Sunday, January 9, 2011

There is a nasty phenomenon in the blogosphere (and I guess we'll add the twittersphere to that as well) that compels people to jump on board to a breaking news item before they've bothered to check their footing (the MSM does it as well, but tends to be a bit slower about it). There's a lot of value -- in traffic and respect -- if you can get in early on an issue, be the person collecting and disseminating information, and best of all, if you can add some data of your own. You will be mentioned. You will be linked. People will look to you in the future.

But there is danger in opportunity. If you hop on the bandwagon in order not to be left behind, you could wind up with a whole lot of egg on your face when you discover that the narrative you've been feverishly and passionately posting on proves false. I've put up posts in the past I regretted owing exactly to this phenomenon -- though precious few and I like to think I've learned my lesson in this regard. My traffic may not be as high as it could be, but I like also to think that I maintain a small degree more of my integrity than I otherwise might have.

You can get your credibility back, but that relies on you doing the right thing when new facts emerge and you show you're better for the mistake.

You know where this is going, right?

Yesterday a horrible crime was perpetrated in Arizona. A real tragedy. And in spite of the fact that it was hours before anything whatsoever was known about the shooter, that didn't stop a whole lot of people from assigning blame. In fact, one could be forgiven for arriving at the conclusion, listening to some people, that the murders were committed by Sarah Palin with the help of the Tea Party.

This reflects nothing about Palin or the Tea Party, and everything about the fevered minds of the people pushing that narrative. It would seem that Palin Derangement Syndrome has trumped the Bush strain in spades. In fact, even after the facts started to emerge, here on the morning of day 2, there remains not just no proof, but no evidence whatsoever that Sarah Palin or the Tea Party had anything whatsoever, even in the fevered mind of the perpetrator, to do with this crime.

Some people seem to simply want to blame Sarah Palin, they need to blame Sarah Palin. But this is really about them and their need to slander someone for political purposes, not about healing the political system or trying to make sense of the senseless. It's slander, pure and simple.

I will refrain in this post from providing all of the multitude of examples from the left that could be twisted for use as blame for political violence, or the actual political violence that has arisen from the left, not the right, in recent years.[I have a good reason for that. There's another internet phenomenon whereby people start defending their side by posting "evidence" of the other side doing what they themselves are accusing others of doing -- argument by irony -- and everyone forgets that that wasn't the point in the first place. Everyone gets so busy rubbing the other side's noses in it that they forget what the point was supposed to be in the first place. I realize that's a bit convoluted, but hopefully you follow.] Others have done that already and I'll link some of it below. It happens to be beside the point in this case.

It's irrelevant to the issue, that is, unless you are one of those who have spent any part of the last 24 hours talking about (or blogging about, or re-tweeting about) Sarah Palin -- a connection, I emphasize, for which there is still no evidence whatsoever -- and failing to mention any examples on the other side of the political divide.

We have a word for people whose fevered minds make connections and assign blame for which there is no evidence -- conspiracy nuts. I'm not sure which is worse, people who may be suffering under a delusion, or people whose minds are so fogged with hatred that they use a blood-soaked tragedy to slander a political enemy who happens to be completely innocent.

Oh, and by the way, on no account do you have to be a Palin "fan" simply to be disgusted by seeing the slander and hatred that are thrown her way.

For further reading:

Legal Insurrection: Two Sicknesses On Display in Arizona

Instapundit roundup: BARACK OBAMA: "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun."

