November 2004 Archives

Why we hate us Pt. 2

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He was born Avram Noam Chomsky. That's actually pronounced "No-am," by the way, not "Nome" (or "gnome"), and, yes, it's a Hebrew name. "Noam" means "pleasant," and to Jews who have spent any time in a synagague, it's a word easily recognizable from the opening verses of the etz ha'im prayer (adapted from Proverbs 3:18 and :17):

She [the Torah] is a tree of life to all who hold her, and all her supporters are glad. Her paths are pleasant paths (darchei noam) and all her ways are peace.

Chomsky's parents seem to have been dedicated Zionists, actually. And so, he says, was he. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some that Chomsky came close to making aliyah and settling on a kibbutz in the 1950s. Not that he was enamored of the inherently "racist" nature of Israeli society in general and the kibbutz in particular, of course. Not that what he considered "Zionist" in those days bears much resemblance to what the word is generally taken to connote. But who am I to argue semantics with a world-renowned linguist?

So rather than try to paraphrase Chomsky's reflections on his own history, I'll just direct you again to this link. Please take a look. It's extremely enlightening.

Even more enlightening, however, is a series of posts by Oliver Kamm over the past few months that detail Chomsky's habitual distortions and contortions in his seemingly limitless quest to disparage all things Jewish, Israeli and American. You can start here and follow the links back to the beginning. Whatever you do, though, don't miss this entry, which falls somewhat outside the linkage chain but, if you have time for only one post, will give you a good synopsis of the broader issue.

So, as it turns out, this is the second in a series of posts in which I'm taking a sort of survey of prominent self-hating Jews. Next up -- Adam Shapiro.

Re: Ukraine

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Segacs has posed an interesting question.

Canada is mulling breaking political ties with the Ukraine if the fraudulant results stand. That's an admirable stand for democracy... but what about Canada's continuing ties with all sorts of dictatorships and despot-controlled countries? Why is a fraudulant election unacceptable to Canada, but a country with no election at all just fine with us?

She's also got some concerns about balancing the respective evils of election fraud, foreign interference and mob rule. I must confess that I do, too.

More, please

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The Blue Octavo Notebooks is back, with a righteous fisking of (Avram) Noam Chomsky, no less.

And I must have missed this hilarious link and explanation from Ocean Guy last Thanksgiving. (A very modest familiarity with the general formula of Talmudic discourse is helpful. And the usual warnings apply re: drinking, etc., while reading.)

Shabbat Shalom

Bull. ____.

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Yup, it's really a mystery to me why Israel isn't pressing harder to get Jonathan Pollard released from prison so he can come "home" to his "hero's welcome."

(In case the sarcasm isn't sufficiently obvious ... no, it's really not.)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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I'm tired and I'm still stuffed, even though it's been seven hours since we finished dinner. Ah, yes. It's Thanksgiving night.

Why we hate us

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I'm a little uncomfortable posting this, but I noticed a comment to this post over at Sha! that sort of gave me a push. Andu writes:

. . . while the lefty nutjobs don't bother me much, the self loathing Jews are quire worrisome. I never realized how disconnected from Israel some Jews felt, and I'd forgotten such self-hatred still existed.

Oh, but it does. And in some of the most unlikely places.

A friend of my mother's teaches at UCSC (University of California at Santa Cruz), where she's been valiantly trying to organize lectures to counteract the wave of antisemitic and Israel bashing events on campus. It appears to be a thankless task. She's hopefully going to be publishing a detailed article on this shortly, and I'll link to it when it comes out. But I wanted to focus in on one speaker in particular, recently sponsored by the UCSC Women's Studies Department.

Hedy Epstein is an 80 year old Holocaust survivor. She was born in Freiberg (as was my own great-grandfather), and her family had lived in Germany for many generations. In 1939, Hedy went to England on a children's transport. According to her own account, "Hedy's parents had tried for many years to leave Germany as a family, but were unsuccessful, due to emigration restrictions in various countries around the world". So at the age of fourteen, she was sent away on a train with hundreds of other Jewish children -- the only way their parents knew to save them.

