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Saturday, March 06, 2004

Israel pays $16,000,000 each year to the UN

by Mike Levine via Isralert
Sixteen million US dollars.

This is the amount of money which Israel pays in UN dues each year.

In rough numbers this means that during the years of its membership Israel has laid out more than $800,000,000 dollars. That’s almost a billion dollars. More than has been paid by most oil-rich Arab states. More than most East European countries. More than many nations with fifty times Israel’s population.

And what has Israel received for its money? Hundreds of resolutions blaming Israel for damn near every ill in the world! More negative resolutions than any other nation on earth, plus refusal to include Israel on committees concerning human rights, while extending honored positions to human rights luminaries Libya and Syria.

Groucho Marx in one of his zany movies said of an exclusive country club, “I wouldn’t join any club that would have me as a member!”

Well I for one would not belong to any organization whose members singled me out for ill treatment, who bashed my family and me at every turn, who lied about me, who showed in every way possible their hatred for me.

Do you have any idea what Israel could do with an additional $16,000,000 dollars a year?

The biggest growth industry in Israel today is soup kitchens! Yes, trying to keep up with the rapidly growing number of people falling under the poverty line is becoming a major industry! A hundred thousand Jewish kids don’t get even one hot meal most days.

There are now dozens of private non-profit groups roaming the earth looking for donations with which to feed poor families in Israel. One such group, with which I am very familiar, estimates the cost of a freshly cooked, hot, four course balanced meal at $3. If my math is any good that means they could serve 5 million additional hot meals a year for what we pay to stay in the UN.

Because of shrinking national budgets old age pensions have been cut, single mother assistance reduced, people with severe disabilities often have to make a choice—food or medication.

Sixteen million US dollars (approximately 72 million Israeli shekel) would help to restore some of these social services budget cuts. And this sixteen million does not include the cost to Israel of maintaining its representatives in the UN, of housing and feeding them, providing cars and expenses.

It is high time to say goodbye to one of the world’s most anti-Semitic organizations—the UN—a group whose membership is dominated by Arab and third world nations dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, and use the money we pay in dues to see to it that no child in Israel ever again goes to bed hungry.

Friday, March 05, 2004


from Kosher Spirit via Isralert
I was asked to write an article entitled “Purim Without Koby.” But I can’t write about Purim without Koby because even though Koby is dead, I don’t celebrate Purim, or anything else, without Koby.

In an article in The New York Times, Steven Flatow said that even though his daughter Aliza was killed by terrorists, he was still her parent. I am still Koby’s mother. I will never not be his mother.

Trying to explain my relationship with Koby is like trying to translate blindness to a sighted person. I speak a different language now.

It is like being a haunted house, or a hallowed one. There are times when I feel horrible pain, and I feel that I will always be haunted. I see how people look at me sometimes and remember the haunted house I used to pass on my way into town when I was a kid. Unlike our modern, shingled house, it was old, dark brick with spires and round windows. Now perhaps, I would look at the house as curious, interesting, maybe even beautiful. For what is haunted can also be hallowed, sanctified by loss into something grander, more attached to G-d. It depends on how you translate your experience.

Purim tells us that this world is one where meaning is hidden. The name Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, is related to the Hebrew world for hiddenness. And in the Purim Megillah, G-d is never mentioned by name, though he is not absent from the story.

To encounter G-d, we have to move from our position of pride to a position of humility, enhancing our own hiddenness. Only then can we emulate Esther, who could have stayed in the palace, where she lived in luxury, massaged and oiled and groomed, but chose instead to feel the suffering of the people. Esther did not let her elevated status go to her head.

That may be our job in this world: to connect more with other people, to feel their pain and their problems, to act as one with them. Perhaps that is what we should celebrate: our ability to help each other move toward healing; to move from our limited sense of self to feeling one with the people around us. Such unity can lead to healing.

Less than a year after our son was killed, my husband and I marked our wedding anniversary by going out to dinner. I can’t say we celebrated, because we were too sad. When we walked into the restaurant, the smiling waitress with her shiny, black hair had a spirit and effervescence I could only admire. I thought to myself, ”She has no idea of the pain I am living with, the weight of what I carry.”

As my husband and I ate our meal, we realized that the restaurant was a perfect place to commemorate what would be Koby’s upcoming fifteenth birthday. We wanted to take fifteen poor or disadvantaged people out to dinner to mark Koby’s birthday—to remember the dead by bringing joy to the living.

We spoke to the manager about our plans. He said that he volunteered at a nearby center that helped teens from poor, broken families, and he thought that the teenagers would appreciate going out with us. The idea was taking form almost on its own. We hadn’t thought about taking teenagers out for a meal, but it made sense. Koby was a teen when he was killed. We thanked the manager for his suggestion. Before he walked away, my husband said: “Do you know the Goodman family? They live around here. They lost their 16-year-old son, Tani, this year in an accident—we went to the shiva—and I wanted to know how they are doing.”

“You can ask them yourself. Your waitress is their daughter.”

I looked at her, at her beauty and her spirit, and I thought, “You never know what’s going on inside a person.” I had misjudged her. When she came over to the table, we told her of our loss, and she shared her own.

As we spoke, I realized how much of life is hidden. We don’t see what’s inside of people.

As we shared our feelings, my husband and I felt less isolated. The pain lifted for a moment. Healing may occur when we reveal what’s hidden inside of us. Then the pain doesn’t haunt us but brings us closer to others.

If we can’t even see what’s inside of other people, imagine how difficult it is to see G-d in the world. But Purim tells us that even when we can’t see G-d, he is with us. Even when it seems otherwise, G-d does not abandon us in our pain.

Seth and Sherri Mandell moved to Israel from America in 1996 because they loved Israel and wanted to put Judaism in the center of their lives and their children's lives.

Their lives were devastated on May 8, 2001, when their 13 year old son Koby was murdered by terrorists. Koby went hiking with his friend Yosef Ish Ran in a canyon near the Mandell's home. There, in a cave, Arab terrorists stoned the two boys to death.

The Mandells, parents to 3 other younger children, knew that in order to go on, they needed to transform the cruelty of Koby's death into acts of kindness and hope. For that reason, they created the Koby Mandell Foundation which provides healing programs for families struck by terrorism.

Seth, a rabbi, and Sherri, an author and journalist, believe that the Jewish response to suffering is to live a fuller and more engaged life. Their programs help others who have suffered the trauma of loss overcome the isolation that keeps them from returning to life. Participants are helped to find meaning in their loss, so that families become stronger rather than weaker from their traumas. In this way, they keep Koby's spirit alive in the world.

Opportunities for Giving are available at the Koby Mandell Foundation.

The Middle East:

23 Arab and Iranian police regimes, theocracies & tyrannies
. . . one small and democratic Israel
Click this link for a brief AV presentation, "Intro" to Middle-East-Info.org, advancing democracy, pluralism and mutual respect in the Middle East.

Hey, O'Reilly, tell me again how Gibson's movie is
"certainly not an anti-Semitic film"

AMCHA receives Hate Mail

I've tried to tell Mr. O'Reilly, and anybody else who would listen, that while Gibson's film may not have been antisemitic in its intent (questionable), nor necessarily in its content, it is the potential effect of the film that concerns Jews.

AMCHA, The Coalition for Jewish Concerns, protested the movie in New York City on the day it opened, and in response has received hate mail.

There are those who would hold that AMCHA brought this on itself by protesting, much like the ADL's national director, Abe Foxman, has been criticized for both stirring the controversy and giving the film "priceless hype." As if things would be better for us if only we would go along quietly . . .

I reprint here a small sampling of what AMCHA has received, with the WARNING that the language is extremely vulgar and offensive.
From: "Akinguj9 *"
To: xxxxxxxx@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: comments
Date: Thu, 26 Feb 200419:55:40 +0000

Care Rabbi Cocksucker Weiss,

Concerning your vehement rantings about Mel Gibsons movie: Go FUCK yourself you filthy kike! Too bad there wasn't a REAL holocaust and 6 million more of you socio-parasites were gassed! You fucking hypocritical liars deserve whatever comes to you in way of punishment for your crimes against humanity and Christians! You and your entire race of kike scum are nothing more than back-stabbing, genocidal, baby-raping, dick-sucking, traitorous, conniving, thieving pieces of shit! Go hang yourself like Judas!

From: Henry Ayre [henri@alaska.net]
Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 3:32 PM
To: xxxxxxxx@yahoo.com
Subject: Please keep it up!

