Wednesday, July 30, 2008

When the righteous reign the people are happy, but when the unrighteous are in power, the people suffer

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced, in one of the most graceless political exit speeches I have read, he will not be a candidate in his party’s upcoming primaries slated for September 17, 2008. Olmert’s personal approval rating has been hovering in the single digit figures for a considerable length of time and I have lost count of the various corruption investigations into his conduct after the first 5 files were opened. No doubt Israelis and Jews everywhere have breathed a deep sigh of relief but potentially there is no quick relief from the Olmert malaise which his presence brings at helm of the state. The Jerusalem Post reports this tidbit:
The winner in the Kadima primary will have until October 26 to submit his new government for approval by President Shimon Peres. In case the elected leader fails, the president customarily grants another 90 days to form a government; after the 90 days are through, in case no coalition is formed, a general election is scheduled, thus potentially allowing Olmert to remain in power until March 2009.

After the primary Olmert will remain in office as prime minister of a transitional government, until his successor in Kadima manages to forge a new coalition or until general elections are held.

Olmert characterized his nation as a country of ‘grumblers’ today. Just add me to the list.

will you still love me tomorrow

I found this Amy Winehouse video at You Tube. I only wish I could get a copy of this rendition for my ipod. Or maybe its a good thing I can't as my voice is far too low and would crack at all the wrong places. Anyways, its like I always said - any woman who wears that much eyeshadow can't be all bad.

Virtual Tour Sparks Condemnation

The holiest site in Judaism is the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Currently by order of the Israeli government Jews are forbidden to ascend the mount and pray there. Even moving one’s lips can get you into trouble. The right to pray at the Temple mound is reserved exclusively for Muslims. So basically Jews make do with the Kotel or Western wall below the mount. Although, I would be remiss if I did not point out that a great many religious Jews feel that to ascend to the Temple Mount and pray there before the arrival of the messiah is a profane act of great presumption.

Be that as it may, even discussing the significance of the Temple Mount can run you afoul from those from the religion of perpetual outrage. The Jerusalem Post:
A brief course offered by the Chabad Hassidim about the Temple endangers the Aksa Mosque, Islamic Movement spokesman Zahi Nujidat said Tuesday. The three-part seminar, which is being held this week and next week at some 200 Chabad Houses throughout the country, comes less than two weeks before Tisha Be'av, which marks the destruction of the Temple.

"We view this as a serious and drastic move toward the fruition of extremist organizations to establish a temple in place of al-Aksa Mosque," Zahi Nujidat said. "This represents a real danger to al-Aksa." A similar condemnation was issued in Arabic this week by the Aksa Foundation.

The Aksa Foundation was cynically pointing to the courses, which are held in three sessions, as proof that the Israeli establishment wants to damage the mosque, Chabad spokesman Rabbi Menachem Brod said. "This is a pure provocation by an organization that is exploiting any opportunity to incite the Arab public to violence against Israel," he said. "Every time they are looking for some other excuse to incite, and now they found it in the course."

The courses, which are being attended by "tens of thousands" of young students, include a "virtual tour" of the Temple Mount and explanations of daily Temple life, as well as the job of the kohanim (priests), Brod said.

What can I say? Politics, politics.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beijing’s Olympic Trials

There is a certain kind of smugness I get when I read about Beijing’s Olympic trials. The Globe and Mail:
BEIJING — With heavy smog still shrouding the city and the Olympics only 10 days away, Beijing is considering a series of emergency measures to fight pollution, including the removal of up to 90 per cent of cars from the streets.

The emergency measures could also include the shutdown of more factories and the complete closing of all construction sites in the capital, the Chinese state media reported yesterday. Factories and residents in the nearby city of Tianjin and the neighbouring province of Hebei could also be affected by the emergency measures, the government said. The haze in Beijing was so bad yesterday that visibility was reduced to just a few hundred metres. Olympic stadiums were barely visible behind the smog.

The city's air quality has been dangerously unhealthy for the past four days, exceeding the national standards for the pollution index, the state-run China Daily reported yesterday. The emergency measures will be officially announced soon, and will be put into effect within 48 hours if the air quality deteriorates during the Olympics, the newspaper said. It cited the recommendation of one environmental expert who suggested that up to 90 per cent of private cars should be removed from the streets every day

Being able to enforce a 90% road ban for all private automobiles is what I call the ultimate in totalitarian government and makes me wonder how long before the chi-coms demand rickshaws replace taxis?

What if you held an Olympic games but no one wanted to risk their health by simply showing up in order to compete?

Many athletes are worried about the smog. Some top competitors, including marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia, have decided to skip the Games to protect their health. The International Olympic Committee says it might delay some outdoor events if pollution levels are unhealthy. Some athletes have considered wearing masks during their training sessions in Beijing. Canada is sending its entire track-and-field team to Singapore for its pre-Olympic training camp. The athletes will remain in Singapore even during the opening days of the Olympics, to minimize their exposure to Beijing's pollution. The Australian Olympic Committee said yesterday it will allow its athletes to withdraw from any Olympic competition if they feel pollution is a threat to their health.

When I first heard the IOC had awarded the 2008 games to China my reaction was to question the sobriety of the committee members when the vote was cast. I couldn’t believe anyone in their right mind would award the games to one of the last of the big time totalitarian governments – I mean, wasn’t that all very anti-1991 of them?
I questioned whether any athlete, after investing umpteenth amount of time in maintaining their health at peak performance would really want to play Russian Roulette with their body by competing in China. Turns out, I had a little more common sense than your standard IOC committee member.

The Perpetual Crisis in Welfare Territory

Once again, the world’s oldest welfare recipients are crying poor reports the Jerusalem Post
The officials told The Jerusalem Post that the PA wouldn't be able to pay July salaries to more than 150,000 public servants and may be forced to close down several government institutions as a result of the deepening crisis. The officials disclosed that the deficit in the PA budget has risen in the past six months from $1.6 billion to $2b. "We are facing a real crisis," a top PA official told the Post, adding "we are on the brink of bankruptcy." Another PA official warned that the financial crisis would undermine the PA and limit its ability to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

In other words this is a shakedown; pay us or we will kill Jews.
"We will lose the support of the Palestinian public if we stop paying salaries to our civil servants and policemen," he said. "This is happening at a time when Hamas is receiving large sums from Iran and radical Islamic groups." PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad expressed concern that the PA could face a financial crisis if the donor countries, particularly some Arab states, failed to transfer to the PA treasury the funds they had pledged to donate at the Paris conference. Fayad described the financial situation of the PA as "difficult," adding that his government was making enormous efforts to provide the necessary money to pay salaries to its employees.

The Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction [PECDAR] said Monday that the PA had received only $900m. of the $7.7b. promised during the December 2007 Paris Donors' Conference for supporting the Palestinians. The money was promised to the PA over a period of three years by nearly 90 countries and international organizations during the Paris conference. According to PECDAR, the PA was supposed to receive up to $3b. of it during 2008. However, PA officials complained that that the donors had so far paid less than 35 percent of the promised sum. The officials said they were particularly disappointed with the majority of the Arab countries for failing to meet their financial commitments toward the Palestinians.

So Arab countries are failing to keep their promises. Well, isn’t that a kick in the pants. Of course, there is a new twist to this ongoing saga:
"Most of the Arab countries are now setting conditions for providing us with financial aid," the PA officials said. "Some are saying that they will give us the money only after we end our differences with Hamas, while others are suddenly talking about the need for reforms and transparency in the Palestinian Authority."

The officials pointed out that the Arab countries have given the PA this year about 15% of what they promised. Saudi Arabia, which had pledged at least $500m. over the three-year period, gave the PA less than 20% of the funds.

Kuwait, which pledged $80m. in aid to the PA this year, has yet to fulfill its promise, the officials said. Qatar, which used to provide the PA with more than $200m. annually, stopped channeling the funds after the collapse of the Fatah-Hamas unity government. Most of the Arab countries have told the PA that they prefer to support vital economic projects in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rather than day-to-day government operations, a move that has drawn sharp criticism from the PA leadership.

"The crisis in the Palestinian territories is likely to aggravate because most of the foreign donors are not living up to their commitments," said Samir Abdullah, the Minister of Planning in the PA government. "The government needs at least 200m. every month, half of which goes to paying salaries." Meanwhile, the number of households in the Gaza Strip below the poverty line has reached an unprecedented high of nearly 52%, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said in a report published recently.

"The number of households in Gaza below the consumption poverty line continued to grow, reaching 51.8% in 2007, despite significant amounts of emergency and humanitarian assistance," the UNRWA statement said. Meanwhile, poverty rates in the West Bank fell to just over 19%.
Things which make one go hmmmm - the PA is broke but poverty rates in the West bank fell to 19%. Meanwhile Hamas is being bankrolled by Iran but poverty is growing.
The report, based on figures provided by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), said that "the real average unemployment rate in the occupied Palestinian territory (as a whole) remained amongst the highest in the world at 29.5%," with Gaza reaching "an unprecedented high of 45.3%" during the second half of last year.
Gee, I can think of a half a dozen countries in worse shape but no worries - as you know the Bush Administration will ensure the American taxpayer will pick up the slack. It begs the question how will these people ever establish anything other than a welfare state?

