Monday, July 31, 2006

A'hoy, hoy, all

CM Burns here, back after an extended respite at Dr. Malcolm S. McAllisters Health Sanitarium for the Old. Abusive and Rich. It seems that Smithers had acidentally given me a bit too much ether and after giving that fool Simpson in Sector 7-G a raise and promotion to VP of Marketing, the Board of Directors had me committed. No worries, as they've all been fed to the hounds and I now own 97% of the stock in Springfield Nuclear.

Anyway, I just wanted to post to give some props to Andrew Sullivan for at least being intellectually and morally consistent by posting about how Hezbollah counts on civilian deaths in Lebanon to curry favor with the media. Also, Mel Gibson's bizzare anti-semetic rant from Friday night is not whitewashed by Sullivan either as it has been a bit by Katherine Jean Lopez at NRO. I didn't think "Passion of the Christ" was intended to be anti-Semetic when I saw it. I just thought people were projecting their own feelings into the film, and while part of that is probably the case, it seems that the boys from South Park had Mad Mel pinned two years ago, as did the indespensible Charles Krauthammer, and Sullivan. He's not always right, but when Sullivan is right, he's always dead on target.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Refugees

Ira Sharkansky points out that
They are now saying that there are 800,000 Lebanese refugees caused by Israel's violence. They are not talking so much about the 1,000,000 Israeli refugees caused by Hezbollah rockets. They have been spending the last two weeks out of work, in shelters, have fled or sent their children to the center or south of the country, but not so far south where they would be vulnerable to the rockets coming out of Gaza.

One may quarrel about the relative suffering. Israel's refugees are complaining about the build-up of tension; a lack of air conditioning in some of the shelters; problems of keeping the children busy; the uncertainties of running out for food when the sirens may go off at any moment and most of the stores are closed; and the lack of clarity as to how much the government will compensate for damage and lost income. Lebanon's refugees may be suffering more, but that is due to their government not providing for them, having giving over much of their country to the Shiite fanatics, and Hezbollah's fighters not letting some people leave neighborhoods that serve as launching sites and storage places for their weaponry.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Acts of War

The WaTimes reports on rumours that Nasrallah is hiding in a foreign embassy.
If confirmed, the reports could lead to an Israeli air strike on the embassy, possibly leading to a widening of the conflict, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Foreign embassies are sovereign territory and an attack on an embassy could be considered an act of war.
Yes, of course deliberately bombing an embassy would be an act of war. But so would be sheltering Nasrallah, or at least it would be if Israel demanded his surrender and his host government refused. If the Iranians have decided to commit such an overtly hostile act against Israel, it's because they're guessing that Israel won't escalate matters by retaliating; similarly, if the Israelis decide to bomb the embassy, it will be because they'll be guessing that Iran won't take it further, into open war.

(H/T: Instapundit)

UPDATE: This article (H/T once again Instapundit) makes an important point:

There are circumstances, long recognized in customary law of jus ad bellum, in which states will make incursions or aggressions of a limited nature against another party. [...] The law of belligerent reprisal allows a party that has been the subject of an armed provocation to retaliate, in order to make clear to the other party that it will defend its sovereignty, but to do so in a way that sends a legal signal that it will not escalate the conflict if the other party does not. It is a form of legal self-help - responding with force, but force that is proportionate to the immediate provocation and intended to close the circle of violence and cut it off with a single tit-for-tat, rather than see it spiral upwards into full conflict. [...]It is intended to stop short of full belligerency, in which the war aims shift, and proportionality is no longer measured by the immediate provocation, but by a state's assessment of the underlying threat.
It seems to me that and Israeli strike on the Iranian embassy, following a clear demand for Nasrallah's surrender and a clear Iranian refusal, would be just such an act of proportionate reprisal – an act of war indeed, but one intended to do no more than cure the immediate problem and so keep the conflict from turning into a full-scale war.

Another Rovian Conspiracy

I saw this on LGF the other day regarding the founder of Air America :
Sheldon Drobny: Liberal/Progressive Anti-Semitism. (Hat tip: The American Thinker.)

“I came to the conclusion that the hostile comments about Israel on these liberal blogs are not coming from true liberals. Most of the anti-Semitism comes from racism and most of the racism I have experienced has come from the far right, not the left.

