January 2009 Archives
I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear ...
I, George Walker Bush ...
I, William Jefferson Clinton ...
I, George Herbert Walker Bush ...
I, Ronald Reagan ...
I, Jimmy Carter ...
I, Gerald R. Ford ...
I, Richard Nixon ...
I, John Fitzgerald Kennedy ...
I, Dwight D. Eisenhower ...
I, Harry S. Truman ...
I, Franklin Delano Roosevelt ...
Which of these is not like the others?
Although no one ever referred to Bill Clinton as "William," he took the oath of office under his given name. Yes, Ronald Wilson Reagan and Richard Milhous Nixon omitted their middle names from the oath. And Dwight David Eisenhower and Gerald Rudolph Ford used only their middle initials.
But James Earl Carter, Jr., took the oath of the Presidency under a casual nickname.
That right there should have been a clue.
I have avoided the hoopla today like the plague. I'll probably catch up over the next few weeks, once I no longer feel like I'm being bludgeoned with it. It was an historic occasion. Too bad the media had to oversaturate it to the point of nausea even well before the fact.
I wish President Obama all the best. It's in my interest, the interest of my country and the interest of the entire Western world that he succeed.
As the fighting continued in Gaza, important changes took place in Hamas - changes that will have a powerful effect at the end of the war. Of course, Hamas leaders will crown themselves with the victors' laurels and try to sell a tale of success. But as Israel's campaign entered its third week, the were hard-pressed to find buyers for their stories.
In the Arab world, an atmosphere of skepticism about Hamas's claims of achievements on the battlefield prevailed, since, for the most part, these claims have turned out to be little more than transparent lies.
Yes, he goes on to provide details. Memo to all of those shreiking moonbats out there proclaiming "We are all Hamas!": I'd rethink the wisdom of that if I were you.
Hamas abandoned the heart of "Qassamland" - the areas surrounding Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun and Atatra - almost without resistance. The offensive array of bunkers and tunnels, booby-trapped buildings prepared for detonation from afar, and all the other tricks adopted by Hamas were captured intact. From the perspective of the people of Gaza, Hamas simply abandoned the arena and fled into the crowded neighborhoods.
Once there, since the second day of the campaign, Hamas fighters have hurriedly shed their uniforms. Many of them simply deserted and returned to their families, taking their guns with them. In some locations, Hamas prevented civilians from leaving neighborhoods that were in the line of fire; overall, it invested great effort in blocking civilians who wished to flee to the south of the Strip.
Hamas forcefully appropriated the few international aid deliveries, hijacked ambulances in order to move from one location to another, and carried out public executions of Fatah activists. In many cases, Hamas fighters showed "forgiveness" and made do with shooting the Fatah men in the legs.
All of this was going on while the entire political leadership of Hamas was hiding in the basements of hospitals such as Shifa in Gaza City or Kamal Adwan near Beit Lahiya.
Sporadically, they released videos from their places of hiding. The rather pathetic impression they created is that of a leadership that abandoned its population and was busy trying to save its own skin.
If you consider this to be heroic behavior, you're in serious need of psychiatric help.
And now, after cowering in their bunkers or behind their wives and kids and whimpering in the face of the IDF, these brave folks are trying to reassert their manhood by rounding up and brutally torturing Fatah activists.
Let's give them a Nobel Prize.
... [N]ow Israel is getting tangled in international agreements and stuttering ceasefires. Today there was that anti-smuggling understanding with the US that won't work. And tomorrow Israel's cabinet will probably wrap up the whole thing by declaring a unilateral ceasefire. Why unilateral? Because Hamas has made it clear that they won't stop their attacks on Israelis.
(Click through for the links.)
In August of 2005, Israel pulled every last soldier out of Gaza, dismantled some twenty-one thriving communities, uprooted several thousands of its citizens (most of whom still remain without livelihood or permanent housing), and subsequently sold 3,200 extremely productive greenhouses to private donors with the intent of turning them over to the Palestinian Authority.
By the end of that year, the greenhouses had been destroyed and cannibalized for weapons parts. The rocket attacks from Gaza into nearby Israeli civilian communities, which had steadily increased since they began in 2001, had not only failed to abate but had escalated. Israel suffered more than five times the number of rocket hits in 2006 that it had in 2005.
In January, 2006, Hamas won a stunning victory in the palestinian parliamentary elections. And in June, 2007, Hamas tossed the "moderate" President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party out of Gaza in a violent and bloody coup backed by Iran.
