mother.

Some good news of our own


On April 7, 2003, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R) Pennsylvania, spoke these immortal words in his infamous AP interview:

And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.

I suspect that the six member majority (including SDO's concurrence) of today's Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, would tend to disagree with Santorum's peculiar interpretation of constitutional law. (For an alternate view, see Volokh.) At any rate, sodomy laws are now a part of America's past. And that's a very good thing.

A clash of crackpots


Outlandish conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, Barry Chamish, attacks the Pollard organization and, who else. . . ?

(The Real Reason Why Pollard Sits) by Barry Chamish

In early May, '03, I was hired by a group of Israelis now organizing rallies on behalf of Joanathan Pollard's freedom to find out why, defying all reason, he is still sitting in prison. The people who approached me were highly dissatisfied with the official Pollard organization run by Esther Pollard and in fact, suspected her of sabotaging all alternative efforts to liberate her spouse. Since I took on the project, I have noted Esther Pollard's interference with demonstrations, speakers and even one webmaster (www.jonathanpollard.com) working on behalf of justice for Jonathan Jay Pollard.

I don't know what her motivations are, perhaps they are just a personal need for attention, perhaps they are more sinister, but with Esther Pollard at the helm, no new evidence has emerged that could possibly result in Pollard's release. Recent excitement over the revelations that Pollard was sitting for the crimes of master spy Aldrich Ames, as written by John Loftus, are not revelations at all. I discovered the exact claims in a prominent Maariv article from 1985 [sic], since repeated often in the Hebrew press.

[ . . . ]

Pollard thought he was helping Israel protect itself and that his material would fall into honest, trusted hands. Sadly for him, it fell into the grimy paws of Shimon Peres and he used it to create a crime empire, broadly called Iran Contra. It is the fear of exposing Peres and his cronies, that is the real reason why the Israeli government has made no sincere effort to free Joanthan Jay Pollard.

It's a fairly complicated story and I will lead you through it . . .

Uh huh. And the Pollard organization responds.

Three Organizations Denounce "Investigation" of Pollard Case
Justice4JP Release - June 25, 2003

To Friends and Supporters of Jonathan Pollard:

Our organizations: Justice for Jonathan Pollard, Pollard Action Now, and The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home denounce the recent "investigation" of the Jonathan Pollard case by Barry Chamish and deplore the layers of lies it contains.

We vigorously reject Chamish's claim that we - the only organizations involved in organizing rallies for Jonathan in Israel - hired him to check out the time of day, much less to investigate the Pollard case. We regard his ad hominem attack on Esther Pollard, the one person who we all rely on and who has been the key to our success in recent days, to be despicable and a great disservice to Jonathan's cause.

[ . . . ]

The question to be asked is: why is Chamish trying so hard to undermine anything good, or positive that has occurred for Jonathan Pollard lately? Why is he telling outright lies, defending knaves and bashing the heroes of this case while cooking up a cock-eyed rationale for Jonathan's tragic plight which can neither be proven nor enforced, only used as an excuse for Jonathan's continued incarceration? Why does he want the attention away from the Loftus article? Who is Chamish really working for?

Frankly we do not know and we do not care who Chamish works for. Better people than he have gone up against us and failed. But we do know who Chamish is and we do know what he is. And that he is neither neutral nor a friend of this case.

This exchange may be worth a read in its entirety for the entertainment value alone (if you're into that sort of thing) but not for much else.

Art imitates 'art'


Lileks caught this a few weeks ago. (Scroll down to the Animatrix 'graph.) So far, almost no one else seems to have noticed. (Ditto, cause permalinks aren't working.)

As the man said,

I probably wouldn't have noticed it, had it not been for the barrel. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, be glad; this way lies madness. Make of it what you will.

But if you don't know and you're not glad, here's a hint.

A speech


Members of the Knesset,

The murderous operation at Zion Square - which is another link in a chain of criminal operations - has an address. Its perpetrators are not anonymous. Their identity is manifest. The terrorist organizations, headed by Yasser Arafat, were quick to claim responsibility for this bloodshed. This is the face of the man who led the U.N. General Assembly astray - so easily - with the olive branch in his hand and the pistol strapped to his waist. This is the act of those whose principles are designed to liquidate Israel and deny sovereign Jewish national existence.

