March 2005 Archives

Rivka Paluch

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Who is this woman? And what does she have against democracy?

Yes, I know. She was only doing her job.

Side note

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For some reason, Fox News and some others continue to report that the majority opinion in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' denial of a rehearing on the Schiavo case "addressed the 'activist judges' label" and criticized Congress for its intervention.

"While the members of her family and the members of Congress have acted in a way that is both fervent and sincere, the time has come for dispassionate discharge of duty," Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. wrote for the majority.

Not really. The majority didn't write an opinion but simply denied the rehearing. Judge Birch wrote for himself, concurring with the majority decision but for reasons he was obviously unable to convince his colleagues to officially adopt. You can find the majority ruling (a single sentence), Judge Birch's concurrence, the separate concurring opinion of Judges Carnes and Hull and the dissenting opinion of Judges Tjoflat and Wilson here.

Stacked deck

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Here's the thing about the Code Blue Blogger challenge (other than that the point is now basically moot).

To prove my point I am offering $100,000 on a $25,000 wager for ANY neurologist (and $125,000 for any neurologist/bioethicist) involved in Terri Schiavo's case--including all the neurologists reviewed on television and in the newspapers who can accurately single out PVS patients from functioning patients with better than 60% accuracy on CT scans.

I will provide 100 single cuts from 100 different patient's brain CT's. All the neurologist has to do is say which ones represent patients with PVS and which do not.

I don't know squat about neurologists or CT scans, but I do know this. Doctor Code Blue, by his own admission, has only seen a single cut (on the internet) of Terri Schiavo's brain CT while the neurologists who testified in court, the neurologists who actually count, have seen the whole scan. So have some of the neurologists that are annoying him so much by commenting on the case in the media. CBB claims he can tell from looking at a single cut that all of the doctors who say Ms. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state are wrong. Terribly wrong. But CBB's also admitted that he'd like to see the rest of the scan. So why is he challenging other doctors to prove they can assess whether a patient is in a PVS by looking at a single cut when almost no one but him is claiming that ability? Beats me.

This kind of grandstanding is why I tuned out on CBB's armchair analysis of this case several days ago. That and the fact that he's claiming Bill Clinton has AIDS. Or maybe cancer. He's not quite sure which.

Nice.

And since I've unfortunately been unable to restrain myself from commenting directly on a subject I've (mostly) been avoiding like the plague, I guess it's time to get a few things off my chest. What I'd like to say it this:

I don't really have a strong opinion one way or the other about Terri Schiavo's medical condition, what she did or didn't say, what ought to be done about it or who has the moral authority to decide. That's at least partly because I don't really think it's any of my business and partly because, even if it was, I don't have access to the information necessary to make any of those decisions.

I do have a strong opinion, however, about deference to the rule of law in this, my country.

I have a strong opinion about whether religious beliefs, however sincere, should ever trump the protections and the restrictions that our laws and the Constitution provide and impose.

I have a strong opinion about people who threaten other people with violence for upholding the law.

I have a strong opinion about people deliberately distorting beyond recognition facts that are easily ascertainable and verifiable in order to make their point.

I have a strong opinion about people who exploit other people's deepest pain for any number of purposes, from ego gratification to greed.

I have a strong opinion about people using words like "Nazi" and "concentration camp" to describe anything they don't happen to approve of.

And I have a strong opinion about people who barge into other people's blogs and attack them in the most vicious and personal and hurtful ways for simply expressing their opinion.

It's clear to me that an awful lot of people simply don't understand how our legal system works. That's too bad, but it's not surprising. It takes a little time and effort to understand. Much easier to simply pop off whenever it doesn't produce the result you prefer, whether that result is a murder conviction, an indictment of gay marriage or the replacement of a feeding tube. It would be so much easier if judges would simply conduct polls to decide the outcome of their cases. But it doesn't appear that that method would have changed the result in the Schiavo matter. So maybe they should just tally up which side makes more death threats and go that way.

To Michele and Charles and Glenn and Matt and Matt and countless others who have managed to express their own diverse opinions and provide us with valuable information and insights on this very emotional issue without rancor or hyperbole and who have been raked over the coals for it, thank you.

And to my parents and S., who assure me that I never have to worry that anyone will ever try to keep my body alive after my consciousness is gone (but in case there's any doubt and my living will mysteriously disappears, perhaps Google will show clearly and convincingly enough that I want no effing feeding tube unless I have the wherewithal to ask for it), thank you.

And that's really all I have to say.

Update: It's over. May she rest in peace.

Stoopid scammer stories

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I thought I'd seen the dumbest of the dumb. But today this arrived in my mailbox.

