Wednesday, December 31, 2008

better a bullet to the head than nails in a cross

Shin Bet (internal Israeli security forces) is reporting Hamas members are taking cover in Gaza hospitals. Ynet News:
Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin briefed the cabinet Wednesday on the progress of Operation Cast Lead. According to Diskin, "Hamas has been attacked like never before. It has suffered significant damages and its rule over Gaza has been compromised." Diskin also noted that large numbers of Hamas operatives are hiding in hospitals and that some are posing as medical staff. "Some are also hiding in mosques and some of those have been turned into headquarters, since they assumed Israel won't attack them there.

I’m not surprised by this, as this is how Palestinian terror groups have always behaved under fire. What is more interesting is what exactly Hamas members have been up to as they pace those hospital halls. A NY Times report gives a peek into their extra-curricular activities:

At Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the director, Dr. Hussein Ashour, said that keeping his patients alive from their wounds was an enormous challenge. He said there were some 1,500 wounded people distributed among Gaza's nine hospitals with far too few intensive care units, equipped ambulances and other vital equipment.

On Monday, Dr. Ashour was not the only official in charge. Armed Hamas militants in civilian clothes roamed the halls. Asked their function, they said it was to provide security. But there was internal bloodletting under way.

In the fourth-floor orthopedic section, a woman in her late 20s asked a militant to let her see Saleh Hajoj, her 32-year-old husband. She was turned away and left the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Hajoj was carried out by young men pretending to transfer him to another ward. As he lay on the stretcher, he was shot in the left side of the head.

Mr. Hajoj, like five others killed at the hospital this way in 24 hours, was accused of collaboration with Israel. He had been in the central prison awaiting trial by Hamas judges; when Israel destroyed the prison on Sunday he and the others were transferred to the hospital. But their trials were short-circuited.

I would suggest a bullet to the head is a far kinder exit - considering that shortly before the Israeli Operation Cast Lead, Hamas legislators had brought back crucifixion as a viable punishment for ‘capital’ crimes.

China has some explainin’ to do

Or at least someone in the international community should be demanding answers as to the how Hamas got a hold of missiles manufactured in China. Ynet News:
"We are witnessing the expansion of the rocket fire emanating from Gaza to a radius of 30 - 40 kilometers (about 19 – 25 miles)," the deputy commander of the IDF's Home Front Command said Wednesday. Brigadier-General Avraham Ben-David told reporters that in light of the rocket attacks on Beersheba, all planned events with over 100 participants will be cancelled, including New Year's Eve parties.

(…)Referring to the rocket attack that severely damaged a Beersheba school earlier in the day, Ben-David said the IDF's decision to cancel classes in all of the Negev city's educational institutions "saved lives", adding that school will be out at least until the end of the week.

The army official said the rocket that struck the school in Beersheba was manufactured in China, is heavier than the Qassam and can "potentially cause much greater damage." He said the rocket contains metal pallets that can spread out across a radius of up to 100 meters (about 328 feet) from the point of impact.

I don’t expect much traction on this development as China seems to possess a permanent pass and so far has effectively avoided any serious international reprecussions for selling every thing from tainted food, baby formula to toxic toys – so why not rockets? The simple most obvious answer is that Hamas received the Chinese made rockets via Hezbollah-Iran Axis.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The selfishness of the Jooos

I once quibbed that the greatest crime Christianity committed was giving the world a love for dead Jews. It was one of those cynical smart alecky type of remarks I utter from time to time without a great deal of thought – usually wine or cognac is involved…but I am really starting to believe there is something about dead Jews which makes non-Jews go all misty and sentimental in a way living breathing Jews can never hope to aspire to. Want empathy for Jews - think Jesus’ suffering on the cross, think holocaust, or Chabad murder victims in Mumbai and a chord of empathy is immediately struck. Think living Jews fighting for survival and get immediately accused of selfishness and wreckless disregard for others. The London Daily News

In London the mainstream media have been warned to avoid the subject in phone-in's to avoid escalating tensions, but that is unrealistic. What Israel has done again, is look at its own security concerns and forget that of other nations like ours.

Read the rest if you must here.

h/t Simply Jews

Pimping for Hamas

There have been a number of incidents throughout the years when the UNRWA aid agency has provided cover for individuals belonging to the various terror fractions operating within the Gaza Strip but at least the agency was previously able to maintain some shred of plausible deniability. Those days are obviously gone when the UNRWA actively pimps out Hamas lies and misinformation. Ynet News covers a UNRWA press conference:
Palestinians in Gaza believed Israel had called a 48-hour "lull" in retaliatory attacks with Hamas when Israeli warplanes launched a massive bombardment of Hamas installations in the Gaza Strip, a UN official said Monday. Karen Abu Zayd, commissioner of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which helps Palestinian refugees, raised the possible violation of an informal truce in a video press conference with UN reporters from her base in Gaza.

(…)Abu Zayd said Palestinians in Gaza were surprised when Israeli warplanes sent more than 100 tons of bombs crashing down on key security installations in Hamas-ruled Gaza starting Saturday morning because it was in the middle of the lull. (…)"What we understood here (was) that there was a 48-hour lull to be called, and this was called by the Israelis," Abu Zayd said. "They said they would wait 48 hours. That was on Friday morning, I believe, until Sunday morning, and that they were going to evaluate." "There was only one rocket that went out on Friday, so it was obvious that Hamas was trying, again, to observe that truce to get this back under control," she said. "Then, everything got loose on Saturday morning at 11:30 am. We were all at work and very much surprised by this," Abu Zayd said.
While it is true only 1 kassam rocket was widely reported as being launched from the Gaza Strip on the 26th Abu Zayd neglects to make any reference to the 27 mortar rounds fired into Israel on that day.
(…)Abu Zayd mentioned the lull when she was asked whether the population of Gaza was aware "that this was all commenced by the Hamas government unilaterally ending the cease-fire and firing rockets." "I don't think they think the truce was violated first by Hamas," she said. I think they saw that Hamas had observed the truce quite strictly for almost six months, certainly for four of the six months, and that they got nothing in turn - because there was to be kind of a deal," Abu Zayd said. "If there were no rockets, the crossings would be opened," she said. "The crossings were not opened at all."
So many lies, so little time. Firstly, the crossings were opened periodically and aid was sent through at various times. Let’s start with the myth of an ‘informal truce’ which was not reported in either the Arab or Israeli and seems to be a delusion created not only after the ‘truce’ officially expired but after the launch of Operation Cast Lead. In fact, Hamas stated very publicly the truce would not be renewed in both Damascus and the Gaza Strip.

As for the 48 hour ‘lull’ period – someone should tell it to the civilians of southern Israel. It seems those code red alerts were still working rather vigorously for an ‘informal truce’ or ‘lull’. Furthermore, it is beyond convenient for Abu Zayd to completely omit all reference to “Operation Oil Stain” I suspect Abu Zayd is counting on her intended audience having no familiarity with what is reported in the local Palestinian press.

As for the claims of Hamas strictly observing the so-called ‘truce’ for four months – try two out of six months – September & October – although neither month was completely projectile free and truce officially began on June 19, 2008.

As for Israeli violations of the truce, once again, I would like to point out there is no human right to build a tunnel from the Gaza Strip into Israel or fire mortars rather than kassams into Israel. Furthermore, the fact such a tunnel was built by Hamas during the truce is gross violation of the ‘truce’ as well as a violation of Israel sovereignty. When a UN agency becomes the unofficial voice for a terrorist organization there is only one humane course of action - disbandment.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Solider's Mother


What I to go collect my little boy and bring him home. I want to lock him in a room and tell Israel that no, you can't have him. I've changed my mind. No, I'm sorry. He's not allowed to play with guns and big things that go boom. No, I'm his mother. I gave birth to him and no, you simply can't take him.

What I to call him and make sure he is where I put him, where he told me he was yesterday. Not in the north, where Hizbollah is promising to burn the ground and open a second front and not in the south, where dozens of rockets and mortars have been fired at Israel, where a man was killed and dozens were wounded.

That's what I want...

And what I'll do, is sit here at my desk and keep editing this document for my client. I'll update the copyright statements and change the installation information to reflect the new platforms the product now supports. I'll answer the phone and I'll talk to my accountant.

And what I'll do, is tell my heart to settle. I'll tell my eyes to take a moment and look at the next beautiful wave of clouds rolling in over Jerusalem. I'll sign the papers I need to sign; type the words I need to type. I'll tell my younger daughter to clean her room and my younger son that he has to study for his test NOW. I'll tell my middle son he can borrow the car like we agreed, but he has to drive carefully. I won't talk to my daughter because she's old enough to see the cracks in my smile and know that outside, it's all a front.