“So my conclusion is that the bloggers who violently hate Israel and see it in black and white terms are not really liberals. They may even be anti-Semites, but they are not representative of the liberal community that was so active in achieving racial and ethnic equality. It is a contradiction for a true liberal to be an anti-Semite.

Furthermore, I would not put it past the right wing to flood the liberal blogs with hateful criticisms of Israel to advance a perception that liberals are anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. And I see Karl Rove’s fingerprints all over this.”

Me: As things get uglier, they are getting clearer. You don't need a microscope to find anti-Semitism on the left. He cannot accept what he promulgates. He can't accept reality. Still, a Rovian Conspiracy seems so obviously far-fetched. One can actually imagine that the reality based community will have to deal with reality. Or am I dreaming?

Skimmed?

Day By Day and the Captain both comment on this story. The Captain's heading is "Hamas Skims Off The Top", while Chris Muir more accurately points the finger at Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen). I'm sorry to disagree, but with all the ill will in the world towards both parties, I just can't see anything sinister here.


Let's recap: when Hamas got elected and formed a government, its people became civil servants on the PA's official payroll, and all foreign aid was cut off. Not only did the USA and EU stop giving them money, the USA informed all banks within their jurisdiction that if they were to transfer money to the PA with which to pay these salaries, they could be prosecuted for providing material support to terrorists. So 165 000 civil servants (about half of them armed terrorists, er, "police officers") haven't been paid in months, and financial chaos has ensued. The USA's response has been that the matter is entirely in the PA's hands: as soon as it takes the terrorists off its payroll, it can have all the money it needs, but until then it can suffer. The Arab League – which doesn't share the USA's priorities, to say the least – has raised $100M to replace the missing aid; as far as it's concerned, the fact that much of the money will go to terrorists is a plus. But until now it hasn't been able to get the money to the PA, because of the USA sanctions.

Now the JPost reports that they have somehow managed to get the money through, and it has been used to make up some of the backlog in the payroll. All government employees have received a down payment on what they are owed. All government employees, including Hamas ministers and members of Parliament, because "there could be no discrimination in the payment of government workers".

Sounds fair enough to me. This is not skimming, this is what the money was donated for – paying salaries. The street cleaners have not been paid, and nor has the Prime Minister; when some money comes in, both get a little. I honestly don't see the problem with that. Yes, Abbas and Haniya and all his ministers should drop dead immediately. They're guilty of all sorts of horrible crimes. But as far as I can see, this isn't one of them. They're using the money for its intended purpose.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Dumb-As-A-Post Office

On Sunday this puzzling story appeared. If your reaction is that you never heard of anything like this, you're right, you never have. The explanation, if you can call it that, came on Tuesday, in this follow-up. With maroons like this making policy decisions, I shudder to think what postal service in Westchester must be like.

Waitaminnit, Kodos, isn't that where you live? Got any more stories like this?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Idiot

I'm half-listening to Brian Lehrer on WNYC (the local National Palestinian Radio affiliate), and he's talking to Colonel Sam Gardiner, retired Air Force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College - provides military analysis of Israel's attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon.

I wasn't really paying attention, but my ears pricked up when he referred to the USA's previous experience with HizbAllah, and he said "what people forget is that we originally went in there in response to an Israeli massacre in a refugee camp". Say what? And this guy purports to comment intelligently on the situation?

He then started blathering about how Israel "must have known" that HizbAllah and Iran were planning to kidnap the soldiers; when Lehrer pressed him on whether he was saying that Israel deliberately allowed the soldiers to be kidnapped he wouldn't go that far, but sheesh...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Preaching and Practise

Carl is impressed by Binyamin Netanyahu's article in the WSJ Opinion Journal.
When he writes things like this, it makes me think he ought to be Prime Minister.
Indeed, Bibi gives good OpEd. But then, Voldemort gives good speech, and when he says things like this it makes me think he ought to be Prime Minister (oh wait, he is).
There are moments in the life of a nation, when it is compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say: no more! And I say to everyone: no more! Israel will not be held hostage - not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state.
[...]
we seek neither war nor direct confrontation, but we will not be deterred from them when the need arises. Only a nation that can defend its freedom truly deserves it. We are entitled to our freedom, and when necessary, we know how to fight for it and defend it.
That's inspiring stuff. (And it's an excellent translation, but if anything, it's even better in the original.) But it doesn't signify much if it doesn't reflect his core beliefs and attitudes, and I don't think it does. I applaud both the speech and the article, but I still don't think either of their authors are fit to be PM.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Of Bullies and Lessons

