Touching the Third Rail

Like many of you, I’m sure, I like to read obituaries. There are many details of human foibles and forgotten chapters of history unearthed in those few paragraphs that sum up a person’s life.

Rarely, however, does one piss me off:

Stephen Birmingham, an author whose frothy books of social history, such as ‘‘Our Crowd’’ and ‘‘The Rest of Us,’’ were best-selling sagas of American aristocracy, often viewed through the lens of ethnic minorities, died Nov. 15 at his home in New York City. He was 86.

The cause was lung cancer, said his longtime partner, Edward Lahniers.

No problem there. Thots’n’prayers and all that.

Mr. Birmingham began his literary career as a novelist, dissecting the manners of the prep-school class, before turning his attention to what he called New York’s ‘‘other society’’ — the German-Jewish dynasties that had dominated Manhattan’s banking and brokerage circles for a century.

‘‘Our Crowd: The Great Jewish Families of New York’’ became a No. 1 bestseller in 1967, was made into a musical, and launched a literary franchise for Mr. Birmingham as a chronicler of wealth and celebrity.

He wrote other nonfiction accounts of life among the upper echelons of Jewish, Irish, African-American, and old-line Anglo-Saxon society. He also published biographies of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and socialite Wallis Warfield Simpson, as well as several novels.

‘‘Our Crowd,’’ which focused on the little-known world of German Jewish families in New York, proved to be something a landmark and was hailed in Newsweek as a ‘‘sprightly, delightfully gossipy social history.’’

Mr. Birmingham, who was of Irish and British ancestry and was not Jewish, had attended the exclusive Hotchkiss prep school in Connecticut with descendants of several families who controlled financial empires established in the 19th century.

He became fascinated with the idea of exploring the social and commercial lives of the Lehmans, Warburgs, Guggenheims, Schiffs, and other families he called, correctly or not, ‘‘the closest thing to aristocracy that the city, and perhaps the country, had seen.’’

He followed the same breezy formula in ‘‘The Grandees: America’s Sephardic Elite’’ (1971) and ‘‘The Rest of Us: The Rise of America’s Eastern European Jews’’ (1984), which looked at the rise of such 20th-century figures as movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn and gangster Meyer Lansky.

Mr. Birmingham’s books flew off the shelves and made him something of a celebrity in his own right, with appearances on Johnny Carson’s and Merv Griffin’s talk shows.

That’s great. I haven’t read any of his books, but if a WASP (or whatever) wants to write about rich Jews, have at it. I’m glad people wanted to read it.

But then:

When he turned to other social groups in ‘‘Real Lace: America’s Irish Rich’’ (1973) and ‘‘Certain People: America’s Black Elite’’ (1977), Mr. Birmingham began to lose his footing.

‘‘Certain People,’’ in particular, met with hostile reviews as critics questioned Mr. Birmingham’s conclusions and the premise of a white man writing about the inner workings of black society.

’’ ‘Certain People’ is so flawed that it is hard to decide where to find fault first,’’ critic Le Anne Schreiber wrote in Time magazine in 1977, saying Mr. Birmingham ‘‘remains insensitive to the tragic involutions of identity that make the black elite very different from — and much more vulnerable than — its white counterpart.’’

Again, without having read the books it’s hard to comment, but he can write about Jews without being Jewish, about Irish without being all Irish, and about Jackie O and Wallis Simpson without being either one. But let him dare to put pen to paper to write about black people—successful black people—and the liberal literal elite—a race unto themselves—scream bloody murder. If that’s what “tragic involutions of identity” means; I haven’t a clue.

That’s pretty weird, even for liberals.

Curious, I went to the late Mr. Birmingham’s Amazon page to see if the book is even available and how it is has been received. A certain Dr. Kenneth Holden wrote:

Certain People is a classic study of the black upper class in America. Researched by one of the most impressive social historians of the day. Mr. Birmingham has produced works documenting the social history of almost every cultrue in this country and he has not fallen short with this study. I first read the book in 1978 and it opened up a whole world of information that I was unaware of even though I grew up in a black upper middle class environment.

Thank goodness for this book and others like [several titles named].