The Rise of Elder Porn


I really have never worried about growing old. Staying alive long enough to grow old seemed much more the challenge. I suppose I never really worried about it as I had the example of my great-grandmother. Decades before the term was coined she was a truly a giant among cougars. She died at 79, while getting ready for her ‘hot date’ – her words, not mine.

Mention her name to my mother and her blood pressures rises even though the woman has been dead for 33 years. She was a woman who ignited strong passions and evoked extreme reactions from anyone who passed through her view. In fact, I remember bringing up her name to my other great-grandmother which is how I learned the Yiddish word for whore. Of course, when I asked Bubby what Zoyneh meant she told me ‘party girl’ and not to use such language.

She wore men’s suits and fedora’s long before Marlene Dietrich took to film. Even though she spent decades in English Canada she never lost her heavy Parisian accent. My young cousins and I learned early in life never to leave our young male friends within mauling distance or unattended in her company. I realize now she kept her looks decades after most of her peers lost theirs. If anything, I have her genes to thank for others so rarely guessing my actual age. I always felt she was a woman who was born out of sync with her times and never more so then when I happened across this Time Magazine on the rise of Elder Porn in Japan.
Besides his glowing complexion, Shigeo Tokuda looks like any other 74-year-old man in Japan. Despite suffering a heart attack three years ago, the lifelong salaryman now feels healthier, and lives happily with his wife and a daughter in downtown Tokyo. He is, of course, more physically active than most retirees, but that's because he's kept his part-time job — as a porn star.

Shigeo Tokuda is, in fact, his screen name. He prefers not to disclose his real name because, he insists, his wife and daughter have no idea that he has appeared in about 350 films over the past 14 years. And in his double life, Tokuda arguably embodies the contemporary state of Japan's sexuality: in surveys conducted by organizations ranging from the World Health Organization (WHO) to the condom-maker Durex, Japan is repeatedly found to be one of the most sexless societies in the industrialized world. A WHO report released in March found that 1 in 4 married couples in Japan had not made love in the previous year, while 38% of couples in their 50s no longer have sex at all.

Those figures were attributed to the stresses of Japanese working life. Yet at the same time, the country has seen a surge in demand for pornography that has turned adult videos into a billion-dollar industry, with "elder porn" one of its fastest-growing genres.

Tokuda is rare among Japanese porn stars in that his name has become a brand. The Shigeo Tokuda series he has just completed portray him as a tactful elderly gentleman who instructs women of different ages in the erotic arts, and he boasts a body of work far more impressive than most actors in their prime.

Tokuda's exploits have proved to be a goldmine for Glory Quest, which first launched an "old man" series, Maniac Training of Lolitas, in December 2004. Its popularity led the company to follow up with Tokuda starring in Forbidden Elderly Care in August 2006. Other series followed, and soon elder porn had revealed itself as a sustainable new revenue stream for the industry. "The adult-video industry is very competitive," says Glory Quest p.r. representative Kayoko Iimura. "If we only make standard fare, we cannot beat other studios. There were already adult videos with Lolitas or themes of incest, so we wanted to make something new. A relationship between wife and an old father-in-law has enough twist to create an atmosphere of mystery and captivate viewers' hearts."

Director Gaichi Kono says the eroticism of elders is captivating to younger viewers. "I think that, as a subject, there is this something that only an older generation has and the young people do not possess. It is because they lived that much more. We should respect them and learn from them," says Kono passionately. But Tokuda stresses the appeal of his work to an audience of his peers: "Elderly people don't identify with school dramas," he says. "It's easier for them to relate to older-men-and-daughters-in-law series, so they tend to watch adult videos with older people in them."
My great-grandmother was not truly an immoral woman but rather an amoral one and that being so, I am not sure grandmere, whose life long motto seemed to be ‘no man safe, no marriage sacred’, would have gone in for daughter/father-in-law thingy – now a career as aging Diva in the porn industry would have probably suited her just fine.

Although films featuring women in their teens and 20s are the mainstay of the industry, a trend toward "mature women" has become evident over the past five years. Currently, about 300 of the 1,000 adult videos on offer at Tsutaya, and 400 out of the 2,000 at DMM, are "mature women" films.

Ryuichi Kadowaki, director of Ruby Inc., which specializes in mature-women titles, says that when the company started offering the genre a few years ago, the term referred to actresses in their late 20s, and that last year it was expanded to those in their 70s. The company believes the advantage of mature titles is their enduring appeal. "Adult videos with young actresses sell well only in the first three months after the release," Kadowaki explains. "On the other hand, mature-women films enjoy a steady, long-term popularity, which after 10 years or so might lead to a best seller." And then there are the cost savings. A popular young actress can earn up to $100,000 per film, while a mature actress is paid only $2,000.

The market for elder porn has doubled over the past decade, according to Kadowaki. "In view of [Japan's] aging society," he adds, "I think that in the future, we will see a steady increase in demand."
Ah - sigh, if only she was born 30 years later I might have received a legacy other than her genes…

Monday, July 28, 2008

the Big Stall


While I think its great that Ontario is at least considering allowing LSV on city roads I am rather disheartened by the idea of establishing an independent commission to study the feasibility of allowing these vehicles on city streets. It is not like the feasibility study has to start from ground zero – European, South American and Americans have these vehicles run on their streets. Just how many models of successful integration does the Ontario government really need? It seems to work just fine in New York City. The Toronto Star carries the details:
Ontario has commissioned an independent safety study of low-speed electric vehicles, but is not ready to follow Quebec and British Columbia in allowing the environmentally friendly cars and trucks on the province's roads, says Transportation Minister Jim Bradley.

The main concern is safety features, said Bradley: Low-speed electric vehicles meet only a handful of the 40 safety standards required by Transport Canada, and Ontario wants to determine exactly what safety features may be required on the nearly silent vehicles.

"I want to see low-speed electric vehicles on the roads," Bradley said in an interview. "We want to make sure it's done so safely." Two manufacturers – Toronto-based Zenn cars and Quebec-based Nemo – had their electric cars approved for use on roads in Quebec with speed limits under 50 kilometres per hour earlier this month.
The electric cars, which have top speeds of 40 km/h, will have to be equipped with an orange triangle in Quebec marking them as a slower vehicle.

British Columbia passed legislation last month to allow the low-speed vehicles on roads up to 40 km/h, but included provisions allowing municipalities to enact bylaws to permit the smaller electric cars on higher speed roads.

But Bradley said Ontario wants to wait for its own study and the results of recent extensive testing by Transport Canada before clearing the low-speed electric vehicles, which currently are approved only for use in provincial parks by government workers.

"We would like to get into a position where we see the low-speed vehicles on roads once we determine the precise conditions that would make sense in Ontario, both in terms of safety, and where it would be logical to have them used," he said. "The message there is: I certainly want to see them used in Ontario." Bradley said he hoped to have Ontario's evaluation of the vehicles completed within months. Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said there's no reason the province can't get the cars on the road by September.

Yadda, yadda. I’m with John Tory on this one. It makes no sense to turn this into a long drawn out process when electric bikes are already on Toronto streets.

Leaving a sinking ship

Now this is interesting. Uzi Dayan is set to re-join the Likud party and defect from Olmert’s Kadima. The Jerusalem Post:
The Likud is set to receive a big boost on Tuesday when the former IDF deputy chief of General Staff, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan, will join the party at a press conference with opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Dayan had been in secret negotiations with the Likud for months and the finalization of a deal for him to join the party was intended to be publicized only Monday, but a source in Netanyahu's office mistakenly revealed the news to the press on Sunday.
The addition of Dayan gives the Likud its highest-ranking soldier as a Knesset candidate since former IDF chief of General Staff Shaul Mofaz left the party. It also gives Netanyahu the stamp of approval of one of the top activists against corruption in Israeli politics.

Well, well. No doubt this heralds the first of many defections.

Update: As it was so rightly pointed out by SnoopytheGoon in the comments. Dayan was not a member of Kadima or Likud but ran the Tafnit (an anti-corruption) party.

Thank Heavens for the Noors of the World

I once was the administrative director of a school which offered highly specialized training in the film and television industry. In fact, it was just one of only a handful of school scattered throughout the world to offer this type of training, and as such, a goodly portion of students literally arrived from all over the world to train there.

One semester we had a female student arrive from Saudi Arabia. It was rather a unique situation as all the pre-registration was done without her direct participation. Her brother and uncle literally handled all the details including picking her courses. At one point, her uncle demanded I guarantee she would be placed only in classrooms where no males would be present. She almost didn’t come because we could not offer this kind of a guarantee. I pointed out to the Uncle that this way Canada, and that kind of discrimination was against our laws. When she did arrive; it was literally a case of throwing off the abaya.