Treppenwitz tells a story about his time in the Navy.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Falafel-Eating Surrender Monkeys

At least they're showing their true colours.
(H/T: Jameel)

UPDATE: The usual suspects are at it again.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Most Unkindest Cut

Amid all the destruction in the north of Israel, Ya'aqov laments the Vered Hagalil chocolate factory, the latest casualty of this war.

Michael Totten is Right - Mostly

Michael Totten has this to say:
There is no alternate universe where the Lebanese government could have disarmed an Iranian-trained terrorist/guerilla militia that even the Israelis could not defeat in years of grinding war. There is no alternate universe where it was in Lebanon's interest to restart the civil war on Israel's behalf, to burn down their country all over again right at the moment where they finally had hope after 30 years of convulsive conflict and Baath Party overlordship.
And he's right. The price Lebanon would have had to pay to keep her obligation to disarm Hizballah would have been massive. The price of ignoring her obligation seemed minor in comparison – the lion's share of that burden seemed to fall on the Israelis instead. It was clear where Lebanon's interests lay, and had I been the Lebanese PM I'd have done the same.

But that's part of the point of the current Israeli exercise – to raise the price to Lebanon of inaction, and thus to make it in Lebanon's interest to do the right thing. Because that was the deal under which the world demanded that Israel withdraw from Lebanon. Israel kept her side of the bargain, but Lebanon decided that it was just too hard to keep hers, and nobody was going to force her, so she just let it slide.

What should the Israelis have done instead? They should have treated Hezbollahland as a country, which it basically is, and attacked it. They should have treated Lebanon as a separate country, which it basically is, and left it alone. Mainstream Lebanese have no problem when Israel hammers Hezbollah in its little enclave. Somebody has to do it, and it cannot be them. If you want to embolden Lebanese to work with Israelis against Hezbollah, or at least move in to Hezbollah's bombed out positions, don't attack all of Lebanon.
That sounds like it would have been a good idea – provided that Lebanon agreed. If Lebanon was not able or willing to clean out the south, she could have washed her hands of it, and withdrawn her sovereignty. She could have placed her borders to the north of this area, and policed that border, and invited Israel to re-invade the newly created terra nullius, or to do whatever she wanted with it.

But Lebanon didn't do that. Instead, Hizballah remained in control of part of sovereign Lebanon, and a member of the Lebanese government. There was no border between "Hizballahland" and Lebanon, nothing preventing the flow of arms and men to and from the south, and Hizballah was allowed to import arms from Syria and Iran, and to maintain headquarters and operations not just in the south but in Beirut and throughout the country. That makes Lebanon responsible for its actions, and now she's paying the price.

Israel should not have bombed Central Beirut, which was almost monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed my old neighborhood, which was almost monolithically anti-Hezbollah. They should not have bombed the Maronite city of Jounieh, which was not merely anti-Hezbollah but also somewhat pro-Israel.
This makes perfect sense – if only its implication were true. The fact is that Israel has not bombed Lebanon indiscriminately. Its fire has been directed at Hizballah targets, and at facilities used by Hizballah to wage war against Israel. There may have been the occasional misfire, and the occasional collateral damage, but the vast majority of the casualties and the damage have been on target. If you live next door to a Hizballah facility, and you ignored the leaflets the IDF dropped, warning you to get out, then you can't blame Israel for what happens next.

Bag End

As if the world weren't a crazy enough place, my old home state, Victoria, is planning to ban free plastic shopping bags.
With 1.1 billion bags still handed out in Victoria every year despite a voluntary national scheme to phase them out, the State Government now plans to introduce laws to come into force from January 1, 2009, meaning shoppers will pay a levy of at least 10 cents a bag.
Look, if you can persuade people not to want the bags, be my guest. I'm sure the shopkeepers would be glad to see the demand for bags go down, since they have to pay for them. But the campaign's obviously failed. People like plastic throw-away shopping bags, because they're much more convenient than any alternative. They're aware of the down side, they've considered it briefly, and they've rejected it. But instead of accepting that rejection and moving on, Bracks is going to impose his religious views on everybody by force.