The murder at Zion Square must serve as a grave warning against dangerous illusions as regards the aims of the terrorist organizations. The killers at Zion Square and those who sent them, the heads of the terrorist organizations -who were so quick to claim, with their characteristic vainglory, full responsibility - testify to the true intentions of these organizations. Hence, we must continue to firmly adhere to Israel's policy of not entering into any negotiations with the terrorist organizations. The only language they understand is that of the sword - and it is in that language that we shall talk to them.

The intention of the terrorist organizations is to go on shedding blood - especially in Jerusalem. They want to cause violent brawls between Jews and Arabs living in the united city. They exploit the special conditions of a mixed city.

These bloody deeds fill us with mourning and grief, but they have not succeeded in attaining their goal. United Jerusalem continued to live its life - a life of labour and culture, of work and learning - despite the bloodshed. Notwithstanding the constant efforts of the killers, the city is developing - Jerusalem is being increasingly built up from day to day, to the chagrin of all our enemies.

Members of the Knesset,

The government is firm in its determination to continue an unrestricted war against Arab terrorism, and to take all the measures it deems appropriate and effective to combat it. The security forces have succeeded in frustrating more than a few criminal attempts. Some of them on the very brink of implementation. The security forces have in many instances succeeded in discovering the killers - though not all of them. The forces and branches in charge of the war on terrorism expend much thought on its improvement from the intelligence and operational points of view alike. We shall spare no effort in order to increase the sophistication of our methods of operation against terrorism.

[ . . . ]

The international community, has reached a new peak in its rapid decline towards appeasement when its representatives - so it is reported - are giving sympathetic consideration to the application of representatives of the Arab murder organizations to take part at the U.N. conference for the prevention of crime and terrorism, which is shortly to take place in Toronto, Canada.

The government will continue to expose every manifestation of tolerance towards terrorism, and the appeasement of its perpetrators. The government regards every expression, direct or indirect, of encouragement for Arab terrorism in the international decisions of the U.N.'s institution, leading to the moral bankruptcy of the United Nations, fraught with danger to the survival of a free, enlightened human society.

Israeli Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin
July 7, 1975
On the occasion of the terrorist attack at Zion Square in Jerusalem perpetrated by Chairman Arafat's newest "special advisor," Ahmed Jbarra, in which 14 people were murdered and 62 injured.
Archived, in full, at IMRA

Browsing around


I see Meryl has a few choice words for Tom Cruise and his fellow Scientologists. Yeah, well, like, ditto for me.

Imshin has some poignant thoughts on her first year blogiversary. Mazal tov, Imshin!

Segacs has some good news from Canada, for a change. Hey, perhaps if our northern neighbors survive legalizing gay marriage, we Americans might creep out of our sanctimonious hidey hole and give it a chance here?

And Solly Ezekiel has some very interesting news from Belgium. And some suggestions on how to handle the, er, situation. (I'm all for Flemish independence, by the way. Seems to me that the best beer, some of the tastiest chocolate and most of the nicest people in Belgium are all from Flanders.)

Well, that's it for this week. I'm pleased to be outta here with a post, finally, that doesn't once mention or allude to the .... ooops.

Shabbat Shalom.

Bombing for peace


IMRA has posted the transcript of this BBC interview with Ahmed Jbarra (a/k/a Abu Sukar), the palestinian terrorist who was released from Israeli prison earlier this month as a gesture to Abu Mazen and who has now been appointed "special advisor" to Yasser Arafat. Mr. Jbarra, you may recall, planted a bomb-laden refrigerator in the middle of one of Jerusalem's busiest public squares back in July, 1975. More than a dozen people died and several dozen more were injured in the blast.

Here's an excerpt from the interview. (The BBC interviewer is James Reynolds -- "JR".)

JR: Do you have any remorse for the bombing?

AJ: When we fight, we fight for peace. We never fight for (to) kill people. But, before you ask this question for me, ask for the Israelis if they make the same thing.

JR: But I often do - I often ask Israelis in the aftermath of attacks, which kill Palestinians how, they feel, and that's the question I asked you as 13 Israelis were killed.

AJ: They never feel sorry about that - they never.

JR: But what about you?

AJ: I had a home. I had land, I had a state, but now I didn't have anything. I didn't have anything now.

JR: Nevertheless 13 people were killed because of what you did.

AJ: The Israeli people, they killed many, many people of us.

JR: Does that justify killing on the other side?

AJ: Because they kill us. They kill us, they kill many children.

JR: But again, does that justify killing 13 people in the centre of Jerusalem?

AJ: The operation killed 13 people and injured over 78 people. But this is just (because) we (are) fighting for peace.

