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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

May the Holy One give comfort to those who mourn . . .
My son-in-law's brother died this morning in Texas. Only a week ago, he went to the doctor for what he thought were migraine headaches. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and in the last couple of days lost all brain activity, before he could be moved to Houston for possible surgery. He was about 30 years old.

We're going to Texas for the funeral. Now, as always, we are grateful for your prayers. with Gd's help, I'll be back next week.

Just a note on the subject of the 9/11 Commission's report that there is no proof of Iraq having been involved in the 9/11 attacks:



We must have been so absolutely wrong to invade on D-Day!

Yours in haste,

June 17, 2004

"When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks"

Koran, Sura (chapter) 47:4
Jihad Watch: It would be refreshing if just one time, we weren't asked to accept that this sort of thing "has nothing to do with Islam" just on the word of other Muslims. I wish that just one time, Muslims who say these beheadings have nothing to do with Islam would explain why Sura 47:4 ("when you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks") doesn't apply here, and why the example of Muhammad's beheadings doesn't apply . . .

UPDATE 06/23/04: Along these same lines, you might want to read Will the West Survive? in which Walter Williams quotes the following:
"Fight those who do not believe in Allah" (Surat At-Taubah 9:29)

"I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them" (Quran 8:12)

"The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn forever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures" (Quran 98:1-8)

"Fight against those who believe not in Allah, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (Islam), until they are subdued" (Surat At-Taubah 9:29)

Mazal Tov to Norman Podhoretz

Receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House today
From Jewish Current Issues
Son of an immigrant milkman, in a family that was dirt poor, Podhoretz famously wrote that "One of the longest journeys in the world is the journey from Brooklyn to Manhattan."

His journey from left to right was longer still. He became the editor of Commentary at age 30 -- and immediately took the magazine straight to the left. In the early 60s, he became one of the patrons of the New Left.

By the beginning of the next decade, he became one of the founders of Neoconservatism -- and sustained and expanded that movement through the sheer intellectual force of his writing.
Read it all, and more from the White House.

Chrenkoff: Good News from Iraq, Part 4

Chrenkoff got a big boost this morning from RealClearPolitics, being listed up there with the "big boys" -- Bret Stephens, Cal Thomas, William Safire, Mark Steyn . . .

His fourth installment of Good News from Iraq is now available, and includes topics of Iraqi society, economy and infrastructure, soldiers and Iraqis and the security situation.

Excellent work, excellent blog.

Also good today: Amir Taheri in the New York Post, and Fouad Ajami in U.S. News & World Report.

Bret Stephens in WSJ Opinion Journal: Just Like Stalingrad

"If you have no idea where you stand in relation to certain objects, then an elephant may seem as small as a fly and a fly may seem as large as an elephant."
According to Sidney Blumenthal, a onetime adviser to president Bill Clinton who now writes a column for Britain's Guardian newspaper, President Bush today runs "what is in effect a gulag," stretching "from prisons in Afghanistan to Iraq, from Guantanamo to secret CIA prisons around the world." Mr. Blumenthal says "there has been nothing like this system since the fall of the Soviet Union."

In another column, Mr. Blumenthal compares the April death toll for American soldiers in Iraq to the Eastern Front in the Second World War. Mr. Bush's "splendid little war," he writes, "has entered a Stalingrad-like phase of urban siege and house-to-house combat."

The factual bases for these claims are, first, that the U.S. holds some 10,000 "enemy combatants" prisoner; and second, that 122 U.S. soldiers were killed in action in April.

As I write, I have before me a copy of "The Black Book of Communism," which relates that on "1 January 1940 some 1,670,000 prisoners were being held in the 53 groups of corrective work camps and 425 collective work colonies. In addition, the prisons held 200,000 people awaiting trial or a transfer to camp. Finally, the NKVD komandatury were in charge of approximately 1.2 million 'specially displaced people.' "

As for Stalingrad, German deaths between Jan. 10 and Feb. 2, 1943, numbered 100,000, according to British historian John Keegan. And those were just the final agonizing days of a battle that had raged since the previous August.

Mr. Blumenthal is not alone. Al Gore last month accused Mr. Bush of creating "more anger and righteous indignation against us as Americans than any leader of our country in the 228 years of our existence as a nation." Every single column written by the New York Times' Paul Krugman is an anti-Bush screed; apparently, there isn't anything else worth writing about. A bumper sticker I saw the other day in Manhattan reads: "If you aren't outraged, you're not paying attention."