This book has introduced me to a vast world of research that dates back to the middle of the 19th century. In his introduction Mr. Birmingham explains how the book came about and the numerous persons that contributed to the success of his work.

He does an excellent job of tracing the origins of such affluent organiztions as the Links, Boule, Jack & Jill, and other prominent fraternal and social oranizations that the black upper class hold membership.

Certain People is one of the finest examples of black social history, the kind of work that makes a difference in the study of Black America.

Dr. Holden’s identity sounds anything but tragically involuted. I think he liked it.

It must be said, however, that this review was more typical:

This cultural climate has much to do with the appearance of Certain People, Stephen Birmingham’s poorly conceived and clumsily presented attempt to describe America’s black elite. The book has already received much unfavorable notice. Perhaps we should have seen it coming: The Right People, The Right Places, “Our Crowd“—Birmingham’s previous titles suggest a lamentable hobby. Recently, Vogue carried a Birmingham article on black fashion queens, and its giddy approval of highly refined brown sugar governs most of Certain People. Militancy as a style among visible blacks has subsided, creating for writers like Birmingham a new kind of accessibility and coverage. The niceness of the race is redeemed. Andy goes on the red clay Georgia trail; Andy goes to Washington; Andy goes for the heads of Her Majesty’s diplomats. This is the year of the Bionic Black, and porkchop nationalists have lost prestige.

That’s worse than “tragic involutions of identity”, but at least this reviewer was black. As unintelligible as that is, it reveals two truths. One, that Birmingham’s “lamentable hobby” of writing about socio-ethnicity raised hackles only when he turned his attention (favorably) to black people. Two, the Bionic Black sounds like the progenitor of the Magic Negro, some thirty years before Barack Obama was declared one.

Even a blind squirrel…


How Many Of You Endured Political Discussions Yesterday?

Can you imagine sitting down to turkey with Karl Rove or Reince Priebus?

The Republican establishment is nearing full-blown panic about Donald Trump.

The demise of Trump’s candidacy has been predicted by centrist Republicans and the media alike virtually since the day it began. But there is no empirical evidence at all to suggest it is happening.

Last month, the liberal ThinkProgress collated more than 30 predictions of the business mogul’s imminent demise. One typical example was The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, who discerned “the beginning of the end of Trump” in mid-July, soon after the mogul criticized the Vietnam War record of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

“He has a real shot at this. He is the clear front-runner,” said Ron Bonjean, a consultant and former aide to GOP leaders on Capitol Hill.

Adding that “months ago, we all discounted Trump as a candidate,” Bonjean now acknowledged that it seems “safe to assume that he is going to continue with this strong momentum right into Iowa.”

“The media has twisted and turned through a number of different positions where they tried to explain that it was just a fad — the summer of Trump,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Republican Party of Iowa. “Well, it’s lasted all fall. There is a realization that you are not going to wake up tomorrow and he’s going to vanish.”

Robinson, who is not affiliated with any candidate, was scathing toward those GOP centrists who assert that Trump will be unable to translate his polling support into votes because of a weak ground game.

“That is the wishful thinking of the establishment,” he said. “That is what they tell themselves so they can sleep at night. The truth is, Trump has one of the better ground operations in Iowa. Will he turn out every single person who shows up at his rallies? No. But if he turns out a fraction, he will roll over the field.”

Trump’s critics within the GOP are now coming to believe that an air war — that is, negative TV advertising — is more likely to deliver results than anything else. They note that a $1 million campaign in Iowa by the conservative Club for Growth appeared to put some dent in Trump’s numbers. (It also drew the threat of legal action from the candidate.)

As for 2012, while it is true that former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) was leading the RCP average at the equivalent point to now, that was to be a relatively short-lived phenomenon, just as earlier boomlets for candidates such as then-Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) and businessman Herman Cain had proved to be.

In fact, the consistency of Trump’s polling performance this cycle has more in common with the steady showing of eventual 2012 nominee Mitt Romney than anyone else.

Other anti-Trump forces within the GOP hold out hope that as the field winnows, the whole dynamic of the race will shift, with primary voters coalescing around a different option.

But none of that is guaranteed. Trump remains as bullishly confident as ever. And Republican insiders know the hour is getting late.