She never saw her family again. It appears that her parents both died in Auschwitz.

Today, Hedy is on the lecture circuit. She talks about the Holocaust and her own experiences and her work as a research analyst at the Nuremberg trials. And, as a proud member of the International Solidarity Movement, she talks about the injustice of the "occuption" of "Palestine," and of the persecution of palestinians by Israel. And of Israel's persecution of her, as well.

You can read some of Hedy's views on this subject here and here and here. Yes, she actually does make the mandatory comparisons between Israel and her own Nazi tormentors. She claims that it was her personal experience of injustice that led her down this path. She claims that she's fighting for peace and justice for all. She claims this, but of course the organization she works for and the agenda that she promotes advocate no such thing. Instead, they advocate the destruction of the one state in the world that, had it existed in 1939, would gladly and at any cost have welcomed her and her family.

So what is there to say about this? I've known many Holocaust survivors in my life. Most, if not all of them understandably have deep emotional scars that manifest in various obvious and not-so-obvious ways. Who am I to judge them? That's something I simply can't do.

But I can point out that people like Hedy Epstein continue to be victimized by their horrific experiences in a classic way. They find it more comfortable to identify with their persecutors than with their fellow victims. There seems to be a sort of empowerment that follows from declaring the Jews to be the oppressors for a change and someone else, anyone else, to be the victims. Regardless of the facts, the evidence, regardless of logic or reason. This is not the response of a rational, reasoning person.

Fortunately, such people are few and far between. But they're all too easy to exploit, and Hedy Epstein has made herself available for the worst sort of exploitation by people who only want to finish the work her parents' murderers began.

How incredibly sad.

How soon we forget

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It was 41 years ago today. A tragedy that profoundly shocked the nation, and the world. I've been hard pressed to find a mention of it this year. I guess it's that old 40-year passing of a generation thing.

Surprise!

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Surprise.JPG

(Heh. My mom sent me this one.)

Praising Hitler's decisions

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Speaking of organizations worthy of support, I just re-discovered this MEMRI Special Dispatch from last month. It consists of excerpts from a recent interview with much-touted "moderate," new PLO chairman and presumptive palestinian president-to-be Mahmoud Abbas published in a Jordanian newspaper. Some selections:

I think now that that the Intifada in its entirety was a mistake and it should not have continued, and in particular what is called 'the militarization of the Intifada '…"

It's statements of this nature that have earned Abbas his reputation as a moderate. But read further:

"[At Camp David] We succeeded in convincing Clinton that there are Palestinians who have the right of return and that that is a right that they may opt to exercise, as is the right to reparations. We explained all of the details and we proposed to start with [the refugees in] Lebanon. In addition, we asked [then State Attorney] Elyakim Rubinstein about the Absentee Property Fund, and he admitted that Israel 'axed it' in a cabinet decision. I said to him: 'If that's the case, then Hitler's decisions were right.' This tells you something about the kind of reasoning and dialogue that went on with the Israeli side at Camp David…"

It also tells you something about the "moderate" mentality of Mahmoud Abbas. (Never mind that Abbas is infamous for having claimed that those "decisions" are merely Zionist fiction.)

And then there's this profoundly confused and clueless response:

Question: "You constantly emphasize that fulfilling this international demand [for reform] will jumpstart the situation [in the PA], so why does Arafat stubbornly refuse?"

Abbas: "If this will happen and there will be a reexamination of how to regulate security affairs, and there will be elections, then I tell you Abu Ammar will be visiting the White House within five months."

This is the leadership with whom a new chance for peace looms on the horizon? Hardly.

