Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kassam attacks on Israeli civilians continue unabated

Reading the Canadian papers online it is easy to come to the position that rocket fire from the Gaza Strip has ceased but it would be far from the truth. Ynet News reports 4 rockets fell so far today. And Arutz Sheva reports Wednesday’s kassam attacks knocked out the electrical grid in Sderot.

But what one the saddest reports from Sderot is from Arutz Sheva:
Meanwhile, the father of a boy who died last week is saying his son was a Kassam rocket victim - who has not been recognized as such. Israel Radio's southern region correspondent Nissim Keinan reported Thursday morning that a 13-year-old boy, Chai Shalom, died last week in Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva after being wounded in a Kassam attack several days before.

Deaf, mute, and suffering from cerebral palsy, Chai and three other children were wounded when a rocket exploded near their bus; the woman bus driver was able only to open the door and cry out for help before fainting. Though the boy has not, as of yet, been governmentally recognized as a terror victim, Welfare Minister Yitzchak Herzog said that now that he has been informed of the matter, he would look into it.

Ten people are listed as having died as a result of Kassam rocket attacks - the last two being Shir'el Friedman of Sderot and Oshri Oz of Hod HaSharon over the past ten days. Chai Shalom's death brings the total to eleven.

A school bus for disabled children…what can I say?

I’m all for letting the dead bury the dead, and let the living make a racket.

Ordinarily, reports of teenagers behaving badly while on group trips would be just the kind of headline I’d skim over with a Mama-sized sigh but this line captured my attention “Polish officials have also complained about the Israeli youth who walk in the streets wrapped in Israeli flags.” Who knew walking the streets of Poland with an Israeli flagged draped around the shoulders was such an issue? Sooooo, I just had to peruse the whole Ynet article:
The management of the Auschwitz Museum has filed a complaint with the Israeli Embassy in Poland and the Israeli Ministry of Education condemning the behavior of Israelis visiting the camp. One of the transgressions listed is that Israelis talk on their cellular phones, even inside the gas chambers.

The management asked the ministry to ensure members of the groups respect basic behavioral norms at the site, such as not lighting candles in the barracks, from fear of fire, not using loudspeakers and cellular phones and maintaining appropriate conduct inside the gas chambers. Israeli visitors talk on their cellular phones despite unequivocal requests not to. They talk even inside the gas chambers, dishonoring the place, the museum said.

Polish officials have also complained about the Israeli youth who walk in the streets wrapped in Israeli flags. Additionally, the organizers of the March of the Living have said that they are considering not inviting groups of Israeli teenagers to the marches in Auschwitz and Krakow due to the heavy security arrangements they required. The Israeli groups arrive in Poland and travel around accompanied by armed Shin Bet security guards.

One of my first “real” jobs was working as a chambermaid at a Wandlyn Motor Inn. I cannot personally speak for the conduct of Israeli teens but let me tell you - hockey teams with 20+ year old players were no joy for the cleaning staff or motel management but we didn’t turn away trade. Instead, we just billed the credit card for damages and nobody thought to complain to the Premier or the US Ambassador.

The teams created havoc and mayhem well beyond the average imagination to predict. These were adult men and not teenagers. I find it a little hard to believe Polish hoteliers find Israeli teen behaviour so outrageous and/or so incredibly out of line with their experience that they are reduced to laying complaints at the Israeli Embassy. I suspect from the nature of the complaints there are more than a few Poles who would rather go back to the old days, when all you had to do was hang a sign outside the hotel saying, “No Jews Allowed.”

Nor am apt to emphasize with the alleged slight to Polish honour, which is apparently offended by Israeli teenagers walking the street of Krakow while wearing an Israeli flag and accompanied by the Israeli internal security service personnel. Let me speak frankly. The last time Jews had to rely on the Poles for their physical well-being, the Jews mostly ended up in places just like Auschwitz. The only thing preventing another mass worldwide bloodletting of Jews (in the here and now) is the state of Israel backed up the might of the Israeli security forces. Furthermore, I do find it quite a stretch to believe any organizer with March of the Living actually suggested the organization was considering excluding groups of Israeli teens from the March of the Living tours - regardless of what security requirements are required to ensure the teenagers’ safety.

I am going to speak as a mother and as a woman not unacquainted with death and loss. I find solace in the thought of Israeli teens lighting candles in the barracks of death. I find it a downright comforting notion that Israeli teenagers are calling to speak to their mothers as they stand in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The very fact these Israeli teens can stand, in Auschwitz, and have a mother, a father, a sister, a brother or even a friend to call on their cell phones is a living testament to a great miracle.

I am sure my friend’s father at the age of 17 would have given up the use of his arm to be able to speak to his mother on the last day he spent in Auschwitz. Oh my bad…he was forced to give up the use of his left arm but he still had no mother, father, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or cousins to speak to on the day he left Auschwitz.

I can think of nothing more life affirming, in a place where the souls of the living was devoured by a great and insatiable evil than to have Israeli teenagers talk, and laugh, and let their joy in living ring out. Nothing says “Am Yisrael Chai” more, and in this case; joyful living is the ultimate revenge. In the end, it reminds me of this much misquoted line from Isaiah – I will give you beauty for ashes, and for those who mourn in Zion, I will bring the oil of joy. So let the dead hear the living’s laughter and be at peace knowing - some have survived and even managed to thrive.

The law of the jungle is what passes for the rule of law within the Palestinian Authority.

Those Fatah moderates are at it again reports the Jerusalem Post:
Gunmen belonging to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction shot and seriously wounded two Palestinians suspected of "collaboration" with Israel on Wednesday. The shootings took place in Nablus, where the two "collaborators" were dragged to the main square and shot in the legs.
A spokesman for Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, said the two, whose identities were not revealed, had "confessed" during interrogation to working for the Israeli security forces. The spokesman did not elaborate, though he promised that the group would later release a videotape of the alleged confessions. "We have shot these two traitors in the legs to punish them and deter others from helping the Israeli enemy," the Fatah spokesman said. "The Aksa Martyrs Brigades will strike against anyone who provides the occupation with information that helps in the assassination or capture of resistance activists."

Sources in the city said PA policemen who were at the scene did not make any effort to stop the gunmen. They pointed out that some of the gunmen were themselves members of the PA security forces. A leaflet distributed in Nablus by the same group issued a 30-day ultimatum to Palestinian "collaborators" to hand themselves over to the Aksa Martyrs Briagdes or the PA security forces or the nearest mosque. "Our men have succeeded in detecting a large number of traitors in Nablus," the leaflet read. "We will provide the necessary help to all those who repent and no one will know about his deeds."

I suppose progress can now be considered a relative term as “Israeli” collaborators used to be lynched in the public square, and now, they are just shot in the legs in the public square. Talk about enlightened justice in action.

Speaking of Fatah moderates, I found this story at Israel Matzav. Americans should all be asking themselves - why the US State Department acts as if Palestinian Fatah members deserve a pass for the murder of US citizens.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A turn for a turn

A Jordanian official from the Jordan’s Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs has accused the Israelis of attempting to Judaize a Jewish city in a Jewish state. I tell you - the out and out chutzpah of the Israelis is absolutely outrageous, and obviously knows no limits! The Jerusalem Post reports:
A Jordanian official called on Israel Wednesday to stop archaeological excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem, the official Petra news agency reported. Israel has been carrying out excavations on a ramp leading up to a disputed holy site. The digging has sparked clashes between police and Muslims in Jerusalem and touched off fierce criticism throughout the Muslim world. "Israel must stop its continuous practices and measures to Judaize the city and change its Arab and Islamic characteristics," said Abdullah Kanaan, the head of Jordan's Royal Committee for Jerusalem's Affairs.

Of course, when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem it thought nothing of destroying the "Jewish" character of East Jerusalem, but this really does show - for some, denial is more than a river in Egypt. Forty odd years after Jordan lost East Jerusalem and the Jordanian King still keeps a Royal Commission on Jerusalem Affairs. Now that’s chutzpah.

Misery really does love company

Yahoo News is reporting:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet to try to halt two weeks of violence that has seen southern Israel battered by rockets and Gaza pummeled by airstrikes. Abbas hopes to line up Palestinian factions behind a truce before next week's meeting, but the violence showed no sign of letting up.

It would be interesting to compare the popularity polls numbers each leader enjoys among their respective electorate. Olmert has been holding steady with a vibrant 3% for months. Abbas’ actual support base remains a mystery though the Bush Administration seems to be a big donating non-voting non-resident fraction. Who knows, perhaps it’s a relief to Abbas that his biggest fans are non-residents; as it appears a goodly portion of the resident, non-donating, voting fraction has decided to literally lay siege to his administration.

What do Hannibal, Julius Caesar and I - all have in common?

Apparently, we share the same type of rational mastermind personality:
Of the four aspects of strategic analysis and definition, it is the contingency planning or entailment organizing role that reaches the highest development in Masterminds. Entailing or contingency planning is not an informative activity, rather it is a directive one in which the planner tells others what to do and in what order to do it. As the organizing capabilities the Masterminds increase so does their inclination to take charge of whatever is going on.

