July 2004 Archives

4 Bush?

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Over the past few days, I've been contemplating the almost unthinkable prospect of doing some work for the Bush campaign. It would be a hard step for me to take. I've been a Democrat since I first registered to vote, and though I've voted for Republican candidates for various offices, President of the United States has never been one of them. Why not?

Well, I'm pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, against the establishment of religion (any religion) in our public schools and courthouses, against total repeal of the Federal Estate Tax and in favor of (reasonable) regulation of firearms. I'm a card carrying member of the Environmental Defense Fund (with a few reservations). I'm also a strong believer in allowing those injured by the negligence and misfeasance of others to recover whatever it takes to make them as whole as possible (no more, no less) through our legal system. And I'm still really not big on the death penalty in most cases. That's why not.

But here's the rub. I know all too well that this country has enemies who have declared war against us and intend to win. And I know that their plans for America don't include the right of women to make reproductive choices. Or fashion choices, or travel choices, or choices of their spouse or just about any other choices. I know that their plans for America don't include the right of gays to live, let alone to marry, or the right of anyone to practice a religion other than theirs.

I know that with all its problems and complications, our justice system stands head and shoulders over what they have in mind for us. And I know that in order to put the kabosh on their plans, we need a President who has a clear grasp of who the enemy is and of who our friends are. That President isn't George W. Bush, in my opinion, but he's a hell of a lot closer than the alternative.

Michael Moore says:

I can't even process four more years of George Bush in the White House and what America and the world will look like after that. It's, it's, uh, it doesn't exist. It's like, it's like you saying to me that the sun's going to rise in the west tomorrow.

Well, I can't process four years of John Kerry in the White House and what America and the world will look like after that. Because I honestly question whether either America or the world as we know it will exist after that. The Left chooses to utterly deny the reality staring them in the face -- that those who attacked us on September 11 and are trying to attack us again today spit on civil liberties and equal justice, despise women and alternative lifestyles, seek to impose their god and the laws they attribute to him on all of us and find the emphathy of our liberal fringes pathetic. I hope the folks out on those fringes never have the chance to learn how wrong they are. And I think I need to do whatever I have to do toward that end.

In other news, Meryl does her usual excellent job of exposing both the myopia of the EU and the true face of Yasser Arafat. These are both must reads if you haven't already.

Shabbat Shalom.

**House cleaning **

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Please note: In Context now has a new email address. Same as the old email address but -at- att instead of comcast.

A Chain and a Song

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A very moving essay by Paula Stern over at Arutz Sheva.

There will not be peace when we are pulled out of Gaza. But there will be peace when a Jew can walk into Kalandia and not be stoned. Until that time, Arab women will continue to walk amongst us without fear and our children will remain in danger. It is 30 days since little four-year-old Afik was killed by a mortar attack in Sderot, a town within the pre-1967 border of Israel. A town that will remain, under any plan, within Israel after any final settlement.

Sinat hinam

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Why was the First Temple destroyed? Because of three sins: idolatry, immorality and bloodshed. But why was the Second Temple destroyed, seeing that during the time it stood people occupied themselves with Torah, with observance of mitzvot ("commandments"), and with the practice of tzedakah ("charity")? Because during the time the Second Temple stood, sinat hinam ("baseless hatred") prevailed. This teaches us that baseless hatred is deemed as grave as the sins of idolatry, immorality and bloodshed combined.

--Talmud (Yoma 9b)

Dave at Israelly Cool has some apt observations about one modern variation of such baseless hatred. He's also got more on the observance of Tisha B'av, which starts tonight, and a connection to a certain infamous date in recent American history. (And Dave -- I've never been so sure it's a coincidence.)

To all who are observing the fast, may it be an easy one.

And a stark raving psychopath

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A hero, a legend

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Eleven years ago in Philadelphia, he was the first (and only) cyclist to win the million dollar Thrift Drug Triple Crown -- a series of three tough races in Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Philly involving very different skills that no one rider could possibly master. Heh. I was at the finish line (and the rest of the race, too) to watch him accept that million dollar check. It took me two days to get my voice back.

Now, having fought back from the ultimate precipice, he's the first (and very possibly the only) cyclist to win six Tours de France. In a row.

Congratulations, Lance!!!!

