Friday, February 29, 2008

Mutant Teenage Suicide Bomber

The Jerusalem Post carries this blurb on the successful apprehension of a suicide bombing:
A 17-year-old Arab female from Jerusalem is under arrest for allegedly offering to carry out a suicide bombing in the city, police said Thursday.

The would-be bomber, a resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur who was apprehended three weeks ago in a joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency)-police operation, suggested to Islamic Jihad operatives in the West Bank that they use her to carry out a terror attack due to her hatred of Jews and "personal family problems," Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said.

As part of her enlistment, the teen traveled to Mecca to "purify" herself after undergoing a series of tests by the Palestinian terror group to ensure that she was not an Israeli mole, police said.

The two Islamic Jihad operatives have also been arrested. The attack was still in the early planning stages when the suspects were nabbed by Israeli security officials.

The teen, who has confessed to the allegations against her, said that her family had no knowledge of her plans to become a suicide bomber, police said.
While successful suicide bombings have declined since the 2002-2004 levels, it has not meant that the tactic of using suicide bombers has loss any of its appeal to Palestinian terror groups but rather it has just become that much harder to launch a successful attack against Israeli civilians.

when is enough really enough

Periodically I have been reading the Zerb’s blog at the Toronto Star. Yes, she’s back to blogging. Some people think of her as a progressive kind of evil but I haven’t ever been able to see her that way. At times, she can turn a phrase and she has made me laugh outloud on occasion. What can I say? A blog detailing an older woman’s quest to loose weight and be fit - what’s not to like? Anyhow, I stumbled across this tidbit from Brian Valle’s book, War on Women, on her blog and I was so utterly stunned that I had to reproduce it on my own:
In Canada, the federal government estimates the annual cost of violence against women at $1.1 billion in direct medical costs alone. That figure rises to more than $4 billion a year when social services, lost productivity, lost earnings, and police, court, and prison costs are factored in.

Wars usually produce large numbers of refugees: witness the United Nations camps scattered around the world. And the War on Women has its own refugee camps, in the form of the 2,500 or so shelters for battered women and their children across North America. In the United States, more than 300,000 women and children seek safety in shelters each year. In Canada, the number is between 90,000 and 100,000.
“annual cost of violence against women at $1.1 billion in direct medical costs’. Jaysus H. Roosevelt. I cannot voucher for the accuracy of those figures but even at a quarter of a billion it is a quarter billion too much.

I am 45 years of age, and truthfully, I have known more women who were beaten by their spouses than I care to count. Sometimes, it’s a one off thing, sometimes not. I worked as a criminal law clerk and have sat across from women in various shades of injury who were beaten by their spouses. In fact, once I had one woman come into my office on crutches who possessed one of the most mangled faces I have ever seen. A cauliflower looked more human than that woman’s face. I listened to her tell me she was a hooker and was beaten by a ‘john’ and not by the live-in boyfriend who the police apprehended in the act of bludgeoning her with a baseball bat. My firm had undertaken to represent him at the bail hearing. The truly sad part was just how downright desperate she was to get him out of jail. I believed that she truly believed, if he was not released on bail, her life would be forfeit the day he walked out of jail as a free man.

One of the reasons I left criminal law field was because I could not stomach having a hand in defending the lowlifes who regularly mangled their wives and daughters. I didn’t mind the drug dealers/addicts, the bank robbers and stick-up/con artists, the petty thieves, the mentally ill or even the odd murderer or three or four, but it was the men who regularly beat their wives and daughters who sickened me beyond the pale. At least a good thirty-five per cent of all the cases my firm defended revolved around domestic violence. That is just one firm out of how many in the city of Toronto.

This isn’t a general indictment of men. I have known many fine, fine men who would never even think of raising a finger to their wives or daughters, let alone do it, but there are those who do. And quite frankly, as a Thatcherite Conservative living under socialist health care in Canada; I find it completely unconscionable that I have to pick-up up the bill for the scumbags who obviously belong at the outer edges of the human gene pool.

I am not suggesting that we deny women and children medical treatment for their injuries but maybe it is time we took a serious look at all the financial recourses available to recoup the outrageous costs these men are costing the rest of us. Let me recap it this way; recoup $1.1 billion in healthcare costs and you can do an awful lot of MRI’s, CAT scans, or hip/knee replacements…did you get where I am going with this? Stephen Harper, I am gifting you a plank in your next election platform.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Leopards do not change their spots.

The Jerusalem Post carried this tidbit on the Palestinian “peace partner”:
PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday said that he does not rule out returning to the path of armed "resistance" against Israel and took pride in the fact that he had been the first to fire on Israel and that his organization had trained Hizbullah.

In an interview with the Jordanian daily al-Dustur, Abbas said that he was opposed to an armed struggle against Israel - for the time being. "At this present juncture, I am opposed to the armed struggle because we can't succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different," he said.

And there is this recent interview from the Lebanon Daily Star:
SIDON: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted Wednesday as rejecting the naturalization of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. "We would never accept any settlement that leads to naturalizing Palestinians in Lebanon," Abbas told pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat.

"We would not accept any settlements that would lead to a demographic change in Lebanon. This is totally unacceptable ... We won't accept a settlement that obliges Lebanon to naturalize even one Palestinian. We will find a settlement that satisfies Palestinians in Lebanon and satisfies Lebanon ... I'm sure of this and time will prove it," Abbas added.

Let me explain something to those totally unfamiliar with life as a Palestinian within a refugee camp in Lebanon. There are literally thousands of jobs one is legally prohibited from performing as well as clear restrictions on travel and property ownership. There were also stringent restrictions on education for Palestinians. I am too far out of the loop on all things Lebanese to know, if the law prohibiting Palestinians from even owning or driving taxis has been revoked, but stop and think for a minute about the devastion it would have caused to literally thousands of immigrants and refugee families, if an immigrant or refugee in Canada was legally proscribed from driving or owning a taxi.

Some of the most wretched people on the face of their earth live in the refugee camps in Lebanon. The conditions have often been horrendous beyond your imaging, and for the “elected’ leader and alleged moderate of the Palestinian Authority, to stridently reject the idea of citizenship for Palestinian Lebanese, is to condemn these people to a future without the hope that tomorrow can be better than today. It is to condemn them to life lived on the outer edges of possiblity and to spend ones days literally scavenging for only basic subsistence. Palestinians deserve better than that.

Can we all agree now that Abbas is still working off the blueprint of the PLO’s Phased Plan now? And if not, what evidence would you consider sufficient to believe neither Fatah nor Hamas are actively working for a peaceful resolution to this conflict that does not end in the destruction of the Jewish state?

Shifting boundaries of the imaginary state of Palestine

Many Palestinian apologistas were quick to applaud and laud Costa Rica for recognizing the imaginary State of Palestine this week and did not think the Israeli state had any cause to be alarmed or peeved. (See this post for further background on why Costa Rica is late to the party).

I would like to believe, that just like Costa Rica, they just don’t have a fracking clue as to what they are talking about, and were applauding Costa Rica’s actions out of a sense of fair play rather than actively rooting for the destruction of the Jewish state, though some days I really have to wonder.

The problem with even supporting an imaginary Palestinian state is often the various Palestinian leaderships do not actually recognize any kind of obvious boundaries for which to establish their state on outside of the middle east region. Think Jordan 1970 or April 1975 in Lebanon. Furthermore, it has never been considered sound to actively encourage the deluded as it often spurns them to further heights of outrageous behaviour. Here’s a prime example of what I mean, taken from a Arutz Sheva report, which tells how the current mayor of Sderot offered to meet the Hamas leadership directly to negotiate some kind of hudna. And Hamas’ response:
A Hamas website carried the following response: "The Zionist colony of Sderot, which steals our occupied land in northern Gaza, will continue to be a legitimate target for the jihad warriors of the Al-Kassam Brigades, as are the other colonies and Zionist positions surrounding "The Zionist colony of Sderot... will continue to be a legitimate target.

Sderot, part of ‘pre-June 1967’ Israel is now ‘northern’ Gaza and the people of Sderot are Zionist thieves who do not deserve rest. There is no compromise short of agreeing to commit suicide with these people.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Kotel's Tourists

It is easy reading the headlines coming out of Israel and think the country is nothing but boom, doom and gloom. And while there is an element of BDG - it is not the entirety of life within the Land of Israel. It is also a land of great natural beauty. The Jerusalem Post ran this article on the annual return of the Swifts to Israel:
They have been dubbed the birds of the Western Wall.

They are mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah, and are believed to have come through Jerusalem as spring approaches for thousands of years. And when the small black-brown birds known as Common Swifts arrive in the holy city at the same time every year, they do not pick just any home for their breeding ground and resting place; they choose the retaining wall of Judaism's holiest site.

Their decision to stop at the Western Wall is no small matter: the migratory birds spend most of their seven-year lives in the air, eating insects, drinking - and even sleeping - aloft for years at a time. The Swifts stop flying only for nesting, which they don't do in treetops like other birds but in cracks of buildings and structures.

For the birds, who spend most of the year in the warmth of southern Africa, Israel is the first stop on their post-winter tour before heading to Europe. Typically, they arrive in Israel at the end of February and spend 100 days in the country, some mating and laying eggs while the younger ones explore the area; they can also be found outside Jerusalem, including in Tel Aviv, Haifa and as far south as Beersheba.

