November 2006 Archives

Leaks

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Weekend Pundit nails it.

Someone in the White House has an agenda that does not match that of the Bush Administration and appears to be willing to cause embarrassment and diplomatic problems for the US regardless of the long term consequences. And should the miscreant be identified and their actions cause the deaths of American armed forces and innocent Iraqi civilians, they will most likely plead that they were doing it for the greater good. But it won't be for the greater good of Americans or Iraqis. Rather it will be for the greater good of the America-hating elitists that infest so much of the Left.

They may see themselves as patriots, but I see them for what they are – traitors.

Me too. There's more. Read the rest.

Tonge lashing

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You can't fool all the people all the time. Eventually, there are consequences. Maybe.

The leader of Britain's Liberal Democrat party is considering recommendations to discipline and perhaps expel Baroness Jenny Tonge from the party's membership in the House of Lords following comments she made last week on the power of the "pro-Israel lobby."

Speaking at Edinburgh University at a meeting attended by representatives of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tonge defended comments she made at September's party conference that "The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they've probably got a grip on our party."

In Edinburgh, Tonge clarified her remarks, saying there had been "extensive" research in the United States supporting her contention that the "Israel lobby" had a disproportionate voice in Anglo-American foreign policy, referring to a paper written by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt that appeared in the March 23, 2006 issue of The London Review of Books.

Don't worry. It's not antisemitism.

Tonge defended her assertions as being unremarkable, noting that the speaker from the Israeli embassy "did not challenge me during the meeting at all."

She explained that her earlier comments "were about the Israeli lobby in politics. They were a big distance from being about Jewishness or anti-Semitism."

But then again, yes, it is.

Tonge's September comments prompted an all-party group of lords led by the former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to call for her censure. The group said her "irresponsible and inappropriate" comments "evoked a classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theory" and were symptomatic of the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell also chastised Tonge, saying her remarks were "unacceptable" and had "clear anti-Semitic connotations."

For those of you who don't remember Jenny Tonge,

In 2004, Tonge was stripped of her job as the party's shadow international development secretary for saying that if she were a Palestinian, she "might just consider becoming" a suicide bomber.

Smooooooth

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Smooth Stone is hosting Haveil Havalim this week. And a great round-up it is. I, as usual, was too preoccupied and/or lazy to submit anything. But at least I remembered to link it.

Take a look. And hang out a while. Smooth always has something interesting to say. And as the man says, for those of you who don't already have Smooth on your blogrolls, maybe this superb roundup will change your mind.

Send lawyers guns & money...

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Yes, it's overused. But you can't read this story and not have that song start playing in your head.

Here one needs to be reminded of the fact that although Hamas is in power, the Islamist movement actually has no control over the Fatah-affiliated Palestinian security forces. Almost immediately after Hamas won the parliamentary election earlier this year, Abbas issued a "presidential decree," placing all the security forces under the jurisdiction of the "commander-in-chief" (who happens to be none other than Abbas himself])

WHY, THEN, doesn't Abbas simply order thousands of his policemen to deploy along the border with Israel to halt the Kassam attacks? How come he hasn't even made the slightest effort to stop the smuggling of tons of explosives from Egypt into the Gaza Strip?

The answer is simple. Abbas lacks the will - not the ability - to take harsh decisions. In fact, he appears to be comfortable with the image of the weak leader low on funds and resources. Abbas's message to the outside world is: If I only had more weapons, policemen and money, I'd be able to move against the terrorists. This was the same excuse that his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, used to give whenever he was asked why he was not doing anything to stop suicide bombings against Israel.

Judging from his actions over the past year, it is clear that Abbas is not interested at all in a confrontation with Hamas or any of the radical groups in the Gaza Strip. His strategy is based on the notion that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Although he has repeatedly condemned the firing of the "primitive" rockets at Israel as "harmful" to the interests of the Palestinians, he has never ordered his security chiefs to go after the rocket squads - not even when the miserable residents of Beit Hanun, who are continuing to pay a heavy price, begged him to take action.

--- Khaled Abu Toameh. IMRA calls it the "Article of the Week." So please read the whole thing. Now. ('Cause it's the JPost, and you know that link will only last so long.)

Seeing red

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The sun is setting on just about the most gloriously beautiful day possible, and it's going out in style. The trees that are catching the late rays outside my window are glowing crimson, as are the edges of a few puffy little clouds above them.

So if you want to see a different kind of red, you're going to have to go here. Or here. Or here. I don't want to write about that stuff right now.

Shabbat Shalom.

Carter, again

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Rick Richman has published another review of Jimmy Carter's new screed, this time at The Jewish Press. This one focuses on Carter's deliberate distortions and misrepresentations of various historical documents, agreements and peace formulations, specifically UN Resolution 242, the Camp David and Oslo Accords, and second Camp David and Taba talks and the "Roadmap." It's full of very important information that can't be repeated enough. And, as usual, Rick has pulled together a number of important unimpeachable sources to make his point.

Rick has also posted links to several other reviews, all different but all coming to the same ultimate conclusion. All informative, all a worthwhile read.

Threat or joke

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I stumbled on this today and I can't quite make out if he's serious.

Nancy Pelosi might not be using the N-word with Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla), but she might be mindful of Michael Richards. Hastings is a U.S. Congressman who was impeached in 1989 as a federal judge for allegations of corruption. He then became Congressman and has served on the House Intelligence Committee and is in line for taking the Leadership role.

The Congressional Black Caucus is behind him. While holding the position of Congressman, there have not been any allegations against him that he would be violating national security. Newt Gingrich in an interview of FoxNews has warned that Pelosi approving Hastings would be a big mistake.