HELLO,
MAY I USE THIS OPPURITUNITY TO INTRODUCE MYSELF AS
MRS AISHA ARAFAT.THE WIFE OF
LATE YASSER THE PRESIDENT OF PALESTINE WHO
DIED ON NOVEMBER 11TH 2004.I
AM CONTACTING YOU WITH THE BELIEF THAT WE WILL
DEVELOP A CORDIAL BUSINESS
RELATIONSHIP WHICH WILL BE BENEFICIAL TO BOTH
PARTIES.I AM CURRENTLY IN THE
POSSESION OF THE SUM OF 56.4M UNITED STATE DOLLARS.
THE
MONEY CAME ABOUT DURING MY
HUSBANDS YEARS AS THE HEAD OF THE PALESTINES
LIBERATION ORGANISATION.,SO LARGE
AMOUNT OF MONEY WAS DONATED AND RAISED THROUGH
BUSINESS AND TAXES AND THEY ARE
DEPOSITED TO SECURITY COMPANY IN SOUTH AFRICA.,SO
WHAT I NEED FROM YOU NOW IS
YOUR HELP AND AS WELL TRUST AND SINCERITY OF
PURPOSE.IF YOU WILL HAVE TO HELP ME WITH THIS
TRANSACTION,I WILL GIVE YOU 10% OF THE
FUNDS AND 5% EXTRA FOR ANY EXPENSE YOU INCURE IN THIS
TRANSACTION.PLEASE INDICATE YOUR FIRM INTEREST BY
RESPONDING TO THIS MAIL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO ENABLE
US BEAT THE SAID TIME.
I WILL WAIT
FOR YOUR URGENT RESPONSE
SOONEST.

PLEASE CONTACT ME WITH MY PRIVATE EMAIL:aisha_arafat1@yahoo.ca

WITH BEST REAGRDS,

MRS AISHA

I wonder if Suha is in on it.

Obfuscation

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There's an ongoing media campaign to dilute the legitimacy of Israel's (and Judaism's) claim to the Temple Mount as its holiest place. Equal mention, of course, must always be made of Muslim claims, notwithstanding that such claims originated as and have always been based upon a desire to defeat and obliterate the Jewish connection to the place. Why? Because Islam does recognize the pivotal nature of that connection and realizes how important it is in the ongoing war against the non-believers. In that war, the press has become a willing pawn.

This item shows up in an AP article today on the seemingly unrelated topic of a call by a right-wing MK to disarm both settlers and police before the impending Gaza "disengagement."

Also Wednesday, Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco said he would prevent withdrawal opponents from holding an April 10 rally at a disputed Jerusalem holy site. Franco told Israel Radio the protesters posed a security risk.

The site - known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary - is revered in both religions. The site is the most sensitive spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The above link is to The Guardian, but similar references abound. For some history of the centuries-old effort to eradicate the Jewish bond with Har HaBayit and Jerusalem, see Mordechai Kedar's excellent article here (or here).

Entrapment?

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Arutz Sheva is reporting attempted police entrapment of anti-"disengagement" settlers.

An apparent agent-provocateur was discovered attempting to entrap members of the Yesha Council by offering them explosives. The police may have been involved.

You have to pay attention to the qualifiers in there. An "apparent" agent-provocateur. The police "may" have been involved. But the story sounds very suspicious on its face. The police have apparently now slapped a gag order on the whole incident. Why?

Expect to see a lot more stories like this in the coming months. Some of them will probably be true. Some of them probably won't. I suspect it's going to be hard to tell the difference and that serious investigations by the media will be few and far between, at best.

Just saying

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So Bobby Schindler is practically a Nicholas Cage double and his sister Suzanne bears a distinct resemblance to Katherine Zeta-Jones, except with maybe even better bone structure. I don't know. This is an awfully photogenic family. I wonder if they have any talent. I'd be willing to bet I'm not the only one wondering that.

What? You think this is cynical? In poor taste? Maybe, but it's not even close to this.

Where is Jerusalem?

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This has been an issue for quite some time in the U.S. Now it seems Canada has also jumped on the bandwagon. (via Beryl D.)

Israeli Canadian Dan Drori is adamant.

He has no intention of complying with a federal government request to relinquish his passport inscribed with the placeline “Jerusalem, Isr” (Israel).

“There’s nothing that would make me return it,” said Drori, a 20-year-old first year student in computer management at York University.

He was referring to a recent decision by Passport Canada recently to retrieve Canadian passports marked in error with this notation.


Canada’s policy is not to issue passports identifying Jerusalem as part of any country until its status is cleared up by Israel and its Arab neighbours in peace negotiations.

But such political matters are irrelevant to Drori, whose family settled in Jerusalem after immigrating from Yemen in 1948.

“Jerusalem, Israel, is where I was born. I’m going to keep this passport. It’s not right. If someone was born in Toronto, it has to say Toronto, Canada, and not just Toronto. I was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and that’s what my passport should say.”

Absolutely.

Game over

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Yes, it seems that the referendum is dead, clearing the way for Ariel Sharon's grand plan to succeed. I know that almost everyone is very happy about this. And it's not fun being a member of such a small minority on such an important issue. There's little doubt in my mind that this disengagement thing is going to be a disaster. A disaster for Israel, a disaster for US foreign policy and a disaster for hopes of peace in the Middle East. But there's this thing: I really, sincerely hope I'm wrong.

