Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fatah on the come back trail

Arutz Sheva carries the latest press release issued from those alleged moderates in the Palestinian Fatah political movement - Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade:
In an official announcement released in Gaza on January 30, the Brigades said that the Hamas victory in last week’s election “will not affect the policies of the Al-Aksa Brigades or its resistance to the Zionist occupier.”

“No Palestinian government will prevent the Brigades from continuing in its path of resistance until all Palestinian land is liberated from the defilement of the occupation,” said the Brigades. Using terminology reminiscent of the Hamas and other radical Islamic terror groups, the announcement continued, “The Al-Aksa Brigades will not be silent and will punish those who try to weaken Palestinian resistance and jihad against the occupier that blocks roads, arrests, and assassinates jihad fighters on the West Bank, and kills innocent children in Gaza.”

Abu Zuheri, a leader of the Brigades, expressed satisfaction with the group’s more militant image. “Palestine from the river to the Mediterranean, coincides with the policy of the Hamas and is a source of pride,” he said.
The current conventional wisdom for rationalizing the Hamas electoral victory is to claim that the Palestinian electorate was protesting against the innate corruption in the ruling Fatah party. I could buy into that argument if the Palestinian Authority was a western country, which normally takes a very dim view of influence peddling and considers bribery a betrayal of the public trust but this is the Middle East where graft is king.

I would suggest that the average Palestinian perceived that Fatah had lost its death grip under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas despite all those photo-ops from last winter showing Abbas hanging out with Hamas and the boys, and decided to elect the strongest possible government to deal with the Zionist interlopers/occupiers/and just general all around defilers in the harshest possible way. This press release is Fatah’s attempt to win back the respect and support of the Palestinian mainstreet.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Do you take your terror overt or covert?

Since the Palestinian elections have swept Hamas into electoral victory for control of the Palestinian Authority Fatah fractions have been clashing almost non-stop with political terror rival Hamas. Which is hardly surprising since there is not political precedent (outside of Iraq per say) that I can think of where an Arab League country has been able to make a successful transfer of power to political rivals without the shedding of blood.

The Jerusalem Post is carrying this report of Hamas accusing Fatah for not playing fair:
The Palestinian Authority has ordered its security forces to destroy or hide all files containing information on Hamas and its members, the movement claimed on Sunday. Hamas also accused the PA security forces of transferring weapons from their storehouses to Fatah militiamen.

Hamas officials in Gaza City claimed that Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, who held an emergency meeting with commanders of the PA security forces on Sunday, instructed them to take a series of measures in the wake of Hamas's victory in last week's parliamentary election.

The measures include destroying and hiding files containing information that had been gathered by the interrogation of hundreds of Hamas detainees over the past 12 years, the officials said, adding that the PA security forces were emptying their storehouses of automatic rifles and handing them over to Fatah groups. PA security forces strongly denied the Hamas allegations, saying no such instructions had been issued.

I just can’t figure out which group of murdering thugs that I should rooting for. But then again, I have never been a terror aficionado and it doesn't seem like much of an option if the only choice is to decide between overt or covert killers. In all the chaos and mayhem there is one thing that strikes me as odd, and that is the silence of one international Fatah player - Fatah Chairman Farouk Kaddoumi aka leader of the Fatah hardliners and rival to Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.


Debkafile is reporting that a surprise is awaiting Israeli Foreign Minister during her scheduled trip to Cairo:
The Egyptian resident’s office in Cairo left Livni’s office in Jerusalem in the dark about his plan to try his hand at mediation between the Olmert government, Abbas and Hamas, according to DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources. They also neglected to inform the Israeli minister that after her talks with Mubarak, she would be led to see Egyptian intelligence minister Omar Suleiman and that Mashaal would follow directly in her footsteps.

Mubarak will hear out the Israeli minister’s report on her government’s position regarding the boycott of a Hamas government, after which he will describe how he has co-existed with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent organization, for 25 years. He will urge Israel to follow his example.

Oy. I cannot vouch for the reliability of the report but I stand in gall of the idea. If the Egyptians think they can pull this off without any particularly embarrassing ramifications politically because the Israeli Foreign Minister is a woman - they are soon to feel wrath of a woman scorned.

Much Ado About Nothing

While the world and pundits grapple with the creation of Hamastan and the refusal of Hamas to renounce terror for political gain or to remove the destruction of the Jewish state as part of its charter, I have to ask; why are you only finding your scruples now?

The Palestine Liberation Organization or PLO was one of the first large scale international terrorists groups of the post-WW2 era. In Arabic the abbreviation for the PLO is FATAH. Fatah is commonly referred to in English language papers as the “political” wing of the PLO but Fatah is the PLO. I have on occasion been guilty of that sin myself for the sake of clarity. Most people have a hard enough time keeping straight the rather incestuous nature of the various terror sub-groups of the PLO.

I first noticed the trend in the main stream media for referring to the PLO as Fatah for political decisions rather than the PLO after the signing of the Oslo Accords. I would theorize that it was a conscious decision undertaken by the leadership of the PLO to refer to Fatah as the “political” wing in conversation with the Western press as a way to somehow sanitized and legitimize the PLO by wiping the name from the public’s memory of the very spectacular acts of carnage that the PLO executed all through the 60’s, 70’s, & 80’s in Europe and the Mid-East.

The PLO is terrorist organization and that created many sub-groups to carry out acts of terror and political violence in order to take full advantage of plausible deniability. Black September was just one branch of the PLO whose mandate was to carry out terrorists acts outside the Middle East. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was another. The PLO has a youth wing called Tanzim which is used to recruit youth operatives for the Al-Aqsa Marytr’s Brigade. The purpose of Al Aqsa’s Martyr’s brigade is to carry out terrorist acts against all Israeli citizens both in Israel and the disputed territories. PLO/Fatah and Tanzim also created another group to pool resources and act as conducts between the non-PLO sponsored groups called the Popular Resistance Committees. The Popular Resistance Committees are local grass root coalitions of terrorists groups whose members are drawn from Al-Aqsa, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza.

While it is true that PLO was suppose to renounce terror as a political weapon and revoke from its charter the aim of destroying the Jewish state it has never officially done so. Not under Arafat and not even under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. While Arafat would issue pronouncements against violence used against Israelis in English for the world press the reality was he never stopped sending the terrorists to kill and maim. Never. Abbas this spring sign a Martyr’s family compensation bill until law. Furthermore, recognizing the right of the Jewish State to exist somewhere, sometime, someplace is not the same as saying that Israel has the right to exist where it is.

Despite the alleged “period” of calm negotiated by Abbas with the various terrorists organizations the last year the suicide bombers continued to denote in Israel. While the number of successful suicide attacks dropped down to five and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for those successful attacks that does not mean that there was only 5 suicide attacks were launched against Israel in the last year. In a point of irony the majority of failed attacks were discovered to be operatives of Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad did not officially sign on to the alleged period of calm and yet that group was represented during the Abbas negotiations with the various terror groups in Egypt. Islamic Jihad is the most under funded and it possesses the smallest network of all the terror groups operating in the West Bank. Its ideology is as pure as Hamas and yet it did not sign on the alleged period of calm. I would suggest that an act of omission can be just as revealing as an act.

If I were to put on my tinfoil hat I would suggest that the non-compliance with the period of calm was the result of deliberate negotiations in order to allow Hamas and Al-Aqsa both an outlet and cover for limited terror activities under the umbrella of Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad would claim the guts and the glory which would allow both groups to continue the carnage with an element of plausible deniability for any successful attacks. This has been a time tested strategy from very beginning of the PLO. It would also go a long way in explaining how in the last 12 months of being targeted as the IDF’s special “friend” Islamic Jihad has still been able to successfully carry out attacks. Prior to the negotiated period of calm the IDF was so successful in targeting the Hamas leadership that Hamas stopped publicly declaring who its' leaders were.

All of which brings us today and tomorrow. The world will continue to fund Hamas out of fear that the central axis of evil member will step up to the plate and pick up the tab if the world hesitates too long and thereby Iran will gain an opportunity to have influence over the activities of Hamas in the disputed territories and become a far greater existential threat to the continued existence of Israel. While the monthly tab for running the Palestinian Authority under Fatah leadership is billed at approximately US$60 million a month I would enjoy seeing Iran pick up the tab. It would certainly put a significant dent in Iran’s ability to bankroll carnage and mayhem elsewhere. I trust in the general competency of the IDF to be successfully able to take out any tactical advantage Hamas might feel the need to flex gained from the Iranian association. As well as show that the Palestinian people that the days when they could indulge in their blood thirst with impunity are long over.

How long it takes for the world to come to the collective decision that not financing Hamas is not in the best interests of the Palestinians ‘innocents' or the stability of neighborhood depends on what signals the Israeli government sends. If Israel comes firmly down on the side of ‘no fracking way’ it would be practically impossible for any Western government to do so. The diplomatic fall-out in the world community would be extreme. Apparently, the Saudis might possibly step into the breach and pick-up the tab for the Palestinian Authority this month in order to give the world some breathing room reports the Jerusalem Post.