“If Trump is not your cup of tea, it’s time to bring your own coffee pot out and start brewing something,” said Robinson.

Well, I heard some railing against Trump yesterday, but from the lips of people who would rather die that vote for any Republican. My big concern about him is that he will turn out to be the Republican Eugene McCarthy. What if there simply are not enough of them to pull Trump across the finish line? The other, smaller, fear is that he truly is a nut-job. I doubt the second though. I think he just understands the depth of anger and despair among the working class.

– Aggie


Life In France Has Been Terrifying For Jews For 15 Years

According to the French government

For several years within the contentious field of antisemitism, we have seen a routine emerge of obscene words, selective outrage and blatant antisemitic assaults. But this violence forms part of a more general pattern, starting from the time of the second Intifada (2000) when anti-Jewish violence swept almost simultaneously across France and throughout all Western democracies. Since then, other attacks have shaken the Jewish community, precisely, regularly, and with lasting effect, making places of worship and schools, worshippers, officials and members of the community equally targets.

Antisemitism from 2000-2015

Indeed, since October 1, 2000, more than 8,000 antisemitic acts have been perpetrated in France, including 744 in 2000; 219 in 2001; 936 in 2002; 601 in 2003; 974 in 2004; 508 in 2005; 571 in 2006; 402 in 2007; 397 in 2008; 832 in 2009; 466 in 2010; 389 in 2011; 614 in 2012 and 423 in 2013, according to the Jewish Community Security Service (SPCJ) and the Ministry of the Interior. Throughout 2014 antisemitic acts occurred nearly without interruption. As the SPCJ explains, the tensions resulting from a climate of antisemitic hate and its legacy, and the accumulation of varied antisemitic acts have grown as the months progressed. As a result, the number of antisemitic acts identified in France doubled: 851 acts (compared to 423 in 2013), an increase of 101%. From January to May 2015, antisemitic acts increased further by 84% compared to 2014, and 161% compared to 2013. In other words, 508 antisemitic acts compared to 276 in 2014 and 195 in 2013 over the same period. However, despite the ‘surge’ at the beginning of this year, antisemitic acts were down 1.5% over the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period in 2014, according to the Minister of the Interior (CRIF National Convention, November 1, 2015) . Nevertheless, this decrease should “still be considered with caution and that is why the State must, under no circumstances, cease in its efforts”. “No antisemitic action must remain unpunished,” said the Minister, “because I know that this threat continues to be a legitimate concern and causes deep unease in the heart of the [Jewish] community”. He recalled the measures taken since the beginning of the year, notably those taken after the attack in January 2015 against the Hypercacher in Porte de Vincennes in Paris (AFP, November 1, 2015).

It is just tough to find empathy for “the French” in their time of need. The Jewish population will all end up living elsewhere and the Christians, Muslims, and Secularists will fight with bombs and knifes and guns. Because that is what they have chosen.

– Aggie


Mr. Abbas, Blow Up This Tunnel

Arab apologists would have you believe Gaza is a misery (they have a point), unable to look after itself under the boot heel of Israeli oppression.

Don’t believe it:

Egyptian security sources revealed on Friday that they found an iron underground attack tunnel leading from Gaza into Sinai, marking the first time that such a tunnel has been unearthed.

The find came as part of Egypt’s long-standing operation that began in October 2014 to create a massive buffer zone in southern Gaza. The operation has involved occupying a large swath of land at least one kilometer deep (over half a mile) along the 14-kilometer (9-mile), evicting thousands of Gazans, destroying their homes and mosques, and recently even creating a border moat starting in August.

Now as part of its work destroying hundreds of smuggling tunnels, the Egyptian army came across the first iron one, which lay at a depth of ten meters (33 feet) according to Egyptian sources quoted by the Palestinian Arab Ma’an News Agency.

The tunnel was found north of the Rafiah Crossing, and was summarily detonated with massive amounts of explosives.

According to the sources, the tunnel was discovered as the army was flooding the border area with sea water. The water was not absorbed into the ground due to some sort of blockage that did not allow it to penetrate, raising the army’s suspicions.

Quickly the Egyptian engineering corps dug down and found the iron tunnel, which featured iron walls at a thickness of 40 centimeter (16 inches) – a construction feat that must have been particularly expensive.

