Thursday, November 30, 2006

Asharq Alawsat: "Hamas protecting Israel"

This contains a reference to "Israeli agression" and it takes Arafat's "reconciliation" with Israel at face value, but also comes to grip with some obvious facts:
Wasn’t it odd to hear the Hamas government recently criticizing Palestinian factions for launching rockets into Israel, an act that violated a ceasefire that began at 6am (0400 GMT) 26 November, 2006? Hamas’ criticism was strange indeed especially after it had formerly described any truce with the enemy as treason, considering any rocket attack against Israel a sacred act that should not be condemned while still refusing to negotiate with Israel.

The official Hamas spokesman stated that it had agreed with Israel to halt its rocket attacks in exchange for Israel ending its aggression.

Isn’t this unadulterated political hypocrisy? This time however, the price was very high; 400 Palestinians have died due to the policy of Hamas, which has also destroyed the government structure, caused its people to starve and opened the door to Israeli aggression and assassinations. The result today is a truce to protect Israel from rockets and suicide operations.

Our surprise is not related to gloating as we witness a shift in the ideas of Hamas. In fact, it is a stage that requires one to stop, think and analyze, or at least adopt a sarcastic approach. Hamas promoted the idea that the late President Yasser Arafat’s dealing and reconciliation with Israel was sinful. Hamas distrusted anybody who followed this track and gave itself the religious, national and moral right to reject any ceasefire with the enemy as a matter of principle and practice.

This change in Hamas’ stance seems to be a temporary and tactical move with the aim of releasing Palestinian prisoners, as four months have elapsed since the capture of the Israeli soldier that subjected Palestine to unjustified destruction. If these concessions, such as that of protecting Israel from rocket attacks, are among Hamas’ rights, why did it reject its predecessors who did the same thing? Hamas continuously criticized the Fatah movement when it was in power for signing treaties with Israel and deliberately broke the ceasefires by sending bombers to execute various operations. The justification was that a truce with the enemy is illegitimate, unacceptable and an act of betrayal. Thus, the Palestinian project had fallen hostage to the policies of mistrust, accusations of treachery, intimidation, and direct corruption.

I do not believe that anyone on the Palestinian side would oppose Hamas’ truce with Israel, as everybody has seen the results of Hamas’ failed policy which since coming into power has offered more protection to Israel and seen less Palestinian military operations than those carried out when Fatah was in power. Its failing policy has starved the Palestinians, disrupted political and developmental projects and has caused Palestine to lose all of its European allies that once stood by it.

If Hamas is going to take pride in the fact that it had liberated a number of Palestinian prisoners through negotiation in exchange for the Israeli soldier, it would be an unconvincing argument because Israel was prepared to sign an agreement on the release of Palestinian prisoners without the need to kidnap any soldiers. The price that we see today is in fact linked to negotiations, concessions, and the new political stance adopted by Hamas.
The author is Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, "the general manager of Al -Arabiya television."

Iran Focus: "all websites dealing with Iran will have to register with the culture ministry in the next two months"

Since I'm posting from World Arrogance Headquarters, I guess I'm safe:
The international press freedoms watchdog Reporters Without Borders expressed concern on Thursday on the Iranian government’s decision to order all websites dealing with the issue of Iran to be registered.

“Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about a government decision, taken at a cabinet meeting on 27 November, that all websites dealing with Iran will have to register with the culture ministry in the next two months”, a statement by the group said. “The new rule will probably be difficult to implement and seems designed above all to give the authorities grounds to close down independent news sites”.

“It will be impossible to force the tens of thousands for websites dealing with Iran, most of which are hosted on servers abroad, to register with the authorities. But this rule could serve as pretext for arbitrarily closing or filtering news websites. It will give a legal basis for the online censorship that already exists in Iran”, it said.

In August, Iran Focus reported that Iran would soon issue licences for websites operating from within its borders in an effort to place further controls on the contents being published online.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Islam Online: "Israeli Not Hebrew: Linguist"

Israel-bashers are going to love this:
An Israeli linguist is insisting that the modern Hebrew is a semi-engineered European-hybrid language that is different from the language of the old testament and should therefore be described as Israeli, drawing immediate fire and criticism.

"Israelis are brainwashed to believe they speak the same language as (the prophet) Isaiah, a purely Semitic language," Ghil'ad Zuckermann, a 35-year-old graduate of Tel Aviv University with doctorates from Oxford and Cambridge, told Reuters, Wednesday, November 29.

"But this is false," insists the Israeli-British language specialist.

During a lecture tour to promote his soon-to-be-published polemic "Hebrew as Myth", Zuckermann argued that modern Hebrew should be renamed "Israeli" and give up its claim of pure descent from holy writ.

"It's time we acknowledge that Israeli is very different from the Hebrew of the past."

He asserts that today's language is very much influenced by modern European dialects, especially Yiddish, Russian and Polish.

The professor says the proof of linguistic discontinuity is that Hebrew had been in decline as far back as the 1st century.

It had to be revived by 19th-century Zionist pioneers and lexicographers after 1,700 years in which it was no one's native tongue, Zuckermann added.

"The contemporary resurrection is remarkable, of course, but it does mean that the natural evolution you see, say, between Anglo-Saxon to Middle English to Modern English does not exist between Hebrew and Israeli."
Except that Hebrew had a rather robust existence as a literary language and actually its peculiar history has led to a situation where ancient and modern Hebrew resemble each other to a *greater* degree than ancient and modern versions of the same language usually do. Zuckerman's example of "natural evolution" is English. So let's look at the first sentence of Beowulf:
Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
Obviously the language of Tanach is much more accessible to a typical secularly-educated Israeli than Beowulf is to the average speaker of Modern English. Judging from this article at any rate, Zuckerman seems to be chasing after notions of linguistic purity that don't exist for any modern language and that nobody is arguing for where Modern Hebrew is concerned.

IRIB: "Ahmadinejad writes to Americans"

I guess we'll get to see the text of this one:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to convey a five-page message to the American nation on Wednesday.

A source privy to the Presidential office told Fars News Agency (FNA) that following the recent visit to New York by the President where he attended the 61st meeting of the UN General Assembly and met American people from different walks of life, President Ahmadinejad decided to write a letter to the American nation to further discuss the points raised during the said meetings.

"After writing the letter, the President yesterday decided to publicize it today, (Wednesday)," he added.

President Ahmadinejad's five-page message is due to be presented to the American media via Iran's representative mission at the UN in New York.

The Persian version of the text will be released in Iran after the English version is publicized in America, the source concluded.
We're all Mahmoud's pen pals now.

Update: IRNA has the full text, divided into 4 parts. Here is Part One. LGF's two posts are an obvious place to start for blog-reactions. Meryl Yourish has a good analysis of the AP coverage.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I haven't looked at Juan Cole's blog for a while . . .

I remember why now:
A surprise for Americans: The most urgent and destabilizing crisis in the Middle East is not Iraq. It is, according to King Abdullah II of Jordan (who will meet Bush today), the Israel-Palestine conflict, which is a major engine driving the radicalization of Muslims in the Middle East and in Europe. It seldom makes the front page any more, but the Israelis are keeping the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in Bantustan penitentiaries and bombing the ones in Gaza relentlessly, often killing signficant numbers of innocent civilians. Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Rubin, David Wurmser and other Likudniks who had managed to get influential perches in the US government once argued that the road to peace in Jerusalem lay through Baghdad. It never did, and they were wrong about that the way they were wrong about everything else.

In fact, September 11 was significantly about the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem, and as long as the Israelis continue their actual creeping colonialization of Palestinian land while they pretend to engage in a (non-existent) "peace process," radicalism in the region will only grow. Polls taken in the last few years have shown that 64 percent of Egyptians expressed satisfaction with the Mubarak government, but only 2 percent had a favorable view of US foreign policy (i.e. knee-jerk pro-Likud policy) in the Middle East. That is, the argument that authoritarian government breeds radicalism is either untrue or only partial. It is the daily perception of a great historical wrong done to a Middle Eastern people, the Palestinians, that radicalizes people in the region (and not just Muslims).
But also leftist academics?