Maybe a pushke

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Today I sat down to write out my first batch of year-end checks to various and sundry charities that I support. The list is undergoing some changes this year, partly due to the failure of certain organizations to discern that not all of their supporters are one-issue voters and that perhaps, just perhaps, their solicitations should have been a little less political. Translation: if you sent me an endless bunch of hysterical anti-Bush rants instead of positive pro-choice or pro-environment declarations, you're history.

Another factor will be the number of phone calls I got from an organization after I requested not to be called again. The fact is that I receive, on average, soliciations from ten to twelve different outfits for every cause I favor (and some that I don't). So after weeding out the less reputable ones, I still have quite a bit of leeway in allocating my meager charitable dollar allowance. Not that any of them will actually notice.

The fact is that I don't like being interrupted by phone calls asking for money when a letter that I can answer at my convenience will do quite nicely. Nor do I appreciate being confronted on my way into the supermarket by bell ringers, hand stretchers or can clinkers. Yes, I know I'm heading down a very unpopular road here, but I'll get to my point: I actually applaud Target's decision to eliminate its exception for Salvation Army solicitations in front of its stores and I hope that others will soon follow its lead.

No, the Salvation Army isn't and never has been on my list. But that's not the reason I try to avoid stores that allow the kettles. I'd be no happier to have the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Federation Allied Jewish Appeal ringing a bell in my face when I go out for a loaf of bread or a tube of toothpaste. Yes, it's more convenient to throw some change in a pot than to write out a check or log on to a donor support page. But Target's point, too often ignored, is that it's hard to justify discriminating in favor of one worthy organization to the exclusion of others. And that's completely aside from the fact that this particular organization is, by its own account, a church, which for some helps to justify Target's position and for others helps to condemn it.

When I was growing up, the kosher markets all had a little row of pushkes at the checkout counter. A lot of them still do. Little boxes for various charities into which you could deposit a few coins. Or not. It was customary, especially on Friday, to put at least whatever change you got back from your purchase into the pushke. There it was, in your hand already, and it was easier than putting it back in your purse or your pocket. But there was no pressure, no noise, no sarcastic little "blessing" aimed at your back if you just walked by.

Maybe charities that traditionally solicit at this time of year could work out an arrangement with stores like Target to put up a large pushke. I know it wouldn't be quite as festive as bell-ringing Santas, but they just might find that they generate enough cash and more good will by using a softer, less intrusive approach.

And that's my 2 cents.

No excuse

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Can you imagine how (justifiably) outraged we would all be if someone made remarks like these about, well, just about anyone else?

DON IMUS: They're (the Palestinians) eating dirt and that fat pig wife of his is living in Paris.

COLLEAGUE: They're all brainwashed, though. That's what it is. And they're stupid to begin with, but they're brainwashed now. Stinking animals. They ought to drop the bomb right there, kill 'em all right now.

IMUS: Well, the problem is we have (reporter) Andrea (Mitchell) there; we don't want anything to happen to her.

COLLEAGUE: Oh, she's got to get out. Andrea, get out and then drop the bomb and kill everybody.

Sorry. There's simply no excuse.

I don't like Don Imus. So I don't watch Don Imus. But this is beyond the pale. Hate speech is hate speech, even if it's directed against people I don't find particularly admirable. We should be condemning this crap with loud voices. Even if, on some occasions, some of us do quietly allow such thoughts to slip through our own minds.

Oh, and

Shabbat Shalom.

Not news, I guess

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Guess what story isn't on CNN.com's front page. Or MSNBC's, either.

Yeah, this one.

A new CIA report released Wednesday outlines how Saddam Hussein illegally sponged off the seven-year U.N. Oil-for-Food program to enrich his regime.

The report estimates the deposed Iraqi dictator diverted up to $1 billion over the years from the relief program to fatten his military and industrial capabilities — all right under the U.N.'s nose. The diverted cash, part of a series of bribes and payoffs related to the program, was supposed to go to suffering Iraqis in the form of humanitarian aid and food.

And a good hunk of that cash found its way to the families of suicide bombers.

Of course, this really isn't news at all, but it's nice that some hard evidence is finally turning up being acknowledged.