Michael Richards, is the comedian who has come under fire for using the N-word in a rage and has not been forgiven by black leaders. Pelosi needs to weigh whether she will be forgiven by the black caucus if she fails to appoint Hastings.

There's more, but you get the drift. So what do you think? Is this a threat? Or a joke?

Another disengagement dividend

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Not that this is a surprise.

According to a senior Israel Air Force officer, "terror organizations in the Gaza Strip have anti-aircraft capabilities." The IAF is a joint participant in most Gaza operations, particularly in pinpoint operations or assistance to ground forces.

IAF sources are worried that, pursuant to Hizbullah success to take down an Israel helicopter in Lebanon, terror organizations in the Strip will try to arm themselves with anti-aircraft weaponry.

"The threats of antitank and anti-aircraft missiles in Gaza are increasing and we are preparing for that," said the officer.

Yes, the terrorists built tunnels while Israel was in Gaza and yes, they succeeded in smuggling some stuff through from Egypt even then. But not anti-aircraft weapons. That's a recent development.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Preparing the ground

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Solomonia has been providing ongoing coverage of Barnard College's consideration of tenure for this woman. You can read Sol's reports here, here and here.


From Sol's 11/2/06 post:

At Barnard College they are forming a committee to consider giving tenure to a young Palestinian anthropologist who advocates destroying archaeological sites for political purposes, and who has decided -- without regard to evidence -- that the ancient Israelite kingdoms were mere "myth."

Observers believe that she is very likely to receive tenure.

Abu El Haj rejects the right of the Jewish people to have a state. She vilifies Israel as an illegitimate, "colonial settler" enterprise. She has urged Columbia to "divest from all companies" that sell even defensive military supplies to Israel. In 2002 she condemned Israel in advance for an "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians during the Iraq war -- an event that was never planned and never occurred.

Her bid for tenure will be based on a single book, Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society. In it she denies that the ancient Jewish or Israelite kingdoms existed.

(links in original omitted) In addition to the reviews that Sol quotes at the end of that essay, see also Hugh Fitzgerald's critique at Front Page.

It's indeed chilling to think that this is what passes for scholarship at Columbia University these days. More and more, it seems as if our institutions of higher learning are being turned into indoctrination tanks, preparing the next generation to accept and embrace the dhimmitude that surely awaits them. Those who fight back are attacked and branded as "racist," "intolerant" and "fascist," words that always push buttons but that are being turned on their heads and used to mean pretty much the opposite of their original signification.

The calculated revision of history, the deliberate and systematic obliteration of the well documented historical roots of an entire people and two global faiths, now appears to be a legitimate anthropological tool, if by anthropology we mean politics dressed up as ideological charity for "oppressed peoples." And this "charity" includes not only trying to erase the history of one civilization, but inventing another and fabricating evidence of a past it never had -- or, rather, assigning to it the past of another people long gone who won't notice.

Just last week I caught a brief segment of a recycled History Channel show called "Archaeology and the Bible." It's part of their "Digging for the Truth" series, and the part I saw was rooted firmly in the absurd premise that there is a direct chain of descent from the "Canaanites" of Biblical times to the palestinian Arabs of today. The message was that archeology proves that the "palestinians" were there first and, moreover, had a superior culture to that of the Israelites. More newly invented myth and fiction masquerading as "archeology" and "anthropology," delivered fresh to your TV with no disclaimer necessary.

This claim has actually been bandied about for a while now by Yasser Arafat and other palestinian propagandists, but to the extent it bears any resemblance to reality, the same could be said of palestinian Jews. In other words, if the "Canaanites" (a loose term with very different connotations depending upon whether you're an historian, archeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist or biblical scholar) are indeed part of the genealogical mix of the indigenous peoples in what is now Israel and the territories, palestinian Arabs and palestinian Jews could both arguably claim descent from them (although I think the Lebanese have a better shot). But the Canaanite connection is very much in dispute in any event, and as it totally ignores the last two thousand years of history in the region, as well as the ongoing aspirations (and lack thereof) of the respective claimants to the land, the whole argument is specious and irrelevant.

Nevertheless, that won't prevent it from being presented as "scholarship" and used to support revisionist libels by the likes of Nadia Abu El Haj. It remains to be seen whether Columbia will lend further sanction to this insidious campaign by granting her tenure.

The Peace Now Report

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Peace Now has come out with yet another trumped up "report" "proving" that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are built on "stolen palestinian land." (The summary and full text of this one are available at Peace Now's website, if you prefer to go to the source.)

CAMERA already has a very good preliminary analysis up. Their conclusion:

The bottom line is that even if Peace Now’s very questionable data is correct, its analysis is not, and its claims and charges therefore deserve little credibility.

Since the report has received a lot of attention from, e.g., the Washington Post and The NY Times, I suspect many of us will be obliged to respond to questions about it at our Thanksgiving celebrations tomorrow. So I recommend reading the whole thing.

Blinders falling

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The horrific repercussions of Sharon and Olmert's disengagement disaster are becoming increasingly clear every day -- even to many of those who have deliberately blinded themselves for so long. It was only a matter of time. But it's much too little, much too late.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry:

Since Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, Palestinian terrorist organizations based there have increased their rocket attacks on Israeli communities in the Western Negev, firing more than 1,000 Kassam rockets at Israeli civilians. In addition, the terrorists have stepped up their arms smuggling operations via tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip, bringing in more than 30 tons of high explosives.

