Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In which, for some strange reason, I try to bail out Senator Kerry's rapidly sinking swift-boat

The leading story today concerns a remark of Senator Kerry's that went like this:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Conservatives, such as Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewett and the President have spent the day expressing understandable outrage over the apparent meaning of the remark: that the U.S. Military is made up of slackers and ne'er-do-wells who had nowhere else to go. If we were discussing a print remark, this reading of what Kerry said would be inescapable.

However, I think it is important to recall that Kerry has a history of blurting out his thoughts before coming up with effective or even competent words in which to clothe them.

Consider, for instance, his famous "I was for it before I was against it" remark. If only he had said something such as "It seemed like a good idea to me also when the circumstances were such and such." Voila! No famously cloddish remark.

Consider also his remark about killing the "real bird" at Pennsylvania Avenue. Notice there that in the "set up," campaigning for president in a certain place was referred to as killing a bird. So killing the "real bird" would be attaining the goal of the campaigning immediately and going straight to the oval office and assuming the office of president. Quite a convoluted thought-process to try to summarize in the words "kill the real bird," but there you are: where on-the-spot eloquence is concerned, Kerry's boat just isn't as swift as he wants it to be.

So what did Kerry mean by his "stuck in Iraq" remark? I have given it a great deal of thought, and the meaning seems to be this: "If you don't [work hard in school, you will do something in the realm of career-seeking that is analogous to the bad presidential decision of starting the Iraq war and becoming, figuratively speaking] stuck in Iraq." Again, convoluted and rhetorically hopeless, but that's Kerry for you. While Kerry does move in social circles where people express thoughts such as the one attributed to him, and while most of his political career has had an anti-military thrust, and while it was a thoughtlessly blurted-out remark in any case--it does seem to run completely counter the image he has been trying to construct all this time of “John Kerry reporting for duty.” It just seems unlikely that he would take leave so completely of his political senses and take a nasty swipe at the very same G.I. Every-Joe he has been impersonating.

So: While I would not recommend anything so rash as voting for the man for public office, I think we can cut him some slack on his latest remark and accept his explanation that it was a spectacularly botched quip at the President's expense. After all, Conservatism and Republicanism stand for nothing, if not for magnanimity.

Reader Comments:

"Figuratively speaking"... i.e. John Kerry needs Maimonidean apologetics.
Sholom | Homepage | 11.01.06 - 3:20 pm | #

Caroline Glick: "transferring responsibility for our national security to our enemies"

Read the whole thing, but here are the closing paragraphs:
Since 1993, Israel's leftist governments have consistently followed a strategy of transferring responsibility for our national security to our enemies. First it was Yasser Arafat who was supposed to fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Now it is his deputy Mahmoud Abbas, UNIFIL and Mubarak who are all supposed to fight Israel's enemies. Far from learning from our bloody experience that our enemies have no interest in protecting us, in recent months, the Olmert government has expanded tenfold our reliance on our enemies.

As if having hostile Europeans guarding genocidal Iranian proxies in the north, and hostile Egyptians guarding and arming genocidal Palestinians in the south weren't enough, Sunday it was reported that the Olmert government is considering allowing thousands of armed PLO terrorists from the Badr Brigade in Jordan to relocate to Gaza.

It doesn't have to be this way. Although barring a major Hizbullah provocation, it isn't clear what Israel can do against the UNIFIL forces now enabling Hizbullah to rearm, Israel can still prevent the Egyptian deployment. If the government loudly protested the move and publicly requested the Bush administration order Egypt to remove its forces, Mubarak would do so. But in light of the Olmert government's mishandling of every military challenge Israel has faced since it came to power just six month ago, it is hard to imagine it will act responsibly.

But really, we don't have to worry. Olmert won't let Iran get nuclear weapons.
(Hat Tip: Power Line) (Simply Jews doesn't seem too impressed.)

Reader Comments:

The thing that impressed me the most in CG's article, dear JP, was its level of histrionics. That before even going into the contents. I am not even denying that there may have been some elements of truth in what she is trying to say. But figuratively speaking, the article is defying its own purpose because of all that shouting.
SnoopyTheGoon | Homepage | 11.02.06 - 1:44 am | #

Actually, I give credit to your piece for pointing out the "shouting" aspect. That's why I linked to it. Good job at making see things from another angle.
Yitzchak Goodman | Homepage | 11.02.06 - 1:43 pm | #

Washington Post: "Seventy percent of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias"

We will probably see the division of Iraq eventually into separate countries:
How can we expect ordinary Iraqis to trust the police when we don't even trust them not to kill our own men?" asked Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, a Washington-based unit charged with overseeing training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad. "To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."

The top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., predicted last week that Iraqi security forces would be able to take control of the country in 12 to 18 months. But several days spent with American units training the Iraqi police illustrated why those soldiers on the ground believe it may take decades longer than Casey's assessment.

Seventy percent of the Iraqi police force has been infiltrated by militias, primarily the Mahdi Army, according to Shaw and other military police trainers. Police officers are too terrified to patrol enormous swaths of the capital. And while there are some good cops, many have been assassinated or are considering quitting the force.

"None of the Iraqi police are working to make their country better," said Brig. Gen. Salah al-Ani, chief of police for the western half of Baghdad. "They're working for the militias or to put money in their pocket."

U.S. military reports on the Iraqi police often read like a who's who of the two main militias in Iraq: the Mahdi Army, also known as Jaish al-Mahdi or JAM, and the Badr Organization, also known as the Badr Brigade or Badr Corps.

One document on the Karrada district police chief says: "I strongly believe that he is a member of Badr Corps and tends to turn a blind eye to JAM activity." Another explains that the station commander in the al-Amil neighborhood "is afraid to report suspected militia members in his organization due to fear of reprisals."

(Hat Tip: Daily Alert)

MENL: Pals get "advanced anti-Tank weapons"

As I have said before, we may be seeing the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as we have known it since Israel may need to do something militarily decisive just to survive:
Israel has determined that the Palestinian Authority received Russian-origin weapons capable of changing the strategic balance in the region.

Officials said the Hamas-led PA has received a range of advanced anti-tank missiles that could significantly threaten the Israeli military in any operation in the Gaza Strip. They said the missiles could also target civilian and military sites inside Israel.

"The Palestinians have received dozens of the anti-tank missiles that were used by Hizbullah in the Lebanon war," Shalom Harari, a senior consultant to Defense Ministry, said. "These are weapons that break the strategic balance."

Officials cited the deliveries of AT-14 Kornet anti-tank missile to the PA. The missile has a range of 5.5 kilometers and high level of accuracy.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Islam Online: "Aussie Muslims to Abolish Mufti Post"

Further developments in L'affaire Hilali:
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), which appoints the Mufti of Australia, will vote to abolish the position at the elections of its new executive board in February, while the incumbent mufti hinted he could step down over the controversy sparked by his recent women remarks.

"I don't believe Australia needs a mufti," AFIC spokesman Haset Sali told The Australian newspaper.

Sali said he would work with other AFIC executives to ensure that the position of mufti was struck off the council's constitution.

"If I have anything to do with it, I think it will be (abolished) because I don't think there is a person in Australia at the present time who could fulfil that position in a positive and constructive manner.

"And I just don't think that there is someone who would be not only an eminent scholar but also capable of communicating in a constructive and positive way with the English-speaking community in Australia."

Mufti of Australia Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali has found himself in the midst of a firestorm after he had likened immodestly dressed women to "uncovered meat" that might invite rapists.

Sali said Hilali's ignorance of Australian values and lack of English language skills were to blame for the unguarded comments he had made.

"That's the difficulty he's faced all along. This is not something that just popped up last week, it's just been an ongoing problem."

California Eruv Controversy - Environmentalists hold like the Rambam

From Northern California Jewish News:
Orthodox Jews who want to use a strand of fishing line several miles long to create a symbolic religious enclosure are getting entangled in a dispute with beachfront residents and California environmentalists, who fear the string will snag birds and spoil the ocean view.

The 70 or so families who attend a synagogue on Venice Beach’s boardwalk are asking coastal regulators for permission to string the line above one of Southern California’s most popular stretches of sand. Within that enclosure, the Orthodox would be free to do things they are forbidden to do outside the home on the Sabbath, such as pushing strollers and carrying bundles.

