Archive for September, 2006

Same Crap, Different Day

The hungry and hopeless Palestinians have been driven by the cruel and heartless Israelis to do it again:

Palestinian gunmen fired Saturday evening a Qassam rocket from the northern Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory. The rocket directly hit a house in Sderot. Magen David Adom teams are treating two people wounded by shrapnel and seven others suffering from shock. The rocket landed after the Red Dawn alert system was activated.

A few hours after this initial attack, another Qassam rocket was fired by Palestinian gunmen in the northern Gaza Strip. The rocket landed next to the city of Sderot, but the explosion was heard throughout the city. No one was injured.

The Sderot Municipality issued the following statement after the strike: “In wake of the Qassam attack this evening, Mayor Eli Moyal and the municipality’s management decided not to comment on the severity of the strike, and will leave this to the prime minister and defense minister, who claim that the Qassam firing leads to whining.”

That may be the best line from a politician I’ve ever heard.

You may wonder how these people who aren’t even drawing a salary can afford such extravagant toys.

The kindness of strangers:

Four Egyptian policemen and five Palestinians have been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle ammunition and hand grenades into the Gaza Strip, security officials said Saturday.

A local Bedouin was also detained with the group Friday in the northern town of El Arish, on Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. The policemen were handing over the weapons to the Palestinians, when Egyptian authorities interrupted the deal and arrested them, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The ammunition was stolen from Egyptian stockpiles, while the grenades were provided by local Bedouin, the officials said. The plan was to smuggle the weapons into Gaza through tunnels or through the Rafah border crossing, the officials added.

Israel pulled out of Gaza last year, turning control of the coastal strip’s borders over to Palestinian and Egyptian officials. Since then, Israel has said smuggling of weapons and explosives across the Egypt-Gaza border has increased considerably.

Would that be the same Rafah border crossing over which Israel takes so much grief when they close it for terror warnings, and which European monitors are next to useless in actually monitoring?

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Root Causes of Terror

One of the frequent, and perhaps valid, criticisms that Aunt Agatha receives is that she is uninterested in the root causes of terrorism – with the human suffering, with the legitimate reasons that a group would turn to terrorism.

Sometimes it seems like I just don’t have a heart, but this story has changed all that. I am beginning to understand.

Consider the adolescent school shooter, the youngster that becomes so upset with the unfair burden of suddenly finding himself in the 9th grade, that he has no choice – he must kill.

CAZENOVIA, Wisconsin (AP) — A teenager who pried open his family’s gun cabinet brought two weapons to his rural school Friday and shot the principal to death after a struggle with adults and other students, authorities said.

He targeted only the oppressor – his principal – and none of the other students. And naturally, the oppressive system resonded disproportionately to his expression of pain:

Eric Hainstock, 15, was taken into custody and charged as an adult with murder, District Attorney Patricia Barrett said.

These events, whether in and around Israel, or Lebanon, or Madrid or New York, always have their roots in the oppression of the weakest and the growing despair and frustration that said weakest endures – for days, for weeks, or, in the case of my own children, for years:

Authorities said the teen had complained about being teased by other students and decided to confront teachers and the principal using a shotgun and handgun taken from his parents’ bedroom. The shooting also came one day after Weston Schools Principal John Klang gave him a disciplinary warning for having tobacco, according to a criminal complaint.

How humiliating. Here he is, old enough to bring semi-automatic weapons to school, and the abusive authorities refuse him the dignity of a cigarette. Threaten suspension – how is that any different than a separation barrier? Threatening to separate him from those he would destroy. No wonder he was hurt.

Sophomore Shelly Rupp, 16, described Hainstock as a freshman with few friends and said he was “just weird in the head.”

“He always used to kid around about bringing things to school and hurting kids,” she said at a gas station nearby where students and townspeople had gathered.

I also think that simple sensitivity would have led the editors to delete this:

Klang, 49, was shot in the head, chest and leg, authorities said. He died hours later at a hospital in Madison.

Those details only serve to raise anxiety. And they take the focus away from the suffering of the student/victim. I am all about supporting the suffering of deranged students, wherever they are found.

The administration (oppressors) have responded with group punishment. Homecoming events have been cancelled for this weekend. That will only raise the level of despair and lead to more violence. And so the cycle continues. Will we ever learn?

-Aggie

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Decline and Bawl

I’ve enjoyed Robert Harris’ historical (and conjectured historical) novels, but this time I’m not buying:

In the autumn of 68 B.C. the world’s only military superpower was dealt a profound psychological blow by a daring terrorist attack on its very heart. Rome’s port at Ostia was set on fire, the consular war fleet destroyed, and two prominent senators, together with their bodyguards and staff, kidnapped.