[ .... ]

The Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza have lately intensified their attempts to carry out large-scale attacks against Israeli population centers.

[...]

In addition to their cynical tactic of using Palestinian civilians as human shields by firing rockets from densely populated areas, Palestinian terrorists are now increasingly mobilizing civilians in order to protect themselves from Israeli counterterrorist operations.

And Yoel Marcus, disengagement supporter extraordinaire:

Israel withdrew unilaterally from the Gaza Strip, thus signaling that it is capable of not only dismantling Jewish settlements, but also returning territories to the Palestinians under a peace agreement. Regrettably, it is now becoming clear that the most extreme and pessimistic Jewish settlers are the ones who were right. The Palestinians do not want to recognize Israel or come to terms with its existence. And this time, under the baton of Hamas, they are once again not missing a single opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Of course what's missing from these confessions is any mention of the thousands of shattered lives, shattered dreams, shattered greenhouses and flaming synagogues ... {have you ever tried to type with clenched fists?} ...

And the much-touted benefits? The public relations and peace dividends? Where are they? The EU and the UN are still issuing the same condemnations, Amnesty International is still singing the same song. If anything, the international pressure is continuing to mount.

In such a situation, there is no joy in "I told you so." None whatsoever. Just a fervent hope that it's not too late to salvage some shred of something from this mess and that the phrase "never again" will begin a second life in Eretz Yisrael.

Not talking back

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Judith Weiss exposes another rotten spot in the organization many Jewish parents trust to protect, enhance and enrich their kids' Jewish identity on college campuses. I'm all too familiar with Hillel's important mission. For a few years in the distant past, it was my job to deliver on it. How has it gone, at least in some places, so wrong?

Almost weekly, I receive solicitations from Hillel to support their efforts to defend Jewish students against antisemitism and anti-Israel bias on campus. And, look, to be honest, most Hillel organizations are doing exactly that. But without extensive research, it's hard to tell any more whether or to what extent the college or university your child is planning to attend will be one of the ones graced by such a presence.

While moderate Jewish voices are trying to encourage moderate Muslims to speak out, while even President Bush is trying to do the same, Brown University's Hillel director, Rabbi Serena Eisenberg, applauds her Jewish students for finding the writings of Nonie Darwish, one of those rare voices of Muslim moderation, disturbing.

"[O]ur Jewish student leaders were personally troubled by some of Darwish's writings that stereotyped religious Muslims," proclaims Eisenberg, "and I know they would be similarly troubled if a Jewish speaker who denigrated Judaism was brought to campus by a Muslim group."

Eisenberg is pleased that the Brown administration is trying to bring Darwish to campuses under other auspices. Just so long as they aren't those of The Foundation for Campus Jewish Life.

It's not as if this warped ecumenism on the part of Hillel staff is unique to Brown. Back in 2003, freelance journalist Rachel Neuwirth accused the Hillel director at UCLA, Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, of physically attacking her when she confronted him after a campus lecture about his intention to feature "palestinian moderate" Sari Nusseibeh at an upcoming Hillel function. Her lawsuit against Seidler-Feller and the LA Hillel Council has yet to reach resolution.

Given the poisonous atmosphere on college campuses today, Hillel really needs to spend more time promoting and supporting programs like these. And these. And less time on well-intentioned but misguided events like this.

The West???

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I'm originally from Pittsburgh, stupid. Although I guess I don't sound like it.

I just think they missed a few of the crucial questions. (IOW, the test needs fixed.)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
Boston
North Central
The Inland North
Philadelphia
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Actually, the Midland sounds about right. And 25 years in Philadelphia (and vicinity) have obviously done nothing to corrupt it. Heh.

Lured into this one by Rahel.

Local story

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Jonathan Tobin, the editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, brings some of our local 'color' to the Jerusalem Post this week. In a story called "An 'eruv'? Not in this neighborhood," Tobin discusses some of the deep-seated antipathy to Orthodox Jews that prevails among liberal Jews in the Philadelphia suburbs.

This phenomenon is on display for all to see in the November issue of Philadelphia magazine in a feature by Phillip Weiss, tastefully titled "Oy Vey, There Goes the Neighborhood."

The neighborhoods in question are Lower Merion and Bala Cynwyd, once the heart of the traditionally WASP-ish and prosperous Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. While large numbers of upwardly mobile Jews have been a fixture in the area for generations, the problem, at least for some quoted by Weiss, is that in the past two decades have come the influx of Orthodox Jews into the area.

I live a bit further out the Main Line than Lower Merion and Bala, but I've been noticing this influx there over the past few years with interest. I see it as a good thing. You'd think that a group of pious people whose kids tend not to drink or use drugs or carouse would be a welcome addition to any neighborhood. Not so.

So what's the problem? According to Weiss, seculars "are put off by the fundamentalism and narrowness of the Orthodox Jews." Even worse, Weiss says that these secular and presumably politically liberal Jews worry that the Orthodox are "diminishing an enlightened community importing a culture of narrow-minded fundamentalism."

ONE REASON for this sentiment is a function of the Orthodox community's tendency toward greater political conservatism. Another, he points out, is the nature of Orthodox religious belief, which has led to what Weiss calls a degree of "evangelism" about Shabbat observance and lighting candles on Friday nights.

This "Jewishizing of Lower Merion," as Weiss puts it, has put secular Jewish teeth on edge. Even worse, he writes, is the fact that the Orthodox have views about gender relations, homosexuality and sexual morality that clash with the beliefs of those who embrace the popular culture of our day.