Byron York: Journalists urged caution after Ft. Hood, now race to blame Palin after Arizona shootings

theblogprof: Figures: Man who shot AZ Congresswoman in the head is a left-wing lunatic

The unseemly rush to blame Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and Republicans for murder in Arizona

Palin 'Target' Graphic in Perspective

A disgrace to nuts everwhere

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Raymond Massey, Alan Hale, Van Heflin, and my personal favorite, Olivia de Havilland, still living at the age of 93, albeit in France:

The Slow Disappearance of Turkey's Jewish Community - 'Turkey's Jewish community is one of the few remaining Diaspora communities in a country with a Muslim majority. Despite its apparent dynamism, its long-term viability is doubtful. The community does not have any influence or play any role worth mentioning in Turkey's cultural, political, or intellectual life. Furthermore, in recent years the entire community has become the target of much resentment and hostile rhetoric from the country's Islamist and ultranationalist sectors...' | # | (0) | Share

Friday, January 7, 2011

Via Barbara Ledeen, from Elam: Over 70 Christians arrested in Iran during Christmas:

In the early morning hours after Christmas day, the Iranian government arrested 25 Christians in Tehran and other locations. They also planned to detain sixteen others, but were unable to locate them. There are also unconfirmed reports that the authorities have arrested over 50 other Christians. According to BBC Persian, the Governor of Tehran has vowed to arrest more evangelical Christians.

One of those detained was able to make a call to friends from an unknown location on the morning of the arrests, leaving this message -

Continue reading "Over 70 Christians Arrested in Iran during Christmas"

[By Barry Rubin, crossposted from The Rubin Report. Originally published in edited form at Pajamas Media.]

There has been a great deal of discussion in the United States about the Constitution--despite the fact that it was promulgated over two centuries ago--and whether it is relevant to contemporary America. Indeed, the U.S. Congress took the step--which amazingly turned out to be controversial and supposedly partisan--of actually reading that brief document at the start of its session.

Continue reading "Why The U.S. Constitution Really Matters: It's A Living Structure, Not An Outdated Straitjacket"

Steven Rosen: Obama's Moment of Truth at the UN - '...A one-sided resolution not balanced in this way would violate the injunction that Secretary Clinton laid down on December 10, to "stop trying to assign blame for ... failure, and focus instead on what [the parties] need to do to make these efforts succeed." As a presidential candidate, Obama called on the Bush administration to veto resolutions that blame only Israel. But now that he is president, Obama is not going to have any leverage to prevent one-sided resolutions unless he overcomes the veto reticence he has shown until now and finds the courage to threaten his first veto there. Blocking this Palestinian maneuver against Israel at the UN Security Council could also help persuade the Israeli public that Obama's commitment to Israel is more than rhetoric.' | # | (0) | Share

[By bataween, crossposted from Point of No Return.]


The massacre of 21 Copts at a New Year's Eve mass has been called 'a watershed moment'.

The Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg blogs:

"I've been struck over the past couple of days by the lackadaisical coverage of what seems to be the most important story coming out of the Middle East right now -- The Salafist war on Christians in the Middle East is intensifying fairly rapidly, with profound consequences not only for Christians in the lands of their faith's earliest history (keep in mind that Christianity had planted itself in Egypt well before the birth of Muhammad) but for the rights of all ethnic and religious minorities in the greater Middle East".

Helloooo, Jeffrey! We have been here before. Where were you when the Jews - also in the region well before the birth of Muhammad - were being systematically deprived of their rights ? Where were you when the Jews were 'ethnically cleansed' from the Middle East and most of North Africa, to the point where the 80,000 Jews of Egypt are down to double figures, the 150,000 Jews of Iraq down to single digits, and no Jews live in Libya or Algeria?

Continue reading "A Christian-Free Egypt is not Beyond Imagination"

[A guest post by Irving Miller.]

I wanted to draw your attention to this important article on the supposed "impoverished" Gaza: Gaza's Economy: How Hamas Stays in Power. Not only are they making money (including much transacted with shekels brought in from Israeli banks), but they are exporting money as well. Here are some snips:

...Much attention has already been devoted to the goods smuggled into Gaza, such as fuel and cement. Less well understood is the fact that, in exchange for these goods, cash has been steadily exported out of Gaza through the tunnels, at a rate of roughly $750 million per year. Cash is also flowing out of Gaza -- through the tunnels and via bank transfers -- to safe havens in Persian Gulf countries and Europe. The new wealthy class -- many associated with Hamas -- as well as established capital owners are concerned about keeping their money inside Gaza, preferring to move it abroad. And even with huge sums flowing out of the territory, there is still more cash than opportunities to invest it. In February 2009, for example, Gaza banks actually turned to Israel's Central Bank with an odd request: to deposit excess cash reserves in Israel...