D'varim

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This week's Torah portion, D'varim, is the opening verses of the book by the same name -- Deuteronomy (in Hebrew, D'varim, or things). We read this parasha on the last Shabbat before Tisha B'av, and so it's now that we start anticipating that intensive day of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish People. And it's in this parasha that the defeatist and pessimistic attitude of the Israelites, upon their first glimpse of their home-to-be, leads God to proclaim that "not one of these men, even this evil generation, shall see the good land, which I swore to give unto your fathers."

Jewish history is rife with denials of impending danger as well as with failures to appreciate and grasp opportunity. Let's hope that we can learn from the lessons of the past that we'll be reflecting upon this coming week.

Shabbat Shalom.

The peace of the brave

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In a widely quoted interview yesterday, Yasser Arafat raved and ranted, regurgitated some long-discredited accusations and raised some new ones. Among these:

Mr. Sharon is "part of that group of fanatics who killed my partner, Yitzhak Rabin, with whom I signed the peace of the brave," said the Palestinian leader, referring to the now-defunct 1993 Oslo peace accords.

I've made some attempts in the past to debunk some of the mythology on both sides of the Middle East conflict that surrounds Yitzhak Rabin and his posture in the so-called "peace process." Here's another dose of reality.

Exactly one month before his death, Rabin delivered this address to the Knesset in support of "Oslo II" (link via IMRA). Among the salient points:

We are striving for a permanent solution to the unending bloody conflict between us and the Palestinians and the Arab states.

In the framework of the permanent solution, we aspire to reach, first and foremost, the State of Israel as a Jewish state, at least 80% of whose citizens will be, and are, Jews.

At the same time, we also promise that the non-Jewish citizens of Israel -- Muslim, Christian, Druze and others -- will enjoy full personal, religious and civil rights, like those of any Israeli citizen. Judaism and racism are diametrically opposed.

We view the permanent solution in the framework of State of Israel which will include most of the area of the Land of Israel as it was under the rule of the British Mandate, and alongside it a Palestinian entity which will be a home to most of the Palestinian residents living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

We would like this to be an entity which is less than a state, and which will independently run the lives of the Palestinians under its authority. The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma'ale Adumim and Givat Ze'ev -- as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the "Green Line," prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.

The (rejected) offer made by Prime Minister Barak at Camp David was more favorable to the palestinians by leaps and bounds than anything Rabin ever offered to concede. But it's easy to distort the sentiments of the dead, and Arafat has gotten a lot of mileage out of his "my partner Yitzhak" and "peace of the brave" references.

No sovereign palestinian state, Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty, expansion of settlements, including Ma'ale Adumim, Gush Etzion and Gush Katif, retention of the strategic Jordan Valley as a security border. This was Yitzhak Rabin's "peace of the brave." And it was contingent upon certain commitments given by the same Arafat which, sadly, were all too clearly bogus. For example:

We have found a solution to the matter of Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. As is known, the students of the yeshiva and their teachers at Joseph's Tomb are there only during the day, and do not remain there at night. The current agreement will enable students to travel daily to the Tomb. The inside of the Tomb will be guarded by armed Israelis. The area will be guarded by the Palestinian Police according to the currently existing format and according to the procedures for movement and prayer at the "Shalom al-Yisrael" synagogue in Jericho. These arrangements have been in place in Jericho for a year and five months. There was one incident. A single Jew was prevented from praying.

Well, as we know, there is no longer a yeshiva at Joseph's Tomb. There is no longer really a 'Joseph's Tomb.' It's now ostensibly a mosque. Jews who attempt to pray there are target practice. That's Arafat's "peace of the brave."


The PLO, those in it subject to the authority of its chairman, Arafat, has stopped the terror against us, as they committed themselves in the Declaration of Principles.

Did Rabin believe those words? For the sake of argument, let's assume he did. But, again, events betrayed his expectations. Over 1300 Israelis have been murdered in terrorist attacks since the handshake on the White House lawn. Many times that many wounded. And all with Arafat's complicity if not pursuant to his outright orders. That's Arafat's "peace of the brave."

ATTENTION EU! ATTENTION UN! He wasn't a partner. He isn't a partner. He will never be a partner. End of story.

If you ask me

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Of course, no one did. But I really do think this is a big mistake.

The Tel Aviv District Court reversed its earlier decision and agreed to allow American peace activist Anne Robinson-Petter into Israel under restricted conditions. The High Court of Justice meanwhile rejected the appeal by British journalist Peter Hounam against the Ministry of Interior's decision to bar him from entering the country.