The Western Wall is an old and tall structure, where large crowds gather, creating a current of hot air moving upwards toward them, making it an ideal place for mating, nesting and laying eggs. The birds' decision to nest in the crevices of the Western Wall is also attributed to the site's easy access, and the fact that the 17-cm.-long birds are able to find room - and warmth - inside the structure, said Ulrich Tigges, a German expert on Common Swifts who carried out a study on the Swifts of the Wall in 2002.

After receiving an e-mail from American-born Rabbi Yosef Cornfeld, who had noticed the birds for years during morning services at the Wall, Tigges came to Jerusalem and discovered nearly 90 nests in the Wall's crevices, mostly in the middle on the men's side of the Wall. He said 120 to 130 Common Swifts come to the Western Wall every spring, with nearly half the nests used by pairs of birds for breeding, while others prepared the site for breeding the following year. "They need a covered location and the Western Wall provides the ideal nesting place," Tigges said. "The author of the Bible must have been a bird-watcher," he said. Thousands of Common Swifts pass through Israel each spring, said Dr. Yossi Leshem, a bird expert at Tel Aviv University.

After the first Common Swifts were sighted last week, the Jerusalem Municipality organized a nature event at the Western Wall plaza marking their arrival. The event took place Tuesday evening and was coordinated with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Rabbi of the Western Wall Shmuel Rabinovitch read from the Book of Jeremiah, and Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Yael Dayan gave a more secular reading on the birds' annual homecoming.

"The Jerusalem Municipality welcomes the Common Swifts on their return to the Western Wall," a sign read in Hebrew. The birds seem to know a thing or two about timing, choosing to arrive at the Western Wall about half an hour before sunset after spending the day flying outside the city.

Israel: where even the birds are Zionists

Whatever happened to just say "NO"?

Did the conservatives change the child labor laws in this country and no one told me or am I so far out of the loop for assuming parents are the ones who are making 99% of the food purchasing decisions in any given family?

And if parents are still making the vast, vast majority of food purchasing decisions; why are we even discussing banning advertising of food or beverages geared to those under 13 years old? Toronto Star
Toronto's board of health wants senior governments to combat childhood obesity by banning food and beverage advertising aimed at children under 13. "Children are exposed to large amounts of marketing for low-nutrition, high-calorie food," Dr. David McKeown told reporters yesterday.

"We have rising rates of childhood obesity, leading to an epidemic of obesity in adulthood with all of the health problems that come with that – diabetes, cardiovascular disease and so forth," McKeown said.

The board of health unanimously adopted McKeown's recommendation to urge the federal and provincial governments to impose a ban, over objections from industry representatives.
I cannot believe my tax money goes to pay for this idiocy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Strictly Canadiana Time

I figured liberal leader Stephane Dion would be leading the liberal party to an electoral defeat, but never in my wildest dreams, did I see him consistently lead the liberal party in a full retreat.

A Lion of Judea

Ariel Sharon, turned 80 today. There is no question that I disagreed strongly with Sharon in the end, and in light of recent events, I think it is relatively safe to say the disengagement from the Gaza Strip has not worked out as he had billed it.

But the man was a patriot and when his country called - he answered to the best of his abilities. Few could ask for more.

Fingering point at Syria

The Jerusalem Post carried this little blurb:
The fact that the Syrian government is not allowing an extensive investigation of Imad Mughniyeh's assassination proves that Syria was involved in the killing, the arch-terrorist's widow said Monday.

"The Syrian traitors are responsible for his death," she said in an interview in Iran. "Damascus's refusal to let the Iranians investigate the incident is only one more proof of that." Army Radio reported that in the months leading up to the assassination there were rumors of bad blood between Mughniyeh and Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassam Nasrallah. Mughniyeh, according to the rumors, was trying to usurp Nasrallah and take over as the leader of Hizbullah.

I think the widow Mughniyeh may have a point and my gut instinct has been suggesting that the most likely 'culprits' have always been more ‘homegrown” than not. I know it flies directly in the face of everyone who sees a Mossad agent hiding under every tree, rock and cranny throughout the world but even Mossad guys know how to share the joy.

six unimportant things.

I have been tagged in this weird little meme: share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself, and since we are both called Kate, I will play along.

1. I like Bollywood movies. I know they are hokey but there is something endlessly appealing about watching bad guys really be bad and the good guys being really good.

2. I am a compulsive reader and must always be reading sometime. I have been known to read the yellow pages in desperation.

3. I rarely wear pants nor do I own a pair of jeans; although, I do have a pair of yoga pants.

4. I loathe panty-hose because they make me sweat and opt for nylons or stay-ups instead. I always start with the left leg first.

5. Even though I am short I do not wear high heels. I cannot stand for my feet to hurt. I figure, if I were to wear high heels I would not be fooling anyone and would still look like a short woman in high heels whose feet hurt.

6. I find myself inexplicitly drawn towards Hassidic Judaism though I doubt I would ever be able to put myself under the authority of a Rebbe. The idea of giving up control or authority over my life to a fellow human runs contrary to my nature.

7. Ever day of my life I fight a really bad case of wanderlust.

8. I don’t follow rules well.

Now I am suppose to tag 6 other vics. Here goes:

Shlemazl because he doesn’t follow rules well either.

Candace because she makes an effort to be reasonable and fair.

Ocean Guy because he’s got a sense of fun.

SnoopytheGoon because I figure he must have at least six quirky habits.

Publius because I cannot imagine him having six quirky habits.

Chris Taylor because he has now succumbed to not only Rock Bank, but Guitar Hero as well.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The March on Israel that Wasn’t.

The human chain that wasn’t reports the Jerusalem Post:
Dire predictions for a Rafah-style run on the Erez Crossing fizzled out Monday along with Hamas hopes for a publicity coup as dreary weather combined with what appeared to be a simple lack of motivation on the Palestinian side to participate in the "human chain across Gaza" demonstration.

In the hours following what one officer termed "the march that wasn't," security forces reduced their level of alert Monday evening, believing that Hamas's motivation to try another such event in the near future had been weakened.

After the event, Palestinian media reported that 20,000 people had participated in the demonstration, half the anticipated number. In Beit Hanun, a city of 32,000, approximately 5,000 Palestinians turned out to form their part of a human chain - but the numbers throughout the Gaza Strip were insufficient to connect the chain's different links.

At one point, Palestinians said, some 2,000 hard-liners marched to a point several kilometers away from the Erez Crossing, but Hamas police blocked the main road leading to Erez and called on the protesters to obey the law.

I figure the rest were busy firing on Sderot.

About time - but when does Ramallah go online too?

Actually, I think this is great news. From the Jerusalem Post:
The West Bank town of Jericho was linked to the electricity grid of neighboring Jordan on Monday, part of what Palestinians hope will be a reduction of ties with Israel. Israel has provided electricity to the West Bank and Gaza since capturing the territories in the 1967 Six-Day War. The Palestinians' dependence on Israeli electricity was highlighted in recent weeks, as Israel cut back fuel for Gaza's power plant, causing rolling blackouts as part of pressure on Gaza's Hamas rulers.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Palestinians have joined seven countries setting up an interconnected grid - Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. "This will enable us to be independent from Israel in providing electricity, and will make it much cheaper," he said.

The Jordan-Jericho hookup cost $10 million (€6.75 million), funded by the Norwegian government and the Islamic Bank for Development.

I am sure Israeli taxpayers thank you from the bottom of their wallets - although it must sure suck to be a Norwegian taxpayer.


I have a flat in a 19th century townhouse. While I enjoy the space, 85" windows and the 20' ceilings, the seemingly bi-annual mice infestation was really getting me down. When you have the local pest control guy telling you there remains only three options; move, demolish the building and start over or get a cat. I broke down and got the cat. My grey tabbie, Rogue, has been a successfully mouser since 3 months of age and I have rarely seen a mouse since – or at least not a mouse which hasn't already been in his mouth first. I admit to feeling a little fooled with the whole cat ownership thing. I was lead to believe cats were independent disdainful creatures. Rogue is definitely more emotionally needy than any dog I have ever owned - which is saying something, but I just never thought he might be good for my heart. The Globe and Mail:
A new study should have cat owners purring with delight. It suggests they are somehow partly protected from the ravages of heart disease. "Over a 20-year period, people who never owned a cat faced a 40-per-cent greater risk of death due to heart attack than previous or current cat owners," said the lead researcher, Adnan Qureshi, a professor at the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Qureshi, who presented the findings at a medical conference in New Orleans yesterday, is at a loss to explain his study, which involved 4,435 volunteers. "The best theory we can come up with is that ... cat ownership leads to reduced stress levels which, in turn, lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease" he suggested. On the other hand, it is possible that cats don't directly shield people from heart attacks. Instead, cat owners as a group may share specific personality traits that reduce their chances of suffering from heart disease at an early age.

The study also produced another surprising and perplexing result: Dog owners did not have the same level of protection against heart disease as their cat-owning counterparts. "When we started the study, we thought we would find it [a lower heart-attack risk] in both groups," Dr. Qureshi confided. After all, taking a dog for a walk should be good for your heart. He speculated that personality differences between the two types of pet owners might account for the unexpected conclusions.
Or, the results may be related to how long people own their pets. Cats tend to live twice as long as dogs. That could mean cat owners have longer exposure to the potentially positive influences of their feline companions.

The Joos are now the Danish Whipping Boys

Some days, like some fights, you just cannot win for trying. Ynet News.
After the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and the targeted killings, the Palestinian organizations have found a new reason for firing Qassam rockets on southern Israel: Cartoons published in Denmark denouncing Prophet Muhammad.