Keep it up, Your Holy Kikeness, keep it up! The entire planet is wired now, it exchanges news and citizens commentary at the speed of light! You doing just fine to inform the World Citizens about kike-ishness. Keep it up! Please, keep it up! Henri the Celt

LET'S STOP KIDDING OURSELVES! 9-11 was an Israeli-backed spanking on our collective American bottom! A Boeing 757 DIDN'T pierce through six walls of the Pentagon (impossible + no aircraft debris), a late model cruise missile did the job; the Twin Towers DIDN'T collapse due to heat (impossible), demolition charges did the job; there were NO Arab hijackers (the jets were guided electronically); and the Zionists/Judeo-Christians now in control of the United States are traitors to the U.S. Constitution... as well as being mass murderers.This has been a Zionist WAG THE DOG operation from the start, deadly serious for our elected leaders WHO KNOW WHO'S GUILTY, and an Arabian Nights charade for Mom and Pop in Littletown, U.S.A.! It's an info war! Forward this to the world! henri@alaska.net

Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2004 14:18:12 -0800 (PST)
From: "Aran McGinnis" [ytdevil1488@yahoo.com]

From: PokyStan@aol.com
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 00:54:03 EST
Whine, whine, whine. Is that all you jews can do? I'm going to see "Passion" five times and buy extra popcorn. All the attention you Christ hating whiners have brought to "Passion" is going to make it one of the biggest revenue producing movies of all time. Whine some more for me, I love to hear your incessant whining. Whine, Whine, Whine, just like a sick puppy. Atleast you're real good at something.

From: John [hnorth@sherbtel.net]
To: xxxxxxxx@yahoo.com
"Rabbi Weis":

I am only one of the ever increasing numbers of American WHites who are sick and tired of the continuous whining of you jews. If you don't like what is going on in America, then GO TO YOUR OWN LAND: "Israel". We don't like what is going on in our land, and one day you and your tribe will ALL be expelled from this nation, just as you were from all other Western nations in the past. I won't bother with explaining facts to you, since you will twist them, distort them and ignore them just as have your ancestors, the sons of the devil have for centuries. The enmity that GOD put between our seeds has been festering for years, and one of these days HE will finally awaken His People from their deep sleep. Obadiah WILL be fulfilled. Have a nice day....(while you still can).

Even non-Jews are getting hate mail, if people suspect them of being Jewish: LGF.

"If Bush turns the other cheek any more, his head will fall off"

I disagree with Mona Charen's conclusion that "Mr. Bush can drop the Mr. Nice Guy approach" (I think it's working for him), but the evidence she provides for his being a nice guy is well worth reading.
No one seems to recall another example of a sitting president phoning the likely nominee of the other party to congratulate him as George Bush did after Kerry's victory on Super Tuesday. That's so like Bush -- ever the gentleman. "This is," explained Bush spokesman Terry Holt, "the beginning of the campaign season, and I think he wanted to extend his hand across the aisle."

Reportedly Bush congratulated Kerry on his win and looked forward to a "spirited campaign." Here's how Kerry reacted: He went out to address his cheering supporters and declared that he was "under no illusions about the Republican attack machine and what our opponents have done in the past, and what they may try to do in the future." He went on to condemn the president, "who promised to become a uniter" and instead has become "a great divider." He reviled the attempt, as Kerry put it, "to amend the Constitution of the United States for political purposes." And he summed up the Bush foreign policy as "the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological" in history.

Might it be time for President Bush to re-evaluate his Mr. Nice Guy strategy?

He came into office promising to bring a "new tone" to Washington. And he meant it. He showed up at the House Democrats' annual retreat. He invited the entire Kennedy clan to the White House for a special showing of the film "13 Days," a movie about the Cuban Missile Crisis that featured glowing depictions of President Kennedy and his attorney general brother, Bobby. In his first State of the Union address, Bush went out of his way to praise the ailing liberal Democrat Joe Moakley, D-Mass. He later attended Moakley's funeral.

Arguably, Bush's pursuit of good fellowship extended to policy, as well. To get the cooperation of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., he agreed to massive new spending. Worse, the president compromised the all-important choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind law. He then toured the country with Kennedy and Miller, joking about how the folks down in Crawford were a bit suspicious of the guy from Massachusetts.

Too bad the president didn't take advice from the Crawford boys.

The Bush family can't seem to see straight about the Kennedys. Even after the bilious senator had lambasted President Bush for supposedly cooking up the entire Iraq War as a political stunt and alleged that he had told "lie after lie after lie after lie," the elder George Bush gave Kennedy a public service award!

And on it goes. When the Democrats in the Senate filibustered President Bush's judicial nominees, the most he could bring himself to say was that the "Senate" was blocking action. Not the Democrats, mind you.

Frankly, it is difficult to think of a single instance during his time in office that George W. Bush has said anything stinging or even partisan about the party that has demonized him without pause for three and half years. He has never used expressions like "the Democrat attack machine," nor impugned the motives or character of those who disagree with him. As Deroy Murdoch of Scripps Howard wrote in 2001, "If Bush turns the other cheek any more, his head will fall off."

There's more.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Glorifying terrorism in Arabic, but condemning it in English

More examples of PA duplicity and hypocrisy
Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook of Palestinian Media Watch continue to expose the transparent hypocrisy of the Palestinian Authority. Send one or more of their Latest Updates to any mainstream media outlet, and ask them if it is "newsworthy." And if not, why not?
The Palestinian Authority's (PA) chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, is the latest PA official to demonstrate that PA leaders send one message to their people in Arabic and an entirely different message to the world media in English.

This week's news includes a striking example of this duplicity. Upon hearing that three Palestinian children, aged 13, 14 and 16, were caught by Israel on the way to a suicide mission, Erekat was quick to create the impression for the English media that the PA opposes such actions.

"That's absolutely unacceptable," Erekat told the Associated Press. "Our children should have hope and a future and should not be suicide bombers. We want them to be doctors and engineers."

The great hypocrisy of Erekat's statement is that he and the PA leadership have been the driving force indoctrinating PA children to aspire to Shahada - Death for Allah. As PMW has reported, it was only a few months ago that Erekat and other top PA leaders, including Yasser Arafat, sponsored a soccer tournament honoring 24 Shahids ("Islamic Martyrs"), including such arch-terrorists as Yechya Ayash, the first Hamas suicide-bomb maker, who masterminded the Palestinian suicide bombings; Adin Al Kassam, the name of the suicide terrorist wing of the Hamas; Raid Carmi, a regional head of a suicide terrorist unit; Jamal Mansour of Hamas; and Salah Drowza of Hamas.

As a sponsor, Saeb Erekat was present at the tournament honoring the terrorists, and personally distributed the trophies. [Al Ayyam, Sept. 21, 2003, Al Quds, Sept. 29, 2003]

The coverage by the PA media of the foiled suicide mission is also telling. Although all three PA dailies -- Al Hayat Al Jadida, Al Ayyam and Al Quds -- covered the capture of the teenagers, there were no reports in these papers or in other PA Arabic media of any comments by Erekat opposing the idea of teenagers as suicide bombers.

So while in English, Erekat's diversion for the media is, "We want them to be doctors and engineers," in their real world, Palestinian children see suicide terrorists as the role models created for them by Erekat and the PA leadership. We have yet to read that Erekat or the PA has sponsored a tournament named for doctors and engineers.

Finally, two additional PA reactions to the capture of the three teenagers are noteworthy:
1. "The Prisoner's Club called on all the legal institutions to act to stop [Israel's] policy of arresting children and minors... which is a violation of all conventions and international humanitarian agreements." [Al Ayyam March 3, 2004]

2. The parents of the three "called for legal and humanitarian organizations to intervene for their release so that they could continue their education." [Al Ayyam March 3, 2004]
Instead of focusing on why the teenagers were arrested, they present these would-be assassins as victims -- just as Palestinian society, at the same time that it promotes and glorifies terror, continues to present itself as the victim.
Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,

Have you had a chance to visit the HonestReporting weblog - BackSpin? One of the main goals of the weblog is to encourage online discussion among HonestReporting readers. This week an item is doing just that, and we'd like to invite you to participate.

On March 3, Bob Englehart of the Hartford Courant penned this editorial cartoon:

What was Englehart's intention here?

Our take: Englehart is encouraging the viewer to identify with the idea that the recent rise in anti-Semitism is attributable to Israeli policy.

What's particularly odd about this is that Israel critics have long claimed that castigating Israel is not tied to anti-Semitism: 'You can be anti-Israel, and not anti-Semitic.' But now Englehart, through his Jewish characters, makes that connection himself, suggesting that Jewish fear of anti-Semitism could be lessened by adjusting Israeli policy.

HonestReporting asks: What's your take on this cartoon? Share your thoughts with others by posting a comment on BackSpin, and become a regular visitor to stay on top of matters of media coverage of Israel.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Meet Hez b'Allah

Founded in 1982, Hezbollah pulled together smaller terrorist groups and operates under a variety of names. Its program calls for the destruction of the United States, Israel and any government standing in its way; worldwide resumption of the Holocaust; and the liberation of "occupied Arab lands" such as Jordan and Morocco.

Its camps in Lebanon's Beka valley have trained al-Qaeda terrorists, Chechen rebels, the Medellin drug cartel, Hamas, the Japanese Red Army, Muslim "insurgents" in the Balkans, and the Irish Republican Army. It has organized "cultural" and "religious" groups worldwide - actually for recruitment and fund raising - in the United States.