The problem: California law calls for the protection of public views along the coast and the habitats of nesting shore birds.

Some fear that endangered California least terns that nest nearby will fly into the fishing line and get killed. Others say that the galvanized steel poles that will be erected to hold up the fishing line along the beach will be an eyesore . . .

“This is really nuts,” Mark Massara, director of the Sierra Club’s California Coastal Program, said of the eruv proposal. “To the extent that we’re allowing public property to be used for religious purposes is very troublesome.”
Environmentalism isn't a religion?
In a letter to the Coastal Commission, Marina del Rey resident Plinio J. Garcia pointedly suggested using the Christian cross or the Muslim crescent to string the fishing line.

“The birds would see those just as well,” Garcia wrote. “See where I am going with this? It opens up an entire assortment of problems, which the poor least terns should not be victimized for.”
And we can't have least terns bouncing off of equal-time Moslem Eruv crescents now, can we?
Earlier this month, the Coastal Commission staff recommended the panel reject the project. But the Orthodox have since offered to hang reflective streamers in some places so that the birds do not run into the line, and they said they would paint the poles to make them less noticeable. They have also said they would not run fishing line in front of residents’ windows.

“We don’t want to kill birds or anything like that,” said Howard Shapiro, who is overseeing the eruv project.

The Jewish group says it needs the eruv to keep young families in the area, which in the 1940s hosted a thriving Orthodox community. Some families have left because there is no enclosure, said Rabbi Ben Geiger.

The Coastal Commission staff, which has been working with the Orthodox group to try to resolve environmental concerns, may recommend approving the eruv for a three-year trial, said Peter Douglas, executive director.

“We try and accommodate religious practices any way we can,” he said. “It’s just that we have a balancing act to do, taking into account other public interests including wildlife impacts.”
He added that the least terns were demonstrating outside his house.

What passes for analysis at MPAC-UK

This article is accompanied by the above image. The article doesn't take up the apartheid charge, but why waste a good graphic?
Terrorism has long been the chief demonizing marker that Israel and the United States have used in their wars against Islamic states and peoples who have stood in the path of their imperial ambitions.

Israel has led the way in charting this course. With massive propaganda, the Zionists succeeded in equating the Palestinian resistance with terrorism.
There is an almost majestic indifference here to the whole matter of bombings, kidnappings, and hijackings. I often get the feeling that I am reading third or fourth generation apologetic. Somewhere in the background certain writers and readers got so used to justifications for terrorist acts that the acts themselves receded into the background and all that remained were vauge, constantly repeated assertions that terrorism is just a stereotype, or as this author would have it, a "demonizing marker." The author spends the rest of the article along the same lines, leaping from one generalization to another like a mountain goat:
In no Western country did this propaganda encounter greater success - including Israel itself - than in the United States. Most liberal Americans - and a few leftists - argued that Palestinian terrorists threatened Israel's existence.

After the capitulation of Egypt at Camp David, Israel pursued more lofty ambitions. The original dream of a Pax Israelica, stretching from Morocco to Pakistan, now seemed within reach.
"From Morocco to Pakistan"? What would the evidence be for this claim? Evidence never seems to enter the rarified atmosphere of this particular realm of discourse.
Only the newly emerging Islamist forces in the region - notably, in Iran - now stood in its way.

The nascent Islamists offered both a challenge and an opportunity to Israel. If Israel could paint the Islamists as a civilizational threat to the very survival of the West, the American voters could be goaded into supporting Israel's war against the Islamists: or better still, make this war their own.

This is not to discount the lure of Middle Eastern oil for America's power elite. Although the US is the world's only superpower, its relative economic position has been declining for some time. Although the US may not reverse its economic decline, it could solidify its power by gaining control over the world's oil spigot in the Persian Gulf. Europe and China could be tamed if they knew that the US had its hand on the oil spigot.

This temptation was strong, but it also carried risks. In a democracy, moreover, there stands another obstacle. Public opinion in the United States would resist such a major and risky war. Americans, therefore, would have to be prepared for war by conjuring fears of new Islamic hordes gathering to attack and destroy the West, especially the United States.

Israel, the Zionists and their neoconservative allies in the United States began to work on these fears. It would not be too difficult to revive the West's old obsession about fanatical Muslims, forcing their religion upon infidels at the point of their swords. But these atavistic fears would have to be decked anew. The Zionist and neoconservative thinkers would go to work painting Islam as anti-modernist, opposed to freedom, and inimical to the rights of women and minorities. In other words, Muslims were the last remaining obstacle to the final and irreversible triumph of Western values and power.

This was not all. The Zionists also argued that the Muslims were an active and growing threat to the survival of the West. The new forces gathering under the Islamic banner were determined to attack the West. Israel was only their immediate target. After destroying Israel, they would go for the United States and Europe, their real targets. Their goal was nothing less than the imposition of Islamic law on Western Christendom. Most importantly, the Zionists warned repeatedly, the Islamists would use terror - the same tactics they had employed so long against Israel - to destroy the Western economies.

This strategy could scarcely fail to achieve its objective.
Of course.
On the domestic front, Americans were being told constantly of Islamic hostility to modernity, to the West and the United States especially. On the international front, the US and Israel together deepened their siege of the Islamic world, with open wars against Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Afghans, and threats of new wars against Iran, Syria and Pakistan.

Under these dire circumstances, small groups of Muslims - no more than a few hundred at first - broke away from the mainstream Islamist movements who were battling the repression and corruption of their own governments. These splinter groups advocated attacks against the United States, the 'far enemy' that they argued was the real power behind Israel and the indigenous tyrannies.

When these splinter groups began their terrorist attacks in the early 1990s, the Zionists, neoconservatives, and other assorted right-wing reactionary groups had gained what they waited for. Here was proof, they proclaimed, of the malevolent designs of the Islamic terrorists, the Islamic fundamentalists, nay, of the entire Islamic world. Wake up, the Zionists began telling the Americans. The Islamic terrorists who have been attacking us since 1948 have now attacked you. We face the same terrorist hordes. It is the Islamic world, stupid.

So, when the nineteen hijackers from al-Qaida attacked the Twin Towers, renewed efforts were launched to establish a definitive connection between Islam and terrorism. Some voices proclaimed that all Muslims are terrorists or at least potential terrorists. The US government was not going that far yet. It proclaimed that it was waging war against Islamic terrorists, not against Islam.

What the US government did after 9-11, however, sent exactly the opposite message. It launched a war against Iraq, a secular Arab government, opposed to the Islamists and with no known connection to the perpetrators of 9-11. It gave up its pretense of playing the honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians. It launched plans to effect 'regime change' in Syria and Iran. US intentions in the Middle East were summed up ominously in its plans to bring 'democracy' to the region. The real plan - long a part of Israel's strategic plan for the region - was to redraw the map of the Middle East.

The advocates of civilizational war in the United States were not yet resting on their laurels.
One never achieves world domination by laurel-resting.
They had not achieved quite what they wanted. They wanted all-out, open war against the Islamic world. They wanted the US to equate Islam with terrorism, and Muslims with terrorists. They wanted to deport Muslims who called the West their home, or shut them up in internment camps. They wanted to legalize the torture of Muslims, and their indefinite detention. Indeed, they were celebrating the loss of their own liberties as a necessary tool in the war against Islam.

Unremittingly, Israel, the Zionists and neoconservatives are pushing the United States to start the total war against Islam. They work openly, covertly and by deceit. On the ideological front, their goal is to define all Muslims as terrorist. This goal appears to be nearly in sight. They have persuaded many Americans that all terrorists are Muslims even if all Muslims are not terrorists.

A tenuous distinction indeed, if there was one. If all terrorists are Muslims, and we cannot tell the bad ones from the good ones, can we then afford to give 'good Muslims' the benefit of the doubt? Can the West risk its survival on so fine, so tenuous a distinction? Should the West risk its survival on this distinction?