Six Qassams were fired from the northern Gaza Strip towards the western Negev since Sunday morning. All the rockets landed in open areas, without causing injuries or damage. The Salah al-Din Brigades, the Popular Resistance Committees' military wing, claimed responsibility for firing the rockets. The organization's spokesman, Muhammad Abed al-Aal, told Ynet that the firing operation, dubbed "the lines of fire", was a response to the "crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians," but also "in response to the cartoons published in Denmark degrading the memory of Prophet Muhammad.

"The Palestinian resistance has committed to respond to the cartoons, and this is our initial response," he added. Asked why the residents of Sderot and the Negev should pay the price for cartoons published in Denmark, Abed al-Aal responded, "The Jews have also hurt Islam and have also hurt the Koran in their prisons, as part of the plot to harm Islam and the memory and status of Prophet Muhammad. "The Palestinian resistance will not let Israel's crimes and the smearing of Islam's symbols go unanswered," he said.

Oy. Remember, no matter what happens or where it happens; it’s always the Joos fault but have you ever stopped to wonder what cannot be blamed on the Jews?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mac Attack

I have three computers running off a wireless network at home and it is not fracking enough. The only time I manage to pull off unfettered access to a computer is between 3-5am daily and its getting on my last nerve not to mention the havoc it plays with my body’s sleep cycles.

So I have bitten the bullet and came to a decision. I will buy myself a laptop – as in for me only – no sharesies. I want a completely portable machine so I can lug it around from room to room in search of a quiet spot but I also want it to be something which I can carry easily with me whenever I need to flee the house to find peace and quiet.

What I really want is a new Macbook, but alas with one child entering university, another child growing out of all known clothing sizes, and a younger child nickel and diming me to death; I just can’t justify the outlay of a new $1200 plus laptop to indulge myself. I realize I could pick up a Dell, Compaq or whatever for half the price of a new Macbook but I want an Apple. Ever since I got my mother a new iMac last September I have been existing in a state of constant covetousness for an Apple. And if I am going to go the second hand/refurbished route it will only be for an Apple. So an iBook G4 it is.

I have tried Ebay but considering one of my issues is that I can’t seem to pull off consistent access to a computer in order to bid in a timely fashion the odds of me scoring an iBook G4 are slim to none. I’ve tried Craig List but no one ever returns my emails. I did manage to find a reasonable machine at Click on Mac for $499 (and let me just say the sales guys there - really need to get a little more customer friendly) but it did not have an Airport card and I really need iBook with Airport card. Although, the sales clerk seem to be suffering from the delusion that there are no Airport cards to be had for iBook G4’s. He probably hasn’t heard of the internet or Ebay, because if he did, he would know the cards can be picked up for less $50 at Ebay or a half a dozen Apple shops around the world. Although, I would rather save myself the wait and hassle by buying a machine with the Airport card already loaded.

Here is what I am looking for and will pay CASH for:
iBook G4 (12-14”) running between 1.- 1.42 Ghz,, has a 30/40/60 GB hard drive, 512 MB RAM, OS Tiger or Leopard, Airport Card, internal modem, firewire, Bluetooth, at least 1 usb port, combo-drive CD-RW/DVD, power adapter and charger. I need a battery life of at least 2 plus hours. I am not too fussy over the looks per say (no missing keys or dead pixels please) and would love for it to come with iLife, iWork or MS Word but it isn’t necessary.

So if anyone has or knows of anyone who has an iBook G4 that they would like to unload for CASH - contact me directly at TheLastAmazon - at- and tell me what you got and what you want for it. I'd write more but apparently I have to give up this computer for "homework".

Brace yourselves

for the news coverage to come. Apparently, Hamas has arranged for one of those mass protests thingies at the border on Monday. This time - at the Israeli border. Ha’aretz carries this story.:
Some 40,000 Palestinians are expected to march along the Gaza Strip's border beginning at 10 A.M. on Monday in protest of Israel's economic embargo on the coastal territory, Israeli intelligence officials warned Sunday.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenzai will convene top officers from the IDF Home Front Command on Sunday evening to assess the situation.

The head of the Palestinian Popular Anti-Siege Committee protest, Jamal al-Khudary, said: "We do not have intentions of approaching the fence, either in the north or the south. We hope all the participants will abide by the instructions and we will try to prevent any violations." He also said the protesters would not try to confront IDF troops.

An official Hamas source maintained that the mass flow towards the border - which will comprise Palestinian women and children - would be spontaneous and was not based concrete plan.

However, he added that the next time Gaza residents decide to rally the economic embargo, the protest would be held on the border with Israel, and not the border with Egypt.
These Hamas guys crack me up…women and children at the front but it’s a spontaneous protest with no plan…okay fine.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A moment of perspective.

I am never sure what to make of Christopher Hitchens. Mostly he reminds me of my great-grandfather who use to drink himself senseless in the backyard and then would have to be hosed down before he was carried into his bed by my uncles. The thing, about my great-grandfather Joe, was that he would have these strange moments where he would rage in a multitude of languages at imaginary demons with rare eloquence and insight - usually just before the drink rendered him completely blotto for the night. Hitchens in Slate on Serbian riots:
You will by now have read dark remarks made by partisans of the Russian and Serb Orthodox viewpoint, to the effect that if one "secession" is allowed, then what is to prevent every Gypsy or Chechen or Ossetian from proclaiming their own statelet? You should, first, ask if the Bosnian Serbs ought not to have thought of this first and been better advised by the "realist" or Kissinger school that now weeps such hypocritical tears. You should, second, ask if you know of any case comparable to the Kosovo one, where a national minority was so long imprisoned within an artificial state.

Of course, one ought to acknowledge that this is a calamity for the Serbs and indeed an injustice in the sense of an insult to their pride and history. But the injustice was self-inflicted. I remember seeing, in Kosovo, the "settlements" for Serbs that the Milosevic regime was building in a vain effort to alter the demography. And who were the bedraggled "settlers"? The luckless Serbian civilians who had been living in the Krajina area of Croatia until their fearless leader's war of conquest for "Greater Serbia" had brought general disaster and seen them finally evicted from farms and homesteads they had garrisoned for centuries. Promised new land on colonized Albanian territory, they had been uprooted and evicted once again. Where are they now, I wonder? Perhaps stupidly stoning the McDonald's in Belgrade, and vowing fervently never to forget the lost glories of 1389, and maybe occasionally wondering where they made their original mistake.
And isn't odd how the Serbs are starting to whine and pin just like Osama et al do over the collapse of Muslim rule in al-Andalus.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Never let it be said the PLO was not original

Moved possibly by the spirit of Kosovo, a Palestinian negotiator is threatening to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state reports the Jerusalem Post.
If negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority fail to produce a breakthrough, the Palestinians will take unilateral steps towards declaring an independent state, a senior member of the Palestinian negotiating team told Reuters on Wednesday. "If things are not going in the direction of actually halting settlement activities, if things are not going in the direction of continuous and serious negotiations, then we should take the step and announce our independence unilaterally," Yasser Abed Rabbo said.

Of course, there are a few 'however's' – this is after all the Palestinians. The first 'however' came as a reprimand to Rabbo by the Chief Palestinian negotiator:
"the chief Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurei, quickly quashed the idea of a unilateral declaration, saying it was never brought before the Palestinian leadership. "Decisions should be taken and then declared, and not be declared and then be taken," Qurei told The Associated Press, in an apparent reprimand of Abed Rabbo."

The second 'however' comes from history. As in been, there done that and there was no t-shirt. On November 15, 1988, the PLO in Algiers unilaterally proclaimed the establishment of an independent state referred to as the "State of Palestine". Although, the PLO had no control of any territory outside their collective imagination - why should a little detail like that stop Arafat et al? The PLO defined the borders of the imaginary State of Palestine to encompass the entity which is commonly referred to as the State of Israel and the Disputed Territories.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do ------------

Apparently, the Canadian government has been having trouble formulating an official position besides silence on Kosovo independence. So I thought I would give Stephen Harper and the Conservatives a hand.

Kosovo has been operating as a defacto independent entity since the NATO intervention – in other words, the horse is out of the barn and sensible people realize it is too late to shut the door now.

We should be asking ourselves why being an ethnic minority under Serbia control is a condition which very diverse ethnicities often choose willingly to fight to death rather than to submit and live. There very well may be valid reasons why all other ethnicities such as Slovenians, Croatians, Bosnians, found rule under the Serbian thumb less palatable. We should be asking ourselves why it is acceptable for Slovenians, Croatians, and Bosnians to leave the Serbian yoke and establish independent states but Kosovo must be forced to submit.

Apparently, Kosovo is the cradle for Serbian culture but we should be asking ourselves if that is so; why do so few Serbs live there (less than 200,000 out of a total population of 2 million)?

I am told Canada’s support of Kosovo independence is problematic owing to the alleged parallels with the separatist movement in Quebec. What we should be asking ourselves is this; if the overwhelming majority of Quebecers voted to leave the union of Canada why the rest of Canada should want to hold a hostile population hostage? And how far, and to what lengths are we willing to go for to keep Quebec in the union? I am certainly not willing to sacrifice my son’s life in the cause of forcing Quebecers to accept rule by Ottawa. Hell, most days I don’t want to accept rule by Ottawa either.

While it is true that the overwhelmingly majority of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians and “Muslims” I fail to understand why this should act as sufficient cause to surpress their aspirations as a people to the right of self-determination. Muslims deserve to live in freedom too. Yes, there were ties to Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda was one of the first forces to offer support in the struggle of independence from Serbia. The drug trade has often been used by national independence movements to finance their acquisition of arms and weapons. Think Iran-Contra and who that worked for and why.