Saudi Arabia could bail the Palestinian Authority out of an impending fiscal crisis following the landslide victory of Hamas if it transfers the $100 million to the Palestinian Authority that it pledged to PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas when he visited there in late December.

In addition to bailing out the PA, the money would also give Israel and the world more time to ponder how to deal with the PA following Wednesday's Hamas victory. According to western diplomatic sources, Saudi Arabia pledged the money to Abbas because the European Union refused to transfer payment of some $60 million in November after the PA embarked on campaign economics: raising salaries and putting more people on its payroll. The Saudi money would be enough for the PA to pay January's salaries - about $60 million - and give it some additional breathing room.

Israel is scheduled to transfer to the PA some $60 million in taxes and customs revenues it collects for the PA on Friday. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at Sunday's cabinet meeting that Israel still had not decided whether - in light of the Hamas victory - it would indeed transfer the funds.

In the evening, at a press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Olmert said that Israel "has no intention of transferring funds" that will aid terrorists. Underscoring that Israel was "very sensitive" to Abbas's position, he said Israel had to be very careful that money it transferred would not later be used against Israel. Merkel said that Europe should not fund the PA as long as Hamas does not recognize Israel and disarm.

While acting Prime Minister Olmert is talking tough for the world press the ground work yea to funding of a Hamas dominated PA is already being laid by none other than the Israeli Defense Minister reports Arutz Sheva:
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Israeli cabinet on Sunday that since Hamas won a sweeping victory in last Wednesday’s PA parliamentary election, the extreme Islamic terror group was acting “responsibly.” Mofaz also said that in the short term, he thinks Hamas will refrain from terror attacks.

He added that it was likely that the Hamas will also attempt to block the Islamic Jihad from carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel. Islamic Jihad, trying to portray itself as more radical than Hamas, boycotted last week’s election. They claimed that the elections were based on the Oslo accords and played into the hands of the United States.

Mindy you, Hamas is not going to make this easy for the Israelis as shortly after Mofaz opinion was released to the press a Hamas leader on CNN had this to say:
“Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said from Gaza that Israel must change its flag. "Israel must remove the two blue stripes from its national flag", said Zahar. “The stripes on the flag are symbols of occupation. They signify Israel's borders stretching from the River Euphrates to the River Nile."

Israel’s national flag, a blue Star of David set between two blue stripes was designed to resemble a Jewish prayer shawl which traditionally has stripes.

Even now the United States is actively seeking solutions to the funding dilemma the Hamas victory represents reports the Jerusalem Post:
The US won't deal with Hamas ministers in a future Palestinian Authority government, but will also not cut off ties with the PA as a result of Hamas's inclusion, diplomatic officials said Monday. According to the officials, the US formula for dealing with a PA government following Wednesday's elections would be based on the "Lebanese model." In Lebanon, the officials said, the US continues to have strong ties with the government in Beirut even though Hizbullah is part of it. It does not, however, have any contact with the one Hizbullah minister.

The officials said that since Hamas was on the US list of terrorist organizations, the US would be legally proscribed from having contact or dealing with Hamas officials, even if they were PA ministers. At the same time, they said, the law would not necessarily proscribe the US from continuing to deal with the PA or contributing money to it. These comments came as Israeli diplomats were quietly holding conversations with their counterparts in Europe and the US over the steps they should take if Hamas became the dominant force inside the PA.

The US Congress passed a resolution late last year condemning Hamas's participation in the election, and warning that financial assistance to the PA could be blocked if Hamas's terrorist infrastructure was not dismantled.

I cannot see Israel changing its flag to placate the Hamastan but everything else is fair game and it is only a matter of time before the West, once again, finds a way around their scruples for the 'greater good'. There already exists a precedent for it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Reporters may have a valid claim on our pity as well as our scorn

Blogging in general has a kind of therapeutic value and as much as I enjoy the ability to unload whatever baggage that I have been traveling with but I have often longed for the housekeeping value that editors provide for print journalists. Someone else to take on the grunge work and check my facts, clean up the grammar, check the spelling, and delete words or sentences for clarity or whatever might be construed as a libelous intent. I often write 10 to 12 posts a day and only a small fraction actually makes it into The Last Amazon.

I have huge unfinished pieces on a variety of topics stored on my hard drive – all unfinished for a variety of reasons. What I have written on Lebanon alone has the makings of at least a 600 page book. A great deal of what I write sees the light of day at 4am in a very pre-caffeinated state, and take this on faith, but when I take a look at it after the medicinal value of caffeine kicks-in gets consigned to dead storage on the hard drive to await a very uncertain fate.

Sometimes I can’t find the original source and then the premise of the whole post falls apart without it. Sometimes I do find the original source and discover my memory of the facts doesn’t jive with the source. Or I just plain lose interest in continuing the piece because it is far too long and is much more worthy of a thesis topic than a blog post. Or it’s because it is far too personal to commit to the blogsphere, and sometimes during the process I just get too damned bored to go on. Now money is a great motivator for me and if I was paid to produce and had a deadline; I would flog away to pick up the lucre at the end but a blogger doesn’t have that luxury.

Often what I have written is the result of what I call the twit factor of print journalists. Never having been a journalism major I assumed that an editor only has license to apply a housekeeping function to a writer’s finished product. Editing or deleting sentences for clarity, checking spelling, grammar, facts, sources, or in other words, all the grunge work that bores me silly. I never imagined that an editor would inject prose to modify a point a writer never made.

I can’t imagine having to go through life at family events, parties or public functions and having to constantly justify or clarify what I didn’t write because some little pissant of an editor used his license to flesh out what I either didn’t write or didn’t mean. I remain unconvinced even for money that there is a value of being publicly misunderstood but feel free to put forth a compelling argument otherwise. I’m open.

I have been thinking hard of the Potter/Peanut affair and it makes me the question the validity of what I have written in the past criticizing what I assumed was Potter’s work only because his name was on the banner over the story. I stand by the points I made but how much of whatever we see in print is actually what reporters have in fact written? For some journalists, it is easy to determine how much of twit they really are because their personas have a public dimension (think Robert Fisk) but without the medium of broadcasting; how can we ever really tell without a footnote from the editor at the bottom of a piece noting changes both large and small?

All of which makes me conclude that blogging (for me) is a much more preferable medium than journalism for communicating a point of view or ultimately changing the nature of ideas. It may not be financially rewarding and the audience is far, far smaller but at least the words are all mine – warts and all.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Peanut Pauses

Yesterday, I wrote that the Toronto Star needed a whole new slew of managing editors for letting this little dittie in a Mitch Potter column slide into print:
At 81, clear-eyed and calm, America's most beloved ex-president — who yesterday sanctified the Palestinian election as head of the 950-strong international observer mission — took the earthquake in stride.

When I questioned the competency of the managing editors I was being purely rhetorical never realizing the creation of that little dittie lay with the editor and not the writer. If you follow the link for yesterday for the Toronto Star column the sentence now reads:
At 81, clear eyed and calm, the former U.S. president — who yesterday sanctified the Palestinian election as head of the 950-strong international observer mission — took the earthquake in stride.

Apparently, Lucianne made hay yesterday in the life of Mitch Potter causing him to send this email to the editors of Lucianne:
I wrote the Jimmy Carter interview currently on your home page.

Please let the record show that:

I wrote:

"At 81, clear eyed and calm, the former U.S. president who yesterday sanctified the process as head of the 950-strong international observer mission took the earthquake in stride."

But my newspaper published:

"At 81, clear-eyed and calm, America's most beloved ex-president — who yesterday sanctified the Palestinian election as head of the 950-strong international observer mission — took the earthquake in stride."

I did not, repeat not, use the word "beloved" in my original file. Carter was a one-term president, after all, and America's overall disinterest in his continuing work is obvious. The reference was added by an editor in Toronto without my knowledge. And a thorough thrashing has ensued.

Please, everyone, redirect your rage and ridicule. If you must resort to personal insults, base it on something I actually said.

Er ... that's all.

Mitch Potter
Middle East Bureau Chief
Toronto Star of Canada

001 416 367 2000

But not only did Potter get in the Lucianne act, his so did the Toronto Star’s Deputy Foreign Editor:

The words "beloved ex-president" were added to Mitch Potter's copy during editing.

I realize Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is a polarizing figure.

Nevertheless, personal attacks -- flaming -- on our writers are unwarranted.

Desist, please.

Peter Martyn
Deputy Foreign Editor
The Toronto Star

So the Toronto Star corrected the online column but made no public acknowledgement that its editorial staff took liberties with their reporter’s copy in the correction section.

I suspect the silence on this kind of backdoor shenanigan from the Toronto Star’s media critic will be positively deafening.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cutting off your nose to feed the Crocs

"Scandalous" is not the word I would use to characterized acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision in cabinet today to transfer tax funds to Hamas but I believe that Likud Foreign Affairs critic Silvan Shalom was too outright flabbergasted to spite out adjectives much beyond that. I know I would be.