The charge that all terrorists are Muslims is a scarcely concealed advocacy for war against all Muslims. It does not matter that this equation is false. The claim that Saddam Hussein had WMDs was also false; so was his connection with the 9-11 hijackers. But these lies were used to invade, occupy and devastate Iraq. If this new falsehood prevails, and it appears to be gaining ground, this is what will drive the war against Islam - the most deadly after the second World War. Duped into rage, Americans will stand four square behind the war of the twenty-first century to defeat the Islamo-fascists, to eradicate the Islamic terrorists. Once this is over, they can enjoy the glories of yet another American century.
MPACUK calls itself "the UK's Leading Muslim civil liberties group." Let's hope that's not true, as I have said before.

Fars News: "Iran to Become an Invincible Power"

I posted an essay yesterday by someone objecting to the lumping together of North Korea and Iran. The "invincibility" rhetoric is certainly similar, isn't it?
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said even though Iranian nation is already a big power today, it will turn into an invincible world power in future.

Addressing a large and fervent congregation of people in the city of Gharchak in the vicinity of Tehran on Monday, the President said that a part of the world's military power, wealth and decision-making centers is possessed by few bullying powers, but meantime, assured that the demise and decomposition of these powers is imminent.

Noting the opposition of the said powers to Iran's access to civil nuclear technology, he said, "They intend to block Iran's progress and prevent the Iranian nation from acquiring the nuclear fuel production cycle, and they claim to be concerned about Iran's diversion from peaceful intentions in future. But I emphasize that this is something impossible. We may never resort to nuclear weapons as we come from an ancient civilization and culture and we follow divine teachings and concepts, and therefore we do not need such weapons and armaments at all."
I guess if you're invincible anyway, what's the point of nukes?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Linkim 10/29/06

Haveil Havalim 91 is up!

Dar Al Hayat: "Hezbollah Is Not a Charitable Association"

Ezzie asks "Are you prepared to lie to the Shadchan about...."

My Right Word provides an "Islamic Fashion Glossary."

Elder of Ziyon discovers an Anti-Semitic attack on the Neturei Karta.

Indigo Jo discusses "Shaikh Hilali, Westerners and rape"

Martin Kramer describes this story as "Oslo has-beens up to no good with Hamas in London."

Jack Kelly declares "We must get rid of al-Sadr." (h/t: RCP)

Cross-Currents alerts us to a bill "that would impose an automatic six month jail sentence on anyone attempting to influence, directly or indirectly, a minor to be chozer b’teshuva, under the auspicies of any organization that has as one of its purposes bringing Jews back to religious observance."

Austin Bay offers a review of Internet Explorer 7

Iran Focus asks "Will Russia ever learn its Iran lesson?"

Daily Kos: "Osama out of the freezer?"

Clifford May on "Hamas Must-See TV"

Thought: In the course of these Linkim posts, I often link to both J-Blogs and Arab and Muslim blogs. Is there a Semito-sphere?

Al-Ahram: "The North Korean nightmare"

This is all in the service of an invalid complaint that Iran and Hizbullah and other deserving entities don't belong lumped together with North Korea in the Axis of Evil, but the paragraphs in which the author, Azmi Bishara, focuses on North Korea are not bad at all:
North Korea's official ideology is Juche (self- reliance), a political philosophy initially produced and directed by Kim Il-Sung, the self-appointed sage, inspirational leader, father of the people and national god. The tenets of this philosophy have been taken to their logical conclusion by Il-Sung's son, the weird looking and super eccentric Kim Yong-il, since his appointment as the ruling Communist Party's secretary of cultural indoctrination and propaganda. It was at the hands of this father- and-son duo that the ideological cover for perpetuating a state of poverty coalesced as they engineered the tragic transformation of their country, severing their people from the rest of their countrymen, separating them from their closest relatives by a border that not even a rat can cross. They have turned their country into a huge concentration camp. It has become a kind of electrified chicken coop, run to the beat of incessant martial music, where the uniformed citizens are issued orders to move from one city to another, forced into training to perform athletic feats, subjected to compulsory birth control, rented out as unpaid labour in exchange for hard currency from countries such as Russia or else pressed into corvee labour in North Korea itself. This is a country that killed 10 per cent of its own population -- an estimated two and a half million people -- in the space of four years. North Korea boasts the third largest death toll from starvation in modern history, having been surpassed only by Russia and China. This achievement, moreover, is not the result of drought, famine or other natural catastrophes but rather of experiments in economic planning conducted on farmers and agriculture. We do not know that much about North Korea, but what we do is sufficient to rank it somewhere between Pol Pot's Cambodia and Stalinist Russia at its worst.

The president of North Korea is not a president in the ordinary sense; in fact, he doesn't even go by the name of president but by a title that translates as Dear Leader. In practical terms he is treated as a demigod. In advancing his cult official propaganda falsified the place and date of his birth. Instead of 1941 and a remote Siberian village where his father lived in exile he was officially born a in 1942 on top of the highest mountain in North Korea. The narrative also has it that a previously unknown star sparkled in the firmament at the moment of his birth and a double rainbow appeared in the sky. All that was missing was a visit by three wise men.

After considerable searching, I found an official North Korean website which offered a description of Mount Paektu, on the ethereal heights of which Yong-il had his miraculous birth. The mountain has long been sacred to the Koreans, a symbol of youth, might and immortality. The official version, however, runs thus: "The highest point in Korea, its peak is covered with snow year around and it is regarded by the Korean people as their most sacred mountain because of its association with the revolutionary activity of President Kim Il-Sung and because it was honoured by the birth at its summit of the Leader Kim Yong-il." What an honour it must be for a mountain to have seen a fictitious birth on its peak.

Thanks to the application of a perversely literal interpretation of a version of Marxist Leninism, a pre-distorted import from China and Russia and superimposed on an Asian dictatorship prone to militaristic regimentation, the people of South Korea have been transformed into work battalions and military regiments in one of the largest, and the poorest, armies of the world. Equality has been reduced to identical daily routine, identical dress bearing the picture of the Dear Leader on the chest, identical beliefs and attitudes and a pace of life so monotonously predictable as to rob life of all meaning. It is totalitarianism gone wild. This is a far cry from secularism, which keeps the private realm wide open to religious diversity; it is a system of lockstep conformism in which religion has been replaced by hero worship, religious rituals by communist party rites and emblems and patriotism by abject allegiance to the leader. Worldly political religions are ephemeral phenomena. After they pass societies are left entirely hollow, with no moral reference points and no traditional structures, such as the family, to fall back on. They have all been destroyed by the pseudo-religion's uncontested priests-cum-gods who in their vainglory have reduced their people to slaves, to a commercial commodity.

The psychological profiles of Yong-il vary. He has been described as perverted, demented, a sexual degenerate and hedonist who indulges in the bodily pleasures in the luxury palaces that are sealed off to his people and known only to his personal guards, nurses and mistresses. Other more sympathetic reports refer to him as the prisoner of a system that he inherited and is unable to alter without the system collapsing. The current situation in the country certainly lends some credence to the second view.

Some heads of state have remarked on how impressed they were by his ability to hold a coherent conversation, as though this talent for talk absolves him of the horrors he has perpetuated upon his people. If anything such observations reflect poorly on the state of international diplomacy. He can't be that bad, some president or minister thinks, if he's a connoisseur of wine and likes his cognac. The fact that he can comment at length about some film or other (he is said to be an avid film buff) and can express cogent views on classical music is insufficient to declassify him as someone off their rocker and turn him into an intelligent, really a nice guy after all. Since when has a discriminating taste for cognac or a passion for music so deep that he composed six operettas in two years, or so his people are told, become the defining characteristics of a competent head of state?

All dictatorships, sultanates and other authoritarian regimes have availed themselves of their own instruments of domination and control in addition to the ones that have become so widespread that no one can claim a patent. What sets the North Korean system apart and visits such a tragedy upon its people is that it uses all available instruments at once and to their fullest capacity. It has a propaganda machine that has sealed off the country entirely from all other sources of information and that constantly drums home the message that the country is a symbol of progress, even as mass starvation forced it to appeal to UN relief agencies. It has 200,000 political detention centres according to the estimates of human rights agencies and a per capita income lower than that of the occupied West Bank. Meanwhile it is holding the world at gunpoint, using every form of weapon, including the biological and the nuclear, to demand it hand over food and money with no strings attached since those strings would be an affront to the state philosophy of self- reliance.