If anything, the intervention of NATO was directly responsible for Al Qaeda not getting a foothold in Kosovar so there was very little opportunity to spread wahhabism among Muslim Kosovars, but by all means, don’t stand on the side of freedom and watch how popular Al Qaeda grows in places like Kosovo. But mostly, when did it become so wrong to stand on the side of freedom?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Family Day

I survived the first official Family Day in the province of Ontario but it was a near thing. A week ago I had a dream about someone I knew over 20 years and purposely forgotten. What is even more remarkable is the strange hold this person has had on my thoughts in the last week. In the end, I decided there was only one way to purge my memory and that was to write it into the book I am writing. Writing is my way of dealing with most anything, and especially, inconvenient memories. As long as I can write it all out; all will be well.

I made my decision to sit down and spew my literary guts early in the am of Family Day. I had made a couple of decent attempts but it was hard to get any traction going as I hadn’t counted on the obsessive compulsive nature of my children. I suspect the deep seated need to thwart all my attempts at writing has been written into their DNA. They can’t seem to grasp that I cannot be interrupted directly or indirectly every other minute and still write more than one sentence. This is one of the reasons I like blogging. Most blog posts can be written with 30-40 interruptions and still get finished and posted. Stories are an entirely different beast.

At one point, the Last Amazon started to read over my shoulder. She possessed a vague familiarity with the people and events I am retelling and twisting. She tells me I cannot use anything I have written because I am cutting it way too close. She declares it all too ‘creepy’ and what if “X” read it. I tell her the chances of ‘X” reading it are way beyond minimal, and in fact, I think the possibility that “X” is even still numbered among the living hovers between slim and remote.

I point out that this is one of the innate problems in dealing with writers – one takes the chance that something of the relationship or one’s character will end up in a novel. She scratches writers off her potential dating pool list. By this point, I realize the only way I could get any peace to write was if I pulled a Jimmy Carter move on them. So I bribed them to leave the house to go see a movie for a couple of hours.

It all works out - even if it took them an hour of hardcore bickering to reach a consensus on which movie to see but no blood was drawn. Once the door closed behind them I was able to get to work. Five hours later I move my head from the computer screen to check how much time I have left before they come home. My heart sinks when I realize they should have been home two hours ago, or at the very least - called by now.

I was absolutely fearless or really, really stupid when I was young. There was nowhere or anyone I was afraid of (which is how I ended up spending six weeks trapped in the middle of a free fire zone without either a gun or a dog in that fight.) But nothing compares to how mind-numbingly dumb and petrified I get when one of my children comes home later than expected. If they were to ride the subway I can’t help imaging all the terrifying possibilities of what could detain them. Maybe they were swarmed and are lying injured, or the subway has crashed, been gassed, was blown-up or they are being held hostage. The really evil part is I can picture all these truly hateful things clearly in my mind and in colour.

The children know this. They have all experienced me cracking under this kind of pressure. They have witnessed me bursting into tears the minute the late one comes through the door. It has made them very conscientious about calling if they are going to be later than expected.

The children arrive home - safe, sound and well fed 5 and a half hours after they left. I burst into tears and ask why they didn’t call if they were going to be late. They tell me they wanted to leave me alone to write which was they decided to have supper out after the movie. My son even handed me a take-out bag. It is at that moment I realize - I will never be really, really old.

Monday, February 18, 2008


After I had been blogging a couple of months I started to see phrases I turned or coined in my blog appearing at various other places. At first, I put it down to coincidence as in ‘like minds’ and all that. Then whole paragraphs of my writing started appearing without any reference or acknowledgement to my blog as the original source. The kicker came when I received a chain mail email quoting me extensively and claiming the piece was written by another blogger. Much email hilarity ensued after my the initial wrath had passed.

Eventually I learned to accept that as long as I wrote publicly there would always be someone who would misappropriate my words and thoughts which is why no details or excerpts of my book has appeared on the blog. I thought this was one of the perils of being an unknown writer but now I am not so sure. Who would have thought Robert Fisk would be victim of a literary name theft? I suggest this is what we call being 'frisked'.

h/t Sandmonkey

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Leading Horses to Water

There is no question that my favourite biblical tale is the Exodus. In the whole of Torah, I do not believe there is a stronger storyline with a more compelling message for any time or nation than is found in Exodus.

In the Exodus, we are told the narrative of a slave underclass, who are liberated from bondage after generations of enslavement, and then are delivered to a place of safety far beyond the reach of their former oppressor. The ancient Hebrews existed with a societal clean slate - if you will. So what is the first thing these people do with their freedom but attempt to create a mirror image of the society which they left behind. This, despite the miracles they have witnessed with their own eyes.

Eventually, they are presented with a set of laws, and told that they must submit themselves to the authority of the law; if they are to continue to live in freedom as a free people. They must become not only a people of a book but a people of laws. There is no freedom without responsibility and there is no responsibility without law.

Okay, I am not too sure about the last sentence but it sounds good. Why bring up the Exodus? Well, because it is has been almost 7 years since the fall of the Taliban and think it is time to seriously re-examine what the Canadian role is in Afghanistan.

I supported the original invasion of Afghanistan and if another country (or even Afghanistan again) today were to give safe harbour to Al Qaeda or an Al Qaeda-like organization, who then uses that safe harbour as an operations planning base to attack another nation - it deserves to be invaded and see its government fall but…and there are buts and plenty of them.

I do not doubt for a minute our soldiers are doing a good job sticking their rhetorical fingers in the dikes of Afghanistan nor do I doubt for a minute that chaos will ensue the minute NATO forces were to pull out of Afghanistan, but you should also recognize, it has been seven long years of trying to drag this country ass over teakettle into the 21st century and I still sense a general and real Afghani reluctance to leave the Iron Age behind. There seems to be no Afghani Moses willing to articulate a collective vision to inspire the Afghani people to search for the borders of this promised land nor do I see an Afghani Joshua ready to lead the fight for this promised land. What I do see is a diverse group of warlords jockeying for positions of ultimate hegemony over the ordinary lives of Afghanis.

There is no question as long as there are western soldiers patrolling the streets of Afghani cities or the outlying districts the ordinary lives of men, women and children have improved a hundredfold but….if the Afghanistan people cannot make this collective leap and do for themselves; than no amount of Western combat soldiers in no amount of time will make a whit of difference. If anything, we risk turning our soldiers from liberators to occupiers or agents of a colonial force.

And if we are to be agents of a colonial force than the government of Canada (whether it be a Liberal or Conservative government) needs to come clean and say so to the Canadian people and let us decide for ourselves if this is where we wish to spend the treasure of our sons and daughters. And if we are to stand in the place of an Afghani Joshua; how long shall we labour reasonably in this endeavour?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hezbollah is not yet Lebanon

What a shock to realize Mugniyah and I were the same age but the similarities end there. For example, in my 14th year I was entering high school and busy making new friends. Mugniyah, on the other hand, was busy acting as one of Yasir Arafat’s Force 17 snipers picking off Maronite Christians from the green line in Beirut. While I only retain the vaguest of memories of the friends I made from that year - Mugniyah’s enemies have never forgotten him and they are legion.

I know the Iranians, Syrians, and Hezbollah are all screaming that the Mossad planted the car bomb which killed Mugniyah but Mugniyah had a great many enemies besides the Israelis or Americans; which is what happens when you start a career of killing people at 14. I realize common Mid-East paranoida suggests there is a Mossad agent hiding behind every rock, tree, and car seat in the Middle East, but sadly, it is just not so.

In fact, I think it much more likely, that Mugniyah was killed by an enemy much closer to home. While many eyes have been off Lebanon in recent months there has been a string of car bombing targeting the Christian fraction of the March 14th movement. The last one killed Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj just this past December. Or it could be a former Phalange member, Maronite or even relative of Elie Hobeika coming back to settle accounts. What you should understand is that Mugniyah may have been a founding member of Hezbollah but this Palestinian was not cherished or beloved by all Lebanese. Hezbollah is not yet Lebanon and may it never be so.

The Jerusalem Post carries a whiff of the controversy and highlights the danger in Beirut today:
Throngs of Lebanese were turning out Thursday for two opposing Beirut gatherings - Shi'ite Muslims supporters of Hizbullah to bid farewell to its slain top commander Imad Mughniyeh, and their pro-Western opponents at a downtown square to mark former prime minister Rafik Hariri's 2005 assassination.

The two gatherings showcased Lebanon's divided soul but also increased fears of violence between the rival sides, prompting authorities to deploy thousands of troops and set up blockades on major roads. Amid fears of violence between the opposing sides, authorities deployed thousands of troops and blocked major roads.
Hizbullah urged crowds to its stronghold of south Beirut to march behind the coffin of Mughniyeh, the group's former security chief and one of world's most wanted terrorists, killed in a car bombing in Damascus. The group called on supporters to "carry on our shoulders a leader of whose leadership we were proud, and a martyr by whose martyrdom we're honored." "Let us make our voice heard by all the enemies and murderers that we will be victorious, no matter the sacrifices," said a Hizbullah statement aired on the militant group's television station Al-Manar. Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah - himself in hiding because of fears of assassination since the Second Lebanon War - was expected to address mourners through a video broadcast over giant screen.