Debkafile is the first online with the report but I would suggest checking in with Ha’aretz (Ha'aretz has it up on the website as a ticker news flash)and/or the Jerusalem Post for a full report in about an hour’s time.

Former FM Likud’s Silvan Shalom says the transfer of moneys to the Hamas-ruled administration is “scandalous,” and sends a wrong signal to donor-countries for their relations with the terrorist regime. Hours after its election victory emerged, Hamas posted through a third party a threat that any holdups in funds transfers to the new Palestinian administration would be casus belli.

It would prompt large-scale attacks inside Israel and disrupt its March 28 elections - acting prime minister Ehud Olmert’s prospects in particular. Hamas sources evinced an interest in an open-ended truce with Israel.

However Olmert’s military and security advisers warn that Hamas’s only goal is not peace but time to achieve full control of all Palestinian security and intelligence services in preparation for full-scale war against Israel. It will then employ its parliamentary majority to oust Abu Mazen as PA chairman.

Debkafile’s report suggests that Olmert’s Kadima party has given into extortion, and if realistic, it bodes badly for the Israelis and dashes any hope that Hamas will renounce violence and reform itself. There is one lesson history illustrates clearly and that is one can never appease crocodiles enough to satisfy their bottomless appetites. And since Olmert & Kadima are acting on former US President Jimmy Carter’s fiscal advice, I can only pray that he is giving them election advice as well – and Olmert follows it faithfully down to the last “t” on defeat.

Toronto Star has peanut moment in print

I swear that the Toronto Star needs a whole new slew of managing editors for letting this little dittie slide into print concerning former US President Jimmy Carter:
At 81, clear-eyed and calm, America's most beloved ex-president — who yesterday sanctified the Palestinian election as head of the 950-strong international observer mission — took the earthquake in stride.

I challenge the Toronto Star to prove it. And when the old geezer finally has dies there will not be the outpouring of grief that we witnessed over the death of Ronald Reagan but I will tell you how the crowd will break down. One third will be distressed, one third will come out of respect for the office of the presidency, and the final group of mourners will show up to ensure the little shit is really dead.

Most beloved ex-president my arse but he is in the running for worst American president ever.

I would rather be alone

I had a hard time imaging that the Palestinian elections would take place. Up until the first ballot I kept waiting for Fatah to pull a “rope a dope” move that would facilitate the postponement of the elections. It was no great shock that Hamas won the election decisively but what the shocker was that Fatah did not act to save itself politically. There was great pressure brought to bear on Abbas within his own party to cancel the elections and there were rumours that the anarchy that was so pervasive in the West Bank and Gaza leading up to the elections was actually orchestrated by Fatah elements opposed to the elections at this time. From the Jerusalem Post:
Shocked and embarrassed was the best way to describe the mood at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on Thursday after the top brass learned of the final outcome of the Palestinian Authority elections and Hamish’s unexpected landslide victory. But after the shock wore off, senior officers began wondering how the IDF had totally failed to predict what appeared in retrospect to have been clear from the outset - and pointed their fingers in one direction, at Military Intelligence.

In line with the recent Palestinian polls, MI officers, as well as Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials, had for the past month predicted that Hamas would win somewhere between 30 percent to 40% of the vote, but that the ultimate winner would be Fatah.

"We slipped up," a member of General Staff told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. "What is most amusing is that the United States listened to us and our predictions, and in the end we were wrong." But not everyone thought the mishap was amusing. One senior Defense Ministry official said the army had clearly failed in its job to accurately "read" the Palestinian street. The mistake, the official said, showed that MI was "out of touch" with what was really going on in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

"What this mistake shows," the official said, "is that the IDF is not on top of things and is out of touch with what is really going on in the PA territories." Other officers tried to downplay the error and, in an attempt to do damage control, said a Hamas victory was taken into consideration by the defense establishment as one of many possible scenarios. To back up the claim, one officer recalled chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's speech on Sunday at the Herzliya Conference, in which he said: "Fatah will win, Hamas will win, or anarchy will win."

As glad as I usually am when company joins me in my misery I would rather not have chosen this group to share my ignominy as it bodes very poorly for the future.

Is there anything the Peanut Farmer wouldn't fund?

As if the world needed another reason why it was a good thing that Jimmy Carter lost his last election for presidency of the United States. From the Jerusalem Post:
Carter, who led an 85-member international observer team from around the world organized by the 'National Democratic Institute' in partnership with 'The Carter Center,' urged the international community to directly or indirectly fund the new Palestinian Government even though it will be led by an internationally-declared foreign terror organization.

"The Palestinian Government is destitute, and in desperate financial straits. I hope that support for the new government will be forthcoming," Carter said at a Jerusalem press conference.

He added that if international law barred donor countries from directly funding a Hamas-led government than the US and the EU should bypass the Palestinian Authority and provide the "much-needed" money to the Palestinians via non-governmental channels such as UN agencies.

"Regardless of the government, I would hope that potential donors find alternative means to be generous to the Palestinian people [even] if the donor decides to bypass the Palestinian government completely," Carter said, stressing that his main concern was to avert the "suffering" of the Palestinian people, which he said could lead to a new cycle of violence.
He noted that the heavily funded Palestinian Government would run out of money at the end of next month.

Hamas, the largest and most powerful of the Palestinian terror organizations, which advocates Israel's destruction, has carried out scores of bombings over the last five years of Palestinian violence, attacks which have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli statesman Shimon Peres had opined in a radio interview that international aid to a Hamas-led government would likely be terminated. The former Democratic president's comments came as US President Bush said that Hamas cannot be a partner for Middle East peacemaking without renouncing violence, reiterating that the United States will not deal with Palestinian leaders who do not recognize Israel's right to exist.

I move for ending all funding immediately. Hamas will run adequate social outreach programs including daycares, hospitals, food banks, schools etc. much like they have always done. The funds from outside aid organizations and governments will continue to prop up the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority. This leaves Hamas with the continued opportunity to radicalize and indoctrinate but it also continues to allow the Palestinian people the opportunity to be spared the consequences of their own decisions while satisfying their bloodlust which should never be an acceptable use of anyone’s tax dollars.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Jerusalem Post carries part of a speech Likud leader Benjamin Netyanyahu gave to the Likud Knesset members today after the PA elections:
"Before our very eyes, Hamastan has been established, the step-child of Iran and the Taliban. It's in firing range of our airport, our highways and cities. This has to be a day of soul searching because the writing was on the wall. The policy of giving land for free gave a prize to terror and a winning card for Hamas.

"How are Olmert and Peres getting ready for this challenge? They are moving the fence 500 meters closer to the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway (Beit Iksa). They gave more land to the Hamas state. Any land given to Hamas will give more of a front to fire upon us. "This is a new and dangerous situation. Sharon said he wouldn't let Palestinians in Jerusalem vote. Olmert let them."

Well, well. As I said before, the real focus should be on what path the Israeli electorate will choose to take now that Hamastan is born.

Hate in Switzerland Part 2: World Economic Forum

Yesterday, I blogged about anti-Semitic material being distributed under the official auspices of the World Economic Forum. Today, I received this comment which is really too important to languish in the comment section:

Davos, Switzerland, 26 January 2006 – With great concern and pain, I just learned that Global Agenda,a publication distributed to our members at the Annual Meeting 2006, contains an article calling for a boycott of Israel. This article is totally in contradiction to my own, and the Forum’s, mission and values. For 36 years I have been committed to fighting for mutual understanding in the world. The Forum has been deeply involved in the efforts to create better relations and reconciliation in the Middle East and throughout the world.

As soon as I learned about this article, I immediately investigated how this situation could have developed. I concluded there was an unacceptable failure in the editorial process, specifically an insufficiently short period for review of content – for which there is no excuse. I, on behalf of the Forum, profoundly apologize and express my regrets to everyone.

I can assure you that appropriate steps have been instituted to ensure that this will never happen again.

I would like to confirm to all our friends in the Middle East, and throughout the world, that the Forum will continue, under my leadership, to do everything possible to foster dialogue and open communication among all parties, based on mutual respect and recognition, and not on confrontation.

Klaus Schwab
Founder and Executive Chairman
World Economic Forum

I did a yahoo search and did find this exact statement on the World Economic Forum's website as of 8:00 am (est) this morning. Ironically, I checked my stats and found that some anonyomous soul posted the comments to my site from Switzerland.

Domain Name compunity.com ? (Commercial)
IP Address 212.243.97.# (Swisscom Zuerich)
ISP Unisource Business Networks (Schweiz) AG
Location Continent : Europe
Country : Switzerland (Facts)
State/Region : Bern
City : Bern
Lat/Long : 46.9167, 7.4667 (Map)

Language unknown
Operating System Microsoft WinXP
Browser Internet Explorer 6.0Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)
Javascript disabled
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Visit Entry Page http://thelastamazon...-world-economic.html
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Call me a cynic because I find it incredulous to believe that Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum has time to read my insignificant little blog or cares what I post or say, let alone felt compelled to have minion post a blogment as a public apology in my blog.