One of the questions I always ask myself when I take a position on something is how much I'm being influenced by hope rather than reality. I also ask that question when I see normally rational people taking a position that to me lacks any foundation. Am I missing something? Having read and re-read and parsed and studied the arguments, am I experiencing a cognitive blind spot or are they really processing air? Hope is a powerful influence, and often a very positive one, but if it leads you to jump out of a plane without a parachute because you believe a favorable breeze will carry you gently to the ground, you're probably in trouble.

One of my problems with the whole disengagement proposal is that no one, least of all Ariel Sharon, has offered a single coherent reason how or why it will improve the situation. Some still point to a demographic problem that we now know was largely fabricated. Others continue to insist that there's some kind of "deal" with the Bush administration but no one on either side of that deal will spell out just what it is or how far it can be relied on (does it have something to do with Ma'ale Adumim or is it Iran? Or both?). I pick up some mumbling about increased support from the rest of the world as a result of this gesture, but almost no one will make that prediction out loud with a straight face. And then there's the "we just can't keep doing this" argument.

All of this is interesting, but none of it offers a clue as to what happens next. And unless you're predisposed to think that the 7,500-8,000 Israelis living in Gush Katif and other communities in the Gaza Strip are the equivalent of cattle or sheep or chess pieces, to be moved about and resettled without regard to what, for just about any other population in the world, would be called their human rights, well, unless you're so predisposed, there's a serious moral issue at stake here. These are people who love both the State of Israel and the Land of Israel. Convince them that there's something to be gained by their (considerable) sacrifice, and many of them might willingly participate in their own eviction. But no one's bothered to do that. No one's even bothered to try.

I realize that the political battle on this is pretty much over, and "my" side obviously lost. So now all I can do is indulge in some wishing thinking of my own, and hope that everything will turn out all right. As I did with Oslo over a decade ago. I have very mixed feelings about the civil disobedience that's bound to ensue. While I sympathize with those who will be acting out, I think the overall effect will only be to worsen an already bad situation. I think that, but I'm not sure.

I guess I'm not sure of very much these days.

Update: Here's Caroline Glick's (latest) take.

ok well bye then

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Koran scholar: US will cease to exist in 2007

A thorough analysis of the Koran reveals that the US will cease to exist in the year 2007, according to research published by Palestinian scholar Ziad Silwadi.

The study, which has caught the attention of millions of Muslims worldwide, is based on in-depth interpretations of various verses in the Koran. It predicts that the US will be hit by a tsunami larger than that which recently struck southeast Asia.

[ . . . ]

Silwadi, who is from the village of Silwad near Ramallah – the home of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal – is not a world-renowned scholar. He said he decided to publish the findings of his research "out of a sense of responsibility because what is about to happen is extremely shocking and frightening."

[ . . . ]

Silwadi pointed out that the US continued to commit war crimes and "ethnic cleansing" against humanity by becoming the first country to use nuclear weapons during World War II.

"International law penalizes such crimes," he said. "If these laws were not applied then, they are certainly implemented in heaven. If no one on earth is capable of punishing [the US], Allah was and remains able to do so. All these actions have been documented by Allah in a big archive called the Koran."

Silwadi said he reached the conclusion that several suras (chapters) in the Koran that talk about punishment for those who perpetrate heinous sins actually refer to the US.

But of course! Silwadi even manages to cast America in the role of Pharoah in the Koran's, er, version of the Exodus story. Food for thought as Pesach is just a few weeks away. And then there's this:

In his lengthy study, which is being circulated in many Muslim countries, Silwadi noted that the US has often been compared to a tree that grows very quickly and bears fruit, but has no roots.

In an attempt to find a reference to this metaphor in the Koran, Silwadi said he counted 1776 verses from the beginning of the Koran until he reached verse 26 of the Ibrahim Sura, which states: "And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth's surface; it has no stability."

wow and it's not as if the people in those Muslim countries might already have been familiar with that verse or anything (hey it's true -- that actually is the 1776th verse of the Koran -- but since when does the Koran measure history by the Gregorian calendar??).

But enough with the excerpts. Khaled Abu Toameh, as always, is thorough and informative in his account of this incredible revelation. Read the rest here.

Kohelet says

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For everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens:

A time to be born, and a time to die; . . .

Shabbat Shalom

Happy Purim!!

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As Meryl says, (there -- she said it again!) "They tried to kill us, they failed, let's eat."

And drink.

A man is obligated to imbibe on Purim until he can no longer distinguish between "Cursed is Haman" and "Blessed is Mordechai."

Purim is a veritable cornucopia of paradoxes which ignite the imagination of both scholar and layman. But perhaps the greatest challenge of all is posed by this requirement to indulge in drink to the point of losing the faculty of discernment. How, ask the commentaries throughout the generations, can we be commanded to invite that very intoxication which is so roundly reviled in both Scripture and Talmud? And why such a puzzling standard of non-discernment?

Good questions, and this explanation is wonderful, but too long to quote here. Go and read.