This must be a new phenomenon. In the past, communities have worried about newcomers importing crime, violence, noise, moral decay. But different political views? Yeah, well, maybe it's not all that new, after all.

THE PATTERN is a common one. In the case of Lower Merion, as Weiss puts it, the new Orthodox arrivals "altered the character of a liberal suburb." He writes of non-observant Jews sitting in a nonkosher, "Jewish-style" restaurant on the Sabbath, viewing flocks of the observant walk past them on their way to shul. The implication is that the diners are somehow threatened by the shul-goers.

It seems the Orthodox presence isn't a form of diversity that an otherwise liberal community would extol. Why? Because the shul-goers are viewed in some way as a challenge to the seculars, who feel that their own way of life is threatened by the Judaism proliferating around them.

I do think the irony here may be a bit lost on Tobin, who goes on to compare the liberal Jewish fear-of-Orthodoxy to what he sees as a parallel fear-of-evangelicals. Or maybe it's not lost on him at all. The absurdity that Tobin points to, the notion that Orthodoxy could somehow prove infectious, that liberal, multicultural types will somehow be polluted by it and lose their own values, that the proximity of religion is a threat to the secularism of the native population -- that has an odd ring of familiarity about it.

Perhaps we need to introduce some legislation to prevent this phenomenon. We could call it "The Defense of Secularism Act." Or perhaps it would be okay for the Orthodox to move into liberal neighorhoods so long as they didn't dress or talk like, you know, old world Jews. So long as they didn't parade their differences. So long as they didn't try to force other people to be like them through the simple fact of being who they are.

Diversity, tolerance, acceptance of the other. Lovely thoughts, lovely sentiments. Too often observed in the breach.

Shabbat Shalom.

Going dhimmi

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It doesn't get much worse than this despicable editorial in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While it would be nice to write this off as the ranting of a clearly ignorant and misinformed hack, it's all too typical of what too many Americans who have no way of knowing any better are reading these days.

Appalling 'mistake': The U.S. must condemn attacks on civilians

The muffled response of the United States to what many Palestinians are calling an Israeli massacre in the Gaza Strip is shameful. What happened early in the morning on Nov. 8 to an entire family when a barrage of Israeli artillery tore through their home is appalling.

But the United States could not bring itself to forcefully decry the bombing of a crowded residential neighborhood that killed at least 18 members of an extended family, including seven children ranging in age from 12 months to 15 years.

The Israeli army claimed the shelling of a residential compound in Beit Hanoun was a "mistake" and the loss of life regrettable. Israeli leaders said the army was targeting Hamas partisans who use the densely populated area as a staging ground to fire makeshift missiles at the Jewish state.

Note the repeated scare quotes around "mistake." And it gets worse from there.

While the rudimentary rocket attacks haven't killed any Israelis in the past 15 months, they do hang as a persistent threat over border towns. So Israel has fired thousands of shells into the town in north Gaza, considered fair game for Palestinian militants and their launching pads.

Oh dear. What incredibly unfortunate bad timing on the part of the P-G, since just today an Israeli woman in Sderot had the great misfortune of being murdered by one of those pesky persistent threats.

I don't usually quote articles in full, in but in this case I'll save you the indignity of clicking through to the Post-Gazette. Unless, of course, you'd like to send them a piece of your mind.

But the mounting Palestinian civilian toll from indiscriminate Israeli artillery and tank fire has brought understandable condemnation from governments worldwide. Every Israeli bombing that kills Palestinians who weren't involved in any fighting inspires new generations of militants dedicated to avenging such incidents.

Hamas said it would end its self-imposed cease-fire with Israel and respond to the bombing with "deeds, not words." It was not long ago grieving Gazans screamed for revenge after another Israeli shelling killed eight Palestinians picnicking on a Gaza Strip beach. Now the latest "mistaken" artillery strike threatens to provoke a new wave of violence in the region.

As usual, Washington's answer to the recent Palestinian tragedy is to call for restraint on all sides while simultaneously scuttling any international effort to denounce the Israeli offensive. It is a pathetic way to work for peace.

Choudhury's day in court

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The latest was Monday, brief though it was. It appears that the case has been continued to January.

Here's Choudhury's account of this week's proceedings. And here and here are two of the latest solid contributions to the strong, growing international chorus of support for justice for this very brave man.

Faster. Please.

Update: Congressional Resolution on Behalf of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury -- ACTION ALERT!!!

On November 14, Representives Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Nita Lowey (D-NY)
introduced a Congressional Resolution urging the Bangladesh government to
drop all charges against Muslim journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury and
cease all other forms of harassment against him. I have attached the
Resolution, House Resolution 1080. It will be voted on before Congress
adjourns at the end of this year.

Please contact your Congressional Representatives and urge them to support
House Resolution 1080. Please encourage everyone you know to do the same.
This is an issue that both Democrats and Republicans are supporting, and we
must get it passed by a huge margin. This is our chance and the Congress's
chance to make a strong statement for justice and against radicalism, and
help save the life of this very brave man. You should contact your current
Member of Congress who was in office before the recent elections.

Please act now and get everyone you know to act.

If you have any questions or need further information, please do not
hesitate to contact me at 1-847-922-6426 or via this email address. You can
also find more information at www.InterfaithStrength.com.

Thank you.

Richard Benkin

Click here and scroll down to read the text of the proposed resolution.

Rape in Cairo

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This story has been leaking out, slowly, inexorably, though it seems to be picking up steam now.