The greatest danger North Korea poses, however, is to its own people. This enormous prison is crushing its 22 million inmates, producing a human catastrophe of greater proportion than that which would be inflicted by the nuclear weapons it is using to terrorise the world.
To vary the usual blogging cliche: Don't read the rest. (Or read it, if you must. I can't say it isn't interesting.)

Forward: "Poll: U.S. Jews Back Strike Against Iran — by Israel"

A strike by the US would make a great deal more sense. The thinking of Jews in the US is oddly bifurcated at the moment. They often think like conservatives when the subject is Israel and otherwise still think like liberals. This will all sort itself out in time:
Support among Jews for an American military strike against Iran has declined during the past year, according to an annual survey of American Jewish opinion released Monday.

The survey, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee, found that only 38% of American Jews support American military action, down from 49% last year. But, according to this year’s survey, 57% back an Israeli strike against the Islamic Republic.

“What it means is that a majority of people are prepared to support military action, but by one country and not another country,” said the AJCommittee’s executive director, David Harris. The discrepancy may be explained by an overall lack of Jewish confidence in the Bush administration, he speculated. According to the poll, only 33% support the way America is handling the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, and 65% believe that the United States should have stayed out of Iraq.
The rest of the article has other interesting poll results. (Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

Today at IRIB: "Zionists enslave Russian women," "American people march against Bush," and "Mottaki, Mashaal discuss Palestine."

The featured item is the following:

"American people march against Bush":
Thousands of protesters marched against the Iraq war and the government of President George W. Bush on Saturday in Los Angeles and San Francisco, just days ahead of crucial congressional elections.

In Los Angeles, some 2,000 demonstrators rallied in Hollywood chanting anti-war slogans.

Anti-war activists, Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq, was also attended the demonstration.

Several hundred people also marched in San Francisco, a bastion of liberal anti-war sentiment, local news media reported.

In Chicago, a group of anti-war demonstrators fanned out across the city with bull horns, banners, leaflets and petitions.

The protests come just ahead of crucial November 7 midterm elections, in which opposition Democrats may take control of the America's Congress from the governing Republicans.

The growing opposition to the America's presence in Iraq has yet to translate into massive street protests.
I sometimes listen to Air America out of morbid curiosity, and they were complaining about the dearth of media coverage for these protests. What more could they want than IRIB! Next:

"Mottaki, Mashaal discuss Palestine":
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Head of Hamas Political Office Khaled Mashal in a meeting in Damascus Sunday underlined that the problems of the Palestinian nation can only be solved through unity and national consensus.

At the meeting, which was held at Iranian Embassy in Damascus, situation of the region, in particular the occupied territory of Palestine, were discussed.

Mashal expounded on the views of the Hamas government about his country's developments and said that various types of ploys including siege, incitement of hues and cries as well as isolation used to undermine the determination of the Palestinian nation have failed.
Right, the "hues and cries" strategy needs some tweaking.
He added that Palestinians' resistance has made all the parties involved in the issue to take a reasonable approach towards the Palestinian nation.

"Despite the growing pressure, we will not shirk our responsibility towards people, given that we have been elected by their votes," he said.

Mashal referred to resistance as the only option for the Palestinian people and said that Hamas is determined to thwart all conspiracies aiming to make all Palestinian groups entangled.

For his part, Mottaki welcomed the agreement reached by Hamas and Fatah on halting clashes between the proponents of both sides and said that the vigilance of the Palestinian nation is precious.

He reiterated the need and high importance of the consciousness of Palestinian groups vis-a-vis the Zionists' new mischievous acts in the region.

Turning to the fact that the Palestinian people have been subject to the West's great pressure just on charge of voting in favor of Hamas, the minister said, "The performance of West in Palestine in the post-election period proves the absurdity of its claim on supporting the freedom of voting and its dual standards in facing the demands of world nations.

The Iranian minister said that resistance is the only way to campaign against foreign forces.

"The present conditions of the region is quite different from the past decades and the victory of Palestine resistance movement has been a blessing for the regional Muslims and has resulted in the vigilance of Islamic Ummah," he said.

Mottaki assured Mashal that Iran will continue its political and spiritual support for campaigns of the Palestinian nation.

The meeting was attended by Iranian Ambassador to Damascus Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, Iran's Charge d'Affaires Ghazanfar Roknabadi and some members of Hamas.

The Iranian foreign minister arrived in Damascus on Saturday night and immediately met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to submit the message of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to him.
Saving the best for last: "Zionists enslave Russian Women":
Zionist mafia bands kidnap every year more than 10,000 women and young girls in Russia and transfer them to the Zionist settled areas of the 1948 occupied Palestine for abuses and slavery.

Zionist mafia bands who have great influence in Russia promise the Russian women and girls about high-pay jobs in the occupied areas and take them out of Russia via this seducive promise.

These miserable women are transfered either via faked marriage companies to Tal Abib (dubbed by the Zionist regime as Tel Aviv after 1948 usurpe) or illegally through deserts of Egypt on foot.

Witnesses say a lot of these unaware girls can't bear the harshness of drought Egypt's Sina Desert and die, while those who reach the destination half-dead are abused and tortured by the Zionist bands or in better words the real highwaymen of the 21st century.

They are then recruitted for most indecent works without receiving anything.

Zionist dealers pocket from 4,000 to 10,000 dollars for every of the so called woman huntings.

Shocking reports say that the sole way of rescue for these miserable women is to pay 50,000 dollars in cash to their criminal owners.

"If these women flee or refer to the police, they will be killed by the Zionists or will be totally handicapped for the rest of their life in jail in order that others take some lessons", the reports added.

World Tribune: "Ongoing 'intifada' in France has injured 2,500 police in 2006"

This ongoing story is receiving more attention in the blogs than in the MSM, which often downplays the idea that the youths are Muslim. This article certainly doesn't downplay the Muslim angle:
This might have dropped below the radar, but Al Qaida and its allies are literally battling the Crusaders every day in Europe. And so far, Europe isn't doing so well.

"We are in a state of civil war, orchestrated by radical Islamists," said Michel Thoomis, secretary general of the Action Police trade union. "This is not a question of urban violence any more. It is an intifada, with stones and firebombs."

The French Interior Ministry has acknowledged the Muslim uprising. The ministry said more than 2,500 police officers have been injured in 2006. This amounts to at least 14 officers each day.

The battles have been under-reported but alarming to French authorities. Muslim street commanders, who run lucrative drug networks, have organized youngsters in housing projects to ambush police and confront security forces. The response time allows hundreds of Muslims to storm police cars and patrols within minutes.

"You no longer see two or three youths confronting police," Thoomis said. "You see whole tower blocks emptying into the streets to set their comrades free when they are arrested."

France's huge Muslim minority community has come under the influence of agents often influenced and financed by Al Qaida. These agents have recruited Muslim youngsters for urban warfare in which police and government representatives are injured daily.

Not surprisingly, Muslim neighborhoods are becoming autonomous zones, with police and government workers too scared to enter. The police union is demanding the Interior Ministry supply officers with armored cars.

European law enforcement sources say France could be a model for other countries. The most worried are Britain and the Netherlands.
Daled Amos has more on this topic. (Hat Tip: Drudge)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Nuclear Might of Songun?

Here is a curious pair of current nuke-related articles from (North) Korea News. First, hysterical vituperation directed at the US and South Korea:

"U.S. and S. Korean Bellicose Forces' Moves for Nuclear War against DPRK Blasted":
The bellicose forces of the United States and south Korea are nowadays getting evermore frantic in their moves to provoke a nuclear war against the DPRK under the pretext of its nuclear test. They are totally revising and supplementing their scenarios for a war against the DPRK, including "OPLAN 5027" while stepping up the introduction of latest nuclear war means. A spokesman for the Korean National Peace Committee released a statement on Friday blasting such moves.