It is in their abilities that Masterminds differ from the other Rationals, while in most of their attitudes they are just like the others. However there is one attitude that sets them apart from other Rationals: they tend to be much more self-confident than the rest, having, for obscure reasons, developed a very strong will. They are rather rare, comprising no more than, say, one percent of the population. Being very judicious, decisions come naturally to them; indeed, they can hardly rest until they have things settled, decided, and set. They are the people who are able to formulate coherent and comprehensive contingency plans, hence contingency organizers or "entailers."

Masterminds will adopt ideas only if they are useful, which is to say if they work efficiently toward accomplishing the Mastermind's well-defined goals. Natural leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command of projects or groups, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once in charge, however, Masterminds are the supreme pragmatists, seeing reality as a crucible for refining their strategies for goal-directed action. In a sense, Masterminds approach reality as they would a giant chess board, always seeking strategies that have a high payoff, and always devising contingency plans in case of error or adversity. To the Mastermind, organizational structure and operational procedures are never arbitrary, never set in concrete, but are quite malleable and can be changed, improved, streamlined. In their drive for efficient action, Masterminds are the most open-minded of all the types. No idea is too far-fetched to be entertained-if it is useful. Masterminds are natural brainstormers, always open to new concepts and, in fact, aggressively seeking them. They are also alert to the consequences of applying new ideas or positions. Theories which cannot be made to work are quickly discarded by the Masterminds. On the other hand, Masterminds can be quite ruthless in implementing effective ideas, seldom counting personal cost in terms of time and energy.

For a change, this personality quiz does seem to be remarkably apt and I think the world should be very afraid.

h/t Bumfonline.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Finally A Cause in Canada I can (in good conscience) stand behind

I have to admit that the events of the last few days have started to take their toll on me - hence the sparse blogging. As it is - I am running on E, and until I can get manage to fit in a decent night’s sleep - blogging will be light to non-existent. I may not have the energy needed to blog but don’t think I haven’t been reading. I found this gem at Candace’s.

This bumpersticker is being sold for $5 a pop by a grassroots organization called Wounded Warriors. The money being raised is to help make life a little bit easier for our own wounded soldiers during their recovery period. Like Candace, I don't have a car but my buddy Darcey does and I expect he wouldn't say no to one for his car.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Maybe it’s just me.

My girlfriend was rushed via ambulance to the hospital last Friday night. She is three years younger than I. She is the mother of four young daughters and stepmother to six other teenagers. Forty-two is far too young to die from a heart attack.

The doctors and nurses have been patiently and carefully explaining all weekend to her that she was very, very lucky to survive, and she might not make it next time; if she does not quit smoking and drinking, eat properly, exercise and reduce stress from her life. She has been just as patiently telling them why she cannot do any of the above. The doctors have been appealing to me to reason with her. I think her doctors decided that I am the voice of reason owing to the fact her blood pressure goes down when I am around and increases dramatically when her family come to visit and fight at her bedside. It probably helps that I come from a loud pushy family and can effective boss her family when they get out of line.

The truth is her life is toxic and not just because of smoking, drinking, and lack of exercise. Her family life is literally killing her and she will not do what she has to do in order to lessen it. If she did, then she would be able to quit smoking & drinking respectively, eat properly and she would have the time to exercise but that would entail a major life change. It's just not going to happen.

A few months after my 40th birthday my best friend of over 20 years quit her job and took off with a hugely inappropriate man (even for a dwarf) and no one has seen or heard from her since. I still worry a lot about her. My other best friend has tried to kill herself twice in the last six weeks and my beloved older cousin refuses not only to take her meds but insists that she cannot possibly be schizophrenic. By my 41st birthday, I had managed to go through three husbands. The last one died of a heart attack at 35 years old. I joke and tell people it was the sex whicht killed them - because I am still somewhat embarrassed by expressions of sympathy from others, and do my best to try to make light of it. I have run out of hands and toes to count the number of people who have died in my life. But overall, myeveryday life is relatively calm and untroubled. I try to live as simply as I can. I think it helps that everyday I rise around four am to pray….but the longer I live - the longer goes the list of people who I have to pray for.

My grandmother died at 92 years of age. I am sure longevity has its place but I do not want to live that long. It was heart-wrenching watching the last ten years of her life. Not only were there endless health issues but the depression and loneliness was incredibly immense. She had her daughters and her granddaughters and was rarely alone but everyone else that she loved and knew her as a person and woman was dead. All her brothers, her sisters, aunts, uncles, husband, friends who help define a well-lived life were all dead. My mother tells me only the lucky get old but I personally wanted to avoid that particular burden of longevity. Now it seems like one does not have to live to be 92 years of age to taste the bitter fruit of longevity, and for some, it comes relatively early in life.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

When Semites move the “anti” goal post

Nothing reeks of desperation better than issuing a fatwa against your political terror rivals. A little bird tells me it’s going to be a tough sell remaking Hamas as a Jewish organization but apparently Fatah is going to give it a go. Arutz Sheva reports: A Muslim cleric, apparently from the Palestinian Authority, has released a fatwa (religious ruling) permitting the killing of members of the Hamas terrorist organization. In support of his position, the heretofore unknown sheikh declared Hamas to have "Jewish;" yet, he said that "the Jews have more mercy" on the Arabs than Hamas.

The fatwa and accompanying argumentation appeared in two articles, one in the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan and the other published on the website of the Fatah terrorist organization, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Among other affronts, the Fatah-backed sheikh declared, Hamas is willing to ally itself with non-Muslims and to battle co-religionists. Al-Hiran then said that Hamas-backed scholars should be confronted about the activities of their organization. "If they say that what they [i.e., Hamas members] do is prohibited, then you should kill them cold-bloodedly, [and you will] be rewarded by Allah for ridding Muslims of their influence and evil. Jews have more mercy towards our nation than [Hamas]. If they [i.e., the scholars]."say that their conduct is permitted, then kill their scholars.... They are all the same." The article is titled "The Common Characteristics of Hamas and the Jews.

What's next? Hamas blows shofars? And remember the Sheikh is sponsored by Fatah, you know - the moderate Palestinian terror organization.

Casting stones

Today in Toronto there is a woman who is living out my worse nightmare. I have never met her and probably never will meet her. Nonetheless, she must now tread where my some of my darkest fears reside. There is no point saying one has nothing to fear but fear itself because that is just not true. Some fears are bigger and darker than the most vivid imaginations can begin to make allowances for.

I have no idea or not if the latest school shooting victim was a gang-member and/or a former Jamaican national. I do not know if he was just an ordinary run-of-the-mill grade 9 or A student. What I do know is; his family loved him, he was black and only 15th years old. And I also know this much is true; 15th years is far to be shot to death at school, and sometimes –young black males are every bit as much of a victim as teenage white girls, and just as deserving of a little compassion for themselves and their families.

But for the grace of G-d, it could have been my son 14th year old black son who was shoot dead at school yesterday. He was a former valedictorian at his elementary school, and now attends one of the highest academically ranked public high schools; which unfortunately, is also located in one of the highest-risk areas of the inner city. He has never been a gang-member and he does not possess a handgun but he did learn how to shoot at Army Cadets. His father was a naturalized Canadian citizen who originally hailed from Jamaica. And if that isn't enough to withhold compassion; there is always the fact he is being raised by a single widowed mother….and why yes, some black men do die from natural causes.

So leave your inner cracker/peckerwood/wonder bread/wasp self on the high shelf in the closet where it belongs. Oh yeah, and for the record – at least my son knows his father was not his uncle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So many martyrs - so few virgins

Amnesty International released its’ annual report and slammed Israeli for human rights violations. I know, I know - surprise, surprise. Who knew - I ask? But what I find really intriguing is the suggestion that Israel has killed 650 Palestinians, a threefold increase over 2005. Here’s the opening blurb from the Ynet News account:
Increased violence between Israelis and Palestinians resulted in a threefold increase in killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces in 2006, according to Amnesty International’s annual human rights report. More than 650 Palestinians, including some 120 children, and 27 Israelis were killed last year, the report said.
I have been reading Israeli and Palestinian papers fairly regularly but somehow I missed these kinds of fatality figures. It started me wondering where does Amnesty International get their figures and how trustworthy or reliable are their sources? I decided to check out the report and see what I could find over lunch.

I was rather taken aback when I could not find any kind of footnotes or sources for the figures quoted. I had expected to find at least some kind of reference to original statistics used but I found absolutely no references. Then I decided if I did a little sourcing on my own and see what turned up.

Strangely enough I really couldn’t come up with any sources for fatality figures for Palestinians killed in the disputed territories for the complete calendar year of 2006. Not even from the Palestinian Authority which I thought a trifle odd - but since I don’t read Arabic it is quite possible that the figures are buried in the Arabic portions of the websites I visited.

What I did find was an Ynet News article on the B’Tselem annual report for 2006 dated December 28, 2006.
B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – published a report Thursday according to which 405 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip alone since the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, including 88 minors. Of these, the report said, 205 did not participate in the fighting when killed. According to B'Tselem's research, from January to December 27, 2006, Israeli security forces killed a total of 660 Palestinians in the West Bank and in Israel. Spokesperson Sarit Michaeli told Ynet that the organization investigates each Palestinian death by IDF fire.“

That sent me linking to the original B’Tselem press release:
B'Tselem publishes its 2006 annual statistics. This past year, we witnessed a deterioration in the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories , particularly in the increase in civilians killed and the destruction of houses and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, there was an improvement regarding violations of the right to life of Israeli civilians.