Hezbollah has more than 5,000 trained terrorists in Lebanon and Syria alone, armed with some 10,000 missiles, tanks and antiaircraft artillery, according to European Union intelligence sources.

In addition, Hezbollah has another 15,000 to 20,000 members in the United States, Latin America, Europe and East Asia. Its TV station broadcasts its death-to-America message to an estimated 10 million Muslims. And its leaders have the affection of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Hezbollah's operational budget is $500 million. Its reserves reportedly are greater than bin Laden's fortune or what he collected from the Saudi royal family. Since 9/11, less and less comes from Arab governments. Ditto from Islamic "charitable" organizations - a result of U.S. restrictions on financial transfers and the USA PATRIOT Act.

One example of how Hezbollah works: Its operatives bought with cash thousands of cartons of cigarettes from tobacco companies in North Carolina. The tax in that state is 5 cents. The cigarettes were smuggled to Michigan, where the tax is 70 cents per pack, and sold illegally at less than the regular price. Until Hezbollah operatives, led by Muhammed Yussef Hammoud, were apprehended and convicted, they had made many millions for Hezbollah. This money buys radar, mine-detection devices, laser range finders, naval equipment and other supplies hardly needed for Hezbollah's terrorist war against Israel.

Hezbollah also has been involved in merchandise counterfeiting, forging driver's licenses and green cards, and looting Social Security funds. The loss so far to financial institutions in credit-card fraud alone has been more than $17 million.

The U.S. Treasury Department in 2002 seized some $16 million in currency and cashier's checks that were being sent illegally to Lebanon. Hezbollah coordinates the traffic of drug-smuggling networks, facilitating operations for cash on the barrelhead.

Under Imad Mugniyah, Hezbollah's external security head, the group has been involved in the Balkan fighting, an area that serves as the route for 40 percent of the heroin trade in the United States and 80 percent to Europe.

With al-Qaeda, it is a dominant factor in the Latin American drug trade. And it has set up terrorist-training and teen-age indoctrination camps in the Latin American jungles - as well as "making fortunes" in the forgery of passports, counterfeiting, trafficking in human beings, smuggling stolen vehicles, and running export/import businesses with Indian and Hong Kong traders.
This from Hezbollah Emerging As The Terrorist A-team; apparently much of the information is found in Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It by Rachel Ehrenfeld, with foreward by R. James Woolsey.

Jerusalem on high terror alert

Maariv: Jerusalem police are on high alert following an increase in intelligence information warning of Palestinians planning to target the capital. Police have set up roadblocks throughout the city and are randomly stopping and inspecting vehicles.

Gaza: Three HAMAS terrorists killed in IAF helicopter missile attack

Maariv: Three Hamas terrorists were killed when missiles hit a car in central Gaza, Wednesday afternoon. IDF sources said that one of the three Hamas terrorists killed in the attack was Jamal Tarad, who was responsible for dispatching the female suicide bomber who blew herself up at the Erez crossing. All three were senior level leaders of the Hamas terror organization, the sources said.

Palestinian witnesses report seeing a couple of missiles hit the car shortly before 13.00, completely destroying the vehicle. Medics rushed to the scene and found the bodies inside. Some Palestinians reported seeing Israeli drones hovering over the area before the strike.

The white car was engulfed in flames and black smoke. Some people threw sand at the burning wreckage and beat the flames with their clothes in an attempt to put the fire out. The angry crowed called for revenge and lashed out against Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian government. "I spit on the Palestinian Authority and those who brought them here", one bystander said.

Dozens of Palestinians tried to storm the morgue at Shifa Hospital in Gaza to identify the victims, others screamed for revenge.

Palestinians say that a firefight between IDF soldiers and armed Palestinians erupted in the area after the attack. Palestinian sources report that stray bullets from that firefight hit a power station and parts of Gaza are now without electricity.

Hamas spokesman, Abed al-Aziz Rantissi, vowed revenge for the strike “even if the Hamas members were on their way to carry out a legitimate attack on the Netzarim settlement, a military response to the action will be forthcoming”, Rantissi said. “Before Israel withdraws from Gaza, Sharon continues to carry out crimes against the Islamic movements in the Strip", he said.

Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu Ala condemned the attack, “The goal of the Israeli government is to annihilate every attempt to bring quiet and to revive peace talks”, he said.
There was a Palestinian "attempt to bring quiet and revive peace talks"? That's funny, I never heard of it.

Reuters has this to add:
"In Gaza, 1.3 million Palestinians are squeezed into teeming urban slums alongside 7,800 Jews in spacious fortified enclaves."

Speaking of "teeming urban slums" and "spacious fortified enclaves," my (11-year-old) daughter and I were recently looking at tourism brochures for Tel Aviv, and were in awe of the spectacular city. I said something about, no wonder the Arabs seethe with jealousy; they want all this. And my daughter, Gd bless her, said that if we just had somewhere else to go, and we could take the Western Wall with us, then we could just level all the rest of Israel, and let them have it. Empty.

"Would they still want it, then?" she asked.

We'll never know, because we don't and we can't.


from Kim du Toit
When you walk through the gates of the Dachau concentration camp, two things strike you: the machine-gun towers and the barbed-wire fences. Just inside the fence is the Sperrgebiet, the "forbidden zone" in which you were immediately shot by the SS guards if you trespassed. Many chose to walk there, simply as a means of ending all -- death by SS.

You walk through the simple barracks huts, and the three-tiered bunks seem quite large, until you read that up to three men were required to share each bed at a time.

The camp today is clean, incredibly clean, and empty. Once, it was incredibly clean, and full. Litter or mess of any kind was punished by being hung by the wrists for hours. Now they have janitors.

Only two barrack buildings remain. The other thirty are marked simply by their foundations, which are all that remain. They are laid out in orderly rows, like huge gravestones, which is what they really are. The buildings are gone, and now, most of their inhabitants are gone too. The fortunate ones died early, the less-fortunate ones died after years of pain and torment, and the very fortunate ones were liberated by the U.S. Army.

The crematoria are all gone. The Straflager, the punishment blocks where SS and Gestapo thugs tortured and beat the prisoners, are still there. Empty, scarred concrete walls, and black iron bars.

The emptiness of the camp is, I think, a perfect testament to the emptiness of a soul which would think of building such a camp, and for even thinking of such a purpose for one.

We were there on a bitterly cold day -- flakes of snow, an icy wind, and a simple question came from one of the kids: "Did they have coats?"

Suddenly, The Mrs. started sobbing: great heaving sobs which stopped her in her tracks, and forced her to bend almost double with their power. I held her, and cried too.

After a while, we recovered, and walked on. No, David, they weren't given coats. They were expendable.

At the end of the trip, we turned to the kids and said: "One day, someone may say to you that this never happened. You are here to bear witness that it did. Never, ever allow those lies to take root and spread. Make sure your children know that this happened, too. This cannot be allowed to happen again."
And I thought I couldn't cry anymore.

Also read Kim's "personal message for the wiseguys: the ones who think they're being clever by walking around with their silly little protest signs which read 'Bush = Hitler'" . . . and his "personal promise," which I appreciate.

Thanks to Leah Guildenstern for the tip.

from Michael J. Totten's blog:

Bush Vs. Kerry

So it looks like John Kerry is it.

And therefore I’m out.

I would have voted for John Edwards had the Democratic Party chosen him as the nominee. Heck, I would have voted a straight-Democratic ticket next year if that’s how it went down. But it didn’t, and so I won’t. I can’t.

Until further notice, this blog officially supports George W. Bush for president in 2004.

I will not be his cheerleader. Though I will defend him from scurrilous charges, I don’t like the man, and I never have. I appreciate very much what he has accomplished in the realm of foreign policy, as anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows. And there is simply no way I can vote for his opponent who has spent the past year whining about every good thing we are doing and have done in the Middle East. This is by far the most important task now and ahead of us.

I am not about to join the right-wing bandwagon. I will support a Democratic Congress as I always have.

The Christian Right can take its hysterical reactionary agenda and stuff it. They are not my comrades, and they should not come looking to me for support. They will get none.

I cannot and will not be a team player for the Republican Party. None of the partisan “responsibilities” apply to me because I do not accept them. When I side with the liberals I am not a “traitor.” I could be plausibly accused of heresy for siding with conservatives as a Democrat. But that’s because I actually was a Democrat. I am neither a Republican nor a conservative. I will vote a split ticket this year because the way I see it, each party gets some things right. The inverse of that statement is obvious. Each party gets some things wrong.

I hope the Democrats spend the next several years, whether in the White House or out of it, getting themselves a serious foreign policy. Right now they don’t have one. Some individual Democrats are exceptionally sharp on this subject. But the party as a whole is lost. It hasn’t always been this way, and there is no reason to expect it to remain this way forever. I may very well support the Democratic candidate in 2008. It depends on who they nominate, and it depends on what happens between now and then.