Telegraph: "Accept defeat by Taliban, Pakistan tells Nato"

Pakistan has left a lot to be desired lately as an ally in the war on terror. More developments:
Senior Pakistani officials are urging Nato countries to accept the Taliban and work towards a new coalition government in Kabul that might exclude the Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops.

Western ministers have been stunned. "Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently.

The remarks were made on the eve of Nato's critical summit in Latvia. Lt Gen David Richards, the British general and Nato's force commander in Afghanistan, and the Dutch ambassador Daan Everts, its chief diplomat there, have spent five days in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, urging the Pakistani military to do more to reign in the Taliban. But they have received mixed messages.

Mr Karzai has long insisted that the Taliban sanctuaries and logistics bases are in Pakistan while Gen James Jones, the Supreme Commander of Nato, told the US Congress in September that the Taliban leadership is headquartered in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

Lt Gen Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai, governor of the volatile North West Frontier Province has stated publicly that the US, Britain and Nato have already failed in Afghanistan. "Either it is a lack of understanding or it is a lack of courage to admit their failures," he said recently.

Gen Orakzai insists that the Taliban represent the Pashtun population, Afghanistan's largest and Pakistan's second largest ethnic group, and they now lead a "national resistance" movement to throw out Western occupation forces, just as there is in Iraq.

But his comments have deeply angered many Pakistani and Afghan Pashtuns, who consider the Taliban as pariahs and a negation of Pashtun values. Gen Orakzai is the mastermind of "peace deals" between the army and the heavily Talibanised Pashtun tribes on the Pakistani side of the border, but these agreements have failed because they continue to allow the Taliban to attack Nato forces inside Afghanistan and leave the Taliban in place, free to run a mini-Islamic state.

Gen Orakzai is expected to urge the British Army to strike similar deals in Helmand province. Meanwhile aides to President Pervez Musharraf say he has virtually "given up" on Mr Karzai and is awaiting a change of face in Kabul before he offers more help.

Many Afghans fear that Pakistan is deliberately trying to undermine Mr Karzai and Nato's commitment to his government in an attempt to reinstall its Taliban proxies in Kabul – almost certainly leading to all-out civil war and possible partition of the country.

To progress in Riga, Nato will have to enlist US support to call Pakistan's bluff, put pressure on Islamabad to hand over the Taliban leadership and put more troops in to fight the insurgency while persuading Mr Karzai to become more pro-active.

Mehr News: "George W. Bush is a Satanist and an antichrist."

This is from Tehran Times, but the Mehr Version seems to avoid certain formatting problems:
President Bush ‘worships Satan’ and is a phony Christian and is an ‘antichrist’ many Americans say.

It is difficult, to say the least, to comprehend the ramifications of such statements. What could be worse than being labeled someone who worships Satan? For those who don’t understand Satanism and the New World Order, such allegations are utterly ludicrous. For those who fully understand what is happening in our world, and the extent of the Luciferian takeover, many may not be surprised, and many already know this. George W. Bush is a Satanist and an antichrist.

How can the president of the United States, a supposed born-again Christian, be a Devil worshiper? Satanism isn’t what most people think it is. Satanism is the belief that one is their own god, that Lucifer, or Satan was telling the truth in the Garden of Eden when he said God was lying to Adam and Eve, and it involves little more than thinking one can be equal to God, and that God is not needed, and is even considered the oppressor and the evil force in the Universe.

Haven’t you at some point in time, questioned why God has allowed evil, disease, child abuse, and more in His world? Haven’t you at some point been angry at God because of your troubles? Don’t worry, He understands and will forgive you if you ask. Instead of having faith and trusting the True God and Jesus Christ no matter what, Satanists have concluded that God is the evil one and Lucifer is the savior by teaching Man that he can ‘outsmart’ God, by believing what Satan said.

The Bible says to judge a man by his fruits. And George W. Bush’s fruits are about as rotten and putrid as they come. Skeptics, ask yourselves these questions. Would a Christian president be part of a secret society whose symbol is a skull and cross bones where members are ‘born again’ in a satanic ritual, and once inducted, lifetime members?

Would a Christian president be a member of the Bohemian Club and attend the Cremation of Care ritual, which is a mock human sacrifice taken directly from the Old Testament?
Horrors! The Old Testament!
Wouldn’t a Christian president cut ties with such organizations once accepting the Holy Spirit?

Would a Christian president lie to the American people so he and his Illuminati Mafia could carry out the agenda of the military-industrial complex by starting a war with Iraq? How could a president so deeply involved in the Illuminati actually not agree with the agendas he is pushing?

Many Christians live in ignorance, thinking it will protect them from the evil in this world. While believing and proclaiming that Jesus will return soon, they seem blind to the fact that the Antichrist isn’t just going to pop up out of nowhere and then magically take control of the government and the people. Many Christians fail to see that for generations, the infrastructure and foundation was being built to stage the grand finale.

George W. Bush surely must know what he and his crime family are involved in. George W. Bush surely must know he is a puppet for the Illuminati and the New World Order. George W. Bush surely must agree with this Luciferian agenda. George W. Bush surely must be a Satanist.
The author, John Conner, is associated with this website. The Illuminati, a now mythical group, figure prominently in many wacky conspiracy theories.

IRNA: "Int'l holocaust confab to be held in Tehran"

Does Neo-Nazi propaganda qualify as fascism?
An international conference dubbed `Holocaust: World Prospect' will be held by the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS) following International Human Rights Day (Dec 10) on December 11-12.

The two-day conference on holocaust will open in Tehran on December 11 and will continue until December 12.

According to a report released by the Public Relations Department of the Foreign Ministry's IPIS, while aiming to fully respect Judaism, the conference will attempt to focus on the issue away from any propaganda or political orientation.

IRIB: "Beshir denies genocide in Darfur"

Just another great powerful prosperous country:
Sudanese President said that there was no humanitarian disaster in Darfur and that fewer than 9,000 people had been killed there.

Omar al-Beshir rejected any talk of a genocide in the western Sudanese region.

"The figure of 200,000 dead is false and the number of dead is not even 9,000," Beshir said in a video media conference late Monday.

"All the figures have been falsified and the child mortality rate in Darfur does not exceed that in Khartoum," Beshir also said, indicating west's giving false statistics to justify a military intervention.

"Any talk of a deterioration of the situation in Darfur is false," said Beshir, saying that only five out of 23 major towns in Darfur were currently facing security problems.

The Sudanese President has consistently warned that the west is seeking to invade the country and plunder its resources.

During the press conference, Beshir added that the unrest in Darfur was the result of tribal clashes prompted by drought and had been politically exploited by foreign countries.

Beshir also reiterated his stance supporting the continued presence of AU monitors in Darfur and denied his country's acceptance of a proposal for a hybrid force comprising troops from both the AU and the UN.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dei'ah veDibur: Kinderlach "One-Third of Israel's Population"

There have been some other indications lately that the demographic picture in Israel is not as bleak as usually portrayed:
Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) figures show that at the end of 2005 there were 2,326,400 children (ages 0-17) living in Israel: 1,608,300 Jewish children, 643,000 Arab children and more than 70,000 "other" children from immigrant families whose religion is not listed in the population registry.

Like in 2004, children constitute one-third of the total population. In most of the Western world the percentage of children is considerably smaller, whereas in many Arab countries children constitute half of the population.

In 2005 there were 143,900 babies born, of which 51.4 percent were boys. 100,700 were born to Jewish mothers, 34,200 to Muslim mothers, 4,000 to mothers whose religion is not listed, 2,500 to Druse mothers and 2,500 to Christian mothers.