"According to Palestinian banking officials, an average of $2 billion per year has been transferred into Gaza via the Palestinian banking system since Hamas's June 2007 military takeover. The PA alone wires an estimated $1.2 billion per year into Gaza banks, much of it as pensions and salaries for the 77,000 employees kept on the payroll even though they are not working. In fact, this estimate may be conservative; according to PA prime minister Salam Fayad, 54 percent of the PA's $3.17 billion 2010 budget went to Gaza. Most of that figure appears to be salaries, although it also covers what the PA pays directly for electricity, fuel, and water provided to Gaza by Israeli firms. In addition, the UN Relief and Works Agency annually transfers about $200 million in cash to Gaza, along with $250 million per year worth of goods, grains, and fuel. Cash is also transferred into Gaza by the 160 nongovernmental organizations operating there..."

Continue reading "Hamas: Awash in Cash"

If you're a pro-Israel blogger looking for some recognition for your underappreciated blogging greatness, head on over to IsraellyCool to read about, and nominate some of your material for, his 2011 Pro-Israel Blog-Off. A star-studded panel of judges will make the decisions.

Mona Charen: Israel's Enemies Within - A worrying minority is undermining the Jewish state's self-confidence. - '...There is pushback. Im Tirtzu, a group begun by four army officers after the inconclusive and, many believed, incompetent war with Hezbollah in 2006, is attempting to reinvigorate Israeli self-respect and confidence on a number of fronts -- though facing a stiff headwind from Israeli media, academia, and civil society. The disillusioned are far from a majority, but they are a worrying minority, and in this, as in everything else, Israel has little room for error.' | # | (0) | Share

[By Vic Rosenthal, crossposted from FresnoZIonism.]

The ADL is shocked -- shocked, I tell you -- that Hamas is antisemitic:

New York, NY, January 6, 2011 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the remarks of a senior Hamas official who claimed that the Holocaust was "a lie that has crumbled" and suggested that Zionists had committed "countless Holocausts" on the Palestinian people.

The League called his statements "a disturbing reminder of the virulent anti-Semitism promoted by Hamas and the ongoing threat the group poses to Israel."

Mahmud Zahar, a senior leader of the Gaza-based terrorist group, made the remarks during a memorial ceremony for 43 Palestinians killed at a U.N. school in the Jabaliya refugee camp during Israel's military incursion into Gaza in December 2008. -- ADL press release

I can't help but remark that the press release itself is misleading. It fails to mention that IDF shells did not hit the school, and that all the fatalities were in the street outside the school where a Hamas mortar team had set up and fired at IDF troops. Five Hamas fighters were killed there, and an undetermined number of civilians who were next to them (certainly fewer than 43). Even the ADL has accepted the Palestinian version of the event!

Continue reading "Hamas Inverts Reality, ADL Only Partly Notices"

PA frees 6 Hamas prisoners on hunger strike in Hebron - 'Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday ordered the release of six Hamas detainees who were on hunger strike in a PA prison in Hebron. Israel Radio reported that one of the prisoners, Wael al-Bitar was involved in a terror attack near Kiryat Arba in which 4 Israelis were killed, and another of the prisoners was involved in a Dimona area terror attack...' [He had to release them, they stomped their feet!] | # | (0) | Share

Finally got a chance to watch this speech that's making the rounds, delivered by newly elected Rep. Allen West. Great:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

[By Barry Rubin, crossposted from The Rubin Report.]

As the proud owner of three cats (or vice-versa as it often seems), I have not yet deployed them for intelligence use. However, to read various Middle Eastern newspapers, you would think that Israel is the world leader in having animal espionage agents. This is my list so far but tell me if I'm missing anything:

Egypt: sharks (shark attacks in Red Sea blamed on Israeli effort to damage Egyptian tourism. Potential joke: What's next? Sending in lawyers?).