The anti-Syrian parliamentary majority had hoped that a massive show of popular support, perhaps by hundreds of thousands, on the Hariri anniversary would force the Hizbullah-led opposition to compromise in a 15-month political stalemate that has paralyzed the country. The anniversary rally also meant to send a message to Syria to stay out of Lebanon politics. Billboards on major highways called for supporters to attend: "Come down, so they don't come back."
By the time Mughniyeh's funeral gets under way in early afternoon, a few miles away in downtown Beirut, a mass rally by government supporters and opponents of Hizbullah marking the third anniversary of Hariri's assassination was to expected to wind down.

Hariri's supporters blame Syria for killing the prominent politician in a massive suicide truck bombing in Beirut three years ago and for a series of bombings and assassinations since. Hariri's assassination ignited mass protests and international pressure that forced Syria to withdraw its army from Lebanon after 29 years of control.

Authorities have deployed some 8,000 troops and policemen to protect the downtown rally Thursday and leading roads. Armored carriers took up positions on major road intersections, and additional razor wire was brought in to separate the two sides on rain-drenched streets.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shilling for Gee-had

Will wonders simply never cease. Cindy Sheehan is now openly shilling for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:
US human rights and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, dubbed "the Mother of Peace", will take part in a vigil staged by relatives of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders referred to the Military Tribunal.

Sheehan, in Cairo nowadays to declare her solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood leaders referred to the Military Tribunal, will take part in the vigil which will be held On Wdnesday afternoon, 12.00 CMT, Feb, 13th, in front of the National Council for Women.

US human rights and anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, dubbed "the Mother of Peace", will take part in a vigil staged by relatives of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders referred to the Military Tribunal. Sheehan, in Cairo nowadays to declare her solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood leaders referred to the Military Tribunal, will take part in the vigil which will be held On Wdnesday afternoon, 12.00 CMT, Feb, 13th, in front of the National Council for Women.

Do you really think she believes schlepping for the MB improves her chances for a seat in US Congress? And for heaven's sake – nobody tell Steve Janke.

h/t: Sandmonkey

May all his virgins look like Arafat

Don’t expect me to shed any tears over this one’s death via a car bomb in a Damascus suburb last night. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
Imad Mughniyeh, Hizbullah's top commander in southern Lebanon, who was killed Tuesday night in a Damascus bombing is a veteran Fatah operative who was very close to former Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat when the PLO was based in Beirut, Fatah officials told The Jerusalem Post in 2006.

Mughniyeh, a former officer in Arafat's Force 17 presidential guard, has been in charge of Hizbullah's military operations in south Lebanon for the past decade. "Imad Mughniyeh is the overall commander of the Islamic Resistance [Hizbullah's armed wing] in southern Lebanon," said a Fatah official who said he knew Mughniyeh well during the '70s and '80s.

"He's nicknamed tha'lab [the fox], and today he's considered the second important figure in Hizbullah after Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. We're very proud to have a Palestinian holding such a high position in Hizbullah," the Fatah official said. Mughniyeh, who is believed to have been behind the abduction of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser on July 12 2006, is also reported to be in charge of Hizbullah's rocket unit in south Lebanon, which fired more than 1,600 rockets at Israel during the Second Lebanon War.

When the IDF forced the PLO to leave Lebanon in 1982, Arafat entrusted Mughniyeh with transferring the organization's weapons to Lebanese militias allied with the Palestinians. Mughniyeh, who refused to leave Beirut with the PLO leadership, joined the the Shi'ite Amal militia headed by Nabih Berri. He and Nasrallah, who was then a member of Amal, later left the movement to form Hizbullah. Born in the Lebanese city of Tyre in 1962, Mughniyeh did not attract attention until 1976, when he joined Force 17 as a sniper targeting Christians on the Green Line dividing West and East Beirut.

Mugniyah has since been implicated in numerous terrorist attacks against the US, France and Israel in which hundreds of people were killed. These include three in 1983: the bombings of the US Embassy in Beirut and barracks housing US Marines and French paratroopers who were part of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. He has also been linked to the Karine A weapons ship that Arafat tried to use to smuggle arms into the Gaza Strip in 2001.

No matter who is responsible for his death I’ll still chalk it up to agents of the greater good, but I just cannot shake off the feeling that there are some people who can never be dead enough.
Wow. A new low for even Ehud Olmert and that really is saying something. Israel now has to solicit moral support from the Germans for Jewish self-defense? Double WOW, and throw in an Oy too! Ynet News:
BERLIN – Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that her country would support an Israeli operation in Gaza, in view of the ongoing Qassam fire. Germany is well aware of the situation in Gaza, said Merkel during her meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in Berlin; adding the situation has only one solutions and that is for Hamas to stop the Qassam attacks. Should the fire persist, said Markel, Israel has every right to defend itself.

People in the Gaza Strip are suffering, but this shall continue as long as the rocket fire continues, the chancellor added. During their meeting, Olmert stressed that his government still views Iran's nuclear program as a threat and said Jerusalem will respond to terror from Gaza "in every possible manner which will be effective."
It is getting harder and harder for me to think of the man as a Jew - let alone a Prime Minister of Israel.

Google enters the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as the Pally’s dupe.

International Herald Tribune reports an Israeli town is fighting back by suing Google for slander:
Kiryat Yam is a town of 40,000 on the Mediterranean coast just north of the port of Haifa. An entry on Google Earth, a feature that allows users to zero in on locations around the world, alleges that the town was built on the ruins of Ghawarina, an Arab village.Hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or were expelled during the 1948-49 war that began with Israel's declaration of independence. Dozens of Arab villages were destroyed.

Kiryat Yam was pulled into the dispute — still one of the hottest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — when a Google Earth user, Thameen Darby, inserted a note on the map saying it was built on the location of Ghawarina. Darby has inserted at least 10 such notes over Google's map of Israel.Kiryat Yam filed a slander complaint with Israel's police, said town official Naty Keyzilberman. "This obviously cannot be true, because Kiryat Yam was founded in 1945," he said, explaining the police complaint.

Darby, 30, a Palestinian doctor raised in the northern West Bank town of Jenin, said his mother was a refugee from to the village Balad al-Sheikh near Kiryat Yam. His said his contributions to Google Earth are part of the "Nakhba -- Palestinian Catastrophe" information hub aimed to help displaced Palestinians understand their heritage or find the villages of their parents or grandparents.

"As far as I can know, the Arab Ghawarina locality was in the place depicted," Darby told The Associated Press. He noted that he may have not marked the exact location and if proven wrong "by reliable sources, I will be quick to reallocate it."Darby's Internet Web site pinpoints Ghawarina on the site of Kiryat Yam, but another places it south of Haifa at the site of a present-day Arab town, Jisr el-Zarka. Six decades later, it is difficult to accurately locate many of the destroyed villages, leading to the conflciting claims.Above Kiryat Yam, Darby wrote, "this is one of the Palestinian localities evacuated and destroyed after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war."

"That's simply complete nonsense," Professor Yossi Ben-Artzi of Haifa University told Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot. "Kiryat Yam was built on sand dunes, and there wasn't any Palestinian village in the area. The lands were bough in 1939 by the Gav Yam construction company."Asked to respond to the police complaint, a Google spokesman said Google Earth depends on user-generated content that reflects what people contribute, not what Google believes is accurate. The spokesman would not give his name, in keeping with company policy. The spokesman insisted that the altered map is not illegal, and Google's policy is not to remove such postings.

Shame on Google, and who knew the Palestinians had organized a catastrophe information hub though it does make a certain kind of strange sense.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dividing the indivisible

Good thing I am not one to hold my breath otherwise I would die from asphyxiation while waiting for Shas and a couple of MK’s from the Pensioners Party of Israel to withdraw from the Kadima coalition government. Why would I be holding my breath? Well, both parties have publicly stated to withdraw from the Kadima coalition if status talks on the question of dividing Jerusalem occurred with the Palestinian Authority.

The Jerusalem Post is reporting these talks are currently underway in “secret”.
A senior PA official in Ramallah told the Jerusalem Post on Saturday that the Palestinian negotiating team headed by former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei had been holding secret talks with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and other government officials in the past few weeks. A spokesperson from Livni's office said that he was "not allowed to respond to anything going on in the [negotiating] room."

"The main progress has been achieved during the secret talks, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem. Today we can say that Israel is prepared to withdraw from almost all the Arab neighborhoods and villages in Jerusalem. Israel is prepared to redivide Jerusalem and this is a positive development," the Ramallah official said. "The negotiations are moving too slowly," he said. "There are still too many difficulties, although one can say that some progress has been achieved."

Non-coalition members of the Israeli Knesset have been calling for Shas and Pensioner’s MK’s to make good on their word. (Jerusalem Post)
Politicians on the Right called upon Shas to leave the government immediately on Sunday after The Jerusalem Post revealed that secret talks were taking place with the Palestinians in which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had made concessions on Jerusalem.
"The cat is out of the bag," National Religious Party chairman Zevulun Orlev said. "The fact that the Olmert government is not telling the truth about the negotiations with the Palestinians has been revealed. Shas will no longer be able to say they didn't know. Even if the prime minister isn't telling them the truth, they can thank The Jerusalem Post for revealing it to them. I hope Shas keeps its promise and leaves the government that is dividing Jerusalem."