The highest child-adult ratio of any municipality is in Beitar Illit, where children constitute 63 percent of the population. In Modi'in Illit and Elad as well, the percentage of children is approaching the 60 percent mark. Similar figures were recorded in Bedouin towns in the South, such as Tel Sheva, Rahat and Kasifa.

As in past years Jerusalem has the largest child population in absolute numbers, with 291,700 children representing 40.5 percent of city residents. Tel Aviv-Jaffa is second with 75,400 children, but there they represent a mere 20 percent of the overall population — the lowest child-adult ratio of any urban center in Israel. In Givatayim, Bat Yam and Ramat Gan as well, the ratio hovers around the 20 percent mark.

In contrast Bnei Brak's 67,500 children constitute 47 percent of the population. In Modi'in-Maccabim and Re'ut, both of which have a large concentration of (non-chareidi) young couples, the portion of children is 43 percent and 41 percent respectively.

Of the 574,468 children enrolled in Jewish sector primary schools in 5765, 25 percent studied at chareidi schools (up from 21.9 percent in 5763) compared to 56 percent at government schools (down from 59 percent in 5763) and 18.9 percent at government-religious schools (down from 19.1 percent in 5763).

Pete Townshend on the War on Terror

In an interview for an, I guess, online magazine called "Morphizm," Pete Townshend, of all people, ends up "on the far right" concerning the war on terror. The interviewer can't believe it and authors a HuffPo post entitled "Who are You, Pete?" The answer, as Townshend himself indicates, is that he's a man who won't get fooled again:
Morphizm: Endless Wire , whether it's tackling the Beslan hostage crisis or Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, has the feel of millennial violence to it. Are you worried about where we're headed on that count? We can't seem to stop killing each other.

Pete Townshend: Of course I am concerned. But I don't ascribe to any apocalyptic scenarios that will send our young people back to psychotropic drugs and the insane belief that attending the lovely Burning Man Festival will truly realign the planets. We need pragmatism, balance and to accept that there are people out there that hate us.

Morphizm: How does Beslan ring to you now, this long after a global War on Terror that doesn't seem to have an end?

Pete Townshend: How can a ‘War' on terrorism ever end? We have had terrorist bombs in Britain (IRA) since the fifties. It has only stopped recently to be replaced by extremists of another variety. The police in the UK are fantastic at following up tiny details, and have already prevented some horrific bombings. But prepare yourselves.

Morphizm: For what?

Pete Townshend: Do you really want Islam to have access to nuclear warheads they could set off in downtown Minneapolis? I'm sure you don't. But pretty soon they will have that access. That is why ‘we' went into Iraq. We believed -- wrongly it has turned out -- that the torturer Saddam might have nuclear weaponry. I am on the far right on this issue. Sorry.

Morphizm: Why?

Pete Townshend: I'm not a shoot-first-ask-questions-later survivalist by any means, but I grew up in a neighbourhood where every second house was a bombsite -- a little like downtown Baghdad today. I have no heart for war, but I have no heart either to stand quietly waiting for someone to kill everyone in my neighbourhood before I look to protect myself. It is a tricky time for the West. The rules have changed. Don't get fooled again folks. Remember Pearl Harbour.

Daily Mail: "Women talk three times as much as men, says study"

This post is being presented in the hopes that it will help you with your Shalom Bayis. (Note to male readers: it probably wouldn't be advisable to say to your Rebbetzin, "Guess what I just read . . . )
It is something one half of the population has long suspected - and the other half always vocally denied. Women really do talk more than men.

In fact, women talk almost three times as much as men, with the average woman chalking up 20,000 words in a day - 13,000 more than the average man.

Women also speak more quickly, devote more brainpower to chit-chat - and actually get a buzz out of hearing their own voices, a new book suggests.

The book - written by a female psychiatrist - says that inherent differences between the male and female brain explain why women are naturally more talkative than men.

In The Female Mind, Dr Luan Brizendine says women devote more brain cells to talking than men.

And, if that wasn't enough, the simple act of talking triggers a flood of brain chemicals which give women a rush similar to that felt by heroin addicts when they get a high. [...]
(Hat Tip: Drudge)

That's 50,000 page views.

I may add some further reflections on where this blog is going in a later post, but that's a milestone of sorts.

Reader Comments:

Mazel tov!
Elder of Ziyon | Homepage | 11.27.06 - 11:44 pm | #

We should only have simchas to blog about.
Yitzchak Goodman | Homepage | 11.28.06 - 1:59 am | #

Can I stop hitting refresh now?

(Ok, so I stole that line.)
Ezzie | Homepage | 11.28.06 - 2:05 am | #

Arutz Sheva: "Terrorists Say ‘Ceasefire’ Enables Arms Smuggling and Training"

This is nothing that you couldn't have guessed:
Leaders of major terrorist groups in Gaza said Sunday they either do not recognize the ceasefire agreement or plan to use it to re-arm and improve terrorist training. Two Kassams were fired Monday.

Abu Abir, spokesman for the Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees terrorist organization in Gaza, said Sunday, “The ceasefire offers a period of calm for our fighters to recover and prepare for our final goal of evacuating Palestine.”

Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza on Sunday morning, calling for an end to all Palestinian terrorist activities and Israeli counter-terrorist activities. Israel has pulled most of its ground troops out of Gaza.

Two Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza at western Negev areas this afternoon (Monday). No one was physically hurt in this latest ceasefire violation.

In a series of exclusive interviews with Aaron Klein of WorldNetDaily, terrorist leaders said the ceasefire – which was broken within two hours after it officially went into effect at 6:00 Sunday morning – will be used to smuggle weapons into Gaza, reinforce and train “fighter units,” and produce rockets for a future confrontation with the Jewish State.

Abu Abdullah, a senior leader of Hamas' "military wing," told WorldNetDaily that Hamas agreed to the ceasefire "because we need a period of calm to recuperate. This lull in fighting will not bring us to speak about peace."

Abu Abdullah is consider one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Iz-Addin al-Kassam Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Hamas.

Abu Luay, a leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, said Israel's weak stance "proves that our rocket attacks work. The Zionists know there is no remedy for our rockets."

The Islamic Jihad leader said rocket attacks against Israel would resume "at a time of our choosing."

IDF military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and General Security Service (Shin Bet) director Yuval Diskin both recently warned the Knesset that PA terrorists will soon achieve military capability similar to that of the Hizbullah guerilla terrorist organization in Lebanon. [...]
We are basically dealing with Hamas. Haniyeh stated in his Washington Post editorial:
If Israel is prepared to negotiate seriously and fairly, and resolve the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967, a fair and permanent peace is possible. Based on a hudna (comprehensive cessation of hostilities for an agreed time). . .
So a Hudna is not permanent, and it is the only Arabic word used in the editorial--no English word was available, evidently, that would convey the meaning. Ahmed Yousef in the NY Times, as recently as this month, was continuing to try to sell the idea of Hudna. So that's what the Palestinians are offering: a non-peace for concessions that only relate to what they consider to be "secondary issues." Assuming that they would even negotiate in good faith, it is very likely that Hamas is under theological restraints never to offer more. (Hat Tip: Israel Matzav)

Jonathan Chait in LA Times: "Bring back Saddam Hussein"

I don't think Chait means this. This is the sort of annoying goofiness one often sees in Daily Kos diaries. Wouldn't it be cool to illustrate how bad everything is in Iraq by proposing to bring back Saddam? Just think: if we had killed Saddam instead of taking him alive, we wouldn't have to read this:
THE DEBATE about Iraq has moved past the question of whether it was a mistake (everybody knows it was) to the more depressing question of whether it is possible to avert total disaster. Every self-respecting foreign policy analyst has his own plan for Iraq. The trouble is that these tracts are inevitably unconvincing, except when they argue why all the other plans would fail. It's all terribly grim.

So allow me to propose the unthinkable: Maybe, just maybe, our best option is to restore Saddam Hussein to power . . .