Robinson-Petter, a 44-year-old graphic artist from New York, has been held in detention at Ben-Gurion International Airport for 28 days due to a "security risk" posed by her affiliation with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement (ISM).

Justice Oded Mudrik accepted Robinson-Petter's argument that she did not arrive in Israel to participate in hostile activities. Mudrik also ruled that the information in the hands of the Shin Bet security service was "convincing," but not sufficient to bar her from entering Israel.

According to Mudrik's ruling, Robinson-Petter will not be allowed to enter the Palestinian territories, approach the West Bank security fence or participate in anti-fence demonstrations. Robinson-Petter was also required to pay NIS 50,000 in bail on her release.

The prosecution is appealing the ruling.

Losing a good one

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Haggai has decided to retire from the blogging community -- for now. Bummer.

Here's wishing him all the best in his new job and his new home. I expect he'll find some new/old friends back there in northern Virginia.

What's wrong

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I'm still trying to make sense of this.

WASHINGTON, July 15 (Reuters) - General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt on Thursday defended the movement of some U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas and complained that the issue was being politically exploited.

Speaking at an employee forum, Immelt responded to recent criticism of job outsourcing, linking it to "minimalism" and "class warfare."

"What's important for kids in college today is (that) you don't listen to any politicians," Immelt said in response to a question from an intern.

Immelt said GE would be making high-value products such as aircraft engines, medical scanners and power turbines in the United States for a long time to come.

But, he said, in some cases, the company had to move production overseas to remain globally competitive. "I can't make an appliance in this country and make money," he said.

Has the outsourcing issue been over-politicized? Absolutely. Can it be blown off as "minimalism" and "class warfare?" I don't think so. And if that last statement is true, something is terribly wrong with this picture.

Blogiversary me

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It's been two years since In Context was born. I have no profound thoughts to share on this occasion. Twenty-four months ago I began blogging about the palestinian war on Israel (both on the ground and in the media), the myopia of loonily liberal American Jews and the disturbing spread of world-wide antisemitism. I'm sorry to say that not much has changed. At least not for the better.

But I continue to learn fascinating new things and "meet" wonderful new people through this blog and I, at least, am better for it. Thanks to all of you for reading, for writing and for caring.

Today in Israel

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A Tel Aviv district court judge is assassinated. It doesn't look like terrorism (although a palestinian terrorist group has naturally claimed responsibility). But it's caused a major shock. And some slightly hysterical reactions.