I'm especially curious as to what exactly he means when he says "I had a home. I had land, I had a state, but now I didn't have anything." So what "state," exactly, would that be?

Listen to the whole thing. Or read it here.

And on Highway 6 . . .


Another small casualty:

Seven-year-old Noam Leibovitch was killed, her three-year-old sister was seriously wounded, and two other family members [Noam's eleven-year-old brother and her grandfather] were injured when terrorists opened fire on their car late Tuesday night on the Trans-Israel highway, not far from the Palestinian town of Kalkilya. The army imposed a curfew on Kalkilya, but the gunmen managed to escape. It was the first terror attack to occur on the new toll highway.

The attack occurred after 11 p.m. Tuesday night as the Leibovitch family was returning from a bar mitzvah celebration in Jerusalem to their home in Yamin Orde, near Haifa. It was the first time that the family had traveled on the north-south Trans-Israel No. 6 highway, Israel's first toll road. "We thought Highway 6 was safe," Noam's mother screamed as her daughter was brought into Petach Tikva's Beilinson Hospital, where she died of her injuries.

The family was returning from a bar mitzvah in Jerusalem to their home near Haifa. But, curiously, Voice of Palestine radio reports this morning referred to this incident as the "death by shooting of the female Israeli settler."

One part of this story that isn't getting enough attention is this:

According to an initial investigation of the attack, security officials said two terrorists used a pneumatic device to cut through bars in a sewer tunnel under the eight-meter-high security wall built around the outskirts of Kalkilya. The wall was built 18 months ago as part of security arrangements for Highway 6.

The eight-meter-high "security wall" didn't stop two "freedom fighters" from murdering a little girl and devastating her family. And it's not going to stop dozens more from blowing themselves up on buses or in supermarkets or cafés or shopping malls. For those who are sufficiently determined, there's always going to be a way under or over or around a wall or a fence.

Meanwhile, "cease fire" talks continue between the PA and Hamas. No problem. Noam's death was proudly claimed by Arafat's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC).

Must be dreaming


Maria Bartiromo interviewing Bernard Lewis? Yeah, right. No, really. I just saw it! I swear.

Belgium backing down, again


It was only a matter of time, I guess:

WASHINGTON — The United States has put the question squarely before Belgium: Which do you want more, NATO (search) headquarters in your capital city or a law that sanctions war crimes charges against U.S. military commanders?

Yep, now that they're suing Cheney, Bush (Sr.), Powell, Schwarzkopf and Franks in that international criminal court, it's time to get tough. But this is old news already.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the United States would try to relocate the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if Belgium doesn’t abolish the law giving rise to war crimes allegations.

Now, in a flurry of new activity:

Belgium Wavers After U.S. Pressure on War Crimes Law

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium showed signs of buckling on its controversial war crimes law on Friday, after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld vowed to block spending on NATO's new headquarters in Brussels unless it was revoked.

Defense Minister Andre Flahaut said the country's universal jurisdiction law, which has been used to file suits against several senior current or former U.S. officials, could perhaps be revised for a second time to end the standoff.


Belgium to transfer war crimes probe to Israel

BRUSSELS, June 13 — Belgium said on Friday it was taking steps to transfer to Israel a war crimes probe into the role of an Israeli general in the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Lebanon linked to then-Defence Minister Ariel Sharon.

I think that big thump you just heard was a very small chunk of "Old Europe" coming back down to earth.

Losing the war of words


Yair Sheleg explores in depth the views of Ruth Wisse, Professor of Hebrew Literature at Harvard. The article centers around the inability of Israelis to make their case to the world at large.

She calls it "hypocrisy in reverse." "A hypocritical person acts differently than to what he preaches. Israelis actually behave correctly, but are unable to ground this behavior in the suitable intellectual explanations: On the one hand, people are willing to risk their lives in a war, but on the other hand they are such cowards in the one battle that really matters - the battle of words and ideas. I see very talented and intelligent Israelis coming to Harvard and Yale, but they can't explain the Israeli position. The aim of intellectuals is to win the battle of ideas. But not only don't they fight this battle, they have really betrayed the concept of truth."

A little background:

Wisse, who speaks fluent Hebrew, has spent the past few months living in Israel. This week, she was the recipient of the Guardian of Zion award. The prize (which comes with a cash award of $35,000) is the initiative of the family of American Jewish millionaire Ira Rennert. It is awarded by the Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University to an individual who, through his or her actions and beliefs, "has dedicated their lives to the perpetuation and strengthening of Jerusalem." In its seven years of existence, the award had been bestowed on such figures as writers Elie Wiesel and Herman Wouk, historian Martin Gilbert, and newspaper columnist Charles Krauthammer.