There are two explanations for all this. One is that Mr. Bush really is as bad as Sid, Al and Paul say: the dumbest, most feckless, most fanatical, most incompetent and most calamitous president the nation has ever known. A second is that Sid, Al and Paul are insane. . . .

So here is one aspect of this insanity: no sense of proportion. For Mr. Blumenthal, Fallujah isn't merely like Stalingrad. It may as well be Stalingrad, just as Guantanamo may as well be Lefertovo and Abu Ghraib may as well be Buchenwald, and Mr. Bush may as well be Hitler and Hoover combined, and Iraq may as well be Vietnam and Bill Clinton may as well be Franklin Roosevelt.

The absence of proportion stems, in turn, from a problem of perspective. If you have no idea where you stand in relation to certain objects, then an elephant may seem as small as a fly and a fly may seem as large as an elephant. Similarly, Mr. Blumenthal can compare the American detention infrastructure to the Gulag archipelago only if he has no concept of the actual size of things. And he can have no concept of the size of things because he neither knows enough about them nor where he stands in relation to them. What is the vantage point from which Mr. Blumenthal observes the world? It is one where Fallujah is "Stalingrad-like." How does one manage to see the world this way? By standing too close to Fallujah and too far from Stalingrad. By being consumed by the present. By losing not just the sense, but the possibility, of judgment.

Read it all.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

South Korean hostage beheaded

I never would have guessed in a million trillion years that I would ever in my life have to think about -or would ever ever write about- actual beheadings. Inasmuch as I do it now, the Islamofascists are dragging our civilization down into a pit of corruption from whence we may never return nor recover.

And we do not go kicking and screaming, but fearful, silent and morally ambiguous.

I warned about this two years ago, in letters the paper would not publish, that the Palestinian intifada must be condemned loudly and clearly, and ended once and for all.

But the world was quiet when they shot babies in their beds, blew innocent people to bits in shopping centers and saw them burned alive in buses. And so terrorism knows no bounds.

Some of them want to "liberate" Palestine; others, the Arabian peninsula; still others, the world. Are you getting it yet? They want to liberate your head from the rest of your body. They seek to rule.

You silly, silent, infidels. . . you should be screaming bloody murder.

Jews run the American media

CurrentViewpoint.com: CNN Must Clarify this Inaccuracy
Tonight on a CNN Special about the handover of power to Iraq’s people on 1st July, a panel of Iraqis from various professions, as well as a studio audience, traded observations about media coverage of the Middle East. This appears to be a topic that engenders considerable passion. It was noted that in the days of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Arab world was in the dark about the ‘true story’ because satellite television was not yet available in the region in 1982. This led a member of the audience to state that ’the Jews run the American media’ hence the world only gets the Jewish view. Neither the host of the programme, Jim Clancy, or any member of the panel corrected this lie.
For the rest of this editorial, as well as a gut-wrenching photo of Trafalgar Square, complete with enormous Palestinian flag, Free Palestine printed across the center, go to this link.

For those who may not have the strength to follow through, here's a quick synopsis of the situation in the UK:
This week, two synagogues in London were torched and hundreds of priceless books rescued by Holocaust survivors were destroyed. Fleet Street celebrates the end of a ‘Zionist’ lady writer’s career and the papers periodically blame every ill in Iraq on the ‘Washington neo-cons.’ Robert Fisk is implying, between the lines, that the Israelis had a hand in Abu Ghraib.

I cannot find one single American media outlet -that isn't specifically Jewish- that has mentioned these two arson attacks. I find that rather odd, given that "Jews run the American media."


UPDATE: See also Ottawa synagogue defaced with hate graffiti:
Catering staff discovered the graffiti on the Congregation Beth Shalom West in Nepean at 7 a.m. Sunday. The defacement took place some time between Saturday evening and Sunday morning and covered the entire length of the back wall - about 16 meters - said Mitchell Bellman, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Ottawa. . . . The epidemic of recent anti-Semitic incidents began in Vaughan, Ont., when 13 houses and vehicles were defaced with swastikas and anti-Semitic sentiments in March, followed by gravestone and synagogue desecrations in Toronto, Vaughan, Brantford, and Waterloo.

Mr. Morgan found the April firebombing of the United Talmud Torah school in Montreal most concerning . . .