What I'll do is answer the phone if Elie calls and I'll talk to him calmly. I'll listen if he tells me he's staying where he is. I'll listen if he tells me they are moving him up north. I'll listen if he tells me they are moving him down south near Gaza. I'll listen, I'll tell him to be careful, and call me when he can. I won't for a single moment, tell him that I'm scared, that I have no real experience with this war thing and that I don't really want him to have any experience with it either.

What I'll do is continue to listen to the news and pray for our civilians who are under attack, and our soldiers who are risking their lives to defend them.

And most of all, what I will do is dig deep inside where I store my faith in God and in my country and my people. I will do what every Israeli is doing today, hoping this will end soon, but not too soon that we only succeed in putting off to tomorrow what should have been dealt with today. I will do all of this because we are what we have always been, a nation with no choice but to deal with what our enemies choose.

Go read the rest. Then say tehillim, for the nation and those who seek to defend her. If you don't know where to start - try here, chapter 121, A Song of Ascents

I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains: from whence shall my help come?
My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper; the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall keep thee from all evil; He shall keep thy soul.
The LORD shall guard thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth and for ever.

On the Israeli Homefront

While Operation Cast Lead continues on, I thought I would present a round up on the war in the Israeli homefront. The Jerusalem Post:

In an apparent sign of Palestinian violence spreading beyond Gaza and the South, four people were wounded Monday morning, one of them seriously, in a stabbing attack carried out by a Palestinian terrorist in the town of Modi'in Illit (Kiryat Sefer). The terrorist was shot by Kobi Rosenstein, a Magen David Adom volunteer who came to treat wounded. MDA said the medic's bravery prevented additional casualties.

At 8.05 a.m., MDA's Ayalon branch received an alert about shooting and stabbing in the haredi settlement's Rehov Yehuda Hanassi. Two regular ambulances and two more sophisticated ones were dispatched. When the rescue teams arrived, they found someone they knew well - MDA volunteer medical Arye Deutsch, lying on the floor bleeding heavily. The apartment owner, who was herself lightly wounded, said the Arab attacker - the head of a renovation team in her flat, seriously wounded his contractor employer, stabbed her and her husband and fled.

Deutsch was rushed to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where he was in critical condition with wounds to his head. Five others were also hospitalized there, one serious and four lightly injured. The terrorist was seriously hurt by Rosenstein's bullet and hospitalized in Sheba as well. Security forces believe that a second man may have been involved in the attack, and were conducting searches in the area.
What day would be complete without a baby stoning? Arutz Sheva:
( Arab stoning attacks are on the increase, in light of Israel's counter-terrorism offensive in Gaza: An eight-month old baby from the Gush Etzion area, traveling in her family car on Sunday afternoon, is listed in moderate condition in a Jerusalem hospital. She was hurt by Arab-thrown rocks north-east of Hevron. Shortly before that, a 1-year-old baby boy was lightly wounded by glass shards in a similar stoning attack. He was taken to Kiryat Arba for treatment.
While Hamas and Egypt clash over the Rafah border Israel treats Gaza’s wounded under rocket fire:
( Dozens of Gaza Arabs are being treated in Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital at the same time terrorists are bombarding the city. The medical facility, the largest on the southern coast, is in the line of rocket fire, and medical staff often have to stop caring for patients and run for cover during air rain warnings.
The 500-bed Barzilai Hospital has close ties with Gaza City's Shifa Hospital, Barzilai deputy director Dr. Ron Lobel told the Associated Press. "It might seem completely absurd, but we have the privilege to be doctors. Our medical ethics do not distinguish between patients. We treat whoever needs to be treated," he said.
I am sure there are those of who will sneer but Israeli humanitarian efforts don’t end with treating the wounded. Arutz Sheva:
( Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to open the Kerem Shalom Crossing Sunday morning in order to enable international humanitarian agencies to deliver supplies into Gaza.Thirty trucks bearing medical supplies, basic food commodities and other humanitarian goods made their way through the crossing beginning at 11:00 a.m. and continued for several hours.

"As the prime minister said yesterday, we are not at war with the Palestinian people, but with the Hamas terrorists, and therefore we are bringing in the goods for the Palestinian people," noted IDF Major Peter Lerner, Defense Ministry Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories.

Three humanitarian aid agencies are sending goods into the Gaza war zone: UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), WFA (World Food Agency) and the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). All three agencies were notified Saturday evening that they would be allowed to send as many truckloads of supplies into the region as they could muster, Lerner told Israel National News. "We didn't place any limit on the number of trucks," he said. "There are only thirty truckloads because that was what they were able to get ready for today. That's what they have in their warehouses at the moment." The Erez Crossing, which is almost always open for the passage of medical patients into Israel, has been closed to all traffic in the wake of specific terror alerts.
And what internal round up would be complete without student protests on campus – far from the theatre of war. Ynet News:
Hundreds of Haifa University students took part in hot tempered demonstrations in the middle of the campus Monday. On the one hand, Jewish and Arab students belonging to a leftist movement called for an end to the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and under the slogan "Diplomatic Terror" yelled out nationalistic chants and "Barak is a murderer".

On the other hand, Jewish students gathered to support the Israeli operation and called out "Death to terrorists" and "Ismail (Haniyeh) is next". Large police and university security forces separated the two groups, which occasionally got into heated arguments with each other, and objects were even thrown from one side to another. During the protests, an argument broke out between left-wing lecturers and IDF officers studying at the university, who were dressed in uniform and carrying their weapons.

During the demonstrations, that were held with the University's permission, students associated with Balad, Hadash and the Islamic Movement waved PLO flags, red flags and posters denouncing the operation. "In spirit and in blood we will save Palestine", "The defense minister is a child killer", and "Fascism lives on" are just some of the slogans shouted out by the students.

So what comes next?

Over 50 rockets struck Israel reports the Jerusalem Post:
Gaza terrorists fired over 50 projectiles at southern Israel Monday, the latest two rockets hitting the Ashkelon Beach region, causing no casualties or damage. Earlier Monday, Hanni Al-Mahdi, 27, of the Beduin town of Aroer in the Negev, was killed and at least 14 people were wounded when a Grad-type missile hit a construction site in Ashkelon's center. Of the wounded, five were reported to be in moderate-to-serious condition and the rest were lightly wounded. Several people were sent into shock by the attack.

And rumours abound that a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip by the IDF is eminent but what I want to understand is what happens after the ground offensive. I have no doubt that an IDF command along with a united political echelon can defeat Hamas decisively on a field of battle but what happens the day after the ground offensive ends in the Gaza Strip?

Does control turn over to the impotent Fatah run Palestinian Authority and we watch a repeat of June 2007 in 18 months with kassams once again flying into civilian centres in southern Israel? Does a UN body come into to take civilian control of the Strip? Does the IDF take control and run a quasi military-civilian authority in the Gaza Strip? The one thing the Israeli Defense Forces cannot give to Gazans is responsible Palestinian political leadership, and until the Gazans reject overwhelming rule by terror, the Gaza Strip will remain nothing more than a viper’s nets in Southern Israel.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Northern Israel will burn as Gaza is burning

So says Hezbollah leader Nashrallah. Arutz Sheva.
( Hizbullah terrorists have vowed to open a second front against Israel in the north in retaliation for the IDF military operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Terrorist chief Hassan Nasrallah issued a statement on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television station Sunday, vowing that "northern Israel will burn as Gaza is burning." Nasrallah rarely appears in person; he speaks via a video hook-up from his hideout due to fears of assassination by Israeli agents, following the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Hizbullah officials were quoted in a number of Arabic-language publications on Saturday warning that they would not permit Israel to attack Gaza without retaliating.

Last week seven Katyusha rockets were discovered primed and ready for launching in southern Lebanon, located near the northern border of Israel. All seven were aimed at targets in the Jewish State.

(…)The last time Israel faced a two-front war was in June 2006, when a military conflict began with a cross-border raid by Hamas terrorists near the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Gaza that resulting in the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Two other soldiers were killed and a fourth soldier was critically wounded in the attack. Shalit remains captive in Gaza to this day.

Less than a month later, in July 2006, Hizbullah terrorists carried out a cross-border raid in northern Israel, kidnapping and ultimately murdering IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The attack, which was conducted simultaneously with the launch of a barrage of Katyusha rockets at Jewish communities in northern Israel, opened a second front in the military conflict that had began with Gaza, and ignited the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

So are we in Redux 2006? Hezbollah may plan to revisit its alleged glory but Hezbollah would be seriously overplaying their hand by fighting the same war - again. This time, Israel has a capable Minister of Defence with extensive military training under his belt as well as a new IDF Chief of Staff. Ashkenazi has made in roads in addressing a great number of deficiencies in the IDF and coming from an army background he understands how to effective weld and command ground troops unlike his predecessor Dan Halutz, who had no army command prior to his appointment as the IDF Chief of Staff.