That, in a very small nutshell, is part of who she is. About the 'Roadmap," which is all I seem to blogging about these days, Wisse says:

Although she considers Sharon and Bush more sophisticated than Rabin and Clinton, she is nevertheless disappointed with the processes of the past few weeks. "Sharon should have said to Bush: `You are certainly important to us, but you should understand that we are also very important to you. The weaker you make us appear in their eyes, the more they will rise again. It will not be only against us, but also against you. You will prepare your next 9/11.' From Bush, I would expect him to say to the Arabs: 'Before you hear us giving a "hurray" to the Palestinian state, we want to hear you saying "hurray" to the Jewish state."

We can dream.

Shabbat Shalom.

History lessons


There's a fascinating and enlightening discussion going on right now over at Little Green Footballs, triggered by Judith inspiring Charles to link to this NY Times editorial by Ethan Bronner. Even if you don't ordinarily read LGF comments, this thread is well worth browsing through.*

For an excellent critique of the Times piece and the pitfalls of historical analogy in general, check out Jonathan Tobin's essay "Lessons From History" in last week's Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. It's impossible to excerpt adequately, but here's just a snippet.

It would be a good thing if the Palestinian Authority actually decided to round up their terrorists. But the difference between 1948 and 2003 is that the Jews didn’t need a civil war to achieve a democracy or to make peace with an Arab world that wanted only to kill them. The Palestinians do need to fight a war among themselves in order to have a government that will be democratic and to make peace with the Jewish state.

But then again, Bronner also ignored the fact that Abbas’ supposed good intentions notwithstanding, it isn’t clear there actually is a pro-peace faction within the P.A. to fight such a war.

I would, of course, recommend reading it all.

* Note: You can find my thoughts on the "Deir Yassin massacre," here and here.

Fruits of the 'Roadmap'


An Israeli spokesman was just on Fox News saying how "complicated" the situation is. It's really not. Right now, it comes down to this. The United States has sent a loud and clear message. Israel will not be permitted to defend itself against any attack. The war on terror stops between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, while the terror war rages freely. Hamas has no reason to doubt this. Is it so surprising that they should step up their efforts when they clearly have nothing to lose?

16 dead, 8 of them children, dozens wounded and the numbers keep climbing. Just one more interchange on the 'Roadmap.' If you have the stomach, you can see the true face of the "peace process" over at LGF.

Drum roll please

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This week's Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by none other than The Man, Our Fearless Leader, the Big Daddy Benefactor of all us Blogmosisians, Matt D. And it's huge. Browse on over to Overtaken by Events and check it out.



This was our National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, on Meet the Press Sunday morning.

But this is the best chance that the Palestinian people have had for statehood and for an enduring peace for a very long time. Everyone needs to be supportive of what Prime Minister Abbas is trying to do. It was really a quite remarkable statement, that the armed intifadah needs to end. It was a remarkable statement that he accepts that a two-state solution also has to have a place for Israel. He is a remarkable man. He’s put together a remarkable government. And he deserves the support of the entire international community. That is really what Sharm el Sheik and Aqaba were about, is ensuring that support, and we believe that he will get that support, and he will succeed.

The only thing I find "remarkable" here is that Rice can actually go on television and spout this nonsense with a straight face. This was probably the lamest interview I've seen her do to date. And it doesn't come off nearly as lame in print as it did on screen.

But let's look at just part of what she said in the above remarkable excerpt.

Everyone needs to be supportive of what Prime Minister Abbas is trying to do.

I keep on hearing that. You know what I never hear? "Everyone needs to be supportive of what Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is trying to do." Funny, that.

It was really a quite remarkable statement, that the armed intifadah needs to end.

But Prime Minister Abbas "clarified" that remarkable statement at his press conference earlier today.

As far as the cease of Palestinian resistance is concerned, he told reporters that such position has been approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council, adding that he did not mean the stoppage of Palestinian popular resistance as that of 1987 uprising”.

And in case your memory of the 1987 uprising has faded, here's a quick refresher course. (Hint: it wasn't pretty, and it wasn't peaceful.)

It was a remarkable statement that he accepts that a two-state solution also has to have a place for Israel.

