March 2009 Archives

Both sides now

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It's no surprise. Benjamin Netanyahu is literally caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.

On the one hand, we have the morons at the EU, who are clinging desperately to the world's worst idea (or at least one of them)...

The European Union once again sent strong warning messages to Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu on Friday, cautioning him that EU ties with Israel could take a turn for the worse if he rejects a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On the other hand, we have the staunch right wingers in Israel, whom Bibi never pretended (much) to be courting (what choice did they have?), throwing their own hissy fit over his partnership with labor.

Ah, well. Israeli politics. The more things change, the more that stays the same. Unpredictable and motivated by many of the baser human instincts. Those who pretend to be shocked (shocked! I say) at this are fooling no one.

As always, stay tuned. Oh, and a parting message for the EU: please to STFU.

Shabbat Shalom.

Dear Noam and Aviva (Shalit)

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Parents who lost their children in terrorist attacks explain in an open letter why they oppose a deal "at any cost." Eloquent and heartbreaking.

... We sat across from you on the sidewalk in order to present the people of Israel with a different stance, an unpopular one perhaps, an unpleasant one perhaps, but the right one in our view. Gilad needs to be released in a way that secures our future, that would ensure the cessation of abductions, and that would prevent terror. We must do it in a way that chooses the present and the future, for the sake of all citizens of the country, over Gilad's wellbeing.

Quietly, within us, we asked for your forgiveness a thousand times. We debated every day whether we are convinced that what we are doing is right. We tried to find excuses for why we should give up and go back home.

As you asked us many times, where were you for three years? We were at the same place where many of the country's citizens are found today. We were scared to hurt you. Yet every day, when we returned home, we saw our children who are still alive, the ones we promised to protect over the graves of our dead children, and we decided that we will do everything in our power to stop the terrorists. ...

As indeed we all must.

Shabbat Shalom.

Meat

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This past weekend, we were celebrating ... meat. It all started here, as a protest against PETA's "Holocaust on Your Plate" campaign and, well, it's become a tasty tradition.

Sharing is part of the fun. So here are a few samples of what was for dinner here at our house on Saturday and Sunday night.

That's a hunk of raw buffalo tenderloin, just waiting to be thrown on the grill. And here's a chunk of said tenderloin post-grill, about to be enjoyed ... by me.

Eland is a kind of African antelope (sort of). They're quite beautiful, very plentiful and extremely delicious. This loin chop didn't disappoint.

And that's it for this year's EATAPETA, where we eat well and make fun of stupid, offensive and over-the-top "animal rights" organizations all at the same time. Cheers!

Consistency

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Further to the Chas Freeman withdrawal, SoccerDad meticulously sets forth the case for What Was really behind it (as well as What Wasn't). There's too much good stuff in there to effectively excerpt and it hangs together too well as a whole so you really should just go and read it all. But here's the core of his analysis:

One can only conclude that it was Freeman himself who feared the revelations of the IG and stepped aside before they became an issue. His accusation that the Israel Lobby scuttled his appointment was calculated to obfuscate the real issue. Still there was a credulous media ready to accept it.

Yeah. And they'll always have help. (See also...)

In other news, Charles Krauthammer's excellent op-ed this week exposes yet more of the moral bankruptcy and overweening arrogance of the Obama administration. It just keeps coming.

While I favor moving that moral line to additionally permit the use of spare fertility clinic embryos, President Obama replaced it with no line at all. He pointedly left open the creation of cloned -- and noncloned sperm-and-egg-derived -- human embryos solely for the purpose of dismemberment and use for parts.

Those of us who favor federal funding for embryonic stem cell research with appropriate safeguards and restrictions in place have now been thrown under the bus along with those who disfavor funding of such research. To the tiny crowd of those still standing, I hope you enjoy your brave new world.

And George Will makes a similarly salient point in an entirely different area: the economy.

The president's confidence in his capacities is undermining confidence in his judgment. His way of correcting what he called the Bush administration's "misplaced priorities" has been to have no priorities. Mature political leaders know that to govern is to choose -- to choose what to do and thereby to choose what cannot be done. The administration insists that it really does have a single priority: Everything depends on fixing the economy. But it also says that everything depends on everything: Economic revival requires enactment of the entire liberal wish list of recent decades.

It appears we can at least tentatively award Obama a few points for consistency.

Nevertheless, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 9% this week. Yes, it may be a bear market rally but I'll take it.

Finally, Daylight Savings Time began last Sunday. I love DST. I'm not a morning person so it really is a gift of an extra hour of sunshine and I already feel like I'm emerging from my winter doldrums. I do think they're pushing the envelope starting it this early in March, but I especially appreciate it on Friday afternoons, which never seem long enough in the winter. See? Today, I'm early!

Shabbat Shalom.

Withdrawal

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On a day when the most virulent of Israel bashers are trying their best to pin the withdrawal of Chas Freeman on the efforts of "Steven Rosen, a former director of AIPAC awaiting trial on espionage charges [sic], who has a long history of attacking and undermining anybody he deems hostile to Israel," it's more than surprising to find Daniel Pipes and the Middle East Forum working to help them out.

I'm not going to publish the text of the email Pipes sent out to his readers yesterday. You can find it here, on one of the most hysterically anti-Israel sites on the blogosphere, which was more than delighted to have "confirmation" of "The Lobby" conspiracy.

Jeffrey Goldberg (admittedly neither Rosen's nor AIPAC's biggest fan) went out of his way to dismiss this charge today.