Restoring the expectation of order in Iraq will take some kind of large-scale psychological shock. The Iraqi elections were expected to offer that shock, but they didn't. The return of Saddam Hussein — a man every Iraqi knows, and whom many of them fear — would do the trick.

The disadvantages of reinstalling Hussein are obvious, but consider some of the upside. He would not allow the country to be dominated by Iran, which is the United States' major regional enemy, a sponsor of terrorism and an instigator of warfare between Lebanon and Israel. Hussein was extremely difficult to deal with before the war, in large part because he apparently believed that he could defeat any U.S. invasion if it came to that. Now he knows he can't. And he'd probably be amenable because his alternative is death by hanging.

I know why restoring a brutal tyrant to power is a bad idea. Somebody explain to me why it's worse than all the others.
It would probably help us in Iraq if we were to deal with Iran. Doesn't the Shah of Iran have an heir?

IRNA: "US, Israel in conspiracy to cause discord among Shi'ites, Sunnis, US: speaker"

The title seems to have the US as both a conspirator and a target of the conspiracy. Was the title carelessly revised at some point?
Majlis Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said here Monday that the apparent discord among Shi'ites and Sunnis in neighboring states such as Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan is the fruit of a conspiracy of the US and the Zionist regime.

The speaker's remarks came as he addressed local residents of the city of Chabahar on the last day of a three-day visit to the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

"Enemies have tried to materialize the same conspiracy in the Islamic Republic of Iran but have been repelled by the unity and solidarity of Shi'ites and Sunnis in this country," he said.
Would another name for that "unity and solidarity" be massive dominance by the Shi'ites?
He urged Shi'ites and Sunnis to further strengthen their unity as an effective means of confronting moves by the enemies to cause discord among them.

"Iran supports the Shi'ite resistance movements Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.

"Islam is important to us. We will not let enemies cause divisions among us in the name of Shi'ite and Sunni. We have achieved victory through unity and will defend this in the same way," Haddad-Adel said.

He expressed confidence the 7th Majlis and 9th government will do their utmost to develop the country, particularly its poor regions.

"Chabahar, on the shores of the Oman Sea, will become the province's gateway to development and progress," the speaker confidently said.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Iran threatens Gulf states, appeases soccer federation

Just two mostly unrelated items on Iran--or on second thought, not so unrelated items. Both involve Iran's um . . . arrogance. MENL: "Iran threatens GCC states":
For the first time, Iran has threatened to attack Gulf Arab allies of the United States.

A unit of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has reported the training of suicide bombers to strike targets in the Gulf Cooperation Council. The IRGC unit said any GCC state that facilitates a U.S. military operation against Iran would be attacked.

"If the bases in these countries are used as a launch pad for the attacking U.S. forces, why should they expect to remain secure while we are not?" Faroz Rajai, commander of the Martyrs Battalions, asked.

Western intelligence sources said the Martyrs Battalions were established in 2002 by the IRGC. The sources said the unit has been drawing recruits from Iran's religious seminaries as well as universities.
Also, Mehr News has more on the soccer ban situation: "FIFA lifts ban on Iran":
On Nov. 22, the FIFA Emergency Committee, composed of the FIFA president and one representative of each of the six confederations, decided to suspend the IRIFF from all international activities due to government’s interference in football matters and violation of Article 17 of the FIFA Statutes.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation (IRIFF), however, convinced FIFA to remove the ban and allow the country’s Under-23 side to compete at the 2006 Asian Games that will start in the Qatari capital Doha on Dec. 1.

The committee took this decision after determining that the IRIFF was not adhering to the principles of the FIFA Statutes regarding the independence of member associations, the independence of the decision-making process of the football governing body in each country, and the way in which changes in the leadership of associations are brought about.

The Iranian federation had vowed to settle the problem through negotiations.
Tags: Iran, FIFA, GCC, soccer,

Der Spiegel: "Germany's first Nazi Comedy: Meet Hitler, the Bed-Wetting Drug Addict"

Levy is also following in the footsteps of Mel Brooks:
German cinema breaks new ground in January with its first comedy about Hitler. Jewish director Dani Levy is following in the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin, maker of "The Great Dictator," with a decidedly unsympathetic portrayal of Hitler as a bed-wetting drug addict who is making the world suffer for his beatings as a child.

Hitler likes to play with his toy battleship in the bath, wets his bed, can't get an erection and is addicted to drugs he keeps in his giant globe, according to Germany's first comedy about the Führer, made by Jewish director Dani Levy.

"Mein Führer: The Truly Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler," which received public funding, opens in January and fits a recent trend in Germany to break new ground in dealing with its Nazi history. It follows the 2004 movie "The Downfall," one of the first German films to show Hitler up close and personal.

A German-made farce about Hitler would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. But the passage of time and the gradual dying out of the Nazi-era generation have given the country a more detached view of its past.

Swiss director Levy says he wants to follow in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin's 1940 classic "The Great Dictator," and to take a tongue-in-cheek look at the theory that Hitler was taking revenge on the world for being beaten by his father.

Levy, who won critical acclaim for his 2004 comedy " Alles Auf Zucker" about Jewish people in post-unification Germany, sees nothing wrong with a tragicomic approach to the Holocaust. "I don't want to give this cynical, psychological wreck of a person the honor of a realistic portrayal," he says in a statement. [...]

Linkim 11/26/06

Haveil Havalim 95 is up!

Elder of Ziyon has more on exploding toys.

Meryl Yourish has "More on the French soccer mob pogrom"

Daled Amos explores "The Demographic Problem--Of The Palestinian Arabs."

Captain's Quarters asks "Guess Who Financed The Insurgencies?"

AbbaGav concludes "So I Guess They CAN Stop the Qassams."

Drink-soaked Trotskyite Poinjays for War issues "A warning to all those with large bookcases."

Jim Hoagland: "Bashar al-Assad's Offer Must Be Refused"*

Michael Goodwin: "The spread of the culture of suicide"*

*h/t: RCP (for the links and the alternate titles)

Fars News: "Iran Prepared to Aid Withdrawal of Occupiers from Iraq"

That's nice of them:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here Sunday stressed that Iran is ready to help Iraq's occupiers withdraw from that country.

"Iranian nation is prepared to help you get out of the quagmire of Iraq, provided that you undertake to correct your behavior, give up oppression and take your forces back home," Ahmadinejad said.

He characterized Iran as an invincible country, but meantime underscored that the Iranian nation seeks establishment of peace and tranquility in every corner of the world, the Middle-East and Persian Gulf in particular.

The president reiterated that regional nations are well capable of restoring security in the region, and viewed presence of alien states as a source of tension, conflict and discord.

He pointed to Iraq as the instance of a country burdening the negative consequences of the deployment of occupying troops, and reminded, "The Iraqi people conducted a peaceful life with each other for hundreds of years, but since the very day the big powers stepped into the Iraqi territory, we have been witnessing conflicts, differences and discord."

Ahmadinejad called on the world powers to leave the region, while he reminded the regional nations that the US power is increasingly growing feeble.

He also called on the regional nations to be watchful of the satanic plots of the Israeli regime, and further stressed that the demise of the Zionist regime, which he described as an instrument in the hands of the system of hegemony, is imminent.

Stressing the need for solidarity and unity of nations and governments, the president called on the regional nations to render assistance to the Iraqi, Palestinian, Afghan and Lebanese nations, and assured that regional states can force alien countries to withdraw from the region through mutual and multilateral assistance.

"Regional nations are all equal, and Iranian nation is a defender of the rights of all nations," he mentioned, adding, "Now is the time when we, hand in hand, can establish peace and security in the region and expel the anti-human enemies from our sacred lands and countries."

Addressing the US and British leaders, Ahmadinejad warned, "It is now the time for you to open you ears wide. You have been committing crimes in this region and using the Zionist regime as a blind tool to exert pressure on regional nations all throughout the last 60 years during which you have shed the blood of hundreds of thousands of people merely for the sake of your conceitedness."