It was fun watching her open up and become relaxed enough in Canadian society that she felt free enough to be comfortable in ‘mixed’ situations in the classroom, the lunchroom and on the street. This was Noor’s first time out of the kingdom and her first experience of living away from home. It was the beginning of many firsts including striking up a mostly unlikely friendship with a young Jewish Israeli girl. Did I mention Noor was not a Saudi but a Palestinian? There were a couple of tense times in the beginning but the girls worked it out and even were able to commiserate together on overprotective male relatives.

This article at the Jerusalem Post reminded me of my experiences with my Noor:
Every evening for the past four months, a tall young man with soulful blue eyes has been stealing hearts across the Middle East, from the refugee camps of the Gaza Strip to the gated mansions of Riyadh. But it's not just the striking good looks of Mohannad, hero of the hugely popular Turkish TV soap "Noor," that appeal to female viewers. He's romantic, attentive to his wife Noor, supportive of her independence and ambitions as a fashion designer - in short, a rare gem for women in conservative, male-dominated surroundings.

"Noor" delivers an idealized portrayal of modern married life as equal partnership - clashing with the norms of traditional Middle Eastern societies where elders often have the final word on whom a woman should marry and many are still confined to the role of wife and mother. Some Muslim preachers in the West Bank and Saudi Arabia have taken notice, saying the show is un-Islamic and urging the faithful to change channels. But all the same, the show may be planting seeds of change. "I told my husband, 'learn from him [Mohannad] how he treats her, how he loves her, how he cares about her,' " said Heba Hamdan, 24, a housewife visiting the West Bank from Amman, Jordan. Married straight out of college, she said the show inspired her to go out and look for a job.

"Noor" seems particularly effective in changing attitudes because it offers new content in a familiar setting: Turkey is a Muslim country, inviting stronger viewer identification than Western TV imports. The characters in "Noor" observe the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, and Mohannad and Noor were married in a match arranged by his grandfather. But it also upholds secular liberties; protagonists have a drink with dinner and sex outside marriage. Mohannad, while faithful to Noor, had a child with a former girlfriend, and a cousin underwent an abortion. The nightly soap opera "shows that there are Muslims who live differently," said Islah Jad, a professor of women's studies at the West Bank's Bir Zeit University.

The show's Turkish producer, Kemal Uzun, added: "We are a little more open, not as conservative as some of these countries, and I think this might have some appeal for the audience." Even though some of the racier scenes are sanitized for Arab consumption, clerics have been sermonizing against "Noor." "This series collides with our Islamic religion, values and traditions," warned Hamed Bitawi, a lawmaker of the Islamic militant Hamas and preacher in the West Bank city of Nablus. But the purists seem powerless to halt the "Noor" craze.

In Saudi Arabia, the only country with ratings, about three to four million people watch daily, out of a population of nearly 28 million, according to MBC, the Saudi-owned satellite channel that airs the show dubbed into Arabic for Middle East audiences. In the West Bank and Gaza, streets are deserted during show time and socializing is timed around it. In Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and in Hebron, the West Bank's most conservative city, maternity wards report a rise in babies named Noor and Mohannad. A West Bank poster vendor has ditched Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein for Noor and Mohannad.

Jaro's Clothing Store in Gaza City is doing brisk business in copies of blouses seen on the show, including a sleeveless metallic number adapted to Gaza standards by being worn over a long-sleeved leotard. Producer Uzun said the Istanbul villa on the Bosporus, fictional home of Mohannad's upper-class clan, has been rented by tour operators and turned into a temporary museum for Arab visitors. A recent cartoon in the Saudi paper Al-Riyadh showed a plain-looking man marching into a plastic surgeon's office with a picture of Mohannad with his designer stubble. (Kivanc Tatlitug, who plays Mohannad, is an ex-basketball player who won the 2002 "Best Model of the World" award.)

In the West Bank city of Nablus, civil servant Mohammed Daraghmeh said he had MBC blocked at home so his kids couldn't watch, but the family vowed to watch it at an uncle's house and he backed down. In Hamas-ruled Gaza, keeping up with "Noor" is a challenge. Power goes out frequently because of a yearlong blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the violent Hamas takeover. When a blackout disrupts viewing, many set their alarms to catch the pre-dawn repeat. In the Shati refugee camp, several teenage girls huddled around an old TV set recently, trying to follow the action despite overflights by pilotless Israeli aircraft that can scramble reception.

Contrary to what many believe I am not a raging Islamaphobic, and while I do believe Islam to be a false religion, I have also meet people whose faith and belief in Islam has served only to add dignity and meaning to their lives. There is more than one way to be a Muslim and not every Muslim aspires to relive the glory days of the 7th century. If Islam is ever to be compatible with the 21st century - it will because of the media reaching the widest possible Islamic audiences and showing there is an alterative to being a throw back to the 7th century. I only wish all the Noors of Islam will take heed and heart from shows like this one.

Conjugal visits are not a human right or talk to the hand

A Palestinian sentenced to life imprisonment now demands conjugal visits. Ynet News:
Walid Dakah, an Israeli Arab who was sentenced to life imprisonment for security offenses, filed a first-of-its kind petition Sunday morning with the Nazareth District Court, asking that it grant him conjugal visits in order to allow him and his wife to bring a child into the world.

Dakah was sentenced to life in prison in 1986, after he was convicted of membership in a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror cell that murdered IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.

Dakah was sent to prison at the age of 22, and the petition, which was filed on his behalf by Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Right in Israel, claimed that since then he had undergone significant changes, has left the PFLP, joined the Balad Movement and is scheduled to complete his Masters Degree studies in the coming days.
In 1999 Dakah married Sna'a Salama, a human rights activist who works primarily for the benefit of security prisoners serving time in Israeli jails. His previous requests for a conjugal visit were denied.

In the petition Adalah attorney Abir Bachar complained of discrimination against Arab prisoners. "The use of the term 'security prisoner' as an excuse to deprive (prisoners) of their legal right raises suspicions that it is being applied to Arab prisoners only," he said.

I realize this probably makes me a confirmed hater but I really think the only conjugal visit any prisoner should have is with his own hand.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I have never considered Osama bin Laden a hottie on a horse.

Confession time, in all the years I have been widowed, never once did I lie in my bed at night and contemplate sexual relations with Osama bin Laden, or Hitler, or Mussolini, or even Che Guevara. Nor have I yet to meet the woman who could not differentiate between “Prince Charming” and Osama but apparently Frank at Mesopotamia West has issues telling them apart. I could start by saying living at 999Cave Avenue should be your first clue.

Anyhoo, Frank’s poises the question: are women natural born fascists and suggests the answer is the affirmative:

In all these cases, individual liberties were given up and handed over to the state.

Who today wants this to happen again? Why the women's movement. Women are against guns (owned privately) and for them used by police, transit police, Brinks guards and other 'official' men. Women are for state child care, state health care and state old age care. Women want food labeled, swing sets with non-lead paint, no trans-fats, no drinking and driving, no smoking, no pesticides, no this, no that and they want the state to enforce these (and other) rules. They want the state to be Daddy, the state to be the new tough man, to be the new Führer.
My daughter is a designated expert marksman and as far as I know no one has rescinded my mother’s license to be armed and dangerous but Frank’s really too rich to stop quoting now.
OK, back to where I started; why are Western women so quiet about aggressive, misogynistic, authoritarian, and murderous followers of, say, the Taliban, Hezbollah or Hamas?

I think it's because they secretly admire the macho male image of the Islamic ideologues in the same way they idolized Mussolini and Hitler. I think they'd like to be swept up by a scimitar-wielding horseman and carried off into the desert. I think they'd like to quit their day job and shop in some Saudi mall for gold trinkets. I think they'd like to stay home and share domestic duties with other 'wives.'

Uh-huh. Well, then – what can one say to that? But wait, it gets better in a ‘cannot help staring at the road kill lying in the road’ kind of way.
That's my point; women appear to be natural-born fascists; they sure love being carried off and cared for by some gorilla, or guerrilla, take your pick. This predilection may be the single greatest weakness we have in the war against terrorism. Our own women are cheering for the wrong side.

"Our own women are cheering for the wrong side". Let that one sink in. Gee dude. You finally answered the age old question; what do women really want. Women, all over the western world, are lying naked in their beds every night, over wrought with desire and waiting with bated breathe - for the night Osama will finally come crashing through the door to carry us off to his cave in the desert. Where he will ravish us unmercifully until we beg for release or is it a beheading???

You got to read the whole thing. Thank G-d, I didn’t ever join the Blogging Tories. Stephen Taylor you must be so proud. There is a reason why the Conservative Party has failed to resonate with women in this country, and the blatant misogynistic tendencies of all the ‘Franks’ in the party are a huge part of the reason why.