The tunnel extended roughly 200 meters (over 650 feet) into Egyptian territory, and was still in the process of being constructed. On the Gazan side of the border, the tunnel stretched 70 meters (230 feet).

Egyptian intelligence services indicate there are an estimated 17 iron tunnels from Gaza to Sinai, and they are meant for “resistance” – namely for Hamas and other terrorist organizations to attack the Egyptian buffer zone project.

Assuming a tunnel of five feet high by four feet wide, completely encased in 16 inches of iron, that’s over twenty-thousand cubic feet of iron in this one tunnel alone. That’s over 5,100 tons of the stuff—or about $225,000 for the iron alone. In one tunnel. Out of an estimated 17. By now, you can do your own math.

We Bostonians can only gape in awe. Hamass built their 2.5 miles of iron tunnel for less than four million dollars. The total 7.5 miles of our Big Dig tunnels, roadways and bridge cost over $24 billion, six thousand times as much. And unlike Hamass’ tunnels, ours leaks.

So, don’t buy it when someone starts nattering on about the Daily Humiliation of the Palestinian People™. We should all be so “humiliated”.


Thanksgiving’s Over for You, White Man

Literally and figuratively:

In a new CNN/Kaiser Family Foundation poll, the number of Americans who say racism is a big problem has jumped significantly since 2011. From campus protests to the campaign trail, there are tremors of racial tension across the land.

And beneath them all is a deep tectonic shift: whiteness and Americanness are at long last delinking. This will be painful in the short term, especially for whites. The long term depends on how all of us respond to pain.

Thank you at least for acknowledging the pain I feel as a white male. I know how those Russian aristocrats felt after 1917. Having to sweep out Parisian shops when once they rode to the sound of baying hounds and hunting horns. Born royalty, I am now just another white dude.

From the origins of our country, to be white was to be presumed American and to be American was to be presumed white. That was true when the Constitution was written. It was true in the Civil War. It was true in World War II. It was true in the civil rights movement.

It’s still the case in most parts of this country that if you ask someone to picture an American, they will not imagine my face [the author is an Asian man]. They will not see even the face of our current President. They will conjure up someone white, likely a man.

He has proof of this, does he? Dozens if not hundreds of examples of Americans describing Americans as a race of John Tesh-es?

The father of his country.

And what happens when you ask a Chinaman to describe a Chinaman? Or an African to describe an African? I don’t think they’re going to come up with this:

Though it is true that all North Koreans look alike—or else:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has ordered men to copy his ‘ambitious’ hair style limiting growth to a maximum length of 2cm.

Anyone breaching the restrictive guidelines face having their hair shorn by authorities, especially in universities, who have been warned to watch out for any capitalist styles.

He’s talking to you, Andrew Carnegie!

I don’t know if Korean men can grow beards, but they better not try any running-dog-lackey facial hair while Un is the one.

Anyhow, back to caucasian nation:

A majority of babies born in the United States are now of non-European descent. In 25 years, America will be majority people of color. And this demographic revolution is creating simultaneous surges of hopefulness and anxiety — cheers for the multicultural hip-hop musical “Hamilton,” alongside calls for deportation of eleven million of our mainly brown neighbors.

I don’t really get what 11,000,000 (or is it 12?) illegal aliens of whatever color have to do with the approximately 170,000 predominantly white theater-goers who’ve seen “Hamilton”, except that the Broadway-bound citizens amount to only 1.5% of the not-even-remotely citizens whose only connection to Broadway is where it crosses 157th Street. Those Times Square “cheers” are drowned out by a Babel of other languages across the city and the country.

But I accept his larger point that “majority of babies born in the United States are now of non-European descent”.

Or do I? What does “European descent” mean in a day when Europe itself is overrun by non-Europeans? And how does the experience of German immigrants relate to Irish immigrants? Or Irish to Italian? Or Italian to Jewish refugees from across Eastern Europe? You think today’s 11 million brown people have it tough? Try the Lower East Side before it became Alphabet City, amigos. You wouldn’t have lasted a week.