"But now you have come to the end of the road both in the region and the world, and the era of your bullying attitude has now come to its end," he continued.

Ahmadinejad characterized bullying powers as the followers of evil in the war of Armageddon, who have entered the initial stages of defeat while they do not have any popular base either among the regional nations or in any other part of the world.

Meantime, the Iranian president advised the bullying powers to give up their attitude, return to the sanctity of divine decree and act as real friends of the world nations.

"But if you don't respond to this invitation positively, justice will find a firm grip on you soon and you will be toppled by the world nations in the near future," he concluded.
This seems to be a fuller account of this speech.

IRNA: "President: Power of US, Zionist regime about to collapse"

Ahmadinejad is, of course, only expressing a vague hope for the eventual peaceful disappearance of the Zionist entity:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Sunday that thanks God the US devilish power is about to collapse and the Zionist regime is on the steep slide to toppling.

The chief executive made the remark while speaking at Basij Conference at the mausoleum of the founder of Islamic Revolution, the late Imam Khomeini.

The president called on the regional governments and nations to be vigilant and not be deluded by evil plots.

Ahmadinejad hoped for withdrawal of foreign troops from the Middle East region.
Also at IRNA: "DPRK calls for expansion of news cooperation with IRNA":
Democratic People's Republic of Korean Ambassador to Tehran Kim Chong Ryong on Sunday conferred with IRNA Managing Director Jalal Fayyazi on expansion of news media cooperation between the two countries.

The Korean ambassador said that DPRK is keen on broadcasting the news reflecting realities in both countries and called for expansion of news media and technical cooperation between the two countries.
I have always suspected collaboration.
Describing Tehran-Pyongyang relations as 'excellent', he said the his country attaches significance to expansion of bilateral cooperation in the media sector.

US is now broadcasting the news in line with its own interests, he said and called for the news agencies in Iran and DPRK to jointly cooperate on broadcasting their own news.

Highlighting Iran's peaceful nuclear program, he said all countries are entitled to take advantage of nuclear technology and it should not be monopolized by US, Russia and the European countries.

Iran's experience in peaceful application of nuclear technology would be to the benefit of its neighboring states and the entire region, he said.

Criticizing US double-standard in dealing with countries' access to peaceful nuclear technology, he said the US is to deprive others of nuclear energy and forge monopoly over it.

He called for expansion of cooperation in dealing with their joint enemy.

Referring to US sanctions imposed against Democratic People's Republic of Korea, he said, "If the US lifts economic sanctions against DP Republic of Korea, We will hold talks with the US administration," he said.

"The US has secretly informed us that it will press ahead with economic sanctions against Pyongyang in the upcoming negotiations between the six countries during December," he said.

"If the sanctions against DP Republic of Korea would not be lifted, Pyongyang would not hold negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues with Washington," he said.

"If there exist no threats or sanctions, we are not willing to possess nuclear arms in our country because we wish the Korean Peninsula along with the whole region to be free from nuclear arms," he said.

"The Americans never recognized our security and we were forced to conduct nuclear test to defend ourselves," he said.

"We are not afraid of US sanctions because it is about sixty years that the Americans imposed sanctions against us," he said.

IRNA managing director, for his part, called the current cooperation between the two countries news agencies as 'very fruitful' and said the big powers are now conducting a bias way of broadcasting the news.

A number of news agencies and TV networks try to mislead the world public opinion, he said adding that the cooperation between news agencies in the South such as Iran and DPRK could be effective to deal with the partial way of reporting and enable both countries to independently disseminate news and information," he said.

Welcoming the extensive cooperation between news agencies, he said the two news agencies could launch a mutually-based cooperation.

Exchange of news and technical cooperation between the two news agencies and setting up training workshops at IRNA School of Media Studies would prepare grounds for further expansion of cooperation between the two countries, he said.

Given extensive historical, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries, the visits of the two countries ranking officials to one another are indications of common goals and common enemy, he said.

Both the Islamic Republic of Iran and DPR Korea want to go along with independent way of life and make decision on their own fate, but, the US administration creates obstacles for them, he said.

Fayyazi thanked DPRK for supporting Iran's peaceful nuclear program and said that the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to produce nuclear energy which would be to the benefit of Iran and the entire region as well.

"We wish a world free from nuclear weapons and believe that the whole world should be clear from non-conventional arms," he said He expressed the hope that the DPR Korean nuclear problem with US would be resolved peacefully through negotiations.

"Goodwill is the key to resolve the issue and we hope the US would avoid threatening the DPRK and try to resolve the issue through negotiations leading the whole world to a world free from nuclear weapons," he said.

"Unification of DPRK and South Korea would be to the benefit of both nations, he said adding that the US created geographical borders to disunite the Korean nation who have common cultures. The US sees solidarity of Korean nation harmful to its interests," he concluded.

(North) Korean News: "Koreans Called upon to Support Great Songun Politics"

Just in case I've been guilty of neglecting North Korea lately:
The stirring reality today eloquently proves that the Songun politics serves as an invincible treasured sword and a great banner for coping with the imperialists' aggression and war and displaying the dignity and the honor of the nation. All Koreans are called upon to support the Songun politics irrespective of ideology, political view and ism. The Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland declares this in an appeal to all the Koreans at home and abroad issued Thursday. It is the shining fruition of the Songun politics that the DPRK proudly ranked itself among the nuclear weapons states, startling the world, the appeal notes, and goes on:

The DPRK had access to nuclear deterrent, drawing a bitter lesson from the painful history of the nation and the present reality. It was a self-defensive measure to defend itself in this unjust world and a proper message to the U.S. imperialists posing a threat of aggression to the DPRK.

Different parts of the world are torn with wars and disputes due to the U.S. arbitrary practices but peace is firmly preserved on the Korean Peninsula. This reality clearly proves the DPRK was quite right when it decided to increase the national capacity for self-defence, tightening belts under the uplifted banner of Songun.

It is thanks to the Songun politics that the Korean nation is known as the most proud and dignified nation in the world and peace and security of the nation are fully guaranteed on the peninsula.

The Songun politics is the great politics protecting the destiny of the Korean nation and safeguarding the peace of the country.

But for the Songun politics, peace would not have been preserved on the peninsula for the last more than half a century nor the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration would have been recorded in the history of the Korean nation nor the present era of "By our nation itself" would have come. Thanks to this politics, there started the tour of Mt. Kumgang and the construction of the Kaesong Industrial Zone and the fellow countrymen have dreams and laughter.

The stand and attitude toward the Songun politics is a touchstone to distinguish patriots from traitors.

Whoever has the blood and soul of the Korean nation, be he or she in the north or the south or overseas, is called upon to single-mindedly uphold the Songun politics in token of most ardent patriotism.

The appeal calls on all the fellow countrymen in the north, the south and overseas to bravely come out in the struggle to frustrate the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and the former's sanctions and blockade against the latter.

It calls for a more dynamic struggle to foil the war exercises of the U.S. and south Korean bellicose forces against the DPRK and their arms buildup and put an end to the U.S. policy of military presence in south Korea.

The appeal urges the south Korean people to shatter the "Grand National Party's" wild ambition to return to power, throw overboard all the traitors to the nation and unite closer in the idea of "By our nation itself" enshrined in the historic June 15 joint declaration.

It calls on all Koreans in the north and the south and overseas to vigorously step up the grand national march to bring about independence and peace, reunification and prosperity under the banner of Songun.

Arab News: "Yemen Jails Journalist Over Blasphemous Cartoons," allows Al Qaeda terrorists to escape

I guess we wouldn't want a courageous editor to have to share his prison with any nasty Al-Qaeda types:
A Yemeni court yesterday sentenced an editor to one year in prison and imposed a six-month ban on his weekly newspaper for reprinting controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Kamal Al-Olufi, editor in chief of the Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper was found guilty of publishing blasphemous material.