France won't go to Iraq, but wants to go to Gaza

French foreign minister on 'Mideast tour' that doesn't include Israel
AFP: In Cairo, [French Foreign Minister Michel] Barnier said France, and Europe as a whole, was ready to back an Egyptian initiative to guarantee security in the Gaza Strip after an expected Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territory.

"We have stated our availability to take part, at the appropriate moment, including through an international presence whose format remains to be determined", he told a news conference, flanked by his Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Maher.

Egypt has offered to send up to 200 personnel to the Gaza Strip to train a 30,000-strong police force to maintain security in the territory during and after next year's promised Israeli pullout.

Jordan has said it would be willing to train Palestinian security personnel but not to deploy troops in the Israeli-occupied West Bank or Gaza Strip.

Barnier also met Egypt's intelligence chief and pointman on the Middle East, General Omar Suleiman, as well as Arab League chief Amr Mussa.

He is expected to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 29-30 and visit Israel at a unspecified date.
Terrorists oppose Egypt-Jordan-France plan

Also according to the AFP, "Ten radical Palestinian factions" united in opposition to any security role for Arab countries in the West Bank and Gaza.

The statement on the "Islamist movement" Hamas's website said,
"Our steadfast people expects from our Arab brothers the logic of support and not the logic of security which cannot be acceptable. . . . It would suggest "the Palestinian people are the problem rather than the unfair occupation of our land."
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) were among the signatories.

Ya'alon: over 70 incidents of terror attacks in the last week

Speaking to cabinet ministers on Sunday, [IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe] Ya'alon said that the recent calm is deceptive, and that the motivation of terror groups to carry out attacks is higher than usual.

Ya'alon also reported to the cabinet over 70 incidents of terror attacks in the last week: seven shootings on the highways; one instance of shooting at Kfar Darom; 32 shootings attacks on security forces; 12 cases of mortar fire in the Gaza Strip; five rocket attacks, including one at Sderot; and 19 mine and anti-tank attacks on forces in the Philadelphi Corridor on the border with Egypt.

We owe Anne Bayefsky our deepest gratitude

Her speech yesterday at the UN was both brilliant and courageous
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you at this first U.N. conference on anti-Semitism, which is being convened six decades after the organization's creation. My thanks to the U.N. organizers and in particular Shashi Tharoor [the undersecretary-general for communications and public information] for their initiative and to the secretary-general for his willingness to engage.

This meeting occurs at a point when the relationship between Jews and the United Nations is at an all-time low. The U.N. took root in the ashes of the Jewish people, and according to its charter was to flower on the strength of a commitment to tolerance and equality for all men and women and of nations large and small. Today, however, the U.N. provides a platform for those who cast the victims of the Nazis as the Nazi counterparts of the 21st century. The U.N. has become the leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism--intolerance and inequality against the Jewish people and its state.

Not only have many of the U.N. members most responsible for this state of affairs rendered their own countries Judenrein, they have succeeded in almost entirely expunging concern about Jew-hatred from the U.N. docket. From 1965, when anti-Semitism was deliberately excluded from a treaty on racial discrimination, to last fall, when a proposal for a General Assembly resolution on anti-Semitism was withdrawn after Ireland capitulated to Arab and Muslim opposition, mention of anti-Semitism has continually ground the wheels of U.N.-led multilateralism to a halt.

There has never been a U.N. resolution specifically on anti-Semitism or a single report to a U.N. body dedicated to discrimination against Jews, in contrast to annual resolutions and reports focusing on the defamation of Islam and discrimination against Muslims and Arabs. Instead there was Durban--the 2001 U.N. World Conference "Against Racism," which was a breeding ground and global soapbox for anti-Semites. When it was over U.N. officials and member states turned the Durban Declaration into the centerpiece of the U.N.'s antiracism agenda--allowing Durban follow-up resolutions to become a continuing battlefield over U.N. concern with anti-Semitism.

Not atypical is the public dialogue in the U.N.'s top human rights body--the Commission on Human Rights--where this past April the Pakistani ambassador, speaking on behalf of the 56 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, unashamedly disputed that anti-Semitism was about Jews.

For Jews, however, ignorance is not an option. Anti-Semitism is about intolerance and discrimination directed at Jews--both individually and collectively. It concerns both individual human rights and the group right to self-determination--realized in the state of Israel.