The incident, dramatic though it was, has not attracted much attention from modern historians. But history is mutable. An event that was merely a footnote five years ago has now, in our post-9/11 world, assumed a fresh and ominous significance. For in the panicky aftermath of the attack, the Roman people made decisions that set them on the path to the destruction of their Constitution, their democracy and their liberty. One cannot help wondering if history is repeating itself.

Actually, one can help wondering just fine with a little effort. But Harris goes on:

By the oldest trick in the political book — the whipping up of a panic, in which any dissenting voice could be dismissed as “soft” or even “traitorous” — powers had been ceded by the people that would never be returned. Pompey stayed in the Middle East for six years, establishing puppet regimes throughout the region, and turning himself into the richest man in the empire.

Is this meant as a good idea or bad? I’ve heard worse. Harris elaborates:

Those of us who are not Americans can only look on in wonder at the similar ease with which the ancient rights and liberties of the individual are being surrendered in the United States in the wake of 9/11. The vote by the Senate on Thursday to suspend the right of habeas corpus for terrorism detainees, denying them their right to challenge their detention in court; the careful wording about torture, which forbids only the inducement of “serious” physical and mental suffering to obtain information; the admissibility of evidence obtained in the United States without a search warrant; the licensing of the president to declare a legal resident of the United States an enemy combatant — all this represents an historic shift in the balance of power between the citizen and the executive.

An intelligent, skeptical American would no doubt scoff at the thought that what has happened since 9/11 could presage the destruction of a centuries-old constitution; but then, I suppose, an intelligent, skeptical Roman in 68 B.C. might well have done the same.

Oh, please.

It’s been five years since 9/11; surely that’s ample time to debate dispassionately the nation’s response to terrorist threats. And debate there most certainly was. I don’t know if Pompey the Great had to deal with Joannes McCain and Edwardus Kennedy, but Bush the Younger did. These measures are the result of that centuries-old constitution, not the circumvention of it. Harris may not have faith in the legislative system or the will of the people (who expect the government to do do what it can to protect them). But then in what does he have faith?

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Scenes From the Palestinian Liberation LXXIV

I’m not known as the most sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, but at least the bombs that I throw are figurative, not literal:

Thousands of government employees and security officials filled the streets of Gaza on Saturday, burning tires, blocking roads and firing in the air, to protest delays and complications in receiving their long-awaited salaries.

The Palestinian government on Thursday began paying partial salaries to 165,000 civil servants who haven’t received their full wages in months due to an economic embargo on the Palestinian Authority. The individual payments of US $350 come from money donated to the government by Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

But government employees complained that in some cases, the money hadn’t arrived, and in others they were left with nothing after Palestinian banks had deducted commissions and interest and paid off existing loans.

In Deir el-Balah, a grenade was thrown at protesters. Five people were wounded by shrapnel, Israel Radio reported.

I’ve done a little research, and I’ve found that lots of money has been pledged to the Palestinians over the last several months (the Google search results page is here). I’m just a little curious if that money has been delivered and where it has gone?

Why, for example, do we read of Saudi pledges of $250 million, when Saudi funds received amount to only $15 million?

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Darfurther Nonsense II

I don’t want to say that there are more opinions on Darfur than there are Darfurians (because that would be cruel), but it’s close.

Let Africa do it:

UN Sudan envoy Jan Pronk says the existing African Union force should instead be strengthened.

Sudan has always argued that the AU should remain in charge of peacekeeping in Darfur, rather than the UN.

More negotiation:

There is still a chance to protect Darfur’s civilians from a further round of violence, hunger and displacement, but only if government and rebels resume peace negotiations. This means stepping back from rhetorical confrontation and empty threats of military action. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir knows that US and British saber-rattling is moralistic hyperventilation, and he has called their bluff. Finding a solution hinges on a sober assessment of what is practical, not on making Darfur a guinea pig for “the duty to protect” or a test case for a new global moral consciousness.

Bitch and moan:

On Darfur, Mr. Annan is certainly one of the most outspoken leaders on the international scene. Two weeks ago, in an address to the Security Council, he delivered what by diplomatic standards amounted to a stinging rebuke of the Sudanese regime. Warning that “the tragedy in Darfur has reached a critical moment,” he noted Khartoum’s deployment of thousands of troops to the area, “in clear violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement.” What sort of crimes they are liable to commit is, regrettably, no longer any mystery.