Going nuclear

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Ariel Sharon, I fear, is losing what's left of his mind. A very disturbing development.

Part I:

Sharon said he will stand by the disengagement plan, dismissing calls from both sides of the political spectrum to delay the plan in view of Arafat's demise and enter into negotiations with his heirs.

"We don't know yet who they are and we also have to refrain from interference and statements on this matter. We need to decide what's better now, what's safer the agreement with the Americans, which was legislated by Congress, or to cancel it with all its advantages and reach an agreement with the Palestinians.

"Knowing both sides well, I am relying on our agreement with President [George W.] Bush and the Congressional legislation. I wouldn't forfeit these," Sharon said.

What "agreement" is he talking about? What "Congressional legislation?" I've been following this story pretty closely and I'm not aware of any such thing. What did I miss? (Note: this does not constitute an "agreement.")


Part II:

He proceeded to sound a warning about external elements that are trying to take over the Likud, thereby hinting at increased activity by "the Feiglins," members of the Jewish Leadership division influential in the Likud, and groups opposed to the disengagement that are threatening members of Knesset.

"There is an effort to take over the Likud from outside. There are incitement and threats and pressure on MKs. I want to tell you that this situation of threats and pressure is insufferable," Sharon said.

Now that sounds ominous, and some of these threats are quite serious and, yes, insufferable. (This "threat," on the other hand, hardly sounds like the actual work of a "right-wing extremist" -- unless it suits your purposes to read it that way.) But as I understand it, many of these threats consist largely of warnings that some Likud Knesset members might not be reelected if they defy their (Likud) constituents.

Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work? If you screw the people who elected you and support measures they elected you to oppose, you might not get reelected? By those people, anyway. Of course, you might very well get reelected by others who actually approve of your actions. So those threats seem a little empty to me.

To the extent Sharon is reacting to physical threats by actual extremists, he is of course quite correct. But especially in light of the fact that he himself has taken to routinely dismissing members of his cabinet for disagreeing with his agenda, his apoplexy over threats that MKs may lose their jobs if they support disengagement is downright creepy.

Briefly, from the AP

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This is good (link via Howard Bashman), but:

"No chickens have hatched, and I don't count any chickens until they're hatched," [Specter] said.

This, I think, is not (good at all). But:

The majority whip "believes the allegations are baseless, and they were political in nature. So he supports the proposed rules change by congressman Bonilla."
Hmmm.

Please, no. But this is interesting:

Not since George McGovern lost a bid for the presidency in 1972 has a senator returned to the Senate as a defeated presidential candidate, according to the Senate Historical Office.
Until now.


Eeew! (No buts.) Update: ok, I now see it's just New York. Whew! I thought someone was proposing this for '08 for the ... well, anyway ... never mind.

A cold rain

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Shai is done writing about Arafat. Too bad. I've rather enjoyed his commentary.

Me, I'm not writing much about the old dead thug, but I am still linking. Here's a less publicized piece from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (really!) that should get more attention.

Yesterday, as Arafat's coffin bounced across a mosh pit in Ramallah, and people fired weapons into the air, heedless of the laws of physics that suggest some innocent might take a bullet through the top of the head, a cold rain fell over Arlington, over the graves of Cleo Noel and Curt Moore.

If you don't know who Cleo Noel and George Curtis Moore were and how they died, or even if you do, I highly recommend that, you know, you read the whole thing.

Politically incorrect

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I guess it is, but I'm still wading my way through the various and sundry reflections on the meaning (or lack thereof) of Arafat's death, and this one is among the most convincing so far. Starting with its title.

These people deserve a state? By YOSEF GOELL

I am about a year older than Yasser Arafat was at his death and, I suspect, somewhat more ill than he was before his final collapse. Which is a way of begging indulgence to engage in what many would consider some very politically incorrect contemplations of the true meaning of what transpired around Arafat's death.