And all the while, the rocket attacks continued to increase, in volume and in range, and the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza from Egypt continued to surge. By the end of 2008, rockets had been successfully launched into Ashdod and Beersheva.
The international aid that has been pouring into Gaza has been appropriated by the Hamas to buy weapons. Fuel has been diverted from civilian to military use. And with all of the military build-up, bomb shelters have not been built. In fact, infrastructure projects are non-existent. And still, the alleged "humanitarian crisis," ever on the brink of destroying life in Gaza, has been exposed as a fraud.
Hamas terrorists direct women and children to sites (some of them apartment buildings, schools and mosques, all of them loaded to the gills with explosives or serving as bases of attack on Israeli soldiers) that Israel has announced, in an effort to reduce civilian casualties, they are going to bomb. Directs them to these sites rather than evacuating them from these sites. Hamas terrorists cower in underground bunkers built as humanitarian projects by Israel during the dreaded "occupation" while they send their people out to act as human shields and media bait.
The story goes on. And on. And on. Who is committing the war crimes here? Who is deliberately targeting civilians and who is making every effort to avoid civilian casualties? How in this day and age can an event happening right under our eyes be so distorted and twisted by the media, the basic facts ignored by so many among the consuming public?
And after all of it, the eight years of forebearance, the tremendous cost, in so many ways, of launching such an offensive, once again it appears that Israel is ready to leave the job undone. Condi Rice and Tzipi Livni have, after all, signed an agreement.
While we're on the subject of U.S. brokered agreements, let's not forget this:
In the aftermath of the Gaza disengagement, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice brokered the Rafah Crossing Agreement on November 15, 2005, to regulate the Gaza-Egyptian Border. The agreement provided for third-party monitors who were supplied by the European Union. The European monitors did not succeed in halting the flow of weapons or cash to the terrorist organizations. Moreover, as the security situation in the Gaza Strip deteriorated in 2006 and 2007, the EU monitors repeatedly withdrew from the border crossing area. In addition, Egypt has been completely unhelpful in the Rafah border area; Cairo even allowed Hamas operatives to leave Gaza in transit to Tehran, where they were trained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) before returning to Gaza.
Let's not forget the terms under which Israel agreed to a ceasefire in Lebanon in 1982. And again in 2006. How's that working out for them?
Since Hamas will agree to nothing, Israel's cabinet is now set to deliberate a unilateral ceasefire.
Uniteral actions, like Barak's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 and Sharon's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, have not been a resounding success.
I'm out of time and sometimes I feel like I'm running out of hope.
Time to dig this one out again. A picture sometimes is worth 1000 words.
So how do you know when you really have a terrorist gang's back up against the wall? When it starts talking ceasefire.
Just say no.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is promoting a week-long "humanitarian cease-fire" in the Gaza Strip. In contrast, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes the military operation still has not achieved its goals.
Olmert is delaying a meeting with senior ministers in an effort to allow the military operations in Gaza to continue.
[ ... ]
Barak believes Operation Cast Lead has achieved its main objectives, first and foremost bolstering Israel's deterrent power. He does not believe continuing the offensive will bring further gains, but rather only operational complications and casualties.
Achieved its main objectives? Really?
Palestinian terrorists continued to attack Israeli civilian areas on Wednesday, firing 16 projectiles by late afternoon, including a phosphorous mortar shell that hit the Eshkol region.
In the latest attack, a Kassam hit an open area near a kibbutz in the Sdot Negev region. Earlier, two Grad rockets hit the Shfela region, in the central district, while Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot and Beersheba were also hit. No one was wounded and no damage was reported in the attacks.
But the article goes on to say that the rocket attacks are "declining." Is that because Israel's deterrant power has been "bolstered?" Or because the terrorists are starting to run out of rockets and places to launch them from? If the former, then why are we now seeing test rocket attacks coming from Lebanon? Did they fail to read the memo? No, the fact is that Israel's defensive offensive has now reached the point where the enemy is starting to feel the pinch. It's own offensive capabilities have been weakened to the point where it will soon no longer be able to fire at will.
And this is always the point where Israel is pressured, both externally and internally, to pull back and give them the breathing room to retool and rearm. If that happens, they'll be back. They'll be back with more accurate and longer range missiles and more of them. They'll be back with the ability to send the people of Tel Aviv scurrying into shelters with 15 seconds' notice. And then what?