This "remarkable statement," if you listen carefully, still has no place for Israel as a Jewish state. And Abbas has steadfastly and specifically refused to accept Israel as a Jewish state because to do so would require him to renounce the "right of return" (and would probably also get him killed). Again, in his press conference, he was very clear.

Asked by reporters about Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s statements yesterday on the Palestinian refugees’ problem, PM Abu Mazen said that his cabinet rejects totally the Israeli reservations including the dropping of the Palestinians’ right to return.

Note, as well, the concluding comment of this article on the official PNA website:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was reported Sunday as saying that he would not allow return of any single Palestinain to Israel (historic Palestine).

So now Israel = "historic Palestine." Which means that the West Bank is . . . what exactly? Chopped liver? (How about "historic Judea and Samaria -- the historic homeland of the Jewish People.)

He’s put together a remarkable government.

This one doesn't even merit a comment. It's theater of the absurd. Theater of the remarkably absurd.

Some blog stuff of interest


Chris Newman is back from his hiatus. He's actually been back for a few weeks now, but I'm just getting around to mentioning it.

Blogmosis has yet another new member, The Accidental Jedi. Welcome, Deborah!

And Common Sense has also fled Blogger for new MT digs. Congrats!

(Ooops. I neglected to mention Israpundit, which has also migrated to MT and, amazingly enough, now loads instantly.)

And The Volokh Conspiracy has moved, as well, but is still on Blogger. Go figure.

Finally, Meryl and Susanna have been busy eviscerating a recent post by David Sims over at Clubbeaux. They come at the problem from different angles, but they emphatically agree on this. Members of the Ku Klux Klan cannot be classified as basically nice, decent people who've been forced, forced I tell you, to join one of the most murderous, hateful, sick and hideous organizations in the world because no one else will protect their rights. I have nothing to add to Meryl and Susanna's incisive comments, except to say that they speak for me, as well.

UPDATE: Meryl has responded to Dave's subsequent comments here. Ouch! Unfortunately, he deserves every word.

Not a hero


In Thursday's Jerusalem Post, there was an article about the rally for Jonathan Pollard in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. I've expressed my opinion about the Pollard case before, and I don't have a lot more to say about it. But I do have something to say about this:

Crowds at the Wall, some wearing T-shirts emblazoned with "Free Pollard Now" in Hebrew and English, read from a prayer sheet arranged by [former chief Rabbi of Israel Mordechai] Eliahu, who took up Pollard's cause in 1991.

The prayer asks God to open the gates of mercy for Pollard, and that "all the good deeds he did for the Jewish people should be remembered before You... so that it should be good for him and his wife... [so that they will merit] to establish a Jewish home with healthy sons and daughters," said the rabbi, his voice booming across the holy site with the aid of loudspeakers.

Also in attendance was Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife, who said she was "overwhelmed and touched" by the crowd's diversity and scale. "What brought tears to my eyes was to see so many young people who weren't even born when Jonathan was sentenced and who grasp the meaning of what he did for Israel," said Pollard, who made the trip from North Carolina for the event.

But Esther Pollard had yet more to say about those "young people,' which she included in her own lengthy account of the rally.

That they turned up at the rally in such numbers is a miracle. That they care so deeply and are so committed to seeing Jonathan home is an even greater miracle. They care about their fellow Jew in a way that their parents did not know how to care. They truly love and admire Jonathan. They respect what he did for the People of Israel. And they know the value of a Jewish soul. I am now convinced that these youngsters are the pure souls that will bring redemption to our nation.

Now, here's the thing. There are a lot of questions about the way Jonathan Pollard has been treated since his arrest for passing classified U.S. military secrets to Israel. There are serious and valid concerns about multiple abuses of his rights and there are perhaps equally serious and valid concerns about the apparent withholding of information from Israel that the U.S. was obliged by treaty and agreement to provide. Nevertheless, Jonathan Pollard committed a crime. He betrayed his country (which is also mine), he broke the law and he got caught. Jonathan Pollard is no hero. He's a convicted criminal, an admitted criminal. And one whose expressions of remorse are hard to take seriously when his wife and his supporters continue to express respect and admiration for his crime and to publicly exhort others to do so, as well.

Pollard was trying to right a perceived wrong. Given the limited facts at my disposal, I would agree that Israel should have been provided with the information in question. It's my understanding that it had to do with the plans, resources and abilities of various Arab countries to attack Israel. But it's a far leap from that understanding to justifying an act of espionage against the United States on behalf of any other country, friend or foe. And it remains unclear to me, anyway, what exactly it is that Pollard "did for the People of Israel."

