October 2010 Archives

Rachel's tomb, again

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The first thing I want to point out is that this story is getting very little general media coverage.

On the question of what the UNESCO board referred to as the "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb," the board voted 44 to 1 with 12 abstentions to call the site "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law."

"The attempt to detach the people of Israel from its heritage is absurd," Netanyahu said in a statement released last Friday. "If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel some 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish heritage, then what is?

The "unilateral action" to which UNESCO is referring is Israel's inclusion of these pivotal places in a list of Jewish heritage sites published last winter.  And while the lack of broad coverage doesn't make the UNESCO declaration any less repulsive, it may reflect on the seriousness attributed to it by rational people not immediately affected.  Really, who cares what UNESCO says?

The trend exemplified by such perfidious proclamations, however, is cause for concern.  For more on that, see my post on the earlier salvo in this particular battle, from back in February when the Heritage Sites were first announced.  And don't miss this graphic commentary at FresnoZionism (via Solomonia).

Philly Inq endorses Meehan

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And now for some local politics.

The heated contest for an open congressional seat in Delaware County could turn on an ethical controversy involving the Democratic nominee, who condoned helping a third-party candidate regarded as a spoiler.

Two-term Democratic state Rep. Bryan Lentz says he sees no harm in his volunteers' gathering thousands of petition signatures for a third-party challenger, Jim Schneller, who is far from being congressional material.

Lentz's dismissive explanation - "politics is politics" - for helping to get Schneller on the ballot is a jarring admission and character flaw for a former Philadelphia prosecutor.

If the matchup comes down to credibility and integrity, though, voters have an attractive alternative: Former U.S. Attorney PATRICK MEEHAN, who earns The Inquirer's endorsement.

The straitlaced Meehan, 55, was a solid district attorney in Delaware County. But it was his anticorruption probes as federal prosecutor for eight years - including nearly two dozen pay-to-play cases in Philadelphia, and developing the winning case against former State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo - that serve as his most important achievement.

Meehan may be to the right of Lentz in this campaign, but he has a record as a moderate Republican. Voters should give him the chance to follow those sound instincts in Washington.

When the Philadelphia Inquirer endorses the Republican in a close race, you know that either he's a super candidate or his opponent has got to stink.  In this case, some of both.

See also the Inquirer's endorsement of Jim Gerlach in the district next door (same page).

Two faces of Sestak

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This is rich.  I just came upon this annotated quote from Joe Sestak last winter when he was running against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania primary.

He laid the blame for the lack of peace and an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty squarely in the lap of the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who did not accept Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's peace overtures at Camp David in 2000. "You know Arafat, he didn't have the courage," Sestak said. "They gave him a better deal than they should have, and he just wouldn't do it."
Well that was the primary, and a lot of Joe's tracks from before then have conveniently been erased.  But ... oops ... there's still this, from his 2008 campaign.

He also felt that the next president and Congress needs to continue to support Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that it was a mistake for the United States to refuse to deal with Yasser Arafat from 2001 to 2004 since he was the Palestinian leader.

"I believe that what President Bush tried to do at Annapolis, having begun six years earlier, would have been a fruitful effort," said Sestak. 

Let's recall that six years before Annapolis (November, 1991), Arafat was in the middle of a terror war he had been preparing to launch against Israel even while those peace overtures at Camp David were in progress.   Let's further recall that he had not yet succeeded in murdering enough Israelis to get himself house-arrested in his headquarters in Ramallah, nor had his attempt to smuggle a freighter loaded with $14 million worth of weapons to terrorists in Gaza yet been intercepted.  But all that was already in the works and right around the corner.  Meanwhile, the President of the United States was dealing with the immediate aftershock of 9-11 and mixed reports of palestinians celebrating in the streets.

Yet surely, if President Bush had only "engaged" Arafat at that point in time, it would have been "a fruitful effort."  According to Joe Sestak, virtually unopposed candidate for Congressman from Pennsylvania's 7th district in 2008.

But according to Joe Sestak, candidate for Senator from Pennsylvania in 2010, facing a five term incumbent primary opponent with a pretty good track record on Israel, Arafat "didn't have the courage" and "just wouldn't do it."  Maybe Joe thinks George W. Bush is a better peacemaker than Bill Clinton.  Or maybe he figured out the old line wasn't playing too well with Pennsylvania Democrats. 

Two faces of Joe Sestak: both of them blank.

Israeli tea party?

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This is funny.  Or interesting.  Or both.  Or maybe none of the above.

Move over America. Israel is joining the tea party.

A new grassroots effort is beginning that is modeled after the American conservative social movement. The Israeli version promises to be just as patriotic, just as provocative and just as antagonistic to US President Barack Obama.