Whatever happened to 'When in Rome do as the Romans'?

A Canadian with the International Solidarity Movement has been arrested in the West Bank in a restricted military zone for taking part in a protest against the security fence and is currently facing deportation reports the CBC.
A Canadian student who took part in a protest against the security wall Israel's building in the West Bank has been arrested and faces deportation from the Jewish state.

Victor McDiarmid, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement, had been living in the West Bank for nearly a month when he was arrested Wednesday at a demonstration by women from the village of Nilin, where Israel plans to build the next section of its security barrier.

McDiarmid, 23, was arrested after taking photographs of Israeli soldiers who were breaking up the protest by villagers, who say the barrier will separate them from their farmland.

"He was taken by Israeli soldiers whilst at the front of the demonstration and was taken off towards the jeep. And then he has reported to us that for 20 minutes they were punching, kicking and spitting in his face," said Adam Taylor, ISM's media co-ordinator.

The organization's lawyers say they were told McDiarmid, who is from Kingston, Ont., was to be released Thursday from the Israeli military prison where he was being held. Instead, he has been transferred to a detention centre for people facing deportation.
Apparently, McDiarmid’s father, who neglected to teach his son appropriate ‘guest manners’, is outraged at the ‘human right abuses’ in the disputed terrorities and wants his son to fight his deportation from Israel. I’m actually supportive of this young man’s father and am quite satisfied for the young man to sit in an Israeli detention centre indefinitely while he fights his deportation. May his fight be a long one.

Lee Kaplan wrote in depth concerning his ‘training experiences’ with ISM here.

And in other news, more demostrators were arrested Friday at the West Bank village of Naalin, the same village which coincidently McDiarmid was arrested in on Wednesday and saw violent demonstrations in on Thursday. Ynet News
Two Border Guard police officers sustained light wounds Friday afternoon during a leftist demonstration near the Palestinian village of Naalin, west of Ramallah. Dozens of protestors arrived in the area Friday in order to rally against the construction of the West Bank security fence. The demonstrators included left-wing activists, Palestinians, and foreigners.

The protesters at the site hurled stones at Border Guard forces, who responded with crowd-dispersal means. The wounded Border Guard police officers were treated at the scene. Earlier Friday, a senior IDF officer said that a total of 25 police officers and soldiers were hurt in the past month during riots in Naalin.

All of which should beg the question; what duty of care does the Canadian government owe to any Canadian citizen who travels to a foreign country for the explicited purpose of aggagitating and participating in violent demostrations against said foreign government?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Zionist "S" word

Nothing gets the Israeli media feeling all warm, cosy and ready for a bloodletting than tales of “settler” violence. Earlier in the week the Ynet News ran this story on ‘settler violence’:
A series of violent incidents involving settlers swept through the West Bank Thursday, as dozens of settlers clashed with IDF and police forces, stoned cars and vandalized Palestinian property.

The gravest incident of the day occurred in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, when during the riot a settler was able to snatch a weapon away from an IDF soldier standing next to him and began firing in midair. A second settler began firing in midair as well. No injuries or damage were reported; both men were arrested.

Sounds bad, nu? Well, here is the Arutz Sheva report of the same incident:
In another confrontation at Adei Ad, two Jewish men were arrested by Israeli forces after one of them snatched a rifle from a soldier and fired it into the air. IDF spokesmen described the incident as another violent act committed by ‘settlers,’ and denied any wrongdoing in the incident. The civilian involved in the incident claimed that he took the weapon to save his life from Arab assailants, while the soldiers did nothing to protect him.

Homesh First said the man who took the gun was an air-conditioning technician from Jerusalem who was travelling with a passenger from the town of Kedumim to Itamar in Samaria. The two were attacked by dozens of Arabs who pelted his car with rocks and then attempted to extract him from the car to lynch him. Panic-stricken, he ran to a group of IDF soldiers standing nearby who refused to do anything. Desperate for the soldiers to do their job, he gave up trying to convince them, took the weapon of one of the soldiers, fired in the air and then gave it back. It remains unclear whether the civilian took the rifle forcibly or the soldier agreed to let the civilian use it.

After the initial statements from the IDF accusing the Jewish civilians, police determined that the lives of the two men had truly been in danger, and that their car had indeed been seriously damaged by rocks thrown by Arab rioters. The two were released immediately.

So far no apology for the false report has come from the IDF spokesman’s office. Nor has there been any investigation into why the soldiers, who saw two Jewish civilians in mortal danger at the hands of an Arab mob, failed to act to protect them, even when the Jews begged them to.
I doubt there is a more demonized group in Israeli society than members of the settler movement – even the Palestinians and Arab Israelis have their vociferous defenders...while it is always open season on the settlers - and I guess that can be taken literally as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Murder for Redemption

Killing a Jew to wipe away the sins of the world. The Jerusalem Post:
The two bulldozer terrorists who carried out the recent attacks in the capital were driven by a desire to "cleanse" their reputations because of their involvement in crime, Palestinian sources said Wednesday. The sources said they did not rule out the possibility that Hussam Taysir Dwayat, 30, from Sur Bahir and Ghassan Abu Tir, 22, from nearby Umm Tuba, were seeking to rehabilitate their reputations by attacking Israelis. Both neighborhoods are in southeastern Jerusalem. The sources said they saw a common thread running through the backgrounds of the bulldozer operators. Prior to their deaths, both Dwayat and Abu Tir had been treated by their communities (and to a certain extent by their clans) as undesirables.

Dwayat, who carried out the first attack on July 2, had lived in his neighborhood with a Jewish woman even though he was never married to her. He was also known as a drug addict who had spent time in prison for rape. Abu Tir, the bulldozer driver in Tuesday's attack, also had a criminal record and was reputed to have been involved with drugs and theft.

According to the sources, both men apparently came under pressure from radical elements to do something to restore their "honor" and "cleanse" their reputations. Ala Abu Dhaim, the man from the capital's Jebl Mukaber neighborhood who went on a shooting spree at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March, had also been dubbed by some of his neighbors as a "petty criminal."

In the conservative Arab culture, when an individual is involved in a crime, he is often accused of having disgraced not only himself, but his entire clan. The sources did not rule out the possibility that Muslim fundamentalists linked to Hamas or the men's relatives had pushed them to carry out the attacks as part of a plan aimed at "cleansing" their names. There is also the possibility that the men volunteered to carry out the attacks in a personal initiative to transform themselves into heroes in the eyes of their families and friends. "Obviously, these young men were under immense pressure because they had bad reputations," the sources said. "In such cases, it's better to die as a shaheed [martyr] than to live as a drug trafficker or a thief or a rapist."

Let us all hope all their virgins look like Arafat but this is a truly warped pathology and at this rate - the world will run out of Jews and then how will they wipe away their sins?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Fifth Column in Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Post carries a report on the latest bulldozer attack in Jerusalem:
For the second time in three weeks, an Arab bulldozer driver from east Jerusalem rammed his construction vehicle into a city bus and several cars on a central thoroughfare in the capital on Tuesday, wounding 15 people before being shot dead by a Druse border police officer and a civilian passerby.

The early afternoon attack on King David Street was seen as a failed copy of July 2's lethal bulldozer rampage on Jaffa Road in which Husam Taysir Dwayat killed three people and wounded dozens before he was killed.

Facing a series of attacks by Palestinians apparently acting on their own, politicians and security officials demanded Tuesday that the government immediately move to deter future attacks by destroying the terrorists' homes, and some called to reexamine the way Arab construction workers from east Jerusalem are employed in the city.

The latest assault began shortly before 2 p.m. when the tractor driver, Ghassan Abu Tir, a 22-year-old resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Umm Tuba who was working on a construction project on a side street near the King David Hotel, pulled into King David Street and repeatedly crashed his vehicle into a No. 13 Egged bus, which managed to escape, and then rammed into five cars, one of which he overturned, before being shot dead by a motorist who happened by the scene.

The Yeshiva attack was thought to be the work of a lone Palestinian gunman gone mad, the bulldozer attack three weeks ago was again characterized as the work of one political unaffiliated lone crazed Palestinian who just snapped. All of which brings us to yesterday’s attack. Again, a case of a politically unaffiliated Palestinian gone mad with a bulldozer but It is increasingly harder to view these attacks as just the work of the lone crazed psychotic.

Years ago I quibbled that the conflict didn’t need international peacekeepers but a deployment of an international team of psychiatrists wouldn’t hurt – it doesn’t seem like such a glib statement today...so what is to be done? According to the mayor of Jerusalem one should perhaps reconsider the employment of Arabs from East Jerusalem. When the rabbis suggested this months ago; they were condemned for issuing ‘racist’ statements but that was three attacks ago and almost a hundred civilians injured. Ynet News is reporting the Jerusalem police will be scrutinizing Arab construction workers and closely monitor construction sites in the capital. I do not have any real or concrete solutions to offer and as these attacks carry on and mount up and I admit to being reluctantly forced to consider Kahane may have been right.