Purim Sameach!

Exporting bigotry

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For the most part, Israel has always had a pretty laissez-faire attitude toward sexual orientation, even on public display. But it seems that every year the heat is being turned up a little higher. And a lot of it is coming from outside influence.

A worldwide interfaith campaign against a major international gay pride parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem this summer gathered steam Wednesday with the Chief Rabbinate, the leaders of various Patriarchs in Jerusalem and a senior Muslim religious leader joining forces to thwart the event.

The religious leaders view the parade as an affront to the religious sensibilities of millions of people around the world.

There have been Gay Pride parades in Jerusalem for the past three years. This event was announced in October of 2003. I'd suggest that "millions of people around the world" need to get over it.

C-Span off balance

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Honest Reporting has some good news. C-Span's inexcusable attempt to provide "balance" by offering a platform to Holocaust-denier David Irving is getting more attention. And a petition by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies has garnered the signatures of over 200 historians.

More than two hundred prominent historians and social scientists from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Israel have signed a letter protesting C-SPAN's plan to broadcast a lecture by Holocaust-denier David Irving on its program "Book TV."

It's a parody

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Not to make light of a very tragic situation, but this is funny.

The U.S. Senate has passed a compromise bill allowing a federal court to review a controversial foul call that determined the March 11 Big East basketball conference tournament game between West Virginia and Villanova.

President Bush has cancelled his vacation to return to Washington and sign the bill into law. The White House released a statement that read in part: "In cases like this one, where there are serious questions and substantial doubts, our society, our laws, and our courts should have a presumption in favor of letting the players play. Particularly in the last two minutes."

Read the rest.

Tempest in a teapot?

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I don't think so. Up until the past few days, I've been very ambivalent about the Schiavo case. Mostly, I've been trying to ignore it, other than to the extent that it impacts on my professional life, being as that tends to involve consulting with clients on things like wills, trusts and advance medical directives (a/k/a living wills).

Business perks up when right-to-die cases hit the headlines.

But for purposes of this blog, what strikes me is the probably unanticipated political ramifications of the last few days' events. A prominent and well-respected Philadelphia lawyer makes this comment on an estate planning listserve:

Some thoughts re: Schiavo aftershocks:

1. The thousands of clients I have written living wills for are terrified
that the government won't let them die with dignity now.

2. Those same clients are wondering why the government won't fund stem
cell research that may help them lead healthier and longer lives.

3. The same administration that tries to convince us that it is for
states' rights and original intent continues its onslaught on personal and states'
rights.

4. The people finally wake up and kick these buggers out of office.

5. The Bushes have finally been exposed as "wearing no clothes."

I can't disagree with any of it except #5 but, OTOH, in light of #s 1-4, #5 could be harder to dispute.

It's just possible that in one fell stroke the Bush administration has evaporated a good chunk of whatever political capital it's built up over the past three and a half years with everyone other than the wacko extremist "religious right." Wouldn't that be a hoot? All because the parents of a virtually brain-dead woman in Florida want to keep her alive as a vegetable, the pendulum swings and the virtually brain-dead idiotarian left returns to power and renders the entire nation helpless in the face of the terrorist threat?

Way to go, Mr. DeLay. Right on, Mr. Reid. Kudos, Mr. President. This will be your legacy. Hope you're proud.

Then again, there's hope that Judge Whittemore will quickly reach the obvious conclusion that this case is over. And then maybe people will forget that most of the U.S. Congress forgot its oath of office this morning.

Terri Schiavo

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There's an amazingly civil and informative debate going on over at The Volokh Conspiracy. There's also a wealth of relatively neutral information and analysis here (via OceanGuy).

More mosque incitement

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Remember palestinian preacher Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris? He's the one who gave this lovely Friday sermon a few weeks ago. The one that forced Mahmoud Abbas to issue this promise to censor mosque sermons in general and Sheikh Mudeiris in particular.

Well, poor Mr. Abbas, despite what I'm sure are his best efforts, has been unsuccessful in his attempt to curb Sheikh Mudeiris' enthusiasm.

In a fiery official sermon on Palestinian State Television Friday (March 18, 2005), Palestinian preacher Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris declared that "the Jewish government" was hatching plots together with "extremist religious Jews" to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem or to "invade the blessed Al-Aqsa mosque" with "thousands of extremists, Jews."

Sheikh Mudeiris, who spoke in a mosque in Gaza, warned Israel that "millions of Muslims would come to the defense of Al-Aqsa," and similar comments came in the other official mosque address on Voice of Palestine radio from Sheikh Abu-Sneina at the Aqsa mosque itself in Jerusalem.

Both addresses featured anti-American elements, too, comparing Palestinian "martyrs" with those in fighting the U.S. in Iraq.

The speeches themselves were only the latest signs that the Palestinian Authority (PA) headed by Mahmoud Abbas had not really carried out its promise to stop all violence and incitement to violence against Israel, while Israeli officials have actually downplayed or hidden obvious Palestinian violations.