On the first and second day of Eid Al-Fitr, Egyptian bloggers reported attacks against women by hordes of young men in downtown Cairo near Metro Cinema in Abdel-Khaleq Tharwat Street. The Interior Ministry has denied the reports, saying no complaints or charges have been filed relating to such incidents. If they did really happen, sources at the Interior Ministry ask, why were no reports filed at police stations?

Bloggers at the scene at the time of the incidents refute the ministry's denials. Blogger Malek Mustafa, also known as Malcolm X, says he witnessed the attacks first hand as mobs of men near the cinema picked on women at random, encircling them and attempting to tear away their clothing.

It started, says Mustafa, when tickets for the movie premier at the cinema sold out and the men could not gain admittance. They proceeded to break the windows of the cinema before turning their attention to women in the area. In all, Malek says, he saw five women attacked in the ensuing chaos that lasted for almost an hour.

Follow the link. The details are disturbing and at times graphic.

This particular incident (there have been others, it seems) is already several weeks old, and there's been precious little in the way of English language news about it. But the blogs are humming. See especially here, here, here and here.

The good news: last week there was an impressive demonstration against sexual harassment in downtown Cairo. Sandmonkey has pictures.

Misc. stuff of interest

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Cry me a river:

Theresa McDermont came to Israel to pick olives with Palestinian farmers for one month. Instead, she has been sitting in a detention cell for 12 days at Ben-Gurion airport.

McDermont, a Scottish post office worker, said she hoped to be a volunteer for Rabbis for Human Rights, the organization that runs the olive harvest project designed to help Palestinian farmers cultivate land near the Green Line.

Liar. Especially coming the day after France's shameful vote FOR yesterday's biased anti-Israel draft UNSC Resolution):

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin offered unwavering French support Sunday for Israel amid security threats, but criticized Israeli military flights over Lebanese territory.

France “Stands resolutely at the side of Israel” in the midst of new flare-ups in Mideast violence, and Israeli security will require an end to conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Villepin said. “The halt to all violence is indispensable,” he told a meeting of the World Jewish Congress’ governing board, meeting for the first time in Paris.

Now this is good. Very good. If it pans out, let's hope everyone doesn't thank Israel all at once:

HAIFA, Israel, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The Israeli process for producing energy from oil shale will cut its oil imports by one-third, and will serve as a guide for other countries with oil shale deposits, according to one company.

A.F.S.K. Hom Tov presented its oil shale processing method on Tuesday, outside Haifa and just down the street from one of the country's two oil refinery facilities.

"Because the patents for this process belong to (the company), Israel is the most advanced in the world in the effort to create energy from oil shale," Moshe Shahal, a Hom Tov legal representative and a former Israeli energy minister, told United Press International.

Shahal estimated that the company's Negev Desert facility would begin full-scale production in three to four years, while other countries with oil shale deposits will need five to six years to reach production.

Pollard video. The commentary is a bit overdramatic, and there's no news here, but visual aids are sometimes helpful:

VIDEO - Ron Olive, the FBI agent who apprehended Jonathan Pollard has released footage taken from a surveillance camera showing the convicted spy taking suitcases full of top secret documents to his Israeli operatives.

“This is Pollard actually in the act of stealing highly classified information," says Olive during the presentation, "1500 top secret documents in a matter of seconds."

Meanwhile, Elaine Zeitz Esther Pollard seems to think she's picking up President Bush's brain waves on her ham radio. Or something:

US President George W. Bush would release Jonathan Pollard, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is deliberately ignoring the issue, Pollard's wife, Esther, said Sunday ahead of Olmert's meeting with Bush in Washington.

"It's terrible," Esther told Army Radio. "[Olmert] doesn't pay a bit of attention to his agent, and he's going to meet Bush, and knows that Bush would release him if Olmert officially asked him to."

Stanger than fiction.

This is embarrassing

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Yesterday, on Veterans' Day, a small group of wacked out lunatic lefties staged a rally on Independence Mall in Philadelphia to demoralize our troops and push their defeatist agenda. Oh, and, of course, to launch a grassroots campaign to impeach President Bush. Naturally, the godmother of wacked out lunatic lefties was there urging this pathetic nonsense on.

The Democrats victory on Election Day is reinvigorating the anti-war movement. Protesters on Independence Mall used Veterans Day to call for President Bush's impeachment.

Veterans, activists, including military mom Cindy Sheehan and Democrat bloggers announced a movement they call "Impeach for change."

Bob Fertig of Democrats.com says even though there are only two years left in President Bush's term, he should be held accountable for what he believes are crimes:

"He deliberately misled the American people. We believe that an investigation would reveal that he knew he was misleading us and therefore he was lying to us."

Across the street, a small group of counter protesters like Kristinn Taylor:

"We're out here standing up for America while they're across the street standing up for the enemy."

This rally drew so much support that there's virtually no news posted about it on line (though I'm sure those "Democrat bloggers" are blogging up a storm). But these folks have kindly published some of their proceedings for the whole world to see. So if you're interested and have the stomach, you can read a transcript of former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman's conference speech here.

Bonus question: why does KYW's news story on this travesty look more like an IFC advertisement than a piece of journalism?

Can we do this?

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Can we send a message to the United States Senate, all of us, Jews, Christians, Quakers, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, atheists, agnostics, Rastafarians, feminists, libertarians, everybody? Can we send a message that John Bolton is the man, the only man, it seems, to defend freedom, democracy, decency and real human rights in the UN? Can we do that?

Because if we don't, we'll only have ourselves to blame.

On the upside

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There's good news about Gracie.

I wish I had more. But that's something. Here's hoping next week is a lot better than this week.

Shabbat Shalom.