Too often in the past, UN and other international officials refrained from pointing the finger of blame squarely at the killers in Khartoum. But Mr. Annan seems to have acquired renewed moral courage. “We all know that the Government of Sudan still refuses to accept the transition” to UN peacekeepers, he said. “The consequences of the Government’s current attitude—yet more death and suffering, perhaps on a catastrophic scale—will be felt first and foremost by the people of Darfur.”

Until there is a major policy shift by the powers preventing effective action—the Sudanese government, their Arab League allies, the Chinese veto—things in Darfur are likely to get worse, not better.

I tend toward the third option, but I don’t pretend it’s going to do any good…or bad…or anything at all.

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Partners for Peace

I know this sounds bad, but they don’t really mean it. It’s just politics, you know, like talk of tax cuts and paternity leave:

Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters held a peaceful rally in Gaza on Friday to denounce the state of Israel and declare that they would never recognize its right to exist.

“We ask God to punish the so-called Israel and the allies of Israel and to punish those who recognize Israel and those who called on us to recognize Israel,” Hamas lawmaker Mushir al-Masri told the crowd that thronged the Jabalya refugee camp.

“We vow to God that we will never recognise Israel even if we would be all killed,” Masri told the cheering audience of men, women and children, many of whom were wearing green Hamas baseball caps and held aloft Hamas banners.

See? No problem. Just blowing off steam.

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Ready Wonton Torpedos, Mr. Worf

Careful China, you could put someone’s eye out (well spotted by IMRA)

China has fired high-power lasers at U.S. spy satellites flying over its territory in what experts see as a test of Chinese ability to blind the spacecraft, according to sources.

It remains unclear how many times the ground-based laser was tested against U.S. spacecraft or whether it was successful.

But the combination of China’s efforts and advances in Russian satellite jamming capabilities illustrate vulnerabilities to the U.S. space network are at the core of U.S. Air Force plans to develop new space architectures and highly classified systems, according to sources.

According to experts, lasers — depending on their power level — could blind electro-optical satellites like the giant Keyhole spacecraft or even interfere with radar satellites like the Lacrosse. Blinding, one source said, is different than disabling given the enormous power required to shoot a laser through the dense lower atmosphere and reach a fast-moving satellite in space. The hardware on the spacecraft can’t be changed given they’re in orbit, but software changes can help them weather disruptive attacks.

Another, briefer, account here.

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Disproportionate Response

Oliver Stone feels that the United States is guilty of the sin of disproportionate response in our response and continuing fascination with September 11th.

Yeah. We’re making the world a tougher place. We need to be more like the civilized Europeans. We can learn to live with terrorism – what’s the big deal? He’s ashamed of us:

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (AP) — Filmmaker Oliver Stone blasted President George W. Bush Thursday, saying he has “set America back 10 years.”

Stone added that he is “ashamed for my country” over the war in Iraq and the U.S. policies in response to the attacks of September 11.

“We have destroyed the world in the name of security,” Stone told journalists at the San Sebastian International Film Festival prior to a screening of his latest movie, “World Trade Center.” The film tells the true story of the survival and rescue of two policemen who were trapped in the rubble of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, after they went to help people escape.

“From September 12 on, the incident (the attacks) was politicized and it has polarized the entire world,” said Stone. “It is a shame because it is a waste of energy to see that the entire world five years later is still convulsed in the grip of 9/11.

“It’s a waste of energy away from things that do matter which is poverty, death, disease, the planet itself and fixing things in our own homes rather than fighting wars with others. Mr. Bush has set America back 10 years, maybe more.”

…If there had been a better sense of preparation, if we had a leadership that was more mature,” he said. “We did not fight back in the same way that the British fought the IRA or the Spanish government fought the Basques here. Terrorism is a manageable action. It can be lived with,” said Stone.

And, like most of the Left, he’s indulging in coded anti-Semitism, the secret cabal:

“I think that conspiracy-mongering on 9/11 is a waste of time,” he said. “The far greater conspiracy occurred after 9/11 when basically a neo-cabal inside our government hijacked policy and went to war. That was as broad a conspiracy as we can get and it was about 20, 30 people. That’s all, they took over and all these books are coming out and they are pointing it out,” said Stone.

He really enjoys the masochism of it all:

“This war on Iraq is a disaster. I’m disgraced. I’m ashamed for my country,” he said. “I’m also ashamed that America has attacked itself with its constitutional breakdowns. I’m deeply ashamed.”

But, luckily, in Stone’s view, the US is not responsible for halitosis:

This war on Iraq is a disaster. I’m disgraced. I’m ashamed for my country,” he said. “I’m also ashamed that America has attacked itself with its constitutional breakdowns. I’m deeply ashamed.”