Today the Jerusalem Post is reporting Shas is waiting for confirmation from the Prime Minister’s office that discussions with the Palestinian Authority has in fact been taking place on the question of Jerusalem, but even better, Shas has just pushed their red line in the sand further south.
Yishai will meet Olmert when the prime minister returns from Germany and will try to find out whether Livni "is the conductor and is acting on her own volition or whether she is being directed from above", Atias told Army Radio. "We cannot disregard what is happening. We cannot bury our heads in the sand." On Monday Yishai indicated that his party's days in the government were numbered, due to Post's story that the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams were conducting secret talks on the future of Jerusalem.

Yishai told reporters who attended his faction's weekly meeting that he would speak about the story in Sunday's paper with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. He had not spoken to either one by press time and the Olmert associates he did reach downplayed the report. "I will check the story and if it's true, Shas will leave the government," Yishai told the Post.

Yishai also issued a new threat that any diplomatic progress on any issue while Kassams fall on Sderot could lead to the party's departure from the coalition. Yishai escalated his warning beyond previous threats, which focused solely on Jerusalem. But Yishai's threat to leave over the Post story was seen as more serious, because it applied to negotiations that have already taken place, while the new threat deals with potential future talks.

Yishai wrote a letter to Cabinet Secretary Ovad Yehezkel requesting that all decisions about what Israel should negotiate be made in the forum of seven ministers that met regularly during the Second Lebanon War. He postponed a visit to Jerusalem's controversial Har Homa neighborhood until Thursday, when he will be joined by MKs from the right wing National Union-National Religious Party.

Sources in Shas said the Post story added to what they said was already tremendous pressure on the party to leave the coalition sooner rather than later. A Shas MK complained privately that he felt increasingly uncomfortable with the party remaining in a government that was conducting negotiations that he believed would leave Israel "naked" without key strategic assets. An official close to Olmert expressed confidence that Shas would remain in the coalition. The official vowed to do everything possible to keep the party satisfied.

For those who do not understand the ins and outs of Israel political parties. Shas is a religious party which is often been accused of being eminently bribable. So when a close official to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expresses confidence Shas would remain in the coalition - it can be construed as Kadima will meet any financial demand Shas makes.

But dividing Jerusalem is a tricky thing for any religious Jew to bend their mind around. Jerusalem was a gift given not just to the current generation of Jews living but to all future generation of Jews yet to come. And who has the right to barter away the birthright from those who are not yet evem born?

Monday, February 11, 2008

a rocket by any other name is still a rocket

Earlier in the week I read this little blurb from a Toronto Star article. The report had very little to do with kassams raining down on the Israeli city of Sderot per say and a whole lot to say about the plight of the Gazans but it struck me as a prime example of what’s terribly wrong about the Toronto Star’s reporting of this conflict.
Though the small, homemade rockets cause little damage and few serious casualties, thousands of Israeli communities around Gaza have been traumatized by the constant explosions.

(Photo: Amir Cohen, Ynet News)

I think the entire editorial board from the paper should go live in Sderot for the next month. A kassam landing in one’s home, school or business creates a great deal of damage. The full financial burden of Gaza’s kassam war on Sderot has brought a wreck of ruin to the economy of this blue collar Israeli city. Businesses are shutting down, everyone who can has already fled, but overall, these are poor Israelis with nowhere else to go.

Saturday night, two brothers were injured in a kassam attack doing nothing more nefarious than just walking on an Israeli sidewalk. One of the boys, an 8 year old, has had surgeon’s amputate part of his left leg, and even now a surgical team is struggling to save his crushed right leg from a similar fate. Apart from a hole in his chest and two injured lungs I suppose the Toronto Star thinks he is good to go. Here’s the Ynet News report of the incident:
VIDEO - Doctors at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon were forced Sunday to amputate part of the left leg of eight-year-old Osher Tuito, who was seriously injured in a rocket attack on the southern town of Sderot on Saturday evening. The boy's right leg was also seriously hurt. He was anaesthetized and his situation was reportedly stable
Dr. Emil Chai, the hospital's deputy director-general, told Ynet, "When Osher arrived here, his leg was completely crushed. It was clear that we would probably have to amputate it. He underwent surgery during the night and we are trying to keep the second leg, but it's also in bad condition. "Apart from that, he has a hole in his chest and his lungs are inured. We still fear an infection and are constantly on the lookout. His brother Rami was also operated on tonight. Both his legs are plastered now and we presume that he will be transferred to the orthopedic ward in the coming hours."

Personally, I thought this was only a matter of time considering the Olmert government’s continued apathy towards the plight of Sderot’s civilians. Taken from the Jerusalem Post:
A new Facebook group is urging Sderot residents to use the Internet to learn how to build crude rockets, much like the Kassams launched at them from the Gaza Strip, and fire them back at the Palestinians. The group, which currently has 45members, posts material from the Internet on how to manufacture rockets.

Facebook, a social networking site that has taken the on-line world by storm, allows anyone to create groups and to invite people to join. The group's creators, Shai and Batya Messenberg from Petah Tikva, posted a description that reads: "It cannot be so difficult: If those retards from the Gaza Strip can do it then so can you." The description encourages residents of the town to trawl the Net for information on how to build ballistic missiles from materials found in the home. "I'm sure that very soon they [the Gazans] will get the message," the group's creator wrote.

I cannot decide, in the face of the Kadima ineptitude, whether to hope there are more than a few Jewish rocket scientists who will come to their aid or not. What I cannot understand is why the government has not allowed the IDF to target the homes of the leadership of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. This strikes me as a far more effective strategy. It is all very well to attempt to take out random rocket crews but if one does nothing to stop the leadership which is sending the crews….well, what’s the point in the big scheme of things?

The leadership of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad has ensured the population is so radicalized that they are secured a steady supply of foot soldiers for fodder, that I say - it’s long past the time to target those who educate, finance and send out the kassam crews to work every day. If the leadership had to pay a price for every kick-back rather than be on the receiving end of the graft-backs - things might change.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Money can't buy you love or the GOP

I was not a Romney fan nor did I believe he had a snowball’s chance in hell of ever wining a Presidential race for the GOP against any Democratic contender – even if the Democrats nominated Al Sharpton to lead them.

So I cannot say I am not glad to see him go. There were just so many things about Romney which rubbed me the wrong way. The constant need to re-invent or reposition himself (and usually via power point presentations) during the primary season was the final straw for me. I started to think of him as the GOP Extreme Make-over candidate, and if I am going to get confessional; there is still enough of the inner prole in me to find the frequent reference to using his personal fortune to finance his run more than a tad condescending.

I started to blog about the GOP last fall after watching the media (conservative, liberal, US and Canadian) got it so wrong about Huckabee. I admit to enjoying watching the Huckabee bring out the mud-slinger in Mr. Squeaky Clean candidate. No doubt it kept strategists at the Romney campaign headquarters awake for nights at time thinking how best to quip Huckabee’s characterization of Romney being the guy who reminds you of the guy who laid you off.

All of which brings me to Romney’s announcement yesterday at CPAC, in which he is suspending his campaign to be the GOP nominee and conceding the race to John McCain. Romney is many things but fiscally stupid is not one of them. He ran the numbers after Super Tuesday, and then he checked the finances. And there was probably a bit more than a simple ouch factor when he compared Huckabee’s numbers and spending and he realized Huckabee was right. It was a two man race, and it did not matter how much money Romney spent; neither of the two men were going to be him.

So I am not surprised that Romney chose to suspend his campaign rather than withdraw his candidacy as it leaves his delegates in a kind of electoral suspension so they are not free to attach or disperse themselves to any other candidates. And if I were take a stab at who Romney was hoping to thwart by doing it this way; I probably suggest it was Huckabee. It also makes his “classy” resignation speech a tad suspect for me. I’d characterize as getting one last opportunity for firing off a shot to head from under the wire at Huckabee speech.

If there is one positive to come out of a Romney campaign it is this: the GOP nomination cannot be bought.

the importance of doing the math

Irony challenged is a mental tag I often put on terror groups. This Jerusalem Post article illustrates this perfectly and runs with it with this heading: Hamas source: Extremist poured into Gaza
Thousands of Arab men have flocked into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the past two weeks, offering to join in the fight against Israel, sources close to Hamas said Wednesday. The men, who came from Egypt and several other Arab countries, entered the Gaza Strip after the border with Egypt was torn down, the sources said, adding that they had offered to join Hamas and other armed groups. Egyptian sources said the men had toured a number of training bases and security installations belonging to Hamas and other groups and expressed their desire to remain in the Gaza Strip and launch attacks against Israel. The sources said some of the men had recently fled from Iraq, where they had been carrying out attacks against US troops.

The Bethlehem-based Maan news agency quoted Hamas sources as estimating the number of Arab men who had entered the Gaza Strip at 2,000. According to the sources, the Palestinian groups expressed their gratitude for the show of solidarity, but said they already had enough men to fight against Israel. Palestinian Authority security officials told The Jerusalem Post that many of the men were Muslim fundamentalists who were eager to launch terror attacks on Israel."Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into an international center for global jihad," said one official. "Most of the men who entered the Gaza Strip through the breached border are now being trained in Hamas's camps and schools."

Another PA security official said that according to his information, dozens of al-Qaida operatives have managed to enter the Gaza Strip in the past two weeks. He said some of them had already been recruited to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "They brought with them tons of explosives and various types of weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles," the official said. "What's happening in the Gaza Strip is very dangerous not only for Israel, but for many Palestinians as well." He added that a number of Iranian security experts had also entered the Gaza Strip to help train members of Hamas and other armed groups.