Such madcap nuclear war moves against the DPRK are an extremely reckless provocation as they cause the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula to fester and drive the situation to the worst phase, the statement said, and went on:

The United States has turned south Korea into a nuclear arsenal, posing the threat of a nuclear war to the Korean nation for several decades. Instead of apologizing for such crimes, it is hatching a more dangerous plot to ignite a nuclear war, taking issue with the DPRK over its war deterrent for just self-defence. This proves that the U.S. has no intention to solve the nuclear issue on the peninsula but a wild design to ignite a nuclear war against the DPRK by aggravating the situation at any cost.

The U.S. is citing the DPRK's self-defensive nuclear deterrent as a pretext for escalating the nuclear arms race and provoking a war against the DPRK. Such behavior can never work on anybody as it is a reckless and brigandish deed reminding one of a thief crying "Stop the thief!"

It is a day-dream to seek to bring down the dignified political system in the DPRK.

The army and the people of the DPRK are fully ready to retaliate against any provocation or nuclear war moves.

The U.S. and the south Korean war-like forces would be well advised to stop running amuck and cancel at once such extremely provocative and reckless war scenarios.

The south Korean military authorities should not do such a foolish thing as taking part in the war moves of the outsiders, well aware that the "nuclear umbrella" of their master would not protect them but only invite a disaster.
And now, a somewhat subdued version of the usual references to great leaps forward and socialist victories in connection with their recent nuclear testing:

"More Meetings Hail Successful Nuclear Test":
More provincial meetings of servicepersons and people took place in the DPRK to hail the successful historic nuclear test. Meetings held in North Phyongan Province, North and South Hwanghae Provinces and North and South Hamgyong Provinces were attended by officials of the Party and power organs and working people's organizations, officers and men of the Korean People's Army and people from all walks of life and youth and students.

Speakers at the meetings said that the successful nuclear test in the DPRK was an event which demonstrated the self-reliant national defence capability of Songun Korea and made a contribution to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the rest of Northeast Asia.

The successful nuclear test gave a great inspiration and confidence to the army and people of the DPRK who have wished to have tremendous national power to stand up against the U.S. which has become evermore undisguised in its moves for a nuclear war and encouraged them in their dynamic advance for a victory in the Songun revolution, they noted, and continued:

No matter how desperately the U.S. imperialists and their followers may work to bring down the socialist system centered on the popular masses in the DPRK, they can never break the revolutionary faith and indomitable will of the army and people of the DPRK to resolutely defend their ideology and system with powerful deterrent.

The speakers called for reliably standing guard over the outposts for defending the country and bringing about a fresh leap forward in the production and construction, true to the Songun leadership of Kim Jong Il, to hasten the victory in the socialist cause.
Meanwhile in South Korea.

The Ramban on the size of the Ark

The point that the Ark was not big enough to hold all those animals appears regularly on the J-blogs during Parshat Noach. The "fundamentalist" answer to this is "Thank you very much--we noticed." Here is the Ramban's comment on Genesis 6:19, from Rabbi Chavel's translation (Shilo 1971):
19. OF ALL FLESH. It is known that there are a great many beasts, and some of them - such as elephants, rams and others are very large; likewise, the creeping things upon the earth are very many. Of the fowl of the heaven there are also innumerably many kinds, just as our Rabbis have said: "There are one hundred and twenty kinds of unclean birds in the east, and all of them belong to the species of ayah (kite)." Clean fowl are innumerable. Noah was thus obligated to bring all of them into the ark in order that they may beget their like. If you would gather a full year's supply of food for all of them, [you would find] that this ark and ten others like it could not hold it! But this was a miracle of a small space containing a great quantity. And in case you suppose that he should have made it [the ark] very small and rely on this miracle, the answer is that the Holy One, blessed be He, saw fit to make it large so that the people of his generation should see it, wonder at it, converse about it, and speak of the subject of the flood and the gathering of the cattle, beast, and fowl into it so that perhaps they would repent.
The Ramban was born in the 13th century, by the way.

Reader Comments:

What does the Ramban being born in the 13th century have to do with anything? What shaychus?

Secondly, this just leads to a second, slightly less obvious question. One might say, well, Noach brought a representative sampling of the common species of animals which were around into the Ark, and Hashem used them to "reseed" the population of the animal world after the flood. Not so, says the Ramban. The Ark contained (at least) tens of thousands of species of animals, which without a miracle would not have fit into ten Arks. This simply raises the new question of how Noach was able to do that, even given 120 years, considering the great distances he would have had to travel to find some of them.
Ploney | 10.29.06 - 3:50 am | #

1. People don't give enough credit to "Medieval commentators."

2. He wasn't able to do it. It happened miraculously. That's the Ramban's point.
Worldwide floods are not normal, natural occurrences either.
Yitzchak Goodman | Homepage | 10.29.06 - 12:29 pm | #

No. That's not the Ramban's point. His point is that they miraculously fit into the Ark even though it was too small. He still seems to say that Noach actually had to gather all of them: "Noah was thus obligated to bring all of them into the ark in order that they may beget their like."

Just another problem for those who insist on understanding the Mabul story in an absolutely literal sense.
Ploney | 10.29.06 - 2:32 pm | #

"Noah was thus obligated to bring all of them into the ark in order that they may beget their like."

He says that in the course of the kasha.
You are right that he is mainly addressing the Ark-size issue and I see now what you mean by "how Noach was able to do that." Still, it all flows into the Ramban's answer that it was a miracle. Somebody once made the point about Milton's syntax: "Don't bother it and it won't bother you."
Yitzchak Goodman | Homepage | 10.29.06 - 3:43 pm | #

IRIB: "Amia case bribed by Zionists"

More Iranian denial in the form of assertions about Zionist plots:
Iran's Prosecutor General said in Tehran on Friday that reopened file of Argentina's 1994 Jewish Amia charity fund blasts was aimed at pleasing the Zionists and the Americans, while diverting the world public opinion.

Twelve years ago following the suspicious fatal bomb blast at AMIA's Buenos Aires building the Zionist lobby in the West through tight secret negotiations and lobbying with Argentina's top judiciary officials tried to allege the Islamic Republic of Iran of having plotted the terrorist attack, but the move soon failed due to absolute lack of evidence.

Hojjatoleslam Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi made the remark in his pre-sermon address at this week's Tehran Friday Prayers, adding, "It was revealed a few years ago that the top judge in Amia case had been bribed by the Zionists and the Americans in a bid to accuse Iran of having plotted the 1994 Argentina blast."

He added, "It was also made clear that the documents and evidence that witnesses had presented at the court had been fake and forged, and thus all their plots against Iran had faced total defeat."

The Prosecutor General further explained, "After the passage of so many years and having declared the file as closed, under such conditions that Iran's former ambassador has been acquitted of all allegations both in Argentina and in Britain, in order to divert the world public opinion, at the threshold of the International Qods Day a new judge reopens that stinking file anew."

He reiterated, "To our great sorrow, Argentina is one of the main centers of the Zionists' lobby, but all the same we expect the judiciary force of that country not to permit a judge to put under question its entire credibility."

Dorri-Najafabadi added, "In order to make new allegations, the alleged country should be informed and its judiciary force should be provided with the copies of the documents related to the new allegations through diplomatic channels, since otherwise a sovereign state's diplomats and officials enjoy political and social immunity."

He attributed the reopening of Amia file to the massive Qods Day rallies throughout the world, as well as the scientific advancement of Iran, particularly in its peaceful nuclear program.

He also assured the nation that the sanctions, as the late Imam had once stressed, would merely lead to the Iranian nation's faster independence, and the Iranian youth's blossoming.

The Prosecutor General also asked for broad presence of the nation at all three elections ahead.

On Wednesday, Argentine prosecutors charged Iran with the 1994 attack on Amia (the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association) that killed 85 people and injured 300.

Amia, supported by The Zionist regime and America, had long accused Iran of organizing the attack.

Those accusations, based on biased intelligence gathered by the secret services of the Zionist regime and America, have been consistently rejected by the Iranian government and the Lebanese Islamic Resistance Movement Hezbollah.

On September 2, 2004, an Argentine court acquitted 21 former police officers and a trafficker of stolen cars who were charged with aiding the attackers, whose ties with the Zionist regime were obvious.