What does discrimination against the Jewish state mean? It means refusing to admit only Israel to the vital negotiating sessions of regional groups held daily during U.N. Commission on Human Rights meetings. It means devoting six of the 10 emergency sessions ever held by the General Assembly to Israel. It means transforming the 10th emergency session into a permanent tribunal--which has now been reconvened 12 times since 1997. By contrast, no emergency session was ever held on the Rwandan genocide, estimated to have killed a million people, or the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands in the former Yugoslavia, or the death of millions over the past two decades of atrocities in Sudan. That's discrimination.

The record of the Secretariat is more of the same. In November 2003, Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a report on Israel's security fence, detailing the purported harm to Palestinians without describing one terrorist act against Israelis which preceded the fence's construction. Recently, the secretary-general strongly condemned Israel for destroying homes in southern Gaza without mentioning the arms-smuggling tunnels operating beneath them. When Israel successfully targeted Hamas terrorist Abdel Aziz Rantissi with no civilian casualties, the secretary-general denounced Israel for an "extrajudicial" killing. But when faced with the 2004 report of the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions detailing the murder of more than 3,000 Brazilian civilians shot at close range by police, Mr. Annan chose silence. That's discrimination.

At the U.N., the language of human rights is hijacked not only to discriminate but to demonize the Jewish target. More than one quarter of the resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations adopted by the commission over 40 years have been directed at Israel. But there has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, U.N. bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation of right hand and left foot. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records. It is demonization of the Jewish state.

As Israelis are demonized at the U.N., so Palestinians and their cause are deified. Every year the U.N. marks Nov. 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People--the day the U.N. partitioned the British Palestine mandate and which Arabs often style as the onset of al nakba or the "catastrophe" of the creation of the state of Israel. In 2002, the anniversary of the vote that survivors of the concentration camps celebrated, was described by Secretary-General Annan as "a day of mourning and a day of grief."

In 2003 the representatives of over 100 member states stood along with the secretary-general, before a map predating the state of Israel, for a moment of silence "for all those who had given their lives for the Palestinian people"--which would include suicide bombers. Similarly, U.N. rapporteur John Dugard has described Palestinian terrorists as "tough" and their efforts as characterized by "determination, daring, and success." A commission resolution for the past three years has legitimized the Palestinian use of "all available means including armed struggle"--an absolution for terrorist methods which would never be applied to the self-determination claims of Chechens or Basques.

Although Palestinian self-determination is equally justified, the connection between demonizing Israelis and sanctifying Palestinians makes it clear that the core issue is not the stated cause of Palestinian suffering. For there are no U.N. resolutions deploring the practice of encouraging Palestinian children to glorify and emulate suicide bombers, or the use of the Palestinian population as human shields, or the refusal by the vast majority of Arab states to integrate Palestinian refugees into their societies and to offer them the benefits of citizenship. Palestinians are lionized at the U.N. because they are the perceived antidote to what U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called the great poison of the Middle East--the existence and resilience of the Jewish state.

Of course, anti-Semitism takes other forms at the U.N. Over the past decade at the commission, Syria announced that yeshivas train rabbis to instill racist hatred in their pupils. Palestinian representatives claimed that Israelis can happily celebrate religious holidays like Yom Kippur only by shedding Palestinian blood, and accused Israel of injecting 300 Palestinian children with HIV-positive blood.

U.N.-led anti-Semitism moves from the demonization of Jews to the disqualification of Jewish victimhood: refusing to recognize Jewish suffering by virtue of their ethnic and national identity. In 2003 a General Assembly resolution concerned with the welfare of Israeli children failed (though one on Palestinian children passed handily) because it proved impossible to gain enough support for the word Israeli appearing before the word children. The mandate of the U.N. special rapporteur on the "Palestinian territories", set over a decade ago, is to investigate only "Israel's violations of . . . international law" and not to consider human-rights violations by Palestinians in Israel.

It follows in U.N. logic that nonvictims aren't really supposed to fight back. One after another concrete Israeli response to terrorism is denounced by the secretary-general and member states as illegal. But killing members of the command-and-control structure of a terrorist organization, when there is no disproportionate use of force, and arrest is impossible, is not illegal. Homes used by terrorists in the midst of combat are legitimate military targets. A nonviolent, temporary separation of parties to a conflict on disputed territory by a security fence, which is sensitive to minimizing hardships, is a legitimate response to Israel's international legal obligations to protect its citizens from crimes against humanity. In effect, the U.N. moves to pin the arms of Jewish targets behind their backs while the terrorists take aim.