West Bank: snakes; wild boars (Israeli settlers allegedly release poison snakes and other animals to bite Palestinians. Potential joke: Still working on that one.).

Iran: squirrels (Mossad squirrels cross border to gather information. Potential joke: A good choice given the nuts running Iran's Islamist regime.)

Continue reading "Alleged Israeli Mossad Animal Spy Use And How to Construct Successful Anti-Israel Blood Libels"

[By Vic Rosenthal, crossposted from FresnoZionism.]

News item:

A group of Arab states launched negotiations on a resolution against Israeli building in West Bank settlements and aimed to finish a final draft in the near future, chief Palestinian UN delegate, Riyad Mansour was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday.

"We are beginning the process of text negotiations, and we hope that we can finish this exercise as soon as possible ... to pave the way for action by the Security Council," Mansour said...

"Once Israel complies with this resolution -- meaning to stop all settlement activities immediately -- the day after that we will be ready to go back to negotiations," he said.

Probably this resolution will say something about the settlements being 'illegal'. But this is not a simple concept. At the risk of oversimplification, international law is based on the consent of the parties involved: the treaties and agreements that nations have agreed to be bound by. Disputes can be adjudicated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), insofar as the parties agree to submit such issues to its jurisdiction (there is also an International Criminal Court, but it only has jurisdiction over 'crimes' like genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Israel is not a signatory to the statute which created it).

Continue reading "Israel's Second War of Independence"

Avigdor Lieberman: We will not be Turkey's punching bag - 'Recent outrageous remarks and events emanating from the country make it extremely hard for us to show restraint. We will react, as any other sovereign nation, to such insults and abuse...' | # | (0) | Share
District Court Upholds Stolen Valor Act Against First Amendment Challenge - '...I think the Act, which criminalizes certain knowingly false claims of having received a military honor, is constitutional...' | # | (0) | Share
Within First Week of 2011: Ten+ Rockets Launched from Gaza Strip into Israel - 'The first week of 2011 has already seen more than 10 rockets and mortar shells launched at Israel's southern communities, with the IDF responding to attacks targeting the Hamas organization's terror activity sites, a weapon manufacturing site and a smuggling tunnel...' | # | (0) | Share

[A guest post by Irving Miller.]

There will be a riot in the Ramallah suburb of Bil'in tomorrow. There is one every Friday, because Fatah likes it that way.

Many weeks they are very small, with a mix of PA employees and jihad tourists along for the thrill. Anti-Israel activists take videos and post them on youtube.

If you look at the video of a typical Friday in Bil'in, April 2, 2010, you see the blond jihad tourists, the banners, and the speeches. Then the crowd marches towards the separation barrier. At 1:23 you see them dismantle part of the fence. The elimination of the security barrier that has prevented so many suicide bombings is the goal of these demonstrations.

At 1:30 and 1:57 you see young men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. At 2:06 a man uses a slingshot. Stones and slingshots are lethal weapons, for that matter, a baseball is is a lethal weapon; it can kill you. In the April 2 video more stones are thrown at 2:22 and at another slingshot at 2:47. Most of these films, however, edit out images of Palestinian men slinging rocks at Israelis. According to Neil Rogachevsky, this is made easier by the fact that the men attacking with stones and slingshots stand apart from the jihad tourists and photographers.

Continue reading "Santa Claus Throwing Stones in Bil'in"

[A guest post by Anna Geifman.]

On January 2, 2011 YNet published several reports about a violent episode at the checkpoint Bekaot, southeast of Nablus. See: here, here, and here.

The central theme of the Yediot Akhronot journalists was IDF's use of fire against an Arab civilian. In contrast to soldiers stationed at the roadblock and equipped with weapons and protective gear, the man from the West Bank "was unarmed". In his hand he held only a water bottle. According to Palestinian sources, he was on his way to work.