Casualties (figures in parenthesis indicate the total figure since the beginning of the intifada)

According to B'Tselem's research, from January to December 27, 2006, Israeli security forces killed 660 (4005) Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and in Israel . This includes 141 (811) minors. At least 322 (1920) of those killed did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed. Another 22 (210) were targets of assassinations. In the Gaza Strip alone, since the capture of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, Israeli forces killed 405 Palestinians, including 88 minors. Of these, 205 did not participate in the fighting when killed.

Palestinians killed 17 (701) Israeli civilians in 2006, both in the West Bank and inside Israel . This includes 1 (119) minor. In addition, Palestinians killed 6 (316) members of the Israeli security forces.

Now I am not suggesting Amnesty International based their entire report on the figures supplied by an extreme left-wing Israeli human rights organization (and some might even question exactly how Israeli is B’Tselem, when a substantial portion of their funding comes from foreign agencies/governments) but my cynical nature is aroused and demanding attention.

B’Tselem has been taken to task many times, for shall we say, questionable counting practices in statistical analysis. Here’s CAMERA’s report on B’Tselem’s 2006 Annual Report and dodgy counting practices. It almost makes me wish for the days of the Cold War when things were so much simpler.

Manning up the family pooch

I cannot imagine a woman ever thinking to invent this kind of thing. Via the Globe and Mail.
In Ontario, pit bull owners must, by law, sterilize their pet. If you can put aside for a moment the raft of issues this raises about breed temperament, owner responsibility and the popularity contest that is politicking, you'll see the sunny side of castration: At least there are Neuticles.

The product, a testicular implant for pets, is the brainchild of Gregg Miller, a man whose mission it is to keep dogs across the globe locked and loaded. From his office in Oak Grove, Mo., he sells four models, starting at about $100 a pair: original, natural, ultra-plus and - new! - with epididymis.

He also peddles a fine selection of Neuticles merchandise (bathrobe, barbecue apron, keychain). And he's considering creating Neuticles chocolates, styled à la Cadbury Creme Egg. "I want to get two in a little carton with Neuticle foil on them," he says.

Although he is happy to play up the comic aspect of his product, he is a man with a serious mission. To Mr. Miller, missing balls are no laughing matter. Speaking of the castration of his own dog, Buck, his voice grows grim. "God, it was horrible," he says with an audible shudder. That trauma was his inspiration for creating Neuticles. His mission? To help dogs reclaim their "God-given" physiques.

A decade later, and with 240,000 sales under his belt (as it were), Mr. Miller is perfectly comfortable talking about things like massaging your pet's scrotum (to prevent scar tissue building up) and the "gooshy-soft" texture of the ultra-plus model.

The rest of the world, however, has some trouble keeping a straight face. Employees of veterinary offices - even ones that have implanted Neuticles at the owner's behest - invariably laugh when asked about the product.

If that's not a guy thing - I don't know what is, and as far as I know, there are no Neuticles available for cats - yet.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Cairo Accord comes back to bite the Lebanese - again

I was reading this Ynet News account of the latest throw down between the Lebanese Army and Palestinian terror group Fatah Islam and three thoughts came immediately to mind.

An UN relief convoy was taken out in the crossfire and I have still to hear a beep from any of the various and sundry professional anti-war peace groups operating in Canada. Stop the War is obviously much more selective about the wars which should be stopped than I had previously given them credit for. We may differ on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Israel but we are obviously in step over Lebanon. Four out of five will not get you a dinner invitation at my house but I wouldn’t have guessed we could ever find any common ground – so there you go.

From all accounts which I have read, the actual membership of Fatah Islam is almost insignificant. According to this CBC article the actual membership of Fatah Islam is pegged at around 100 members. So the question we should all be asking ourselves is how has a relatively small number of insurgents has managed not only to keep the Lebanon Army (with their heavy artillery bombardments) at bay for so long, and why has Fatah Islam not come to the end of their resources and ammo? And since I am in why's asking mode - why hasn’t Fatah (without the Islam) come to the aid of the Lebanese Army in rooting out the insurgents who are responsible for bringing the down the artillery wrath of the Lebanese Army upon the heads and homes of approximately 30,000 plus Palestinian civilians in the refugee camp?

Some of you might be wonder why I am suggesting the PLO/Fatah runs the Lebanese refugee camps and the simple answer is – PLO/Fatah does, and it has a mandate to do so under the terms of the Cairo Agreement it signed with the Lebanese government in 1969. All of which brings me to my third thought. I have yet to read any published reports explaining why the Lebanese Army or any government agency has not entered into any Palestinian refugee camps in almost 40 years nor made any attempt to explain the significance of the Cairo Accord.

Simply put the Cairo Accord was brokered by Egyptian president Gemal Nasser, Yassir Arafat and Lebanese General Emil Bustani whereby the Palestinian refugee camps were turned over to the control of Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization and the 16 official UNWRA camps in Lebanon were removed from Lebanese civilian authority. It effectively established a sovereign “state within a state status” for the PLO in Lebanon.

The agreement also established an alleged right for all Palestinian residents of Lebanon to actively participate in the armed struggle against the Israeli state. The refugee camps became not only arms depots, but a central command area for planning and then launching attacks against the Israeli state. The refugee camps operated so effectively as staging areas (under the blessing of Lebanese authorities) that Israeli would be left with little choice but to launch Operation Litani River in 1978 or the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

All of which makes a statement reputed to be said by the Ghazi Aridi, the Lebanese Information Minister not just outlandishly absurd but hysterically comical.
Lebanon's Cabinet late Monday authorized the army to step up its campaign and "end the terrorist phenomenon that is alien to the values and nature of the Palestinian people," Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said.

War Crime Alert! War Crime!

Apparently, the Lebanese Army cut the power and water to the Palestinian Refugee camp before they commenced shelling reports Arutz Sheva:
( In the wake of clashes with a Syrian-affiliated terrorist organization operating in Lebanon, Fatah Al-Islam, the Lebanese government ordered services cut to the northern town the terrorists are using as their base of operations. The Lebanese army also shelled the town, which is designated by Lebanon as a "Palestinian refugee camp."


As an early tactic in their war against the Islamist group, the Lebanese authorities cut off electricity, water and communications in the Nahr Al-Bard camp. In response to a successful Fatah Al-Islam assault on nearby military outposts on Sunday, army tanks shelled the camp intermittently throughout the day. Army sources claimed the shells were aimed at Fatah Al-Islam headquarters, while residents of the camp told reporters that many homes in the camp have been randomly demolished and bodies were strewn in the streets. The shelling continued on Monday.

Let me going into full fortune telling mode. My crystal ball says the general in the Lebanese Army who ordered the electricity and water cut to a refugee camp prior to shelling the camp will not be facing charges at the International Tribunal in Den Hague anytime…ever. It is only a war crime if Jews are involved.

Can you hear what I don't?

I don’t have much to say about the Lebanese Army taking the fight to Palestinian terrorists operating inside of Palestinian Refugee camps in Lebanon except I am now deaf from the sound of the international hue and cry concerning the Lebanese Army’s indiscriminate and disporportionate use of force.

the cunning of a strong horse

Ha’aretz is reporting that Hamas officials have offered the Israelis a “truce” from kassam barrages launched from the Gaza Strip on Sderot providing the Israelis cease all counter-terror operations in the West Bank.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Yusuf, a political adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and a member of Hamas, announced Monday that there is a possibility of a general cease-fire that all the Palestinian factions would accept, if Israel would agree a tahdiyeh, or "lull," in the West Bank as well.

A tahdiyeh had been in place in the Gaza Strip, but while Hamas largely adhered to it for about six months, other, smaller organizations did not, and Hamas made no move to enforce it. Israel therefore refused to extend it to the West Bank, arguing that only the IDF would or could curtail extremist Palestinian groups operating there.

In a conversation with Haaretz, Yusuf said that "Israel's agreement to extend the tahdiyeh to the West Bank will enable the government headed by Haniyeh to convince the groups to cease firing Qassam rockets. We have the tools to enable us to do this."

Urging Israel to offer a political solution to the recent escalation, he added: "We are interested in a general cease-fire, and the question is whether Israel is also interested in this," Yusuf said. The Hamas official called on Israel to negotiate a solution to the crisis with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Seconding this call, Palestinian Minister of Information Mustafa Barghouti said that expanding the cease-fire to the West Bank is necessary in order to restore calm to the Gaza Strip.

I have to hand it to Hamas - they may be homegrown terror organization but their political cunning knows no end. There is also a good chance that the events of the last week will only serve to further their own political agenda. Do not think for a minute that any “truce” for the suspension of counter-terror operations by the Israelis in the West Bank would not be fully exploited by Hamas to win further favour with the West Banks clans. Hamas would be able to point with pride that Hamas accomplished what Fatah has never been able to do.