The U.N.'s preferred imagery for this phenomenon is of a cycle of violence. It is claimed that the cycle must be broken--every time Israelis raises a hand. But just as the symbol of the cycle is chosen because it has no beginning, it is devastating to the cause of peace because it denies the possibility of an end. The Nuremberg Tribunal taught us that crimes are not committed by abstract entities.

The perpetrators of anti-Semitism today are the preachers in mosques who exhort their followers to blow up Jews. They are the authors of Palestinian Authority textbooks that teach a new generation to hate Jews and admire their killers. They are the television producers and official benefactors in authoritarian regimes like Syria or Egypt who manufacture and distribute programming that depicts Jews as bloodthirsty world conspirators.

Listen, however, to the words of the secretary-general in response to two suicide bombings which took place in Jerusalem this year, killing 19 and wounding 110: "Once again, violence and terror have claimed innocent lives in the Middle East. Once again, I condemn those who resort to such methods." "The Secretary General condemns the suicide bombing Sunday in Jerusalem. The deliberate targeting of civilians is a heinous crime and cannot be justified by any cause." Refusing to name the perpetrators, Mr. Secretary-General, Teflon terrorism, is a green light to strike again.

Perhaps more than any other, the big lie that fuels anti-Semitism today is the U.N.-promoted claim that the root cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the occupation of Palestinian land. According to U.N. revisionism, the occupation materialized in a vacuum. In reality, Israel occupies land taken in a war which was forced upon it by neighbors who sought to destroy it. It is a state of occupation which Israelis themselves have repeatedly sought to end through negotiations over permanent borders. It is a state in which any abuses are closely monitored by Israel's independent judiciary. But ultimately, it is a situation which is the responsibility of the rejectionists of Jewish self-determination among Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim brethren--who have rendered the Palestinian civilian population hostage to their violent and anti-Semitic ambitions.

There are those who would still deny the existence of anti-Semitism at the U.N. by pointing to a range of motivations in U.N. corridors including commercial interests, regional politics, preventing scrutiny of human rights violations closer to home, or enhancement of individual careers. U.N. actors and supporters remain almost uniformly in denial of the nature of the pathogen coursing through these halls. They ignore the infection and applaud the host, forgetting that the cancer which kills the organism will take with it both the good and the bad.

The relative distribution of naiveté, cowardice, opportunism, and anti-Semitism, however, matters little to Noam and Matan Ohayon, ages 4 and 5, shot to death through their mother's body in their home in northern Israel while she tried to shield them from a gunman of Yasser Arafat's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The terrible consequences of these combined motivations mobilized and empowered within U.N. chambers are the same.

The inability of the U.N. to confront the corruption of its agenda dooms this organization's success as an essential agent of equality or dignity or democratization.

This conference may serve as a turning point. We will only know if concrete changes occur hereafter: a General Assembly resolution on anti-Semitism adopted, an annual report on anti-Semitism forthcoming, a focal point on anti-Semitism created, a rapporteur on anti-Semitism appointed.

But I challenge the secretary-general and his organization to go further--if they are serious about eradicating anti-Semitism:
Start putting a name to the terrorists that kill Jews because they are Jews.

Start condemning human-rights violators wherever they dwell--even if they live in Riyadh or Damascus.

Stop condemning the Jewish people for fighting back against their killers.

And the next time someone asks you or your colleagues to stand for a moment of silence to honor those who would destroy the state of Israel, say no.
Only then will the message be heard from these chambers that the U.N. will not tolerate anti-Semitism or its consequences against Jews and the Jewish people, whether its victims live in Tehran, Paris or Jerusalem.
Kol hakavod to Ms. Bayefsky, who is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Law School.

Mainstream Radicals in European Parliament

by David Twersky in the New York Sun, 15 June
Last week's election to the European Parliament in Strasbourg saw the rebound in France of the opposition Socialist Party. Yet the swing to the Socialists swept away many of the small leftist and extremist parties. The platform of the Euro-Palestine list had declared: "There cannot be a future for the people of the European Union nor peaceful coexistence between the citizens of [different] origins and cultures which make it up, without respect of the right and justice in the world, beginning with the Middle East." Some Jews read this as a threat: Jews are fair game in France and throughout Europe until there is "justice" for Palestinians.