Yet another instance of Israel's uncalled-for violence against Palestinian civilians, it would seem. The incident was fatal for the 20-year-old Kfar Tubas resident, Mohammad Dragma, allegedly sprayed with bullets from close range and killed. But of course it was for the reader to decide whether or not this use of force was an obvious overreaction.

Continue reading "Shooting the Man With the Glass Bottle"

I wanted to make what I hope will be my final few thoughts (yeah, good luck with that) on the death of Jawaher Abu Rahma at Bilin a week ago. I think Rabbi Kaufman has a good run-down of the facts here: Another "War Crime" that Wasn't - Abu Rahma

It's clear that Abu Rahma had some sort of physical ailment, as tear gas deaths are extremely rare (actually unheard of). There is video from the day of the usual suspects literally jumping around in the gas, so there was nothing out of the ordinary in the gas itself (despite some claims). We will assume that CS gas was a factor in Abu Rahma's death. Why assume so? Because there is no reason, from a perspective of assigning blame and responsibility, not to do so. Unless IDF soldiers held her down and poured chemicals down her throat, there is no evidence whatsoever that they did anything wrong.

Quite the contrary, IDF activity seems to be calibrated to avoid confrontation and injury and everyone knows what to expect. In the first video in this post, you can see the sort of pushing and shoving confrontation that occurs when the rioters get too close.

Activists intend to create a physical confrontation. Pushing, shoving, rock throwing, slinging, molotov cocktails...and cutting the Security Fence. The Fence is not a joke. It is there to protect lives, not serve as a prop for political grandstanding and it is the IDF's responsibility to protect it (the fence's route has been ordered changed by the Israeli courts, but this section of fence will remain in place until the new section is completed -- not a joke). There is no evidence that the IDF uses anything but appropriate crowd dispersal methods to accomplish their mission, and there is no evidence they did anything but that in this case. Even I have been caught up with the hype of the event, and have felt the need to debunk the idea that this woman's death was caused by the Israelis when no such complete debunking is even necessary.

Just as the Friday Bilin tourist protest is a predictable happening, so it is predictable that the Palestinian Arabs will take any opportunity to demonize and assign malicious intent to the Jews no matter what they have done or how innocent their intent. The ISM makes no bones about intentionally sending young Western dupes into harm's way, and has had a number of successes where they were injured or even killed. You may remember the story of the opportunistic use of a child's tragic swing set death to paint Israelis as child murderers. It goes on and on. This is another column of march in the Arabs' war with the destruction of the Jewish State as its goal.

So Abu Rahma's death was an opportunity to yet again blame Jews for being killers, even though the real blame for any injuries is on the rioters themselves.

But what about those on the Israeli left who have taken what they should know is at worst a tragedy to demonize their own people? What to make of the Didi Remez's and the +972 crowd and the Derfners who seem to revel in the demonization? That's a question beyond the scope of this short post, but I am reminded of David Frum's description of the paleoconservatives:

They began by hating the neoconservatives. They came to hate their party and this president. They have finished by hating their country.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vaccine-Autism Study Was Fraud - 'The first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research. The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues was renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published. Still, the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps and rubella have never fully recovered...' | # | (0) | Share

[Children as fodder for the meat grinder of jihad, reported by Palestinian Media Watch.]

A Hamas terrorist arrested last month for planning to shoot a missile at a sports stadium in Jerusalem, was a resident of the Sur Baher neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

A glimpse of the world of education in Sur Baher in East Jerusalem was recently made available by Hamas TV. A broadcast showed how the Jerusalem children in the Islamic Riyad (Gardens of) Al-Aqsa School were taught to sing about desiring death: "May our blood be shed."

They also sang the following in front of the cameras:

"How strong is the army of Al-Aqsa.
I am a soldier, defending its protected area.
How precious is the land of Al-Aqsa.
I shall give up my life for its sake."

Continue reading "Video: Arab kids in Sur Baher, Jerusalem taught to sing: "May our blood be shed""

[By Barry Rubin, is crossposted from The Rubin Report.]