Its far more likely that someone has taken a statement of Mr. Schwabs and posted it under the auspices of feeding my delusions of grandeur. But on the off chance that I have suddenly gained international influence with world “economic” thinkers and leaders - post or email me your wish list now. I’ll start the ball rolling with; Free trade with only Free nations.

Time to duck and cover

Just my luck that the time Blogger picks for maintenance issues is at the very time I need to eat a little crow. The Hamas win is so overwhelming that there will be no major lawsuits alleging vote fraud over the final tally, and furthermore, the entire Fatah cabinet has turned in their resignation as a result of the Hamas electoral sweep.
A senior Hamas official said recognizing and negotiating with Israel are "not on our agenda." However, Hamas also signaled flexibility, saying it wants a "political partnership," presumably with Fatah. The Palestinian Cabinet submitted their resignations following the apparent Hamas victory Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia's office said, setting the stage for the Islamic group to lead a new Palestinian government.
The resignations were in part a formality required after an election, but the timing of the move, hours before the release of official results, was surprising. The announcement from Qurei's office did not mention Hamas. Under Palestinian law, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas must now ask the party that holds a majority in the legislature to form a new government. Hamas won virtually all of the 66 seats in electoral districts in the Palestinian parliament vote, election officials said Thursday.
Earlier Thursday, Hamas' top candidates on claimed the group won a majority of seats in Palestinian legislative elections, despite exit polls showing them finishing second to Fatah. Fatah officials concurred that Hamas captured a majority of seats, shortly after the terrorist group claimed victory. The Fatah officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they expected Hamas to win about 70 seats, which would give the Islamists a majority in the 132-seat parliament.

Talk about shades of the US election circa 2004 with the exit polls leaning towards Fatah but Hamas playing the New Bush sweeps to victory. According to this YnetOnline report Hamas will not recognize the Jewish state, will not negotiate with the Jewish state nor will there be a revoking of the Hamas Charter clause that calls for the destruction of Israel.

A senior Hamas official said Thursday recognizing Israel and talks with the Jewish state are "not on our agenda." "Negotiations with Israel are not on our agenda," said Mushir al-Masri, who won the election in his home district in the northern Gaza Strip. "Recognizing Israel is not on the agenda either now," he said.

Meanwhile, despite its pledge to cooperate with all Palestinian factions, however, Hamas stressed the group has no intention to disarm, with al-Zahar reiterating Hamas does not plan to "change even one word" in its charter, which calls for Israel's destruction.

I am not going all-apocalyptic over Hamas victory. The End of Days is not here but it could potentially be the beginning of the end of this conflict. Hamas has proven itself to be quite a pragmatic organization and I do believe dialogue will continue despite various “unofficial” statements from senior members of the organization. I can foresee situations where the few remaining Fatah members will be utilized by a Hamas Administration as the official go-between in any discussions with Israel.

Hamas, though a terror organization has been highly effective in delivering quality social outreach programs for Palestinians in the disputed territories. The corruption and duplicity of the Palestinian Authority was so all-pervasive that any progress in delivering services for their citizens was marred by outright graft that any alleged benefits rarely materialized. On this level is does represent a victory of sorts for the Palestinian people.

Hamas can claim that at heart it is a democratic populous movement unlike the Fatah and the PLO which was no more than the self-appointment of rule by various and sundry thugs, kleptos and despots. Hamas can claim with a legitimacy of sorts as the manifestation of the will of the Palestinian people residing in the disputed territories.

The Palestinian people in the disputed territories have shown in poll after poll that they have been overwhelmingly in favour of continuing the “armed resistance” against Israel even at the cost of the lives and future of their children. Golda Mier perhaps said it best when she said, “that peace would come when the Arabs loved their children more than they hate Jews.” You cannot get it plainer than that. It is time for the West to face those very inconvenient facts and acknowledge that there are no peace partners for Israel yesterday, nor today or possibly even tomorrow.

Hamas will remain consistent in their aims and at the same time will be bogged down organizing the civil administration of the government. In fact, if Hamas does not immediately take up the challenges of civil administration (such as imposing law and order) it will lose the legitimacy of the Palestinian people. It might be wise to have international pressure brought to bear on Hamas to take up the challenges of civil governance and immediately act to facilitate the return and re-settlement of those Palestinians currently residing in refugee camps spread out in the neighboring countries back into the Gaza Strip.

Furthermore, Hamas looks, quacks, waddles exactly what it is. This will allow the Israelis a freedom to act that they have not had since the Oslo Accord was fully implemented in 1996. It is far easier to fight an enemy that stands front and center without the subterfuge. What is far more interesting is how the Israeli electorate will perceive the kind of leadership needed for Israel after a Hamas win. All three major Israeli parties (Labor, Likud and Kadima) are claiming the need for unilateral withdrawals and concessions but will the task be given to Likud or Kadima?

The Hamas victory practically guarantees that Labor will not form the next government as they have been perceived to be far too dovish and ineffective in the face of terror. The choice becomes between Likud led by Netanyahu, a known hawk and tough negotiator or the unknown Kadima led by Ehud Olmert, a man now rumoured to be contemplating the partitioning of Jerusalem.

While Olmert is not considered “dovish” per say; his only hawkish credentials to date is that he would not hesitate to turn out the IDF, police forces and tax collectors on his own people but has been relatively ineffective in responding to Palestinian terror. I haven’t a clue as to whom the Israelis will choose but it may represent the final days of struggles for the land – one way or another.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What a difference a day makes

TORIES SAY BORDER GUARDS WILL GET HANDGUNS: Fleeing their post bad for our image” is the headline of the moment at Neale News that links to this Yahoo News report:

VANCOUVER (CP) - The Conservative justice critic says the party will stand behind its promise to give Canada's border guards guns, a day after two murder suspects from California made a run for the border before they were stopped in a shootout.

"It's simply a practical matter of how soon these officers can be trained and the firearms issued to them," said Vic Toews, the Conservative MP who served as justice critic in Opposition. "That's our commitment and I trust our minister will do exactly that."

Toews said in an interview Wednesday he did not relish the sight of Canadian border guards leaving their posts as the gunmen approached the border. "I think it does nothing for our national image. I find it very disturbing that our officers felt compelled to leave because of this threat to their personal safety," he said from his Manitoba riding of Provencher.

"I understand their concerns very well and don't fault them. What surprises me is that the former government refused to properly equip our officers." He said he doesn't know what the time line will be. The move would not require legislation. It would be done by an order in council, which the union representing the guards fully supports.
I can understand the fact that the border guards fled their post. They were not obviously trained for this kind of a scenario and they certainly weren’t equipped to deal with all the possible repercussions of it. But geez, it’s the border – you’d have thought that a Liberal government would have done something to rectify that shortcoming in the last 12 years or at least since 9/11 considering that border guards are in an enforcement position. Which leads me to another question; what exactly have those post 9/11 special airport security taxes been paying for exactly? Inquiring minds would dearly love to know.

The Other Election

The Jerusalem Post is predicting a Fatah victory in the Palestinian Authority elections based on insider information on exit poll results leaked to the Jerusalem Post:
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Fatah won more than 42 percent of the vote and Hamas more than 34 percent, based on exit polling of 6,500 voters.

Debkafile is carrying the partial exit poll result in the Palestinian Elections and suggesting that Fatah can rule without a Hamas coalition. The Debkafile gives a little more detail:
Palestinian voters mobbed the 1,008 polling stations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip from the early hours of Wednesday Jan 25, to elect 132 members of parliament and their next government. Half of those seats will be chosen from 300 candidates on 11 national lists, half from 400 contestants in the constituencies. Of the 1.34 million eligible voters 58% had cast ballots three hours before balloting closed. Party activists agreed not to bear arms in the polling stations. But they are crowding the entrances. Indelible ink is used on voters’ fingers. In Gaza, Hamas’s green baseball caps and Fatah yellow flags and posters of its founder, Yasser Arafat, are prominent. In Jerusalem, where a small number of Palestinians are casting their votes in post offices, Israeli police prevented nationalist Knesset members Effi Eitam and Arye Eldad and four protesters from demonstrating against the election taking place in the Israeli capital.

The Jerusalem Post has now updated the original article and claims a very slim margin of victory for Fatah:

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Fatah won more than 46 percent of the vote and Hamas more than 39 percent, based on exit polling late Wednesday night. There was a high voter turnout of 77.7%.

Unofficial results are expected to be published on Thursday.

Don't hold your breath waiting for the "official" results. Official results have a way of disappearing in the Palestinian Authority. Wait for the news of the law suits over voter fraud instead to get only a feel for the actual numbers.

In other election news Ha’aretz is carrying the story of a mock Palestinian election being carried out in Palestinian rfugee camps in Lebanon in protest for being excluded from the vote in the disputed territories:
SIDON, Lebanon - Palestinians in Lebanon's largest refugee camp held a mock election Wednesday, making the point that while they could not vote in the polls in Gaza and the West Bank, they still intend to return to the land from which they were displaced. As Palestinian songs blared from loudspeakers, some 100 men and women stood in line in front of ballot boxes placed on a table near the office of the mainstream Fatah Party in Ein el-Hilweh camp outside the city of Sidon. Palestinians outside the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were not allowed to take part Wednesday's parliamentary elections.