Casting a few lead darts

While reading a Toronto Star report on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead I found two things noteworthy. The first –

Nearly 700 Palestinians were wounded in yesterday's air strikes, many seriously, medics said. Palestinian sources reported last night there were at least 230 fatalities. Most of the casualties were security forces, but Palestinian officials said at least 15 civilians were killed.

Imagine 700 wounded, 230 killed, but of 930 individuals involved - only 15 were civilians. This is an absolutely astounding figure given the size and breadth of this operation and suggests the IDF offensive has utilized some amazing military intelligence to full advantage. Although, I will caution the ‘700’ wounded figure does sound a little hyper-inflated and in a first search could not find another news source which confirmed that tally.

The other noteworthy point concerns the white washing of the Israeli Disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians in Gaza began shooting rockets at Israel in 2001, but the attacks grew more frequent after Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in early 2006 and worsened again following a bout of Palestinian infighting in 2007 that left Hamas in sole charge of Gaza, while Fatah, its more moderate rival, withdrew to the West Bank. Israel left Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation, but the withdrawal did not lead to better relations with Palestinians in the territory as Israeli officials had hoped.
While it is true that the shelling of Israeli communities within the 1949 Armistice borders commenced in 2001, it was strictly a willy-nilly affair with the first kassam landing inside the so called Green line community in April 2001. The attacks grew frequent immediately after the Israeli Disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 when Hamas was not in electoral control of the Gaza Strip.

One of the upsides of blogging as long as I have is that my archives documenting the history of shelling of Israeli communities from the Gaza Strip paint an entirely different picture than the Toronto Star report suggests.

On September 12, 2005, the first official day of the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip handover, the first kassam and second of the year, lands within the so-called Green line communities of Israel. On September 24, 2005, just a scant two weeks after the Disengagement from the Gaza Strip officially ended, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip fired 30 kassams upon the Israeli city of Sderot. Previously to this, the vast majority of kassam attacks were launched against Israeli communities within the Gaza Strip.

By December 2005, the attacks on Israeli communities like Sderot (within the 1949 Armistice borders of Israel), has grown so frequent that the Israelis were forced to launch Operation Blue Skies to deal with the ongoing kassam attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip. It has been steadily downhill ever since the utterly disastrous Disengagement from the Gaza Strip and not just since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chanukah War - Lighting up the Gaza Strip

I saw this You Tube via Jameel at Muqata.

There is a special joy in the IAF finally being allowed to get their mark. And no, I don’t feel a damn bit sorry for those Hamastanis caught on the ground.

Deport the Fifth Column

While Hamas exiled leader Mashaal in Damacus calls for a third intifada, a group of Israeli Arabs decided to riot as a protest against the ongoing IDF Gaza Operation launched against Hamas for attacking their fellow citizens. Ha’aretz carries a brief roundup.

Israeli Arabs on Saturday protested Israel Defense Forces attacks in the Gaza Strip, with demonstrations and clashes with police breaking out in communities throughout Israel.

In East Jerusalem, a police officer was lightly hurt by an Israeli Arab who hit him with his car. The driver, who has a criminal record, was arrested by police shortly thereafter. On Salah-a-Din Street in East Jerusalem, dozens of youths lit dumpsters and hurled stones at police. One assailant was arrested by police at the scene.

In the Shuafat refugee camp, hundreds of Palestinian protestors threw rocks at security forces. In the West Bank settlement of Beitar Illit, a three-year-old boy was lightly hurt after he was hit in the eye by a rock thrower. In the Bedouin village of Rahat in the Negev, around 400 residents protested the attacks, while mosques throughout the town broadcast prayers of mourning.

Hadash, the predominantly Arab leftist party, will stage a demonstration on Saturday in Nazareth to protest the IAF operations in Gaza. Hadash chairman Mohammed Barakeh called on the government "to immediately halt the crime in the Gaza Strip."

"Escalation will not bring quiet and calm," Barakeh said. "It is inconceivable for the Palestinian people in Gaza to live between starvation and bombardment.
There was not a single Israeli Arab protest when Hamas was launching attacks against Israeli Jews. So much for loyalty to one’s fellow citizens or the state. Time to take names and send the malcontents to the Gaza Strip where their loyalty can be duly rewarded.

the dogs of war will cry

No one can say Hamas was not warned that by continuing to launch rocket attacks at Israeli civilians in their homes and on their way to work and school or in their synagogues that one day Israeli patience and restraint would just flat run out. Apparently, it now has – Toronto Star:

GAZA CITY–Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of air strikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in recent memory.

The vast majority of those killed were security men, but civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit and responded with several medium-range Grad rockets at Israel, reaching deeper than in the past.
The Gaza Strip death toll will only continue to rise as the day continues but this is the price to be paid as long as Hamas continues to launch attacks against Israeli civilians. No doubt the professional Palestinians apologistas will come out in full force decrying the disproportionate use of force by the Israelis, but you know, when you reap the whirlwind of war this is what you sow. Besides, it is long past the time for the international community to stop juvenilizing the Palestinians and start treating them as adults who are responsible not only for their actions but their rhetoric. Jerusalem Post:
Despite the massive casualties, Hamas remained defiant, vowing revenge and calling on all other Palestinian factions to join in the fight.

"Today we are stronger then we've ever been," one spokesperson for the group said at a press conference. "We won't raise the white flag, we won't give anything up, we won't retreat."
We can start by acknowledging Hamas has clearly set not only the rules but the terms of engagement, and henceforth, there is only one viable ending. Although, I expect the Israeli and international community will waffle from doing all that is needed to be done and in six months, a year, a year and a half, this same scenario will be played out again.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Time to end the occupation of the squatters in Hebron

Here is an irony for you - from the man who rarely steps outside of Ramallah unless he is heading to Jordan to catch a flight to a more (shall we say), ‘congenial’ place, and then, only under heavy guard to protect him from his peeps. Jerusalem Post

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday visited Hebron for the first time since he took office in 2005 and demanded that the settlers get out. "Hebron is ours, and they have to leave if they want peace," he said.
Nearly four millenniums later, and Abu Mazen thinks it 1099 or 1929 all over again. Here is a news flash – Fuck you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How soon before Russia has no Russians?

Ever read something which is so staggering in its implications that it immediately makes on whoa? This Ha’aretz article on the number of abortions performed in Israel did it for me except it wasn’t the number of abortions performed in Israel but the number quoted for Russia:
The World Health Organization has ranked Israel 21 out of 22 European countries in terms of the ratio of abortions to births. Russia was ranked first, with 1,022.4 abortions per 1,000 births, and second is Romania, with 684.6 abortions.

I have very mixed feelings on abortion, and am quite happy to live in a country where abortion is not legally regulated by the state per say, but a staggering 1,022.4 abortions for every 1,000 live births is mind bendingly sick.

Rising from the dead

Years ago I remember watching a film clip of a Hamas member’s funeral. The body was wrapped in a shroud and every now and then, the ‘dead martyr’ would accidently slide off the stretcher. When that happened, the ‘dead martyr’ would unceremoniously rise from the ground and climb back on the stretcher so the funeral procession could carry on as if nothing untoward had happened. So why this trip down memorial lane? Arutz Sheva:
( Palestinian Authority armed forces arrested a senior Hamas terrorist in Shechem on Monday. The detainee was identified as 36-year-old Rajab Ash-Sharif, who has been considered dead for more than seven years.

Monday, December 22, 2008

poser alert

Forget the dogs of war for a moment and ponder the fact a man deliberately ate 46 latkes in 8 minutes. Ha’aretz:
LAKE GROVE, New York - That's a lot of latkes: A 23-year-old mechanical engineering student has downed 46 of the potato pancakes in eight minutes to win a contest at a Long Island deli. Pete Czerwinski (sir-WIN'-skee) says he'd never eaten a latke before consuming about seven pounds of them Sunday at Zan's in Lake Grove.

The contest coincided with the first day of the eight-day Hanukkah festival. The Toronto bodybuilder says he's just "a power eater" whose brain never signals that he's full.
I am betting the only way he could do it was by not eating them with sour cream or applesauce which means he’s just another poser.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I miss the old days when you could tar and feather politicians

The Ontario government regulates the sale of alcohol in the province and sets the price within certain ‘limits’. The government has just decided to increase the price of beer and not being a real beer buying fan of beer it doesn’t really touch my quality of life or bother me except for two little nagging issues. Toronto Star:
That 6.7 per cent increase in the floor price of a case, bottle deposit excluded, has nothing to do with supply-and-demand, production costs, overhead or distribution expenses.