The third way

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Have you read Saul Singer's magnificent column in yesterday's Jersualem Post yet? This one might get framed and put up on my wall. It's that good. It's that timely. It's that important.

What is the "third way" that presents a hope of success?

IN THE American case, the "third way" is actually the road that President George Bush was on but seems to have abandoned. The original Bush Doctrine simply and effectively drew a bright line between the pre- and post-9/11 worlds: henceforth, state support for terrorism (especially when combined with the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction) would be punishable by regime change.

Operationally, this meant that the West would transform nukes and terror - a rogue regime's favorite insurance policies - into liabilities worth jettisoning, as Libya did in 2003.

[ ... ]

BUT WHAT is the "third way" available to Israel? Here the task is even trickier, since it involves changing the conceptions that have dominated our thinking for over a decade. Both the negotiations-based Oslo mind-set and Ariel Sharon's unilateralism were built on the idea that the Arab-Israeli problem could be addressed in isolation. Both failed because they attempted to pretend away a wider reality.

That reality is that the "Arab-Israeli conflict" is just the century-old opposition of the Arab world to Israel's existence. For decades, the plan has been to use the creation of a Palestinian state as the excuse for the Arab world to drop that opposition. Over time, however, means and ends have become so confused that the root cause of the conflict has become almost completely obscured.

Rather than the world continually demanding that Israel prove its existential desire for peace, it is time that Israel and the countries attempting to broker peace demand that the Arab world prove its acceptance of Israel. Our prime minister should make a simple standing offer to negotiate unconditionally with any Arab leader who, like Anwar Sadat, is willing to come to Jerusalem and to host Israel's leadership in his capital.

The fact that even Arab leaders who are formally at peace with Israel would currently balk at this offer is a sign of how unripe the Arab world is for peace. The reason has nothing to do with the Palestinians, but the state of the wider jihad against the West.

Of course, look what happened to Sadat, and then Israel ended up without the Sinai and with a peace that was colder than a witch's, er, toe. But perhaps that wasn't the inevitable outcome. The problem, as I see it, is that the West's increasingly evident timidity about taking on the jihad threat full force is making the Arab world even less ripe for peace.

Is it over?

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Ok, so I've been hiding under a rock this week, waiting for the mid-terms and their stinky immediate aftermath to blow through. But it's continued to go from bad to worse. Then there was this bad news from Israel and the fallout that will continue ad nauseum from that. (Query: when was the last time Hamas offered profuse apologies or medical and humanitarian aid to the civilians it deliberately set out to murder?) Now Olmert is making new appeasement and capitulation noises. I suspect he's tired.

Mere Rhetoric clears the air on the Rumsfeld resignation, which may well be what brought me out of my hidey hole. The post is incredibly depressing, but it helped me to sort out some of the post-mortem ambivalence I've been feeling about the election. President Bush talks a good game up front, but when the going gets tough, he seems to lose his focus and his resolve. What's been missing from the headlines the past few weeks is that the dissatisfaction with the administration wasn't all coming from the left. A good bit of it was coming from the right, and some of those people stayed home on election day or wrote in cartoon characters. The problem is that now (some) things are going to get a whole hell of a lot worse.

Meanwhile (switching political gears) the gay pride parade in Jerusalem has been transformed into a rally and the protests have abated. This compromise was reached largely due to the above referenced fallout from the Beit Hanoun misfire, after which, for the third time in a row, the parade organizers graciously agreed to subordinate their own agenda to the greater good of the country: first, last year, because of the disengagement debacle; then, this past summer, because of the war in the North; and again this week. Something to keep in mind.

Update: Judith Weiss adds more valuable material to the Rumsfeld anthology. I'm immensely gratified to see that this particular chorus is finding its voice again. Or, more likely, that I'm finding the chorus (now that I'm looking), which of course has been there all along.

I plead guilty to having taken Rumsfeld's continued presence at the helm of Defense far too much for granted. I was duped.

Last word (if only)

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The USS Liberty incident, like the Al-Dura affair, is a blatant lie that will probably never die. Sometimes it seems that the more conclusive the evidence against a libel, the more mileage the libel gets. Whatever. Mere Rhetoric has what I consider to be the ultimately concise and definitive word on the subject. Go read, please.

Engraved invitation

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Israeli security chief Avi Dichter, attempting to adopt the pretense of trying to uphold the law, has for weeks been issuing an open invitation to Israel's haredi community to indulge in massive rioting and violence. As a result, police have been injured, property has been damaged, the peace of Jerusalem has been shattered and the rule of law has been trampled underfoot. Congratulations, Mr. Dichter. I do hope you're proud of yourself.

When rogue elements of society find themselves offended by something, be it a cartoon, a perceived injustice or a parade, and when those elements threaten violent riots in protest, the appropriate response of law enforcement is to discourage such behavior by making it eminently clear that a) violence won't achieve its goal and b) it will be punished severely. Dichter's response to the threat of violence over a now thrice-postponed gay pride parade in Jerusalem was to provide an open incentive for the riots that are now occurring.

Haredim continued rioting on Saturday night in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood in protest of the parade, which is scheduled for Friday.

The rioters pelted police with stones and set garbage bins on fire in the streets of the neighborhood, blocking all traffic in the area. The post-Shabbat protests continued into the night at various street corners in the neighborhood.

Four vehicles were damaged by spikes the protesters placed on the street, the police said.

By announcing, repeatedly, that the way to stop the parade would be to convince the police that they had no hope of containing the security situation ("If police believe that they cannot guarantee public safety, the march will not go ahead"), Dichter may as well have offered to supply the chains and eggs and metal debris that the protesters have been throwing at police in mere anticipation of the event. If this was his intention, it has been all too predictably successful.