I’m running out of steam and bullets riddling his argument with holes. The last point I was able to read was about how whites and non-whites see the nation differently. If anybody didn’t get that after the OJ verdict, they never were. One can we wrong, and one can be late, but if one is both wrong and late, what is the point? Beyond writing for CNN, of course.


Syria’s “Pilgrims”

President Obama tried a different approach to persuading a doubtful nation that taking in thousands of Muslims from (or claiming to be from) Syria is a good idea:

“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims,” he said, “men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families. What makes America America is that we offer that chance.”

But the facts on the ground (and underground) hurt his case. He refuses to take in only Christians (the real pilgrims in this scenario), exposing us to threats from the likes of Malik Standish and John al-Din:

With as many as 1000 active cases, Fox News has learned at least 48 ISIS suspects are considered so high risk that the FBI is using its elite tracking squads known as the mobile surveillance teams or MST to track them domestically.

One of the lessons of Paris is that the radicalization process can be swift. According to published reports, friends of the female suspect who was killed in the siege of Saint Denis, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, abandoned her party life only a month before joining her cousin, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the plot’s on the ground commander. He was also killed in the siege.

The FBI Director James Comey has consistently drawn attention to this phenomenon, calling it the “flash to bang,” that the time between radicalization and crossing the threshold to violent action can be very short. Last week, in a rare public appearance with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Comey would only say that “dozens” of suspected radicals have been under “tight surveillance.”

“Together we are watching people of concern using all of our lawful tools. We will keep watching them and if we see something we will work to disrupt it,” Comey said.

At least 48 Caliphaters. Requiring the efforts of as many as a dozen FBI agents apiece to prevent them from detonating “crockpots” in crowded shopping malls. And Obama wants more. The Thanksgiving puns are straining at their leashes—down, turkey!; stay, stuffing!; sit, sauce!—so I will merely observe that either he’s nuts (pecan) or we are.


The 22

As daily Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis continue – and while many international media outlets choose to downplay Israeli suffering – Israel Hayom journalist Lital Shemesh felt she needed to do something to raise awareness of the 22 Israelis murdered so far in shootings, stabbings and car-ramming attacks.

The short but powerful video she produced in response quickly went viral when she posted it on her Facebook page, garnering nearly 8,000 shares in just one day.

“As an Israeli who lives in the the shadow of the recent wave of terror I decided that this can’t go on,” she told Arutz Sheva. “People are being slaughtered here in the streets and we don’t hear the world media condemn the acts or support Israel.”

Still no mention in public by our president, either, of Ezra Schwartz (of blessed memory). I don’t know what he has against people from Massachusetts, but it’s pretty appalling.

PS: Though to be fair:

US President Barack Obama called the parents of Ezra Schwartz on Monday to offer his “profound condolences” after the 18-year-old US citizen was murdered in a terrorist attack in Israel last week.


Talking Turkey

When the stuffing gets political, the politics gets stuffed:


The holiday season is filled with food, traveling, and lively discussions with Republican relatives about politics sometimes laced with statements that are just not true. Here are the most common myths spouted by your family members who spend too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh and the perfect response to each of them.

Isn’t it nice of the Democratic National Committee to spark conversation among loving families? Screw the Red Sox’s starting rotation, let’s talk John Kasich:

Kasich seems like a moderate guy.

When it comes to taxes, John Kasich might as well be Donald Trump — he signed massive tax cuts for the wealthy in Ohio, and he’s released a plan to do the same thing as president. And when it comes to women’s health, Kasich might as well be Ted Cruz — his restrictions on women’s health have cut the number of abortion clinics in half across the state of Ohio. On issue after issue, there’s no difference between Kasich and the most conservative members of his party.

Oh. Oh, I see. How ’bout them Bruins?

Did you say Rubio?

Marco Rubio is young and seems like a new kind of Republican.

Well, that’s half right. I’ll concede that Marco Rubio is young. But we’re talking about a guy who keeps recycling the same old GOP policies of the past that hurt middle-class families. He opposes raising the federal minimum wage, he wants to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, and on foreign policy, he might as well be Dick Cheney.

Really. Wow. I didn’t know.

Here’s what else you don’t know:

Letting Syrian refugees into the United States is like hanging a “welcome, terrorists” banner on the front door.