In the United States’ favor, Stone posited that it’s not responsible for all the world’s problems.

“You can’t see that the United States is responsible for all the evil in the world because you can see so many dictators and so many bestial acts all over the world now. …. There is something in the human heart, the international human heart, that is evil,” said Stone.

However, when it comes to Evil, Fanaticism, and murder in the name of Religion, the US is indeed responsible:

That’s the evil that turns its mind and ears on humanity and is able to say ‘I can kill a person in the name of God or religion.’ This is not a human being, this a fanatic. And I fear that fanaticism is the result of our overreaction to 9/11,” said Stone.

There’s nothing more fun than blaming the victim, I always say. If only the Left could turn this ito a board game, we’d all rush out and buy it for Christmas -

- Aggie

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Brits’ Fits Over Kibbutz Putsch

Britain’s Left has discovered the source of all Palestinian misery for all time (wait for it): Israel!

In the past week the ‘Independent’ has been running a series of dramatic front pages with images of death and destruction caused by – you guessed it – America and Israel. The Guardian has had its usual hate-fest, whilst the media and British political party conferences have been filled with vituperation leveled at Tony Blair’s ‘caving in to Bush and the American Zionist lobby,’ hence allowing Israel to rain bombs down on Lebanon.
Recently the British journalist Melanie Phillips criticised the Anglo-Jewish community for its lack of robustness in dealing with the daily onslaught from white British anti-Semites, obsessed Israel-haters and the huge, loud, well-funded and vociferous Anglo-Muslim community. She was right, but…

If the tiny Jewish community of Britain is as tired, shell-shocked and blown away as I am by the constant attacks on everything Jews represent and care about post-Holocaust, then one cannot blame the Jewish community for being less than forceful. It has reached the stage that many Anglo-Jews feel kicked and stabbed every day. Their souls are eaten by the distorted and sneering articles, radio spots and TV appearances of an endless stream of men and women who have an irrational hatred of that – horror or horrors! – little Jew-filled country that has more symphony orchestras than all of the other nations in the Middle East and Africa put together.

Before examining Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s ‘Guardian’ article (‘Olmert should have more of an insight than most into terrorism’) about the birth of Israel, I would like to set British non-Jews and British anti-Zionists ( this includes Jews against Zionism) a challenge. I would like them to sit down and think about what it is to be born Jewish. When one is born Jewish it is likely one’s parents start telling the offspring about the unspeakable tragedy of the Holocaust from the time said progeny are young enough to grasp language. This does not turn one into a Jewish terrorist (Wheatcroft’s accusation), but it does make one feel that after Christian Europe stood by and allowed its magnificent Jewish population to be carted away and tortured, sterilised, and exterminated one needs to be a bit more able to defend oneself than did those six million who marched away to be eliminated. Growing up non-Jewish means NOT hearing about the various ways one’s family members were tortured and exterminated. It means tea and hockey sticks and cricket bats and perhaps a bit of unpleasantness at school.

Just as Jews born after 1945 feel a wee bit more wary of those hell-bent on one’s demise, Israelis do need to think from time to time about avoiding annihilation. After sixty years of Arab countries being only brutal and inhospitable to the tortured remnant of European Jewry who arrived in Palestine after the Holocaust, an Israeli begins to think it is useful to have some way of defending oneself against said endless streams of terrorists, rockets and hostile armies.

But no, according to the British media — and to those who have verbally hit me in the face with this in recent years as if it does not cut me to the very depths of my soul — Jews invented terrorism and Israel has proven what an abomination Jewish nationhood is. Indeed, last month the London media reported that Lord Janner, a distinguished Anglo-Jewish peer, was literally physically punched by Lord Bramall over the issue of Israel. The accusations of “Jews inventing terrorism’ is a slur against a Jew’s very being and actually turns some into what they did not used to be: rabid Zionists who will defend the great Jewish faith and people to the death.

I am also weary of the Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, and their followers in Britain, boycotting Israeli goods. I am sick of academic boycotts of Israel. I lament that tiny nation, so small that it can be seen end-to-end from the top of a hotel in Tel Aviv, being slammed for defending herself when under perpetual attack since her founding.

In Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s editorial of 14 September 2006, he paints a picture of an Israel born in violence and brutality engineered by an army of ruthless killer Jews.

I could quote and quote, but you have the links. Suffice it to say that the very establishment of the state of Israel was a naqba not just to the Palestinians, but to the British.

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UNIFIL’s Got it Under Control

The FBI may be worried about Hezbollah…

US Counterterrorism officials on Thursday testified that Hizbullah ’s capable, well-trained fighters continue to threaten the survival of Lebanon’s government, Israel and US interests around the world.