It’s also entirely possible that John Kerry will win in November and I will come around to his side. He may win and govern well, and if he does, I will notice. I’ll be grateful and relieved.

Until then I oppose him, and I do it without malice. I don’t hate the man, and I doubt I ever will. Hatred destroys people emotionally and intellectually. The pitched level of anti-Bush hatred is shocking to me, just as the fury from the right against President Clinton was shocking. The asinine bluster from political haters is surely the dumbest commentary on any subject I’ve ever heard and read from adults. Get a life, haters. This is just politics.

I am the same person I was when I wished Al Gore were president. And if I change my mind about Bush in the meantime, or if I warm to a President Kerry, I’ll be the same person then that I am today. Some people make the funniest judgements about others because of who they support as a president. It’s not until you change your mind about a president that you come to realize how petty that is.

Posted by Michael at March 2, 2004 10:25 PM
[Excerpts from] Comments:

I was a dem all my life but am voting Bush for a much-deserved 2nd term. I don't agree with everything he's done (or not done) but I don't feel like I have to hold my nose either.

As mentioned, the FMA will start a dialog/discussion and that's why it's good. It won't pass...no way. But let us feel we're part of the process. When gays do marry it will be because we as a society embrace them, not because gay marriage was forced by fiat.

The WoT is the most important issue of our time and Kerry basically mocks it. He still believes HE could have gotten France to go along with us which shows he's either naive, or ill-informed about the dynamics of Europe post cold-war.

There may be a few hawkish foreign policy wonks around among the Dems, but, quite frankly, most of them left the party during the 80's. Why do you think they're called neo-cons?

Kerry seems to have some 'expertise' or at least interest in drug cartels, which is why I suspect he emphasizes policing and intelligence. But that's only part of the WoT. We're not just playing whack-a-terrorist here but up against a huge worldwide fascist movement.

And with more than 100 radicalized mosques here in America, we can't afford to gut the Patriot Act either.

Posted by: Syl at March 3, 2004 03:23 AM

Michael: Thank you for summing up my thoughts completely. There are many issues on which I don't agree with Bush and the thought of campaigning for him gives me a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I will be a single issue voter in this election- security. And I'll vote for a Republican for president for the first time as a life- long Democrat. Kerry's comments last night about Bush's "reckless, inept..." foreign policy make it clear where Kerry stands - he'll roll back the progress that has been made over the last two years. If we don't get this issue right on this country, the other issues won't matter.

I continue to be profoundly disappointed in my party as they continue to ignore what I believe to be the most profound issues facing our country. Yet they still churn out bumper stickers urging us to "Beat Bush". This isn't a sporting event.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Ann at March 3, 2004 05:09 AM

Michael T.:

Excellent post. Those are my sentiments exactly, except the part where you wrote, "It’s also entirely possible that John Kerry will win in November and I will come around to his side. He may win and govern well, and if he does, I will notice."

I suppose I just differ in my estimation of the likelihood of that occurrence. I'll allow that there's a theoretical chance I might come around to his side too, but I think Kerry is too old to change his stripes. I think Kaus has infected me.


You wrote that Kerry "will end up giving us an enormously fuller and, most likely, more honest vision of his foreign policy than Bush ever gave us in '00," and that "[p]erhaps those who really are 'independent' should wait till the campaign plays out a bit before making their committments?"

I think you missed Michael T.'s comment that "Kerry can't make up for a year of petulant carping by paying lip service to me. I am not stupid, and I have a long memory."

Posted by: Michael Hall at March 3, 2004 06:53 AM


Great post. It asbolutely sums up the feelings of many many people from center-left to center-right. . .

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 3, 2004 06:55 AM

Michael, well said, and quite congruent with my own feelings on the subject.

The most difficult thing this year will be the Us vs. Them demonization by partisans of both sides. That one can be a reluctant supporter of one side or the other will not go down well with the Bush Can Do No Wrong crowd, nor with the Anyone But Bush gang. Stick to your guns.

Posted by: *** Dave at March 3, 2004 07:26 AM

As a Libertarian for Bush, I can say you join good ranks in the "You have my vote by default" crowd. Survival first, and then we can start arguing about the best way to handle pressing issues like toothpaste regulation.

Posted by: Phelps at March 3, 2004 07:38 AM

Michael, I'm in complete agreement with you.

Posted by: Finnpundit at March 3, 2004 07:55 AM

I couldn't agree more. I am a democrat who will also be voting for Bush b/c I see the WoT as being the most important issue right now, and I see Bush as the only one who finish this war. The anti-bush hatred that exists now astounds me. Most of my friends and family think i'm nuts when I say I am going to vote for GWB in November. I think there are a LOT of people who will vote for Kerry primarily b/c of their hatred of Bush. They won't even take the time to hear out the issues. I live in NYC and so it seems like this is how the majority of the people here feel. I just hope the rest of the country has some sense.

Posted by: Al at March 3, 2004 07:57 AM

Welcome to the creamy middle.

Posted by: Brandon at March 3, 2004 08:28 AM


Once again you have captured my sentiments exactly. I have been greatly disappointed to see the implosion of the Dems over the last 4 years in particular. However, regardless of what Kerry does or says over the next several months I will be voting for GWB. I just don't trust Kerry. Never mind the waffling, he does not offer any reasonable alternatives for the Bush policies and positions he rails against.

Posted by: BeckyJ at March 3, 2004 08:29 AM
Of course there were comments that differed, and you should go read them too, but I thought the extent of this sentiment, roughly a quarter, was impressive.
Palestinian Authority Broke and In Disarray

Arafat: "Let it collapse. It will be the fault of Israel and the Americans."

Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, March 1, 2004; Page A11

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Three years and five months after Palestinians began their second uprising against Israel, the Palestinian Authority is broke, politically fractured, riddled with corruption, unable to provide security for its own people and seemingly unwilling to crack down on terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Palestinian, Israeli and international officials.

The turmoil within the Palestinian Authority is fueling concern that the agency -- created almost 10 years ago to govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- is disintegrating and could collapse, leaving a political and security vacuum in one of the Middle East's most volatile regions, many of those officials said.

At a time when Israel is constructing a massive barrier complex through and around the West Bank and planning for the possible withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian leaders have offered no political strategy to prevent the authority from becoming marginalized or obsolete, officials and analysts said. Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's chief of staff, Hassan Abu Libdeh, said the collapse of the governing authority was "a real possibility" and could lead to "a lawless situation" that would play into the hands of radical Islamic groups already competing with the Palestinian Authority for power.

None of the analysts or officials interviewed said they believed a collapse was imminent, and many noted that the key players in the Middle East, including Israel, the United States, the European Union and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, have a strong interest in preventing the Palestinian Authority's demise. However, most agreed that the key issue affecting its survival is a lack of money, and they noted that even on the verge of bankruptcy, the authority has not imposed many of the reforms that frustrated donors are demanding.

At the same time, support for the authority among Palestinians has also plunged. In a recent poll by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Center, a Palestinian research organization, 54 percent of Palestinians surveyed said they believed the authority, commonly referred to as the PA, effectively no longer exists. More than 30 percent of respondents said it would be in the "national interest" to abolish it.

...Because of budget shortfalls in recent months, the authority has taken out loans from Arab-owned commercial banks to pay salaries while also imposing pay cuts on its 140,000 employees. Frustrated by allegations of corruption and the slow pace of economic reform, foreign donors are reducing funding to the authority or diverting money to nongovernmental organizations.

Arafat and Qureia reportedly are at loggerheads over security and financial reforms -- the same issues that led to the resignation of the first Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, after 130 days in office. Qureia, who more than three months into his term still has not met with his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is increasingly seen as weak and unresponsive.

Edward G. Abington, a former State Department official who is now a Washington consultant to the Palestinian Authority, said he told Arafat during a meeting at the Palestinian leader's bombed-out compound here recently that the governing body was in danger of collapse.

"Let it collapse," Arafat said, according to Abington. "It will be the fault of Israel and the Americans."

The Palestinian Authority was created during the Oslo peace process in the mid-1990s to govern large areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- populated by an estimated 3.5 million Palestinians -- for an interim period of five years. Its governing structure includes an elected president -- Arafat -- and an elected 88-seat legislative council.

Khalil Shikaki, a Palestinian pollster and political analyst, said the main reason the authority has held together is its position as the largest employer in the territories. "The PA is still in existence only because it is able to pay salaries to 140,000 public sector employees in the civil service and security forces," he said. "When you pay 140,000 people a month, your existence is in the interest of a lot of people."

But the authority's grip is weakening, analysts and officials said. Palestinian Economic Minister Maher Masri said earlier this month that the agency probably would not have enough funds to pay February salaries. It recently sold its 35 percent stake in the local Jawal cell phone company to raise $43 million to pay employees.