A new Wikileaks document is being spun by some media to imply something critical about Israel's policy in the Gaza Strip. In fact, the secret cable shows the exact opposite. It also shows that what I've been writing on the subject was 100 percent accurate.

The U.S. State Department cable dated November 3, 2008, says that the goal of Israel's sanctions on the Gaza Strip was to keep Gaza's economy functioning at the lowest possible level without causing a humanitarian crisis.


Continue reading "Wikileaks on Gaza Shows Israeli Policy and Why It Made Sense"

The difference between an American border fence and a European border fence - 'They only look the same. But the difference is clear. An American border fence isn't reasonable; it treats ordinary people like criminals. A European border fence, in contrast, is an unfortunate "short-term measure" that supplements more structural solutions. Here's what Brussels is saying today about Greece's fence...' | # | (0) | Share
The punishment for a blasphemer - 'It's difficult to get past the murder of Salman Taseer today. As Amjad Khan argues at Harry's Place, the killer Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, smug in the certainty that he's acted in accordance with the doctrines of Islam, is no extremist. He's a straightforward traditionalist who happens to believe that blasphemers and apostates should be killed. To judge from his massive Facebook support, and the views of the man-in-the-street, this is what most Pakistanis believe: Mohammad Hanif, a leading novelist, said colleagues at the BBC in Karachi had randomly polled people on the street about the shooting. "Everyone approves," he said on Twitter. That's what they believe the message of Islam to be. The secularists, the reformers, those like Salman Taseer trying to accommodate Islam to a modern democratic society, are in a tiny minority - and if they speak out, they're killed. To general approval...' | # | (0) | Share

[By Dexter Van Zile, from CAMERA Snapshots.]

The New Year's Day attack on a church in Alexandria that claimed the lives of 23 Coptic Christians was preceded by threats against churches and individual believers in Europe and North America, raising the possibility that Coptic Christmas celebrations slated to take place on Jan. 7, 2011 will be marred by acts of violence, not only in Egypt but elsewhere throughout the world. Fortunately, these threats have been getting a fair amount of attention from the mainstream press.

On Dec. 21, 2010 - more than a week before the attack in Alexandria - the Toronto Sun reported that Muslim extremists have posted the names, phone numbers and photos of Coptic believers in Canada on the Internet with the apparent desire to target them for death. "The fact [that] photos and phone numbers accompany the names of those targeted is believed to mean someone inside Canada is providing the information [to extremists outside the country]," the Toronto Sun reported.

Three days after the attack, the Washington Post reported that governments throughout Europe have provided stepped up protection to Coptic Christians in their countries in response to online threats against this community.

While such security arrangements have long been part of Jewish life in Europe, the need for officials in Europe to provide security for local Christian worship services is a new phenomenon.

Will media outlets cover the anti-Coptic incitement in the Middle East? They should. It's not that hard a story to cover. Websites fomenting hostility toward Coptic Christians are relatively easy to find on the Internet. For example, this anti-Evangelization website displays an image of the decapitated head of Coptic Pope Shenouda III surrounded by flames. The image is displayed below the jump. (Warning: Not for the faint of heart.)

Continue reading "Copts Under Siege"

Good material from Steven Rosen:

For the first time since the Oslo peace process started 18 years ago, Palestinian leaders are openly refusing to negotiate with the government of Israel, and U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is doing very little about it. As Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, explained the policy on Dec. 9, "We will not agree to negotiate as long as settlement building continues." The Arab League is backing Abbas in this refusal, says League chief Amr Moussa, because "the direction of talks has become ineffective and it has decided against the resumption of negotiations."

But Abbas himself negotiated with seven previous Israeli prime ministers without such preconditions. For 17 years -- from the Madrid conference of October 1991 through Abbas's negotiations with then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which ended in 2008 -- negotiations moved forward while Jerusalem construction continued. Madrid, Oslo I, Oslo II, the Hebron Protocol, the Wye River Memorandum, Camp David, Taba, the disengagement from Gaza, and Olmert's offer to Abbas -- all these events over the course of two decades were made possible by a continuing agreement to disagree about Israeli construction of Jewish homes in Jewish neighborhoods outside the pre-1967 line in East Jerusalem. But now, peace talks cannot even begin. Why the change?...

