Archive for April, 2007

Scenes From the Palestinian Liberation CXLI

What did you do this weekend? Cut the grass? Trim the hedge? Shoot a child in the head?

In the past two days, one Palestinian has been killed and 9 others, including a child, were wounded in separate incidents related to the misuse of weapons in the Gaza Strip, in the context of the state of security chaos and proliferation of weapons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). [Technically speaking, the OPT has been O-ed by Ps only for almost two years now---but let that go.]

7-year-old Ahmed Ziad al-Haitham was wounded by a gunshot to the head coming from an unknown source, when he was near his home in al-Nasser neighborhood in the north of Gaza City.

Maybe you got into an argument with your neighbor over the rake he borrowed last fall, like these guys:

On Sunday, 29 April 2007, a man was killed and his brother was wounded in an armed interfamily dispute in al-Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City.

Again, no Jews anywhere near the place.

Maybe you wanted to sleep late, but someone in the neighborhood had other plans:

Anonymous gunmen shot at the home of director of preventive security in Hebron, Major Jihad Abu-Omar, on Monday at dawn. No injuries were reported.

Abu-Omar said that his house was shot at while he and his family were sleeping. He said that the assailants were a group of people who he described as “devious”. The bullets penetrated the walls and created a state of panic among his children. The children’s bedroom was penetrated by 120 bullets, according to Abu Omar.

Abu Omar said that he had received several threats for implementing the security plan. He says “there are huge and dangerous crimes happening in Hebron and the criminals want us to stop our work.”

If spraying a house with bullets is “devious”, what is this?

Palestinian security forces on Monday foiled an attempt to break into the Egyptian embassy by Palestinian family members, whose sons are being held in Egyptian jails.

Note that’s Egyptian jails, not Israeli.

Or maybe you had a weekend as bad as this guy:

An employee of Khan Younis municipality broke into the Mayor’s office and attempted to throw himself from the window onto the new municipality building in an attempt to commit suicide.

The suicide attempt is believed to be attributable to the dire economic conditions suffered by the employee, as he has not received his salary for several months.

I hear there’s good money in digging tunnels.

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Winograd Report

The Winograd Report on Israel’s performance in the war against Hezbollah has been released. And it is unsurprisingly hard on the leadership of the war:

The partial report by a government-appointed committee probing the Second Lebanon War accuses Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of “severe failure” in exercising judgment, responsibility and caution during the outset of the war.

The report, officially released at a 5 P.M. press conference in Jerusalem, says Olmert acted hastily in leading the country to war last July 12, without having a comprehensive plan.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz also came under heavy criticism, with the report condemning him for being unaware of the state of the Israel Defense Forces, even though he should have been.

Dan Halutz, who was IDF chief of staff at the time, was criticized for entering the war “unprepared,” and for failing to inform the cabinet of the true state of the IDf ahead of the ground operation.

The head of the committee, retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, said in reading the conclusions of the inquiry, said that the outcome of the war could have been better had Olmert, Halutz, Peretz acted differently.

Or had there been different leadership. Ariel Sharon may have set disengagement in motion, but he was no amatuer. Especially when it comes to Lebanon. I know he suffered a stroke, but h had no business starting what someone the likes of Ehud Olmert would have to finish. Israel can’t afford this kind of leadership.

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Afghanistan’s Next Top Model

Forget the Hindu Kush, give me Afghan tush:

Afghan school girls perform during a ceremony, marking the Education Day in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, April 29, 2007. Militant attacks on Afghan schools last year killed 85 students and teachers and destroyed 187 schools, the education minister said Sunday. More than half of Afghan children do not have facilities to study, while 60 percent of those enrolled “study under tents, in the shade of walls and trees or in some cases, under the hot sun,” Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said in a speech marking Education Day.

The hula hoops and the go-go boots: Gidget goes Helmand. And the Taliban ain’t happy about it.

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Is This the Taliban Offensive?

The only thing offensive about the Taliban is the smell from their dead:

In western Afghanistan, U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces battled with Taliban insurgents over three days, leaving at least 136 suspected militants dead, a coalition statement said Monday.

The clashes in Herat province were the deadliest reported in Afghanistan since January and provoked angry protests by hundreds of villagers Monday, chanting “Death to America!”

Acting on intelligence about Taliban activity in Herat’s Zerkoh Valley, coalition and Afghan forces attacked the insurgents and called in an airstrike, destroying seven Taliban positions and killing 87 fighters during a 14-hour engagement on Sunday, the statement said.

Another 49 Taliban were killed two days earlier by a combination of gunfire and an airstrike, it said, adding that a U.S. soldier also was killed in the engagement.

“Death to America”, huh? Well, they got their death. I mourn the death of the American soldier. But not those deaths of the 136 Taliban. If this is their idea of a spring offensive, offend me more.

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Euthenizing the Gray Lady

Wouldn’t a controlled demolition of 229 West 43rd Street be a blast? After it’s vacated, of course.