The court found that important evidence against the men at Iranian diplomatic center had been "irregularly" obtained, and ordered an investigation of judge Juan Jose Galeano, who presided over the case for nine years.

Galeano was accused of having paid 400,000 dollars to a key witness to testify against four police officer accused of having provided logistical support in the plot.

Iran's ambassador to Argentina, Ali Hosseini in his comments on the issue, said on Friday that the corruption of Galeano is another proof that "such claims (against Iran) are totally baseless."
Argentinean judicial incompetence does not, of course, exonerate Iran. Here is an excerpt from an excellent piece by Aaron Mannes which provides some background:
It was the work of Hezbollah, working closely under Iranian sponsorship, and it perfectly illustrates Hezbollah's intentions, capabilities, and modus operandi. As the West hurtles into a confrontation with Iran, sparked by the current Israeli-Hezbollah conflagration, it is worth examining this deadly effective attack in Argentina over a decade ago.

The AMIA bombing was not Hezbollah's first strike in Argentina. Two years earlier, a Hezbollah suicide bomber hit the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and wounding over 200. This attack was in retaliation for Israel's assassination of Hezbollah's Secretary-General Abbas Musawi. His replacement was Hezbollah's current leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Two years later, Hezbollah, under orders from the Iranian leadership, struck again in Buenos Aires. Israel had just captured a senior Hezbollah leader, Mustafa Dirani, who had helped capture Israeli airman Ron Arad. At the same time, Israel had recently bombed a Hezbollah training base, killing over 20 Hezbollah fighters. Finally, Argentina's President Carlos Menem, had, under U.S. pressure, reneged on deals to provide ballistic-missile and nuclear technology to Syria and Iran. Argentine intelligence believes that the orders for these attacks came from the very top of the Iranian regime. Both of the Buenos Aires terror attacks illustrate how Iran and Hezbollah play hardball with their opponents.

Terrorism requires organization and logistics. Hezbollah's ability to carry out an attack in Buenos Aires, halfway across the world from their primary base in Lebanon, is impressive. One factor in the AMIA bombing's success was, according to Argentine intelligence, the support from the Iranian embassy. Mohsen Rabbani, the "cultural attaché," coordinated the operation. Reportedly he purchased the Renault van used in the bombing. This pattern of Iranian-Hezbollah cooperation is not unique to the Buenos Aires operations. Hezbollah carried out a series of bombings in Paris from December 1985 to September 1986. These bombings were linked to a translator at Iran's embassy in Paris and led to a diplomatic standoff between France and Iran.
The following from the Wikipedia article is also useful:
Israeli diplomatic sources who read the "final" report by SIDE [Argentina's intelligence agency] on the attack said in 2003 that the attack was a suicide bombing carried out by Ibrahim Hussein Berro, a 29-year-old Muslim who has been honored with a plaque in southern Lebanon for his martyrdom on July 18, 1994, the date of the bombing. SIDE, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Berro's relatives confirmed this in November 2005.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Iran's reaction to Argentinean prosecutor's charges on the AMIA bombing: Zionist conspiracy of course

From Fars News:
Prosecutor general Ghorban-Ali Dorri Najaf-Abadi here on Friday condemned recent allegations by his Argentine colleague, and warned that Tehran will file a complaint against judge Galliano for his baseless and unfounded accusations against Iran.

Najaf-Abadi strongly dismissed accusations by an Argentine judiciary official alleging involvement of some former Iranian officials in the AMIA bombing case - a terrorist blast in the Jews' cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994 -- and further called on Judge Galliano to abide by the rules and criteria of the international law.

"Following the growing wave of Islamic vigilance and the increasing wave of hatred of the free nations for the Zionist regime, specially on the International Qods Day, the Zionists' lobby has resorted to another plot to drop futile and baseless accusations on Iran despite the very fact that a court ruling by the relevant British judge exonerated Iranian officials of any involvement in the AMIA bombing and Interpol's general assembly and executive council confirmed that Iran has not been involved in the said case," he stated, reminding that similar accusations by Argentina's judiciary system in the past turned into a scandal for that country.

The Iranian official further continued, "Agents of the Zionist lobby have now resorted to their worn-out strategy of psychological war so as to distort the reality and impair the reputation of those movements, states and figures who are well known for their campaign against the world arrogance."

He also called on Argentina's judiciary system not to be affected by the unreal propaganda of the Zionists and their agents and not victimize justice for the sake of the goals and desires of the Zionists.

The Iranian judiciary official, meantime, reiterated that the Islamic Republic of Iran is itself among the number one victims of terrorism, while it has always sent a message of peace, friendship and justice-based security to all the world countries, and always been a pioneer in condemning hostile, oppressive and criminal measures.

"It is clear that Iran, in conformity with the rules and regulations of the international law, will sue the other party at the court of justice in a bid to restore its material and spiritual rights," he reiterated, saying that Iran will always extend the required support to its citizens, and will not tolerate such plots and conspiracies against its nation.

He also stated that the Islamic Republic condemns such unfounded allegations, but meantime, reminded that Iranians have and will be a friend of the Argentine nation, "as we believe that such insults and accusations are made by just a few individuals who are the mercenaries of the Zionists."

To conclude his words, the Iranian prosecutor general said such measures are at times a result of the differences which exist among the political wings and parties of Argentina, and warned the government of that country about the undesirable consequences of such moves, saying that these kinds of insults and accusations can impair international relations and the atmosphere of trust and confidence among the world countries.

New Book exposes Zionist Danish cartoon conspiracy and other machinations of the nefarious Israel Lobby

The book in question is "The Power of Israel in the United States" by James Petras. Here is the "Product Description" from Amazon:
This book is a chapter-by-chapter analysis and documentation of the power of Israel via the Israeli, Jewish or Pro-Zionist Lobby on US Middle East policy. It raises serious questions as to the primary beneficiary of US policy, and its destructive results for the United States. The extraordinary extent of US political, economic, military and diplomatic support for the state of Israel is explored, along with the means whereby such support is generated and consolidated. Contending that Zionist power in America ensured unconditional US backing for Israeli colonization of Palestine and its massive uprooting of Palestinians, it views the interests of Israel rather than those of Big Oil as the primary cause of the disastrous US wars against Iraq and threats of war against Iran and Syria. It demonstrates and condemns US imitation of Israeli practice as it relates to conduct of the war on terrorism and torture. It sheds light on the AIPAC spying scandal and other Israeli espionage against America; the fraudulent and complicit role of America's academic "terrorist experts" in furthering criminal government policies, and the orchestration of the Danish cartoons to foment antipathy between Muslims and the West. It questions the inability in America to sustain or even formulate a discourse related to the subject of Israeli influence on the United States. It calls for a review of American Mideast policy with a view to reclaiming US independence of action based upon enlightened self-interest and progressive principles.
(Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

IRIB: "Arrogance want to monopolise science"

"Arrogance" or "World Arrogance" refers to the Western Powers, especially the Big Satan:
"Superpowers want science for thier own interests and are opposed to companionship between science and morality", said the Minister of Science, Research and Technology in a meeting with the winner of Avi Sina second international award.

Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi in his meeting with Sergeon and Master of Torento university in Canada, Professor Abdollah Dar who has payed a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran said that giving priority to morality over science is based on teachings of the Noblest Messenger of Allah, Hazrat Mohammad (PBUH) for mankind.

He referred to heavy responsibility of university students and scholars of the world in safeguarding virtues and said that although the world powers have used scientific achievements and nuclear energy against human rights, but they are oppose to our peaceful nuclear purposes and put IRI under pressure.

Zahedi expressed his satisfaction over the Omani Muslim scholar'a winning the international Ave Cina award, adding that "individuals like you should be forerunner of morality-expansion movement."

During the meeting Professor Abdollah Dar said "I feel I belong to Iranians" adding that "I honour linkage between the name of the most famous Iranian physician and the award which I received."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Calderon compares Mexico to DDR

Today Mexico's President elect Felipe Calderon compared the wall being built along the southern border of the US to the Berlin Wall built during the Cold War.