What we saw at the Ramallah compound where his body was flown in by two Egyptian military helicopters for burial on Friday afternoon was the true face of the Palestinian people.

[ . . . ]

Such a population does not deserve an independent state, even if it does hold superficially democratic elections. Such an armed independent state would constitute a great danger to Israel, to the surrounding Arab world and to the stability of the Middle East and the world as a whole.

Other nationalities who are much more deserving of independence, such as the Kurds in our region, are being denied such independence for much crasser reasons of Big Power political interests.

Arafat's greatest achievement was to put the claims of the Palestinians at the head of that list. That totally undeserving claim should and can now begin to be rolled back.

And I wholeheartedly agree. But I'm not holding my breath.

More good news

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First Ashcroft, now Powell. I can hardly contain myself. (But I do sincerely wish him well.)

And today's Meryl's birthday! So go wish her a happy one.

And so it begins

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Again.

Fatah gunmen stormed a mourning tent in Gaza City on Sunday evening and opened fire to protest against the presence of the PLO's Mahmoud Abbas and former security minister Muhammed Dahlan.

Two Palestinian policemen were killed in the ensuing gun battle, which lasted for more than 10 minutes. Abbas was unhurt, but his bodyguards threw him to the ground as the shooting intensified.

The two were identified as Kamal Abu Kainas, member of Force 17, or presidential guard, and Raed Darwish of the Preventative Security Force.

Meanwhile,

The Fatah Central Committee on Sunday chose Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) as its candidate for the Palestinian presidential elections, slated to take place on January 9, 2005.

And justice

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From where I sit, it feels like the right verdict. Andrea Peyser notwithstanding.

Shabbat Shalom.

Disgrace

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But of course.

At the United Nations, Arafat was honored as a head of state although the Palestinians only have observer status at the world body.

At Secretary-General Kofi Annan's request, the U.N. General Assembly accorded Arafat the honors of a head of state because that's the way he was treated for many years by the 191-member body, AP reported U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard as saying.

As a result, the blue-and-white U.N. flag flew at half-staff outside U.N. headquarters on Thursday, and the General Assembly held a memorial tribute to the Palestinian leader, AP said.

The story also mentions that three days of mourning have been declared in North Korea.

Vanunu re-arrested

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Yes, there is life after Arafat. And already it's not so pretty.

Less than a year after he was released from prison, nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu was arrested in Jerusalem Thursday morning by the police's International Crimes Unit for allegedly disclosing classified information.

I am so surprised at this!! (not)

At the hearing, Vanunu rejected the charges, accusing the defense establishment of having a vendetta against him. He added that his arrest "is an attempt to defer attention from Arafat's death."

No, Moti, I think this one's really about you.

Fahrenheit 911½

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Michael Moore wants to educate me???

Speaking about the film and the recent U.S. presidential election, Moore said: "51% of the American people lacked information and we want to educate and enlighten them. They weren't told the truth. We're communicators and it's up to us to start doing it now."

Yo, Mike! Stuff it! (And if the Democrats have any sense at all, they'll give him the same advice. I know. Fat chance.)

A must read obit

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at Sha! (naturally).

Finally!

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Like I said.

No tears.

Two state solution

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Oh, yes. Here is the latest from Calev Ben David. A little bumpy in spots, but very well done.

Two peoples sharing one land. Despite common historical roots, they are today irreversibly separated by opposing cultural, political, and religious values. Although some still dream that they can live together in peace in one nation, it is increasingly clear that nothing short of a two-state solution will resolve this conflict.

Of course, I'm talking about the United States. President George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry has opened up a major fault line between the two Americas: the so-called Republican-conservative Red States, and the Democratic-liberal Blue States.

You really should read it all.

Hardly Mother Teresa

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Inveterate palestinian spokesliar Saeb Erekat dares to compare Yasser Arafat to Nelson Mandela and -- wait for it -- Mother Teresa.