There's no evidence (though Pollard supporters make vague claims) that Pollard's information had the slightest impact on Israel's defense against Iraq's scuds in the first Gulf War. His intelligence was old by that time and the United States was in any event cooperating with Israel fully on the defensive front in order to assure that Israel would stay out of the war. Did the information allow Israel to prevent other attacks that we don't know about? Well, since we don't know about them, it's hard to say.

What's not hard to say is this. It isn't honorable for a U.S. citizen to elevate his own judgment over that of those entrusted with our national security, no matter how just or noble the cause may seem. Perhaps an Arab-American naval officer will one day see it as equally essential to pass on U.S. intelligence about Israeli intentions and capabilities to Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, or Syria. Perhaps one already has.

I suppose we consider our own spies and those of our allies to be heros. We cheer for James Bond, after all. But that's when they're spying on the enemy, the evil empire, the forces of darkness. I doubt that we'd have as much enthusiasm for an American spy stealing secrets from London or Madrid. And I doubt that most Israelis have much respect or appreciation for Jonathan Pollard, the four thousand or so souls who showed up at Wednesday's rally notwithstanding.

But as an American, even recognizing that his heart may have been in the right place, I find myself developing increasing contempt for Pollard. And the more I hear about how I have an obligation, as a Jew, to lobby for his release, the more contempt I have. He's no hero of mine. And as long as he thinks he should be, perhaps jail is the best place for him, after all.

What they don't want


In response to the newest palestinian baby meat cartoon published in the official PA press, Charles said:

“Bad faith” doesn’t even begin to describe this. These blood-crazed degenerates can’t even hold themselves back when their statehood is on the line. This is an official site of the PA; clearly they have nothing but contempt for the “roadmap,” and don’t believe they’ll suffer any consequences as a result of this sick behavior.

Charles is, of course, one thousand percent on the money there. But I'd like to suggest a change in our underlying assumptions that would cast that behavior in a different light. One that actually makes sense. Here it is:

They don't want a state. They don't give a rat's ass about "statehood." That just isn't and never was their agenda

Can we examine some plain old documented history? Alongside the surviving remnants of the Jewish commonwealth, Arabs have lived in "Palestine" since the seventh century. They came with the early Muslim conquerors and they lived there under the Crusaders and the Mamluks. They lived there under the Turks and the British and the Hashemites and the Egyptians. And they never once, in all those centuries, gave themselves a name, distinguished themselves from other Arabs, or made a serious demand for independence or self-determination. Not once, that is, until the Jews started coming back home in substantial numbers at the end of the eighteenth century. Suddenly, "palestinian nationalism" was born.

Even then, did they petition the Turks or the British for statehood? Well, they did try to eject the Brits, but such talk as there was of palestinian independence was mostly on the part of the leaders of the neighboring nations. Those nations, together with the palestinian Arabs themselves, violently rejected the state that was offered them by the U.N. in 1947. And later, did they demand self-determination from the Jordanians or the Egyptians? Did they demonstrate in Amman or Cairo or blow up busses in those cities? No, they did not. When the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded in 1964, its goal was not the establishment of a palestinian state in the West Bank and/or the Gaza Strip. Its goal was the establishment of that state on the dead body of Israel. It still is.

The noises you're hearing today about "statehood" and "self-determination" sound good. They're meant to. And that's all they're meant to do. They're meant to push the buttons of people who salivate to those words and will go to the ends of the earth to translate them into reality, regardless of the merits of the claim. But it's time (way past time) to look beyond the words. It's time to look at behavior. And the reason the palestinians have never, in the immortal words of Abba Eban, missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity, is because they've never had the only opportunity they've ever really wanted. To destroy, utterly and completely, the State of Israel.

Today, we're seeing it play out yet again. And well-intentioned people all over the world are expressing amazement that the palestinians don't learn, that they keep shooting themselves in the foot, that they say and do exactly the wrong thing every time they have a shot at a state of their own. There's really no mystery, folks. They'll keep on doing it. Because a state, alongside and living at peace with Israel, isn't what they want. What they want is for Israel to be gone.

The money, the billions of dollars that were supposed to help build the institutions of a state, where did it go? It went to build up the terror machine. It went for guns and bombs and mortars. It went to fund the destruction of the Jewish State rather than into building a palestinian one. It went to fund what was important -- the goal, not the facade.