The Jerusalem police said on Sunday evening that they would not be able to maintain security at the Gay Pride Parade planned for this Friday in Jerusalem. They have not yet announced a ban on the march, but said they would be unable to secure the event and ensure the safety of its participants.

Police Chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi offered other alternatives to the parade, such as holding an event in a Jerusalem park where police could secure the area, or holding it in another city, like Tel Aviv.

Whether or not the proposed alternatives are viable or acceptable to either the gay community or the haredim, the clear message emerging from this sorry mess is that violent rampages work, that they succeed where peaceful means do not, and that intimidation as a tactic will prevail over the rule of law. In other words, bad behavior will be rewarded.

And the message is spreading.

Dozens of ultra-Orthodox men hurled stones Sunday evening at Egged buses in the town of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, protesting the fact that the buses were "not kosher" (did not separate between men and women).

One driver was lightly injured, while another driver was forced to fire shots in the air in order to get away from the rioters.

A sorry state of affairs, indeed. See also, Omri.

The verdict

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In certain quarters, the worldwide whine has begun over the death penalty verdict for Saddam Hussein. It's a pity these hand-wringers weren't so overwrought over the thousands of death sentences Saddam regularly imposed on innocent people, his own subjects, during his reign. Then, they were content to shake their heads and look away. Zapatero (on behalf of, I guess, both Spain and the EU) and the Irish Foreign Ministry have used to occasion to sound off on their objections to capital punishment. The UN calls for a fair appeal process, while at the same time urging a moratorium on the execution of the sentence regardless of the result of that appeal. Other European responses so far seem more measured.

And then there's this, from Amnesty International:

Iraq: Amnesty International deplores death sentences in Saddam Hussein trial

Tediously predictable. Human Rights Watch reportedly issued a similar statement.

Let's get it over with and put this puppy to bed.

Women and children

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Meryl points out yet another case of dangerous media bias. You'd never know that the IDF is fighting a defensive war in Gaza to try to prevent the launching of still more rockets against Israel's civilian population, as well as to head off an escalation that would surely result in many many more deaths among the palestinian Arab population. You'd have to be a careful and interested reader to get far enough to read most of the pertinent details of this battle, and then you'd have to know enough to understand their implications. For anyone reading this blog, that's probably not a problem. But for the vast majority of AP readers, it is.

But what really riles me up about this story is this: not for one second would the Israeli soldiers ever consider inviting women to come act as their shields if they were pinned down by a group of Arabs with guns. Why? Because Israelis never, ever use civilian shields. And there are two reasons for that.

The first is that it would do no good. Israel's enemies have proven over and over again that they have absolutely no compunction about shooting women and children. In fact, they actively seek them out. But the more important reason, the stand-alone reason, the reason that would prevail even if human shields would work against Israel's enemies, is that Israeli soldiers consider it their job to protect their civilian populations, not the other way around.

Which brings me to the ultimate irony of all this, and that is the obvious point that the reason Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbullah rely so heavily on human shields is the exact inverse of both the above points. They have no compunction about hiding behind women and children and, more importantly, perhaps, they know that against the IDF, it will in fact work, and it will work in one or both of two ways. Either the IDF will allow them to escape rather than harm civilians or civilians will be harmed and Israel will be damaged by the publicity. It's a win-win. But it broadcasts clearly that Israel's enemies know full well what they and the media continue to deny -- that Israel does not target civilians, that Israel bends over backwards to avoid injuring civilians and that Israel has done so and will continue to do so, to its own serious detriment.

That's the story that needs to be told.

Shavua tov.

Non-story

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Sorry, but I'm totally with Eugene on this one. Except that I liked Dr. Gutmann's press release more than he did. I like his version too, though.

And I'm disappointed in Campus Watch. I thought they had more sense and much more important things to do than to get bogged down in BS like this. Let's keep in mind that these photos were posted on an obscure personal website of a Penn engineering student. They show a bunch of people having a good time at a party and, in some instances, showing extremely poor taste. (I could go off here on the unintended consequences of our society's newfound mania for posting our quirky, embarrassing and/or disgusting private moments on the internet for all the world to see and use to their own ends. But I'll save that).

One of Volokh's commenters linked to this photo of himself in his own Halloween costume -- Mohammad as depicted in the Jyllands-Posten cartoon with the lit fuse coming out of his head. And he's posing with other people, mind you. Some people, as we know, would find this offensive enough to riot over. Some others would find it hilarious. And then there's the whole range of responses in between.

Bottom line: Halloween, costumes, shock value, end of story.

End of week.

Shabbat Shalom.

Spilt milk indeed

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I'm late in linking to David Bogner's excellent essay on the above referenced liquid litter. As usual, he's managed to put into words what I experienced as a visceral flush of confusion, astonishment and disgust when I read the same article a few days ago.

While looking over the news this morning I was stunned to see that our Prime Minister had made some remarkable statements about the as-yet-still unsettled settlers from Gaza and the northern Shomron. Remarkable considering it was his word that those pesky, disloyal settlers were supposed to have taken regarding the terms of their resettlement and compensation.

Incredibly, this Jerusalem Post article described, "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lash[ing] out on Sunday at the red tape hampering the resettlement of the Gaza evacuees."

Hellooooo! Memo to Olmert: It was on your say so that more than 8000 people were thrown out of their homes and forced to abandon the lives they had built for themselves in the Gazan and northern Shomron communities. Do you really mean to tell us that you didn't look at the resettlement and compensation apparatus before giving them your word?