Hmm, that's my second post today about a Lebanese Premier...

What the Lebanese Really Think?

Ezzie, guest blogging at the Muqata, points to this report from rotter.net's "scoops" forum. I'm not familiar with that source, and the language doesn't make it sound very plausible to me, but Ezzie claims that "they've been right almost all the time since the war started...I put the link in though for people to read themselves". The link is in Hebrew; here's my translation:
SCOOP: G8 COUNTRIES SIDE WITH ISRAEL AT REQUEST OF LEBANESE PM

On the first day of the war, the president of France hurried to announce that Israel "longs to wipe Lebanon out". Other countries, among them even the USA, informed Israel that they were worried at the lack of proportionality between the kidnapping of soldiers and the war that Israel had declared on Lebanon. Yet today they all take the same line, and just as the demolition and destruction and fire grow ever greater, the leaders of the eight industrialised countries coordinate a position that sides with the Israeli approach and with the goals of the war. The reason? The Prime Minister of Lebanon asked them to allow Israel to erase Hizballah from the area for him. "Israel can do to Hizballah what I can't, let them finish the job", said Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora to all these antisemites in Europe.

UPDATE: Ezzie also reports this on his own blog.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Civilians?

One claim from the "disproportionate" crowd is that Israel has suffered "only" two four twelve civilian deaths from the rocket barrage this week (and over 500 wounded), while Lebanon has supposedly lost over fifty. Well, one reason might be that Israel is indeed hitting back with more firepower than it's receiving. Is that meant to be wrong?

Another point that needs to be made over and over again is that there is a fundamental difference: the Arab fire is deliberately aimed at civilians, and killing civilians is its goal. Israeli fire, on the other hand, is always aimed at legitimate military targets, and any civilian that is killed is unfortunate collateral damage, the inevitable result of war. That bears repeating: the number of civilians deliberately killed by Israel, this week or this year or this decade, is zero.

Still, if Israel is not aiming at civilians, how can it be that it has accidentally killed so many, while the Arabs, who are aiming at civilians, have killed so few? Well, the answer is that it hasn't. Those >50 people in Lebanon includes people killed because they were hiding rockets in their homes. No doubt others included in the count were doing things like driving terrorists, or providing other logistical support. In my book, that makes them legitimate targets.

"We have no intention of hitting civilians, but those who live by the sword are bound to get hurt." Too right.

(H/T: Meryl Yourish)

Fasting

Fasting isn't what it used to be. Michelle Malkin tries out a fast Cindy Sheehan style, and finds that it's not so bad. Hmm, I wonder whether my Rabbi will approve this for Tish'a B'av. (H/T Instapundit)

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Disproportionate"

1942. Congolese President Jacques Chirac castigated the American offensive against Japan, calling it "totally disproportionate", while he and other African leaders expressed fears of a widening conflict that could get out of control. A U.N. humanitarian official condemned the attacks on Japan's transportation infrastructure, saying innocent civilians would suffer. "One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Japan, its equipment, its roads, its communication," Chirac said.

President Tree, in Zimbabwe for the G-11 summit, spoke by phone with Japanese Emperor Hirohito and promised to pressure America "to limit damage to Japan... and to spare civilians and innocent people from harm". Zimbabwean President Valdemar Takeout called on all sides to stand down, while Argentinian Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero warned America it was "making a mistake" to attack Japan. "One thing is defense, which is legitimate, and another is a counteroffensive of widespread attack," Zapatero told Punto Radio. "It won't bring anything other than an escalation of violence."

The Vatican echoed that remark. "In fact, the right to defense on the part of a country does not exempt it from respecting norms of international law above all for that which concerns the safety of the civilian population," said a statement by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's No. 2 official.

The fighting between America and Japan followed the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese pilots. Chirac, who called the Japanese attack "inadmissible, unacceptable and irresponsible," implied that China and Mongolia might be involved.