He takes you through it, step by step. There is good news, however...

Continue reading "Why Isn't Obama Pressuring the Palestinians?"

The Settlements Issue: Distorting the Geneva Convention and the Oslo Accords - '...The international community is faced with ongoing and unceasing attempts by the Palestinian leadership to bypass the negotiating process and to directly lobby the international community, and to seek intervention by the UN Security Council in order to attain a more formalized, institutionalized, and concerted opinion as to the illegality of Israel's settlements. The international community cannot seriously ignore the factors set out above, as well as the implications that any such new resolution or decision might have on the already agreed-upon, delicate structure of the peace process.' | # | (0) | Share

Good stuff from Lee Smith at The Tablet: High Morals - A condescending moral double standard allows Western thinkers--notably Times foreign-affairs columnist Roger Cohen--to praise the Middle East's worst regimes

Look around the region: Every bloody government and non-state actor has attracted a cohort of Western fans who feed off of the brand of gore in which those institutions specialize. Some people, like former British intelligence official Alastair Crooke, praise Hamas and Hezbollah as proud resistance organizations. As Michael Young, the Lebanese journalist and author of The Ghosts of Martyr Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon's Life Struggle, says, "To many Westerners it represents an Arab authenticity, in contrast to the pro-democracy March 14 movement whose members too much resemble Westerners like themselves." An entire Beltway industry, including former and current U.S. policymakers, diplomats, and intelligence officials, is devoted to rapprochement with Syria's vicious and kleptocratic regime, the importance of which to U.S. regional policy they wildly overstate lest anyone scrutinize too closely how Damascus targets U.S. citizens and U.S. allies. Then there are the cheerleaders for the Islamic Republic of Iran, for whom the country's leaders and security services are incapable of any rape or murder so vile that would lose it the support even of fans like Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.

Continue reading "Lee Smith: The Condescending Moral Double Standards of Roger Cohen (and others)"

Jeff Jacoby: Commemorating secession, with sorrow and honesty - '...It was actually Georgia's "Declaration of Causes," a 3,300-word justification of secession approved 10 days after the adoption of the ordinance, that damned Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party for its anti-slavery convictions. Secessionists in the Deep South made no bones about the fact that it was the threat posed to slavery by the incoming Lincoln administration that fueled their decision to quit the Union. Yet in recent generations, innumerable Southerners have insisted that the preservation of slavery was not why the Confederacy was formed. This revisionism, bizarre though it might seem to most Americans, has been influential in the South. So influential that the marker to be dedicated in Milledgeville this month, The New York Times reports, is "one of the first official recognitions in the state, at least in modern times, that slavery was the overarching reason for secession."...' | # | (0) | Share

[By bataween, crossposted from Point of No Return.]


Malcolm Hoenlein...on a humanitarian mission (Photo: Rosalyn Zinger)

Oh no! Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to the restoration of the country's synagogues and cemeteries, especially in Damascus and Aleppo.

Assad made his pledge, al- Ahram reports, during a meeting about 10 days ago with Malcom Hoenlein, the kippa-wearing executive vice-chairman of the influential Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations. Hoenlein was not sent by the Israeli government, but was on a 'humanitarian mission', according to Ynet News.

Why greet this piece of news with dismay? The restoration of the crumbling and abandoned Jewish heritage in Arab countries must surely be a good thing. It will remind Arabs that Jews, whose history in Arab countries their regimes are so eager to erase, lived there continuously since Biblical times.