The Palestinian Authority, which spent about $1.1 million last year, ended 2003 with a $350 million deficit, according to figures compiled by the Finance Ministry and international monitoring groups. Of the nearly $590 million Palestinian officials requested from donor nations, the authority received less than half -- about $230 million.
UPDATE: Tuesday, March 2:

Haaretz: Arafat finally approves key financial reform for PA

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Tuesday approved a key reform measure after long delays, paving the way for renewed foreign aid to the financially strapped PA, the Palestinian prime minister said.

At issue was the method of payment to tens of thousands of members of the Palestinian security forces. Under the old method, cash for salaries was sent to commanders who distributed it to the security forces - an invitation to corruption.

Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad, backed by international donor countries, wanted to transfer the salaries directly to personal bank accounts of members of the security forces. However, Arafat blocked the reform for months, for fear it would undercut his control of the security forces.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Arafat finally gave his approval during a cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Palestinian poster-girl

hold it right there . . . perfect . . . now don't move

A Palestinian woman throws a rock at an Israeli army bulldozer
in the village of Yatta, near the West Bank town of Hebron
Tuesday March 2, 2004 after Israeli forces killed an unarmed
Palestinian man during an arrest operation. According to the
army, troops had surrounded the house of a fugitive and after
the man fled the structure and was ordered to stop he was
shot and killed. Bulldozers were sent to the area and recalled
after clashes with residents.(AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Anarchy in the Terror-tories

Palestinian "gunmen" shot and killed Arafat advisor
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Gunmen shot and killed a well-known adviser to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Gaza early Tuesday, security officials said, feeding fears of growing lawlessness and chaos in Palestinian areas. The murder of Khalil al-Zaban, 59, who was hit by 12 bullets as he left his Gaza City office, is an apparent sign of the weakening of Arafat's Palestinian Authority, which is accompanied by growing violence and rising poverty.

On Saturday, about 15 masked, armed Palestinians barged into the offices of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, demanding jobs at gunpoint.

In a similar incident last Wednesday, about 20 masked men armed with submachine guns and hand grenades raided the Gaza City office of the Palestinian Land Authority, demanding land deeds be transferred to their names, employees said.

On Friday, the mayor of the West Bank's largest city, Nablus, resigned amid growing chaos and infighting between armed militias. Mayor Ghassan Shakaa accused Arafat of not doing enough to prevent Nablus from plummeting into lawlessness.

JPost notes revelation in New Yorker article:

"There's nothing more important than stopping terrorist groups from getting nuclear weapons"
Seymour Hersh has a must-read in this week's New Yorker: "The Deal"
On a trip to the Middle East last month, I was told that a number of years ago the Israeli signals-intelligence agency, known as Unit 8200, broke a sophisticated Iranian code and began monitoring communications that included talk between Iran and Pakistan about Iran’s burgeoning nuclear-weapons program. The Israeli intelligence community has many covert contacts inside Iran, stemming from the strong ties it had there before the overthrow of the Shah, in 1979; some of these ties still exist. Israeli intelligence also maintained close contact with many Iranian opposition groups, such as the National Council. A connection was made—directly or indirectly—and the Israeli intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program reached the National Council. A senior I.A.E.A. official subsequently told me that he knew that the Council’s information had originated with Israeli intelligence, but he refused to say where he had learned that fact. (An Israeli diplomat in Washington, asked to comment, said, “Why would we work with a Mickey Mouse outlet like the Council?”)

The Israeli intercepts have been shared, in some form, with the United States intelligence community, according to the former senior intelligence official, and they show that high-level officials in Islamabad and Tehran had frequent conversations about the I.A.E.A. investigation and its implications. “The interpretation is the issue here,” the former official said. “If you set the buzzwords aside, the substance is that the Iranians were saying, ‘We’ve got to play with the I.A.E.A. We don’t want to blow our cover, but we have to show some movement. There’s no way we’re going against world public opinion—no way. We’ve got to show that we’re coöperating and get the Europeans on our side.’” (At the time, Iran was engaged in negotiations with the European Union on trade and other issues.) It’s clear from the intercepts, however, the former intelligence official said, that Iran did not want to give up its nuclear potential. The Pakistani response, he added, was “Don’t give away the whole ballgame and we’ll look out for you.” There was a further message from Pakistan, the former official said: “Look out for your own interests.”

In the official’s opinion, Pakistan and Iran have survived the crisis: “They both did what they said they’d do, and neither one has been hurt. No one has been damaged. The public story is still that Iran never really got there—which is bullshit.”

. . . Robert Gallucci, a former United Nations weapons inspector who is now dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, calls A. Q. Khan “the Johnny Appleseed” of the nuclear-arms race. Gallucci, who is a consultant to the C.I.A. on proliferation issues, told me, “Bad as it is with Iran, North Korea, and Libya having nuclear-weapons material, the worst part is that they could transfer it to a non-state group. That’s the biggest concern, and the scariest thing about all this—that Pakistan could work with the worst terrorist groups on earth to build nuclear weapons. There’s nothing more important than stopping terrorist groups from getting nuclear weapons. The most dangerous country for the United States now is Pakistan, and second is Iran.” Gallucci went on, “We haven’t been this vulnerable since the British burned Washington in 1814.”

Kerry willing to "dialogue" with Iranian extremists

Would this "repair of relations" give terrorists "credibility and comfort"?
Insight Magazine and WorldNetDaily, by Kenneth R. Timmerman:

The Democratic Party's presidential front-runner, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has pledged that if elected he will abandon the president's war on terror, begin a dialogue with terrorist regimes and apologize for three-and-one-half years of mistakes by the Bush administration.

In a sweeping foreign-policy address to the Council on Foreign Relations in December, Kerry called the U.S. war on terror as conceived and led by President Bush "the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in modern history."

Kerry's remarks were widely praised by journalists. The Associated Press headlined its report on his speech, "Kerry Vows to Repair Foreign Relations." The Knight Ridder news service noted that the new focus on foreign policy "plays to Kerry's strength." None of the major U.S. dailies found Kerry's unusually strident language at all inappropriate. "Kerry Vows to Change U.S. Foreign Policy; Senator Describes Steps He Would Take as President," the Washington Post headlined ponderously.

. . . Heritage presidential historian Lee Edwards called it "not a foreign-policy analysis but a polemical speech, filled with inflammatory rhetoric that is disturbing and beyond the pale. What this suggests is that Mr. Kerry wants to take us back to President [Bill] Clinton and his U.N.-led multilateral policies."

Kerry promised to spend the first 100 days of his administration traveling the world to denounce his predecessor, apologize for his "radically wrong" policy, and seek "cooperation and compromise" with friend and foe alike. Borrowing language normally reserved to characterize "rogue" states, Kerry said he would "go to the United Nations and travel to our traditional allies to affirm that the United States has rejoined the community of nations."

Perhaps frustrated that his radical departure from the war on terror was not getting much attention in the trenches of Democratic Party politics, Kerry ordered his campaign to mobilize grass-roots supporters to spread the word.

In one e-mail message, obtained by Insight and confirmed as authentic by the Kerry camp, the senator's advisers enlisted overseas Democrats to launch a letter-writing and op-ed campaign denouncing the Bush foreign-policy record.
"'It is in the urgent interests of the people of the United States to restore our country's credibility in the eyes of the world," the message states. "America needs the kind of leadership that will repair alliances with countries on every continent that have been so damaged in the past few years, as well as build new friendships and overcome tensions with others."
. . . The hard-line, anti-American Tehran Times published the entire text of the seven-paragraph e-mail under a triumphant headline announcing that Kerry pledged to "repair damage if he wins election." By claiming that the Kerry campaign had sent the message directly to an Iranian news agency in Tehran, the paper indicated that the e-mail was a demonstration of Kerry's support for a murderous regime that even today tops the State Department's list of supporters of international terrorism.

According to dissident Ayatollah Mehdi Haeri, who fled Iran for Germany after being held for four years in a regime prison, Iran's hard-line clerics "fear President Bush." In an interview with Insight, Haeri says that President Bush's messages of support to pro-democracy forces inside Iran and his insistence that the Iranian regime abandon its nuclear-weapons program "have given these people the shivers. They think that if Bush is re-elected, they'll be gone. That's why they want to see Kerry elected."

. . . For Aryo Pirouznia, who chairs the Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran, Kerry's offer to negotiate with hard-liners in the regime smacks of lunacy.

"America is incredibly popular with the Iranian masses, so this is a grave mistake for a short-term benefit," Pirouznia says. "To the regime, this sends a message that America is willing to make a deal despite the blood of Americans who were murdered in Dhahran [Saudi Arabia] and are being killed today in Iraq by so-called foreign elements. And to Iranians, it shows that the old establishment may be back in power, a return to the Carter era."
See also this Jerusalem Post editorial - Kerry's fence straddle:
We know that Kerry hunts doves, loves Israel, and has Jewish family. But Israel's security is at stake. We need to know more about how he would handle Arab-Israeli conflict when he is not speaking to Jewish leaders just before the New York primary.