But wait a minute. According to the JPost article (dated March 9),

"From now on, the preachers will be given speeches prepared in advance by the PA authorities," the [senior PA security] official said. "Anyone who does not abide by the text will be fired."

So was the above text prepared in advance by the PA authorities? Or are Sheikh Mudeiris and Sheikh Youssef Abu-Sneina about to be fired? The suspense is killing me.

Between two evils

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The way that this poor woman's "life" has become a media circus and political football is outrageous in the extreme. From what I can tell, both sides have been behaving abominably, and their respective cheerleading sections even worse.

Subpoena this.

Hopefully, the coverage will at least get more people to make the necessary arrangements to assure that their families are never put in this position. Hopefully, but I wouldn't count on it.

Yes, I'm very boring today.

Shabbat Shalom.

No excuse

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I was going to post on this myself,

Hurling stones and waving bats, some 40 students from a yeshiva in Nahliel, west of Ramallah, attacked a group of eight Palestinian workers congregating outside the West Bank settlement, wounding three of them. The wounded were taken to a Ramallah hospital.

Five of the settlers were arrested, including a 24-year-old counselor at the yeshiva who police suspect led what they called "the lynch-like attack."

but David has already said most everything that needs to be said much better than I could have. I found this bit particularly disturbing.

While police vowed to crack down on the assailants and do all they can to prevent contact between West Bank settlers and their Palestinian neighbors, they warned Thursday night that attacks on Palestinians would only continue as long as the disengagement looms ahead.

I'm as big an opponent of "the disengagement" as you'll find, but don't even dare try to use that as an excuse for this sort of disgusting behavior. Unless there's a lot more to this story than meets the eye (and there very well could be but it sure hasn't surfaced yet), it's totally irrelevant.

Yet another BBC apology

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It's getting to be a habit.

Months after a BBC crew in Jerusalem breached Israeli censorship restrictions and interviewed atomic spy Mordechai Vanunu, BBC reportedly issued a written apology to the Israeli authorities, pledging such mishaps won't occur in the future.

The Guardian reported on Saturday that BBC's apology was to have remained a secret, but the BBC accidentally posted details of it on its Web site. Several hours later, the details were removed.

David Irving rants

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Infamous Holocaust denier David Irving has seen fit to publish (of course he has a website) his odious correspondence with sycophant Amy Roach of C-Spam. Ooops. I mean C-Span. He must think this stuff makes him look good.

Dear Amy,

that is very civil of you to want to balance your coverage. More on that in a minute. But: How come you never covered such items as Lipstadt's pressurising St Martin's Press in April 1996 to violate their contract to publish my Goebbels biography, the result of eight years' work by me in the Moscow KGB and other archives (Prof Gordon Craig subsequently described that book in the most glowing terms in a six page review in the NY Review of Books -- a book you could not, and still cannot, buy anywhere in the USA!)

And on and on and on ....

By the way Deborah L will do all she can to dissuade you from giving me a fair hearing, even if it means losing publicity for her book. Just to warn you of what you will let yourself in for.

Nice touch. The amazing powers of Carnac, this man has. Roach's fawning reply:

Thanks so much for your quick response. Great to hear that you are planning a US tour. The timetable sounds perfect, actually. Are you promoting a new book, or is your lecture topic-driven? I'd love to see a copy of your tour schedule, so that we can consider taping one of your events or arranging an interview during your visit to the states.

For more information on C-Span's absurd notion of "balance," see Richard Cohen's op-ed in Tuesday's Washington Post and Honest Reporting's communique from yesterday.

That prisoner release thing

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Remember this?

Monday, February 21, 2005. 8:38pm (AEDT)

Israel frees 500 Palestinian prisoners

Israel has begun freeing 500 Palestinian prisoners, fulfilling a promise made at a cease-fire summit in Egypt.

Imagine my surprise at finding this item (from earlier this week):

A Palestinian that was freed from incarceration in Israel in the recent release of 500 security prisoners was arrested along with two other Palestinians near Kalkilya this afternoon after 102 M16 bullets, a knife and other stolen property were found in their possession.

Judea and Samaria Police on routine operations in the area stopped the car at a checkpoint outside of the city for inspection. After finding the weapons, police checked the identities of the three and discovered that one of them, identified as Naim Hable, 32, was among the detainees released on February 21 as a gesture to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The three were detained for questioning.

Released prisoners, as predicted, are returning immediately upon their release to terrorist activities. Incitement as usual is continuing on PA TV. But make no mistake. It's Israel that's "undermining the peace process."

Despite the Israeli Prime Minister’s preemptive rejection Monday of any truce agreement among Palestinians, the third round of inter-Palestinian national dialogue opened in Cairo Tuesday, chaired by President Mahmoud Abbas who warned Israel that Palestinians cannot fulfill their Sharm el-Sheikh obligations unilaterally, as his Prime Minister said that Sharon’s policies are undermining the peace process.

Obviously, the palestinians cannot or will not fulfill their Sharm el-Sheikh obligations, period. But this is news? Not to anyone who's been paying attention.