The drawings, first published by the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper in September last year, were seen in the Muslim world as blasphemously depicting the prophet and triggered protests throughout the Muslim world.

Olufi was taken to jail shortly after the verdict was pronounced.

He and editors of English-language Yemen Observer and the Arabic-language Al-Hurya weeklies had originally been brought before the court in mid-February and charged with “publishing blasphemous drawings offending the Prophet and Islamic religion.”

Yemeni law prohibits the dissemination of any material seen as offending religions.
Right, "religions," not any particular religion.
Meanwhile, 13 men reportedly having links to Al-Qaeda terrorist activities have escaped from a prison in northwestern Yemen, it was reported yesterday.

The report by the Ray News website said the 13 were suspected members of Al-Qaeda and that they escaped from a jail in the Haja province, some 130 kilometers northeast of Sanaa. “Some of the escapees held Arab nationalities,” said the report.

Interior Ministry officials confirmed the reported escape, but they told Arab News that the jail breakers were not detained over terror-related charges. Five had been recaptured over the past two days, they added.

The officials said investigations were under way to find out how the detainees managed to escape. The men had been extradited by Saudi authorities after they infiltrated Saudi territory seeking jobs.

It was the second jailbreak in Yemen this year after 23 Al-Qaeda operatives escaped from an intelligence jail in Sanaa on Feb. 3.

The men tunneled their way out of the high-security intelligence prison. The mass escape embarrassed the Yemeni government and dealt a major blow to its efforts to pursue supporters of Al-Qaeda.

Among the February escapees were 13 convicts in the 2000 bombing of the US destroyer USS Cole in the southern Yemeni port of Aden and the bombing of the French oil tanker.

Nine of the escapees have been recaptured or gave themselves up to the authorities, including six convicted in the oil tanker attack.

On Sept. 15, two of the February jail breakers were among four suicide bombers who carried out attacks at two oil facilities in eastern Yemen, according to officials.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Jpost: "Islamic Jihad claims post-ceasefire rocket attacks"

Lucy and the football:
The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the three Kassam rockets fired at Israel on Sunday morning after the beginning of a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions.
Tikkun Olam should be interesting as whatever is left of this develops.

Update: See Daled Amos.

NY Times: "Vodka World Shaken, and Stirred, by Fruit Spirits

The nafka mina here is that vodka is usually kosher. Vodka made from grapes would presumably not be kosher:
Polish lore has it that vodka was distilled from coal during Communist times after efforts to use chickens backfired. In Sweden, vodka was once produced from paper-mill residue. But vodka purists of today have little patience for alternative ingredients.

“Real vodka can only be made from grain or potatoes,” says Rolands Gulbis, chairman of Latvijas Balzams, the largest vodka distiller in the Baltics, whose vodka-making tradition dates at the very least to 1900, when Czar Nicholas II of Russia built a vodka storage house here. “If vodka can be made out of grapes, then we might as well call an apple an orange and rename brandy as beer.”

But the definition of vodka is no longer as clear as the transparent spirit itself.

A vodka war has broken out in Europe. On one side are traditionalists in Poland, Finland, Sweden and the Baltic countries who argue that only spirits made exclusively from grains, potatoes and sugar-beet molasses are worthy of the name. On the other are distillers in Italy, France, Britain, and the Netherlands who are fighting for a more liberal definition. They contend that vodka’s ingredients do not affect its taste.

After all, James Bond specified that his vodka martini should be “shaken, not stirred.” He never insisted it be made from grain or potatoes.

Finland, current holder of the European Union presidency and a country where vodka has long been a tonic for chilly nights, is pressing for European Union legislation to require vodka made from nontraditional ingredients like grapes, other fruit, or even maple syrup, to say so in large bold letters on the bottle.
That would be good for kosher consumers.
But rival vodka makers, including Diageo of Britain, the world’s biggest spirit maker, owner of the popular grape-based brand Ciroc and maker of Smirnoff, say this is little more than a cynical ploy by the Nordic and Baltic countries to try to monopolize the $12 billion global vodka market. [...]

IRIB Radio: "Haddad-Adel: World Arrogance Intends to Cause Discord among Muslims"

He's not the Imam
He's not the Imam
He's just the Gholam

Note the attempt to blame Iran's internal problems on the World Arrogance:
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said that the World Arrogance intends to cause discord among Muslims, especially in some of Iran’s frontier provinces.

Speaking in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, Saturday night, Haddad-Adel emphasized the goal pursued by the U.S. in causing ethnical and religious differences of opinion in different regions of the country, including Azarbaijan, Khuzestan and Sistan-Baluchestan Provinces is to portray the Islamic Revolution as a failure. He noted that by such a plot, the enemies want the Islamic countries not to consider Iran as a role model.

The Parliament Speaker further mentioned that the religious disputes in Pakistan and Iraq are due to the animosity (of the World Arrogance) with Islam and Muslims. He reiterated that today the World Arrogance is furious with the Islamic Revolution and this anger is because following the victory of the Islamic Revolution, Muslims have entered the scene, alike the very first days of the Islamic era.

Haddad-Adel noted the kind of Islam claimed by the World Arrogance is an Americanized and secular Islam. He said with the glittering rays of the Islamic Revolution, the World of Islam was shaken and today we observe a powerful force, which intends to renew the Islamic movement. He added that this powerful force has turned into a major obstacle for the dominating powers.

Moreover, Haddad-Adel considered the insults leveled against Islam to be due to the fear of the World Arrogance from an Islamic awakening.
The World Arrogance has also evidently gone after Iran's soccer federation.

Ha'aretz: Global warming worse than terrorism

This cheers very loudly for the global warming team:
The movie "An Inconvenient Truth," which is currently showing in Israel, has succeeded in surprising and raising the concerns even of veteran environmentalists and earth scientists familiar with the dangers of global warming and have long warned against it. This impressive film, which is based on sound research and features Al Gore, describes the frightening and engrossing reality of the threat to the existence of all of us on earth, in a way that is at once clear and easily accessible . . .

. . . it is not surprising that Tony Blair and Bill Clinton - two individuals who are not trying to be reelected to high-ranking posts - said recently that global warming, rather than terrorism or nuclear warfare, was the number one threat to mankind.

The struggle to save mankind from global warming is first and foremost a battle for awareness. The evasive human consciousness specializes in denial, and in denial of widespread dangers. We know how to devote ourselves to the sweet joys of life and to transfer responsibility for mending the world to technology or to politicians. Sometimes this denial is naive and sometimes it is fed by economic interests; but it imprisons mankind in a situation that is reminiscent of a critically injured person who is being taken to the operating theater on a stretcher, rushing through the hospital corridors. A doctor runs alongside the patient, talking all the while. The doctor realizes that the patient must remain conscious to survive and begs him not to fall asleep.

But it is difficult for us to stay awake when the evidence is being presented from places and times, which are distant and divorced from our reality. What do we care about the carcasses of North Pole bears that have recently been found in the icy seas of the North? It transpires that these bears drown while swimming northward in a desperate search for sufficiently large and stable blocks of ice on which to spend the summer. These blocks, which until a few years ago floated in the region, can no longer be found there. At the current rate of global warming, within 20 to 30 years there will no longer be any ice left at the North Pole in the summer. This information may sadden us for a moment. However, immediately afterwards, we will tell ourselves that even if all the polar bears die, we will be sure to take pains ahead of time to raise their progeny in zoos. Are the currents that regulate the earth about to change dramatically? What do we care about the coasts of South America or the Pacific Ocean?
Just what I was going to ask. I'm sure he'll enlighten us.
In actual fact, we should care a great deal. If there is no longer ice at the North Pole in the summer, that part of the sun's energy, which over millions of years was reflected back from the frozen poles to outer space will now be absorbed into the earth's central heat storage system. Global warming could melt the ice in Greenland and Antartica and raise the level of the oceans by almost 100 meters. The vast areas of land that will be flooded will cause hundreds of millions of people to become refugees from the environment; their lives will be the kind of nightmare that political refugees today encounter.