Horror in Iraq

Multiple attacks on crowded Shiite holy places - estimates as high as 145 dead

At least six separate attacks in Karbala - four or more in Baghdad

I don't usually follow happenings in Iraq too closely on this blog, but this is so striking . . .
Washington Post: BAGHDAD, March 2 -- Numerous explosions in and around Shiite Muslim shrines in Baghdad and Karbala killed scores of Iraqis Tuesday, turning a day of pilgrimage and worship for millions into one of the worst days of death since the war in Iraq began.

Authorities said there were too many bodies to count accurately and immediately. Estimates of the number of dead in both cities ranged from 40 to 100. Many more were wounded.

At least six separate attacks hit the holy city of Karbala alone. Witnesses there described suicide bombers hurling themselves into streets thick with pilgrims. Others said mortars were fired. Still others talked of grenades. The attackers hit shrines, hotels, the gates of the city and streets packed with pilgrims.

Heidar Awainat, a physician with the Ministry of Health, said that at the Abbas Shrine in Karbala, up to a thousand worshipers may have been badly burned by the explosions.

"They just took the flash," he said. "It was corpses and flesh, burnt flesh. This is a violation of the sanctity. It's a sacred time."

Ali Aziz, a senior surgeon at Hussein Hospital in Karbala, said he knew of 85 dead and 233 wounded there.

At a hospital in Baghdad, there were at least 23 corpses counted.

At least four attacks hit Baghdad. Witnesses there said some appeared timed for maximum fatalities, with one or more blasts hitting inside a shrine and secondary explosions catching people as they fled.

Witnesses described mayhem in the minutes after the blasts. Sadiq Ali Haqq, a day laborer, said hundreds of people were thrown on top of each other from the force of the explosions at one Baghdad shrine. He said everyone was screaming "Allah Akbar!," God is great, and women were screaming for their children.

Security had been stepped up in recent days in anticipation of an attack during Ashura, the anniversary of the death of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, Imam Hussein, who was killed in battle in the 7th century. Over the past few days Iraqi police have caught at least one would-be suicide bomber in Karbala with explosives under his clothes.

Officials from the military forces and the U.S.-led interim government have been concerned about acts of violence meant to start a sectarian war between the country's Shiite majority and Sunni minority. Saddam Hussein is Sunni and under his reign many Sunnis enjoyed privileges which were taken away after the war.

This was the first time in decades that Iraq's majority Shiite community had been able to freely observe the holy day. "We've been suffering for a very long time," said Satter Jabbar, a street photographer outside one of the shrines hit in Baghdad. "Suddenly we felt free. We could breathe"....

Hussein Ali Kamal, a Ministry of Interior security official, said there were three blasts at around 10:15 a.m. near the shrine. One was set off by a suicide bomber, he said, and two others appeared to come from explosives planted in the crowd.

Rasmi Abdullah, 30, a guard, said a first explosion blew up at the entrance where visitors leave their shoes. Another blew up a procession of men. Still another hit a procession of women.

It was a scene of utter devastation. Large pools of blood, fragments of body parts and pieces of clothing littered the area. One bomb was so powerful it blew off a huge wooden door at the shrine. Windows shattered blocks away...

Hisham Salman Abboud, one of the guards, said there was such a great surge of people trying to get into the shrine that the guards had stopped searching people. "In the rush of people, we could not stop everyone and search them. We were told not to search people. It was a very big mistake."
UPDATE: According to latest AP reports, the blasts in Iraq "coincided with a shooting attack on Shiite worshippers in Quetta, Pakistan that killed at least 29 people and wounded more than 150."

Oy, what was the religious holiday being celebrated? The Ashura festival "commemorates the martyrdom of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed," and its celebrants apparently look like this (prior to bombings):

An Iraqi Shi'ite man gashes the top of his head with a sword
as thousands Shi'ites celebrate the last day of the Ashura
religious festival in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, March 2, 2004.

An estimated two million Shi'ites from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and
as far away as Canada have descended on the holy city of
Kerbala to mark Ashura, which commemorates the martyrdom
of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who
was killed in battle more than 1,300 years ago.
REUTERS/Ammar Awad

See also Reuters: Sh'ites Shed Blood in Powerful Iraq Ceremony:
KERBALA, Iraq (Reuters) - In scenes of religious fervor, thousands of Shi'ite Muslims gashed the tops of their heads with swords Tuesday as they honored the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed.

Chanting "Haider," the battle name of Hussein's father, old men, young men and boys marched in groups under banners through the streets of the holy city of Kerbala before dawn, beating their heads and chests to show their grief.

Brandishing swords and long daggers aloft and chanting ever more insistently, they then chopped gashes into the tops of their heads and let the blood flow down their faces in a ritual echoing the suffering of Hussein, who was beheaded by enemies.

Many with a patch shaved into their hair allowed a swordsman to slash three gashes into their bare heads along the soft parts of their skull. Sometimes blood spurted out and the recipients winced, but most were unblinking as they were cut.

Wearing white smocks over black shirts and trousers, and sometimes with a white banner around their heads, they were quickly splattered and sometimes completely drenched in blood.

In the midst of the bleeding throngs, boys banged goatskin drums, clashed cymbals and blew horns to urge on the marchers in a ceremony banned for more than 30 years.

Some who bled profusely stumbled as they walked, and aides popped sugared biscuits into their mouths to try to sustain them. Others wore bandages on their heads to staunch the flow, but kept on parading nonetheless, staring intently ahead.

Once the blood was flowing, most men slapped the tops of their heads with the flat side of their swords, but others continued to chop into their bloodied heads in deep, audible slashes, and minders stepped in to try to hold them back.

Men carrying bottles of disinfectant and cotton wool swabs walked among the mourners, helping those bleeding heavily.

Women wailed and cried as the endlessly snaking procession passed, crying out "Haider! Haider!" and urging them on.
Charles at LGF found the most revolting photo of Ashura celebrations. Fun for the whole family.

And if that's not enough for you, Aaron's Rantblog has a ton of photos from last year. Ugh.

Meanwhile, Jews are in the month of Adar, "when joy is increased," and will soon celebrate Purim -- by dressing in costume, reading the scroll of Esther, feasting and rejoicing, drinking wine, sending gifts to friends and giving to the poor. Purim commemorates the metamorphosis of the Jews' apparent bad fortune, to good.
"The Jews had light and gladness, and joy, and honor" (Esther 8:16)
So may it always be.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The war for human rights by Saul Singer

"How did it hapen that those who claim to care most don't seem to have
a dog in the fight between the West and militant Islam?"
"The group was led to the front of the bus, where the headlights were directly on them. They were pushed to the ground and then were pulled up one at a time to be executed. He does not remember any words being spoken - except the plea of the three brothers, who begged that at least one be spared. They were executed one at a time. Next, the woman was shot in front of her five-year-old child. The child lunged at the legs of the executioner and was kicked away and shot in the face."
I apologize for sharing this with you, but this just-released report has received no discernible press attention. It describes the raw face of a genocide, and the evidence left behind. Not in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, or Auschwitz, but in Iraq.

The report, written by the US Agency for International Development (www.usaid.gov) and titled "Iraq's Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves," says that since the fall of Saddam, 270 mass grave sites have been reported, 53 of which have so far been confirmed. According to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an estimated 400,000 people were buried in these mass graves, many of them non-Iraqis. Human Rights Watch estimates that 290,000 Iraqis were "disappeared" by Saddam's regime. The report includes an important survey of how the US has been working with Iraqis to discover and investigate the mass grave sites. The chilling part, however, is the collection of survivors' stories, including that of "Ali" above. In the stories, like those of Holocaust survivors, each witness narrowly escaped execution while witnessing others being mowed down or burned alive.

It is remarkable enough that there is no news interest in this report, not even of the sneering political kind (such as "Administration spotlights evils of former regime"). What is even more striking is that there is no similar comprehensive report by a non-governmental agency, such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch.

One might think that human rights organizations would have regarded the removal of totalitarian regimes, in Afghanistan and Iraq, reason for common cause, or at least grounds for celebration once accomplished. Yet now, even with the extent of Saddam's human carnage emerging, there is not only a total lack of retroactive support but an active effort to deny the war any humanitarian label.

Last month, Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth even issued a long statement called, "War in Iraq: Not a Humanitarian Intervention." Sounding much like those who defended right-wing dictators like the Shah, Marcos, or Pinochet to the howls of groups like his own, Roth writes, "One is tempted to say that anything is better than living under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, but unfortunately it is possible to imagine scenarios even worse. Vicious as his rule was, chaos or abusive civil war might well become even deadlier, and it is too early to say whether such violence might still emerge in Iraq."

PROPER MOTIVES are a critical factor for Roth. Though it was "reasonable to believe" that Iraqis would be better off without Saddam, "it was not designed or carried out with the needs of Iraqis foremost in mind."

The war not only failed to qualify as a humanitarian intervention, but "risks undermining an institution that [is a necessary] tool for rescuing people from slaughter."