In a poll conducted recently by Human Rights International Solidarity institute (HRISI), 84 percent of the palestinian respondents said they would refuse to accept the establishment of a palestinian state in exchange for giving up their "Right to Return" to Israel proper. 84 percent would rather have the right to demographically destroy the State of Israel than to live free in their own country. Similarly, 84 percent said they still hoped to return to their ancestral homes in what is now Israel. And dozens of polls taken over the past several years have yielded similar results.

Put another way, it seems that less than 16 percent of the palestinian Arab population actually wants to live in the new palestinian state. So do they really want a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip? Or do they want Israel? Aren't these polls just words as well? Yes, they are. But which words are consistent with their actions?

Sharon was right last week when he said that Israel can't, shouldn't, doesn't want to rule over the palestinians. As reluctant as I would be to endorse it, he may even be right when he says they should have a (second) state of their own. But he's absolutely right when he says that before that can happen, they have to give up the dream of destroying Israel. That's the crucial step that the "Roadmap" skipped. That's why the "Roadmap" can't possibly lead to peace.

When the palestinians really do want a state of their own, not as a base for their ultimate attack on Israel and not as a public relations ploy to win the sympathy of the guilt-ridden descendants of former imperialists, but when they really want a place to call home and raise their kids and grow old together, then it's now clear that Israel will be more than delighted to assist them in every way possible. Not all of Israel, mind you, but more than enough of it. Ask Imshin. Or Allison. Ask Ariel Sharon.

But until then, the events unfolding in the Middle East will continue to defy common sense and reason unless we adjust our assumptions to more accurately reflect reality. Try it.

Shabbat shalom.



Tonight begins the Jewish festival of Shavuot. The word translates literally as "weeks," and it marks the passage of seven weeks (seven sevens) since Passover, the celebration of our liberation from Egypt. As with most Jewish holidays, this one has both a "religious" and an "agricultural" significance and, of course, the boundaries are fuzzy.

Religiously, Shavuot commemorates the revelation of God to Israel at Mt. Sinai. From this point forward, the Jewish People accepted and became bound by the Torah, God's law as transmitted through Moses. Agriculturally, Shavuot celebrates the spring harvest or "first fruits." The two themes are inextricably intertwined, with both representing a new promise, a new beginning and the rich rewards that can be anticipated as a result of dedication and proper observance.

Shavuot is the last of the year's three pilgrimmage festivals, the first two being Succot and Passover. On these festivals, those who could travel were required to go up to Jerusalem to bring offerings to the Temple. Unlike Succot and Passover, which both last about a week, Shavuot is observed for only a single day (two days outside of Israel).

In America, Shavuot is one of the holidays that's often overlooked, as it doesn't have a counterpart in either time (Christmas and Chanukah; Passover and Easter) or concept (Rosh Hashanah and New Year's Day). But, in essence, it's the foundation for all of the other holidays we observe. In Israel, people visit the Western Wall and children are often dressed in white. The agricultural communities celebrate with tractor parades and displays of the first bounty of the spring harvest. Traditionally observant men people stay up all night studying. And everyone eats lots of cheese and other milk products.

As harbingers of summer, there's Memorial Day weekend, there's the solstice, and then, often somewhere in between, there's Shavuot. The forecast tomorrow is for sun. That's a good sign.

Chag sameach!

Two of those posts


Sometimes you come across one that makes you say "why didn't I write that?" I'm finding quite a lot of them lately over at Laura's place. This one should be required reading.

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt, June 3 (UPI) -- President George W. Bush, speaking at a summit Tuesday with Arab leaders, renewed his commitment to work for peace between Arabs and Israelis. "I'm the kind of person who, when I say something, I mean it," Bush said. "I mean that the world needs to have a Palestinian state that is free and at peace. And, therefore, my government will work with all parties concerned to achieve that vision." He returned to that commitment when he said later in his statement that the summit was a historic meeting.

So what about his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem? And what about his call for the "Palestinian people" (rather than the Arafat-controlled Palestinian Legislative Council) to elect new leaders? Laura spells out the many things Dubya has said over the past three years that he apparently didn't mean. Check it out.

When they have free elections. When they have new leadership - leadership which was not chosen from the ranks of Arafat's cronies, a co-founder of FATAH, and a holocaust denier, one might dare to hope. When they make some effort to cease the ongoing support for and incitement toward terrorism, from nursery school up to actual arming and transport of genocide bombers. Reform must be more than cosmetic.