"We are a priority," said Abu Rabih, a refugee who was displaced during the 1967 war. "We should return today rather than tomorrow." Rabih added that he and his fellow refugees were "all for Fatah," the party of Palestinian Authority Chairman MahmoudAbbas. Fatah's commander in Ein el-Hilweh, Khaled Aref, said the refugees wanted to remind people of their demand to return.

But Rabih has a very valid point. Why are there still Palestinian Refugee camps located in the neigboring states? Why have absolutely no overtures been made by the Palestinian Authority to return any of these people to land under the direct control of the Palestinian Authority? Are some Palestinians more “Palestinian” than others?

In light of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip there should be no excuse for delay of the return of at least some of the refugees. Surely a UNRWA camp run in Lebanon can just as easily be run in the Gaza Strip until such time that the civilian authority is able to re-settle these people permanently within its mandate.

And just exactly what was the rational used to deliberately exclude Palestinian refugees from voting in the current election? Even expatriate Iraqis voted in the last Iraqi elections were entitled; so why are Palestinians in refugee camps spread throughout the Arab world, and Palestinian nationals located beyond the camps; all denied a vote? Did Fatah, Hamas el al give up the “right of return” and the world never noticed? You'd think even Jimmy Carter would have noticed that a large group of Palestinians were deliberatedly excluded and denied a vote, but he has been uncharacteristically silent on this point.

The plight of Palestinian Refugees is dire, and if the goal of the Palestinian Authority is statehood; than its long past time that the PA starts acting like a nation rather than a disgruntal collection of thugs and despots fighting over the spoils of war that they have no intention of sharing - ever.

Hate in Switzerland; World Economic Forum

Ynet News Online carries this report from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The few Israelis who arrived Tuesday at the Swiss ski-resort town of Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, an annual meeting of approximately 2,500 business leaders, were in for a bitter surprise: A scathing and malicious article blasting Israel was included in a special booklet handed out to all the conference's attendees.

The article calls on its readers to boycott Israel and compares Zionism to the most radical forms of racism. The booklet, titled "Global Agenda," bears the logo of the World Economic Forum and includes an introduction written by the conference organizers. It appears to be an official publication of the World Economic Forum and is included in every file handed out to conference participants. It is also distributed at the Zurich Airport and at Swiss hotels.

The booklet includes an unusually harsh article written by Mazin Qumsiyeh, a lecturer at a number of American universities, titled "Boycott Israel." The article includes an unequivocal call to establish a global movement against Zionism and a global movement against the "Israeli apartheid", as well as anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic remarks and threats, the likes of which are usually published in marginal magazines in the West or by radical Islamists.
The European protests of this book have been positively deafening; in other words, you will not hear a single voice raised above a whisper. I guess some things never change and European Anti-Semitism is just as alive and well as it was 70 years ago.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Aw shucks, we made the Saudi News

Trudeaupia a few weeks ago came out of lurking mode and pointed me in the direction of the Arab News in my search for Saudi goat stories. Reading the Arab News has literally provided me with hours of fun but I was shocked to see a report of the Canadian elections in the Saudi run Arab News. But the surprise didn’t end there as the editorial of the day was based on the Canadian CPC election victory:
The election victory won by Canada’s Conservative Party is a remarkable success story and provides one political lesson above all others: Never write off a political party. That is what the pundits did to the Canadian Conservatives 13 years ago. Back in the 1993 general election, the party that had been in and out of government for over 120 years was all but wiped out; from a majority of 169 MPs in the 1988 election, it won just two. It was finished, people said. Canadians had matured politically and had no time for politics of the right, the pundits said.

They were so very wrong. In this election, the defeated Liberals, along with the other two large parties, the left-wing New Democratic Party and the separatist Bloc Quebecois, tried to paint the Conservatives as reactionary extremists. It did not work — not because the Conservatives’ policies are middle of the road; on the contrary, they are very much on the right. Clearly the Canadian public liked the simple, clear message from the man who will now be prime minister, Stephen Harper — less taxes, a clampdown on crime and political reform.

Being a relatively hip online publication there’s a place to comment. Go read the rest and add your two cents.

Talk about a big “opps” moment -

Courtesy of Israeli Minister of Defense, Sha’ul Mofaz (Kademi Party) reports Arutz Sheva:

(IsraelNN.com) Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz was severely criticized by Knesset members over a false report of an agreement he claimed was reached with the Palestinian Authority over the security arrangements at the Rafiach border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Today, it was revealed to the members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the agreement they were shown by Mofaz was not signed by the Arab side, and was merely a draft presented by Israel to American interlocutors.

Committee chairman Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) said at the meeting: "The dishonest misrepresentation of Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz in presenting the nonexistent 'crossings agreement' to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee throws a heavy shadow over his fitness to serve as defense minister in the State of Israel. This is the most serious case of misleading the Knesset in matters of foreign policy and defense in recent years."

Israelis, much like Canadians, obviously have trust issues with their leadership but the difference lies when a public official in Canada betrays the public trust and purse; it does not translate into the potential death of innocent lives. Small mercies, I suppose.

The Sun Also Rises in the West

Imagine there will finally be a Prime Minister in this country that is not from a lawyer from Quebec. I can hardly believe it and ten conservative seats in Quebec. It feels too much like Twlight Zone time. The youngest got up in the morning and asked if the price of candy bars will go down or stay the same.

People can talk about a “weak” minority or a small minority but the bald face fact is that there will not be another election anytime soon. Neither the Bloc nor the Liberals cannot afford to have an election in the next 18 month as the wallets are empty and the line of credit has just dried up. The Liberal party is in shambles and shackled with some serious debt to pay off while the Conservative Party of Canada remains liquid and fluid.

If there was a disappointment tonight it is that the Maritimes continues to lag behind the rest of the country and Ontario is completely bipolar. I am a little disappointed that the Liberals continued to win 30% of the seats up for grabs. I had expected to see a much stronger NDP with the infusion of Liberal blood and it just didn’t happen. What’s wrong with these people?

Imagine property rights enshrined in the Canada constitution. All I can say is – bring it on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Johan Boyden - The Communist Party of Canada

"Break the Slavery of Free Trade"

Candidate for Toronto-Centre

Only in Canada.

In the Mood

I just returned from the dungiest polling station I have ever been in but they were incredibly happy to see me. I can’t imagine why, but trust me,they were over the top with joy. On the way out a little old bag lady type was bundled outside the exit door of the building where I voted offered me cookies as a reward for voting. I declined but thanked her for her efforts. Sure beats the usual demands for money I get every morning at the streetcar stop and the cussing I am subjected to when I refuse to turn over the fruit of my labours. But if truth be told, it made me long for the really old days when politicians just brought your vote for drinks.

I tend to fall asleep relatively early so I doubt there is a snowball’s chance in hell that I will be awake to watch, let alone blog, any election returns. But on the off chance I am awake – I will take my cue from Occam’s mood and commiserate accordingly. One should never doubt the sensitivity of the New Carbuncle:

1. Rabid wolf - Don't make any eye contact.


First we had Hollywood, then Hollywood North & Bollywood, but are we ready for the rise of Bullywood? Business Week carries this report:
Stray dogs drinking from puddles are the only sign of life on a rainy day at Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria. Rotting cabbages and potatoes, left from an Italian TV shoot, lie scattered on a street built to look like Boston's North End. A Roman coliseum awaits a new sword-and-sandal epic.

No, there's not a palm tree in sight, but this Communist-era studio could become the Balkans' answer to Burbank. Los Angeles film producer Nu Image Inc., which has made 47 movies in Bulgaria since 1999, wants to buy Boyana and use it to vault beyond its action-flick niche and into films with Oscar potential. "I'm going to turn Boyana into one of the most important studios in Europe," says David Varod, a set-designer-turned-producer who is Nu Image's man in Bulgaria.

Varod's vow is not just show-biz bluster. Currently, Nu Image Bulgaria operates from a building that once housed an indoor swimming pool in Sofia, where it has built a thriving business churning out lowbrow titles such as Today You Die and Raging Sharks. But last year, Nu Image achieved what Varod hopes will be a breakthrough when it shot director Brian De Palma's latest thriller, The Black Dahlia, on an ersatz L.A. street. Boyana, set on 74 acres just outside Sofia, would give Nu Image a prime launching pad for its ambitions to produce more such prestige work.

Eastern Europe is already a filmmaking hot spot. Studios such as Prague's Barrandov, the setting for some of Walt Disney Co.'s (DIS ) current hit The Chronicles of Narnia, have a reputation for skilled technical work at relatively low cost. But Bulgaria is even cheaper. Varod estimates that costs are 50% to 60% below those of Hollywood. Besides, "Boyana is up there with the iconic film studios. It's a great brand," says Patrick Newman, a consultant who represents London's Ealing Studios, which covets Boyana, too. Some Boyana equipment is out of date, but its facilities include gems such as a soundproof orchestra recording studio that would be prohibitively expensive to build from scratch. It also has an arsenal of medieval weapons.