Frank Urbancic, a State Department counterterrorism official, told the House of Representatives’ International Relations Committee that Hizbullah enjoys a symbiotic relationship with Iran and Syria , receiving money, arms and training.

Counterterrorism official with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, John Kavanagh, called Hizbullah one of the world’s most capable terrorist groups, “A well-trained guerrilla force that is proficient in military tactics and weaponry.”

Hizbullah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah recently told thousands of supporters that the group still has 20,000 rockets.

Last May sources told the New York Post that Hizbullah may be planning to activate sleeper cells in New York and other big cities to stage an attack as the nuclear showdown with Iran heats up.

The FBI and Justice Department have launched urgent new probes in New York and other cities targeting members of the Lebanese terror group, the Post said.

Law-enforcement and intelligence officials told The Post that about a dozen hard-core supporters of Hizbullah have been identified in recent weeks as operating in the New York area.

The nationwide effort to neutralize Hizbullah sleepers in the United States, headed by the FBI and the Justice Department’s counterterrorism divisions, was launched in January in response to reports that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with leaders of Hizbullah and other terror groups during a visit to Syria.

Among those attending the meetings, according to reports, was Hizbullah’s chief operational planner, Imad Mugniyah, who is responsible for the bombings of the 1983 US Marine barracks in Beirut and who, more recently, provided Iraqi guerrillas with sophisticated explosive devices.

…but the UN’s forces are on the scent:

Four French Leclerc tanks with UN peacekeepers moved up the hill to stand 500 meters (yards) from the entrance to the border village of Marwaheen, as two Israeli Merkava tanks operated nearby on Lebanese soil.

Standing some 50 meters from each other, the tanks were locked in a 20-minute face-off, the first between the Israeli army and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has been boosted to oversee the current truce.

The French tanks then withdrew from the area, as observers of the UN Truce Supervision Organisation deployed in the area.

Israeli soldiers confiscated the identity cards of photographers at the scene, claiming they may give pictures of the Israeli military to militants of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

The French retreated? Go figure.

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Not Their Fault

Who isn’t at fault in the Palestinian fiasco–other than the Palestinians themselves?

A senior Palestinian source told Ynet Thursday that “pressure applied by the United States on (President) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is preventing the establishment of a unity government in the Palestinian Authority.”

According to the source, difficulties in the talks between Abbas and Hamas regarding a unity government began to surface shortly after Abbas’ meeting with US consul general in Jerusalem, Jack Wallace, a few days before the president left for the US to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly.

The source added that during the meeting Wallace communicated to Abbas the unequivocal message that the US opposes the establishment of a unity government.

The source said the current chances for the establishment of PA unity government are slim, despite the fact that Abbas supports such a move. As a result, the sources said, the situation in the Authority is likely to deteriorate to a direct confrontation between Hamas and Fatah. The fact that some family members of senior Fatah officials have left the PA is indicative of the expected eruption of violence, the source said.

According to the source, such a confrontation can only be prevented if Israel’s threats are carried out and it launches a wide-ranging operation in the Gaza Strip.

Among PA officials, the assessment is that such an operation is only a matter of time, the source said. “The question is if it will happen after the chapter of the kidnapped Israeli soldier ends or before Gilad Shalit is released,” he said.

Need I remind you that Gaza has been Judenrein for some time now? When you freely elect a government of terrorists (and, without provocation, kill and kidnap soldiers of your opposition), do you seriously think that you’re going to be welcomed into the democratic fold?

Wake up and smell the kaffiyeh.

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Not in Our Selves, But in Their Stars and Crescents

Shakespeare didn’t know the half of it.

The kerfuffle over the National Intelligence Estimate is only the latest in a very long line of blaming ourselves:

The British Cabinet in 1949 argued about whether government policy in the Middle East would foment Arab nationalism and unrest, according to documents released Friday.

A year earlier, the last British troops had withdrawn from Palestine, which had been administered under a United Nations mandate since 1920, and David Ben-Gurion had proclaimed the formation of the state of Israel.

The Cabinet discussion of January 24, 1949, came five days before Britain formally recognized the new state.

Ernest Bevin, foreign secretary in Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s Labour Party government, expressed misgivings about the future, according to short notes taken by a secretary.

“Believe in Muslim revival. Can’t assume it will be friendly whatever we may do,” the notes also record him as saying.

Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan commented that Britain’s problem was “to extricate ourselves with least damage.”

“I have no confidence in Iraq etc. Pouring money down drain,” the notes record Bevan saying. “If we have to secure our oil, we may have to act, but not by buttressing Arab States.”

Prescient.

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