If the Israelis were to concede to Hamas’ demands then it is only a matter of time before rockets will be launched via the West Bank instead of the Gaza Strip. Those very couter-terror operations which Hamas seeks to surpress are responsible for the relative calm in the West Bank.

The bigger question should be just how desperate is the Kadima administration? And will Kadima seek short-term gain for long-term pain?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Those crude, primitive, home-made ineffectual kassams

Car hit near commercial center (Photo: AFP)

I want to point out that Sderot sits firmly inside the Green Line of pre-1967 Israel. At no time would the city of Sderot be on the negotiating table if final status negotiations were to be held by the Israelis and Palestinians. And yet, it is not the Jewish settlement communities of the West Bank which are under kassam fire but Israel. To me, its not a great stretch to ponder why; as I have never believed the Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian or whatever the Palestinian terrorists are calling themselves this week ever sought a true two-state solution. If they had been there would have been one in 1948 or 2000.

Ynet News is reporting another fatality due to the kassams launched from the Gaza Strip.
A 35-year-old woman was killed and another man was moderately injured Monday evening as a Qassam rocket hit a car at a commercial center in the southern town of Sderot, near a bakery. Five rockets were fired at the southern town at around 8 pm.Two landed south of Ashkelon, one landed in Sderot and two in the western Negev.

An hour and a half later, three additional rockets were fired from Gaza, landing near one of the kibbutzim in the western Negev. Two more rockets were fired at around 10:30 pm. There were no reports of injuries. The woman killed in the attack suffered from injuries to her limbs and stomach. She was evacuated by a Magen David Adom crew to the Barzilay Medical Center in Ashkelon, where she died from her wounds. Another man injured by shrapnel was also evacuated to hospital. Twelve people were treated for shock.
The Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' military wing, claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks. About 17 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip since Monday morning. Sderot residents said that the rocket alert system was not activated before the rockets landed in the city. Tova Malka, the secretary of Mayor Eli Moyal, was at the landing site. "I left work and arrived at the center in order to drop off a good friend. He just got off and I continued driving, when I suddenly heard an explosion. My head flew forward and I hit it," she said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and EU foreign policy chief were treated to the sight of Israelis protesting against the government which has allowed this intolerable situation to fester and persist:
Dozens of Sderot residents demonstrated in the center of the city following the fatal rocket attack. The protestors clashed with police as the convoy of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana passed by.

During the clashes, the protestors hurled stones at the municipality building. Dozens of youths tried to break into the building, and when they realized the door was locked, they smashed a large vase on it. A number of workers were trapped in the building.

Yosef Timsit, whose wife Colette was seriously injured in a rocket attack last week, fainted during the demonstration. "I came to Sderot from the hospital. I heard on the news that a woman was killed. I have never taken part in demonstrations, but I am in pain and it’s my right to protest. I have nothing, I have no home, I have been sleeping in my car for a week.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In the name of national unity and reconciliation...

In other ceasefire news, the Palestinian Terrorist fractions latest truce has passed the 12 hour mark and the various hostages have been exchanged but not without a particular sign of bad faith. Ha’aretz provides details:
Later, however, teams of representatives from the various Palestinian militant factions went around to buildings to make sure gunmen had come down from rooftops. Once rooftops were cleared, the exchange of an unknown number of hostages kidnapped during the past week was to begin. Other faction members removed roadblocks that had been erected during the fighting to identify gunmen from rival factions.

In another sign of the shaky nature of the truce, several hostages from both factions were released only after their captors shot them in the legs, both sides said.

At one Gaza City building that had been the site of fierce fighting, Hamas fighters climbed down carrying a cache of rocket-propelled grenades, bags of explosives and AK-47 rifles.

"The main guarantee is that this agreement was reached by... Mr. Abbas and Mr. Meshal," Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said. "We are trying to have an atmosphere of national unity and reconciliation. The most important thing is to stop any form of internal violence between Palestinians."

Shooting hostages in the legs before releasing them in a show of national unity and reconciliation….irony is a concept which is completely lost on these people.

Stupid is as stupid does

Here’s a prime example of what’s wrong with the cognitive process of Fatah officials. The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Fatah membership is calling for Hamas officials to stand trial for murder:
Fatah officials called over the weekend for bringing Hamas leaders to trial on charges of murder, following the bloody clashes between Fatah and Hamas militiamen in the Gaza Strip over the past week. The call came despite a new cease-fire - the fifth of its kind in recent days - that was announced in the Gaza Strip Saturday afternoon. The latest cease-fire was reached under the auspices of the Egyptians and the Islamic Jihad organization.

At least 53 Palestinians have been killed and 250 wounded in seven days of fierce fighting between the warring factions. "It's time to lift the parliamentary immunity from several Hamas leaders who were responsible for the latest atrocities against the Palestinians," said Maher Miqdad, a Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip. He pointed out that two Hamas legislators, Yunis Sharafi and Yunis Astal, had been inciting their followers to kill Fatah and Palestinian Authority security personnel. Sharafi, he added, had turned his home into an "operations room" for killing two PA security officers, Muhammed Gharib and Hussein Abu Hilal.

Miqdad accused the other Hamas leader, Astal, of issuing several fatwas [religious decrees] calling for the killing of Fatah members and PA policemen. He also called for pressing charges against former Hamas ministers Mahmoud Zahar and Said Siam for "harming the national interests of the Palestinians and encouraging internecine fighting."

Zahar served as foreign minister in the previous Hamas-controlled government, while Siam was in charge of the interior ministry and was behind the establishment of Hamas's paramilitary security force, known as the Executive Force. "What is happening in the Gaza Strip is not by coincidence," the Fatah spokesman said. "This is part of a well-planned scheme by bloody elements in Hamas to get rid of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority and to establish an Islamic state in the Gaza Strip. Hamas wants to achieve its goal by shedding the blood of many Palestinians. They are responsible for the execution of several people, for damaging houses and PA civil and security installations."

Fahmi Za'arir, a top Fatah official in the West Bank, said Hamas leaders and activists should be brought to trial for perpetrating "ugly massacres" against the Palestinians. "We want to see all the murderers of Hamas stand trial," he said. "Those who planned, ordered and financed the killings should also be put on trial. I don't think there will be enough room in the courts of the Gaza Strip for all these murderers."

Yeah, sure, calling for the indictment for murder of Hamas officials should be all the motivation Hamas needs to keep the alleged ceasefire. But here’s the real kicker. Just who does the good Fatah member suggest should go into the Gaza Strip and arrest Hamas officials?

Lieberman is fun again

I haven’t done a fun with Lieberman post in a while. The Jerusalem Post reports Lieberman serves the Kadima coalition notice:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi remained reluctant to authorize a wide-scale ground operation targeting terrorist infrastructure inside the Gaza Strip, and preferred to discuss pinpoint tactics, Army Radio reported.

Prior to the meeting, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman (read his blog) declared that Olmert had only two choices: disband Hamas, or disband the government. In the cabinet meeting, Lieberman indicated he would pull his Israel Beitenu party out of the government if it didn't take tough action against Hamas, including assassinating its leaders and ordering the reoccupation of the Philadelphi corridor to stop the smuggling of arms to terrorists.

"Either Hamas is going to be dismantled, or the government is going to be dismantled," he was quoted as saying. "This is not an ultimatum, but these are the options." The strategic affairs minister said the time had come "to stop making declarations and threats, and to engage in hard operations, daring operations, unconventional operations." He stressed that he was not talking about individual operations, but "a total and absolute dismantling [of Hamas], the creation of a completely different situation."

Olmert would still have a majority in parliament without Israel Beitenu's 11 seats, but a split would leave his governing coalition on shakier ground. Sources close to Olmert said in response to Lieberman's ultimatum that the strategic affairs minister was a dog who barked, but did not bite.

Earlier Sunday, Olmert opened the weekly cabinet meeting by declaring that Israel would be forced to step up operations in Gaza if the current military and diplomatic steps proved ineffective.

Like current military and diplomatic steps have proven just sooooo effective in the last 12 months. If the Lieberman makes good on his bark and it resonates with the Israeli voters - we may be witnessing the beginning of a major hemorrhage for the Kadima government.

Those who can do - do, and those who can't do - become Knesset members

In an effort to resurrection confidence in the government Israeli Knesset MP’s lash out at the Gaydamak initiative to help the citizens of Sderot reports Ynet News:
Sunday morning, government ministers backed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after he announced that he would remove the red tape so that the fortification plan could be implemented. They said that the government could be relied on and there was no need to depend on private people's initiatives.

"Gaydamak's proposals are ridiculous," said Minister Meir Sheetrit. "Can he really fortify Sderot? Such a project would cost – and I say this as housing and construction minister – somewhere between NIS 800 million to NIS 1 billion. What he says cannot be taken seriously.

"There is a state of panic, hysteria," Sheetrit added. "I understand these people, but Sderot has bomb shelters. Is the government supposed to prepare the shelters? Each house should be responsible for their own one. You cannot lay all the responsibility on the government. Fortification of the houses in Sderot is a long process and it will not happen in a day. Gaydamak can definitely not solve the problem."

Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch admitted that the Israeli government should have dealt with Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities a long time ago: "Unfortunately, when there is such a void, Arcadi steps in. For whatever reasons, the government had not made the decision. It should have, a long time ago, but I hope that now, after it has, the residents will be safe."
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said that people should not take advantage of the situation to weaken the government. "You cannot expect the government to do everything at unreasonable speed. I suggest we stay away from spins and unjustified headlines, like the ones in the media since yesterday," he said.

Normally, I would agree that the responsibility for reinforcing rooms in one's home is the responsibility for individual householders but when the government insists on taking action contrary to their own security interests; and thereby, deliberately creates the environment which endangers the lives of its' own citizens the responsiblity lies firmly with the government.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point out that the Israeli government has had in total six years in which to act. Nineteen months ago 10-15 kassams were falling approximately every month in Sderot but the salvos only seriously accelerated since the Olmert’s administrations ceasefire last November with the various Palestinian terrorist fractions.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The newspaper fit to train your puppy with

I really don’t know why anyone would buy the Toronto Star unless one needed to paper train your puppy or to wrap your dishes in it in preparation for a move. I knew the paper had been going down hill for at least a decade but their coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict has to be one of the worse Anglo broadsheets published outside the International Solidarity Movement.

Take this recent article published from their own Mid-East Bureau:
SDEROT, Israel–Arkadi Gaydamak rode into this rocket-stricken town yesterday in a gleaming black Hummer, the lead vehicle in a three-car convoy, followed by a Mitsubishi Pajero SUV and a grey Buick Lucerne sedan.

"I am here to see what is happening, to speak to the people," the enigmatic Russian-Israeli billionaire told a phalanx of Israeli reporters and TV crews who crowded around him on a broad limestone terrace in front of Sderot's city hall.

This week, the town has been the target of relentless barrages of homemade Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants from inside the Gaza Strip, whose northern border lies just two kilometres from Sderot's southern limits.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, 110 missiles have been fired from Gaza in the past four days, including at least 17 yesterday. More than 60 Sderot residents have been injured, including 22 sent to hospital in the nearby city of Ashkelon, two of them with serious wounds.

The attacks on Sderot have coincided with a new and bloody outbreak of internecine violence among Palestinian fighters in Gaza, mainly between followers of Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has claimed credit for firing most if not all of the rockets that have struck Sderot, terrifying its 24,000 residents, or those who have not already fled to safety in other parts of Israel.

Four issues here.

The attacks on Sderot have not coincided with a new and bloody outbreak of “internecine violence among “Palestinians fighters in Gaza” per say. The attacks on Sderot have been an ongoing reality of life in Sderot for the last 19 months and have morphed into multiple barrages in any given week since the alleged November “ceasefire” accord with the Palestinian Authority/Hamas/Israel.

The Elder of Zyion has been keeping online monthly journal of how many rockets have been launched and on what days of months since last November. While I will grant the barrages have seriously increased in the last week but to suggest that this week has been the only time kassam attacks have been a serious issue is a gross under exaggeration.

Homemade Kassams. The Palestinians have made Kassams literally a kitchen industry belies the deadly nature of these rockets. By referring to Kassam as “homemade” leaves the reader with the suggestion their effectiveness or propensity to cause grievous bodily harm is slight or marginal.

It is not the fear of home repairs which caused the citizens of Sderot to seek asylum outside of the kassam range but the fear of grievous injury or death to oneself or loved ones. It is true kassams are “home-made” and while quality control and the lack of a sophisticated guidance system are obvious limitations of kassams - one should never under estimate their propensity to cause grievous harm to life or limb.

The relatively small number of deaths and injuries owes more to the intercession of divine providence then the “home-made” or primate qualities of these rockets. And dead is still dead; whether the rocket cost $50 or $50,000. Let us not forget, the other deadly product of the Palestinian kitchen industry is suicide belts. Would it be reasonable for Toronto Star reporters to start trivializing suicide belts for their “home-made” quality because the belts certainly are homemade.

In light of this humanitarian emergency, it was only a matter of time before Gaydamak showed up. The boyish-looking, 50-something prince of Russian capitalism – who reputedly made most of his massive fortune by brokering Russian arms sales to Angola in southern Africa – descended upon Sderot with an air of purpose that cannot have been pleasing to the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
"I am here with a construction company," said Gaydamak, who promptly introduced Elad Barouch, a principal of Rolan Ltd., a building firm based in Haifa. Gaydamak announced he had come to provide bomb shelters for the people of Sderot, something the Israeli government has either failed or been slow to do. Never mind that Olmert himself had paid a visit to Sderot Thursday evening. Gaydamak dismissed the prime minister's sally as mere grandstanding. "He is doing PR by leaving hundreds of Israelis to die," Gaydamak said. "I am here to work in a very concrete way. We will start to build next week."
Widely rumoured to harbour political ambitions, Gaydamak is often mentioned as a possible candidate for the mayoralty of Jerusalem and is thought by some to have even higher aims. But he denied such aspirations.

There is no mention anywhere in the report how Gaydamak came to be involved with the citizens of Sderot and the report leaves the reader with the idea that Gaydamak goes around ambulance chasing humanitarian emergencies in the Israeli state.

He actually answered a written plea from a school principal in Sderot begging for help in evacuating families from Sderot and he provided assistance before Olmert’s visit. Not content with just providing buses and accommodation for those who wanted to leave Sderot - he came to discuss with the mayor of Sderot what else needed to be done to alleviate the suffering of the people of Sderot.

Who knew I would know about Gaydamak’s political aspirations from sitting in front of my computer in Toronto than a reporter from a Mid-east bureau? Gaydamak has gone on the record in the Anglo Israeli papers stating he will run for mayor of Jerusalem. Here’s the interview dated May 17th from the Arutz Sheva:
Meiri: My last question is, What about your intentions to be the mayor of Jerusalem?

Gaydamak: I will be Mayor of Jerusalem because it is of absolute necessity that the mayor be someone who acts not for his own personal interests... In the Israeli system, there is a natural division of Ashkenazim and Sephardim, and this parliamentary system is not suitable for Israel because the candidates are elected based on this division, and then they must act not for the people's interests but only for the sake of maintaining the coalition; they are not able to run the country. We should change this system and have a strong presidential system. This is why I decided that I should take control of this city of Jerusalem, for the good of the residents, all of them, Jews and Muslims, and create economic prosperity... and because Jerusalem is the most important symbol of peace in the world, we should also try to solve the problems of confrontation in the Middle East. This is why I should be the mayor of Jerusalem; it's not that I want [this position].

I can hear those reporters at the Toronto Star now thinking, yeah right, who pays attention to Israeli Settler newspapers, radio or television reports - ‘cause we all know the Toronto Star won’t touch anything produced from those evil settlers!! So here’s the Jerusalem Post:
In the interview, Gaydamak affirmed that he will be in the next Jerusalem mayoral race. "I will be the next mayor of Jerusalem," he declared. Gaydamak denied that he would run on a joint list headed by the former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy, saying that he did not know him. The mayoral elections are scheduled to take place next year.

I have no opinion on whether or not Gaydamak would be a decent mayor for Jerusalem. I can think of no city in Israel where I would rather not be mayor of than Jerusalem. I don’t know how I could possibly manage the Haredim, let alone find the inner fortitude to refuse any of their demands – as my grandfather use to say; what is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh. I have faced down many scary situations and taken more than a few knocks in my time but I would possess less than consistency of putty in their hands. Heavens preserve me if they started to fight among themselves - because I’d probably totally breakdown.

I never wanted to be a journalist but I really think I would do a far better job sitting in a Jerusalem based Mid-East bureau than the current crop turning out this schlock. If the TS reporter wanted to center a report about Gaydamak it would have helped to do a little background work or even interview the man. On second thought, it probably is a good thing I am not sitting in the Jerusalem bureau interviewing Gaydamak. I’d probably try to lobby him to use his connections into procuring me a few missiles for the citizens of Sderot and launch them into the Gaza Strip from Sderot myself – after all, a turn deserves a turn and revenge deserves a bitch.

I will close by leaving Gaydamak to have the last words. Taken from the Arutz Sheva interview:
Gaydamak said, "I understand [your question]. First of all, in general, radio and media are the tools of journalists to explain their stupidity, their lack of information, and their personal opinions. This is the general situation everywhere... In some countries, the journalists also use the media for propaganda... I don't care about their opinion, nor about public opinion - because public opinion is managed by the professionals, and also because it is human nature to want to see other people being shown to be worse than them... The Jews living in Sderot have been living in a very difficult situation, in great danger, and they never know when the rockets will come. We should help them however we can. I am just a yehudi pashut [a simple Jew], and I want to help. I look to see what I can do. I come to share with them what I can. They are families and I want to help them - and the rest I don't care about.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sovereignty Bills

The Kadima Coalition may not be of use for most practical things in Israeli life but two interesting bills have passed their first vote reports the Jerusalem Post:
The Knesset plenum passed two controversial bills in their preliminary readings Wednesday; the first bill concerns the requirement of a referendum in the case of the transfer of sovereign land to a foreign government and the second may change the vows incoming Knesset members must take.