The environmentalist movement, which for 20 years now has been playing the part of the doctor pleading with the patient not to fall asleep, has been joined by another strong and important player - the British Stern report, which was embraced in full by the Blair government. The report found that the economic price to be paid for damages caused by climate changes that have already occurred is several times higher than the price involved in lowering the emission of greenhouse gases and stopping the process of global warming.

Just as in the case of Andrew Marshall, the senior Pentagon futurist who several years ago wrote a secret report warning that global warming was threatening world peace, this time too it is worthwhile for the injured man to open his eyes and ears.

It is difficult to listen, and the material is complicated, but internalizing it and translating it into political decisiveness are the only chance.
Even after Gore made it "clear and easily accessible"?
Instead of driving ourselves crazy with fears about the next war or terror attack that will kill one in a thousand of us, instead of worrying about the price of the Playstation 3, it is worth our while to start thinking seriously about how children and grandchildren will survive the 21st century.
"Instead of worrying about the price of Playstation 3?" Do you distrust writing which is this condescending?

Asharq Alawsat: "The Contemporary Godfather of Islamic Extremist Ideology"

The author is Mshari Al-Zaydi, Saudi Journalist, "expert on Islamic extremism" and "Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page Editor." One does not have to agree with all his conclusions, but this is informative:
The truth is we did not, or at least personally I did not, need an American study to prove that the Jordanian fundamentalist Abu Mohammed al Maqdesi is the most important ideological source and influence for the Salafi Jihadist followers. This is a known fact that many of us have echoed before, not to say that al Maqdesi is the ‘creator’ of this phenomenon, but rather to regard him as representative of the theoretical and doctrinal depth that frames the deeds of the violent and terrorist Sunni trends.

Needless to say, the reference here is to the ideological, theoretical, and doctrinal support used by members of the Salafi Jihadist trend to dispute and argue with the sheikhs and scholars who oppose their ideology – whether traditional Islamic sheikhs or contemporary ones such as al Qaradawi and al Hawali, among others. The focus lies on illustrating the thread of influence that al Maqdesi is responsible for, rather than stressing the prevailing political and social climate, among other factors.

According to the news, the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point has compiled a book entitled ‘The Militant Ideology Atlas’ which states that despite Osama Bin Laden being considered the most prominent symbol of Islamic extremism worldwide that his influence on Islamic ideologies is rather limited in comparison to other Islamic thinkers and scholars of lesser renown. The study also revealed Abu Mohammed al Maqdesi to be the most influential living Islamic thinker, and that Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s number two man, appears to be of no significance in this intellectual network despite being portrayed as a driving force in the al Qaeda network.

Responsible for the Middle East operations, General John Abizaid, the chief of the US Central Command said in a lecture entitled “The Long War”, which he recently delivered at Harvard University that he worried about the possibility of a third world war erupting because of the growing Islamic extremist ideology in the Middle East, and the Islamic world in its entirety. He said, “if we do not have enough courage to confront this today, we will enter into a third world war tomorrow”. What was interesting though was his comparison of the dominating surge of radicalism today to the surge of Nazi ideology before the Second World War.

It was commendable of General Abizaid to resume his talk about the nature of the huge problems that consume this afflicted part of the world. He added to the dangers of fundamentalism, the incapacity to resolve the Arab-Israeli struggle, and the problem posed by Iran with its ambitions and nuclear weapons. It goes without saying that the general speaks from the perspective of the American assessment of the strategic dangers. To add a third point; it was one that I stumbled across in the Asharq Al Awsat archive, published November 17th 2005, about the disciples of the famous extremist who is one of the stars of ‘Londonstan’ – Omar Bakri. The report says that Najm Chaudhry, Bakri’s successor in London, amidst efforts of reviving the fundamentalist group [Al Muhajiroun] under the new name ‘Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ said of his party, “We will become a part of the Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa that is spread throughout the world. Among our sheikhs and mentors are Omar Bakri, Abu Mohammed al Maqdesi and Abu Qatadah al Filesteeni.”
The rest is worth reading.

Jpost: "Islamic Jihad and Abu Reish reject ceasefire"

That was fast. The agreement of "all factions" is supposedly what was "historic" about this cease-fire. This is starting to look very familiar: Palestinians negotiating in bad faith in order to get relief from effective Israeli military operations:
The armed faction of the Islamic Jihad and Abu Reish, an armed faction of Fatah, both announced early Sunday that they were not part of the ceasefire agreement declared by other Palestinian factions the previous night.

A spokesman for Abu-Reish denied the movement's participation in Saturday's meeting between Palestinian Authority Prime Minster Ismail Haniyeh and Palestinian factions More exploding toys

Elder of Ziyon has a good term for this kind of article:
A joint paratrooper and Shin Bet force uncovered an explosive lab in Nablus Friday night. In the lab, the forces found teddy bears with wires hanging from them, apparently slated to be used as explosive devices.

The lab was detonated in a controlled manner, and there were no reports of injuries.

The forces also found in the explosives lab three belts made from cloth, ready to contain explosives, a hollow coat used for hiding explosives, and 20 light bulbs and light sockets used for activating explosives.
I recently noted a story about exploding toys in Pakistan. (Hat Tip: Solomonia, who devised some great graphics to go with the story.)

Two current CNN headlines

21 Shiites shot before families - 2 hours ago

Palestinians, Israel agree to Gaza cease-fire

The common wisdom is that progress in the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the key to solving other problems in the Middle East. Doesn't look like it now, does it?

A few linguistic thoughts

1. I was listening to the radio the other day, and they were discussing Hizbullah, putting the stress on the last syllable. I thought to myself, "That's probably correct--why do I stress the middle syllable?" Then I realized: I pronounce "Hizbullah" like an Ashkenazi!

2. I recently tried to refer to "palm hearts," and I got corrected by my family: "They're called hearts of palm." Yesterday I heard my daughter ask "Mommy, can I have one hearts of palm?"

3. Google auto-translation works better on the official Syrian news site than it does on Palestinian sites. It must have to do with a difference in dialects.

Jpost: "Hizbullah: Missile supply back to 100%"

The big question would be whether the most advanced missiles have all been replaced:
Hizbullah has been successful in restocking their missile supply after last summer's war with Israel, diplomatic sources in Beirut told Time magazine Friday.

According to the report, Hizbullah currently has an estimated 20,000 short-range rockets. The report contradicted an Israeli estimate in which Hizbullah was said to have acquired only half the number of rockets that they had before the war.

During the war with Israel, Hizbullah fired over 3,000 rockets.

Sources in Saudi Arabia claimed that Iran and Syria were behind the rearmament, supplying the guerilla organization with enough ammo to return to its former strength.

"The arms pipeline from Iran through Syria started to function even during the war," one source in Beirut said.

Officials in Iran and Syria continued to deny the claim that they provided Hizbullah with arms.

SANA (Syria): "Arab Papers: Israel & its Allies only Beneficiary from Assassination of Gemayel"

They've been reading the Huffington Post!
No one could be benefited from assassination of Lebanese Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel but Israel and its conniver allies, Egyptian daily 'al-Akhbar' said Friday, adding that ''there is no interpretation to what is going on in Lebanon but it is a work of intelligence apparatus of big states allied with Israel,"

The paper added in an article written by Jalal Dwidar" through this crime they wanted to destabilize Lebanon and abort the feeling of victory and defeating the Israeli military machine as well as to accuse Syria of committing such crime that no reason or logic pushes her to do that,"

" The reasonable thing is that those who committed the crime aimed at confusing the opposition and preventing them to peacefully demonstrate to pressure the Lebanese government in addition to stirring up sedition to open the door to a civil war inside Lebanon that is still suffering impacts of the Israeli late attack.''