Instead, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario sets minimum prices as part of its "social responsibility" mandate established in 1993. Translation: If alcohol is too cheap, you may abuse it.

But documents obtained under Ontario's freedom-of-information law show that the Ministry of Finance, not the LCBO, pressed for higher beer prices – raising questions about the arm's-length relationship between the two bodies. "The Ministry of Finance recommends an increase to the minimum retail price for beer effective November 24, 2008," says a memo distributed to board members for their Oct. 15 meeting in Toronto.

If the Ministry of Finance wants another revenue stream, all well and good (sort of) but McGirlieman’s liberals need to be upfront about it and tell it like it is - rather than attempting to hoodwink the citizens of the province

Secondly, who knew Ontario had a social responsibility mandate? This is just another gift from Bob Rae’s horrendous term of office. Social responsibility mandates – please. What’s next - regulating who I have sex with or who I can pray to and how? Why Bob Rae still has a career can only be the work of avenging demons.

Tree of Life

I have never bought a menorah although I have two in my home. One was from a relative and the other came to me strictly by happenstance. Ever since my run-in with a former fellow tenants, when the Stars of David’s were craved into my walls and doors around my flat with the immortal phrase ‘Kill the Jew’, the local neighbour people have taken to calling me the Jew Lady. From time to time I would run into this older homeless woman. It was hard to tell her age under the layers of clothes and dirt. She spent practically one entire summer stalking me on the street and every time she saw me always demanded to know if I was the Jew Lady.

Every time she started hectoring me down the street I was overwhelmed by a profound sense of guilt. It was solely irrational but purely an instinctually response. I did my best to ignore her by turning up my iPod and walking fast away. One day, in the fall, I relented, turned off the iPod, and slowed down to speak to her. I asked her why she kept calling me the Jew Lady. She answered because she was tired of always being the alone.

I asked her if she was hungry and she said yes. I took her into a local coffee shop and bought her lunch. Over coffee I asked her if she would let me help her. I explained I had friends who worked for a Jewish community centre and they could probably help her – at the least - she would have a place to go where she would not have to be alone. This idea aggravated her and she fled the coffee shop.

I didn’t see her again for weeks. Then coming home late one night shortly before Chanukah I found her sitting on the steps outside my front porch. Her bags were all arranged at her feet. She told me she had something to give me and reached into one of her bags and pulled out a menorah shaped as a Tree of life. While I am not overtly familiar with Kabalah, I do understand somewhat the nature of the symbolism associated with the Tree of Life - which can represent the unique and unknowable nature of G-d. I didn’t want to take it from her and explained I wasn’t religious. It seems to be one of the few things of value she possessed. She grew impatient with me again. In frustration, she shouted out at me she has no home, no doorway or window to put the menorah in which to light it. If I would take it and light the candles for her each night she could see it, enjoy it, and know she wasn’t alone.

What could I do? So I took the menorah, and for the first time in my life I placed a menorah in my front window on Chanukah. In for a penny, out for a pound, so I called the local Chabad house and got the candle lighting times and on the first night of Chanukah, I placed the menorah in my window, and pulled my grandfather’s siddur off the bookshelf. I lit the shamash, and started to search for the blessing, and instead, found a handwritten piece of paper tucked into the prayer book with instructions and the blessings to recite for lighting the candles each night. It was like someone knew this day would come for me and so sought to prepare me.

Once I started to sound out the words, I realized I knew them and the meaning and so I sang them out. I was surprised and taken back by the comfort I got from doing this. Perhaps, it was because for a few lost souls there was finally a little light was shining in the darkness. I haven’t seen my bag lady since she gave me my menorah but every year since, I place her menorah in the window and light the candles.
If only it was so easy for the rest of us to bring in a little light into our souls.

The whole point of my menorah story is that this year I will be out of town during Chanukah and I still wanted to bring my menorah and light it. Even though my bag lady wouldn’t see it I did not want to break faith with her. I promised her and gave her my word. I would do this in memory of her.

I was afraid it would get damaged if I traveled with it in the great lot of things I will need to bring for a month’s holiday with the Tribe so I had my friend carry my menorah back out west. Apparently, it got mangled in transit so it can no longer stand on its own. The thought of having no usable menorah to light has distressed me and plagued my sleep. I am not sure what has been made bent can be straightened and rather than risk having no menorah to light I have started a search for a new menorah but nothing I found held meaning for me.

In the end, the menorah was repaired and tonight night, I will do what literally hundreds of generations have done before me on this night. But when I place my Tree of Life in the doorway, light the first candle and recite the last blessing, Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech haolam shehecheyau vekiyimanu vehigianu lizman hazeh [Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.], know this - I stand in awe at the mysteries and inner workings of the universe in which a homeless woman can act as a catalyst to show me my place in the light of the universe.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And I bet the offers keep on coming

By now everyone has heard of journalist in Iraq who threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush during the press conference but what you may not heard was the upside of the incident. Apparently, there is a bride in al-Zeidi’s future with a dowry all for the taking. Ha’aretz:
The head of a large West Bank family wants to reward the Iraqi journalist who lobbed his shoes at President George W. Bush by sending him a bride. 75-year-old Ahmad Salim Judeh says if journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi is interested the family is willing to take one of its eligible daughters to Iraq along with her dowry. Judeh says doing so would be our honor. He also said Friday that the 500-member clan had raised $30,000 for al-Zeidi's legal defense.

So like, how long before al-Zeidi is offered a contract to endorse shoes?

Friday, December 19, 2008

What a difference a day does not make.

The trouble with the Israeli-Hamas truce officially ending is that it looks so much like the day before. Yesterday via Jerusalem Post:
A Kassam rocket struck an open area in a kibbutz in the western Negev on Thursday. The latest strike brings the number of Kassam rocket attacks for the day up to eight.

And today (Jerusalem Post):
Palestinian terrorists fired three Kassam rockets at the western Negev on Friday morning, slightly over an hour after the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza factions officially ended. Two of the rockets landed in open fields in the Eshkol region, while the third slammed into the Sha'ar Hanegev area. No one was wounded and no damage was reported. Also Friday morning, Gaza terrorists fired at farmers near Kibbutz Nir Oz, in the Eshkol region.

While today’s count looks a little on the low side remember the day has yet to end. The only upside I can see is that apparently the Gaza Strip Hamas leadership has decided to pull a Saddam and are reportedly hiding out in their very own spidey holes.

Post Travel Advisory

After enduring a hellish limo ride to the airport at 5am in the middle of the first snow storm to hit Toronto this season, I duly board the flight only to discover I am wedged between my not so little baby boy (5'11" and 220 lbs) and a grandma with the largest widest hips known to mankind. I got to experience the special joy of sitting on a plane to nowhere for an hour waiting for our plane’s turn to be de-iced before take off - without benefit of coffee I might add. So our four hour flight became five hours which then morphed into six hours after we landed as the plane door had frozen shut.

The next time I get the bright idea to leave Toronto in the middle of a snowstorm - someone remind me not to fly to a place even more cold and snowy without my mink coat. Today’s temperature -25 but feels like -37C once you factor in the windchill. There is an upside, I remembered to bring my thermal underwear and the bed is warm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 'Calm' is Over

For the last few weeks there have been various reportings suggesting Hamas would not continue the ‘truce’ with the Israelis, but almost every official quoted was based out of Damacus rather than the Gaza Strip, so there were a little bit of creditability issues with the reports being carried. Reuters is carrying the first Hamas official based in the Gaza Strip who has gone on record suggesting the truce is no more and will not be renewed which I have read.
GAZA (Reuters) - Hamas on Thursday declared an end to a six-month-old Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip, raising the prospect of an escalation in cross-border fighting.

"The calm is over," Hamas official Ayman Taha said in an announcement after concluding talks with Palestinian factions in the coastal enclave controlled by the Islamist group.

He said the ceasefire, which Hamas says was scheduled to expire on December 19, would not be renewed "because the enemy did not abide by its obligations" to ease a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip and halt all attacks.

Hamas stopped short of threatening an immediate escalation against Israel, which had hoped to extend the truce and appears wary of a confrontation that could cause heavy casualties on both sides. The European Union, in a statement, called for an "immediate cessation" of both rocket fire and Israeli incursions.

Yadda, Yadda to the EU. And I gotta love Reuters for always being consistent in getting their little anti-Israeli jibes in.
Tensions along the Israeli-Gaza border have been escalating since early last month when a deadly Israeli army raid triggered a wave of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

That deadly IDF raid – let’s just say – there is no human right to build tunnels into Israel from the Gaza Strip. But overall, let's just say its somewhat of a relief. I mean how much non-truce are the Israelis suppose to absorb. Now send in the missiles for every kassam – Hezbollah style.