David has facts and figures, and they're just sad. Very sad indeed. He has some more questions, too, and they all really deserve answers.

Dirty laundry

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You can't make this kind of noxious nonsense up.

The third night in a row of Haredi protests against the Gay Pride parade planned for next week in Jerusalem turned violent Thursday.

Five police officers and one Haaretz photographer were lightly injured by protesters, who burned trash and tried to block off a main road as they threw stones, steel pipes, gasoline, chairs, eggs, and whatever other objects they could find at police who arrived to restore order.

About 2,000 protesters came out for a third night in a row of demonstrations against the city's decision to hold the parade in the capital.

What's the reason for this again? Ah, yes. I remember. Jerusalem is holy, so it can't be defiled by people peacefully marching in support of their right to live and love in peace. Much better that pious upholders of the Divine Will should be rioting, burning trash and attacking police. Now is that holy, or what?

Let's remember that these people react the same way when the police try to autopsy the body of a potential murder victim. Or when a new road is built over what is rumored to be the remains of ancient Jewish graves.

You won't see much in the way of anti-haredi posts on this blog. Some of my closest relatives are haredi (ultra-Orthodox), and even if they weren't, I try to subscribe to a live and let live policy. That's why I support the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem or anywhere else, for that matter. But a lot of secular Jews are put off by haredim -- especially in Israel. They don't like the way the haredim dress or the way they insist on exhibiting their blatantly Jewish identification. They don't like feeling that the haredim think they're better than everyone else or the way they want to establish their own neighborhoods where their lifestyle prevails and everyone else has to conform. These secular folks don't like the fact that there's special legislation protecting the rights of the haredim to preserve their culture and their beliefs and they think, no, they know that they're right and the haredim are wrong and should keep their strange ideas quietly to themselves and stop trying to expose them to/impose them on everyone else.

So it should come as no great shock to these hiloni (secular) people that the haredim feel exactly the same way about them. The thing is, in this world, there are times when you can't have everything your way, and throwing a temper tantrum in response is simply not acceptable. It's not acceptable from the Islamist extremists and it's not acceptable from the haredi ones, either. It's nice that they've made an alliance with the fringes of the Muslim and Christian worlds over this issue and that they're all having this tantrum together. But when it comes to damaging people and property, when it comes to attacking police who are only trying to do their job, when it comes to a true desecration of the holiness of Jerusalem, it's way past time to stop, no matter what the cause (and regardless of whether you're throwing eggs or gasoline or paint thinner).

I hate posting stuff like this. I wish I didn't have to. But I'm not willing to let the left claim ownership of this issue. It's too important to too many people I care about. And it's too important to our ultimate salvation as a nation and as a people that we learn to tolerate differences and support the rights of those who are not like us to be who they are. So long as they reciprocate.

No pardon

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On this, the eleventh anniversary of the assassination of Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Olmert has reassured the Israeli public (or at least 70 percent of it) that Yigal Amir will never be pardoned for that crime. The other 30 percent, those who think Amir ought to go free at some point, are out of luck, it seems. Unless, of course, Olmert is wrong. Which has been known to happen.

Where are these people coming from? How can almost a third of Israel's population believe that Rabin's killer should walk? And why are so many of these deluded people found on the religious right? It's complicated, of course, but not very. The simple answer would be to say that some on the religious right still believe Rabin was a "traitor" who deserved to die and that Amir was a hero. Well, no doubt there are some who feel that way, and I have no excuses for them. There are others, though, who subscribe to this conspiracy theory and believe that Amir didn't actually murder Rabin at all. I have no excuses for them, either, because even assuming they're correct, the fact is that Amir went to that rally intending to murder Rabin, he pulled out a gun and shot bullets in Rabin's direction, and Rabin died. That's all on tape. So even if he was a patsy, he was still a key player.

Amir's little brother, Amitai, has this perspective on Rabin's assassination:

"If you analyze the fallout, the fallout is ultimately positive," Amitai said. "From the perspective of the agreements, the return of territory was delayed for 10 years. The settlers tripled their numbers. Arafat died in the meantime. Now you canעt give everything back. The settlers have changed. They can fight."

It's utter hogwash. As has been pointed out over and over again, Rabin was, if anything, becoming increasingly skeptical of Oslo at the time he was murdered. His death did nothing to delay the "return of territory" ("return" to whom? it's pathetic that even the right wing lunatic fringe have adopted this language). But what can you expect? This kid has spent the last eleven years listening to his mother.

On the other side of this sorry story, we once again have to listen to the laments of the left about how peace would have broken out all over the Middle East had Rabin survived. More hogwash, as again discussed here and here.

We continue to mourn the loss of one of Israel's great leaders, for who he actually was and what he actually did. It was more than enough to deserve our eternal honor and respect.

That river in Egypt

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The Economist analyses the blood feud taking shape in Bangladesh. Maybe it's that famous British penchant for understatement. But, then again, maybe it's just denial. And apologetics.

Bangladesh's voters are for the most part a tolerant bunch with surprisingly astute political judgment. They are not easily bullied or hoodwinked. But their disillusionment with the main parties has created a vacuum, which the Islamists are trying to fill. Some are harmless charitable workers. Some have dangerously illiberal social views. A few are violent jihadists. Bangladesh is still a long way from becoming a hardline Islamic state, but its secular rulers are doing their best to give secularism a bad name.

Now it may be debatable whether Bangladesh is already a hardline Islamic state. But if it isn't, it certainly isn't "a long way" off.

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