Calderon stated, "Just as people were prevented from escaping DDR state-terror during the Cold War, this wall will prevent people from escaping the totalitarian jackboot of the Mexicanishe Demokratische Republik. As unfortunate dissidents pace the southern side of the fence vainly looking for openings, they will fall prey to the long arm of the State Security Apparatus."

He went on to state that "Mexico has now grown to resemble nothing so much as a Stasi prison camp and the US is making a grave mistake in furthering this alarming development."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

(North) Korean News: "U.S. under Fire for Paralyzing World Nuclear Disarmament System"

Here is an appearance of the nuclear issue, often oddy absent from Korean News. The issue of the Iranian nuclear program is also in the background somewhere. This one isn't so funny:
With nothing can the U.S. evade its responsibility for bringing a nuclear threat and proliferation to the international community and eventually destroying the world nuclear disarmament system, says Rodong Sinmun in a commentary Wednesday, adding: The most urgent task of the U.S. is to sincerely implement its commitment to nuclear disarmament and it is nothing but an empty talk to argue about nuclear non-proliferation apart from it. The analyst goes on:

Nuclear disarmament should be realized and all nukes be destroyed on the earth to begin with, if global peace and security are to be guaranteed.

The U.S. asserts non-proliferation, setting the existence of nuclear weapons as a separate issue from their proliferation. This means that it does not want nuclear disarmament.

It is nonsensical to talk about the non-proliferation of nukes apart from nuclear disarmament. This is a petty trick to smother up its commitment to nuclear disarmament behind the curtain of nuclear non-proliferation.

The U.S. is noisily beating the drum of nuclear non-proliferation. But it is the very one fostering nuclear proliferation.

Disarmament conventions including the NPT remain only in name, having lost their binding force, and the world has been pushed into the vortex of nuclear arms race by the nuclear strong-arm policy of the U.S. based on double standards.

The U.S. put pressure and sanctions against those countries falling out of its favor and go so far as wielding military stick, taking issue even with their nuclear activities for peaceful purposes by faking up false information, while shelving its own commitment to nuclear disarmament. This robber-like act can never be justified.

The nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula is a product of the U.S. policy of nuclear threat to it. Its grave policy of nuclear threat is the main factor that pushed the DPRK to access to nukes. The DPRK was compelled to build nuclear deterrent as a just measure for self-defence to avert a war and defend its ideology, system, freedom and democracy in face of the increasing nuclear threat of the U.S. imperialists and their attempt at a preemptive nuclear attack. This entirely tallies with the principle of defending the sovereignty of a state and the requirements of international law for averting a war and ensuring peace. It is an act of disregarding and trampling underfoot international justice and impartiality to take issue with the DPRK's exercise of its right to self-defense.

HuffPo: Terrorism caused by Capitalism

The author, Philip Slater, has an StpD (A Doctorate in Speaking Truth to Power):
The people who do most to foment terrorism are not the fundamentalist imams and ayatollahs, who only exploit the hopelessness around them. The people who do the most are those who create that hopelessness in the first place--the oil monarchies, for example.

For of all capitalist enterprises, the extractive industries are probably the most deserving of the abuse heaped on them over the years.
Dentistry, for instance.
The possessors of the earth's treasures believe, apparently, that the luck, wealth, or political corruption that allowed them to own land containing such riches is a sign of divine favor, while the poverty of those around them indicates celestial disgust.

Terrorists are people who have lost hope--hope for the possibility of peacefully creating a better world. They may be middle-class and educated, as many terrorist leaders are, but their despair is one of empathy for the plight of their people as a whole.
I had no idea terrorism was so noble and lofty!

Supreme Leader praises great Hizbullah victory over Argentinian building

Just anticipating IRNA's coverage of this story. The original title is "Iran, Hezbollah charged in 1994 Argentine bombing." From AFP via Iran Focus:
Prosecutors formally charged Iran and the Shiite militia Hezbollah Wednesday in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish charities office in Argentina, which killed 85 people and injured 300.

"We deem it proven that the decision to carry out an attack July 18, 1994 on the AMIA (Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, a Jewish charities association headquarters in Buenos Aires) was made by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran which directed Hezbollah to carry out the attack," Argentine chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman said.

Prosecutors called for the arrest of top Iranian authorities at the time, including then-president Ali Rafsanjani.

In Beirut, a Hezbollah source said she had not yet heard that the Shiite militia had been formally charged but that it came as no surprise.

"I have not yet heard that but it is not new," she told AFP. "The Zionists want that (the two parties be charged)."

No one has been tried for the crime in more than a decade since Argentina's worst-ever terror attack.

On September 2, 2004, an Argentine court acquitted 21 former police officers and a trafficker of stolen cars who were charged with aiding the attackers. The same court then ordered former top government officials investigated for botching the 10-year case.

The court found that key evidence against the men had been "irregularly" obtained, and ordered an investigation of Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who presided over the case for nine years, as well as two prosecutors.

Galeano was accused of having paid 400,000 dollars to a key witness to testify against four police officers accused of having provided logistical support in the plot.

The court also sought an investigation of former Argentine president Carlos Menem's interior minister, Carlos Corach, and Hugo Anzorregui, former head of the state intelligence service.

Investigation of the bombing has been a festering issue in Argentina for 10 years, as Argentine Jews and international rights groups have criticized Argentine leaders for their inability or unwillingness to find those behind the bombing.

Argentina, with more than 300,000 Jews, has South America's largest Jewish community.

Asharq Alawswat: "In Defense of the Prophet"

Asharq Alawswat often presents reasonable voices from the Islamic world. The author of the following, Turki al-Hamad, is a Saudi "political analyst, journalist, and novelist."
Defending the Prophet (pbuh) and his message is a duty; there is no question about that. However, the question is; how can one go about defending his legacy and name? Trying to persuade others that there is a huge chasm between the Islamic religion and what is being practiced and exploited by a minority who are affiliated to it does not suffice so long as these forbidden acts persist, and hatred and the glorification of death dominate the hearts and minds of some.

Huge demonstrations, vengeful acts of retaliation, demanding public apologies and expressing remorse are to no avail, and perhaps even incite more hatred, which is exactly what’s happening. In the aftermath of these demonstrations or acts of violence, it becomes clear that there are those who’s minds become entrenched with the idea that there is no hope for Muslims or their religion and culture. Others see Muslims as backward and fanatical, resenting any change and rejecting anything that is not Muslim, caught in a cycle of self-loathing. Can’t you see how they kill one another regardless of time and place? As for Islam, it is a religion of violence and swords that offers no room for freedom or choice within its foundation and teachings. It is either the sole dominating religion in this world, or else it’s at war with anything else that defies or disagrees with it. This is the worldwide prevalent image of Islam and Muslims in the minds of the masses today and they have nothing to judge with except what they see and unfortunately, what is happening is neither good nor a source of pride for Muslims.

Indeed, the demonstrations and acts of violence might compel some to apologize, or call on people to not provoke the already inflamed feelings of Muslims which require no further provocation – but will any of this change what has been set as hatred and fear in the hearts of many? This is the real question to which the answer is the most effective way to defend the Prophet of Islam (pbuh). The Pope apologized for the quote he cited about Islam and the Prophet (pbuh) despite declaring that it did not reflect his personal view, and the Danes apologized for the cartoons – but have these apologies obliterated what has been fixed in the minds of many about Islam and Muslims? It’s all well and good that the Pope, or this entity, or that state apologized for the libel and slander, but has that made Islam more acceptable or has it decreased the repulsion against Muslims in the hearts of the public? What seems to be happening is that this repugnance is increasing and the word ‘Muslim’ has come to evoke terror and trepidation notwithstanding defense attempts that distance the true religion and its teachings from what is being done by those who call themselves Muslims and act out under a banner of defending the religion and its honorable prophet (pbuh).

In the eyes of the world today, Muslims have become the physical incarnation of all things venomous; they are the embodiment of terrorism, violence, intolerance and the rejection of all others who do not share their beliefs. Similarly, Islam has come to be viewed as the very antithesis of civilization, civic life and even life in general as it embraces the notion of glorifying death and bears it like the plague in Medieval Europe everywhere Muslim communities settle. This is the predominant image of Islam and its followers in most parts of the world, and if we try to say otherwise, people will only believe what they see, which is violence, death and bloodshed despite the fact that those who execute them are but a minority. And as the saying goes, a rotten apple spoils the rest in the box.