PMW report - update

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The full PMW bulletin I mentioned yesterday is now up here, with video links.

IEAPD recap

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Well I'll be honest. Dinner wasn't a huge success. We were being adventurous this year and some of it wasn't so good.

To begin with, the bunny was a little funky. We eat a lot of rabbit and it's usually delicious, but parts of this one were strange. There were several yummy morsels, though, so it was hardly a total loss. Dijon mustard and chopped fresh rosemary marinade, grilled to perfection. Still, some of it was off.

The pheasant sausage was frozen. Next year, I have to remember to remind my butcher about IEAPD a few days in advance, because he'd be more than happy to prepare some extra stuff fresh with a little notice. He's not a PETA fan. Frozen pheasant sausage is still really good, but not as quite as good as fresh.

The lamb mergues was, uh, spicy. V-E-R-Y spicy. Very tasty, but too spicy for wine, and dinner at our house is almost always accompanied by wine. So the lamb mergues (which contains harissa) was just a bit too spicy.

And then there was the venison sausage. A true delight. This one has a very odd combination of ingredients, including sumac, ginseng and goldenseal (which is one of the worst-tasting things on the face of the earth) but this batch was perfectly balanced and absolutely delicious. And it went beautifully with the wine (a 1998 Châteauneuf du Pape).

I think next year we'll stick with slightly more traditional, beefier cuts, like venison or buffalo loin. Our previous IEAPD menus are here and here (and yes, I've long since gotten over the bunny thing).

Do you know PMW?

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That stands for Palestinian Media Watch, and if you don't, you should. As a matter of fact, you should get on their mailing list because, as Solomon pointed out today, their website sucks (sorry).

Itamar Marcus has for years been publicizing the "other face" of the so-called Mid-east peace process, exposing the contradictions between what the Palestinian Authority has been saying to Western leaders and the Western press and the message it's been sending to its own people via its own media apparatus. The contrasts have always been shocking. In addition to countless articles and lectures, Marcus has also provided valuable testimony to the U.S. Senate on this issue.

Last week I made highly skeptical mention of the latest in a series of promises by Mahmoud Abbas and his cohorts to clean up incitement against Israel on PA TV, especially in the religious sermons that are broadcast weekly. For the umpteenth time, a serious crackdown was pledged. Today, PMW issued a bulletin that gives a good indication of how seriously we can take that pledge.

Pressuring mothers to celebrate sons’ martyrdom key to PA’s success promoting suicide terrorism
By Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

Introduction
Creating a supportive social environment for terrorists has been a critical factor in the Palestinian Authority’s successful promotion of suicide terrorism. To this end, PA policy has been to honor terrorists as Shahids (Martyrs for Allah), and to teach Palestinian mothers to celebrate when their children die as terrorist Shahids. Categorizing these dead terrorists as Shahids grants them the highest honor a Muslim can achieve, and is therefore cause for a mother to celebrate, according to this PA teaching.

This pressure on Palestinian mothers to celebrate their dead sons as Shahids continues under the regime of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and even increased this past week with repeated PA TV promotion connected to International Woman’s Day.

Preaching before an audience that included Abbas, Sheikh Yusuf Juma’ Salamah said in Friday’s sermon on PA TV that the ideal Palestinian woman is like Al Khansah, the heroine of Islamic tradition who celebrated her four sons’ death in battle by thanking God for the honor. Salamah, the PA Minister of Waqf, quoted Al Khansah: “Praise Allah, who granted me honor with their deaths.” [PA TV, March 11, 2005]

It’s important to note that this was the first Friday sermon broadcast since the PA announced last week that it would control and vet all Friday sermons delivered in West Bank and Gaza strip mosques. This portrayal of the ideal Palestinian woman as one who willingly sacrifices her sons as Shahids, therefore, continues to represent official PA ideology – especially since this sermon was delivered in the presence of Abbas.

(Unfortunately, the full text of this important article isn't posted on PMW's website yet. It probably will be within the next few days. In the meantime, Solomon has posted a more extensive excerpt here.) Update: now posted, here.

While Abu Mazen is still telling his people that a woman can aspire to no higher goal than raising a son who will blow himself up in the process of murdering some Jews, what, again, is it that Israel is supposed to sacrifice to keep the "peace process" on track?

Happy IEAPD!

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Today is the 3rd annual International Eat an Animal for PETA Day. For the origin and history of this event, see here.

I'll be posting our dinner menu tomorrow. I believe it's going to include rabbit, venison, lamb and pheasant this year, but there could be some last minute surprises. Stay tuned.

Rocky road

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I had a little flash of deja vu when I read over at Imshin's that Harry's car got stoned Friday. Yeah, this wasn't the first time.

The palestinians continue to insist that throwing "stones" is non-violent protest. Take a look at what this "stone," thrown by one of those adorable palestinian children, did to Harry's car. And what, pray tell, were they "protesting?" Oh right. A Jew was driving a car on a road. In "Palestine."

Is it peace yet?