Jan Egeland, the top U.N. humanitarian official, said the American blockade of Japan's seaports, as well as the bombing of Tokyo's airport, was regrettable because it meant civilians and children "cannot receive goods ... cannot get their daily needs met." "It is in violation of international law, and it is also in violation of common sense," he said at the U.N.'s African headquarters in Kinshasa. "You are supposed to do something to the armed group. You are not supposed to hurt the children of people who have nothing to do with this."


Seriously, anyone who thinks what Israel is doing is "disproportionate", please explain exactly what you would consider "proportionate" and an appropriate response. What exactly should Israel do about being under constant artillery attack, and what it should be doing to rescue its kidnapped soldiers, and to prevent them from being transferred to Syria or Iran?

Animals

From a mailing list I'm on:
Across from my backyard we see the PA Arab town of Nahalin a couple of hundred meters from our backyard and they've been celebrating and shooting off fireworks all afternoon and evening and generally celebrating.
UPDATE: This is not an isolated incident, It's happening all over. Joe Settler, westbankmama, and Yaakov all report the same thing. In 1991, when the Arabs danced on their roofs as Saddam fired his SCUDs at Israel, few people were on the internet, and it was quickly hushed up. When they celebrated on 11-Sep-2001, the PC crowd tried to claim that it was a tiny minority being blown out of proportion by the media. This time, there are blogs to record this, for future reference. This is how it always is: Jews die, Arabs celebrate.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Blogaversary

Over at the Muqata, Jameel is celebrating his first blogaversary. He also shows some discretion that the NYT and LAT could profitably learn from:
Just this morning, there were roadblocks all over the country, the police, IDF and MDA were all on high alert. The army's information about the terror threat was so precise, that I can't even blog about it — so as not to compromise their sources.
Of course, if he were to be indiscreet, he'd be risking arrest, and lose his access to such information; unlike the NYT and LAT, there aren't criminal moles in the IDF leaking to him.

And for all you soccer fans, there's this.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Seeing Red

Israel to provide PA with ambulances

For 75 years, Magen David Adom has been trying to join the International Committee of the Red Cross, on the same terms as all the Red Crescent societies of the various Arab countries, and Iran's Red Sun and Lion. And for 75 years the ICRC has arbitrarily refused, claiming that for some reason three symbols are OK, but four would be too many. Unless the MDA started using a cross, a crescent, or a sun-and-lion, it would be denied protection – according to the Geneva Conventions, if on a battlefield Israel shoots at a vehicle bearing the Red Crescent it's a war crime, but if the Arabs shoot at a vehicle bearing the Red Magen David that's perfectly legal.

Recently a "compromise" was worked out. The Arabs still get to use the Red Crescent, the MDA still doesn't get to use its symbol, but a fourth symbol was added to the list, the "Red Crystal". Inside Israel MDA still uses its own symbol, just as it has for the past 75 years; big deal. Outside Israel, for "indicative purposes", i.e. just to show who they are, they may not use the MDA on its own, but must put it inside a Red Crystal. Of course, Red Crescent societies don't have to do that. But, get this: for "protective purposes", i.e. the real point of the Red Cross symbol, the fact that it gives legal protection against being shot at or bombed, MDA must use the unadorned Red Crystal. Putting a Magen David inside the crystal invalidates it, and makes the ambulance, hospital, etc., fair game for anyone to shoot at.

This much was widely reported a few weeks ago. Now here's part of the deal that isn't so widely known: In return for this huge favour that the ICRC has deigned to bestow, the MDA will be giving eight ambulances to the PA. Now the MDA raises funds in Jewish communities all over the world. Over the past few years, as the situation has strained its resources, it has had a special drive to get Jewish communities to buy ambulances for the MDA. Now it seems that it has at least 8 ambulances that are surplus to requirements, and are being donated to the enemy, in return for this grudging half-admission into the "big kids' club". Well, I know where my money won't be going any time soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Publish or...

They've done it before. And they know what resulted, and yet they barely hesitated to do it again. And what excuse do they give? That if they're more careful with their duty to their country, they risk being scooped! As an example of this dreadful fate, they cite this cautionary tale, of a time when the WaPo did exercise some responsibility, and paid the price. From that moment they determined, Never Again! From now on, screw the national security, screw the troops, it's publish, even if they perish.

I see no reason
why media treason
should ever be forgot.

I See No Reason...

This kind of says it all.