Continue reading "Oh no! Now Syria's Assad to Restore Synagogues"

What Soviet Leaders Could Teach Andrew Sullivan - '...Andrew could teach Pravda a thing or two about duping the masses with such gems of doublethink as: "Failure leads to new terms for success." Yet, failure it is, it being the President's policy, and disguising it as "new terms for success" is truly a downright bizarre way of dealing with reality. What next? "Hunger leads to new terms for gastronomic satisfaction?" Or maybe: "Blindness leads to new terms for optical clarity?" Failure is failure, and a responsible thinker, a rational government, would evaluate the conditions that brought about a failure in the foreign policy of the United States and recalibrate its diplomacy accordingly. Witness American policy rejecting the failed instrument of a unilateral Israeli abrogation of Jewish property rights in the West Bank and adjusting, however belatedly, but with a certain respect for reality...' | # | (0) | Share

[By Daniel Greenfield, crossposted from Sultan Knish.]


At the start of the new year, the Governor of Punjab was murdered because he had opposed the call by Pakistan's Islamists to execute a Christian woman on false blasphemy charges arising out of her harassment by her Muslim neighbors. The murderer was one of his own security personnel. Around the same time in Egypt, security forces withdrew from a Coptic church, and an hour later a car bomb went off killing 21 and injuring a 100 more. And this was not the first time security forces had pulled back before an attack on a church.

The first order of business was to muddy the waters. The Egyptian government treated it as a national attack on Egypt by foreigners. The Obama White House issued statements falsely claiming that both Christians and Muslims were casualties of the Alexandria attack. Both avoided clearly identifying either the victims of the perpetrators or addressing the Muslim mobs chanting Allah Akbar while the dead burned. When the Burqa is lifted long enough to identify the attackers as Muslims, it will be only to describe them as "extremists". But it also clear that these "extremists" are represented in the security forces of both countries. Which once again raises the question of just what is an extremist anyway.

Continue reading "Islamic Terrorism is an Inside Job"

A bit too soon to ask if the next Miss America will be Jewish, but this girl has certainly gone far, fast: The Next Jewish Miss America?

In the 89-year history of the Miss America pageant, there has been only one Jewish winner: Bess Myerson, in 1945. On January 15, there may be another: Loren Galler Rabinowitz, Miss Massachusetts.

The 24-year-old Harvard University graduate from Brookline is the daughter of two doctors, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and a novice when it comes to pageants, but she is no stranger to competition...

...In addition to standing only 5 feet 2.5 inches and being the only Jewish 2011 Miss America contender, Galler Rabinowitz has no entourage and a minuscule history of competitive pageantry.

"Anthropologically, it's been so interesting to do this," she said.

The eye-opener has worked both ways, as Galler Rabinowitz fielded questions from other contestants about keeping kosher and about her Conservadox Jewish lifestyle. She also writes her own material...


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

[By Barry Rubin, crossposted from The Rubin Report.]

What happens when the New York Times publishes, with no investigation, an atrocity story about Israel that is not only false but ridiculously so, based on the most obvious starting point: death by tear-gas doesn't happen?

There's a long history of Palestinians (including the Palestinian Authority) making up atrocity stories that blame Israel and then having these widely disseminated by the mass media. This is one of the main factors leading to increased hatred or criticism of Israel. These tales are disproven but the facts never catch up with the lies. Here's a history of the phenomenon with a number of examples.

Now we have the first phony slander of 2011. You can check out the cartoon version also. The Palestinian Authority claims that Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36 years old, died during a demonstration, killed by "poison" in tear gas fired there by Israeli soldiers.

Continue reading "A New Palestinian Lie About Israel and The Need to Discount Such Stories Systematically"

Do Russian, Middle Eastern and Observant Jews Hate Democracy? - '...Even after cursory evaluation, then, the Jewish sub-groups Jeffery Goldberg highlights as potentially problematic in preserving a democratic society are in fact ardent practitioners of consensus-based democratic processes. To label them as somehow secretly opposed to democratic life or majority-rule runs contrary to the evidence available. Nor can it be said that their intentions going forward are anything but the preservation of a political system which enables their political representation, but also that of other Israeli citizens. The basic principles of tolerant intellectual pluralism are ingrained in Jewish history, culture and identity, and form the basis of a social contract among the different groupings within Jewish Israeli society. There is no indication that this basic adherence to democratic norms is headed for change.' | # | (0) | Share

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