MK Avigdor Yitzhaki (Kadima) proposed the bill several weeks ago, despite the government's opposition. If passed, the bill could make it virtually impossible to give away the Golan Heights. Yitzhaki stepped down as coalition chairman after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert failed to give in to his demands to resign. He insisted that the prime minister leave his post after the release of the Winograd Committee's interim report into the Second Lebanon War two weeks ago.

Another bill would force incoming members of the Knesset to pledge allegiance to Israel. The bill calls for new MK to swear they will remain loyal to the "state of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and remain true to its values."
Both bills, which have yet to be reviewed at the House Committee, are unlikely to pass in their second and third readings, sources said. Much of the coalition was absent during the votes thereby giving the opposition majority.

The only criticism of the first bill (concerning the land transfer to a foreign government to be decided by a national referendum)is that it deliberately excluded the disputed territories. It only makes sense to let the Israeli people ultimately decide – what, when and how much land will or will not be negotiated away as they are the ones who will end up paying whatever price the piper asks.

Though the Jerusalem Post account is a little sparse and offers no underlying rationale for the vanishing act Kadima coalition members pulled when Olmert needed support their support to crush this crucial bill. Ynet News carries a little more background into the vanishing act. And unlike the JPost; I am not so sure this bill won’t make it into law but I do have doubts about the Oath of Loyalty.

I do not have any issues with the concept of loyalty oaths, and furthermore; it only makes sense for an Israeli oath of allegiance to include loyalty to the idea of a “Jewish” democratic state. If the underlying rational for the existence of Israeli is not a homeland for the Jews there is simply no point to its continued existence. But my gut tells me, this issue will unite the hard left wing political parties in the Knesset firmly behind the Arab parties who have been seeking to minimize or actively undermine the “Jewish” character of the state for some time.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Name your favourite terror group for Gaza Strip deployment

Okay, the idea of Hamas asking for an Arab peacekeeping force to be deployed in Gaza just cracks me up. Taken from the Jerusalem Post
Outlining the request for intervention, Ahmed Yusef, political adviser to PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said: "We are holding contacts with some Arab countries to discuss the possibility of bringing an Arab security force to the Gaza Strip to help impose law and order and to reconstruct the Palestinian security forces. We need another Mecca agreement to solve the security problems that were not addressed in the original agreement."

Yusef did not say which Arab countries were being asked to help. The Hamas official called for ousting the Fatah commanders of the PA security forces, whom he branded collaborators with Israel. "The heads of the security forces are responsible for the anarchy and internal fighting," he said. "They are acting on their own and without referring to the government. These collaborators must be removed from their jobs."

Let me think who could Hamas be possibly be asking to come to keep the peace in the Gaza Strip? Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood or al-Qaeda are the top three groups which immediately come to my mind as they are innately simpatico to Hamas.

I found an upside

One thing perqs of watching the last five days of feuding between Hamas and Fatah is watching Fatah lose every single round. It is not that I think the Hamas brand is innately superior to Fatah, but I fail to see how any reasonable informed person can look objectively at Fatah, and say, “Oh yeah right - Fatah represents the "moderate Palestinians.” And it is really grating on my nerves every time some two-bit media pundit on television refers to a man, who based his doctorial thesis denying the holocaust, as a moderate.

Furthermore, a man who also spent a good 25-30 years of his life as Yassir Arafat’s bagman can never reasonably (even in any alternative reality) be considered a moderate. As far as Fatah under the helm of Abbas goes; tell me exactly how summarily executions without trial moderates a political party or how moderate is a political party which pays pensions to the families of suicide bombers to name just two areas of “moderation”. Anyway, back to my schadenfreude moments. Egypt yesterday let 500 Fatah security forces cross over the border into Gaza reports Jerusalem Post.
After two months of training in Egypt, some 500 Palestinian security forces affiliated with the Fatah faction returned to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing point, security officials said Wednesday. The troops came to Egypt in mid-March for training at an Egyptian police camp in the northern Mediterranean city of Alexandria, an Egyptian security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The forces were trained in the use of automatic rifles, curbing riots and on tactics of street battle control, according to the official.

Hani Jabbour, a Palestinian official at the Rafah border checkpoint, said the Fatah troops drove through the checkpoint back into Gaza on Tuesday in police buses and unarmed. The Palestinians took control of Rafah in a US-brokered agreement on Gaza crossings, reached after Israel's pullout from the coastal strip in September 2005. Under the deal, the European observers were deployed to watch the Palestinian inspectors and make sure no militants or weapons are smuggled through.

Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for the European monitors, said the Fatah troops numbered 450 Palestinian members of the presidential guard. The discrepancy in the numbers could not immediately be reconciled. Telleria said the Rafah crossing was opened only for about one hour and a half around noon Tuesday for the troops to pass, with the permission of the Israelis. The Palestinians were not in uniform but their identity cards identified them as members of the presidential guard.

Not that it looks like it has done the least bit of good or given Fatah the slightest advantage in the Gaza Strip against the local Hamas boys.

Where's Waldo?

Certainly not in Gaza where even Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas fears to tread. Reported from the Jerusalem Post:
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday postponed a planned visit to the Gaza Strip after a new outbreak of violence in the area, officials said. Abbas, of Fatah, had been scheduled to meet with PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in a bid to halt this week's factional fighting. Officials in Abbas's office said the trip would be delayed by at least a day, but gave no firm time for his visit.

The decision came after a new outbreak of infighting and an Israeli air strike in Gaza, and signaled that Abbas's safety could not be guaranteed in Gaza. Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said Abbas was determined to travel to Gaza in the next day or two. "The reason for the trip is to stop the fighting," he said.

Well, good luck with that.

Calling a spade a spade

As the fighting between Palestinian fractions moves into the 5th day one should not make the mistake to in thinking this is strictly an ideological struggle between Hamas and Fatah. In fact, both groups share a remarkable commonality in reference to their long-term goals but only differ in the short-term details. Fatah has the "Phased Plan" for the destruction of the Israeli state while Hamas is willing to accede to "long-term" truce in exchange for large-scale Israeli withdrawals from the disputed territories. In this way, Hamas would allow the nascent Palestinian state time to fully arm and develop an army capable of being an effective force in which to destroy its most unwanted neighbor and thereby taking control over all of "Palestine".

It is common to hear political pundits sprouting stuff such as Fatah is a secular organization riddled with corruption and riff with nepotism while Hamas are squeaky-clean hardnosed religious fanatics set upon building an Islamic utopia in a Palestinian state at all cost and at any price. While there is a grain of truth in both these statements - it would be far more accurate to describe Fatah as a big tent extortion racket, created in exile, for exiles, by exiles. Hamas, on the other hand, was born in resentment and disenfranchisement by an indigenous population from being left out of the exile’s gravy train. I think it helps to think of Fatah as the Barnaby pirates of a modern age and Hamas as a modern day Sicilian Mafia.

Let me be the first to publicly come out and state; neither Hamas nor Fatah are locked into an equal life and death struggle in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip has been a Hamas stronghold for at least the last ten years. What we are witnessing is Hamas systematically slaughtering the last few holdouts or remnants of Fatah’s power in the streets of Gaza. Even as Hamas calls “ceasefire! ceasefire!” it sends out its special forces brigades.

If I hear one more time how Hamas firing rockets at Israel as an attempt to re-united the Palestinian street and avoid civil war; I will spew virtual coffee over each and every one of you. Repeat after me, Hamas is winning, Hamas has no need of uniting the Gaza Strip because not only does Hamas control the streets of Gaza - they like totally own it. What lies at the heart of this fight is consolidating Hamas’ control outside the Gaza Strip and into the West Bank. Hamas needs to break Fatah’s power base among the West Bank clan system. While this Ha'aretz report centers on the Gaza Strip clans, the only difference is Fatah holds the loyalty of the West Bank clans but don't kid yourself - loyalty is a commodity and no one wants to hitch their family's future to a falling star.

If Hamas can entice the larger clans in the West Bank to change their alliance from Fatah and throw in their lot with the hometown boys - Hamas will have effectively co-opted Fatah as the power in the Palestinian Authority. There is only one purpose to be gained for Hamas opening up a second front on Israel while in the midst of a battle with Fatah. Hamas needs to shows itself to be the strong horse capable of delivering not just rolling thunder but a whole world of hurt to Israel at the same time. What’s Fatah got? Absolutely nothing, and furthermore, Hamas has Fatah on the run everywhere. Hamas’ street creditability and stock can only ascend in the West Bank. No body wants to back a loser and the beyond lame of Israeli response until today will only consolidated Hamas’ creds.

But even if a message from G-d was hand delivered to the Kadima government giving Olmert the green light to act "truly harshly" – so what? Hamas has proven it can take a punch and roll just as well as Fatah – I would even say better than Fatah. Again, it just reinforces Hamas “resistance” creds and capacity for action. Nothing less than a full-scale ground invasion/ occupation by the Israelis will be able to act as an effective balm to neutralize Hamas as the political force to be reckoned within the disputed territories.