But this is the line I want everyone to pay attention to:
Earlier this week, PA officials told the Post that Iran and Syria were behind Monday's suicide bombing in Dimona. Hamas's representative in Teheran, Abu Osama Abdel Mu'ti, announced Wednesday that his movement was planning more suicide attacks against Israel. "The armed wing of Hamas has decided to resume martyrdom [suicide] operations against Israel after a one-year lull," he said. "The enemy should expect more attacks."

Why? Because it’s a Hamas representative telling you there has only been a one year so-called lull in the use of suicide bombers against the Israelis conducted by Hamas. In the aftermath of the Dimona bombing it is easy to over look that the Israeli internal security force (Shin Bet) reported the successful arrest of 29 actual suicide bombers in 2007, and 117 potential suicide bombers were apprehended before they could carry out the logistics of such an attack. I have lost count of the number of news organizations which reported a much longer moratorium on the use of suicide bombers by organizations like Hamas. For example, this NY Times piece from just this week:
JERUSALEM — Israel appeared to face a heightened threat from Palestinian suicide bombings on Tuesday after the military wing of Hamas officially claimed responsibility for a lethal blast the day before at a shopping center in the southern town of Dimona. The claim by the Qassam Brigades wing of Hamas, the militant Islamic group, signaled a possible end to its self-imposed moratorium on such attacks that had lasted more than three years.
Funny how the NY Times so easily forgets Hamas’s infamous Granny Bomber who self-imploded in November 2006; although, she did only managed to slightly injure two Israeli soldiers before she sent herself to kingdom come. Furthermore, according to this Israeli government report for 2006, 30 Hamas suicide bombers were apprehended before they could do serious harm by self-implosion. No Hamas self-imposed three year moratorium, and remember to do the math - because no one else in the press will.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Moon over Hebron

Israelis have complained for years at the uneven and disproportionate treatment their country receives at the hands of the world press. A perfect example of this occurred Monday night when Egyptian border police opened fire using real bullets at Palestinians civilians. Ynet News carried this report:
Gunfire erupted at the Gaza-Egypt border on Monday, following stone-throwing clashes between Egyptian border guards and Palestinians, witnesses said, and one Palestinian was killed. It was the most serious outbreak of violence on the border since Hamas militants blew down the border wall on Jan. 23. Egyptian forces reclosed the border on Sunday.

One Palestinian was killed and several dozen people were hurt, including eight who suffered gunshot wounds.Egyptian forces fired live bullets at the crowd, wounding several, witnesses said. Bullets landed close to an AP staffer on the Gaza side of the border. Later, Palestinian gunmen fired back. It was not immediately clear if the gunmen were from Hamas. Police from Hamas were next to the border at the time.

The tensions began when the Egyptian guards sealed the border hermetically Monday, not even allowing Egyptians and Gazans who had found themselves on the wrong side of the border to return home. Eyewitnesses said anger boiled over in the late afternoon as people on both sides waited for permission to cross over.

Hamas policemen in the area encouraged people in the area to throw rocks at the Egyptians. Youths began pelting an Egyptian command post in the area, and forces there first threw stones back, and then fired tear gas. Medics said 26 people were treated for tear gas inhalation. After the clash, four vehicles with Hamas police drove in to break up the crowd, using sticks to push people away from the border. Monday's firefight erupted around dusk, and occasional gunshots could still be heard after nightfall.
I suspect it wasn’t reported widely in the international press because it would contrast too sharply with the narrative which was widely reported earlier in the day. The Toronto Star carried this Associated Press account.
RAFAH, Gaza Strip–Egyptian police sealed Gaza's border with huge metal spikes and shipping containers yesterday, restoring a tight blockade after a breach that allowed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to cross freely for 12 days.

Gaza's Hamas rulers, meanwhile, demanded new arrangements that would give it a say in border administration. But that looked doubtful with the international community opposed to any role for the Islamic group in running the crossing.

Gaza residents settled back into their dreary closure routine after joyous days of freedom and shopping that flooded the territory with sheep, smoked herring and fuel from Egypt.

"We're back to the same siege and the same problems," said Alaa al-Astal, 33, a security guard at a Gaza university. "At least it (the breach) got me this," he added, proudly pointing to a Chinese-made motorbike he bought in Egypt for $1,000 in hopes of cutting the cost of his work commute in half.Egypt warned Hamas against trying to open the border by force again, as it did on Jan. 23.

The border breach temporarily relieved a seven-month blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas defeated the Fatah-allied forces of western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas for control of the territory in June. The opening briefly boosted the popularity of Hamas, as hundreds of thousands of Gazans rushed to Egypt's border region, stocking up on supplies.

Yesterday, the traffic slowed to a trickle as helmeted Egyptian border guards with plastic shields blocked the remaining border openings, only allowing Gazans and Egyptians who found themselves on the wrong side of the border to return home.
Bearded Hamas police worked in tandem with the Egyptians, trying to keep back dozens of Gazans. It was a marked change from several days ago, when uniformed Hamas men thwarted Egyptian attempts to reseal the border.

Instead, the IDF story which received a fair bit of international play, and even made the Drudge Report for two days running, was this Ynet News account of IDF troops mooning Palestinian farmers in Hebron.
VIDEO - IDF soldiers who arrived at the Maon Farm settlement outpost near the West Bank city of Hebron exposed their rear ends to Palestinians in an attempt to make them evacuate nearby grazing fields, Palestinian sources and foreign peace activists claimed Sunday.

On Sunday, the soldiers were sentenced to 21 days incarceration in a military prison and suspended from operational duty until further notice. Ynet has received exclusive footage of the incident, which took place on January 11.

Imagine if they shot at them using other than rubber bullets – Oy! The Ynet story still has a video link up of the ‘mooning’. Too bad mooning hasn’t made it into the Geneva Convention - thought there is still time. Firing live rounds of ammo at civilians, killing 1 and injuring 'several dozen' others and nay but a whisper. Go figure.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Snow Jobs

Yesterday, one of the joys of my life was late coming home. Isaiah Sender’s explanation for his tardiness was because he had to serve a detention after school and it was not enough for him to serve out his sentence. Apparently, I am to write a note acknowledging his wrongdoing as well as giving a possible explanation as to why he committed this infraction, as well as, outline the steps I have taken to see that he does not transgress the rules again.

It would have been okay if the school had not demanded my participation. This is a new initiative thingy introduced by a man who I refer to as the panty-waster (aka as the principal) without affection. Five months. Five months and I never have to deal with this man again. I tell myself it is survivable but probably only with a great deal of Tehillim.

This is a copy of the note I wrote:

February 4, 2008

To Whom It May Concern:

Isaiah Sender XXXXX has duly advised me that he was apprehended throwing snowballs today contrary to the school rules.

I have once again gone over the school rules governing recesses and snow with Isaiah.

Though I cannot begin to comprehend, why after all these years, the school administration does not come up with a safe and effective way to allow the children to enjoy both recess and the snow at the same time.

I do not believe such circumstances are mutually exclusive or undoable. This is Canada, and snow, at some point in the winter, is a fact of life for most of the country. Furthermore, I believe it is unrealistic to expect a rather small playground filled with snow not to act as a child entrapment.

My suggestion is either to have the janitorial staff clear the entire playground of snow so no child is tempted to commit a snow infraction before the arrival of the children. Or the school administration develops coping strategies and directs the energy of the children into playing safely with the snow.

For example, each of the different classes could be responsible for the creation of a snow fort spaced at a suitable distance governing age and physical ability. A contest could be held for the best design and arranged by grade levels. It would also be the perfect time to introduce a unit of study during social sciences classes on how the Inuit coped with life with snow as well as studying igloo design. Or a target range could easily be arranged along the side fence and a competition held for title of best snowball thrower. These are just a few coping strategies which I believe would be far more effective than creating a series of rules which children are bound to transgress.

Yours truly,


After I wrote the note, I came to the conclusion it so sucks to be a child today and you could not pay me enough to go back to childhood and re-live it out circa 2008. I know snow forts are banned on the playground. I am not sure why, I just know they are. So is kicking snow at each other or running and sliding in the snow. As far as I know; the only thing you are still allowed to do on the playground is to attempt to catch snowflakes in your mouth or make snow angels. That probably still holds a measure of excitement for the kindergarten classes but it strikes me as pretty lame for any child 6 and up.

I get it that the school is concerned about safety and does not want any child harmed. I get it that some of these boys are rather large and possess considerable strength so a snowball thrown at some one’s head could hurt or do damage. I get it and really do understand that my son knowingly broke the rules and was duly punished for it. I don’t even object to the fact he was punished but what I object to is a set of arbitrary negative rules without any direction, guidance or promotion on what is allowed or acceptable positive play in the snow.

And what I object to even more is my participation in this ridiculous snow job.

Monday, February 04, 2008

out of the sinai

And so once again, the Jerusalem Post reports suicide bombers have struck inside an Israeli city with the infamous green line. This time it is being reported that the bombers entered Israel via the Sinai.
One woman was killed and ten were wounded, one critically, one moderately and eight lightly, in a suicide attack in a Dimona commercial center. Police said the attack was a suicide bombing carried out by two attackers, but only one succeeded in detonating his explosives. The other terrorist was killed by a police officer from an elite unit who happened to be on the scene, seconds before he could explode himself. Magen David Adom ambulances evacuated the wounded to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.

