Saturday, December 30, 2006
It is hard to comprehend how the execution of a cruel dictator, personally responsible for the murder of more than one million Iraqis, Iranians, Kurds, and Shi'ites during his 24 years in power, came as such a shock to the high-minded souls of the world, especially those in the EU who called the hanging of Saddam Hussein a "barbaric act."
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Palestinians have violated [the November 26th cease-fire] on a near-daily basis, launching over 65 Kassam rockets. For a month, media coverage of these steady violations remained limited...
It was only when Israel announced it would allow pinpoint attacks against rocket launchers that the media sprung into action, running AP headlines and story leads holding Israel responsible for "threatening" the supposed cease-fire.
"Israel to Renew Attacks against Gaza Rocket Launchers, Puts Truce at Risk" blared a headline to an AP article in USA Today. The story becomes newsworthy only when Israel can be blamed for trying to protect its citizens.
According to Israeli intelligence, Hizballah is smuggling cash into the Gaza Strip and is paying several thousand dollars for each rocket attack on Israel, with the amount dependent on the number of Israelis killed or wounded.
Islamist Forces in Somali City Vanish -Jeffrey Gettleman
The Islamist forces who have controlled much of Somalia in recent months suddenly vanished from the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, residents said Wednesday night, just as thousands of rival troops massed 15 miles away.
In the past few days, Ethiopian-backed forces, with tacit approval from the United States, have unleashed tanks, helicopter gunships and jet fighters on the Islamists, decimating their military and paving the way for the internationally recognized transitional government of Somalia to assert control.
[New York Times]
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I grew up in the US during the 1970s, the one decade universally acknowledged to have truly sucked. In 1970s America we danced to disco music, wore leisure suits and watched the Brady Bunch. But if that wasn't torture enough, we had Jimmy Carter as our president.
I can still recall how depressing it was to watch his taciturn face on TV announcing one catastrophe after another, from the...Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, to the capture of our hostages in Iran, to the tragically-botched rescue attempt to free them.
[W]ith the publication of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, his ignorant rant against Israel, many in the American Jewish community believe that Carter is not just a loser but an anti-Semite. I disagree.
Jimmy Carter is not so much anti-Semite as anti-intellectual, not so much a Jew-hater as a boor. The real explanation behind his limitless hostility to Israel is a total lack of any moral understanding.
He can't figure out what right is. He is, and always has been, a man of good intentions bereft of good judgment. He invariably finds himself defending tyrants and dictators...
Carter subscribes to what I call the Always Root for the Underdog school of morality. Rather than develop any real understanding of a conflict, immediately he sides with the [seemingly] weaker party, however wicked or immoral.
Before one runs around the world as a global do-gooder, one should first develop the ability to identify the good.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Mideast Rules to Live By - Thomas L. Friedman
The Israeli-Arab conflict is not just about borders. Israel's mere existence is a daily humiliation to Muslims, who can't understand how, if they have the superior religion, Israel can be so powerful.
(New York Times)
Indonesian Muslims rail against Israel
Mahmoud Abbas and the "Cease-Fire" - Editorial
In its effort to marginalize Palestinian rejectionists, the Bush administration is seeking to prop up PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, despite a considerable body of evidence that Abbas is not a serious partner for peace.
The cease-fire forestalled an Israeli invasion of Gaza to thwart [rocket fire, and] has permitted terrorists to continue smuggling arms from Egypt into Gaza.
Islamofascist forces are growing stronger and Israel's deterrent capability grows weaker.
How the West Could Lose -Daniel Pipes
After defeating fascists and communists, can the West now defeat the Islamists? Islamists might do better than the earlier totalitarians. They could even win. That's because, however strong the Western hardware, its software contains some potentially fatal bugs: pacifism, self-hatred, complacency.
Pacifism: Among the educated, the conviction has widely taken hold that "there is no military solution"... But this pragmatic pacifism overlooks the fact that modern history abounds with military solutions.
Self-hatred: Significant elements [in the West] believe their own governments to be repositories of evil, and see terrorism as just punishment for past sins.
Complacency: The absence of an impressive Islamist military machine imbues many Westerners, especially on the left, with a feeling of disdain. Box cutters and suicide belts make it difficult to perceive this enemy as a worthy opponent. With John Kerry, too many dismiss terrorism as a mere "nuisance."
Only after absorbing catastrophic human and property losses will left-leaning Westerners likely overcome this triple affliction and confront the true scope of the threat. The civilized world will likely then prevail, but belatedly and at a higher cost than need have been.