As long as people believe only what they can empirically see, then this situation will never change except with tangible evidence that is stronger and more effective. If violence and bloodshed represent the other face of Islam for some, then the religion’s true and hidden side must be found and revealed through behavior not words. By hidden aspect I mean to highlight Islam’s moral side, and its value and conduct systems . . .

Good conduct alone can change the image of the contemporary Muslim world, not just to win over others, but to revive the marginalized ethical and moral message of Islam. Let he who wants to believe or disbelieve do as they so wish, only God can judge in the end. In the meantime, we are all brothers and sisters in this world and we must do all we can to strengthen the relationships between us.
Ayein sham (Read the rest).

Dar Al Hayat: "A Message to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah"

This is a very interesting glimpse into current Lebanese politics:
'Good tidings' to Hezbollah for the coming of Eid, with the international forces becoming embroiled in southern Lebanon, searching for new bases of engagement to find a way of ending Israel's penetration of Lebanese airspace, not pursuing Hezbollah's fighters to disarm them or campaigning against the caves to collect their stockpiles of thousands of rockets that Israel's July War has failed to destroy.

Also, 'good tidings' to the Lebanese, with whom the horrors of the war and its calamities have not parted. There is worry that these missiles will turn northward, at the internal front, if the avalanche of insults between the majority and the opposition explodes into confrontations in the streets on the basis of political sectarianism and 'backstabbing'. This will be 'good tidings' if the Lebanese think that, this time, they will witness a war that is different from what they have been accustomed to: between the missiles of the UNIFIL emergency forces and the Israeli aircraft! UNIFIL has become Lebanese then? Is this why the enemy encampment is threatening to strike the bases south of the Litany, if it dares to fire at Israeli planes?!

This is Lebanese rivalry with distinction, and before we believe that the coming war will be between the enemy and the international forces (!), we should not take lightly Israel's talk of having evidence that has been sent to Washington about the increase of arms smuggled to Hezbollah through Syria. Israel also warns that it will take punitive measures when its patience runs out. Needless to say, the ultimate goal of the Israelis is that the international forces become strict with Hezbollah and begin the phase of disarming it and its hidden arsenal after the phase of learning to co-exist with the Lebanese army in the South. [...]

Washington Times: "Iran, Syria rebuild Hezbollah"

Not that this is news or anything:
Iran and Syria are rapidly rearming Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon as an international peacekeeping force has failed to carry out a U.N. mandate to disarm the Shi'ite militia group, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz said yesterday.

Mr. Mofaz, a former defense minister and chief of general staff in the Israeli Defense Force, also warned that time was growing short for the international community to implement effective sanctions to halt Iran's drive for nuclear weapons.

"We know the policy of the Iranian regime is to buy time by talking" while it pursues a nuclear bomb, Mr. Mofaz said in an interview in his suite at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington. "So far they have been very successful."
This is by way of Daily Alert, which also flags the following, from Ha'aretz:

"Halutz: Hundreds of arms-smuggling tunnels being dug in Gaza":
Palestinian terror groups have begun successfully digging hundreds of tunnels intended for arms smuggling near the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said on Tuesday.

Halutz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that IDF troops had in recent days pinpointed at least 100 1.5 km-long tunnel entrances dug by Palestinian militants in the Rafah area in southern Gaza, in the course of the days-long "Operation Squeezed Fruit." He said at hundreds more of these entrances have already been dug.

He added that militants have been continuously smuggling anti-tank missiles and large amounts of light weaponry in recent months.
We may be seeing the end of the Palestinian conflict as we have known it up to this point. Israel may now need to do something comprehensive just to survive.

Linkim 10/25/06

Haveil Havalim 90 is up!

Daniel Pipes urges "In Iraq, Stay the Course - but Change It."

Simply Jews updates us on bias at the BBC.

Speaking of the BBC, here is their account of the controversy over the Lancet Study.

Eye on the World looks at a blogger "charged with the crime of 'supporting Israel.'"

Nzingha's Soapbox disputes that "Veil=Limited Ability." (h/t: Indigo Jo)

Seattle PI: "About half of people in their 20s have either a tattoo or a body piercing other than traditional earrings . . ."

CS Monitor: "Abduction signals troubling trend in Gaza"

IRNA: "The Leader went on to say that people should take part in the process more gloriously . . . "

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hitchens on "Tony Judt's persecution complex"

Just a short excerpt:
The astonishing extent of this brouhaha recalls the reception accorded to the John Mearsheimer-Stephen Walt critique of Jewish-American influence on U.S. foreign policy. And the two episodes are, in fact, somewhat related. Once again, absolutely conventional attacks on Israeli and U.S. policy are presented as heroically original. Once again, it is insinuated that the bravery of those making the point is such as to draw down the Iron Heel. Once again, no distinction is made between private organizations and the public sphere. Mearsheimer and Walt ended up complaining of persecution because they got a rude notice from Alan Dershowitz! Such self-pity.
Read the rest (not all of which is on-target). (Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

Arizona Republic: Palestinian ejected from Human Relations Commission--for "Intolerance"!

More irony than you can shake a stick at:
The tensions in the Middle East are manifesting themselves on a Phoenix commission that is supposed to foster unity among people.

Phoenix City Council members last week removed Marwan Ahmad, a Palestinian and Muslim, from the Human Relations Commission after more than five years of service, saying he was promoting messages of intolerance against Israel, the Jewish community and at least one member of the Islamic community.

Mayor Phil Gordon didn't give a specific reason why they ousted Ahmad, but Ahmad's monthly newspaper, Muslim Voice, has come under fire in the past.

In that newspaper, Ahmad depicted a member of the Islamic community as a dog in an editorial cartoon.

Ahmad also publishes the Multicultural Yellow Pages, which excludes references to the Valley's Jewish cultural institutions and replaces Israel with the name Palestine on a Middle East map. He also omits area codes, airlines and restaurants associated with Israel.

Bill Straus, Arizona regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, called that book "one of our community's most glaring examples of cultural division."

Ahmad said the City Council has violated his freedom of speech and is mixing local and international politics.

The City Council is "under the influence of the pro-Israel groups, and they're putting Israeli interests before the city's interests," he said.

But Gordon defended the action to remove Ahmad, saying the decision had nothing to do with religion or free speech.

He said the commission's mission is to advocate and promote respect and understanding among all groups but Ahmad was delivering a "message of intolerance."

Ahmad was appointed to the commission in 2001 by then-Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza and reappointed by Gordon in 2004. He was removed with about eight months remaining on his three-year term.

Sabahudin Ceman, the imam minister from the Islamic Center of North Phoenix, replaced Ahmad on the commission.

Ahmad said he was not notified of the pending council vote, nor was he informed about the City Council decision after the unanimous vote Wednesday to remove him. City officials mailed him a letter Friday.

Some in the Muslim community are now calling for an apology from the City Council and demanding that Ahmad be reinstated on the commission.

Neither is likely to happen.

"I'm sorry that some individuals feel an apology is needed," Gordon said. "But as the mayor . . . I believe none is due, and I've taken appropriate action."

Gordon said "anyone who preaches divisiveness" can't be allowed on a city commission because it gives the perception that he is representing the city with those views.

Mohammed Riyad, a member of American Moderate Muslims for Public Awareness, said groups are prepared to conduct demonstrations, strikes, counterelection campaigns and file lawsuits if they don't get relief.
In support of Ahmad? I guess that's what that means.
While critics of the council decision concede that Ceman, Ahmad's replacement on the board, is a "good man," they consider Ahmad's removal as an affront to Muslims.

Gordon said he is planning to soon meet with representatives of the Muslim community.

Abdur-Rahim Shamsiddeen, resident imam of the Jewel of Al-Islam Masjid, said Ahmad "cannot attack people and then sit on a commission that deals with human beings, all human beings."

"At the same time, if Marwan believes he was discriminated against, then the American court system is open to him like anyone else," Shamsiddeen said.
(Hat Tip: Daily Alert)