I have no idea whether this is a feasible business model but the idea of a "Bullywood" churning out Hollywood celluloid just charms me. Well that, and the idea of Bulgarian film studio owning its own medieval weapons arsenal.

Jaysus R. Roosevelt

Is it really too much to ask that I be spared from the "means well" intentions of others?

The Toronto Star editorial board stands up and applauds the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities for restricting the sales of common cold medicine as of April 10, 2006, to only licensed pharmacies. Presumably this will hamper the illicit production of crystal meth. What it means to you and me is that the next time you are sicker than a dog and have run out of any Nyquil at 11:30pm and can't breathe; don't delude yourself that the hope of relief is only as far away as the corner store or 7/11.

No doubt those sages of wisdom that make up the Toronto Star editorial board would support an all out ban on kitchen knives as well. But why draw the line there? Let's put hockey sticks and baseballs on a restricted weapons list too. Maybe we can start a registry for baseball bats. Certainly, a coast-to-coast ban on kitchen knives would deter those acts of violence as much as any presumed ban on the restricted sales of cold medicine will do for production of crystal meth.

Election Day

I do not have any predictions to make and I am not much of a gambler. I don’t even buy lottery tickets. If the liberals somehow snatch victory from defeat – well, well. I will move forward with my plans to leave Ontario in the future and join the Western Separatist movement.

If the conservatives win, my life won’t change much except that I won’t have to a tax shelter for my 14 year old so that she does not have to pay taxes on her High School scholarship and I will be able to write off the cost of her books. My children are too old for the family to benefit from the Beer and Popcorn child care tax credit. So my beer budget will remain at zero and I will continue to divert my money into popcorn only.

My 13 year old son won’t benefit but the woman who pays my son to pick up her daughter after school every day and watch her for two hours and twice a week escort her to ballet classes will catch a tax break and still have money left over. I know she buys popcorn so maybe she’ll spend it on beer. It will be nice to have a portion of the tax lifted off every good or service I purchase but I am sure with the new municipal powers City Hall has received from the provincial liberal government I won’t see much benefit once the MST is implemented by City Hall. Ditto with the benefit with the Conservative transit credit as the TTC is suggesting that they will have to seriously consider an increase in the price of a metropass to offset any tax benefit for any Canadians in Toronto.

An NDP will is a thought too horrible to contemplate. Let me just say that less than 10% of the country could afford to remain in Canada if the NDP wins. Enough said.

When all is said and done I really do not care who you vote for as long as it is not Liberal. Go Green, go Marijuana Party, NDP or cast your vote for the CPC party. Just as long as you do not vote the Liberals back into power. If you’re a Liberal Party supporter; my advice is to just stay home.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Talk about a sense of entitlement

The Globe and Mail is carrying this report:

Jerusalem — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party will only form a coalition government with parties willing to negotiate with Israel and will not ask Hamas militants to join if they do not renounce violence, a top official said Sunday.

I gather Fatah feels that they have earned a right to corner the market on duplicitous violence and outright carnage. Meanwhile jailed leader of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade has this to say from his Israeli prison cell:
However, Fatah's top candidate, jailed Palestinian uprising leader Marwan Barghouti, said Sunday that Fatah and Hamas "are heading toward being partners in the field, and in parliament." Mr. Barghouti, interviewed in an Israeli prison by the Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera, did not say what partnership he envisioned.
I guess he didn’t get the memo.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

TTC spells tax credit as FARE INCREASE MANDATE

The Toronto Star had this little bit of news of what transit riders in Toronto could possibly expect if the CPC wins the election and implements a tax credit for taxpayers who purchase transit passes:
Toronto transit riders may see no benefit from Stephen Harper's promise to provide a tax credit designed to save Metropass holders $189.60 a year, says the vice-chair of the Toronto Transit Commission. That's because the TTC may raise the Metropass by the same amount, Councillor Joe Mihevc said yesterday.

The TTC will be looking more closely at the situation if Harper's Conservatives win office on Monday. "If we at the TTC — who are in a big budget squeeze — suddenly find out a few days from now that passengers are going to be getting a discount on their income tax, there will actually be upward pressure on increasing fares," he said.

I can only hope that this kind of political mentality is confined to Toronto Transit Commission. I sudder to think of the implications if this is an example of progressive political thinking. Can you imagine how many levels of government will be ready to claw back any benefit to Canadian families if the proposed CPC Beer and Popcorn child tax credit kicks in? I swear Alberta looks better and better every day.

Hevron "Disengagement"

Maybe it’s me, but is it really necessary to deploy 1,500-2,000 Israeli police men to evict 8 families of approximately 80 people from their homes? According to my calculation that works out to approximately 18-25 officers per person. It’s pertinent to remember that a goodly proportion of those 80 people are children and infants. But Ynetnews Online reports Israeli Police Chief Moshe Karadi says it is;
The evacuation of settlers from Palestinian-owned houses they have occupied in the Hebron marketplace will go on as planned, and police will use force if they must, police Chief Moshe Karadi said in interview to Israel's Channel 2 Saturday.

Karadi said three police units are set to begin training for the evacuation next week, and that some 1,500-2000 cops are planned to take part in the operation. When asked whether he believes the evacuation may lead to blood shed, Karadi said he hopes the situation will not come to that, but added this was a possibility the police have taken into account. "From now on there will be no contradicting messages, just straight forward law enforcement," he stated.

Ironically, the owner of the property where the 8 families have been living in the Hevron market apartments are not the ones wishing to evict them and the Police Chief talks about the need for straight law enforcement. Go figure.

And thanks to Ynet News Online for enlightening me to the fact that the land in question is not owned by a Jewish trust who held the title for the last 199 but is owned by a Palestinians organization - I ask, who knew? But really someone needs to tell the Magen Avot Sephardic community that they are playing on the wrong team.

Friday, January 20, 2006

So Just whose land is it - or who's your enemy?

Any foreign observers watching events unfold in the last week in Israel would have taken notice that all is not well in Hevron where the Israeli Defense Forces have clashed repeatedly with the Jewish residents and their supporters of Hevron.

On the one hand you have acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of the Kadima party flexing his prime ministerial muscle suggesting the law must be upheld at all cost as he justifies sending in the IDF to dismantle illegal outposts. Perhaps it’s an effort to establish what I can only suppose is his “Sharonish” credentials or balls for the Israeli electorate that he chooses his first line the sand to be the eviction of 8 Jewish families living in Hevron - who just happen to be living on a property that last housed a Palestinian run market back in 1994.

Still it seems pretty much a cut and dried issue with Olmert, Kadima and the IDF wearing the white kippahs and those troublesome settlers and their supporters in the black kippahs. And, of course, those black kippahs just up and refuse with all the bad grace they can muster to close up shop and go back to Israeli “proper”. Enter Carolyn Glick’s latest column on the “Cool” Anti-Semitism” to make set that motif on its head.
Case in point is the government's handling of the Jewish "squatters" in the former marketplace in Hebron. The property in dispute is owned by a Jewish trust - the Magen Avot Sephardic Community - which purchased the land 199 years ago. Today, the Magen Avot Sephardic Community is headed by former Sephardic chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. The Community wants the property to be used to house Jews.

On the face of it, it all seems rather cut and dried. The area is directly adjacent to the Jewish Avraham Avinu neighborhood. It is owned by Jews who want its current Jewish residents to remain in place. Why would the government have a problem with eight Jewish families living in the former shops in full accord with the expressed wishes of the property's owner?

On Tuesday morning I asked Lieutenant Assaf Azoulay, the spokesman for the Judea and Samaria Division, this question during a visit to Hebron. Azoulay responded angrily, "It's an issue of the supremacy of law!" He then proceeded to shout that the Supreme Court ordered that the Jews be expelled from the former shops and the IDF's job is to implement the high court's ruling.

The problem is that the Supreme Court never held a hearing on the issue and certainly never made a decision on the matter. Palestinians did petition the court some five years ago, asking that the Jews who had "squatted" in the stores - that have been empty since 1994 and since replaced by new shops built by the Hebron municipality - be expelled. The issue was argued before the appeals committee of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria two years ago.

In their ruling, the military judges tended to accept the recommendation to allow the Jews to rent the property in accordance with the wishes of the property's owners. But the judges' common sense clashed with the state prosecution's world view. Last October, for no apparent reason, Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz decided that the Jewish families must be removed from the shops no later than February 15.

And here we arrive at the main issue. In 1949, after conquering Judea and Samaria, the Jordanian regime seized all Jewish owned lands and placed them under the control of the Jordanian Custodian for Enemy Property. Jews were by law prohibited from entering the areas. In 1967, after Israel took control of Judea and Samaria, the government transferred control over the seized Jewish lands to the Custodian for Absentee Lands in the Civil Administration.