While the Euro-Palestine list was defeated, elements of the "establishment" parties that returned to power share many of the assumptions articulated on the margins of political society. And Israel's two best defenders in the EU Parliament, Francois Zimmeray of France and German Green Ilke Schroeder, were sent packing.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Israeli Cabinet of Bloggers

Israellycool is appointing ministers to his cabinet! If you are an Israeli blogger, or know of one that he's not included yet, leave a comment at his blog.

For the rest of us, he's provided The Essential List of Israeli Blogs - check 'em out!

Poll Results Surprising: Israeli Public Swings Right

Arutz Sheva: A new popular survey carried out by Haifa University's National Security Research Center indicates some surprises in public opinion on issues such as withdrawals and uprooting Jewish towns.

The poll shows that nearly half of the Jewish public - 47.7% - negates the establishment of a Palestinian state, even in the framework of a peace agreement.

In what is possibly the most surprising finding of all, Dr. Daphna Kanati-Nissim, one of those who directed the survey, told Arutz-7 today that if national elections were held today, close to 30% of the public would support a Kach-like party.

In contrast with other surveys, the poll in question shows that 44% object to even a partial withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and

40% are against the dismantling of even one Jewish settlement.

Over 55% of the Jewish public feels that Israeli-Arabs are a threat to national security.

FrontPageMagazine exposes the American "Peace Movement"

FrontPage has picked up some bloggers' photos of the "peace protestors" in San Francisco earlier this month, who crashed a birthday party for Israel. You will have seen most of them, I think, but this one's new to me. File it under "air pollution."

The airplane banner reads, "Israel - 56 years of ethnic cleansing and apartheid."
That must've cost a stupendous amount of money. Idiots.

"Hope, Uncertainty and Violence" in Gaza

Charles Radin reports for the Boston Globe

There's an awful lot of PoorPalestinianWhining in this, but Israel isn't blamed for all of it; nor is Israel credited with anything.

Abu Hamid is asked to describe the effect on his life of the Palestinian Authority taking control of the Gaza Strip in 1994. Everyone within earshot giggles and snickers. He responded with what he said was an Arab proverb. "My father's first wife slapped my face and gave me bread," he said. "His second wife slapped me in the face, kicked me, and took the bread."

His listeners guffaw approvingly, and Abu Hamid explained: In the first intifadah, the 1987-92 round of fighting with Israel that occurred before Arafat returned from exile in Tunis and his Palestinian Authority took over Gaza, "Israel hit us badly, but they supplied food, they let us work in Israel, and things continued. When these people [the Palestinian Authority] came, they brought poverty, death, and corruption, and when the second [current] intifadah came, everything collapsed."

* * *

Khaled Mowaness, 40, a psychologist who lives in Nusseirat, south of Gaza City, said the mix of hopelessness, violence with the Israelis, and inequities within Palestinian society has created ''severe problems with the youth. Many are psychologically handicapped to the degree that they can't cope. The occupation has something to do with this, but not everything." Cities, especially Gaza City, get the lion's share of aid and attention, while frustration and despair grow ever greater in the camps and villages.

* * *

Gloom is everywhere in Gaza, coursing through the ravaged neighborhoods of Rafah where Israeli forces knocked down dozens of buildings in the recent fighting, lying heavy on the central Gaza camps where there is little violence but less hope, wafting through the empty seafront restaurants of Gaza City. Most everyone expects the conflict to go on indefinitely.

"Our sons and their sons are the same," said Fayeq al Bana, 63, as he pointed out where Israeli tank shells blasted through walls and windows and ruined the 12-unit apartment building into which he had poured much of his savings. "Our sons want all of Palestine. Their sons want all of Palestine, too."

I think repeating this sort of simplistic b.s. amounts to promoting it. Our sons and their sons are the same only in that they die when killed; they are not the same in the way they live.
"If I had a job, life would have meaning for me," he said dispiritedly. "For sure it is the Jews' fault. And the Arabs who did nothing for us. And the patronage. If you don't have a connection, you can't hope to get work. I have no future."

So they hate and kill Jews out of boredom?