Africa Israel Investments Ltd reported Monday that it had acquired the historical and prestigious New York Times building in Times Square, Manhattan for $525 million.

The purchase is the company’s largest ever real estate deal in New York.

Africa Israel said that the deal fit in with the company’s business strategy of large-scale investments in international projects.

The New York Times offices will move to a new building on 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets this July.

In a similar massive deal in March, Africa Israel bought the Aphthorp [sic] building, a residential building in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, for $426 million.

I love the Apthorp: no setbacks, glass-and-steel, or other airy-fairy features. Just good solid stone. Same reason I like the Beresford.

Of course, just to show that I’m no Albert Speer wannabe, monolith-lover, I adore the Sherry-Netherland above all other New York buildings.

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Suffer the Little Palestinians

Susan Estrich—of all people!—listened to the Democratic debate, and found someone wanting:

Asked about America’s best friends in the world, Obama waxed on about NATO and our European allies before looking east to Japan. I’m not a foreign policy expert, but I’ve been around debates for decades and it was clear that Obama didn’t get that this was the Israel question.

He didn’t get that people like me, voters and donors, were waiting to hear the word “Israel” in a way that Japanese Americans were not. Japan doesn’t live under constant threats; Israel does. Japanese Americans don’t worry about Japan’s survival in the way Jewish Americans worry about Israel. Obama’s answer, in my book, was the biggest mistake of the debate.

Even when prompted by Brian Williams, who followed up by pointing out that Obama had neglected to mention Israel, and reminded him of his comment that “no one had suffered more than the Palestinian people,” Obama still didn’t get it right.

Sure, he said that Israel is an important ally, but his clarification of his “poor Palestinians” comment only left him further in the hole. His point, he emphasized, was that no one had suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failures in Palestinian leadership.

That’s not exactly how I see it, or how many Jewish Americans see it. I don’t think suffering is a contest in which special recognition goes to those who have paid the highest price. The right answer is that there has been plenty of suffering on both sides.

The Palestinians may be suffering more in the sense that their standard of living is lower, but whose fault is that? Talk to any Israeli family who has lost a friend or family member to Palestinian terror –- and that means any family in Israel –- and, believe me, they won’t cede the prize for the most suffering to the Palestinians.

And they will point out, rightly, I think, that it is the Palestinians and not the Jews who have chosen these terrible leaders and remained loyal to them. Doesn’t that count for something?

Estrich may be carrying water for Hillary, fine. But the more I hear of Obama, the less I like him. From a distance, he’s admirable, even inspiring. Up close, he’s either dangerously inexperienced or profoundly uninformed. Neither makes for a good president.

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Jerusalem-on-the-Euphrates

Hey Baghdad, welcome to Israel:

Abd decided to reopen his fruit stand because the barrier erected around the market by U.S. forces had shielded him from harm, despite the huge explosion nearby. “This wall protected us,” he said.

New walls around markets and other public gathering places — one of the most visible features of the military push to stem violence in Baghdad — are meant to counter what U.S. commanders now consider one of the most lethal and psychologically devastating weapons in the insurgents’ arsenal: vehicles that suicide attackers pack with ever more powerful explosives.

The barriers and checkpoints have helped reduce civilian casualties by keeping vehicles away from markets, mosques and other places in Baghdad that draw crowds and limiting traffic to pedestrians, mopeds, bicycles and pushcarts. This has led some suicide bombers to detonate their vehicles in places with fewer people, U.S. military officials say.

But the fortifications have drawbacks as well as limitations. Too many roadblocks can choke off the business and community activities they are designed to safeguard.

I thought the media complained only when it was Israeli lives (be they Jewish, Muslim, or Christian) being spared from suicide bombers. I stand corrected.

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Beijinks

Don’t you love the Olympics?

The thrill of victory, the agony of detention:

The 2008 Olympic Games have become a catalyst for more repression in China, not less, according to an Amnesty International report released today and aimed at pressuring the Beijing government a year before the start of the world’s premier sporting event.

Last Wednesday, four American tourists were detained after unfurling a banner at a base camp on Mount Everest that read, “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008,” a play on the Beijing Olympics motto.

On the same day, French presidential candidate Ségolène Royal said that if elected president, she would not rule out a boycott of the Olympics unless China used its influence with the government of Sudan to stop ongoing atrocities in the Darfur region. “All means must be used,” she said. China, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, has major oil investments in Sudan.

Concern over Darfur also prompted actress Mia Farrow recently to pressure director Steven Spielberg, an artistic adviser on the opening ceremony of the Games.

“Does Mr. Spielberg really want to go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games?” Farrow asked in a commentary last month in the Wall Street Journal, referring to the German director who presented the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a triumph for Adolf Hitler. Spielberg promptly wrote to Chinese President Hu Jintao, urging China to use its influence to stop the genocide in Sudan.

Good line from Mia; take that Woody.