Barak is proposing the IDF cease its fire, hold its positions and keep the reservists under arms, and thus negotiate with Egypt and the United States on an arrangement that would include preventing arms smuggling into the Strip.
The defense minister is concerned that when U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes office next Tuesday, he will demand that Israel immediately cease the operation. A tough UN Security Council resolution is also a risk.
Because these "arrangements" to prevent arms smuggling and weapons buildups during truces and ceasefires have worked so well in the past. Because that's not "also a risk." And so what if President-elect Obama demands that Israel immediately cease the operation next week? That's seven days away. A lot can happen in seven days. A hell of a lot can happen in seven days.
Livni insists Israel must end the operation without an agreement, enjoying its refreshed deterrence against Hamas. She also believes the mission cannot obtain any more major gains.
Meanwhile, senior IDF officers expressed concern on Tuesday that continuing the fighting would increase the number of casualties.
Is that a top level military assessment? Continuing the fighting may increase the number of casualties? Do they get paid for that kind of penetrating analysis?
It's ironic, that it's Olmert, who three and a half years ago was (yes, I know you've heard this before) "tired of fighting, ... tired of being courageous, ... tired of winning ...tired of defeating our enemies," who today is the one trying to push through this apparent wall of defeatism that pops up whenever Israel is on the verge of an actual victory.
Yes, I'm all too aware that it's easy for me to say, sitting here in the comfort of a safe place thousands of miles away and with no husband or brother or son on the line. But how many of these brave men and women are we going to continue to sacrifice, what can we say to the citizens of Sderot and Ashdod and now Ashkelon and Beersheva, when and if after all of this we just go back to the status quo ante, only ratcheted up yet another notch?
I have a question for Mr. Barak and Ms. Livni: when are we going to decide it's time to actually and decisively defeat those who seek our destruction? If not now, when?
Against a backdrop of furling flags and frigid temperatures, an estimated 2,500 people gathered in Center City yesterday to light a fire for Israel.
Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, the rally at John F. Kennedy Plaza was organized in support of Israel's recent and controversial incursion into Gaza.
Hey, it's the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gotta get that little "controversial" dig in there.
Unlike similar events held around the country last week, the hour-long gathering went off without incident. No arrests were made, no rocks thrown, no anti-Semitic obscenities hurled.
Yes, the police did a wonderful job. There were apparently no clashes or confrontations.
Supporters held signs that had such messages as "4,000 rockets from Gaza will not bring peace"; "Let Israel Defend Itself"; and "How would you like rockets thrown at your home?"
One young man in shorts and flip-flops wore a T-shirt that read, "If I were a suicide bomber, you'd be dead now."
And the speakers talked a lot about peace. For both Israelis and palestians. Funny thing about that. I don't hear much talk about peace for Israelis at those "other" rallies.
The LOVE Park rally took place on a day when the United Nations suspended food deliveries to Gaza and the Red Cross accused Israel of blocking medical assistance after forces fired on aid workers, killing two.
Yep. That's my Inqui.
In a surprise appearance, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter told the crowd that Israel's attack of Gaza was justified because the country "has every right under international law to defend itself against rocket fire from Hamas."
The Republican's sentiments were echoed by virtually every speaker and drew a vocal reception from the audience, which included more than 500 students bused in from area Jewish day schools and colleges.
I got there a few minutes late and missed Specter's speech. Darn. (Who knew a Jewish event would actually start on time?)
Actually, the real surprise for me was this.
The final speaker at the rally was J. Whyatt Mondesire, president of the local chapter of the NAACP. "This flag is my flag," he said, referring to the many Israeli banners being waved by the crowd.
"The black community and the Jewish community have been joined together for almost 200 years. . . . Israel is not alone. It will never be alone," he continued.
"It has friends all over the world."
He spoke about the ties between the black and Jewish communities and the support of so many Jews for the civil rights movement in its earliest days. He spoke strongly in support of Israel and its battle against the Hamas terrorists. I was impressed.
Jordan says it will reevaluate its relations with Israel. Amman is reportedly "infuriated" by Israel's offensive in Gaza.
The unmitigated gall!
Jordanian Prime Minister Nader Dahabi said Sunday that Amman reserves the right to reexamine its relations with Jerusalem in light of the recent developments in Gaza.
"The Jordanian government reserves the right to reevaluate its ties with any element, let alone Israel, in accordance with the need to maintain our national interests," he told the parliament.