The question arises, why did the government not simply allow the Jewish land owners to reassert their rights over their lands? Israel's refusal to enable Jewish landowners in Judea and Samaria to exercise their rights over their private property constitutes an Israeli adoption of the anti-Semitic Jordanian legal regime which denied all Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria.

I would suggest that nothing is as black as it seems, not even those kippah’s.

With Friends like these....

A caller using the telephone at the campaign head quarters of Liberal Chris Axworthy calls into a live talk radio show featuring a conservative party candidate and accuses the Maurice Vellacott (CPC candidate) of the sexual assault of a church secretary and the Globe and Mail buries it on page six but leads with Harper’s lead takes a hit. I have over slept and have not had enough coffee to function at top speed but it appears that the Toronto Star does not find this story newsworthy.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


Talk about crying wolf. I knew the Liberals were desperate and sleazy but I bet Karl Rove would not have even dared this one.

(tipped off by Neale News)

Nailing Jell-o to the Wall

I was having a late-morning cuppa over at Let it Bleed and was struck stupid by this “why” moment. You know the kind - as in, “why are we doing something as stupid as nailing jell-o to the wall ” kind of moment. Here’s the money quote from the Toronto Star article that Bob T was quoting that got me going.
Every vote the five major political parties attracts is worth about $1.75 to them each year in federal subsidies under the rules that govern election financing.

I cannot remember when this law was brought into effect. No doubt I was busy having children or working to support them and missed it. I really am such an idiot. I just don’t get why any political party is entitled to a $1.75 of taxpayers funds for every vote they receive. Who came up with this “alleged” brainstorm of an idea anyway? Who were the smucks who voted to pass it into law? I don’t care if they were CPC, Liberal, NDP or Rhino; the whole lot of them ought to be run out of the country, cursed and have their name erased from the Book of Life for eternity.

And we need to subsidize political parties because....... I just don’t get it. The rationale cannot possibly be that Canadian taxpayers need to subsidize Canadian political parties in order to keep them honest or to help Canadian politicians keep their hands out of the public till. I don’t buy it, just look at the Skimrals. It cannot be needed in order to make an even political playing field; otherwise all political parties would have access to the same amount of funds, and they just don’t.

Somebody needs to explain to me very patiently and probably very, very slowly, why any political party is entitled to any amount of money from the public purse.

Bombing in Tel Aviv

A suicide bomber has successfully detonated himself near the old central Tel Aviv bus station in Israel proper. Initial reports are sketchy concerning the attack and at least 14 people have been injured. So far there have been no claims of responsibility for the attack but considering all terrorist organization have effectively renounced the alleged negotiated period of calm with Israel on January 1, 2006, fill in the blank with any or all of the usual suspects; Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, PLPF.

Hamas may be the most likely suspect as a senior Hamas commander was killed in a shoot-out with the IDF in Tulkarm on Tuesday as he attempted to avoid capture when a bomb factory was uncovered by the IDF in a search of his home. It would also remind Palestinian voters that Hamas still has its street creds to keep on detonating.

Or it may just be the old stand-by - Islamic Jihad. If Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the carnage we need to ask ourselves how is it that one of the smallest and most under funded terrorist organizations in Israel can still manage to launch attacks inside Israel when it has spent the last year being the special interest of the IDF?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sign of the Times

The Globe and Mail is reported that the Winchester Rifle will quite possibly be no more than a relic of the past.
New Haven — U.S. Repeating Arms Co. Inc. said Tuesday it will close its Winchester firearm factory, threatening the future of a rifle that was once called The Gun that Won the West. “It's part of who we are as a nation just like it's part of who we are as a city,” Mayor John DeStefano said.

The announcement touched off a lobbying effort by city officials and union leaders who hoped to find a buyer for the plant before it closes March 31. If no buyer comes forward, it could spell the end for nearly all commercially produced Winchesters, said Everett Corey, a representative of the International Association of Machinists District 26.

“Winchester would be pretty much defunct,” he said. “They're not going to produce them, other than a couple custom-type models.” The company has been plagued by slumping firearm sales. More than 19,000 people worked there during the Second World War, but the plant employs fewer than 200 now.

The Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle was popular among American frontiersmen at the end of the 19th century for its reliability. John Wayne made the Winchester rifle a signature of his movies and Chuck Connors posed menacingly with his Winchester on the poster for the television series The Rifleman.

“Marlin made lever-action rifles but nobody ever had a Marlin in films or TV series. They were always Winchesters,” said Ned Schwing, a firearms historian. Perhaps the company's greatest unofficial spokesman was President Teddy Roosevelt, who used the 1895 model on his famous 1909 African safari, which historians credited with boosting the sale of Winchester sporting rifles.

Since the plant opened in 1866, tens of millions of Winchester rifles have been produced, the bulk of which came between the late 1800s and the end of the Second World War, said firearms historian R.L. Wilson, who has written books about Winchester. More than six million copies of the Winchester Model 94, the company's most popular rifle, have been produced.

“Several generations have worked at this place, a lot of fathers and brothers, sons, uncles and daughters,” said Paul DeMennato, facility director at U.S. Repeating Arms. U.S. Repeating Arms, which is owned by the Herstal Group, a Belgium company, has said for years that it was on the brink of closing the plant.
I probably watched way too many late night John Wayne movies with my beloved Grandmother Rosie, but scrape the boon-doggle of that damn gun registry and I’ll buy one. Hell, I'll even buy the Last Amazon one too.

Trouble in Paradise

International election observers/monitors have been warned away from the upcoming Palestinian Authority election reports the Jerusalem Post:
Ten days ago a fax was received from the Al-Aqsa Brigades in Jenin recommending that international observers of the Palestinian elections stay away. Two weeks ago a Nablus hotel owner where the observers intended to stay was threatened if he hosted them. Less than three weeks ago an Italian aide to a European parliamentary delegation was kidnapped in the Gaza Strip and released hours later.

While such threats may put off most people from doing their jobs, the international election observers - some of whom arrived as early as November and many more who will arrive this weekend - are staying put and their observers continue to work in all 16 electorate districts.

The key, said Michael Murphy, country director of the observer mission of the US-based National Democratic Institute, is to know if the threat is real. In an accusing interview with The Jerusalem Post, Murphy suggested that leaders in the Palestinian Authority are behind the recent chaos in the territories.

"All the threats and kidnappings have been of a political nature," said Murphy. "It appears that they are saying that international elections observers are not wanted here. But we want to understand beyond that." Murphy said that the threats might be aimed to "stop the elections" from taking place. "But for the most part people are looking for jobs, security, or to get even with someone." Like the other international missions, NDI, which is working together with the Carter Institute, is not deterred by the threats.

"We will not play into the hands of those trying to stop the elections," said Murphy accusingly. "If that's the intent we are not going to subscribe it…There are always people who oppose that they are going to lose power that they have grown accustomed to. The democratic process means you have to be accountable. The greatest resistance comes from those who have profited from the current regime. They don't want elections they want appointments. So outside of ballot box stuffing people use intimidation. Our observer missions are used to that."

Michael Murphy suggests that a great deal of the violence and chaos in the Palestine Authority and Gaza is being deliberately manufacturered by the leadership of the current Palestinian Authority. It’s not a new suggestion but it is a new one for the western media that continues to portray the Palestine Authority as a benign leadership being tested by forces hostile to peace and security. But I won’t hold my breathe waiting for Mitch Potter, the Toronto Star’s mid-east pundit to start reporting that.

And while it is laudable that the international election observers are staying put, what I want to know is whether former US President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are still willing to come to Ramallah during the election?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

IRAN ends CNN Ban for Freudian Slip

Reports VOA News:
The Iranian government has lifted its ban on the Cable News Network, which was imposed for misquoting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of a translation error.
Officials say Mr. Ahmadinejad asked the cultural ministry to lift the ban late Monday, after CNN apologized for the mistake.

Hours earlier, Iran barred CNN journalists from the country for misquoting the president as speaking of "nuclear weapons" when he actually spoke of "nuclear technology" during a recent news conference.

Though the CNN ban remains in my house until all CNN anchors can prove that they will no longer cry while reporting the news.

Gee, I am not only alive and well but I am female

I don’t know how many times I have to write this. But once again for the record: I do not have a penis nor am I an angry white male. I may write from a more conservative viewpoint but that does not mean that I have suddenly sprouted testes beside my ovaries. The only balls I ever had were brass ones. For frack’s sake, I am not some angry white male poser in drag hiding behind a computer screen.

Why do lefties and liberals maintain that there are no female conservative voices of note in the blogsphere – even in the Canadian blogsphere? And why almost down to the last woman blogging do they continue to propagate this myth that conservative right wing bloggers are all angry white males? I am so bleeding tired of liberal pundits suggesting that my voice and my readership are irrelevant to any discussion of discourse in the Canadian political blogsphere because I am a conservative female blogger; ergo, I don’t exist. Is there a litmus test of blog femininity that not only did I not know about - but I somehow managed to unknowingly fail? If that isn’t the politics of sexism - what is?