My midterm message to Democrats

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You say you'll try harder, but I think it's just too late.  The car is ..., well, still in the ditch actually headed toward the cliff.  So we're applying the brake.

They're gonna get you.



Repetitive, yes.  I know.

A real nasty piece of work

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It's a few days old, but worth a little more attention.  Yes, Rachel Maddow has apologized, sort of, for claiming that former Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX), had "advance notice" of the Oklahoma City bombing.  That rumor, perhaps nurtured by a difference in time zones between the fax's place of origin (Augusta, MI) and Oklahoma City, was put to rest within days of the bombing.  But, somehow, it just slipped out of Maddow's mouth this past Wednesday.

There are a few serious problems with Ms. Maddow's hyperventilated non-apology, not the least of which is that she used it to drag fantasmagorical political fear-mongering to what may be a new low.  And her attempt to characterize the accusation as an "editing error" doesn't fly.  In an "editing error," one might leave out a word or two or read one word in place of another word, or even add a word that doesn't belong at all.  Here's the quote:

Those two [Reps. Helen Chenoweth and Steve Stockman] were so close to the militia movement in this country that Mr. Stockman actually received advance notice that the Oklahoma City bombing was going to happen.
That's an editing error?  Are we to believe that she actually meant to say something more like this?

Those two were so close to the militia movement in this country that Mr. Stockman actually received notice almost an hour after the Oklahoma City bombing that it had already happened.

That's one hell of an editing error..(s).  And it doesn't even make any sense.  But neither did her remarks back in March, when she at least got the sequence of events right.  In that clip, she said:

Back in 1995, on the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing, just after the explosion, a member of Congress named Steve Stockman, Republican of Texas, was sent a fax touting the bombing. He was sent that fax by somebody in the militia movement. Mr. Stockman later turned that fax over to the FBI. He was never implicated in any way in the bombing itself. But there is a reason that the militia movement trusted a member of Congress enough to go to him with that.
"Trusted him enough to go to him with" ... what?  A cryptic reference, containing no new information, to an event that had already taken place?  I'm missing the trust factor here.  And if there was any trust, it was undeserved, because as soon as Stockman made the connection between the fax and the bombing, he sent the fax to the FBI. Yes, "later" that same morning, actually (according to the FBI, at 11:57 am).

So what on earth is Maddow's point?  Ok, Steve Stockman is apparently a piece of work himself, and there doesn't seem to be much dispute that he was cozy with the militia movement (though probably not nearly as cozy as Rachel Maddow would have us believe).  But you have to wonder why she keeps bringing up a one term Congressman who was voted out of office in 1996 and has failed to win any substantial support from the GOP, let alone the general electorate, ever since. 

Could her point be to plant a connection in the minds of her viewers between the election of Republican politicians to Congress and a horrific act of domestic terrorism?  Why, yes, it could.  Here are a few clues, quoting, again, from her non-apology.

Mr. Stockman was a very conservative Republican politician elected in 1994. That was the last time we had our first midterm elections after a new Democratic president was inaugurated.

If the country talked a lot more about the Steve Stockmans of the world and anti-government extremism and what the experience of having anti-government extremists in Congress was like for this country the last time we tried it, I think that would be good for us as a country. Particularly before this round of elections.
What "experience of having anti-government extremists in Congress" is she talking about?  Is she trying to say that the election of conservative Republicans in 1994 somehow gave free rein to the militia movement?  That never happened, at least in this universe.  Or that it caused the Oklahoma City bombing?  Is she that nuts?

Newsflash:  Conservative bloggers aren't "extreeeeeemely angry" with you, Rachel.  They're sort of mocking you.  They're sort of appalled by your seeming indifference to basic journalistic standards and your inability to acknowledge even your most glaring mistakes without flying into a defensive, paranoid rage.  Conservative bloggers try to save their real anger for people of actual consequence.

See also, Armin Rosen at Reason: And the Award for Most Sanctimonious Non-Apology of the Week Goes To...

Only Israel

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I got this one from my mom.  It's a keeper.



Shabbat Shalom.

Stuff I wanted to get to this week ...

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... but never did.

CBS "60 Minutes" Joins the Arab Propaganda Bandwagon on Jerusalem

This is beyond appalling.  Don't take CAMERA's word for it.  Watch the video.  When it comes to blatant, brazen, fact-challenged Israel bashing, Al-Jazeera has nothing on Leslie Stahl.  This one demands a response, folks.


The Toomey-Sestak debate

There's another one tonight.  Now that I've started this, I realize I still don't want to talk about it.  No one can possibly listen to Joe Sestak try to talk for more than a minute and still believe they're dealing with a rational, serious candidate for public office, let alone a sitting Congresman.  But Joe nevertheless seems to be pulling off his signature eleventh hour comeback.  Sometimes, you can fool most of the people most of the time.  Hopefully, not enough.
 