Twenty-one of Jordan's parliamentarians sent their chairman a letter demanding Jordan sever all ties with Israel without delay and expel the Israeli ambassador to Amman, in view of the "Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip."
The king, at least, appears to be holding this off for the time being.
This is the "peace" for which Israel has made so many concessions and labored diplomatically for decades. Amman should have been infuriated by the Hamas offensive against a neighboring country with which it has a "peace treaty." But, no. Self-defense is a privilege forbidden to Jews.
Once upon a time (38 years ago), Jordan's had to deal with its own terrorist threat -- from the PLO. Some have even suggested that Black September was a disproportionate response. And who pulled King Hussein's ass out of the fire when Syria took advantage of the Arab world's fury and sent tanks toward Amman?
When the palestinian casualties in Gaza begin to approach a tiny fraction of those in Black September, Jordan will still be a long way from having the right to criticize Israel's current response.
Amid widespread condemnation of the operation and calls for a third intifada in the Arab world, east Jerusalemites have not remained indifferent to these images pouring from their TV sets, voicing their reaction loud and clear through demonstrating, stone throwing and flag burning. The first wave of violence began early on Saturday, soon after the operation in Gaza was launched.
In the Shuafat refugee camp, walking distance from Pisgat Ze'ev and French Hill, angry youths threw stones at Border Police jeeps, chanting "Death to Israel! We will redeem you, Gaza."
The next day, similar images from Silwan, A-Tur and Sur Bahir kept on coming. Dozens were arrested, others were warned by the police and by the dignitaries in their neighborhoods, but the situation continued to be tense.
Israel, so far, has been doing an unusually good job of explaining its actions and motives in this operation to the international community. Israel's enemies, for a change, have not. Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is ambivalence. Hamas has the support and backing of Iran and Syria, but most other Arab governments would prefer to see it defeated or at least weakened. And yet the mantras of "disproportionate force" and "brutality" are still dutifully dragged out and repeated endlessly. Israel must, of course, be criticized, condemned and demonized, regardless of the context. This message, though, is apparently being communicated more forcefully to "the street," than to the media at this point.
Munir Khalil, a butcher from the Shuafat camp, echoes Rami's sentiments. "It's our brothers who are dying there. Israel says that this war is against Hamas, but it seems to me that they are victimizing the entire Palestinian population in Gaza. That is why I participated in the demonstrations that took place in the camp."
Khalil, a handsome bearded man of 25, denies any affiliation with Hamas, yet there is a huge Hamas poster in his shop. Green flags hanging from the rooftops are not an unusual sight in the camp streets as well. But Khalil says that it's not important. "You can be Hamas, you can be Fatah, you can be independent or not at all affiliated with any party, but you just can't stay calm when your brothers are being massacred in cold blood," he says, and quotes from the Al-Quds newspaper lying on the table: "The harshest attack since 1967."
Back then, Israel fought armies; now it's hitting inside the densely populated areas of Gaza, the butcher says. This is the reason for people's anger and frustration, his assistant adds. "We've never seen anything quite as brutal and horrible," he explains.
This is, of course, all irrational nonsense. What is truly brutal and horrible is the launching of thousands of rockets, missiles and mortars into Israeli streets, homes, kindergartens and playgrounds. What is truly brutal and horrible is the way the Hamas thugs have stolen the funds, goods and services meant to make the lives of "their people" more liveable and diverted them into the procurement, production and delivery of weapons and the construction of smuggling tunnels. These are just causes for anger and frustration. But, as always, the anger and frustration are deliberately directed elsewhere.
After eight years of rockets falling indiscriminately on the civilian populations of the Negev, increasingly deadly rockets with greater and greater range, after three and a half years since Israel left Gaza with no respite in the attacks, after a failed "truce" that only allowed Hamas to restock and rearm, after innumerable attempts by the EU, the US and the Egyptians to stop the rocket fire through diplomacy, threats and other non-military means, Israel has finally embarked on the only course that can conceivably return life to a modicum of normality for its citizens. It's beyond comprehension that anyone can look at this situation and demand that Israel do any less.
Many thanks for the New Year's gift.
Nizzar Rayyan was (was! yes!) a real piece of work. But I guess he was an honest piece of work. Let's give him that. Please don't ask me to cry over the collateral damage. The use of human shields was one of his trademarks. Speaking of which, I wonder what happened to this thread?
And a special New Year spit-out to Roseanne Barr, who offers yet more confirmation that some of the most vile and clueless antisemites are the Jewish ones.
And Shabbat Shalom.