Speculation

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Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear I heard someone on Fox News in the past day or two say that no one had ever been elected President who had never held a previous elected office.

Excuse me?

I'm not even going to bother to research this beyond my living memory. But. Dwight David Eisenhower was first elected President before I was born. I came into this world during his first term. But I do recall that he had never run for public office before his 1952 run for the Presidency. So....

It would be a trip if the first ever woman President of the United States happened to also be the first ever African-American President of the United States. But if that doesn't happen, it won't be because no one has ever been elected President who has never held a previous elected office. 'Cause that's just not so.

I'd still give the nod to Giuliani for the Republican ticket in 08, though, with Condi as #2. Now that would be interesting against Hillary and ... ???

Very late update: Ok, I suspected that this post was the result of some utterly irresponsible impulse, no doubt inspired by a few too many glasses of Zinfandel with dinner that night. And now, via Kesher Talk, I find undeniable confirmation of that suspicion. I hereby pledge to refrain from malinformed public speculation about the 2008 presidential race until at least 2007. Ok?

Nobody does it better

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Meryl takes out the trash.

Shabbat Shalom.

Inappropriate response

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I've been debating with myself over whether I (and Herb Keinon at the Jerusalem Post) am/are overreacting to this news. I don't think so.

While Poland and Switzerland are sending their presidents, Romania and Holland their prime ministers, and Germany and Spain their foreign ministers, the US will be represented by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at next week's dedication of Yad Vashem's new museum.

Over the last few months a number of names had been bandied about as possible leaders of the US delegation, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Earlier this week diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said they expected at least a cabinet-level representative.

But they were wrong. In the end Washington decided to send Bloomberg.

The kicker was this explanation for the decision.

US embassy spokesman Paul Patin, when asked why the US decided to send Bloomberg and not a higher-ranking official, said, "The feeling of friendship and warmth between Israel and the US exists in every city, but in some respect New York is the most visible expression. New Yorkers love Israel, and Israelis love New York. New York is one of the great cites of the world, and Mayor Bloomberg is proud to represent the US at this most solemn occasion."

Translation: New York is the biggest Jewish city in the world? Not that I'm accusing Mr. Patin of subscribing to the sentiments expressed in that screed, but it's the first thing that came to my mind, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Why should the opening of a new Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem be such a big deal? Well, that's another discussion. But in light of the responses by the rest of the civilized world, Washington's is highly inappropriate.

Oh wow this again

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If it sounds familiar, it should.

The Palestinian Authority has decided to impose restrictions on preachers who deliver Friday sermons in West Bank and Gaza Strip mosques, a senior PA security official told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

Under the new restrictions, preachers would not be able to deliver sermons that have not been authorized by the PA, he said.

This will be the first time that since the establishment of the PA that preachers will be unable to deliver their own Friday sermons. The move is seen as an attempt by the PA leadership to stop incitement against Israel and the US in mosques.

We did hear this last month. Or maybe it was the month before? Or the month before that? Maybe all of the above? It's hard to keep track. Let's see.

Palestinian Media Told to Halt Anti-Israel Incitement
NewsMax Wires
Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004
JERUSALEM -- Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas ordered a halt to anti-Israel incitement in government-controlled media, officials said Tuesday, meeting a key Israeli demand and adding to the new signs of goodwill that have emerged since the death of Yasser Arafat.

That was before the palestinian elections. Then, after,

Abbas orders Palestinian television to clean up its act
By Inigo Gilmore in Jerusalem
(Filed: 06/02/2005)

Palestinan television has been ordered to cleanse its screens of bloody imagery by the newly elected president, Mahmoud Abbas, to chime with a new mood of ''peacemaking'' in the region.

Ho hum.

Yes, but this time they mean it. They really mean it. Really.

A great loss

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Another sad headline.

Moshe Kohn, an American-born reporter and editor at The Jerusalem Post for over 30 years, died Monday at age 81.

"Moshe used his tremendous fount of Jewish and general knowledge to imbue his journalistic work with a depth and thoughtfulness rarely seen elsewhere," said Post managing editor Calev Ben-David. "He was also a true gentleman who was a joy to work with, always ready to selflessly help and encourage colleagues, especially younger ones such as myself."

Kohn, who lived with his wife Barbara for over 40 years in Kiryat Hayovel before moving to Efrat last year, was also a pillar of Jerusalem's Anglo modern-Orthodox community. He would frequently invite new immigrants from the neighborhood's absorption center for Friday night dinner, often conducted Shabbat services at the nearby Nofim retirement home, and three years ago organized a popular "Rosh Hodesh" club.

"Moshe was a man who stood for principles in everything he did and never compromised his beliefs or his personal relationships," said long-time friend Max Wile.

If you Google "Moshe Kohn," you'll find links to some of recent articles, all of which are well worth reading. The rest of the Post's eulogy is worth reading too.

Zichrono l'vracha. It most certainly will.

More "peace"

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The headlines in today Jerusalem Post should clear up any confusion on how close we are to that historic opportunity I keep hearing about.