It is widely believed on the blogosphere that the campaign against Freeman was coordinated by AIPAC or by Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC official no charged with espionage. I've been away, so maybe I've missed a couple of Elders of Zion meetings, but no one coordinated this "campaign" with me. In fact, I haven't spoken to Steve Rosen since he screamed at me for writing this profile of him in 2005.

(Ah. You'll have to follow the link to get the link to that profile. I believe in feeding my sources.)

Fact is, the Freeman appointment was derailed by the hard work of a number of people and in the end was driven more by Freeman's glaring conflicts of interest, foreign entanglements and anti-American statements than by the anti-Israel bias that Rosen first exposed. So why does Pipes reiterate the rationalizations of Freeman's defenders by characterizing the derailment as Rosen's "achievement?"

Needless to say, it was quickly picked up by Freeman's supporters. Glenn Greenwald gloats:

...And Antony Loewenstein notes that neocon fanatic Daniel Pipes is sending out mass emails crediting indicted AIPAC official/espionage suspect Steven Rosen with being the catalyst of the anti-Freeman campaign.

(Follow those links if you must. It's the first and last (I hope) time you'll ever find a link to either of those twits here. But as compensation I must refer you to this classic post which, if you haven't read it, you haven't truly lived.)

Pipes is hardly a "fanatic." But I can't imagine what he was thinking here. And the Zionist Organization of America, for some reason, is exercising a similar lack of common sense and discretion in sending around a memorandum claiming its own title in the Freeman KO.

The fact is, it wasn't the efforts of Rosen or the ZOA or the "Israel Lobby" that defeated Freeman's appointment. If anything, those efforts made it a bit harder by generating resistance to the appearance of "caving in to pressure." What ultimately mattered was that enough members of congress, including several Democrats, started to realize that this guy had way too many negatives and that the appointment was making them look bad.

Yes, it appears that "the Lobby" would love to take credit for this one. They can't. In the end, Freeman defeated himself.

One more thing

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Last week, I posted an update to the ongoing saga of the campaign against Bangladeshi pro-Israel Muslim journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury. He has since then published this press release at The Blitz. It's a detailed account of the latest physical attack on him and the reluctance of the Bangladeshi authorities to take any action against his attackers. Please do read it all.

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) has been among the leading voices advocating for Choudhury's freedom and release from the scurrilous charges brought against him by his government. You can read more about Rep. Kirk's efforts here.

This week and last, Rep. Kirk has been instrumental in launching this offensive to challenge the appointment of Chas Freeman to the chair of the National Intelligence Council. Kirk's appeals to the Inspector General are designed to shine light on Freeman's numberous conflicts of interest and failures of disclosure, which are already raising uncomfortable questions in Congress among Republicans and Democrats alike. This could get interesting.

Sincere thanks to Rep. Mark Kirk for his hard work and support on so many fronts.

Shabbat Shalom.

Good stuff

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This is a great story about real hope and change.

Less than a day after receiving the rank of officer and before heading back to the paratroopers he will command, Lioz Shaashua headed to Havat Hashomer military base to direct a phys-ed class. The visit had great significance, not just for Shaashua but for all involved in a project launched 30 years ago by former IDF Chief of Staff Rafael (Raful) Eitan.

The project, dubbed 'Raful Youth', was intended to assist and support soldiers from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and to reinforce their integration within the IDF.

The army was reluctant to enlist Shaashua, 22 from Bat-Yam, who dropped out of high school after completing the tenth grade and became involved in criminal activity. But he claims the army changed his life as he became the first 'Raful youth' to complete the officers' training course on Thursday.

"It's an amazing feeling of satisfaction and personal victory, but it's also more than that," Shaashua told Ynet. "My message is clear - whoever wants to reach the top just needs to know how to get the right tools, and no one will be able to stop him."

And there's both good and bad news out of Italy. First, the good news:

ROME (AP) -- Italy said Thursday it is pulling out of a U.N. conference on racism -- the latest blow to a meeting seen by many Western governments as marred by Muslim attempts to attack Israel and shield Islam from criticism.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also decided to postpone a planned trip to Iran in protest over remarks against Israel and the U.S. administration by Tehran's leadership, the ministry said in a statement.

Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, Frattini said Italy has withdrawn its delegation from the preparatory negotiations ahead of the so-called Durban II conference due to "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements" in the draft of the event's final document.

And then, the not-so-good:

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican said Friday it would attend a U.N. conference on racism next month but hoped for a change in the wording of its final declaration, which some countries view as hostile to Israel.

"People go to conferences to discuss and debate," said the Vatican's chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. "That doesn't mean we agree with the draft text of the final declaration as it is now."

Both Italy and the United States have said they will not attend unless the wording of a document they consider hostile to Israel is altered before the gathering starts.

Israel is calling for a boycott of the April 20-24 event but so far only the Jewish state and Canada have said they will not participate.

This is incredibly disappointing, as well as naive. And it sounds a lot like what Obama was saying a few weeks ago before he was disabused of his optimism.

Yes, I know that Anne Bayefsky and Melanie Phillips are seeing this glass half empty. I did catch the weasel words and I reluctantly suspect that Durban II's agenda is a lot less offensive to the Obama administration than they like to pretend. My optimism stems from the fact that most of the world won't look too closely behind that curtain and on the surface at least, the departure of the U.S. and Italy are both good. It also stems from my desperate need to find something to be optimistic about.

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