Russians play Santa to the Lebanese

The Times Online is reporting that the Russian government is set to supply the Lebanon with 10 MiG’s – for free no less:
Russia gave Lebanon ten MiG fighter jets yesterday in a deal to boost defence cooperation.

The MiG29 Fulcrum fighters would be provided free to Lebanon under an agreement on military-technical assistance, the head of Russia’s defence cooperation service said. Mikhail Dmitryev said that the jets would come from Russia’s existing stock.
He said that Moscow was also in talks to supply Beirut with heavy armour, adding that supplies of such weaponry were “now possible after the situation in this nation has stabilised”.

He said: “We view the Lebanese army as the main guarantor of this nation’s stability, therefore the armed forces of this country must be strengthened.” The deal followed a meeting in Moscow between Anatoly Serdyukov, the Defence Minister, and Elias Murrhis, his Lebanese counterpart. Mr Serdyukov said that Russia had received a detailed list of armaments sought by Lebanon.

When details of the deal emerged on Tuesday it was suggested that the aircraft would be sold at a discount. Mr Dmitryev confirmed yesterday however that they would be free, with delivery paid by the Russian Defence Ministry. He said: “Military-technical assistance, this means assistance in budgetary funds.”

It takes time and resources to train a fighter pilot, and time is not the Lebanese friend, so the question becomes just why such a generous gift to the Lebanese? Certainly, Russia is seeking to capture a bit of the international cache Russian influence use to exert in the neighborhood, but Lebanon is only a fringe player – abeit with interesting friends. Or perhaps the Russian game plan is more tied to acquiring leverage to be used against the Israeli government for those Israeli drones the Russians were mulling on purchasing.

54 Israeli cops injured and not a settler in sight

An Israeli police force training exercise veers badly off course:
Some 54 police officers sustained minor injuries on Thursday during an exercise gone awry. The Police Department held an exercise simulating mass riot and crowd control procedures near the southern military base of Zeelim.

The drill involved 6,000 police and Border Guard officers. The injuries occurred after "rioters" apparently used excessive force on "peacekeeping" officers during a mock disturbance. All of the injured were treated on site and according to the police, none of needed to be taken to a hospital.

(…)The exercise, said the Department, was meant to bolster police deterrence and enhance the officers' ability to handle complex situations.

Considering all Israeli police officers more or less pull a stint in the IDF how a ‘mock riot exercise’ goes this far over the edge does makes one wonder, and apparently, poor driving skills are not confined to bus drivers only:
A car crash was also reported during the drill, as five police officers were injured after the driver of one of the police vehicles lost control of his car. One of the officers sustained severe injuries and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Another officer was moderately hurt and three other suffered minor injuries.

I expect it will take much more staging for the police to get a handle on these mock training exercises although there is a part of me which hopes the training loop does not end any time soon...for when it does these same officers will be the ones sent into Judea and Samaria.

Truce Redux

The Jerusalem Post is reporting 23 kassams were launched against Israeli from the Gaza Strip yesterday:
Twenty-three Kassam rockets pounded the western Negev on Wednesday as the IDF went on high alert ahead of the official end of the cease-fire on Friday. One of the rockets struck next to a shopping center in Sderot, wounding three people and causing extensive damage to storefronts and parked cars. The wounded were evacuated to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

Following the attack, the IDF bombed two rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip, next to Beit Hanun. The military said the launchers were ready for use. Moments later, two more Kassams hit the Sdot Negev region and another struck the Sha'ar Hanegev region
Another 9 kassams have been launched so far today. Good thing the truce lasts for another day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Travel Advisory

I’m traveling bright and early this morning and with any luck - I will leave this snowy place for another even more snowy place…

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Truce, truce, what is truce?

Here is a typical Israeli-Palestinian irony for you courtesy of Ha’aretz:
Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday fired four Qassam rockets and a mortat shell at the western Negev, just days before a six-month truce between Israel and Gaza factions was set to expire. The rockets exploded in open fields in the Eshkol Regional Council, while the shell struck the nearby area of Sdot Negev.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced just after the attack that border crossings with the Gaza Strip would be closed again, due to security concerns. Meanwhile, Hamas' leadership on Monday adopted a united stance not to extend the truce with Israel, which is set to expire on Friday, December 19. This stance comes after group leaders expressed contradictory positions with regard to the cease-fire on on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Damascus-based head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Meshal, had said precisely that, but Gaza-based leaders of the movement insisted that no decision had yet been reached. Monday, however, Hamas' spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Ayman Taha, said the movement had concluded that there was no point in extending the truce "as long as Israel isn't abiding by its terms" - though he added that talks on continuing the cease-fire were still taking place.
Kassams and mortars have been launched repeatedly and consistently from the Gaza Strip since the June truce when into play but only now is Hamas suggesting the ‘truce’ will be coming to an end. Go figure.

The Red Dog who had No Bark

The Toronto Star runs an editorial pleading the case for John Tory, leader of the Ontario Conservative party, and if that isn’t enough to rot your socks, the T-Star suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoint one of Conservative party MPP’s to the federal senate as a way to make room for John Tory so he can try to run for a seat to finally be able to run in the provincial legislator.

I am of the belief as long as John Tory runs as a conservative, he could run in the safest Conservative riding anywhere in the country, and still manage to lose. So why does this red dog loser have the Toronto Star endorsement?
However, the lack of a seat in the Legislature for Tory is not, in itself, the main problem facing Tory today. Rather, it is a symptom of the problem, which is that support for him within the provincial Conservative party is eroding. By now, a leader in a stronger position would have been able to force another MPP to step aside and make a seat available. Tory has pushed four or five different Conservative MPPs, and they have all pushed back.

The signs of the shakiness of Tory's position are everywhere, from disparaging quotes from unnamed party members to slack attendance at fundraising dinners. This may seem strange to outsiders, as Tory is a man of obvious talent with an unrivalled work ethic. But he is also a Bill Davis Conservative, and the Mike Harris wing of the party has never much liked him. When the Conservatives lost the 2007 election, the Harrisites blamed Tory and his proposal of public funding for "faith-based schools" (even though the idea flowed from one of Harris's own policies, the private school tax credit). Now the Harrisites are actively undermining Tory, and sources say he may quit out of exasperation.

This would be a loss, and not just for the Conservatives who would have to turn to second-stringers in the Harris wing for a replacement. Under Tory, the Conservatives are a middle-of-the-road party that can present itself as a viable alternative to the Liberal government. Under a Harrisite replacement, the Conservatives would undoubtedly turn hard right and essentially give the Liberals a free pass to stay in power. That would not be good for democracy or the province.

The thing about the Harris Conservatives is, when the party ran as the ‘hard right party’, the voters of Ontario delivered two back to back conservative majorities. Ernie Eves stint as Ontario Premier took Ontarians back to the middle of the road liberal lite conservatism and the Conservative party lost again to the Liberals and has been losing ever since.

John Tory is simply the manifestation of ills of the conservative party in Ontario and not the cure. Drop this red dog, and come up with a truly conservative party platform to draw conservative voters like me back into the fold. Until then, I hope you enjoy your stay in electorial perdition.

Monday, December 15, 2008

And these are the liars who are called 'peace partners'

What never fails to amaze and astonish me is the Palestinian capacity for denial. Arutz Sheva carries a report of the latest ‘revisionistic’ claim:
( In a recent appearance on Palestinian Authority television, PA Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad Subh claimed the United Nations had not permitted the establishment of an Arab state in then British Mandatory Palestine in 1947. Subh's interview was translated by Palestinian Media Watch.

"In 1977 the UN General Assembly decided to restore the Palestinian people's esteem, following the historic injustice which happened in 1947, when a 'birth certificate' was offered to one state instead of two states,” Subh claimed. “One state [Israel] was permitted to be established, while the Palestinian state was not permitted to be established.”

In 1947, with hundreds of thousands of Jews living in the British Mandate and millions more seeking homes, the UN offered a partition plan that would split the land between Arabs and Jews. Jewish leaders accepted the plan. Surrounding Arab states rejected the plan and attacked the fledgling Jewish state, causing a bloody war that ended with the Arab nations defeated and Israel established on most of the British Mandate territory.

Subh's interview is not the first time the Fatah-led PA based in Ramallah has made false claims about the history of the region, PMW said. “Since its establishment, the Palestinian Authority has been rewriting history in an attempt to create historical legitimacy for its demands for statehood, as well as justification for the terror and wars against Israel since before Israel's establishment in 1948,” the group stated.

To underscore the importance of this issue, note that none of these outrageous lies were made by an obscure Palestinian scholar nor were the outlandish claims made in some fifth-rate publication but by a highly placed official within the Palestinian Authority and broadcasted widely on the state run television within the Palestinian Authority.