Palestinian Cabinet Minster Saeb Erekat told Army Radio that Arafat would be buried in Ramallah, and that his body may be transferred to Jerusalem if a diplomatic agreement is reached with Israel. Erekat added that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory "would have turned Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela into terrorists."

Now that's a really odd statement. I mean, no matter how you view the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, it's arguable that Nelson Mendela was, in fact, a terrorist (and, yes, I know the same is sometimes said about Ariel Sharon). But Mother Teresa?? In the same sentence?

What's old Saeb smoking today?

And then there's that thing about transferring the body to Jerusalem. I've been wrong about a lot of stuff lately, but I'll go out on one more limb and say it: I don't think so.

Red and blue

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Have I mentioned lately how much you're missing if you don't stop by here regularly?

(Note to self: see above.)

No, it's not peace yet

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The British have been getting increasingly cranky lately. Now that their hopes for the outcome of our presidential election have been dashed, the pressure on PM Blair to lean on President Bush to lean on Israel (harder) is mounting. And Blair seems to be making at least a good faith attempt to comply.

Last Wednesday, Blair delivered a subtle challenge to the President

I have long argued that the need to revitalise the Middle East peace process is the single most pressing political challenge in our world today.


which was more or less rebuffed by Bush during his press conference on Thursday.

I'll start with Tony Blair's comments. I agree with him that the Middle East peace is a very important part of a peaceful world. I have been working on Middle Eastern peace ever since I've been the President. I've laid down some -- a very hopeful strategy on -- in June of 2002, and my hope is that we will make good progress. I think it's very important for our friends, the Israelis, to have a peaceful Palestinian state living on their border. And it's very important for the Palestinian people to have a peaceful, hopeful future. That's why I articulated a two-state vision in that Rose Garden speech. I meant it when I said it and I mean it now.

"Very important" hardly equates with "the single most pressing political challenge in our world today." Bush knows that things just aren't that simple. Suddenly, Blair appears to have forgotten.

The beat goes on. In yesterday's Sunday Times, an article appeared with the headline, "Blair to pressure Bush for London summit."

TONY BLAIR will press George W Bush to join a new push to revive the Middle East peace process when he flies to Washington this week for his first face-to-face talks with the US president since his re-election.

Blair wants Bush’s backing for a special conference of key Israeli and Palestinian figures to be held in London in the new year. The prime minister made clear last week he wanted the Arab-Israeli conflict to be a priority for Bush in his second term.

The chances of an agreement may have been enhanced by the condition of Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, who is reported to be near death in a Paris clinic.

“A Middle East peace settlement is possible,” said a senior British government source. “Moderates on both sides know this. The prime minister knows resolving this issue is key to stopping terrorism.”

There seems to be a broad assumption among the pundits these days that the (acknowledged) passing of Arafat will open the door for peace. More to the point, there's a lot of huffing and puffing in the press about how Ariel Sharon will no longer have an "excuse" to avoid making peace with the palestinians. Meryl points to a fine example. Here's another.

Allow me to rain heavily on this parade. The poison that Arafat has implanted, at the behest and with the able assistance of every Arab government in the Middle East, will not dissipate with his last artificially induced breath. It will linger on for a long, long time. In fact, I'd say that one significance of the passing of Arafat may well be this: that when and only when his memory becomes a curse among his own people, when the palestinians cringe at hearing his name, when they spit on whatever grave he ends up in -- only then will that door to peace begin to come ajar.

Imagine, just for a moment, a Germany in which Hitler remained a universal symbol of pride and honor after WWII. Would the Allies have been able to fashion a sustainable peace with such a Germany?

There's no doubt that Arafat has been a substantial obstacle to peace, but in utterly consistent fashion, he's made damn sure that the obstacles will survive him. He's ensured that an entire generation of palestinians will continue his million martyr march, perhaps even more energetically in his absence. It's going to take more than a new face in the Mukata. And that's entirely aside from the issue of Hamas et al., who have no intention of allowing any true peace to prevail.