Update: As usual, Shai has some particularly insightful comments on this story.

~~~~~~~~~

That very popular soap opera out of Ramallah, "As the Worm Turns," continues to develop new subplots. No one seems to know who's in charge of the Gaza security services but official palestinian sources are claiming that Arafat orchestrated at least some of the kidnappings over the weekend. Meanwhile (same story), Muhammad Dahlan has abandoned any pretense as to his own ambitions.

Dahlan has rejected appointments by Arafat, since he no longer works for the Palestinian leader. Instead, he is focusing on rebuilding Fatah in Gaza and extending his influence over the movement. PA officials have complained that Fatah is in a chaotic and lawless state.

Dahlan believes that elections and reorganization will transform Fatah into a strong political movement.

Dahlan is also trying to prepare the ground for an IDF withdrawal from Gaza. A Palestinian official said this will help Dahlan prepare for his political future.

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Lost in the dramatic developments of the last few days was this story:

A Hamas suicide bomber stood at the entrance to a popular Jerusalem restaurant last Sunday night and decided not to attack it, it was released for publication by security officials this Sunday morning. A week later, the 'bomber who walked away' died in a gunbattle with Israeli Police officers who had tracked him to his Hebron home.

According to reports, on July 11, 2004, Malek A Salem Nasser A-Din, 41, of Hebron, a senior member of the Hamas and the potential suicide bomber, was transported to the entrance of the 'Caffit' restaurant on Emek Refaim Street in the city's trendy German Colony neighborhood. He was smuggled into Jerusalem in an area where the security fence has yet to be constructed.

So much for the "lull."

ROFLMAO

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Thanks to Allison for linking to this gem. It's really too funny for words.

This land will surely vote for me!

Bush: no State by 2005

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From Ma'ariv:

A Palestinian state will not be established by 2005, US President George Bush has estimated. In an exclusive interview he granted to the French newspaper ‘Le Figaro’, Bush stated that reasons for the delay in the establishment of a state are the fact that Abu Ala is ending his reign as prime minister and in addition the continued violence in the region.

"I am the first American President who brought up the issue of a Palestinian state to the UN, to exist peacefully side-by-side with Israel," said Bush. "It is obvious, however, that when I said 2005, I expected the Road Map policies to be implemented…I don’t think that we will be able to actualize that date. In order for there to be a Palestinian state, it is essential for its leaders to be open to reform and be dedicated to their people".

The President also had some encouraging words for Israel.

Perhaps the palestinians will take a few moments off from kidnapping and shooting at each other to condemn this (latest) biased and unfair attack on their glorious leadership.

Antisemitism watch

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This one didn't make the headlines.

Vandals Dump More Than $200,000 of Napa Valley Wine

Posted: Tuesday, June 08, 2004

By Lynn Alley

Last week, vandals opened valves to tanks at Hagafen Cellars in Napa Valley and emptied out 4,000 gallons of kosher wine -- the winery's entire production of its 2002 estate Syrah and 2003 estate Pinot Noir. Hagafen owner Ernie Weir estimated the wines' value at more than $200,000.

The incident occurred either late at night on June 1 or early morning on June 2. The tanks were located outside the winery, next to the building.

"Here I am with my wonderful wines of the current vintage. Now I'm going to have to explain to my customers, both retail and wholesale, that I don't have it any more," Weir said. "The wines are irreplaceable, both because they are kosher and because of their high quality."

Hagafen, which means "the vine" in Hebrew, was established in 1979 by Ernie and Irit Weir and has been producing certified kosher wines since 1980. In 2000, its new winery facility opened on Silverado Trail, just north of the city of Napa. The winery currently produces about 7,000 cases a year, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and a sparkling wine.

No suspects in the vandalism incident have been arrested yet. Mike Loughran, a captain with the Napa County sheriff's department, said, "We're looking at some leads, but we really can't talk about them at this point."

As far as I can tell, there have been no subsequent developments.

More about Hagafen wines here.

Never missed

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First, you ban one of your most effective supporters from your "territory." Then you kidnap a few French folks on a humanitarian mission. Way to win friends and influence people.

Never mind. All will quickly be forgiven. Just a silly misunderstanding. Right?

I do believe the world is getting a little stranger every day.

Shabbat Shalom.

Mushrooms

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Just before this year's tax deadline, the odious, self-proclaimed Public Advocate of the United States formally inquired of the IRS whether it would accept joint tax returns from same-sex couples legally married under state law.

Public Advocate Executive Director Eugene Delgaudio, never one to let facts (or law) obstruct his ideological hysterics, warned of a "potential fraudulent tax scheme" that "could mushroom into a dangerous tax scam throughout the United States" and result in the loss of "substantial" tax revenue.

Yup. Committed gay couples everywhere will cleverly defraud the government by insisting on paying the "marriage penalty" that these same "Conservative" extremists constantly rail against. Meanwhile, heterosexual couples will continue to never ever attempt to enter into bogus marriages to take advantage of whatever obscure loopholes matrimony may occasionally offer. Right.

The Service, by the way, predictably responded to Mr. Delgaudio's inquiry in the negative, citing the Defense of Marriage Act.