Last week in Jerusalem

A score was finally settled. Two years ago, the Israeli extremist leftist organization, Peace Now, issued a report called A sin leads to another sin, in which Peace Now claimed that most Israeli towns in Judea & Samaria were founded on land stolen from local Palestinians. The report received widespread international attention and caused a firestorm in Israel. One of the Jewish settlements Peace Now named as being founded mostly on stolen Arab land was Revava.

Rather than lie down and let Peace Now (and Peace Now activists Hagit Ofran and Dror Atkis) libel and slander their town, the organization, which owns the land Revava is settled on, decided on an unusual course of action (for settlers) and launched a lawsuit against Peace Now and two of their activists. Last week in Jerusalem, a magistrate ruled on the Revava lawsuit and found Peace Now guilty. Arutz Sheva reports:
The court found the three defendants guilty. Besides ordering them to apologize, Justice Barclay ruled that they must pay the Fund for Redeeming the Land 20,000 shekels plus tax. The group's apology must be public, and must be published in both Maariv and Haaretz.

"The time has come to end the serial lies issued by various leftist groups,” Attorney Nir Tzvi said following the court's decision. “The public should doubt any report they write.” Nir Tzvi called on Jews living in Judea and Samaria to “stand up for their good name” when facing false accusations from groups like Peace Now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Well, just colour me broke

Isn't this simply too special! TheGlobe and Mail reports Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is pulling in the big guns to develop an economic stimulus plan:
OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is developing a stimulus plan for the Canadian economy with a close circle of advisers that includes Ontario's Minister of Finance, who is already dealing with the crisis head-on.

Dwight Duncan, who has long been a strong supporter of Mr. Ignatieff, is offering critical advice to the newly appointed Liberal Leader on industrial issues and the auto industry, a source said.

Mr. Ignatieff has also consulted Frank McKenna, deputy chairman of TD Bank Financial Group, and Don Drummond, a former senior Finance official and the TD's senior economist, as well as Liberal MPs John McCallum and Scott Brison.
Contrast this, with this Montreal Gazette article on the cost of corporate welfare to Canadian taxypayers.
Canadians have handed out more than $182 billion - or $13,639 per taxpayer - in business subsidies, bailouts and loans over the past dozen years, a right-wing think tank says in an attack on what a former NDP leader coined as "corporate welfare bums."

The report from the Fraser Institute, however, comes as an entire industry is holding out its hand for billions more in financial aid from taxpayers as the economy slumps into recession. In 2006 alone, the most recent year for which figures are available, the corporate welfare bill per taxpayer was $1,291, the Vancouver-based think tank calculated.

"The revelation comes as politicians in Ottawa debate spending additional money on business subsidies to stimulate the economy," it said in the report in which it charged that such handouts merely feed an addiction of sick businesses.

"While corporate begging has become even more blatant this year, the fundamental truth has not changed," said Mark Mike, author of the report entitled Corporate Welfare: Now a $182-Billion Addiction. "Business subsidies, bailouts or loans are all forms of corporate welfare that transfer tax dollars and employment from healthy businesses to risky businesses. "Government intervention only delays the day of reckoning and often at the expense of other businesses and a healthy industry and economy. "Research has found that corporate welfare may not have a demonstrable beneficial impact on the economy, employment and tax revenues because no new net investment or employment is created, the report said.

Can I hear a ‘pay day’ to Big Business in Canada! But rest assured, the federal Liberal party, who cannot even manage to pay off their own political debts, has now called in the big Liberal guns to help manage the country’s economy.

And a special shout out to all Ontarians, who can now sleep the sleep of the vindicated, knowing the same provincial government who managed their economy into ‘have not’ provincial status, has now been called to do their part to shove the federal fist a little deeper into the back pockets of all Canadians – especially those Canadians who have the special misfortune of residing in provinces which still possess a budget surplus.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So I have been busy...but I didn't miss the 'nuclear umbrella' foolishness

I have not really posted lately on Israeli politics because, well, mostly the news is primary politic stuff gearing up for the election in February. To give in a short summary means I would have to write pages and I just don’t have that kind of time. I am clearing my desk and getting ready to take my annual leave next Tuesday. I am vainly trying to organize things on the home front at the same time so the Tribe and I can leave for Alberta without any loose ends.

Yes, the kassams are still falling, Israeli authorities continue to investigate current Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Iran continues to meddle in Mid-East politics, Hezbollah continues to thwart Jimmy Carter’s plan to be the Dhimmi of the year, the Israeli government’s war against the Jews continues unabated, British Anglicans continue their long tradition of anti-Semitism, and Ehud Barak continues on his quest to have the Israeli state commit a slow public suicide.

But the absolutely most idiotic thing I have read recently is the suggestion that the Obama Administration will offer Israel a ‘nuclear umbrella’ as protection against an Iranian nuclear strike. In other words, if Iran nukes Israel, the US will take Iran off the board. Yadda, yadda.

Firstly, everyone knows Israel has their own 'Samson Option' and is fully capable of carrying it out even if hit by a nuclear strike.

Secondly, why the US’s nuclear umbrella would have more deterrent value than 200 plus Israeli nuclear missiles to be launched against strategic locales spread throughout the Mid-East is completely beyond my ability to reason.

Thirdly, it’s a question of will and creditability. The US does not have the international cache necessary to make believable its threat to carry out a nuclear strike. Oh, the US has the missiles and the warheads, but I cannot imagine the US Administration, especially a democratic one, which has the necessary cojones or spine and resolve of steel needed to carry out a nuclear strike against a country which did not deliberately attack the US home front.

Think the public opinion either domestically or internationally was mobilized in the countdown to the invasion of Iraq? It would be nothing compared to the demonstrations to save the innocent Iranian civilians! Potentially dead Iranian civilians versus a promise made to already fried dead Jews – living Iranian civilians win, hands down, every single time. Although, I am sure the memorials held for the Jewish victims of Iranian nuclear terror will be beautiful and moving, with lots of pledges of 'never again' - until the next time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh

My grandfather use to always use this expression - ‘what is bred in the bone comes out in the flesh’. I think of this often since I have had children. It has never surprised me when I see one of my children display characteristics of myself, their father, my grandparents, etc., but it’s the odd bits and pieces that set my mind to wandering

The Last Amazon left home to study neuroscience with an eye to eventually become a neurosurgeon. One of the reasons she choose to study at this university was an optional program which acts as a mentoring program for students wishing to pursue a medical career. Enrollment is very limited and she was fortunate to be accepted into the program.

I think it’s a great idea and I am not sure why more universities don’t offer a similar program considering the high drop-out rate by the second year of medical school. Far better to realize one is not suited to medicine before paying umpteen thousands of dollars in non-refundable tuition. Personally, I am hoping she opts for research rather than medicine. Not because I do not think she is not capable of being a great doctor but because I realize the pursuit of medicine often requires sacrifices and I want her to keep her options open. It’s very hard to be a doctor and both a wife and mother. I am not saying it cannot be done just that it is very hard and I don’t wish hardship on my daughter.

She applied to a brain injury clinic which turned her down due to her age - such is the joy of being only just turned 17 and in university, although she was offered a spot at the clinic for next September after she turns 18. She was eventually accepted in the Emergency department of a local hospital. Yesterday, she texted me she got the word to suit and scrub up as she was going into the OR as an observer. This wasn’t the Grey’s Anatomy observation room but a place on the floor watching the ‘action’.

I received this email from her last night:
It's hard for me to try and explain it by email. It'll be better if I talked to you about it. But I'll try anyway! I got to watch some interesting surgeries- two ileostomies, a kidney stone removal, two breast tumor removals, a hip replacement and a knee replacement. I also got a chance to talk to med students and hear the latest hospital gossip! I also talked to this anesthesiologist. I practically spent the entire day 8am-5pm on my feet observing surgeries! Oh yeah and the best part of my day was... I got to actually touch the tumors (once they were removed)!

I wasn’t even sure what an ileostomy was and had to look it up. Gross, but I suppose necessary, considering the alternatives. I can’t imagine even having the desire to touch a tumor and her father positively blanched at the sight of blood. Scraped knees, cuts, stitches, and broken bones were always my domain. All of I can think of is my poor mother (who volunteered to live with my daughter while she studies out of town) listening patiently as my daughter excitedly explains in gory detail involved of the operations she observed.

It truly has been an educational experience for my mother to live with the Last Amazon. Recently my daughter came across the term ‘coprophilia’ in her studies and did not have a clue as to what it meant. My mother volunteered to look it up and now wished she hadn’t. My mother so shocked she had to call and share it with me. All I could offer in the way of comfort was to suggest how awful to live one’s life ignorance…. I am writing this waiting for my mother’s call which I know is coming.