The U.S. charity, Save the Children, is trying to help. With a grant from USAID, they've built a recreation and sports center in the West Bank. Only they named it for a Palestinian terrorist.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"I'm just a Canadian girl trying to figure out the rest of the world,
one post at a time"

Meet Celestial Blue
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. And it pains me to find that I am developing a fear and therefore prejudice against a group of people based on religion. I have always prided myself on not being a bigot or racist or harbouring any prejudice against a group of people. I hate that I am beginning to look at Muslims with a suspicious eye because it is not fair to those who just want to have a life, a family and a home like the rest of us. And it troubles me that the world is also developing a fear of Muslims, for it was a fear and hate that lead one man to target a particular group of people not so long ago... and caused the death of 6 million Jews. Six million died because of their religious beliefs (not to mention others, such as gays, who were killed for being who they were). I am conflicted as I try to resist categorizing all Muslims as evil when again and again in the news there are reports of violence, threats and attacks. And 90% of the time it seems to be from Muslim extremist groups.

Here is my real fear: there are an estimated....what?....2 billion Muslims in the world (and growing)? Now let's say that only 3% of that number subscribes to these "extremist" beliefs (and that's being pretty generous, I think). Afterall, many Muslims declare that it's only a small percentage that are extremists, so for the sake of this example, I'll say 3%. That's small, right? That means there are about 60 MILLION Muslims out there that feel that the Western world and all it's dwellers are infidels and should be struck down. 60 million who would like to behead an American (not to mention a Jew) if they could get their hands on one. 60 million is a huge number. Imagine when they finally get fully organized what they could do?

I thought this post was very thoughtful, and likely expresses the inner qualms of many of us, in America, Canada and around the world. Just one minor correction - I think it's more like 98% of the world's conflicts in which Islamic fundamentalists figure prominently, not 90%.

I apologize, I've lost the source for this map.

Last December, a poll in Minnesota revealed that 34% of respondents believed "Islam is more likely to encourage its believers to be violent, compared with 3 percent for Christianity, 5 percent for Judaism, 5 percent for Buddhism and 7 percent for Hinduism. I wonder what the numbers would be today, just six months later?

They're still trying to kill us

at least every other day
DEBKA: Israeli chief of staff Gen. Ayalon reports to government 11 Palestinian suicide attacks against Israeli targets foiled so far this month.

In other news, Israel opened the Erez border crossing on Thursday to 500 Arab laborers.

What's with the bird?

American soldiers, including 1st Lt. Parker Hahn
from Glasgow, Mont., center, sing Christian hymns
at a Sunday Protestant service at the Abu Ghraib
prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq June 20,
2004. Painted on the prison wall is a depiction
of Palestinian and Iraqi flags flying over the
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
(AP Photo/John Moore)
I get the flags flying over the mosque, but what's with the bird? Does anyone know what it represents?

The New York Times versus Dick Cheney

by Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher

NEW YORK -- Forget about who's winning the war in Iraq. Who's winning the war between Dick Cheney and The New York Times?

In the latest development, the newspaper returned the Vice President's fire over the weekend, in a Saturday editorial that accused him of "trying to rewrite history," and in a Sunday collection of allegedly unproven Cheney charges.

It all began (though it had been brewing) on Thursday when the Times, like most other papers in the country, featured on its front page news that the staff of the federal 9/11 commission had concluded, as the article put it, "that there did not appear to have been a 'collaborative relationship' between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein." It suggested that this conclusion put into question one of the administration's prime reasons for invading Iraq last year.

But what must have really gotten the Vice President's goat was a Times editorial the same day. Noting the lack of evidence for an Al Qaeda/Iraq/September 11 link, it called on President Bush to "apologize to the American people, who were led to believe something different." It labeled as "plainly dishonest" the President's effort "to link his war of choice with the battle against terrorists worldwide."

Then the editorial chastised Cheney for "continuing to declare" a likely Saddam/bin Laden connection.

Well, Cheney wasn't going to take that hunkering down. The following day, appearing on TV, he called the Times coverage of the commission's findings "outrageous," sometimes "malicious." He said the "vaunted" newspaper did "a lot of outrageous things." (He probably was not referring to the paper's pre-war promotion of the Saddam/WMD link, which proved useful for his administration.) He continued to call evidence of the Iraq connection to Al Qaeda before the war "overwhelming."

Cheney also claimed "We still don't know" if Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. For example, he said, the long-cited claim that chief hijacker Mohamed Atta met an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague in 2001 has "never been refuted." This seemed odd to some observers, since the commission staff had just declared that meeting could not have taken place, citing phone records and other evidence that Atta was in Florida at the same time he was said to be in Czechoslovakia.