But kudos to the national religious population of Israel for producing the kind of citizens who rush where to the aid of their fellow citizens in the midst of these attacks and do not hesitate to act decisively. It seems to me the world could use a little more Zion and not less. Ynet News carries a profile on the hero of yesterday’s attack:
Yaacov Asael, a resident of the Susiya settlement in southern Mount Hebron is Tuesday's hero. Asael shot and killed the terrorist who carried out the bulldozer attack in Jerusalem earlier in the day. Fifty-three-year-old Asael is an IDF reserves company commander, a father of eight, grandfather of six, and a teacher.

Ayelet Recanati, Asael’s daughter, told Ynet that her father is “resourceful." "He was a military man in commanding positions in combat units, in the armored corps," she said. “He is a bible teacher and an agriculturalist but has studied judo his whole life. He is a Jewish Israeli who combines the Torah and labor and tremendous politeness," she said. "He grasps things quickly, he has intuition regarding people and he most likely understood what was going on quickly," she added. "He always carries a gun. For as long as I can remember him, he has carried a gun. Nowadays, a gun is needed everywhere, in Susiya, Jerusalem, Hadera and in Tel Aviv. As long as we don't exude strength, we will need means of defense.” The police reported said that the terrorist who carried out the attack injured 18 people before being shot to death.

Who knows – maybe the Jerusalem Police could use a little more Torah and a little less diversity training.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Go Sic’um

Four Canadian Israelis have decided to sue a Lebanese bank with a branch office in Montreal. Ynet News carries the details:
TORONTO - Four Israeli-Canadian citizens have filed a civil damages suit against a Lebanese-based local bank, claiming it had a part in subsidizing the Hizbullah terror organization. The four - Sarah Yefet and her daughter Shoshana Sappir of Safed, and a couple, Rochelle and Oz Shalmoni of Carmiel - are demanding $6.15 million in damages.

In their claim statement, the four said that the Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB), which has a Montreal office, provided banking and financing services to Hizbullah and two additional Lebanese organizations that serve as financing hubs for the Shiite organization. “The bank began its financial activities two years prior to the onset of the Second Lebanon War, despite the fact that it knew exactly what the organizations’ goals were,” the plaintiffs wrote.

It should be noted that while the LCB is headquartered in Beirut, the fact that it has a Montreal-based branch makes it a subordinate to Canadian law. In accordance to Canada’s 2001 Terrorism Act, the government can prosecute perpetrators of terrorist attacks against Canadian civilians, the world over. This is the first time that a private civil action has been filed in Canada against Hizbullah, which the country labeled a terrorist organization in 2002.

The Shalmonis were visiting Canada when the war broke out and they stayed there until its end. Upon their return to Israel they found their home severely damaged by Hizbullah rockets, which forced them and their three children to take up residence in a Tel Aviv apartment they shared with another 12 “refugees” from battered northern Israel.

The couple also claims that their children suffer from trauma and that their income severely decreased throughout the period they were forced to be absent from work. Shoshana Sappir stated in the claim that she was five-months pregnant during the war, the events of which forced her into premature labor. After giving birth, she and her mother were transferred to a shelter for an extended period of time.
The plaintiffs are represented by Professor Ed Morgan, former president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Montreal lawyer Jeffrey Boro, and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder and director of the Israel Law Center Shurat Hadin which legally fights Islamic terror organizations. According to Leitner, this claim, “is only the first step in revealing the Hizbullah’s financial network in Canada.”
Shurat Hadin, doing the work CSIS isn’t.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Zionist Rats

Imagine rats which can tell Jews from Arabs and are trained only to plague Arabs. Sounds delusional nu? Welcome to the world of the Zionist conspiracy. The Jerusalem Post:
The Palestinian Authority's official news agency Wafa says Israel is using rats to drive Arab families out of their homes in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the past the news agency, which is controlled and funded by PA President Mahmoud Abbas's office, has accused Israel of using wild pigs to drive Palestinians out of their homes and fields in the West Bank. In the reports, Palestinians were quoted by the agency as saying that they had seen Israelis release herds of wild pigs, which later attacked them.

But this is the first time that Palestinians have spoken of rats being used against them. "Rats have become an Israeli weapon to displace and expel Arab residents of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem," Wafa reported under the title, "Settlers flood the Old City of Jerusalem with rats." The report continued: "Over the past two months, dozens of settlers come to the alleyways and streets of the Old City carrying iron cages full of rats. They release the rats, which find shelter in open sewage systems."

Wafa quoted unnamed Arab residents as saying that they had tried to eliminate the rats with various poisons, but to no avail. Israel's goal was to "increase the suffering of the [Arabs] in Jerusalem by turning their lives into a real tragedy and forcing them to evict their homes and leave the city," Hasan Khater, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Front in Jerusalem, was quoted as saying.

Whatever will the Elders come up with next?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pigs are flying or sometimes a great scam

If I told you the US and Iran were co-operating in a joint military drill would you believe it? As unlikely as it seems the Jerusalem Post is reporting just that.
Iran and the United States are participating in a joint military exercise in Kyrgyzstan, along with several other regional militaries. The computer command-post exercise codenamed Regional Cooperation 2008 began on July 15 and will end on July 24, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. The drill takes place in line with bilateral military contacts between the Kyrgyz armed forces and the US Central Command, the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry's press service announced, according to Interfax.

And then there is this rather remarkable statement yesterday from the VP of Iran. Ynet News:
The world is all too familiar with the less-than-friendly epithets directed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against the "Zionist entity." One wonders, then, how he will take to the surprising statements made his vice president on Saturday in which he proclaims Iran "a friend to the nation in Israel and the United States."

Speaking at a tourism convention in Tehran, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei said: “No nation in the world is our enemy, Iran is a friend of the nation in the United States and in Israel, and this is an honor. We view the American nation as one with the greatest nations of the world.”

His words garnered little attention from the Iranian media and the startling rhetoric only appears on his official internet site. Iranian officials have made statements in the past regarding their country's friendship to America, and often emphasized their stance on deepening relations between the two, but never before has such a statement been made by any member of Iran's top echelon in regards to Israel.

Well, well. Am I the only one smelling wolf?

Friday, July 18, 2008

UNIFIL in Action

Taken from a column from W. Thomas Smith Jr. at International Analyst Network:
If someone had simply told me this, I might’ve had a difficult time believing it until actually seeing the photograph.

The saluting soldiers – one wearing wearing a light-blue (United Nations color) helmet, the other a beret – are actually members of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

They are saluting, of course, the Lebanese flag. But they are also saluting the remains of terrorists returning to Lebanon from Israel following the recent “swap” between Israel and the terrorist group, Hezbollah.

Notice what else they are saluting: The giant photograph on the truck bearing the terrorists’ remains is that of recently assassinated Imad Mughniyeh, the infamous Hezbollah-butcher who was responsible for blowing up the American Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks (also a French paratrooper barracks) in Beirut in 1983 , and then torturing and murdering an unarmed American sailor in 1985. Beyond those attacks and over the years, Mughniyeh directed a series of lesser-reported kidnappings and murders against Americans and others.
Good Grief, what's wrong with these people, and is it contagious?

h/t: Israellycool

The nation that forgets it sons, is not worth fighting for

I have read a lot of tripe emanating from the Canadian blogsphere concerning the Israel-Lebanon prisoner/body exchange this week. The prevalent attitudes of most Canadian RW bloggers can be summed up succinctly in these two posts. The first from Jay Currie:
Yo, Israeli dudes…I love you guys, I really do; but this was not a “prisoner exchange”. It was two of your dead guys for four of their live ones.

What were you thinking?

‘Cause, dreadful as Israeli intelligence has been these past few years, you had to know these poor men were dead. Telling Hezbollah to piss up a rope and tossing a couple of cluster bombs in their general direction would have made sense…this, not so much.

And then there is this from Five Feet of Fury:
I understand -- as well as an outsider can, I suppose -- the Jewish reverence for the human body in general and the bodies of the dead in particular.
However, this reverence has been twisted into mere legalism and become an end in itself, untethered from God's original intent (yeah, I sound like a Christian here, eh?)

If you'll forgive me: the point of the laws was to honour life, not fetishize death.

And allowing your sons' bodies to be used as bargaining chips debases them and defies God. It also ensures that more fathers and mothers will be burying more Jewish sons and daughters, killed at the hands of cynical animals.


No, the point of the mitzvot was not to honour life. Somewhere there maybe a true rabbinical scholar with the patience of Rebbe Nachman who would be happy to teach you…until then this will have to do.

Furthermore, Judaism certainly does not fetishize death, although I suspect that mantle can be worn much more easily among Christians – as in all those Christs-on-a-Cross, Mel Gibson’s Passion etc., etc.