Marriage at Caanan Wine

Just in case you needed another reason to buy Israeli wine the Toronto Star adds another reason to the list:
Ontario's Liquor Control Board is recalling an Italian wine, but not for the usual reasons.

Some of the 1,500 ml bottles of 2007 D'Aquino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie are nothing but water. George Soleas, the board's vice-president of quality assurance, said yesterday there is no risk to the public. "Basically, the chemical testing we have done, that was quite extensive, shows it is just tap water." "The only reason we decided to do the public recall is because we stand behind the quality of our products 100 per cent," Soleas said.

"And a lot of these products, because they are Christmas items, they are going to be gifted and I didn't want to have people surprised on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve opening this product and finding water instead of wine.
Since I have the kind of mind which often see opportunity where others see disaster I would have marketed it as the miracle-waiting-to-happen-wedding wine and pitched it to the Evangelical Christian community.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Really, I have got to get out more.

So I am reading the Israeli Arutz Sheva online and spy a by-line reading ‘Toronto Zionist Council’ and click in.
( In a harshly worded letter, the Toronto Zionist Council (TZC) said it was "appalled" by the forcible and violent eviction of the residents and supporters of Peace House in Hevron last week. The organization called for the removal of Defense Minister Ehud Barak from power, and an end to what it termed the "persecution and abuse" of Jews in Hevron. The TZC's presiding officers warned they would call for an end to financial support for the Israeli government, and direct support for the Hevron community and its supporters, if the leadership continues in its current Hevron policies.

All sentiments I could have written, and how is it that I don’t know about this group in my backyard nor do I have a seat on this council? Was I not accused of single-handedly orchestrating the rise of post-ww2 anti-Semitism? Then I do a bit of google-ing and realize there is no website or email which explains everything in my mind – well, at least to me.

In life, everything is a lesson.

So my son, Isaiah Sender, is watching this horrible frat-boy kind of show off the internet called “Kenny vs. Spenny” which just happens to be filmed a few doors down from our home. Kenny vs. Spenny is a competition between these two social retards on who can do whatever the best. Memorial episodes have been based on things like who can be homeless the longest or who can offend the most people, who can lift the most weight with their genitals. Like I said, total frat-boy stuff. So he is watching an episode called “Who can be the better Jew”. He gets excited and calls me over to watch all 30 seconds of him walking by in the far distance. I get all crypt and tell him it’s a sign and hand him my Tehillim and Siddur. He just rolls his eyes and bows to the inevitable.

Monday, December 08, 2008

There is only one way to leave the 7th century behind - Read about so you don't have to live it.

Sometimes is makes seeing things in the black and white world of print to drive home a point. I found this story at Arutz Sheva:
( The average Arab in the Middle East reads approximately four pages worth of literature a year, according to a RIA Novosti Russian news service report published in November.

The Syrian newspaper Tishreen, commenting on a recent survey conducted by the United Nations, said that according to the study, Americans read an average of 11 books a year, with the average Briton reading eight books.

The Arab Thought Foundation, which reports on cultural development in Arab countries, concluded that only a little more than 8 percent of Arabs aspire to a higher education.

The U.N. survey reported that every year, one new book title is published per 12,000 people in the Arab world, as compared with one per 500 people in Britain. Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) says Israel publishes more than 4,000 books a year, making Israel the second highest per-capita publisher in the world, after the People's Republic of China.

The United Nations Development Programme Literacy Report for 2007-2008 listed Israel in 56th place for world literacy, with the Palestinian Authority coming in 80th, Jordan 84th, Lebanon 97th, Iran 114th, Syria 120th, and Egypt in 132nd place.

There can be no modern nation state where education and literacy is only the aspiration of a less than 10% of any given population. Want a revolution in the Arab world? Teach them to read and then send in the books. Let their minds feast on Locke, Smith, Mills, Paine. Counter bin Laden with Voltaire and let their imagination soar. Free their minds, and their nations will follow.

The alternative is more of this and this, and this foolishness:
Time for a change from Canadian Politics. The Jerusalem Post is reporting:
The Palestinian Authority has decided to ban a number of journalists from entering the presidential Mukata compound in Ramallah. The decision is aimed at punishing the journalists because of their criticism of the PA leadership or for reporting about the activities of Hamas leaders.

Al-Jazeera reporters and TV crews are among those who now appear on the PA's blacklist. They have been denied access to the Mukata for the past two weeks. Other journalists working for Arab and Western media outlets have also been told that they are no longer welcome to visit the compound.

The Foreign Press Association protested "in the strongest possible terms" the ban on Al-Jazeera journalists and urged the authorities in Ramallah to immediately end this restriction. "There can be no legitimate excuse for this unacceptable curtailment of press access to the office and activities of the [PA] president," the association said in a statement. The decision to ban Al-Jazeera came after the popular TV station failed to carry a live broadcast of a speech given by PA President Mahmoud Abbas in front of the PLO Central Council in Ramallah.

I do not really care who in the press the Palestinian Authority decides to bar/ban but given the howls of outrage from the ‘Israel is Apartheid’ crowd for the Israeli policy of refusing to allow reporters access into the Gaza Strip via Israel, I thought it would be worthwhile to give this report a little wider coverage and see if any dawgs bark...I fully expect the silence will be rather deafening.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

putting out the red lights

There was a time when I was younger when I was more inclined to buy into the argument that the legalization of prostitution would result in a series of less societal ills. Less woman victims, less pimps, less STDS, less sexual predators, less crime overall and then I grew-up.

Although, even after all these years, I still find I cannot get the outrage meter to do more give a limp half-hearted wabble when confronted by the private arrangement of two consenting adults if I am not a direct party to said arrangements. However, observing the ‘working girl’ world happen outside my front door for the last 10 plus years, I have come to view the whole business very dimly and no longer think of it as just a ‘benign’ kind of shabby business arrangement. And it appears, the Dutch, for all their flaunted liberalism and legalization of this, that, and whatever - are slowly coming around to my point of view - if this BBC report is accurate.
Dutch authorities have revealed details of their plans to clean up Amsterdam's famous red light district. They say they will close half the city's brothels, sex shops and marijuana cafes in a bid to drive organised crime from the city centre.

Council officials gave the sex industry a warning a year ago that they were going to close some brothels. The deputy mayor of Amsterdam says the plans will stop the city being a "free zone" for criminals.

Last year the city said it wanted to close one-third of the red light district's brothels, where scantily-clad prostitutes display themselves in shop windows. But the new measures aim to reduce the number of sex "windows" from 482 to 243, a council spokesman said. Amsterdam also wants to close half of the 76 marijuana shops in the city centre. The city council says that some other businesses are also related to the decay of the city centre, including peep shows, sex shows, mini-supermarkets, phone and souvenir shops, and they will also be shut down.

It says there are indications that some red light businesses serve as a cover for organised crime, including drugs and the trafficking of women. "Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see on the surface but they are hurting people and the city. We want to fight this," said Deputy Mayor Lodewijk Asscher. (…)Critics say the crackdown in Amsterdam is the latest example of a hardening of the traditional liberal Dutch approach to social issues including prostitution and soft drug use. But Mr Asscher said that the changes would be more in line with Amsterdam's image as a "tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals".

Legalize prostitution acting as a beard for organized crime, drugs, money laundrying, trafficking in human slaves…you don’t say. Now who would have seen that coming?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I may have to give back my capitalist decoder ring

Today the Toronto Star is reporting almost 71,000 jobs were lost for the month of November in Canada.

So let’s go back a little in time. On October 11, 2008, the Federal government shores up the banking industry with a bail out package via this Globe and Mail report:
After approving a $25 billion package to help Canada's big banks through the global credit crunch, Prime Minister Stephen Harper predicted yesterday at least another year of economic "slowness."
I am conflicted on this issue, but no one asked me, so the banks get propped up via the public purse under the rational of it is all for the good of the country.

On November 12th, the Toronto Star reports the Royal Bank of Canada has decided to lay-off 280 ‘back-office jobs” Canadians were doing in order to lower costs by outsourcing those same jobs to India.

Normally, I would argue that any corporation has the right to make any decisions for the good of its bottom-line, but if Canadian government is going to prop up the banks via the public purse and do so for the benefit of the country - shouldn’t the Royal Bank show a little loyalty by keeping those same jobs within the very country which is helping prop up their bottom-line? I don’t think a little back-scratching via the Royal Bank is too much to ask given the current economic circumstances.

On November 24th, the Toronto Star reports the Royal Bank’s bottom-line 4th quarter profit drops to only $1.1 Billion.

While 4th quarter profits are down 15% for RBC and no one enjoys seeing their bottom-line edge downward, RBC is still making a very healthy return. I fail to see how keeping those 280 Canadians employed within their company within Canada would unduly harm their bottom line financials.