The Hypocritical Oath

A Palestinian employee of Doctors without Borders has been arrested for plotting to assassinate Israelis reports the Jerusalem Post:
A Palestinian from the Gaza Strip who works for the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders has been arrested for allegedly plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed Thursday. Mazab Bashir, 25, from Deir el-Balah began working with Doctors Without Borders five years ago.

On April 19, he confessed during a Shin Bet interrogation that for months, he had been collecting intelligence on senior Israeli officials - including Olmert and a number of Knesset members. Bashir met with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in September 2006, and said that the assassination was meant to avenge the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Bashir also underwent arms training with the PFLP, and was picked to carry out the planned assassination.

He told the Shin Bet that he had collected information on the Internet to use to target MKs, but then realized that the MKs in question did not live in Jerusalem, the only Israeli city to which his permit granted him access.

According to the officials, after the doctor realized that the security surrounding Olmert was impenetrable, Bashir decided in December 2006 to kill David Be'eri, head of the Elad organization, a group involved in purchasing Arab homes in Jerusalem's Old City. That same month, he underwent combat training in the Gaza Strip in order to learn to kill without using weapons.

In January 2007, Bashir again entered Israel again on behalf of Doctors Without Borders, and began collecting information on Be'eri. He made additional trips to Jerusalem in February and March, and on April 18. He was arrested on April 19.

So much for “do no harm” but the really sad part is I am not at all surprised by this arrest. I wish I were.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

OMG - the Israelis are killing fields

Since Hamas has undertaken the responsibility for firing rockets at Sderot the general aim has improved. Amir Peretz, the Israeli Defense Minister, immediate neighbor’s house has been hit reports Ha’aretz:
A Qassam rocket struck a home next to the Sderot residence of Defense Minister Amir Peretz early on Wednesday, causing damage but no injuries. Peretz was not at home at the time of the attack, part of a barrage of Palestinian rockets that also hit a basketball court in the town Wednesday morning.

The defense minister blamed Hamas for the attack, maintaining they are "trying to cover up the murderous act of their men against Fatah militants." Peretz, who was touring an IDF exercise in the north, called the rocket firing "intolerable and will reap a response." He reiterated that "Israel has no intention to intervene with the internal clashes in [Gaza] Strip, but we are not going to tolerate that these clashes will impact the security of Israeli residents; these events will reap a suitable response." IAF helicopters attacked in response to the rocket barrage open fields in the northern Gaza Strip where Qassam rockets are suspected to be launched from.

I can’t decide if the recent targeting of open fields in the northern Gaza Strip is Israeli Defense minister’s idea of showing support for the Gazan agricultural system or not. Certainly, it has done less than nothing to stem the tide of kassams attacks launched by Hamas.

While the Kadima government continues to fire into open and fields and threatens to bluster some more, the citizens of Sderot remain under siege. So much for not allowing the slaughter in Gaza to have an impact on Israeli security. Meanwhile there are two citizen initiatives are currently on the go in Sderot. Taken from Ynet News:
Tuesday night's Qassam barrage was too much even for Sderot's most experienced residents, and they decided to appeal to "the nation's savior" - Arkadi Gaydamak. Batia Cattar, Chairwoman of the Sderot PTA (Parents-Teachers Association) said that numerous appeals from the city's residents resulted in the letter she wrote Gaydamak. I appeal to you on behalf of the residents of Sderot, requesting you help us evacuate the city, as you did last summer," she wrote. "We have no choice. Life here has become a game of Russian roulette, rockets are fired constantly and many are injured. "The prime minister and the defense minister have left us on our own, bleeding in the battlefield."

Gaydamak helped Sderot's residents last summer, by sending many of them to a weekend away, in Eilat. Cattar told Ynet that many in the city are desperate to leave, and frustrated the government has no consideration for them. "How many more must die? We are sitting ducks and the government does nothing about it. If something like this were happening in central Israel, they wouldn't just be standing there. Our blood," she added "is no different."

Imagine having to sue the government to send in the army to defend you but that is exactly what lies at the heart in the second citizen initiative. This Ynet News carries the details:
A group of residents from the battered town of Sderot have decided on a unique course of action against the unremitting rocket fire directed at their homes from Gaza, announcing they would petition the High Court to force Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to instruct the army to respond. The initiative is credited to Sderot resident Avi Farhan – who was evacuated from the settlements of Yamit and Elei Sinai when Israel pulled out of the Sinai Desert in Egypt and the Gaza Strip, in 1981 and 2005 respectively.

Ironically, there have been no international rallying cries of “war crimes” for the deliberate targeting of Israeli civilians by Hamas nor is anyone even remotely suggesting dragging the Hamas leadership to answer to charges of war crimes in the Hague. Funny how all these human rights organizations became willfully deaf when the victims are Jewish civilians.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Violence and chaos have reached unprecedented levels even for the Gaza Strip reports the Jerusalem Post:
Hamas is trying to divert attention from internecine fighting in the Gaza Strip by firing dozens of Kassam rockets at Israel, Palestinian leaders said Tuesday. It wants to drag Israel into the conflict to embarrass the Palestinian Authority and bring about its collapse, they added.

The allegations followed another day of bloody clashes between Fatah and Hamas militiamen in Gaza. At least 15 Palestinians were killed and 70 were wounded. Appeals by many Palestinians and Arab governments to the two parties fell on deaf ears as gunmen continued to fight street battles in different parts of the Gaza Strip. In addition, most Palestinians ignored appeals from hospitals for blood donations.

"The streets are completely deserted and people are afraid to walk out of their homes," said a local journalist. "This is a real war and people are really afraid." Hundreds of Fatah and PA policemen surrounded the Islamic University in Gaza City - a stronghold of Hamas - and threatened to storm the premises. Hamas warned that its men would turn the university complex into a "graveyard" for the attackers if they carried out their threat. Hamas militiamen fired several missiles at the headquarters of the PA General Intelligence Service in the northern Gaza Strip. The movement also threatened to destroy the offices of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza City.

Tuesday's clashes began when Hamas gunmen killed eight PA security officers near the Karni border crossing. A ninth officer was shot and killed by IDF soldiers as he tried to escape toward the border with Israel. Fatah and PA officials denounced the attack as a massacre and vowed to avenge the killings. Fatah legislator Jamal Abu Rub said Hamas and the IDF were responsible.

"The time has come for our people to realize that there is a huge conspiracy by mercenaries to destroy the Palestinian Authority," he said. "The security situation in the Gaza Strip is intolerable. We can't remain idle in the face of the atrocities committed by Hamas and Israel." Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, warned Hamas against targeting Abbas and other senior PA figures. Leaflets distributed by the group in Gaza said Hamas would pay a heavy price if it dared to target PA leaders.

The innate problem with what passes for Palestinian culture is a lack of introspection and an inability to take any responsibility for any action. Even in the midst of a life and death power struggle Palestinians must find a way to blame the “other” - in this case a huge conspiracy by unnamed mercenaries, and of course, the ever obligatory shifting of blame to the Israelis for their very own uncivil slaughter in the streets of the Gaza Strip. Perhaps, if we give Jamal Abu Rub some more time and a soap box, he’ll be able to come up with a passable theory in which kidnapped Israeli soldier Cpl. Shalit is to blame. After all, Schalit is apparently the last Jew in Gaza.

Hamas, not content with simply slaughtering Fatah members in the streets of Gaza has upped the ante and opened a second front in a series of rocket barrages against the Israel state reports the Jerusalem Post.
With the security cabinet in the midst of reassessing policy toward the Gaza Strip, Tuesday night's Kassam barrage on Sderot was not expected to lead to any dramatic and immediate change in Israel's relative restraint, government officials said Tuesday evening.

Sderot came under attack Tuesday night and a barrage of 20 Kassam rockets wounded more than 18 people, one seriously. The rocket bombardment started towards the evening when a salvo of seven rockets slammed into the Negev city. One scored a direct hit on a home, leaving a 45-year-old woman seriously wounded and her son listed in moderate condition. A number of other people in the home sustained light injuries.

According to the officials, the Hamas attack was an attempt to draw attention away from their slaying of eight Fatah security officers earlier in the day and was meant to provoke Israel into invading Gaza, a move that would end the internal fighting and unite Fatah and Hamas against their common Israeli enemy.

And Israel, right on tune, again threatens a potentially harsh response if the kassam barrages does not cease, and to prove the seriousness of the Israeli intentions follows-up by launching a helicopter attack on an empty field in the Gaza Strip reports Ynet News.
IAF helicopters fired at the open fields in northern Gaza used by terror groups to launch the rocket attacks in an attempt to deter immediate future attacks.

Palestinian officials said no one was hurt.

Peretz intends to call a special security forces meeting later this evening, which IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenaz is supposed to attend in order to discuss possible military actions.

At the current juncture, no emergency security cabinet meeting is planned and both Olmert and Peretz seem willing to wait for the scheduled security cabinet next week in order to determine a plan for continued action.