A few brief points I want to emphasize. The IDF had simply no concrete proof whether either soldier was alive or dead. Military intelligence’s best guess had one soldier pegged most likely dead, and the other soldier possibly alive. Until the bodies were returned they had no way of knowing if they were bargaining for live or dead captives.

Once the bodies were returned it was evident one soldier’s body had been mutilated after death, and the other soldier’s body was mutilated before death. Draw the obvious conclusions and ask yourself why no one outside of Israel is saying ‘Hezbollah’ and ‘war crime’ in the same sentence.

This week the nefarious Kuntar’s crimes have been widely recounted but what has been overlooked in most accounts was the original purpose and intent of his mission. It was designed as an act of terror to protest the anniversary signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Agreement. Let the significance of that sink in. Blugeon a baby’s skull to spit on Sadat and show Begin who 'the man' is...

I have spent the last few days struggling to articulate a response to both points of view and so haven’t committed anything to net proper. And then late today, I visited one of my favourite Israeli bloggers, SnoopytheGoon at Simply Jews. So for all those who simply can’t get it, SnoopytheGoon puts it simply and far more eloquently than I could:
There is, though, only one compelling cause. It is the cause of an IDF soldier - the grunt that goes to (and sometimes over) the border, doing his/her job as well as possible. Many of these soldiers leave their wives and children behind to do so, without fanfares and complaints. This is how it is and, unfortunately, this is how it will be for a long time in the future.

As an ex-soldier, I can safely say in the name of most of us that our unshakable belief that IDF and, indeed, the nation, will get us back from captivity, alive or dead, makes the service bearable. Without this belief IDF will not be what it is. The army that does not take care of its POWs is not worth serving in and the nation that forgets it sons is not worth fighting for.

There are a lot of things that could be said against and about the travesty of the current government, about the way the negotiations with Hezbollah were carried out, about the dirty politics and dirty politicians. One thing, however, should not be forgotten - it is not about politics, not about national pride and even not about the grieving families. It is about the soldiers.

As for Samir Kuntar, who will become a most celebrated hero in Lebanon after crushing a Jewish baby's skull against a rock: even in the pain we all feel because of the necessity to release him, there is a silver lining. Look at the people who celebrate release of one of the most inhuman murderers and learn. Look at the sweets being handed around to the crowds in Gaza, at Lebanese president and prime minister receiving the monster, at Shiites and others lining the roads on the way to the vermin's family house, at Palestinian president Abu Mazen congratulating the "hero's" family. Look, learn and remember.
Go read the whole post. Go read, live and learn.

Liar, liar, Condi's pants are on fire.

Any regular reader or anyone who knows me in the flesh knows I am not much of a political party girl. I have never joined a political party, or even sought membership in the ‘Blogging Tories’. I have voted Conservative more often than not, and I am rather more conservative/classic liberal in outlook (with an added dash of libertarian thrown in for good measure) but I have never felt any political party ever truly came close to representing my views and/or political outlook.

Of course, being a partisan political means there are times when one must suspend all pretense of personal dignity in order to promote the established party line. Let me put it another way, I have never been able to successfully chose partisanship over common sense but those who can do so, with all sincerity, never fail to fascinate me. It is like watching the political version of road kill happening before your very eyes….in other words: Condi Rice, in action, courtesy of the Jerusalem Post:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is denying that a decision to send a senior diplomat to nuclear talks with Iran amounts to a change in policy. The Bush administration previously had insisted it would not speak with the Iranians until they end suspect nuclear activities.

Rice says the move to send Undersecretary of State William Burns to talks in Geneva on Saturday is a "strong signal" that the United States is serious about diplomacy. But she added that US negotiating conditions remain. Rice said Friday that Undersecretary of State William Burns would reinforce the policy "that the United States has been pursuing since 2006."

On the eve of the meeting, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the talks themselves give hope "that there can be a peaceful solution" to the standoff over Teheran's nuclear program. But he also told reporters he expects no quick changes from Iran, which has said "the essentials" - an apparent reference to suspending uranium enrichment - will not be on the table. "After the Geneva meeting, we must not hope for an improvement, a change of attitude, right away," he said in Paris.

Still, the venue of Saturday's talks reflects the potential significance of the meeting. Envoy Javier Solana and Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili, start at 11 a.m. American officials have insisted that Burns' presence will be a "one-time event" and he will listen to the Iranians but will not be negotiating. Policy hawks disagree. John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations and undersecretary of state in charge of Teheran's nuclear file, said the move represents a "U-turn" in US policy.

I agree with Bolton except; I wouldn’t call it a ‘u-turn’ as much as I would a complete 360 degree turn.

Peace partners trade words

Apparently, a Palestinian Authority Hamas reconciliation is not yet in the cards reports the Jerusalem Post:
Arab efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah dispute suffered a setback Thursday when a close aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal as a liar. At the invitation of the Egyptian government, Hamas and Fatah representatives had been scheduled to meet in Cairo earlier this week for talks on ways of ending the ongoing crisis in the PA-controlled territories.

However, the two parties informed the Egyptians that they would not attend the Cairo talks because they did not believe that the time was ripe for reconciliation. Hamas's decision to boycott the talks came in response to Abbas's refusal to meet with Mashaal during his visit to Syria last weekend. Hamas said Abbas's move was an indication that the PA president and his Fatah faction were not prepared for a serious dialogue that would end the dispute.

Fatah, on the other hand, accused Hamas of failing to accept Abbas's recent initiative for holding unconditional talks between the two parties. Fatah spokesmen said Hamas was still not prepared to end its "coup" in the Gaza Strip and recognize Abbas's legitimacy. "Hamas does not want reconciliation and is continuing to work toward establishing an Islamic emirate in Palestine," said Azzam Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas.

Asked about remarks attributed to Abbas to the effect that he did not want to meet with Mashaal because the latter was a "liar," Ahmed said: "Yes, it's true. President Abbas did call Mashaal a liar because Mashaal lied to him several times. I also heard many Arabs say that Mashaal is a liar. In my opinion, Hamas lies each time it breathes. They are hiding under the cover of Islam."

(…)The Fatah official said that as far as he was concerned, Abbas should not meet with any Hamas representative. "Meeting with Hamas is tantamount to treason," Ahmed was quoted by the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying. "Meeting with Hamas under the current circumstances means consolidating the division [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip]. Mashaal carried out an armed rebellion and we should not meet with him."

In response to Ahmed's allegations, Mohammed Nazzal, a senior Hamas official, accused the Fatah official of using "filthy words." Referring to the allegation that Mashaal is a liar, Nazzal said: "Mashaal is more truthful than Azzam Ahmed and his boss, Mahmoud Abbas." Nazzal said he was proud that Hamas was being accused of receiving instructions from the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. "It's much better than receiving orders from America and Israel," he said. "At least we don't receive instructions from [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice like the Fatah people."

In other unsurprising news, the child murderer aspires to continue in the path of terror. The Jerusalem Post:
"We swear to God...to continue on your same path and not to retreat until we achieve the same stature that Allah bestowed on you," said Lebanon's longest-held prisoner in Israel, Samir Kuntar. He refered to Mughniyeh's "martyrdom." "This is our great wish. We envy you and we will achieve it, God willing," Kuntar said.

I wish, from the bottom of my heart, Kuntar’s end be the same as his hero Mughniyeh.

Imam of Blood - Catchy Title

Most days the Egyptian government depresses me no end but every once and awhile Egyptians do something which surprises me in a good way. Case in point – this story from Al Arabiya:
In response to the Iranian documentary that glorifies the assassin of Egypt’s former president Anwar Sadat, Egypt will make a movie that portrays Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini as an “imam of blood,” AlArabiya.net has learned.

Mohamed Hassan Al-Alfi, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party and Editor-in-Chief of its mouthpiece Al-Watani Al-Youm, told Al Arabiya that he is in the process of writing the script for ‘Khomeini: The Imam of Blood,’ which will be directed by prominent Egyptian director Mohamed Fadel.

The movie, Alfi said, will spotlight Khomeini's extremist ideas and how they threatened Egypt's security during the first 10 years of current President Hosni Mubarak's rule. It will also show how Khomeini's ideologies were behind the assassination of Sadat.

Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was the political leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which overthrew the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Following the revolution, Khomeini became the country's Supreme Leader, the paramount political figure of the new Islamic Republic until his death. "The movie will show that Khomeini was not an imam of the Muslim faith that promotes peace and condemns violence, but was rather an imam of blood," Alfi said.

Touche.