" What the Lebanese arena is witnessing is no more than one chapter of the tragic series the Arab Nation is living. Israel has succeeded to sow seeds of partition and discord among political powers as long as it failed attain any goal through its destructive war on Lebanon ." the paper asserted.

The paper concluded by stressing that what is going on couldn't be spontaneous. There are hidden hands and certain parties that are interested in keeping the Arab region in a constant restless and confusion state to cover what they perpetrate and plot to.

In Tunisia, Tunisian 'al-Sarih' newspaper said that "the Israeli Mosad stands behind the series of assassinations in Lebanon starting from assassination of Premier Rafik Hariri reaching to assassination of Lebanese Minister of Industry Pierre Gemayel to stir up sedition among the Lebanese themselves and between Lebanese and their Arab brothers, "

" The UN Security Council resolution of setting up international is a US and Israeli decision for sticking charges with those who stand against Israel's interests in the region ," the paper mentioned.

'Assabah' paper for its part, held the March 14 forces the responsibility of stirring up sedition, warning that internationalization doesn't serve Lebanon's interests.

Arutz Sheva: "Terrorists Still Building Tunnels, One Collapses"

That title is the current situation in a nutshell:
The collapse of a terrorist-built tunnel under the Gaza-Egyptian border Saturday pointed to the continued failure of Egypt to abide by last year's agreement to protect Israel.

A number of Palestinian Authority Arabs were trapped beneath the rubble. One of the men was freed after rescue workers dug him out of the debris.

The tunnel was dug under a house in Gaza located some 100 meters from the border with Egypt, according to Col. Hussein Abu Omar, a PA security official.

It was not clear how far into Egypt the tunnel reached, nor was it immediately apparent whether the tunnel was used to smuggle weapons, contraband or both.

No further information about the incident was available.
Also from Arutz Sheva: "Israeli Ceasefire in Return for Partial Arab Truce":
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Saturday night agreed to withdraw all troops from the Gaza area and cease anti-terrorist actions in return for a halt to terrorist attacks from the region.

However, at least one of the terrorist organizations denied a Hamas claim it agreed to the partial truce, which is to take effect at 6 a.m. Sunday (11 p.m. Saturday night EST). Prime Minister Olmert said Israel will abide by the truce so long as there are no violations by the PA.

Two days ago, the government rejected a proposal by terrorist organizations that they halt rocket fire, but not other terrorist attacks, in return for a total halt to counter-terrorist actions by Israel throughout Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The latest Palestinian Authority (PA) offer includes a ban on suicide bombings and other attacks but only from the Gaza area, and it does not mention the smuggling of arms and terrorists. Israel's promise to stop retaliating against terrorists in the Gaza area also does not refer to similar activity in Judea and Samaria.

"After the zero hour, we are going to throw the ball into the Israeli court," said Khaled Abu Hilal, the Hamas Interior Minister. "A few hours after the zero hour, we will meet to evaluate the Israeli response."

Hilal said the agreement was coordinated with Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee, as well as the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The latter group, aligned with the rival Fatah faction of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, denied it was part of the deal.

Fars News: "Armed Forces Readiness a Source of Despair for Enemies"

IRNA has an article about the same speech, but the title of this one is nicely obnoxious.
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei termed Iran's armed forces a manifestation of national resolve and power, stressing that enemies despair of designing plots against Iran when they observe preparedness of the Islamic Republic troops.

The Leader further highlighted the differences residing between Islam's military logic and that of the material world, and underlined, "In the Islamic Republic, the armed forces are considered as pioneers in defending justice and public rights, strengthening national security and safeguarding Islamic and revolutionary values."

"But the international powers view military force as a means of gaining power," he continued.

The grand Ayatollah further reiterated the necessity for the Iranian armed forces to consolidate their relations with God and deepen their trust in the Creator, and meantime, maintain their level of physical preparedness.
That might not be a bad idea for the World Arrogance also.
"Iranian armed forces, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), are a manifestation of national power and resolve and their preparedness discourages enemies from targeting Iran," he stated.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mark Levine's essay blaming Israel for Gemayel assassination appears at HuffPo followed by incredible comment thread

Yesterday I noted an essay from Mark Levine blaming Israel for the Gemayel assassination. The essay has now appeared in the Huffington Post. At first and for quite a while, the comment thread is a festival of uninterrupted approval: Here is the first comment:
This thesis sounds completely plausible to me. The Mossad was born in terror and it is probably the most effective killing machine in the world.
And Gemayel's killing was nothing if not effective. Q.E.D. Next:
This makes sense to me. I wish we had more intelligent minds, such as yours. For the sake of every civilian in the Middle East I wish the killing would stop and the peace would begin.
If only the Mossad would just stop. Voila! Peace. Next:
A very interesting article.
Very dull comment, but I think that counts as approval. Next:
The assassination has the appearance of a CIA hit, particularly with the emergence of George H.W. Bush, James Baker, and Robert Gates onto the political scene.

Baker has made it quite clear that he believes in the principle of talking to your enemies. Perhaps he's doing a little recruiting to his side.
Not the little Satan, the Big Satan! Next:
Almost certainly a correct hypothesis. Gemayel's death benefits Israel and only Israel. When will this rogue state desist from its meddling?
Well, you know how it is with rogue states. Next:
This is what I have been thinking all along. Syria and Hezbolla didn't have to kill Gemayel. Their political fortunes were in ascendancy, and they certainly didn't need the hiccups that assassinations bring about, especially knowing who the obvious suspect would be. Which leaves, as Mark says, Israel. Plus, of course, the Lebansese government itself. It is in the interest of these two to want to precipitate a crisis. Especially the Lebanese government. It was (and still is) in a precarious survival situation, thanks to Hezbollah. Why not assassinate Gemayel to take the heat off, all the while knowing that anybody but they will be the prime suspects.
Throw in the Lebanese government and seemingly you have a whole new conspiracy theory, but no, just make sure you don't blame Syria and Hezbolla. Next:
Let me propose a contrarian view to the obvious conclusion that the assassination of Pierre Gemayel was the work of Syria: might it have been a false flag operation by Israel / US Neocons (two heads of the same coin)? Facts possibly pointing away from Syria: (a) their political power in the region on the upswing with Baker Group (i.e., Bush the elder's men) reaching out to Syria and Iran to help facilitate a US tactical retreat out of Iraq, (b) they are already under international investigation for Rafik Hariri murder and the Gemayel murder only heightens international pressure on Syria, (c) this murder was different style than others (bullets v. bombing). What do Israel / Neocons gain from Gemayel murder? Lots. Cause political instability in Lebanon which furthers their agenda in the country. They do not want a unified, strong central government on their northern boarder. Helps in their goal of isolating Syria as an alleged rogue state. Helps in thwarting international desire to involve Syria in solution in Iraq.
New variation--Israel plus neo-Cons. Next:
Mark, that took courage.
Taking the other view would take "courage" in HuffPo land. Next:
There are many assets of the CIA and Mossad working in Lebanon, Syria and Iran today.
My first thought when the news came across the wires was that either Israel or the US were responsible. . .
Had enough? The next one has a new conspiracy:
You are exposing the unmentionable...this ME war is not about WMDs, or democracy...but an elitist war for who gains power...we, the people (US, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Iran) are all being used to the ends of some very powerful people...sure wish they could find another way to agree on the world order...
There is yet another approving comment after that one, and finally:
You got the wrong Chinese guy there, mate. [Levine referred to "Chang Tzu" instead of Sun Tzu, patron saint of conspiracy theories--YG]

Nice mistake from a celebrated historian.

Must've been too busy adding more spit and polish to your interminable, insufferable bio that you post here, without any shame at all.

I read that masturbatory mess, just because I was waiting for the punchline. It boggles the mind to know that someone would actually write that and expect to be taken seriously.
I hope that last comment made it worth slogging through everything that led up to it. There is some variety to the comment thread after this. I'll spare you the rest of it.