[New York Sun]
Monday, December 25, 2006
Privatizing the war of ideas -Caroline Glick
[T]his week's bloody battles between Fatah and Hamas terrorists in Gaza showed...that Abbas is anything but weak. When he wishes to confront Hamas, he is more than capable of doing so. The reason that peace has eluded us is not because Abbas is weak but because he doesn't want peace with Israel. He will battle Hamas to enhance his power but not to secure chances of peace with Israel. Far from the key to ending the Palestinian jihad against Israel, Abbas is part of the problem.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Life for Palestinian Christians has become increasingly difficult in Bethlehem - and many of them are leaving. The town's Christian population has dwindled from more than 85% in 1948 to 12% in 2006. There are reports of religious persecution in the form of murders, beatings, and land grabs.
The sense of a creeping Islamic fundamentalism is all around in Bethlehem. Samir Qumsieh, general manager of Nativity, the only Christian television station in Bethlehem, has had death threats and visits from armed men demanding his land.
"As Christians, we have no future here," he says. "We are melting away..."
Despite the failure of successive attempts at peacemaking, and despite the current lack of favorable conditions to renew peace efforts, there is a broad international consensus that bringing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a happy ending is both possible and urgent. Western leaders periodically produce their own peace plans, in the almost messianic belief that if they can bring peace to Zion, its light will radiate far and wide.
Peacemaking belongs to yesteryear...Until [Palestinians embrace reality] any policy that centers on Palestinian-Israeli peace in our times is delusional.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Palestinian unity was maintained as long as Israel's military ruled Gaza. Israel's disengagement from Gaza has led to a battle within the Palestinian leadership over the "prize" of representing the Palestinian people.
Israel's existential struggle with the Palestinian national movement will continue regardless of which Palestinian side overcomes the other.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
[I]f the Maccabees were alive today, they would likely be shocked.
The Temple Mount which they liberated and Israel recaptured almost forty years ago is still off limits to Jews. The Maccabean rekindling of the Menorah on the Temple Mount, if attempted today, would be an inciting act likely considered imperialistic aggression, a breach of International Law, an offense to human rights, and could potentially ignite a most intense intifada. Today, Jews are not allowed to set foot on the Temple Mount without being escorted by an appointed Muslim guard. The guard makes sure that the Jew only stands in a restricted location and makes sure that the Jew does not utter any potential prayer.
As many celebrate Chanukah, known as the holiday commemorating religious freedom, it is astonishing that the very geographic location of the...story is [now a] place of extreme religious intolerance.
Peretz blocks Haniyeh from returning to Gaza Strip
Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the closure of the Rafah Crossing on Thursday afternoon in order to prevent Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh from returning to the Gaza Strip.
Defense officials said that Haniyeh was said to be carrying 35 million US dollars which were to be brought into the Gaza Strip to fund Hamas activities.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
If Israel Falls, the West Follows - Saul Singer
A radical Islamic front, led by Iran and including Hizballah, Hamas, and al-Qaeda, is making a bid to expand its brand of theocratic rule throughout the Muslim world, with the aim of dominating the West. If the U.S. retreats in the face of this challenge, militant Islamism will advance.
Israel may or may not be the first victim of this advance, but we will not be the last. As the 9/11 attacks illustrated, the Islamists have tired of pretending that Israel is their primary enemy. For an Iranian-dominated Muslim world, Israel is the hors d'oevre; America and Europe are the meal.
Monday, December 11, 2006
The possibility of a negotiated Arab-Israeli peace and widespread Arab progress is dead...
Consistent across decades has been the [Arab] search for the charismatic leader who can produce victory. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was [Egyptian president Gamal Abdel] Nasser; in the 1970s, Arafat and Syrian president Hafez al-Assad; in the 1980s and 1990s, it was Saddam Hussein, then Osama bin Laden, and, perhaps now, Ahmadinejad. All failed; all were defeated. The outcome, however, has not been to reject this spurious hope but rather simply to seek another candidate.
[Islamists] cite many precedents to argue that resistance will triumph over the United States. The Chinese "people's war" alongside the Cuban and Vietnamese "heroic guerrillas" live on in the Arab world as if in a time capsule. Many Arabs compare Nasrallah now—as they once did Arafat—to Che Guevera. Like the failed Latin American revolutionary leader, Nasrallah did not overthrow governments but was a boon to the T-shirt industry.
History is full of examples of high-spirited, ideologically-motivated states that simply could not overcome the odds of reality. The United States defeated Japan in World War II despite the ideological fervor of Japanese troops and their kamikaze pilots.
[Islamists] argue that the Arabs made no mistakes but simply did not struggle with sufficient fervor nor follow the proper ideology.