An Israeli politican asks the $64,000 question

I have never been a fan of Israeli politician Yossi Beilin. Usually his speeches make me cringe and aggravate me to no end but this report in the Jerusalem Post made me smile:
Meretz MK Yossi Beilin on Thursday called on European countries to declare how many Palestinian refugees and their descendants they would be willing to absorb as part of any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

"It is important that we know now how many Palestinian refugees [third] countries are willing to absorb, so that when we get to the critical moment [of a peace agreement] we will be prepared for such an eventuality, and be able to carry it out," Beilin said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

The dovish lawmaker made the remarks one day after he told a group of European ambassadors at a closed-door meeting of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that each of their countries needed to decide what their quota would be for absorbing Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

In the interview, Beilin conceded that only a "certain, not large" number of Palestinian refugees and their descendants would be willing to go to third countries as part of a peace agreement, with the bulk choosing to be resettled in a future Palestinian state or remain in the countries where they are currently living. Nevertheless, he said it was important for such information to be known in advance of any future accord, even if it were only a symbolic move, to be ready for such a solution to the problem, partial though it may be. Beilin said that Europeans have never given a "clear picture" of how many refugees - if any - they would be willing to absorb as part of a future peace accord, and that no "affirmative answer" has been received on the issue until now.

And the EU response:
EU spokeswoman Christina Gallach said Thursday that it was premature to respond to such a proposal at this time. "This is not something that has entered into the pipelines of practical considerations, and I am not aware of specific discussion of this issue," she said in a telephone interview from Brussels.

I bet the suggestion of settling potentially millions of Palestinians in EU countries didn’t warm the cackles of any European heart. Really, Beilin constantly surprises me and makes me ask - what’s next?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is the US set to establish diplomatic presence in Iran?

When US troops failed to roll into Syria in the spring of 2005, I realized there was no grand strategy on the war on Islamist terrorism. Iraq represented a one-off with no real goals or objectives beyond Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was simply that – the invasion of Iraq rather than one domino falling in place as part of a master plan to tackle the terror masters in Tehran.

It was from that point that I came to conclude there would be no US attack on Iran unless Iran seriously compromised US interests at home or abroad. Even the various captures of Iranian Republican guard personnel in Iraq did not dissuade me from this belief as the US Administration deliberately failed to maximize or capitalize on those various captures. This, played into the Iraqi one-off scenario rather than acting as a prelude to the next necessary steps.

This put me seriously out of sync with most of my warmongering contemporaries. In the waning days of the Bush Administration I still cannot see find any evidence that the US has begun taking the next steps necessary to a prelude to an attack on Tehran – again unlike most of my contemporaries. In fact, all I see are signs that the US Administration intends to leave the terror masters in Tehran unmolestated and has resigned itself to the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran.

So this report from the UK Guardian does not come entirely out of left field or appear so out of sync with my own perceptions of the Bush Administration’s plans:
The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President George Bush.
The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section - a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.

The news of the shift by Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to Iran throughout his tenure comes at a critical time in US-Iranian relations. After weeks that have seen tensions rise with Israel conducting war games and Tehran carrying out long-range missile tests, a thaw appears to be under way.

The White House announced yesterday that William Burns, a senior state department official, is to be sent to Switzerland on Saturday to hear Tehran's response to a European offer aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff.

Burns is to sit at the table with Iranian officials despite Bush repeatedly ruling out direct talks on the nuclear issue until Iran suspends its uranium enrichment programme, which is a possible first step on the way to a nuclear weapon capability.

The irony of it all floors me. Who would have thought that after almost 30 years it would be the Bush Administration who would grant international legitimacy to the Mullah’s Iranian revolution? And to the Israelis I would say – you have no friends and the sooner you accept this, the easier it will be to stand separate and apart. A place in exile does not exist for you. Govern yourselves accordingly and seek only your own best interests without regard to outside considerations or interests.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The day of infamy dawns

There are really no words to adequate express the depth of misery the sight of two plain coffins represent as each contains an entire universe collapsed.

The Jerusalem Post report:

The IDF on Wednesday morning received two bodies transferred by Hizbullah, presumed to be those of MIAs Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture sparked the Second Lebanon War just over two years ago. The army announced that it would make no comment about the identification process until the identification was completed and the families of the soldiers were notified.

Before identification could begin, sappers were inspecting the coffins to ensure that they were not booby trapped. Channel 10 quoted defense officials as saying that the identification would take longer than expected due to the state in which the bodies were delivered.

Earlier, the two coffins were brought to the Naqoura crossing on the Lebanese side of Rosh Hanikra and transferred to the care of the International Red Cross. Israel gave the Red Cross documents that would aid the identification process of the Israeli troops.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were handing out sweets to celebrate the handover of the two coffins. Dozens of Palestinians, holding Palestinian and Lebanese flags, rejoiced at the prospect that Samir Kuntar would be freed.

While I grant the sight of Palestinians celebrating the release of an infamous Jew killer is nothing new under the sun, the warped pathology of the Palestinians has spread to Lebanon. No, I am not just talking about Hezbollah. In fact, the return of a child murderer is now a matter of state celebration and officially sanctioned by the entire government of Lebanon.:
Samir Kuntar and four other Lebanese prisoners will receive an official state welcoming when they are released by Israel on Wednesday as part of the prisoner swap with Hizbullah. The five men will be greeted at Beirut's airport by Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and President Gen. Michel Suleiman.

I will try to take some comfort in the fact that the weasel Nashrallah still cannot afford to leave his own personal spidey-hole and will only be able to address the rally planned in Sidon via satellite. May he always live in a hole in the ground.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Preparations for a day of infamy

Nasrallah's 'Arc de Triumph' (Photo: AFP)

Maybe it is just me, but there is something explicitly obscene about a group of people who would celebrate and laud a man returning home whose only real claim to fame was cracking open the skull of a four year old girl with a rifle butt. Ynet News:
Hizbullah members set up a "triumphal arch" near the Rosh Hanikra (Naquora) crossing, where the exchange is scheduled to take place – Hizbullah fighters and terrorists' bodies in return for kidnapped IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The yellow arch, which bears the pictures of assassinated Hizbullah commander Imad Mugniyah, has been erected in several places in southern Lebanon.

Israel fears that after the deal is implemented, Hizbullah will attempt to carry out its promise to avenge the death of Mugniyah, who was responsible for a series of terror attacks in the region and worldwide. But the Shiite organization will not settle for the arch. Hizbullah flags and victory photos have been hung along the Lebanese coastal highway connecting between Naquora and Sidon.

Lebanese media have reported that the celebrations will be held in three places – in Naquora, upon receiving the bodies of some 200 terrorists to be handed over by Israel; in Beirut's international airport, where five Lebanese prisoners – including terrorist Samir Kuntar – will arrive via helicopter; and in Beirut's Dahiya quarter, which will host a mass rally including a speech by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah.

Hizbullah's leaders are counting the minutes until the deal is implemented and have already sent many of the group's members to southern Lebanon to work on the logistic preparations for the "popular" celebrations expected to be held in Lebanon. Lebanon is expected to hold a state ceremony at the Beirut airport, which will be attended by heads of the government and senior politicians. Hizbullah's al-Manar network has begun celebrating with militant, festive video clips, marking "the 33 days of victory" (referring to the Second Lebanon War).

Of course, Kuntar's mother doesn’t believe he killed anyone while Kuntar claims the little girl was killed in the crossfire. The autopsy and crime scene photos put rest to that boldfaced lie. Meanwhile, the IDF readies funerals for Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Israel, saving the world, again.

In a follow-up to Kate's post, I thought I would post a link to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs which has a write about a revolutionary unique process the Israeli engineering firm of Hom Tov has developed for extracting oil from shale (circa January 2007):
An Israeli company intends to revolutionize oil production by recycling oil shale rock into high quality fuel.

Haifa-based A.F.S.K Hom-Tov recently demonstrated its patented method of extracting high quality oil and natural gas from a mixture of bitumen and oil shale rock. Bitumen - or asphalt - is the residue obtained by distillation of crude oil.
Experts predict the process will produce oil at just $25 dollars a barrel and the additional natural gas generated would further boost the financial feasibility. With crude oil prices currently floating over the $50 a barrel mark, this proposed method is generating interest around the world.

The Hom-Tov process uses oil shale as a catalyst to extract combustible organic material from the residual bitumen byproduct of crude oil refineries. The end product from the process can easily be refined into high-grade petroleum and other fuels. At present, oil refineries produce countless tons of bitumen residue every year that have little practical use or economic benefit and are an environmental hazard.

As a further bonus, the process converts the oil shale rock into a dry fuel in which the inorganic rock structure traps dangerous gases, such as sulfurous materials, preventing pollutant emissions to the atmosphere. The dry fuel byproduct could be burnt to power the Hom-Tov process itself as well provide additional electricity for the national grid.

The volume of bitumen residue left over from each barrel of crude oil depends on the quality of the crude, but ranges from 10 percent and upwards. Once used as a heating fuel in steam-powered ships and power stations, stricter emission laws have relegated bitumen to be used for roads surfaces or waterproofing materials.
The Hom-Tov process enables refineries to reprocess the bitumen and extract a variety of liquid and gaseous fuels at much lower temperatures. The process itself can be tweaked to produce different grades of oil as required.