To Roth, the war in Iraq is giving humanitarianism a bad name. But if removing Saddam does not advance human rights, what does? How did it happen that those who claim to care most don't seem to have a dog in the fight between the West and militant Islam?

Continue . . .

Saul Singer is editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post and author of the book, Confronting Jihad: Israel's Struggle & the World After 9/11.

Singer's brother Alex was killed in southern Lebanon on his 25th birthday. The terrorist who killed him (and two other members of his squad) was sentenced to serve a prison sentence until 2017, but he was among the hundreds of Arab prisoners released in January, in exchange for the return of one man and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers.


----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel Okrent [Public Editor at the New York Times]
To: "Anne Lieberman"
Sent: Monday, March 01, 2004 4:30 PM
Subject: your message

Dear Ms. Lieberman,

I'm sorry for the delay in this response. The normal press of work; the transition between the old foreign editor and the new one (and an exchange of deputies as well); and the complex nature of your charges all conspired against a speedy reply.

I also have to acknowledge that your comment after the initial delay did not induce me to want to respond quickly. You wrote, "It's been almost a month, and I've heard nothing. I didn't really expect to, but let's go through the motions anyway, shall we?" It did not seem like the beginning of a fruitful conversation.

Do I disagree with your charges? Not necessarily -- although your expectation of seeing the names of every one of the Israelis killed seems neither realistic nor fair; I know of no American newspaper that would do this. But neither do I accept your other charges, as cherry-picking a single article does not, to me, make a trend. Somehow, the tone of your letter makes me feel you will find this unacceptable.

Nonetheless, I've put your comments in a file for the piece I will eventually write about the accusations of anti-Israeli bias. And when I write it, I hope you will give me the benefit of the doubt that you ask me to give you, despite your clear belief in your rectitude.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Okrent
Public Editor

* * *

Dear Mr. Okrent,

Wait til you come across the next email I sent. It was the day after yet another suicide bombing, and the Times thought it appropriate to run Noam Chomsky's anti-Israel screed as an op-ed. In that email, I said you needn't pursue my earlier concerns, because the Times is simply "rotten to the core." I am ready to concede that there is nothing I can do to obtain the interest of anyone at the Times in the issue of bias against Israel (not since Serge Schmemann went to work for the IHT, anyway) and that there are no fruitful conversations to be had.

Just for the record, your expectation that those frustrated with the bias of the Times will be able, or even should, hide that frustration from you, will not easily be met. Many of us who complain about this have been doing so for a long time, with little response, and that seldom "fruitful." We do not do this for a job, we do this in spite of jobs and other commitments; we do this out of love -- mostly for Israel and the Jewish people, but a bit for the Times as well. I used to believe it was a publication of high integrity, and I truly miss it. I miss being able to trust it.

For the record, I never said I expected the Times to publish the names of Israeli victims of terror, though I wouldn't consider that unreasonable. I was simply juxtaposing the fact that you don't mention their names, with the attention you do decide to give to suicide bombers or other terrorists. The Times has on more than one occasion published articles that told not only the name of a suicide bomber, but their age, where they were from, what organization they were affiliated with, how many children they had, what they did for a living, and what their family had to say about their death. Is your answer that this does not constitute bias? Or is it that suicide bombers get more attention because they become news only one at a time, whereas their victims become so in scores, too unwieldy to mention? I just want to know WHY.

As for "cherry-picking a single article," I find this comment very amusing: When I complain about a trend, I am told that I must be more specific. When I am more specific, I am told a single article does not make a trend. If I didn't know better, I would think you are trying to get rid of me.

I don't care if you can't appreciate my "tone" - I am angry, and with good reason. I thought it was your job to deal with people who charge that the Times is biased in its reporting of the news. Beyond disparaging its "complex nature," you did not respond to my complaint. As for my "clear belief in [my] rectitude," do you have a problem with that? If I weren't certain of the validity of my claim, why would I write to you?

Anne Lieberman

U.S. State Department promotes Palestinian nationalism

from weblog of Daniel Pipes
In addition to endorsing Islamist organizations, the Department of State promotes on its website "the world of the Palestinians" to an English-speaking public ("a world vaster, and far richer, than the one portrayed on evening news broadcasts"). It does so in something called Asalah Magazine, four issues of which have been published since August 2002, the most recent of them this month. While Asalah's topics tend to be innocuous (appreciations of embroidery and olive trees), its underlying purpose is obvious: to establish that there is something known as "the Palestinian people."

It hardly needs pointing out that the State Department's mission does not include promoting Palestinian nationalism. This magazine needs to be closed down, and its prior pages pulled down.

Supreme Court rejects appeal by Muslim "charity"

ACLU out of synch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court let stand on Monday a ruling that upheld the government's decision to freeze the assets of a Texas-based Muslim charity accused of funding a militant Palestinian group.

Without comment, the high court rejected an appeal by the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, headquartered in Richardson, Texas. The foundation, which called itself the largest U.S.-based Muslim charity, was shut down when the government seized its assets.

On Dec. 4, 2001, the Treasury Department designated the charity a "terrorist" group and froze its assets because it said the foundation funneled millions of dollars to Hamas, a Palestinian group blamed for repeated attacks in Israel. The United States designated Hamas a "terrorist" group in 1995.

Holy Land Foundation challenged the freezing of its assets and the designation. It said it was not linked to Hamas and was not a terrorist organization.
See also U.S. Muslim Charities Complain of 'Witch Hunt':
"Not everyone in every case may be innocent, but a lot of innocent people doing very good work are being unnecessarily targeted," said the ACLU's Hashad. "It's a very sad thing for democracy."

Absence of Arabs in the story of Jesus:
an important omission that must be questioned

Kol hakavod to Aaron Shuster - this is brilliant!
via link at yourish.com
The Omission of the Christ
by Aaron J. Shuster
March 01, 2004

I do not know whether Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite or not. All I know is that The Passion of the Christ brings up many important religious and historic questions for individuals to consider.

Most importantly, I was shocked that Mel Gibson had Jews in a movie set in a period two thousand years ago. Why, for at least one hundred years, the Arabs and Moslems have been telling the world that the Jews don't come from Israel and have never lived there. They have been telling everyone who will listen that the so-called "Palestinians", or Arab inhabitants of the Land of Israel, are the genuine inhabitants of Israel and that the Jews are nothing more than foreign invaders, or as they like to call them, "colonialists."

Furthermore, the movie is completely bereft of any Arabs, who, after all, have been the real inhabitants of the Land of Israel since time immemorial. How could this be? Strangely, there is not one shot of the Al-Aqsa mosque or discussion of it in the entire film. This must be an oversight, as it has always been there and the Temple Mount is a Jewish fabrication. The absence of Arabs in the story of Jesus is an important omission that must be questioned. After all, why would the Arabs want to be omitted from such an important part of their history?

If the Arab claim is true that they have always been the historic presence in "Palestine", as the world body has readily accepted (since they are de facto forcing the creation of an Arab Palestinian state), it raises important questions about the story of Jesus, the origin of the Jews and the very foundations of Western civilization.

Let us examine the Arab claim that the Jews do not originate from the Land of Israel and have never lived there. If this is so, then thousands of years of world history have been recorded incorrectly. This poses an epistemological challenge of momentous proportion to history and Judeo-Christian belief. And most importantly, if the Arabs are right, it renders Mel Gibson's movie nothing more than a fanciful tale and erroneous in conception.

If the Jews do not originate from Israel and never lived there until their sudden invasion around the turn of the Twentieth Century, then Jesus could not have been Jewish, nor could he have been killed by Jews, as the Gospels claim. According to the Arab point of view, they have been the main inhabitants of Israel since the dawn of time. Therefore, if this is true, either Jesus was an Arab or he never lived in Israel. If Jesus was a Jew and the story unfolded as described, then it must have happened somewhere else, like Babylonia, and then later transposed to the Land of Israel by the writers of the Gospels in an attempt to refute the existence of the true Arab inhabitants of Israel. Proof of a vast Jewish conspiracy would be exposed.

If, however, Jesus' crucifixion indeed happened in Jerusalem, then perhaps the story has a problem in that it tells of Jesus as having been born of a Jewish mother, because Jews never lived in Israel. In this version, Jesus was born of Mary, an ancestor of Palestinian Arabs, steeped in early Islamic traditions, although inexplicably the religion of Islam was not created for another thousands years. Equally baffling is Jesus' direct references to Judaic teachings and reference to the Jewish concept of God. This version obviously requires a leap of faith, but one I'm sure many would be willing to take.

Now, if we are to accept that the Jews never lived in Israel and Jesus was not a Jew, but an Arab, then it must be the case that the Jews had nothing to do with the crucifixion of Jesus. Firstly, they never lived there, so it would have been impossible for them to have convened a court there to pass judgment on his activities. The only way the version in the existing New Testament could have transpired is if the Jews had somehow convened a court and then sent it to Israel to pass judgment on a man who was not a Jew and preached in an Arab country under Roman dominion (perhaps, according to the Arabs, the Romans were never really in Israel either – another Jewish conspiracy!). Or perhaps, a court, not unlike the World Court in the Hague, was formed by the Jews to pass judgment on a case over which it had no jurisdiction. One thing this version does not explain is why the Arab inhabitants of Israel would submit to a foreign Jewish court's ruling over one of its inhabitants? Obviously, more research is required in this area.