Lies and more lies

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CNN, Saturday, June 19, 2004:

(CNN) -- Saudi security forces killed a top al Qaeda leader in the kingdom shortly after the decapitated body of American hostage Paul Johnson Jr. was left in a remote area of Riyadh, security sources said.

Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin, the self-proclaimed military leader of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, was killed while disposing of Johnson's body, the sources told CNN.

[ . . . ]

Johnson, a 49-year-old Lockheed Martin Corp. employee, was kidnapped in Riyadh last Saturday.

His body was found Friday in northern Riyadh soon after an Islamist Web site posted photographs of his decapitated body.

U.S. officials said the remains were "definitely" Johnson's.


Reuters, July 15, 2004:

RIYADH (Reuters) - A search by U.S. and Saudi authorities for the body of a beheaded American hostage is drawing to a close after experts failed to find his remains, the U.S. embassy said Thursday.

Experts who had come to Saudi Arabia to help search for the body of engineer Paul Johnson, who was killed nearly a month ago, have left the country after collecting evidence which will be analyzed in Washington, spokeswoman Carole Kalin said.

[ . . . ]

"Our experts who had come for that specific purpose have now departed. And there was significant evidence collected during the stay that is being examined. But we don't have the expectation that there will be a recovery of the body at this time," she added.

Ok, what did I miss?

It's about time

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Wow. The CBC is outraged over what's going on in Darfur. And look who's on the front lines!

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was arrested yesterday in front of the Sudanese Embassy as he took part in a demonstration calling for an end to what Rangel and members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) say is genocide in the country’s Darfur region.

Rangel marched with former Del. Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.) and other protesters in front of the embassy before he walked up the embassy steps, crossed his arms, and stood in front of the embassy doors, facing the crowd.

“I am not doing this for the people of Sudan,” Rangel said before officers from the U.S. Secret Service uniformed division handcuffed him and led him to a police van. “I am doing this for myself, to be able to say to my children and grandchildren, if they ever ask, ‘What were you doing when this tragedy was happening?’”

He added, “There should be such outrage about what is happening” in Sudan

There should have been a lot more outrage a long time ago. It's not like the slavery and genocide in Sudan have been a secret. They could have read about it in the Middle East Quarterly back in 1998, or the following year, or maybe here. They could have read about it any time over the past several years in great detail at the CSI website. But, apparently, they didn't.

Better late than never, I guess. Hey, some celebrities are finally involved, too.

Former Rep. Robert Edgar (D-Pa.), the president of the National Council of Churches, is planning to be arrested today in front of the embassy, campaign organizers said.

Rangel was the third person arrested overall as part of the protest. There have been discussions with actors Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte, and other members of the CBC also plan to participate, campaign spokeswoman Joia Nuri said.

Maybe they've been reading Rantburg's comments (#3).

See you in court

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Judy Lash Balint is, in the words of her bio,

an award-winning Jerusalem-based journalist, writer and author of Jerusalem Diaries: In Tense Times. (Gefen, 2002) She is a contributor to the Peace Fire anthology edited by Ethan Casey and Paul Hilder (Free Association Books, 2002).

Not to mention a frequent contributor to any number of major national and international publications.

As you may recall, Judy was slapped with a libel suit in December by Radhika Sainath, an American "activist" with the International Solidarity Movement. Ms. Sainath, who boasts that's she's been arrested three times during her "visit" to Israel "for supporting Palestinian human rights and self-determination," claimed that she was defamed by being linked to palestinian terrorist activities. Really.

Then, in February, a number of self-congratulatory announcements began popping up asserting that Sainath had "won" her case when Judy "failed" to appear in her own defense. Today, Judy's defense team issued this statement.

A default judgment obtained by a foreign International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist against a local journalist has been dismissed by a Beit She'an Magistrate's Court. The Court found that the judgment had been obtained in violation of local civil procedure rules.

[ . . . ]

In December 2003, an American ISM activist brought suit against Jerusalem journalist Judy Lash Balint over an article posted on a website detailing the connections between the ISM and the Palestinian terrorist groups. The foreign plaintiff alleged that Balint had libeled her by asserting that she assisted the terrorists.

The case, however, has been delayed while the attorney for the plaintiff insisted that he had somehow secured a default judgment at a time when the Israeli courts were on strike. The canceling of the plaintiff's mistakenly granted order will now permit the defense to document the truth and accuracy of Balint's piece.

Yes, indeed it will. This should be an interesting trial.

This, I believe, is the article in question. Judge for yourself.

Update: Meryl has more on the ISM's shenanigans and Israel's response (thanks to Judith for the link).

Day by Day today

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And now, the good news

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A very hearty Mazal Tov to Allison and her new baby daughter!!!

A pleasant spring