Israeli-Arab suspected of planning Knesset attack

Israeli-Arab sentenced to 42 years for aiding suicide bombers

and

Two Israelis wounded in shrine attack

"Jews will continue to pray in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday in response to the shooting attack in Hebron earlier this morning.

At the end of the article is this small item:

In another incident, Palestinians opened fire Sunday night at an IDF position in the settlement of Kadim in northern Samaria. No injuries or damage were reported.

Kadim is one of the four West Bank settlements scheduled for depopulation under Arik Sharon's "disengagement" plan.

Hey, here's some better news.

Amir's conjugal visits petition rejected

Wrong way

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Judith Weiss links to (and quotes at length) this really disturbing poll on changing American Jewish attitudes towards Israel. As Judith points out, this trend is no accident.

No less inalienable

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Following up on last night's post, I had a discussion with S. over dinner about the question of where our laws come from. Justice Scalia, and others, vocally insist that the authority for our laws comes from God. Without debating that assertion itself, I'd adamantly insist that such claims actually serve to undermine our laws rather than support them.

While for many Americans, the assumption of God's existence is an unquestionable absolute, there are many, many other Americans who see that assumption as erroneous, debatable, questionable, uncertain and/or irrelevant. We (and I speak here as one of latter, though I won't say which one, perhaps because I'm not certain myself at any given moment) aren't willing to agree that the inalienability of our rights depends upon the existence of a deity or upon the correct interpretation of such a deity's wishes by various individuals. We insist that the inalienability of our rights stems from our status as sentient creatures and members of the human race and not from the caprice of some spirit in the sky.

I realize that this assumption is as open to question as any other, that there are people who insist that the same or similar rights inhere in all living creatures, and that to draw the line at our own species is no less myopic than to draw the line at one's own race, religion or gender. Well, I disagree, for reasons I won't elaborate upon here. (But I'd point out that that argument could be extended to plants, to inert matter, to anything at all, actually, based on how widely one chooses to cast one's net. Yes, to a certain extent it's arbitrary, and time has proven that some definitions are too narrow. I'm willing to live with mine until someone can convince me otherwise.)

But to say that the rights we enjoy in America today derive from God is nonsense. No revealed book of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which the founders relied provides, for example, for the rights of women or minorities that are now embedded in our laws. To the few who continue to point to this as evidence that we've gone astray, I say what I say to Justice Scalia: our laws may be inspired by the religious convictions of men who lived hundreds of years ago and of men and women who live today. But they have also been improved upon and updated through the inspiration of people of little or no faith and of different faiths and they are no less inalienable because of that.

A profound religous message

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Howard Bashman posted a link today to the oral argument before the Supreme Court in the Texas Ten Commandments case. I noticed that both the Alabama Ten Commandments case and the Chester County Ten Commandments case were brought into the discussion. As I've noted previously here, I thought that both of those cases were rightly decided (in case anyone cares) and I was thinking that this one fell pretty squarely in the middle. But in a pinch I'd have to say it's closer to Chester County than Alabama. Maybe a lot closer.

Justice Scalia's remarks during the argument were disturbing, though. I'm not exactly unfamiliar with the general tenor of appellate argument and it doesn't seem to me that Scalia was being very, well, balanced in his approach.

It is a profound religious message, but it's a profound religious message believed in by the vast majority of the American people, just as belief in monotheism is shared by a vast majority of the American people.

And our traditions show that there is nothing wrong with the government reflecting that. I mean, we're a tolerant society religiously, but just as the majority has to be tolerant of minority views in matters of religion, it seems to me the minority has to be tolerant of the majority's ability to express its belief that government comes from God, which is what this is about.

As Justice Kennedy said, turn your eyes away if it's such a big deal to you.

Ok, so that's certainly a valid opinion that any American would have every right to express, but there's something very creepy, to me anyway, about having it expressed, like that, from the bench of the Supreme Court.

Speaking the Ten Commandments, though, it's time to remember the Sabbath day, which is rapidly approaching. So...

Shabbat Shalom.

Best. fisk. ever.

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No, really. Well, my title is a play on the text of another post of Omri's from a few days ago, but this one is a must read. Ceren takes Juan Cole apart piece by piece and then goes to work on the pieces.

A masterpiece!

This is the way

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This is the way we get pissed off, get pissed off, get pissed off. This is the way we get pissed off, all day long. ♪

The largest Palestinian university in the Gaza Strip was shut down after hundreds of Fatah-affiliated students tried to lynch the institution's president.

Sources in Gaza City said the students at Al-Azhar University were angry with the head of the university because he didn't give Fatah enough seats in the newly-established board of directors.

They said the students went on the rampage on Monday, destroying furniture and setting fire to several administration offices and classrooms.

According to the sources, the rioters then attacked university president Hani Nijem's office while he was inside.

The rule of law, you see, doesn't magically seep overnight into the consciousness of a population that has never lived under it, that has been encouraged to disregard it, that has nothing but contempt for it. Behavior modification takes time. What is it about this concept that's so hard to understand?

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