Sorry to be a bummer.


Update: Daniel Pipes has a substantially more complex and even gloomier outlook.

Oh well

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It looks like Jonathan was right. (See debate in comments here.)

I really thought Bibi, at least, had more, er, guts. Apparently not.

Going, going ...

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DEBKAfile says France is giving Arafat the boot.

Christian Estripeau, spokesman of the French military health services, informed Mrs. Arafat that he would issue no more bulletins on Arafat’s condition; neither would Percy hospital. She was given to understand that the hospital had kept her husband artificially alive as long as it intended to. The conversation followed a decision by a top-level conference of French officials, attended also by the president, to disengage from the pretence that Arafat was still alive. They realized it was no longer tenable without compromising the military hospital’s ethical position and medical credibility.

Meanwhile, the ongoing speculation that the old terrorist had AIDS is ramping up. Details here and here.

Unbelievable idiots

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This article in the Jerusalem Post, describing participants at the vigil for Arafat outside Percy Hospital in France, shows a display of ignorance and idiocy that defies belief.


First and foremost, we have the rabbi from Neturei Karta, a/k/a Orthodox Jews United Against Zionism -- a very disturbed group of individuals who believe that the State of Israel is an abomination because it was established by men rather than by God and because it's basically a secular state. (This doesn't prevent many of its members from living there, mind you, but although they refuse to pay taxes or acknowledge the existence of the State in any way, they are nonetheless tolerated.) Somehow, in their minds, their great piety justifies glorifying a man who has murdered more Jews than anyone since Hitler.

Next, we have the moron holding up this banner:

"Palestine defeated Rome, it will defeat Washington. Arafat opened for us the gates of Jerusalem. Arafat = Jesus, Sharon = Barrabas . . ., thief, and criminal, Bush = Pilate, coward, assassin, and idiot."


Then there's Moishe Arye Friedmann, from Vienna, who said he felt "very ashamed of the barbarity being done against the Palestinian people."

And Linda Salm, a 40-year-old Frenchwoman of Tunisian descent who prayed for Arafat's life as she kissed a portrait of him: "Great Allah, keep him alive to bring peace to Palestine."

The only hope of there ever being peace for "Palestine," as even Dennis Ross now acknowledges, lies on the other side of Arafat's grave, wherever it may be. Though I trust it will not be in Jerusalem. In the eloquent but provocative words of Israeli Justice Minister Tommy Lapid,

Jerusalem is the city where Jewish kings are buried and not Arab terrorists.

Wrapping up

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It's been a good week, all in all. I hope I still think so four years from now.

Shai has a report (as only Shai can report) on Ehud Barak's announcement of his return to politics.

Segacs, meanwhile, has good news on the Barak front. Concordia University has reversed its decision and now will allow the former Israeli prime minister to speak on campus, once it beefs up its security a bit. Maybe if he gets busy enough on that lecture circuit (where he seems to do a reasonably good job), he'll forget about running for office again (where he doesn't).

Shabbat Shalom.

No tears for Arafat

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No tears for this creature. (Read it all.) No tears.

My eyes are dry.

(apologies to Tuxedomoon)

Where's Mikey?

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This is Michael Moore's front page now? Interesting. Well, if you go through the mailing list link, you can still get to this message, posted on Monday. Poor baby.

Hey, I am absolutely positively not gloating. In general. But Michael Moore is fair game.


Update: Yeah, yesterday (Wednesday) all that was up there was the Bush photo. The names weren't there. Of course, each and every one of those brave men and women would probably puke in Moore's face if they could. Way to exploit our honored dead, fartwad.

Obit update

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Ideofact has more on the deceased Sheik Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan. I didn't know about this.

But not that good

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This is one of the sorrier by-products of the way America swung yesterday.

"This issue does not deeply divide America," said conservative activist Gary Bauer (search). "The country overwhelmingly rejects same-sex marriage, and our hope is that both politicians and activist judges will read these results and take them to heart."