Rosa Elberg, a resident of the town, said that the bomber detonated his explosives inside a café. "It is like a war, people are running like crazy," she told Channel 2. "I didn't see anyone suspicious. I heard a boom and my ears are still ringing." Another eyewitness told Israel Radio that many people were at the commercial center at the time because of the sunny weather. Shalom Bar Avi, a journalist speaking to Channel 10, said "I am here no longer as a journalist but a simple citizen ... I pray and hope my wife is okay." Bar Avi praised the police's quick response to the attack, and said the officer who identified the second attacker shot "four or five times ... he took no chances."

The Jerusalem Brigades of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, confirming in its statement the attackers entered Israel through the Sinai, but several minutes later several organizations claimed responsibility for the attack. Both Hamas and Fatah claimed the attack, Channel 10 said. Southern Israel has been on alert against terror attacks since the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers breached the border with Egypt on January 23. The breach made the Negev, where Dimona is located, more vulnerable to penetration by Palestinian terrorists who could enter through the Sinai.
Once again, Islamic Jihad claims responsibility but how the smallest of the terror groups, (in terms of men, money and operational capacity) from the Gaza Strip have the ability to carry out almost all of the terror attacks is, well, somewhat of a puzzle - or maybe its Hamas’s version of plausible deniability?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Interview on the MB.

The Jerusalem Post is running an interview with Hillel Fradkin on the Muslim Brotherhood. Here are two teasers from the article:
Is last week's breach in the Egypt-Gaza border significant with respect to the Brotherhood?

Without a doubt, although its long-term implications necessarily remain unclear. The essential fact is that in Gaza the Brotherhood, or at least a branch of it, has come to power for the first time in its own right - that is constitutes, if only de facto, the government of a state which has the beginnings of an army. That is the net result of the Hamas takeover, in conjunction with its victory in the elections of 2006. Inasmuch as the Brotherhood has in general always looked forward to such a day - to the establishment of an "Islamic state" as it understands it - the new situation in Gaza represents for the Brotherhood as a whole an inspiring "achievement." However, until last week, the "state of Gaza" was limited in its access to the world, including to Egypt. The breach in the wall changed that. One might say that Gaza now, at least temporarily, has become linked to the Egyptian economy, and in this and other ways has become the responsibility of Egypt. It is almost as if Egypt now has a "Brotherhood province."

One question that arises is how Egyptians will respond to the experience of a "Brotherhood state." I say "experience" because it is inevitable that some Egyptians will come into contact with it, at least through trade. Will they be attracted or repelled? This will be a rather important issue for the Egyptian government, not to mention for others

Does the Brotherhood have a stronghold in Europe?

An enormous one. In Britain, it has a huge presence. In France, it has an official organization. It is a force in Germany, although somewhat less so, because the majority of German Muslims are Turkish, and until recently not particularly associated with its activities. It is powerful in Denmark, as well. In fact, it is the Muslim Brotherhood which was responsible for the Muhammad cartoon affair; it was the Brotherhood that pushed the rest of the Muslim world to take offense.

It is around everywhere, with branches in many countries, in some places openly, and in others underground. In Syria, for example, it has been underground for many years, because the Assad regime suppressed it in 1982.

This is why one of the perennial debates about it is whether it operates like the old Communist Party - whether all the branches coordinate with one another. Well, they don't really, but one might say generally that there is an international Brotherhood whose leading figure is [Egyptian Muslim scholar and preacher] Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

Read the rest here.

The Lives of Others

My daughter is in her last year of secondary school in Toronto. Her last term marks were a tad on the low side so her first term overall average is lower than her personal norm. While her Physics, English, Biology, and Chemistry marks reached the very high nineties a couple of poor test results early in the term for Advanced Mathematical Functions brought down her average. Although, she did manage an overall over 90% - even with her partial “Jamaican” genetic roots. And I enjoyed a small touch of satisfaction because, you see, it was not always this way.

Like most parents, her father and I believed we had produced a daughter of not only uncommon beauty but we were convinced she possessed a rare and fine intelligence as well. As long as I can remember she possessed a burning desire to understand the why and how of everything of which would cross her world.

And unlike my first brush with the educational system I was determined to prepare my daughter for the experience. She would know her alphabet, how to read simple picture books in English, she would know how to write her full name. No one would be able to play her for the fool and tell her 'sex' was the correct pronunciation of 'six'. Nor would she ever stand up in class and count 'sex' and 'sexteen' so there would be no need for anyone to beat her for it and her hands would remain unmarked.

By the time, she entered public school for her first day of junior kindergarten; she knew her alphabet and had mastered printing it as well. She could recognize by sight approximately 50 words in English. She could write her first and last name, count to 100 and easily recognize the numbers 1-20. I thought she was well prepared, but in retrospect, neither of us was for the events which transpired.

Thirteen years later and I can still see her in my mind’s eye waving an envelope in her hand at me when I came to pick her up at her after school program. The first term report cards had been released. I remember asking her why she thought she did so well. "Because" she said, "I always know the answers to all the questions Miss asks. But Miss says I must learn to let everyone else to catch up with me so I am only allowed to raise my hand once a day.”

Her enthusiasm was infectious and she carried her hopes high. She begged me to open it before we had left the building because she could not wait to see all the little 'A's written on her report. In the yard I gave in and opened it. This represented one of the few times in my life when I actually wished for the earth to open up and sallow me whole. In all measurable areas of my daughter's scholastic abilities, her teacher judged her 'failing to develop'. From age appropriate language skills, numeracy, motor co-ordination/social skills, problem solving - in all areas and without exception she was 'failing to develop' and ‘not progressing towards promotion’. Public elementary schools were progressive – no more A’s or B’s. Lucky for me, the report card came with a manual to explain the use of the terms like – ‘meets expectations’, ‘exceeds expectations’, ‘progressing towards promotion’ and the dreaded ‘failing to develop’. It took me four or fives attempts to read the four page part report for me to take it all in.

At first, I sided with the teacher and demanded my daughter explain to me what kind of chaotic and nefarious conduct she was up to when we dropped her off at school each day. Initially, I bought whole-heartedly in the multi-cult ethos/rhetoric and put my faith that my society had moved beyond the politics of bigotry, and so, I accepted unquestionably her teacher's written statement of my daughter’s lack of scholastic achievements. The woman was the professional and I only a mother who loved her daughter more than my next breathe….what did I know? All I had was my own disastrous elementary school experience to go by in comparison.

My daughter stood before me with her head bowed and I watched the tears slowly slip down her flushed cheeks. I give no quarter to failure and refuse to accept such from any of my children, and to my deep and everlasting regret, my daughter learned the meaning of shame from my tongue. If I knew today what I know now, I would have held my tongue until I had taken the time to think and ponder, but then again, it was because of what came to past that I learned to grow wiser.

All who of us who knew the Last Amazon were floored by this report. None of us could understand how this could state of affairs could come to be. It was her father who planted both the seeds of doubt and hope in my mind. He refused to accept the judgment of the teacher and suspected something. What, he did not know. I tried to speak to the teacher but she brushed me off. Appointments were made, appointments were broken. I called the principal but he refused to discuss the situation until I meet officially with her teacher. Again, appointments were made, and then, appointments were broken. The Last Amazon was my first child and I was a novice dealing with teachers and schools.

By the end of January 1996, I transferred my daughter to a religious school closer to home. On her last day of school in the public system her teacher finally returned my call. She gave me a whole litany of excuses for her inability to find the time to meet with me and hoped I was not removing my daughter on her account. I murmured meaningless excuses of ‘oh, of course, never think of it’. By this time, I just could not work up the energy to bother to discuss much of anything with her. She asked if she could give me a piece of advice. I said, “Of course.” She told me, if my daughter was going to meet with success in a religious educational setting. I should take the time to explain to her that G-d was never black. I was startled so completely into silence by the novelty of this woman’s revelation that it took me a really long time to pull myself together and ask, “Oh, wasn’t he?” The woman slammed the phone done in my ear and I have never heard of her since.

At four years of age, my daughter did not understand all the attributes of G-d, but she knew he was one, and she knew she was made in his image and so she made him into an image she could relate to. I don’t have a problem with that and I do not care to understand or associate with those who do. I just wish they didn’t teach in any classroom.

Since that time she has had many teachers, few if any were black, some were outstanding and some not, but I would give anything to have her first memory of her first school erased from her experience. I often wonder where she would be today if I had left her in that school.

This weekend my daughter brought this Quote of the Day post to my attention. She was quite shocked because she knew the owner of the blog who posted it and had thought better of her. I didn't have the heart to tell her this wasn't even the first of its' kind but one of many.
If all black teachers, teaching all black culture were the magic pill to create all black geniuses, then wouldn't the degenerate black hole at Jane and Finch be a rocket science research complex by now?

This I ashamed to say, is what passes for witty and insightful commentary within the Canadian conservative blogging community, but what it really is - is the written expression of what is meant by the term ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’ in action.

Why is it that the mere suggestion of a black focused school, taught primarily by black educators, attended pre-dominantly by black students and the pursuit of excellence in education considered mutually exclusive in 2007? Terms like apartheid and segregation are bandied about and willfully abused, and in fact, one prominent conservative blogger even went so far as to refer to the proposed alternative black focused school as Apartheid High. Go read the comments. It is like a free-for-all at a Sears White Sale.

Ask yourself; what would you call an educational institution which has produced 2 Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, a Marshall Scholar, 19 Fulbright Scholars, 10 Pickering Fellows, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a US Supreme Court Justice? Wait! I know. A rather large number of Canadians would call it Apartheid U but I would call it Howard University and I would be proud to see my daughter graduate from such an institution.

The VRWC decoder ring is in the mail.