Kathleen Parker's pox on both political parties

"[F]arce has become the new reality," she says.  And so it has.  (Parker's been on a roll lately.)  No matter how many clue-by-fours you whack them with, politicians, pundits and political parties always seem to lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of Americans shy away from extremes.  Especially when the finish line is in sight.  And calling your opponent an "extremist" won't win you any points if you and your colleagues are seen as exhibiting and/or defending extremism yourselves.


The lone Arab soldier

This one was actually from last week.  But it's a very interesting story about Hisham Abu Varia, the first Arab-Israeli IDF officer.  A profile in stamina, courage and integrity.  We wish him all the best.


There's one more.  It's going up as a separate post.

Let Soros fund it

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I don't think NPR quite realized the shit storm it was going to kick up by firing Juan Williams.  And as if the knee jerk PC pink slip wasn't bad enough, the CEO of NPR followed it up with this

His feelings that he expressed on Fox News are really between him and his, you know, psychiatrist or his publicist or take your pick ...
She has since apologized, publicly (but so far not personally to Juan).

NPR has never succeeded in pretending to be even a remotely balanced or non-partisan organization, so I'm not nearly as shocked or outraged over this move as a lot of people seem to be.  They've apparently been itching to purge their ranks of the renegade Williams ever since he started moonlighting at Fox News.  But as one of the few token minorities to be found in NPR's visible ranks, they may have figured it wasn't worth more of this sort of bad PR.  Until now.

Juan has a bright future at Fox, where his balancing point of view is actually welcome (even if sometimes belittled).  Fox News' gain, NPR's loss.  I tend to watch Fox News a lot more than I listen to NPR, so even though I think he's a bit loopy at times, I look forward to seeing more of him.

Since some are trying to spread confusion on this point, I want to point out that Juan's comments were clearly intended to be a confession of his own natural fears and concerns, which happen to be shared by many Americans, whether they like it or not.  He wasn't suggesting that Muslims should "go home" or that they've taken over the media.  If you think there's any comparison between Juan's remarks and those of Helen Thomas or Rick Sanchez, I suggest you watch the whole segment, and listen to them in context.

Finally, there's a lot of hype out there about defunding NPR.  It's an old saw without a lot of teeth.  But even if it did manage to gain some traction, never fear.  NPR can always turn to Soros.  In fact, it seems they've already done that.

Developments

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He shouldn't have.  He said he wouldn't, and he shouldn't have.  But he did

"I made this message clear in quiet ways last month, and I am saying it here, now, in public: If the Palestinian leadership will say unequivocally to its people that it recognizes Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, I will be willing to gather my government and ask for another suspension of construction for a limited time," Netanyahu said.
So now we know (though we certainly knew before and didn't need this confirmation).  From here, I honestly don't see where the "peace process" has to go.

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority on Monday rejected a demand earlier by Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for an extension to a settlement freeze.
Again, this isn't news.  One would hope this development leaves Obama in a bit of a quandary.  If there are ever to be "two states for two peoples," then it's sort of essential as a threshold issue that both "peoples" recognize each other's right to self-determination in their respective "homelands."  Of course, factually, historically, objectively, only one side has a legitimate claim to such status, so it's doubly ironic that that's the only side that's agreed to recognize the claim of the other.

It's way past time to drop the curtain on this farce.  But of course that can't be permitted to happen, at the very least not before the U.S. mid-term elections.  So the actors will continue to strut around the stage, some under pressure and some just because they like to strut.

Speaking of which, Ehud Barak once again reminds us why he was never fit to be the Prime Minister of Israel and is even less so now.

The land referendum bill that was passed by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Monday raises questions about the government's desire and ability to lead the peace process, according to a statement released by the Defense Ministry.

The statement comes as a reaction to a bill, passed during a special meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Monday, which requires a national referendum in any instance in which Israel agreed in diplomatic talks to hand over areas that have been annexed (i.e., Jerusalem beyond the Green Line) or to which Israeli law has been extended (i.e., the Golan Heights).
Barak calls the safeguard "unnecessary."  Of course he does.  Because it was his reckless offer at Camp David in 2000 (rejected by Arafat) that inspired the referendum initiative in the first place.  To him, it's always made perfect sense that such profound concessions be made, if the government is "serious" about "the peace process," by executive fiat and without the consent of the hoi polloi.

WaPo on TARP

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I'm so sick of the misinformation and abuse from all sides on this issue.  Some day, once it's sufficiently far behind us and no longer a convenient political football, the American public might have the stomach to swallow a dim glimmer of how close we came to plunging into the abyss in 2008 (and most certainly would have had it not been for the TARP). 

It seems the Washington Post gets it.


Goodbye, TARP. Good riddance -- and thanks.

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