Secondly, there could not have been shouting mobs of Jews present calling for Jesus' death, as Mel Gibson would have us believe. The only way this could have happened is if thousands of Jews were shipped to Israel from another country to watch the crucifixion and scream for Jesus' death. Maybe this was a mercenary mob that was sent on such excursions. They could have been shipped on Roman vessels from the Isle of Manhattan, a.k.a. "Hymietown", from whence Mr. Gibson's father would have us believe the Jews originate.

Continue reading . . .

Aaron J. Shuster is a filmmaker living in Los Angeles, who has a deep concern with current affairs concerning Israel and the Jewish community at large.

Survey of people's religious beliefs in ten countries

BBC: Nigeria the most religious, UK among most secular
Ten thousand people were questioned in the poll by research company ICM for the BBC programme What The World Thinks Of God.

More than a quarter of Britons thought the world would be more peaceful with nobody believing in God, but very few people in other countries agreed.

The survey found the highest levels of belief in some of the world's poorer countries, but also in the world's richest, America.

The countries polled were the US, UK, Israel, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Nigeria, Russia, Mexico and Lebanon. The interviews were carried out in January 2004.

The programme producers said: "Overall, the results of our poll show that levels of belief and religious activity in the UK are consistently lower than in most of the other countries polled.

"Only Russia and South Korea produced results similar to the UK. The highest levels of belief are found in the poorer nations of Nigeria, India and Indonesia.

"However, the US also stands out in contrast with the UK. The US is the richest nation polled and yet has a very high level of belief."

Those willing to die for their God, or their beliefs, included more than 90% in Indonesia and Nigeria, and 71% in Lebanon and the US.

Among Israelis only 37% were willing to take this ultimate step, and only 19% of Britons, 29% of whom said the world would be more peaceful without beliefs in God. Very few people in other countries agreed with this.

Israel and the UK showed a similar temperament when asked another question. On who was to blame for much of the trouble in the world, 37% of Britons and 33% of Israelis said it was people of other religions.

In most of the countries covered, well over 80% said they believed in God or a higher power. In Nigeria the figure was 100% and in the US 91%, with the UK scoring lowest at 67%.

In Nigeria, Indonesia and Lebanon more than 90% of people said their God was the only true God. In Israel the figure was 70%, but it fell to 31% among Britons.

In Nigeria 91% of people said they regularly attended a religious service, contrasting with 21% in the UK and only 7% of Russians. The average across the 10 countries was 46%.

In most countries well over 80% of the sample agreed that a belief in God or a higher power made people better human beings, with only 56% agreeing in the UK, by far the lowest figure.

The subject of prayer found 95% of Nigerians and 67% in the US claiming to pray regularly.

Those saying they never prayed included 29% of Israelis and 25% of Britons. But across the entire sample, almost 30% of all atheists surveyed said they sometimes prayed.

The Muslim Council of Britain said there had been "a quite clear erosion of the sense of the sacred" in the UK.
Along these same lines, see Lileks' Bleat on John Kerry's answer to the question, "Is God on America's side?"

and this article from the Associated Press: 48 Dead in Nigeria Religious Clash:
LAGOS, Nigeria -- Suspected Muslim militants armed with guns and bows and arrows killed at least 48 people in an attack on a farming village in central Nigeria. Most of the victims died as they sought refuge in a church, police said Wednesday.

The latest bout of Muslim-Christian violence in the region occurred Tuesday night in Yelwa, a mainly Christian town in Nigeria's Plateau State, police commissioner Innocent Ilozuoke said.
Why do they call it a "clash" when it sounds more like an attack? Sounds like the "suspected Muslim militants" were doing all clashing, while the Christians were doing all the getting slaughtered. I know, it's just semantics. No Big Deal.

Oh, then there's this part:
For decades, the majority Christian inhabitants of Plateau and the minority Muslim population -- mostly Hausa and Fulani tribespeople with origins farther north -- had lived in harmony.

But tensions between the two communities heightened in the past four years as 12 majority Muslim states in the north adopted the strict Sharia, or Islamic, legal codes, perceived by Christians as an expansionist threat.

Since 1999, ethnic and religious violence has killed more than 10,000 people in Nigeria, Africa's most populous country.

I've lost the source for this map, showing 98% of world conflict involves "suspected Muslim militants."

Palestinian offensive at the Hague led by Israeli-Arab and Americans
- and financed by Europeans

IsraelInsider: The Palestinian propaganda offensive against Israel and its security fence in The Hague is being led by American lawyers who are employed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization but whose salaries are being paid by the taxpayers of Britain and Sweden, a European research institute reported...

The Brussels-based European Institute for Research on the Middle East reported that the Palestinian propaganda offensive is "being led by two lawyers - Michael Tarazi and Diana Butto - who are employed by Arafat's PLO and whose salaries are being paid by the taxpayers of Britain and Sweden via the Negotiations Support Unit."

Tarazi, 35, is a Harvard Law School graduate and American citizen who abandoned an American corporate-law career to work for the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Ramallah, the Forward reported. Buttu, a 32-year-old Arab-Canadian who was born in Nazareth and still carries Israeli citizenship, told the Forward she decided to join the PLO when she realized how poor a public relations job it was doing. As an Israeli Arab, she said, she was particularly frustrated with what she viewed as Jewish Israelis' misperceptions of the Palestinian cause, the Forward reported.

Tarazi and Buttu, along with Stephanie Koury, 35, a Texas-born American of Lebanese origin who is considered a "specialist" on Israeli settlements in the West Bank, have been leading the Palestinian efforts to sway public opinion, at the United Nations General Assembly and in the United States, against Israel's security fence.

All three are employed by the Negotiation Support Unit (NSU) of the PLO's Negotiations Affairs Department (NAD), which until recently was headed by former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). The unit was created in 1998 with European financial assistance to support the Palestinian team negotiating with former prime minister Ehud Barak's government over so-called "permanent status" issues. Those negotiations collapsed in 2000, and members of the unit focused instead on public diplomacy, reaching out to campuses, churches, community centers and media in the U.S. and around the world.

In April 2003, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat became head of the NAD. The NSU project is administered by the Adam Smith Institute - the British innovator of market economic policies - on behalf of the donor governments and in coordination with the NAD as the client.

According to a report published by the European research institute in January, legal experts on the NSU team helped the Palestinians prepare their written submission against Israel's security fence. Key Palestinian legal sources said the Palestinians' strategy also involved producing material to be presented by, and in coordination with different Arab states, the report said.

The NSU project has received continuous financial support from the governments of the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. The British government, through its Department for International Development, is committed to supporting the project until the end of April, 2006.

Where were the Dutch Jews when Israel was on trial at the Hague?

It was mostly Christians who stood for Israel
JPost: "Are we cowards?" asked an opinion piece which ran this Friday in Holland's weekly Jewish newspaper, Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad. It took the community to task for failing to arrive en mass to demonstrate in front of The Hague last week, as the International Court of Justice spent three days listening to arguments against Israel's security barrier now under construction.

Jews from Israel, the United States, and other parts of Europe flocked to the triangular square in front of the Peace Palace in protest. A number of Dutch rabbis and organizations, including the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, worked to organize demonstrations, but for the most part the Dutch Jews were absent.

Instead, marching with the international Jewish contingent on Monday morning were 2,000 Dutch Christian supporters of Israel, led by the international group, Christians for Israel, which started in Holland 25 years ago.

"Our founding father had the impression in the end of the 1970s that the love for Israel was decreasing between the Christians in Holland; that is the only reason he started Christians for Israel, to increase the feelings for love and the relationship with the state and the people of Israel," said its chairman Rev. Jaap de Vreugd. Their group raises several million Euros to support immigration and welfare projects in Israel. In the Netherlands they run seminars and classes on Israel as well as a newsletter. De Vreugd said members of his group are missionaries of new sort. Their aim is to swim against the tide of pro-Palestinian public sentiment by helping Christians learn to love Israel.

"Our first aim is to make Christians more understanding about their own relationship with Israel," said de Vreugd. The Christian community in the Netherlands was sympathetic to Israel until the 1970s and then the pendulum of sympathy shifted toward the Palestinians, he said.

. . . In the last 10 to 20 years, people became less pro-Israel and more pro-Palestinian, he said. The growing population of Muslims in Holland, which now numbers upwards of 900,000 also contributes to the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish feelings among the population, he said.

"This is the atmosphere we live in and in this atmosphere we try to raise our voices, as standing with Israel out of our Christian faith, and our belief in the Bible," said de Vreugd. "We see that anti-Semitism is increasing and growing and we want to raise our voices against all these things," he said.