He means what he says?
Then what on earth is he doing there?

I'd add just one more thing. When they agree to accept the state that's being offered to them as their homeland and drop their demand for the right to destroy Israel demographically, a/k/a the "right of return." If their aspiration truly is to live in peace and dignity in a land of their own, one has to ask why 84% of them say they hope to "return" to Israel, even if it means living under Jewish sovereignty.

Which brings me to another recent post that shouldn't be missed. Oceanguy, also on a roll, asks this sobering question:

What if the Arabs are lying? What if they don’t want peace with Israel? What if their actions of the past 55 years really do mean that the destruction of Israel is their goal?

Let’s see that possibility debated, examined, studied, and analyzed.

Been there, done that, you say? No, I don't think so. Read the whole thing.

Another one!


Yippeeee! And the Blogmosis family expands yet again. The new addition is An Unsealed Room.

I had just finally, way belatedly, gotten around to adding Allison to my blogroll last week. Excuse me while I go update the link...

One Question


If they're ready to renounce terrorism, why was this man given a hero's welcome?

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — After almost three decades behind bars for a deadly bombing, the oldest and longest-held Palestinian prisoner in Israel was freed today and returned triumphantly to the West Bank to reunite with his wife and family.

White-haired Ahmad Jubarah, 68, who was imprisoned for his role in a 1975 Jerusalem bomb attack that killed 13 people and wounded 70 others, hugged a weeping daughter born after he was captured.

A cheering crowd hoisted Jubarah up on their shoulders, and Jubarah was driven to a hotel to relax before meeting with Arafat, where he clasped hands with the veteran Palestinian leader as photographers took their picture.

This was one of the "good will gestures" that Israel has offered to ease the so-called path to peace. The families of some of the victims don't quite see it that way. Shlomo Bezem in the brother of Yitzhak Bezem, who was killed in the explosion.

Bezem is steadfast. "His release isn't worth it even if it brings peace."

"Peace should come on peaceful terms and murderers should stay in prison or die. We have to separate the issues of murder and peace," he said.

Bezem warned of a greater risk inherently involved in releasing a murderer. "If this decision is made by the Israeli government, then they are licensing the Palestinian terrorist mechanism and retrospectively giving a green light for the murder of Jews," Bezem said.

Abu Sukkar's release "has nothing to do with peace or any political struggle he should have died years ago or at least sat in prison for the rest of his life," he said.

I couldn't agree more.

Broad strokes


A disturbing article in today's Washington Post.

President Bush, who today begins his first high-profile effort at Middle East peacemaking, is convinced that Israel must accept a Palestinian state to ensure its survival, according to current and former aides who have heard him discuss the subject. But they say he has shown little interest in the details of the complex disputes in the region and remains skeptical of intervening deeply in the negotiating process.

Bush often has a viscerally negative reaction when officials try to delve deeply into issues -- such as the final borders of Israel and a Palestinian state, or the status of Jerusalem -- that are central to the conflict, according to people who have participated in discussions with the president. President Bill Clinton at the end of his term debated those questions at length with Israelis and Palestinians, but Bush dismisses them as "all those old issues," two participants in interagency debates said.

The president has baffled some of his aides with comments they thought minimized the obstacles toward the two-state solution he talks about. For instance, the president has told aides that the Israelis are wasting their money on expanding settlements in the West Bank because ultimately those projects will become housing developments for Palestinians.

Some aides suggest this is a naive view of the settlement issue, noting that experts on both sides of the issue believe unchecked expansion of the settlements would make it impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. Other Bush advisers say the president's comments simply reflected his determination to create a Palestinian state.

The president's personal relations with Middle East leaders also play a significant role in how he approaches the issues. His distaste for Yasser Arafat led to his call for new Palestinian leadership, but he is also uncertain whether Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon truly has a vision to achieve peace. The leader in the region who has won his greatest respect is Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who bluntly confronted the president last year over the Palestinian issue.

The article paints our President as a rather clueless and gullible fool when it comes to the complex issues facing the Middle East "peace process." Naturally, none of the sources have names or faces, but the story includes some very specific and grotesque details ("the president frequently asks aides whether Abdullah believes Bush is living up to the commitments he made at Crawford").

This coming from the Washington Post, of all places, one has to first wonder whose interests are being served by the leakage of these bizarre anecdotes at this particular time. But if there's truth here, there's also serious cause for alarm.

L'Havdil (to differentiate)


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