But I’m just glad that she’s been reading this blog. She may be worked up over Darfur, but you don’t have to go that far to find moral reprehensibility in China. You don’t even have to leave.

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Papist Smear

A person cannot oppose partial-birth abortion because he or she finds the procedure anything from abhorrent to redundant.

Oh no.

Beware of thought rays from Rome:

Is it significant that the five Supreme Court justices who voted to uphold the federal ban on a controversial abortion procedure also happen to be the court’s Roman Catholics?

It is to Tony Auth, the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He drew Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. wearing bishop’s miters, and labeled his cartoon “Church and State.”

Rosie O’Donnell and Barbara Walters hashed out the issue on “The View,” with O’Donnell noting that a majority of the court is Catholic and wondering about “separation of church and state.” Walters counseled that “we cannot assume that they did it because they’re Catholic.”

Thank God for Barbara Walters. What would representative democracy do without her?

But she’s wrong. Of course they oppose partial-birth abortion because they’re Catholic. Whatever its faults, Catholicism does not exist to make us feel better about our faults. (Actually, I suppose it does—I’m way over my head, if you couldn’t tell—one is forgiven one’s sins (most of them, anyway) if one confesses them, and truly feels remorse. I’ll bet that feels pretty good.) The Church is a moral beacon for those who choose to follow it. Catholics don’t march in lock-step with the Pope—Heaven knows American Catholcs don’t. They remain Catholics, or become Catholics, because the Church is a bulwark against fashion, modishness, and moral relativism. I’d say that goes for the most orthodox branches of all religions. Samuel Alito doesn’t oppose partial-birth abortion because of a subliminal message from Benedict XVI; he opposes it for the same reason he is a Catholic (however observant he may actually be). He has a moral sense that distinguishes right from wrong, and he is not afraid to voice it.

Leave it to the liberal media to see papist conspiracy where there is mere political disagreement. Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Pope Benedict. See things differently from them, and you are not merely wrong, you are Evil incarnate.

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Lose-Rs

Garbage in the streets, crime out of control, Israel cracking down on the flower of their youth…it’s hard out there for a Palestinian:

The Palestinian Authority security plan has been deemed a failure.
Officials said that within three weeks of launch, the PA’s 100-day plan has foundered.

They said security commanders refused to crack down on crime families as well as the Palestinian abduction industry in the Gaza Strip.

“Some of the security commanders are Mafia bosses who don’t want to see an end to the anarchy,” Palestinian Legislative Council member Mushir Al Masri said.

Harsh!

But as the song goes, “I believe that children are our future…”—if they get that far:

The Palestinian Executive Force (EF), which is affiliated to the ministry of interior, announced on Sunday that they arrested a gang that planned to kidnap children and hold them hostage for ransom money.

The EF said in a statement “the group was caught whilst attempting to kidnap a boy near his school and they admitted during interrogation that they were planning to ask for $10,000 from his father.”

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Bitches & Hookahs

You know Islamic radicalism is pretty far gone when rap music is considered an upgrade:

Six suicide blasts in Morocco’s biggest city have sparked fears of more al Qaeda-linked bombings to come, but they provided an unlikely inspiration for a streetwise young rap musician.

Sitting in the cramped back room of a Casablanca apartment, his friends beating out the rhythm on their hands and chests, Younes Samih launches into his latest song, “Today’s War.”

“What do you want — to make blood and tears flow? Have you found no other way out except to blow yourself up?” the 23-year-old pours out in a quickfire torrent of Arabic.

“Come with us and think about it. Don’t let yourself be poisoned. If you die by blowing yourself up, where will you leave your heart?”

What do they call themselves, Niger With Attitude?

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School of Hard Knocks

Palestinians study hard at FU:

Hamas and Fatah supporters scuffled during an election campaign at a West Bank university Sunday, leaving more than a dozen students hurt, officials and medics said.

Verbal arguments between supporters of Hamas and Fatah spilled over into violence, with some students hitting each other with fists, flag poles and plastic chairs, witnesses said. More than a dozen students suffered minor injuries, medics said.

Flag poles, nice touch. But you know whose fault it is, don’t you?

European Commissioner for development and humanitarian aid Louis Michel has blamed Israel Friday for the ’grave’ fiscal crisis in the Palestinian Authority, and called on it to unfreeze money it owes the PA in custom duties collected on its behalf.

Israel unfreezed 100 million dollars last December but “this is not enough,” Michel said.

The Belgian EU official said humanitarian law in the region were threatened most by attacks on civilians.

“We condemn rocket attacks against Israeli civilian populations and military actions targeting Palestinian population centres,” he said.

He also stated that Israeli restrictions on movement ’annihilated any chance for economic development in the Palestinian territories,’ pointing out that nearly 60 per cent of Palestinians lived under the poverty line of 2 euros a day.

Israel says it has imposed the restrictions to prevent suicide bombers from reaching Israeli cities from the West Bank, and says they have helped to greatly reduce such attacks.

Like that matters to the EU.

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