Imagination is never enough to produce military victories.
[Middle East Quarterly]
It must be hammered home to the Iranian people by means fair and foul that the distance from Tel Aviv to Teheran is exactly the same as that from Teheran to Tel Aviv, with all that that implies. Governments must be convinced of Israel's incalculable unpredictability if pushed too far...
Students disrupt Ahmadinejad's speech -AP
Iranian students staged a rare demonstration against President Ahmadinejad, lighting a firecracker and burning the head of state's photograph as he spoke, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
UPDATE: Pictures & Video of the protest at the following link: http://hotair.com/archives/2006/12/11/video-iranian-students-heckle-ahmadinejad/
Iran President Facing! Revival of Students' Ire - Nazila Fathi
The Iranian student movement is reawakening and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against President Ahmadinejad. The students' complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president's crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies, and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country.
(New York Times)
Friday, December 08, 2006
Thursday, December 07, 2006
The Iraq Muddle Group -Editorial
The Iraq Study Group's proposal to negotiate with Iran and Syria is a very old idea that isn't likely to go anywhere. The report argues that because both Iran and Syria have an "interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq," they will want to cooperate in some larger regional settlement.
Come again? Iran's leadership proclaims its satisfaction with the U.S. troubles in Iraq on an almost daily basis. They seem to believe their interest lies in bleeding the U.S. so much that no president will ever contemplate regime change anywhere else for a very long time.
(Wall Street Journal)
Kenneth W. Stein...a former executive director of the Carter Center, resigned as a fellow of the center on Tuesday, ending a 23-year association with the institution. Stein cited concerns with the accuracy and integrity of Carter's latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.
Stein wrote to Carter: "Aside from the one-sided nature of the book, meant to provoke, there are recollections cited from meetings where I was the third person in the room, and my notes of those meetings show little similarity to points claimed in the book."
UPDATED: A wonderful VideoBite is available at the following link, showing Jay Leno confronting Carter:
UPDATED AGAIN: [1/12/07]: This time it appears that Carter Center Board members are ending their relationship with Carter and his work. He may be getting a lot of media attention, but his isolation is increasing. See these below for more information:
Fourteen Carter Center Advisors Resign Over Book - Ernie Suggs
Fourteen members of a Carter Center advisory board quit Thursday in protest of Jimmy Carter's latest book. In a letter to Carter, the members of the Board of Councilors wrote that the former president had "clearly abandoned your historic role of broker, in favor of becoming an advocate for one side."
And a link to the actual letter of resignation:
Thankx to David for this info!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
James Baker's Iraq Study Group thinks direct talks with Tehran and Damascus would be a fine idea.
[N]egotiating with Iran and Syria over the future of Iraq is about as promising a strategy as negotiating with Adolf Hitler over the future of Czechoslovakia.
How many times does the lesson have to be relearned? There is no appeasing the unappeasable. When democracies engage with fanatical tyrants, the world becomes not less dangerous but more so.
[Engagement] buys time and legitimacy for the totalitarians, while deepening their conviction that the West has no stomach for a fight.
The war against radical Islam...cannot be won so long as regimes like those in Tehran and Damascus remain in power. They are as much our enemies today as the Nazi Reich was our enemy in an earlier era. Imploring Assad and Ahmadinejad for help in Iraq can only intensify the whiff of American retreat that is already in the air. The word for that isn't realism. It's surrender.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
A group calling itself the Just Swords of Islam issued a warning to Palestinian women in Gaza over the weekend that they must wear the hijab or face being targeted by the group's members. The group also claimed responsibility for attacks on 12 Internet cafes over the past few days.
The group said its followers last week threw acid at the face of a young woman who was dressed "immodestly" in the center of Gaza City.
Palestinian Crime Up 50 Percent - Khaled Abu Toameh
The anarchy and lawlessness in the West Bank and Gaza has claimed the lives of 332 Palestinians since the beginning of 2006...27 Palestinian women were slain by relatives in "honor killings."
Friday, December 01, 2006
The Energy Wall - Thomas L. Friedman
I believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to the big "clash of civilizations" now under way between the Muslim world and the West what the Spanish Civil War was to World War II. It's Off Broadway to Broadway.
The Spanish Civil War was the theater where Great European powers tested out many weapons and tactics that were later deployed on a larger scale in World War II. Similarly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the small theater where many weapons and tactics get tested out first and then go global. So if you study the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Off Broadway, you can learn a lot about how the larger war now playing out on Broadway, in Iraq and Afghanistan, might proceed.
(New York Times)