The United States has one of the strictest refugee screening processes in the world—we can help families whose lives have been destroyed by ISIS without jeopardizing our security. But when our leaders embrace Islamophobia, that makes it harder for us to fight terrorism abroad. And not for nothing, screening refugees based on their religion goes against everything our country stands for.

God bless America! And Tom Brady! Just don’t mention ObamaCare.


Of Broads and Frauds

That sound you hear is BTL reaching into the burlap sack to extract another of our highly-prized awards, the Chutzpie, for unmitgated gall, nerve, cheek…chutzpah!

To be honest, every day is Chutzpie Day at the UN:

From parades to soccer matches, school debates, and the lighting up of hundreds of iconic monuments, starting tomorrow a United Nations call to “Orange the World” will galvanize global action calling for an end to violence against women and girls, which according to the UN’s agency for gender equality (UN Women) affects one in three worldwide.

“Violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious – and the most tolerated – human rights violations,” said UN Under- Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in a press release.

So true, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka—or may I call you Phumzile?

So true:

Sexual abuse of female “minors” by personnel in United Nations peacekeeping forces has seriously undermined the credibility of “peacekeeping” missions because personnel are consequently perceived as doing more harm than good.

Who would know better?

Senator Bob Corker, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is wading into the highly charged debate about United Nations peacekeepers and sexual abuse with fast-track proposals to push back against a “culture of impunity” that the U.N.’s own experts have said still permeates the far-flung peacekeeper operations.

This “far-flung”:

The United Nations says it is investigating new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in violence-ridden Central African Republic.

A U.N. official said the allegations involve sexual relations with three underage girls. The allegations also involve two pregnancies, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because details have not been made public.

The United Nations is already investigating at least 16 other cases of possible sexual misconduct by U.N. troops and police in the country.

That was reported two weeks ago.

The call to action is part of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, led by UN Women. The colour orange, which has come to symbolize a bright and optimistic future free from violence against women and girls, will help unify the large-scale social mobilization.

It will be carried out during the civil society-driven 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which run from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

This sounds like a job for the UN’s Human Rights Council. For who better than current members Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, China, Qatar, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Mexico—all of which rate abysmally on women’s rights—to invite to the “Activism against Gender-Based Violence” party? Sixteen days of nonstop fun.

No clitoris would be safe among that pack of heathens.

The UN has managed to make even violence against women a sick joke.


Rickrolling the Caliphate

What a great title for…something.

Based on a true story:

Anonymous hacked several ISIS Twitter accounts as part of its campaign, infiltrating the group’s #SupportISIS propaganda campaign by posting links disguised as Islamist – but which really link to UK singer Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” video from 1987.

The trick, known colloquially as a “Rickroll,” reignited Astley’s career in the late 2000s, after the prank became an internet staple.

Anonymous announced Wednesday that “Rickrolls” would be a strategic part of its campaign against ISIS, hoping users looking for jihadist material give up amidst a deluge of 1980s music videos.

I’ve been skeptical, but history shows there’s a role for satiric songs—Spike Jones’s “Der Fuehrer’s Face”, for example. But Spike Jones didn’t defeat Hitler. Millions of pounds of munitions, hundreds of thousands of grunts, a couple generals, and at least one gay computer scientist defeated Hitler.

Only the computers are the same (and perhaps a homosexual or two).

But if you’re going to tweak the Caliphate with 80s music videos, may I suggest one that will better ensnare jihadists than Rick-[bleepin’]-Astley?

By name and by sexiness (believe it or not), 1980s Paula Abdul will do more to trouble the terrorist mind than Wonder Bread Rick.

(Just don’t tell the jihadis that she’s Jewish!)


A Great Israeli

I’ve made the point over the years that, contrary to our liberal beliefs, not all Arab families want the best for their children; or, rather, that what they consider the best for their children—murder and martyrdom—is not what we would consider the best for ours.

The proverbial exception that proves the rule:

An Arab-Israeli from northern Israel was arrested Tuesday after sending an SMS to his father informing him he was going to carry out a terrorist attack – prompting his father to turn to police.

The father, who lives in a village close to Nazareth in the Galilee, alerted the police emergency hotline as soon as he received the message, which read: “Today you will hear good things about me – I’m going to carry out an attack.”