And that's a serious shame. I can't begin to fathom what it is about gay marriage that this country overwhelmingly finds so threatening. Those who loudly decry promiscuous and irresponsible sexual behavior and claim to actively promote the establishment of stable, long-term family relationships ought to be able to see their way clear to tolerate, even encourage, such relationships among same-sex couples. But they don't. It's rank hypocrisy of the worst sort.

There's nothing about gay marriage that could possible threaten or undermine heterosexual marriage even a fraction as much as some of the charades that clearly and legally pass for "marriage" today. In fact, there's nothing about gay marriage that could possible threaten or undermine heterosexual marriage at all. But never mind. It's all about religion. And the need to impose one's deeply held beliefs upon others who don't share them.

Hopefully, someday, we'll get beyond this.

I feel good

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In spite of the fact that President Bush lost Pennsylvania, all but one of the candidates I voted for yesterday won their races. Not too bad.

Kudos to both presidential candidates for their restraint and courtesy (so far, anyway) in the aftermath of this election.

And, yes, Meryl did call Virginia long before any of the networks did.

Obit

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Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates since 1971 and founder of the (now defunct) Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-up, has died at the age of 86.

(For more info on the Zayed Centre, see here and here. And a laudatory diatribe here containing much gratuitous Bush bashing.)

One last reminder

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I'm one of those. The once-upon-a-time liberal (with a small "l") Jewish voters who have never voted for a Republican candidate for President in their lives, but who will be voting for the incumbent Republican President today. I join with Meryl Yourish and Judith Weiss and Ed Koch and a whole host of other people who are making this switch. This will be my ninth presidential election, so that's saying something. And before I was old enough to vote, I worked for Eugene McCarthy in 1968.

Well, in that and other things, I was somewhat of a dupe. I know that now. This isn't the conservativism that allegedly sets in with old age. This is largely the result of access to news and information sources that more than occasionally manage to cross and transcend ideological and political boundaries. It's part of the wonder of access to the internet.

I'm a rather stubborn person. It wasn't easy for me to acknowledge that my youthful political views may not always have been informed by the most reliable sources -- that I preferred the lure and mystique (and music) of the love generation to the mothballs and crewcut prisiness of the 'America first' crowd. I'm ever so slightly reluctant to admit that I still do.

The good news is that my basic views on freedom and democracy and the rights of the individual, regardless of race, gender, culture, creed, religion or affectional preference, haven't changed. I still believe with all my heart that, given the chance, these values will prevail in America. But right now, America is at war with an amorphous entity that despises those values to a degree that, for some reason, its apologists here seem unable to comprehend. And until we win that war, some of our aspirations for the utopian future in which those values truly rule our society may have to be put on hold.

Deferred gratification is a concept that small children have trouble understanding. But adults striving for true freedom should be able to discern between false hope for a seductive "quick fix" and the long hard road that leads to the real thing. For all his faults (and they are many), President Bush represents the latter. His opponent, the former.

So here's hoping that President Bush is re-elected today, that we'll prevail in this war against Islamist extremists and their allies, and that in another four years we can once again return our attention to the true pursuit of those exalted personal liberties for which Democrats once stood proud.

Evolution

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For those out there who think they "know" who Charles Johnson is, where he comes from and what he stands for based on the image that he commands today, I suggest that you go read and follow the links here.

You don't often get this kind of intimate view of a man's ideological evolution. And you don't often find a man with the guts to offer it.

Dead heat in PA

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The final Quinnipiac poll shows that Bush and Kerry are neck and neck in Pennsylvania. How about that?

Technical analysis

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Want the ultimate in indicators of the presidential election results? It just doesn't get much more precise or scientific than this.

Absolutely positively maybe

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Guess who?

It's absolutely impossible and irresponsible to suggest that if I were president, he [Saddam] wouldn't necessarily be gone. He might be gone. Because if he hadn't complied, we might have had to go to war. And we might have gone to war.

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