Generally, I have always argued for free trade between free parties although the one concern which has always given me pause with the onset of the globalization is how often trading occurs between unequal partners. And if corporations and companies are going to increasingly come to the federal government looking for hand-outs, hand-ups, and or tax relief/credits; does not the government have not only the right but moral obligation to attach or demand strings be attached to the acceptance of the public purse’s assistance? A little Canada first fiscal policy might well be in order.

One small note. I am not a Royal Bank employee or shareholder. I am personally unaffected by staffing cuts/outsourcing. While I have used the Royal Bank to illustrate my point, I don’t have a personal grudge against RBC. I choose RBC as the most timely and easily accessible example of what I perceive as an inherent weakness within our system.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The poisoned turncoat

I can hardly stand all my good fortune at the moment. I keep feeling the need to pinch myself to make sure this isn't a dream. Bob Rae is stepping up to be ‘Chief Salesman’ of the Coalition reports the Globe and Mail.
Bob Rae is preparing a coast-to-coast campaign to sell Canadians on the concept of a coalition government, taking over as chief salesman and manoeuvring around Stéphane Dion, whose leadership is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Mr. Rae, the Toronto Centre MP and Liberal leadership candidate, began staking out his territory Thursday as the champion of a coalition government aimed at taking down Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“He's going to carry the can,” said one of his chief strategists. “He's going to stand up and let his voice be heard and encourage Liberals to hang in and we can take down Harper and put in a good government that will do the right thing.”
I really think if I was a liberal, I would be seriously considering the possibility that Bob Rae is a NDP plant set on destroying what is left of the Liberal brand. But since I am not even close to being a modern day Liberal all I can think is – happy days are here again! Knock yourself out Bob! Good times people, good times!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

For future prosperity or fun and games, someone get Bob Rae on the record – Now.

Liberals and NDP claim they cannot support the Conservative government because of a proposed freeze on the salaries of civil servants and a temporary removal of the right to strike during this recession.

I am not even sure if this is even still on the table, but anyway,has anyone asked Bob Rae (current Liberal Member of Parliament for Toronto-Centre) point-blank - why he does not now support these measures in an uncertain economic times when as Premier of Ontario he unilaterally re-opened provincial civil servants collective agreements, removed the right to strike, rolled back salaries and imposed a ‘free day’ of work on civil servants? If it was right for Ontario then, how much more right would it be today, when the country is facing a world wide economic crisis the like which has never been seen before?

Or is it just one of those smoke and mirrors statements Dion likes to throw around – like when Dion rejected a proposed NDP-Liberal alliance way back on September 23, 2008. The Globe and Mail:
BURNABY, B.C. — Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion flatly rejected forming a coalition government with the New Democrats today on the heels of hints from NDP Leader Jack Layton that he'd be open to the idea.

Mr. Dion, speaking after an address to a Vancouver-area business crowd today, said he could not work with Mr. Layton in this way because the NDP leader wants to hike taxes on business. “We cannot have a coalition with a party that has a platform that would be damaging for the economy. Period,” the Liberal leader said.
Of course, a Liberal would probably tell you what is said in the West - stays in the West.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

TSX Watch – Day 3

The question becomes – how low and long can it go?

While the answer appears to be how long can Dion, Layton and Duceppe abuse the public purse?

I just finished watching the Prime Minister’s address to the nation. No, surprises there – although I was surprised to learn networks were waiting for the man who would play King to deliver his own address to the station. Apparently, it was late arriving. The downside of multiple do-overs is how time consuming the actual exercise becomes.

Regional Solitudes

I voted for Preston Manning and while I am personally more or less socially conservative, I am not much fond of those who would use government to legislature personal morality or limit an individual’s choice to make any decisions. I am, more or less anti-abortion but I am quite happy to live in a country which has no laws governing abortion and individuals have the right to live out the dictates of their own conscience.

Fiscally, I am conservative, and believe less government is better the better government. Ronald Reagan might have been reading my heart when he said the scariest words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I am here to help”. But what caught my heart was when Preston Manning announced, “The West Wants In.”. It resonated in a way for me, as a former Maritimer and long-time resident of the centre of the universe that very few Canadian political slogans had to date.

My mother grew-up in the back woods of the lower Miramichi, and after a brief stint at an Air Force base in Chatham, New Brunswick, ended up with a whirlwind marriage and found herself on a plane going to live in Toronto. She had excellent typing skills and references from the Royal Canadian Air Force but she had trouble finding a job in Toronto of the early sixties.

No one in Toronto wanted to give a young woman from the backwoods of Miramichi a chance and some even suggested she would have a better shot of landing a job if she looked to the factories rather than the front offices. She persisted and landed the interview of her life. She believed it was going well and clocked in an error free phenomenal accurate typing speed. Her potential employer asked what she wanted as a wage and she quoted $50 a week which seemed to her to be the going wage for typists according to the ads in the newspapers. He told her point blank that because she was from the Maritimes and she should consider herself lucky to get half that. She gathered up her purse, her gloves and her hat, and asked him point-blank to tell her the difference between an Underwood typewriter in the Maritimes and an Underwood typewriter in Toronto. She didn’t get the job but she kept her self-respect in tact.

Now that was Toronto in the early sixties and when I started working 20 years later; I too learned early the value of hiding my regional, religious and ethnic diversity hidden - if I wanted to work in anything but the factories of Hogtown. Not everyone was prejudice against Maritimer per say but there was definitely still a bias against anything which reeked of ‘otherness’ and Maritimer still qualified as just one of my ‘otherness’ qualities. Old bias dies hard in the Centre of the Universe. Part of the reason things started to change was the changing demographics of Toronto by the mid-80. It remade Toronto more as a place where people came to rather than were from.

I instinctively understood the sense of alienation coming from the West. In fact, I held even a certain sense of sympathy for the Quebec separatist movement as well owning to my own personal narrative. Although, living in the Centre of the Universe, what surprised me was lack of responsibility or self-awareness most Upper Canadians held or felt to towards creating and fostering an environment which created this sense of alienation in the first place.

Manning tried to hard to unite the west and find a place at the Canadian table for the West and he believed it was possible for Western Canadians to be full and equal partners within Confederation. I too wanted to support the idea of a Canada which was not divided but united along regional lines. If anything, events in recent days, have only underscored the many regional solitudes held in this land; where the voices of 72 MP’s from Western Canada can be reduced to mere 23 under this Coalition government-in-waiting-to-grab-power-and-not-earn-it.

A coalition of alleged reasonable and fair-minded MP’s willing to work to govern based on compromise for the good of all Canadians but paid for by the impotent voices of a few. A coalition, whose MP’s support based is predominately from one region in Canada, and does not hesitate to give veto power to the 49 regional separatists within our political midst from another region. This is called the value of compromise and accommodation. Well, blow me down and westward. Preston Manning was wrong and the parties of entitlement have proved it.

St. Justin speaks

Nor do I find the fact he speaks in favour of the coalition government-in-waiting-to-grab-power-and-not-earn-it an earth shattering revelation. Entitlement has to start somewhere and where more natural than in the home?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I just don’t get Libber-dipper math

Allegedly the price for the Quebecois Bloc not to bring down the Axis of the Swilling is $1 billion dollars while the alleged cost of the last election was around $300 million.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to have another election? In fact, we could have even two more and it would still be cheaper than paying off the Bloc. Although, I am not a Liberal so I don’t do ‘new math’. Of course, another upside would be that no one has to bother worrying about whether there is any truth to the rumours of Dion et al paying off the separatists with six senate seats.

So where is the beef? Dion? Jack? Gilles?

Yesterday, the apologista crowd of the Three Amigos protested the complete nose dive of the TSX had absolutely nothing to do with their political shennigans – even though our market tanked lower than our neighbors.

Today, the neighbors had a rally and a surge, and ours, well maybe, not so much. But remember, it has absolutely nothing to do with a lack of faith in the general competence of the Liberals, NDP or Bloc to lead us, and just because the Liberals cannot manage their own party finances, with or without their public purse entitlements, it should in no way reflect our their ability to manage the Canadian economy - much.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Liberal Fascists have won

Mark this day well. Liberal Fascism reared its ugly head and destroyed anything of value or purpose to be found in Confederation. I can hardly believe the scope of the hubris needed to conspire to create a coalition government which hands over veto power to a Quebec separatist party.

I have become a stranger in a strange land without ever leaving my home. Canada is no longer my country nor is Toronto my home. I was planning to leave for the west at the end of June, and beyond my personal reasons for leaving, I realized today there was absolutely no future worth having or reason to stay here. Once my family gets safely off the plane, I have only one thing to say to the people of my new land – PUT UP THE FIREWALL.