Back in April, the current IDF Chief of Staff acknowledged the only way to effectively halt the rocket fire on Israeli civilians from the Gaza Strip was a ground operation but the Kadima government continues to reject their top military man’s best advice. While I usually invoke the 48 hour rule with Debkafile reports and am not the biggest fan of their analysis, I think the Debka is right on the money for rationale behind the continued passivity of the Kadima government’s response to the continued siege on Sderot:
Lt. Gen. Keith G. Dayton, US security coordinator, sought and obtained instructions from Washington forbidding Israel to launch a ground offensive or any other major military operation in Gaza. To hold the Israeli government to this directive, the Bush administration will be sending a military delegation to Israel this week, to survey the damage caused by the Palestinian missiles and draw up guidelines for dealing with them.

Olmert’s assent to the US government determining what form the IDF’s response to the Palestinian missile blitz from Gaza should take has left Israel’s security and military establishments aghast and deeply troubled. They are furious at being summoned to a phony debate in the cabinet Sunday, purportedly for a hearing at long last of their plans to quell the threats building up from Gaza.

All of which begs the questions why has the Israeli state outsourced foreign policy and Israeli security to the Bush Administration, but more importantly - what’s the suffering quota/body count do the Israelis have to reach before the Bush Administration finally allows the Israeli government to act in their own self-defense?

Prayer as Provocation

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. On the willows, there we hung up our lyres" …"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy."

Yesterday in Israel celebrations were held in memory of the 40th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem. It seems silly to point this out, but I have found over and over that most North Americans don’t fully appreciate the meaning of the unification of Jerusalem. It seems beyond ridiculous since the celebrations for the last 40 years center around “unification” of Jerusalem, but be that as it may, most North Americans don’t fully comprehend that a portion of the city of Jerusalem always remained in Israeli hands.

For example, take this Canadian government decision not to recognize Jerusalem, Israel as a birthplace for naturalized Canadians born in Jerusalem. I mean really, how does the government know that a naturalized Canadian citizen was not born in the Jerusalem which has been recognized as part of the Israeli state since the armistice lines were drawn in 1949? It does not. Therefore, it refuses to make any distinctions and invokes the fabrication that no such city has ever existed within the modern Israeli state.

I read this editorial in Ha’aretz today criticizing a group of Rabbis who ascended the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, to pray at the holiest site in Judaism, and I think perhaps it is somewhat pre-mature to celebrate the unification.

If a Jew cannot pray openly and freely in the Jewish state at the holiest site in Judaism without a condemnation from an Israeli paper - there is something seriously wrong within the so-called Jewish state and with the whole "unification" process. Imagine Muslims being refused access to pray in Mecca and you have the equivalent.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

And these are the alleged peace partners for Israel

Last Thursday Fatah and Hamas agreed to work together to crack down on the violence and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip. The spirit co-operation didn’t even last to noon before Hamas and Fatah turned their guns on each other. So far the spirit of cooperation toll is 4 dead and 15 kidnapped in some of the heaviest fractional fighting since the last ceasefire agreement signed by Fatah and Hamas.

But it’s all good as Fatah and Hamas have reached another ceasefire agreement reports Ynet News:
Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement to halt violence between the factions in the Gaza Strip. The ceasefire talks were mediated by an Egyptian delegation, after four Palestinians were killed Saturday and 20 more were wounded in inter-factional gun battles.

At the height of Sunday's clashes, organizations on both sides claimed to have abducted dozens of group members from the rivaling organizations. Prior to the signing of the agreement, Hamas and Fatah gunmen continued to trade accusations regarding which side was responsible for the renewed outbreak of violence.

For a people with such an alleged longing for statehood it is amazing how quickly they reverted to outright banditry and anarchy the minute the Israelis withdrew. Instead of recognizing this as their opportunity to step up to the plate and govern their own affairs the Palestinians took the time and applied the effort to remake the Gaza Strip into Mogadishu. In a way, it is rather an amazing feat on its own but one is left asking how many Mogadishu does the world really need?

with friends like these - who needs enemies?

The current mayor of Jerusalem has same pointed words for those countries which refuse to recognize the capital of Israel reports the Jerusalem Post:
Mayor Uri Lupolianski on Sunday blasted foreign governments for planning to boycott events marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. "Anyone who doesn't recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel does not recognize the state of Israel," Lupolianski said in a statement. He added that Israel needed to send out an unequivocal message to the world, and not capitulate on this issue.

"Israel is the only country in the world that allows other countries to boycott its capital and not [locate] their embassies in the city," he added. The unusually harsh remarks from the haredi mayor comes after US and EU ambassadors declined to attend a VIP event at the Knesset marking the 40th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

He’s got a point. It’s been 40 years since the unification of Jerusalem and it seems beyond ridiculous not to officially recognize the capital of Israel which has maintained a Jewish majority since its founding except for three brief periods in the last two millenniums.
Sources close to US Ambassador Richard Jones said Sunday that Jones would not be participating in Monday's Jerusalem Day ceremony at the Knesset. It was not yet clear whether his decision to absent himself, which followed a similar decision by the EU, was politically motivated.

In an address in Jerusalem last year, former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said that no US president would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem except as part of a final peace agreement with the Palestinians, and, repeat preelection pledges notwithstanding, it was unrealistic to expect such a move.

Okay, so I guess this means Palestinian/Arab sensibilities trump all – glad we got that straight, but where does it end? And for the record, Canada is no better.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bringing home the challah 2

And speaking of shomer, the Last Amazon has apparently a very successful day at work and by all accounts she was a big hit. Far too much of a hit for my comfort level, and speaking as her mother - I feel the need to get this t-shirt for her to wear at work, but maybe not in red. She’s not shomer per say, but speaking as her mother - I can hope and pray can’t I?

Quebec, the province of where a hate crime can be masked as a crime of passion instead

And speaking of cultures historically sympathic to anti-Semitism CTV carries this report of the latest goings-on in La Belle Province:
The beating of a Quebec Hasidic boy has been caught by surveillance footage just outside the Skver Toldos Jewish School, the same institute firebombed last September.

Jewish groups said the attacker likely targeted the 16-year-old victim because he was Hasidic, but police have said there is no evidence to suggest the incident was a hate crime.

"It's just devastating to have events continually happening to the cultural communities in Quebec, and everybody pretending this is in the normal course of events," Jeffrey Boro, President of Quebec's Canadian Jewish Congress, told CTV Montreal.

The attack happened in broad daylight Thursday afternoon. Security footage shows a man in a white shirt approaching the victim and then punching him in the face.
Police have not called the incident a hate crime, partly because they say there were no threats made against the boy.

Witnesses of the attack called 911 and police arrested a 24-year-old suspect getting into a taxi. According to police, the suspect said he allegedly attacked the boy because he mistakenly thought he had flirted with his girlfriend.

I love the justification for the attack. A twenty-four year old man is threatened by the alleged flirtation behaviour of a 16 year old school boy. Of course, if the boy was dressed as a Chassidic Jew, it follows he probably practices the law of shomer negiah which makes the alleged excuse even more flimsy.

If you have to wonder why the Quebec police have trouble seeing this as a hate crime you have no understanding of the role anti-Semitism has played in Quebec culture. A few months ago the Quebec police had a bit of a hard time initially perceiving the firebombing of a Jewish community centre as a hate crime too.

those nasty lessons from history

The Jersualem Post carries this account of German security forces in Lebanon:
In the past two weeks, three incidents have taken place in southern Lebanon between UNIFIL's (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) navy and IDF forces, a spokesperson for the German security forces in Lebanon said Friday evening.

According to the spokesperson, the latest incident occurred in the last few days, when IAF fighters approached a German naval ship patrolling the Lebanese coast. The report states that the planes were flying in an unusual manner.

In addition to the IAF flyby, the spokesperson said that on April 30 an IDF ship approached a German naval ship near the coast of Lebanon. Because the IDF ship did not announce itself, the German ship began battle procedures.

Am I the only wonder feeling uncomfortable about the German participation in UNIFIL?

I realize that WW2 ended after I was born and all the Germans who are currently participating in the UNIFIL were not alive during those years and so should harbour no guilt for Germany’s sins; but I have to say this account of German soldiers initiating battle procedures against soldiers of the Jewish state leaves a particularly sour taste in my mouth.

Perhaps I wouldn’t feel quite so squeamish - if Germany didn’t have such a long sordid documented history of persecution against the Jews which reaches all the back to the plague years of the 14th century. At that particular junction point Jews throughout the Rhineland were rounded up and boarded-in their synagogs and then set a flame. All in an effort to induce divine mercy and forgiveness for the alleged sin of allowing the “Christ-killers” to live among them, and hence, be spared further divine punishment from the Black Plague.

When I first encountered this history in Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror I could not help thinking the historical parallels to Germany’s actions in the 20th century were nothing more then logical consequences of a pathology deeply ingrained in culture. And is sixty odd years enough to wipe out and remake a culture of anti-Semitism which stood strong for six centuries?

Or then again I might feel more sanguine about the whole affair if Hezbollah weren’t actively re-arming under the very noses of UNIFIL. It becomes harder for me to perceive UNIFIL’s role as anything more than lending the appropriate cover to Hezbollah’s activities before the commencement of round two.

And really, is it so much to ask that the Germany UNIFIL contingent to pay a little more attention to Hezbollah rather than getting into pissing matches with the IDF?