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Her name, not as readily translatable into English as it might seem, evokes the refreshment of a calm, clear pool in a quiet green glade in a part of the world where water is scarce and sand is much more common than grass -- where the sun so often beats down unmercifully on those exposed to the elements.

Her friends and family say her name was fitting. And what a beauty she was! It shouldn't matter. It doesn't, really. But on a completely separate level from the one where we mourn the theft of every human soul, there's a place for regret at the premature passing of such loveliness. Whether it be of spirit or body or both, the victims continue to leave those who remain behind bereft of their very special radiance.

Enough.

Come together right now

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Here's a fascinating item from today's Jerusalem Post.

'I used to be against the fence, now I'm for it'

Sami Mcarah, a 29-year-old Arab Israeli resident of Jaffo got off a bus at Tel Aviv's old bus station just minutes before a bomb went off on Sunday that killed one woman and injured 30 others.

"I used to be opposed to the security fence, but now I support it, and I'm going to start a foundation to support the fence's construction" Mcarah told Israel Radio.

"The terrorist had no intention just to hurt Jews, but he went out to kill as many people as possible. The Palestinians are stupid for what they're doing, they're not achieving anything and in the end they will only turn us Israeli Arabs against them," said Mcarah.

Mcarah, wounded by shrapnel to his leg, said he rushed over to a woman he saw on the ground and tried to help her. He said he took her pulse but she was already dead, "The images in my head will never go away, although I feel lucky that I have a new life after surviving the second terror attack."

Yes, this was his second terror attack.

I used to be against the fence, too, for obviously different reasons. But it's clearly saving lives. It's just impossible to argue with the statistics. So while I still see this as a short-term fix for a long-term problem, the short-term fix seems to be working. Today's events notwithstanding.

Bravo!

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Meryl may not be a lawyer, but she does so put the sophomoric machinations and crass manipulations of the "International Court of Justice" to shame. What, did they think that nobody was going to bother reading their actual opinion?

Well, yeah, they probably did.

Shabbat Shalom

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Right on

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A very fuzzy report from the Jerusalem Post

The Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday ordered the expulsion of left-wing American activist Anne Robinson-Peter, who has been detained in a holding cell at Ben-Gurion Airport for the past two weeks on the suspicion that she would engage in anti-Israel activity.

That's not all of it, but for a more informative account, see the Shurat HaDin press release posted at IMRA:

(TEL AVIV) Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center applauds today's decision by the Tel Aviv District Court to uphold the expulsion order of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Anne Robinson Petter. Petter was detained at Ben-Gurion Airport by Israeli security officials when she attempted to enter Israel two weeks ago.

This afternoon, the District Court found her presence in Israel to be a threat to national security and ordered her returned to the United States.

In April 2003, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that the Palestinian funded militant group works closely with the terrorist organizations: "ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations."

ISM encourages its members to enter Israel on fraudulent visa applications and illegally cross into the territories

ISM demonstrators regularly disrupt IDF patrols in Judea, Samaria and Gaza

ISM members have been arrested vandalizing and destroying Israeli security fences and equipment

All of which has been well documented.

Mile-a-minute

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Do you know this weed?

mile-a-minute.bmp

I hope not. It's called Mile-a-minute a/k/a Devil’s tail tearthumb a/k/a Polygonum perfoliatum. It grows in the woods behind our house, but until this year, the shade there has been too dense for it to spread very efficiently (it craves sunlight). Due to the loss of a dozen or so trees in a severe windstorm last fall, that's no longer the case.


Having made only half-assed efforts to remove it in the spring, I finally decided to tackle the chore seriously today. The stinker comes by its name honestly. It can grow up to six inches a day. It climbs over and around everything in sight. And it has thorns. Teeny tiny painful thorns that come out of the stem and the undersides of the leaves easily and embed themselves firmly in skin. They often need to be tweezed out. I worked for a few hours in long sleeves, thick socks and heavy gardening gloves. I barely made a dent. And, yes, it was close to ninety degrees out there.

It was only then that I got the bright idea to do some research. As it turns out, I blew it, because the cute little bright blue berries that have already sprouted all over these plants, most of which came off and rolled away as I was pulling, contain the seeds that will give us a new crop next year. So next year (sigh), they will be pulled while the berries are still green, or better yet, before they appear. Maybe that will give the new trees we planted a chance to grow up big, strong and shady.

You can find more interesting stuff on this pest here (scroll down).

Blogging around

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OceanGuy is asking some important questions about unilateral disengagement. Interestingly enough, he's getting backup from an article in Ha'aretz.

I think Shai's right about Saddam. At least I sure hope he is.

If I hear one more word about the dream team, I think I'm going to lose it. Well, not really. But when is enough enough?

And The Blue Octavo Notebooks transcribed the lyrics of a new tribute to Rachel Corrie this past weekend. It appears there are no limits to the imaginative faculties of her "supporters," though sadly the same can't be said for their talent. It's a ten barf-bagger.