Hom-Tov first suggested using the shale process in 1992 Although the results proved that oil could be made at just $16 a barrel, at a time when oil was selling at $20 a barrel made the profit margin too low to justify setting up a plant. A decade later, as oil prices reach record highs, Hom-Tov relaunched its method for producing cheap oil.

AFSK Industries was established 30 years ago and in 1994 established AFSK Hom-Tov to promote the unique extraction process. Yisrael Feldman, A.F.S.K. Hom Tov CEO, and creator of the revolutionary technique, estimates it will cost $700 million to set up a production plant in Israel's Negev region that could produce 2.3 million tons of oil and natural gas from 6 million tons of shale and 2 million tons of bitumen. With those costs, a barrel of oil would be just $25.

Last year, energy consultants Eco-Energy reviewed the Hom-Tov process and concluded that the proposed plant would return profits of over $200m, given current oil prices.

The project has already attracted serious interest from foreign investors. Ofer Glazer Holdings recently bought a 70% controlling share of the company and both US and European oil companies are ready to back the proposed Israeli plant along with similar extraction sites in Jordan and Morocco. For Israel and other countries that have negligible domestic oil resources, the process will relieve dependence on imported oil. (Israeli 21c)
There really is more than one way to break the price death grip and render OPEC completely irrevelant at the same time. Give yourself a pause and imagine living in a world with no petrodollars available for funding international terrorism. So the next time you hear oil prices have surged - ask yourself why?

I only wish Hom-Tov would go public.

NB: A Follow-up article can be found here

Liberalism expressed as a mental disorder

I rarely have kind words or thoughts for the radical Israeli leftist group Peace Now. You would think a group which calls itself ‘Peace Now’ would be a harmless group of pacifists running around Israel trying to preach peace, love and understanding but would you ever be wrong. Most days I think its’ members have a secret suicide pact.Arutz Sheva:
A radical leftist professor at Hebrew University wants to allow a convicted Arab terrorist who stole bomb-making materials from his lab to be allowed back to the lab, Channel 2 TV reported Sunday.

Six years ago, 160 liters of acetone – a chemical which is used for making the common explosive acetone peroxide – disappeared from the Laboratory for Medicinal Chemistry at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The theft led to an investigation by the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), which in turn led to the arrest of Adel Hadmi, a doctoral student at the laboratory.

According to Channel 2, Hadmi was convicted of being a member of a terror cell that planned suicide attacks against Israelis. In addition, he recruited other Arabs to the cell. He was convicted and jailed but is now free again, and would like to complete his doctoral studies in the very same laboratory the acetone was stolen from.

The laboratory's previous director, Prof. Avi Domb, adamantly vetoed the idea of Hadmi's return, but his successor, Prof. Amiram Goldblum, thinks otherwise. Goldblum, one of the founders of radical leftist group "Peace Now," said that the university has no grounds to refuse to readmit Hadmi and allow him to finish his doctorate, because he has already been punished and served his jail sentence. Last week, the lab's students were told to free a table in the lab for Hadmi.

Domb, who was shocked to hear of Goldblum's decision, wrote a letter to the university in which he said that allowing the convicted terrorist back to the scene of his crime was both irresponsible and immoral. Students in the lab also protested but as of now, the university has not rescinded the decision to let the terrorist back in. The university did say, however, that he will probably not be allowed near dangerous substances because of his terrorist past.

Oh well, I suppose that is alright now…Not. Hadmi was not just convicted of procuring materials for bomb making and being a member of a terror cell planning an attack against Israeli civilians but was actively recruiting others to take part in terror activities in his down time from his university studies.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Hezbollah has found a beard

There are two stories coming out of Lebanon which are rather noteworthy. The first happened earlier in the week when Hezbollah received full veto power in the ‘new’ Lebanese administration. This report from the Daily News of Bahrain:
BEIRUT: Hizbollah and its allies solidified their hold on Lebanon's government yesterday with the formation of a national unity cabinet in which the opposition has veto power over government decisions.Still, the Western-backed parliamentary majority managed to deny the Hizbollah-led opposition any of the most important Cabinet positions, except for the one it had already held - foreign affairs.

Cabinet positions or not, chalk it down to an another win-win for the Hezzies. Then there is this report early morning report inthe Jerusalem Post:
In what is being interpreted in Israel as a declaration of ownership, the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) has built a road and set up a military position in the Shaba Farms/ Mount Dov area for the first time since Israel's withdrawal from that part of Lebanon in 2000.

Israeli defense officials confirmed the move, which was first reported in the Lebanese media, but would not comment on its significance. According to the reports, the LAF paved a road into the Bastara Farm, which is on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line international border and lies just 300 meters away from the land that Israel conquered in 1967.
A ten hour break from the computer and the first story which catches my eye is this one where the rhetoric is decidedly heating up at the Jerusalem Post:
Should diplomacy fail to return "Israeli-occupied land" to Lebanon, the Lebanese army (LAF) will take it by force, Lebanese President Gen. Michel Sueleiman said on Sunday. Suleiman was speaking at a press conference after meeting Syrian President Bashar Assad on the sidelines of the Mediterranean conference in Paris. The Lebanese president stressed, however, that the military option was the last resort. Assad said Lebanon had an important role to play in the Middle East peace process and that any progress in future Israel-Lebanon negotiations would be made in coordination with Syria.

Mighty feisty words coming from Sueleiman. After all, he was the commander and chief of the LAF who signed off on the 3 month siege of a refugee camp inhibited by approximately only 100 ‘militants’. Not exactly what I would call a great or stunningly brilliant military operation but now he thinks he’s ready to take on the IDF. While it is true Israel failed to accomplish her twofold objectives of the Lebanon war, the fact remains, the Israelis owned every single battlefield as well as the skies over Lebanon.

The Kassam Truce

Ynet News reports kassams were again flying yesterday:
A Qassam rocket landed Saturday afternoon in an open area near a community in the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The Color Red alert system was activated at around 1:05 pm in Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities. Several seconds later, an explosion was heard near one of the communities.

On Thursday, two Qassam rockets landed in the western Negev. There were no reports of injuries or damage. The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing, claimed responsibility, saying the rockets were fired in response to the assassination of Talal Abed just outside the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday.
But never fear for Hamas is on the job:
Several hours later, Hamas announced it had arrested two Fatah members who had launched the rockets towards Israel. Hamas sources reported that "the rocket fire threatens the truce. This is an attempt to thwart the truce and not a response to Israel's actions."
Well, well, I am sure no one sleeps easier known Hamas is on alert.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Reader Advisory

Three late nights in a row out with the Last Amazon and her brother has reduced me to silence. I’d like to think one good night’s sleep would improve my state of mind, but it is summer - and my neighbor’s are combative vampires.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Shi'ite Solidarity in Lebanon

Ynet News:

At least two people were killed and 41 wounded on Wednesday in renewed sectarian clashes in Lebanon's second largest city Tripoli, security sources said. Explosions and machinegun fire rocked the city from midnight as Sunni Muslim supporters of the government and Alawite gunmen close to the Shiite Hizbullah-led opposition battled on the outskirts of the mainly Sunni Muslim port.

The fighting began after four grenades were fired at a street separating the Sunni Bab Tibbaneh district and Alawite Jabal Mohsen district, scenes of deadly clashes last month.

The sources said two people, one from each side, were killed and 41 were wounded, including two Lebanese soldiers. Army units, which had deployed in the area to end last month's clashes, appeared to be caught in the crossfire and unable to intervene, they said.
I think one would be hard pressed to find a more apt motto for the Lebanese Army ‘caught in the crossfire and unable to intervene’.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Calling a duck, a duck

It is no secret that Israel has entered into a prisoner exchanged with Hezbollah but if this Jerusalem Post report is even half-way accurate to describe the mood in Lebanon concerning the deal, it is indeed, a sign there is hope for the Lebanese:
Dana M., an employee at a Beirut public relations firm, observed, "I am so angry with the Sunni political leadership, who are bending over backwards to praise Hizbullah's prisoner release. I supported [Prime Minister] Siniora and [Future Movement leader] Al-Hariri through all the conflicts, even after they did nothing to protect their supporters in Beirut [during Hizbullah's May 2008 invasion], but now I'm angry.

"Hizbullah started a war to free a notoriously evil man who is in Israeli prison for smashing a little girl's head with a rock. This man definitely does not deserve a hero's welcome." Hizbullah tarnished its image when it, along with other Lebanese opposition parties, attacked Beirut and the Chouf mountains in May 2008. The party claimed it would never use its weapons against other Lebanese and would only use them to protect Lebanon against Israel, but then struck at the heart of the nation.

I have no doubt that Samir Kuntar is an evil man. Nor do I doubt that Nasrallah and supporters will trump his release as any thing less than a national hero returning home, but in the Middle East, where black is believed to be white and white black; the simple fact that one ordinary person sees the nakedness of the Emperor is a sign of incredible progress.