Other family members received the same message, according to Israel’s Channel 2, which released a transcript of the father’s frantic conversations with the police call center, during which he repeatedly urged them to send a patrol car to his home.

Father: Can I order a patrol car to my house?

Operator: Why, what happened?

Father: There is an important issue

Operator: What kind of important issue?

Father: An important issue. My son has been away from home for nearly 10 days and he is threatening people and (threatening) the security of the state

Operator: Your son is threatening state security?! Does your son want to do something?!

Father: Yes, yes. He has someone else from our village

Operator: You don’t know where he is?

Father: If I knew, I’d conduct an operation against him myself

In a second conversation the increasingly agitated father asks how long it will take for police to arrive.

Father: I don’t feel good. Send me a patrol car. Just in how many minutes? Tell me how many minutes!

Operator: I don’t know how many minutes (it will take). I have sent a patrol car to you

Nazareth District Commander, Chief Superintendent Shai Dichter, said police acted as soon as possible to locate and arrest the suspect, and opened an investigation immediately after receiving the father’s report.

“We carried out many activities to locate the youth, including the arrest of five suspects including him. After interrogation an indictment was served against the suspect.”

Because of this man’s action, his son is under arrest. And other Israelis are alive. Many Arabs would consider that a nakba; I credit him for his service to his family, his country, and his people.


It’s 11:59:59 DST*

* Doomsday Standard Time

A Turkish government official has confirmed that the SU-24 was show down by Turk F-16s after being repeatedly warned about entering Turkish airspace. But in a statement he said the military action was not against any specific country but an act of self defence.

“In line with the military rules of engagement [MRoE], the Turkish authorities repeatedly warned an unidentified aircraft that they were 15km or less away from the border. The aircraft didn’t heed the warnings and proceeded to fly over Turkey. The Turkish Air Forces responded by downing the aircraft.

“In the past, we have made public our military rules of engagement and reminded our counterparts that any violation of Turkish airspace would trigger the actions prescribed by the MRoE. This isn’t an action against any specific country: Our F-16s took necessary steps to defend Turkey’s sovereign territory.”

Among the updates:

Nato has confirmed it will hold an extraordinary council meeting on Turkey’s request. Here’s its statement:

At the request of Turkey, the North Atlantic Council will hold an extraordinary meeting at 17.00 (Brussels time). The aim of this extraordinary NAC meeting is for Turkey to inform allies about the downing of a Russian airplane. Nato is monitoring the situation closely. We are in close contact with Turkish authorities.

It pointed out that the meeting would not fall under the article 4 of the Washington treaty under which Nato member discuss a threat to territorial integrity, political indendence or security. A spokesaman said: “The fact that this is not an Article 4 meeting but purely one for information, suggests that Turkey and Nato want to make sure this does not escalate out of control.”

A spokesman for the Syrian rebel group which claimed to have captured a Russian pilot whose plane was shot down over northwestern Syria says he was dead upon landing, AP reports.

Jahed Ahmad of the 10th Brigade in the Coast said that the two Russian crew members tried to land in their parachutes in government-held areas after they ejected, but came under fire from members of his group.

He adds that rebels shot one of the pilots, who landed dead on the ground on Tuesday.

The fate of the second pilot was not immediately known.

The group released a video showing gunmen standing around a blond pilot whose face was bruised and appeared dead.

Strange that the Guardian neglects one detail:

The video, posted on Twitter by a man believed to be a Syrian-Turkmen rebel soldier, shows at least a dozen men surrounding the corpse of the pilot, dressed in Russian military fatigues, and some are heard shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ – ‘God is great’.

Some have counseled Russia not to overreact, but I think this is most likely:

Nihat Ali Özcan, security expert at the Ankara-based Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, fears a harsh response from Russia.

“It is very bad news for Turkey that a Russian jet was shot down. Putin will not leave this unanswered, he might retaliate in different ways, for example by cutting off Turkey’s natural gas supply from Russia over the winter. He might also choose to reply in kind, in a similarly aggressive manner in Syria. But one thing is certain: Putin will not stand for this, we have difficult days ahead of us.”

Aggie and I will keep posting, but we have chores ahead of us. Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving—if we make it that far!


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