Once more, with feeling

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY


AMERICA!!!


My home in Gaza

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This is a story by Gershon Perlman, who for the past 22 years has been a resident of Moshav Gan Or, a farming collective in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Perlman is what you might call a tree-hugger. No, it's not what you think.

I am a Jew; I live in a Jewish house and am raising a Jewish family on Jewish land in the Jewish community of Gush Katif, about a mile from the Mediterranean Sea in what many call the Gaza Strip. I have been living with the same wife in the same house for the past twenty-one years.


I really love my house. When we moved in, there was nothing around it but barren sand dunes. I pretty much designed my house by myself with oversized windows to afford a beautiful view of my not-yet planted garden. I put a lot of time and effort into my garden.

It is not just because it's the Israeli thing to do - making the desert bloom and all that - it's much more personal; it's me. My garden is really special to me. I've been collecting rocks and stones, erecting them and laying them out like a mosaic each time to get it 'just right'. It's been a twenty-year labor of love, stopping at roadsides, hauling these rocks into the back of my station wagon, and sometimes getting strange looks from passers-by - but such is love.

I have some trees in my garden. A couple of them I planted back in 1985. Nineteen years later, I immodestly admit that I planned well and that these trees give shade exactly where they're supposed to. During an Israeli summer you really appreciate something like that. My sons grew up in those trees, sometimes having fun and sometimes hiding from angry parents.

I've got another tree that is only eight years old. While the older trees may be sentimental, this tree is hard to describe. If I tell you about it, maybe you can help me out with the right word. When my sister's son was killed in a car accident eight years ago, she wanted me to plant a tree in Israel. What better place could there be than in her brother's own backyard? I'm our only family member who lives in Israel and, therefore, the only one with a backyard here. My sister and I speak every so often and she sometimes asks me about 'her' tree. I guess I'm the tree's guardian as well as its planter, but that's okay, I kind of like special tasks.

There is, of course, more to read. Obviously, Mr. Perlman isn't wild about the idea of being evicted from his home. Well, who would be? The point of this story (at least my point in pointing to it) isn't to argue that Israel should remain in Gaza because of a man and his trees. It's merely an attempt to give the word "settler" some substance so that when we talk about "relocating" 7,500 of them, we have a clearer picture of just who and what is involved. Mr. Perlman and his trees seemed like a good place to start.

Shabbat Shalom.

Virginia disgraces itself

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Protests As Virginia Gay Unions Ban Goes Into Effect

(Richmond, Virginia) A law described as the most virulently anti-gay law in the US goes into effect Thursday and gay civil rights groups in the state are planning statewide demonstrations.

The law will prevent the state from recognizing gay marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships and block any "contract or other arrangement" same-sex couples may enter into.

An attempt by Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner to soften the impact by removing sections nullifying contracts was overridden by the legislature.

Virginia already has a so-called Affirmation of Marriage Act that was passed in 1997 denying same-sex couples the right to marry, but the sponsor of the new law, Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William) said it did not go far enough.

"Civil unions are a proxy for marriage and domestic partnerships are a proxy for civil unions," Marshall said. ''This has nothing to do with abrogating the ability of anyone entering into a contract.''

But, legal experts and LGBT rights advocates disagree saying it will prevent any same-sex couple from entering into any legal contract to provide for their estates or children.

Much as the passage of this law sickens me, I just don't see how it does any such thing. I'm not even sure what a "legal contract to provide for their estates or children" would be (see below). Here's the text:

A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited.

In addition, Virginia will no longer recognize such contracts entered into in other states. But a will, which seems to be one of the documents critics are concerned about, isn't a "contract" or an "arrangement between persons." As odious as this law is, it in no way purports to restrict the right of anyone to make a will or to pass property to children, lovers, friends or anyone else. Joint bank accounts? While many married couples have them, many don't. And many joint accounts are held by siblings or by parents and children. Joint ownership in no way "purport[s] to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."

Regardless of the predictable hyperbole, though, the bigots are clearly itching for a showdown. They know that the U.S. Constitution as it currently stands prohibits such blatant state sponsored discrimination and they want to push forward their agenda of changing that, of enshrining their fear and hatred in the Constitution itself. I think they're going to fail. I sure hope so. But at least the writing is on the wall. The bigots are no longer hiding behind those pretty "states' rights" and "sanctity of marriage" facades. They're out of the closet and raring to go.

It's a disgrace. Even the Republican governor of Virginia recognizes that. "Backlash," you say? That's what gay people get for pushing too hard for their rights? Well, maybe, in the minds of those who believe that gay people have no rights. But no, I think that now we're going to see backlash -- of a very different sort. I'm counting on it.

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