I have never met the other Kate (of Small Dead Animals) or Lisa (of The London Fog) or Canadianna, but I have met Kathy Shaidle and Girl on the Right but there is not a penis in the lot. But there are far more quality conservative female voices out there churning out punditry everyday then you allow for in the narrow confides of your liberal belief system. And here’s a tip – we are all punching far beyond our weight, which is more than I can say for more than a few liberal girlie-man bloggers. Oh, and for the record, I owe more to Margaret Thatcher than I do to women’s lib.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Avi Ran is Freed

The Israeli trial of Avi Ran is finally over and he has been acquitted of all charges reports the Arutz Sheva:
Ran was arrested last March at his Gvaot Olam farm, near Itamar in the Shomron, after Arabs from a neighboring village, accompanied by left-wing activists, brought a tractor onto his farmland and began plowing over his crops. Police were waiting nearby, and when volunteers from the farm damaged the tractor, they appeared and arrested Ran together with his workers.

Judge Nava Bechor delivered her verdict at the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court Monday afternoon, finding the four not guilty due to lack of evidence. A fifth man had made a plea bargain in order to be released from prison during the lengthy trial process.

Ran's brother Nir told Channel 2 TV that justice had finally been served, albeit way too late, and at the expense of a dedicated Israeli patriot's freedom.

Last April, High Court Justice Edna Arbel had ordered Ran placed under house arrest far away from his farm until the end of proceedings against him. The decision was widely seen as an organized sting operation aimed at keeping Ran out of Judea, Samaria and Gaza during the period leading up to the Disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria last summer. At the time, Ran said: "In the Supreme Court, I understood that the legal system is willing to take views and a political situation and to manipulate them to advance processes that suit its own interests. I understand that what I am saying is terrible. There is a civil war going on here. But it isn't a war between brothers and it isn't being fought by both sides."

Ran left his brother’s house, where he was being confined, and went into hiding at the various communities which he helped found until the week before his first court date. Knowing that he would be imprisoned, he went on vacation with his family near Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), where he was swiftly arrested and jailed until “the end of proceedings.”

Holding Ran in jail for several months has created a situation in which he was found innocent, but spent months in prison under harsh conditions, regardless. The practice of keeping prisoners in jail until the end of proceedings has been used increasingly against ideological prisoners arrested opposing government withdrawals in the past year.

According to his lawyer, the defense succeeded in proving that all the events transpired due to provocations created by the leftist Ta’ayush extremist group, in addition to members of the Rabbis for Human Rights, funded by the American Reform Movement and the European Union. During the trial, the defense aired an interview with one of the Arabs from the village who testified that the whole episode was initiated by members of the Ta’ayush.

So the light of the middle east’s only democracy still burns but there is a lingering odor to the whole proceedings. I first wrote about Ran last November 2005. Whether one agrees with Ran’s politics is irrelevant but what is not irrelevant is that coercive powers of the state should never utilized to muzzle the voice of a citizen or restrict the freedom of a citizen because their views are not in ideological harmony or even considered politically inconvenient for the State.

Iran Bans CNN for Freudian Slip

The Iranian government is so miffed with CNN’s about an on-air mistranslation that CNN journalists are now banned from working in Iran reports Reuters:
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Monday banned CNN journalists from working there after the broadcaster misquoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Iran wanted nuclear weapons, the ISNA students news agency said. CNN's simultaneous translation of Ahmadinejad's lengthy news conference on Saturday included the phrase "the use of nuclear weapons is Iran's right". In fact, what the Iranian president said was that "Iran has the right to nuclear energy," the official IRNA news agency reported. CNN later clarified in an apology on Sunday night. Iran denies any intention of seeking nuclear weapons, saying it wants atomic technology merely for the generation of electricity.
Personally, I can overlook a mistranslation here and there, but I banned CNN from my home television because Anderson Cooper creeps me right out with his crying tirades.

I will not gloat, I will not gloat, I will not gloat(much)....

A new poll claims the Conservatives are leading with 40% of decided voters while the Liberals are in free fall with 27% according to CTV. I don’t put much stock in polls even when its good news.
Despite a barrage of Liberal attack ads over the last five days, the Conservative party's lead over the Liberals continues to slowly grow, says a new poll. "It's a Tory juggernaut," Tim Woolstencroft of The Strategic Counsel told CTV.ca on Sunday, adding the Conservatives are within striking distance of a majority government.

The Strategic Counsel conducted the polling between Jan. 11, 12 and 14 for CTV and The Globe and Mail. Here are the national support numbers (percentage point change from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3-4, the last time the Grits and Tories were tied 32-32, is in brackets):

Conservatives: 40 per cent (+8)
Liberals: 27 per cent (-5)
NDP: 16 per cent (-1)
Bloc Quebecois: 11 per cent (-2)
Greens: 6 per cent (unchanged)

I have never known anyone who was contacted by a pollster. And I know of a number of people if you inquired how they were voting would tell you something simply outrageous - like their vote is going to the Marxist-Leninist party of Canada. Old habits die hard, and considering the public flogging the Liberals have been experiencing in the media and blogsphere; I could understand why anyone would not admit to voting Liberal even on the telephone with no one else in the room listening in. The only poll that truly counts is the one when you go behind the cardboard screen on Election Day. Still, there is something sweet about smelling electorial defeat in the morning...

(tipped off by Neale News)

Palestinian Authority Election Highlights

According to YnetOnline Palestinian Authority Chairman says he will step down if he loses the coming vote, and even if elected, he will not seek to extend his tenure beyond the three year term:
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday he has not ruled out the possibility of resigning as Palestinian Authority leader. "If my political plan does not succeed, I will not hold on to my seat,” he said, referring to the political reforms he intends to implement, to economic stabilization and to putting an end to anarchy in the PA.

During a conversation with the Palestinian news network, Abbas said that in any event he does not plan to run for an additional term as PA leader, after the present term ends in another three-years.

Abbas said he was proud that his insistence that east Jerusalem residents be allowed to vote in Palestinian elections proved successful, and that despite pressures exerted on him, Hamas will participate in the vote.

Speaking of Hamas, Jerusalem police raiding the Hamas East Jerusalem campaign office reports YnetOnline:
Jerusalem police shut down Hamas offices in the capital Sunday, after police officers conducted a search of the premises and detained for questioning the head of the movement's list in Jerusalem and number two on its national list, Mohamed Abu-Tir. Another three Hamas activists were arrested during the raid. Officers also confiscated computers and documents related to the movement's election campaign in east Jerusalem.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Assorted Hits

I got booted off the computer early this morning. Apparently, there is some rule about homeworking taking precedence over blogging in my house and tonight was the first time I was able to see what was going on in the world while I was disconnected.

Iran broke the IAEA seals on three nuclear facilities this week to further the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Toronto Star asks, Will Iran have the upper hand? Not exactly deep analysis but reading the piece took me back to 1979. Its déjà vu all over again except this time the world is held hostage rather than US embassy personnel. What I want to know is who is taking on the Jimmy Carter but more importantly, who will play Ronald Reagan?

The Toronto Star editorial of the day pontificates that the Liberals have the best mix on crime. Originally, I thought it was reference to the “con” vote. The Liberals have been in power for over a decade and that is how we got into this current malaise in the first place which is a point that the Star editorial board seems to have missed. Why on earth would anyone vote for more of the same?

Paul Martin has taken a page out of the Stephen Harper leadership play book and booted out a Liberal BC candidate who has been accused of bribery. No charges have been laid, and at this point; it is only an allegation and conjecture that BC liberal candidate attempted to bribe an NDP rival. I guess Martin wanted to be seen out-Harpering Harper.

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Shimon Peres is being investigated by the Israeli State Comptroller for having received foreign funds for his failed Labor leadership campaign. Peres lost the Labour primary race for leadership, and is now the number 2 slated candidate of the new Kadima party.

Ariel Sharon has yet to come out of his medically induced “coma” despite being waned off the coma inducing drugs. Apparently, his medical team is at a loss to understand why that is exactly. Uhm……

It is always enlightening to see how police forces operate in other parts of the world. The Jerusalem Post has this illuminating post on how the Gazan police force operates:
Dozens of gunmen, including off-duty policemen, blocked two major roads in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, demanding retribution for the killing of a policeman in a drug bust a week ago, the PA Interior Ministry said.

The protesters, who included relatives and former colleagues of the dead officer, demanded that Abbas punish the culprits and restore law and order. They also demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, who is in charge of security. On Thursday night, gunmen opened fire at the home of Youssef in Ramallah. Policeman stationed outside the house responded by shooting indiscriminately, seriously injuring two passersby.

Abbas decided on Saturday to dismiss the officer responsible for the incident. Sources in the city said the gunmen belonged to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades.

All of which makes me wonder what exactly police officers do in the Palestinian Authority? There seems to be a great deal of protesting and roadblocks but I am not exactly sure what that has to do with policing.