The Times put Cheney's remarks on its front page, anyway. Inside it also ran a long story on the commission's review of the Vice President's performance on 9/11, titled, "Account Recalls Cheney as a Swift and Steady Hand."

On Saturday, however, the Times went back to hammering the Veep on its editorial page, and a news story dryly reported that the leaders of the 9/11 commission had called on Cheney to turn over any intelligence reports that would support his insistence that there was a close relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda. The commissioners specifically asked for any proof of the alleged Atta visit to Prague.

The Times editorial, titled "Show Us the Proof," said it was "surprised by the depth and ferocity of the administration's capacity for denial." It observed that what Cheney called "longstanding ties" between Saddam and bin Laden so far amount amounted "to one confirmed meeting, after which the Iraq government did not help Al Qaeda. By those standards, the United States has longstanding ties to North Korea." Cheney, as usual, the newspaper said, "is not prepared to offer any evidence beyond the flimsy-to-nonexistent arguments he has used in the past."

Cheney did not immediately respond to this, and on Sunday the Times returned with a long record of quotes from Cheney and others attesting to a Saddam link to 9/11, even though the Vice President claims he never explicitly made that charge. The paper also cited polls showing that 40 percent of the public still believes Saddam had something to do with 9/11, and suggested that misleading information from the administration had something to do with that.

On top of that, columnist Maureen Dowd called Cheney "Tricky Dick." Stay tuned Monday.

UPDATE 06/21/04: DEBKA -Information that lieutenant colonel in Saddam’s Fedayeen was “a very prominent member of al Qaeda” has reached 9/11 bipartisan commission - according to member John Lehman in NBC’s Meet the Press. If confirmed, he said, Cheney was right and panel would modify final report to reflect evidence reversal.

Aristides de Sousa Mendes, One of the Righteous Among the Nations

"I would rather be with G-d against men, than with men against G-d"
A Portuguese diplomat who defied his government and helped save thousands of Jews during the Holocaust will be commemorated in special prayer services in dozens of countries over the next few days.

Correspondent Michael Freund reports that the initiative, launched by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, is in honor of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, who served as Portuguese consul in Bordeaux during World War II. . . .

Despite explicit instructions from Portuguese dictator Antonio Salazar barring the entry of Jewish refugees, Sousa Mendes issued 30,000 transit permits, including some 10,000 to Jews, enabling them to escape deportation to the German death camps. As a result, Sousa Mendes was denounced and stripped of his post. He died penniless in 1954.

Yad Vashem has recognized him as a Righteous Gentile. Asked once to explain why he was willing to disobey his superiors and risk his career in order to save Jews, Sousa Mendes is reported to have replied, "I would rather be with G-d against men, than with men against G-d."
In honor of Sousa Mendes, I strongly recommend that you contribute to The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, which provides monthly financial support to more than 1600 aged and needy non-Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

Zichronam l'Vracha, may their memories be a blessing.

Former French PM calls Balfour Declaration "historic mistake"

Israel is a "unique and abnormal condition"
Arutz Sheva: A former French Prime Minister, and currently a leading member of the European Parliament, has called Great Britain's Balfour Declaration -that paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel- a "historic mistake."

Michel Rocard, who is said to be in the running for president of the European Parliament for the coming two and a half years as part of a political deal, spoke about Israel in a lecture last week in Alexandria, Egypt.
Israel is a "unique and abnormal condition," he said, "because it was created with a promise, and [because] millions of Jews gathered from all around the world, creating an entity that continues to pose a threat to its neighbors until today."
The French government reported this month 180 incidents of attacks or threats against Jews or Jewish-owned property since the start of 2004.

France, with just over 60 million people, has an estimated five million Muslims and 600,000 Jews - the largest numbers of both populations in Europe.

See also JPost:French Nazi hunter encourages Jews to leave France.
In a bleak assessment of the future of French Jewry, the Nazi hunter said tensions between Muslims and Jews in France were only likely to get worse in the years ahead. "There will be an escalation of attacks [against Jews] in Europe, and especially in France," he predicted. . . .

"One of the lessons of the Holocaust is that even if you want to fight against a wave of anti-Semitism, the best [thing] is to leave if you can," [Serge]Klarsfeld said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post during a visit to Israel.