Thursday, August 31, 2006

Keith Olbermann Thinks We Have Modern-Day Neville Chamberlains, All Right

But he thinks it is the Bush Administration that resembles Chamberlain.

Try that one on for size for a while. Talk about turning reality on its head!

Then watch this rather amusing and astonishing rant by Mr. Olbermann, which may be unmatched in its narcissistic fury.

Apparently Donald Rumsfeld's hard-hitting attack on the arguments (yes, the arguments, not the people) of the anti-war Left was too much for Mr. Olbermann. So he responded, as the Left always has, with ad hominem attacks on Rumsfeld and everyone around the Secretary.

It's too bad for Olbermann that no one watches his show on MSNBC.

Olbermann Watch has this rather, well, sharp-edged commentary:
While I appreciate the effort of some to make sense out of KO's recent special comment on Countdown last night my advice to Olby Watch readers is "don't bother". First, keep in mind that this "deep analysis" is coming from an individual who runs around in a raincoat doing bad Peter Finch impersonations and presenting news commentary in the form of hand puppets while screaming to any TV critic who will listen how he wants to be taken seriously. Second, the internal logic of Olby's diatribe will make your head spin; for claiming that there is a threat greater than "some" will acknowledge Olby compares Bush to Neville Chamberlain when the historical analogy he goes on to present suggests that the only appropriate comparison is between Bush and Churchill not Chamberlain. Olby goes on to praise [Chamberlain] Churchill for defying those who would label him a war monger while advancing the notion that Bush and Rumsfeld are war mongers who waged an "unnecessary" war in Iraq.
Maybe it was this Rumsfeld quote that did poor Keith in:

It's a strange time:

When a database search of America's leading newspapers turns up literally 10 times as many mentions of one of the soldiers who has been punished for misconduct -- 10 times more -- than the mentions of Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith, the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror;

Or when a senior editor at Newsweek disparagingly refers to the brave volunteers in our armed forces -- the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard -- as a "mercenary army;"

When the former head of CNN accuses the American military of deliberately targeting journalists; and the once CNN Baghdad bureau chief finally admits that as bureau chief in Baghdad, he concealed reports of Saddam Hussein's crimes when he was in charge there so that CNN could keep on reporting selective news;

And it's a time when Amnesty International refers to the military facility at Guantanamo Bay -- which holds terrorists who have vowed to kill Americans and which is arguably the best run and most scrutinized detention facility in the history of warfare -- "the gulag of our times." It’s inexcusable.

Those who know the truth need to speak out against these kinds of myths and distortions that are being told about our troops and about our country. America is not what's wrong with the world.

The struggle we are in -- the consequences are too severe -- the struggle too important to have the luxury of returning to that old mentality of “Blame America First.”
I can see how statements like those above would drive Olbermann up the nearest wall. Too bad he did not respond to the argument instead of personally attacking the man who made it. Keith was a lot more interesting back when he did sports.

Aussie Foreign Minister Attacks MSM

Kudos to Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, who courageously used the occasion of a speech at a media convention to slam the press for its coverage of the conflict in Lebanon, including the perpetuation of an alleged Israeli rocket attack on a Lebanese Red Cross ambulance, which increasingly appears to have been yet another anti-Israel hoax.


Novelist and Israeli Defense Forces veteran Alan Kaufman, writing in, of all places, the Los Angeles Times, describes the continuing anti-Olmert government protests by Israeli soldiers returning from Lebanon, and by residents of Northern Israel. Lest this movement be mistaken for an anti-war protest, Kaufman notes:

"What makes the soldiers' movement so unique is that unlike most groups who assemble to protest a war, these demonstrators are not arguing that the war shouldn't have been waged. Rather, they're furious because it was stopped too soon, before they could dislodge Hezbollah from southern Lebanon. Israel's decision to pull back its troops has left the Iranian-backed terrorist army in place with an arsenal of about 8,000 missiles still aimed at Israel's northern cities and towns."
Kaufman writes accurately about national disgust with the behavior of Israel's political, media and social elites, as typified by the city of Tel Aviv:

And then, when the war was underway, while troops perished needlessly in northern Israel and residents cowered in their shelters, citizens in Tel Aviv continued to lounge on beaches, dance in discotheques and obsess about their pedicures and tans.
As noted by Yair Sheleg in Haaretz, no less an authority than head of the Israeli Defense Forces personnel directorate, Eleazar Stern, noted in an interview with Army Radio, "Tel Aviv residents are not taking a substantial part in the fighting. In Tel Aviv there has not been bereavement and there will not be bereavement." In contrast to Tel Aviv, Stern "approvingly" noted the role of the national-Orthodox, residents of kibbutzim and immigrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former USSR) and Ethiopia.

Sheleg writes, "The data speak for themselves: Out of 117 enlisted and reserve soldiers killed in the last war, 12 were Orthodox (including six settlers, three from Eli), 12 were immigrants from the CIS, 15 were residents of kibbutzim, 15 were residents of moshavim, nine were from cities considered poverty-stricken, three were Ethiopian immigrants, three were from Maccabim-Reut, and, yes, there were also three from Tel Aviv (two of whom were not born and bred in the city but had moved there in recent years.)"

The social picture that emerges is startingly similar to what we see in the United States. A social elite (centered on the two coasts in the U.S. and in Tel Aviv in Israel), which enjoys extraordinary dominance in the media and the consumerist culture, presses for disengagement with forces that threaten their country (in Iraq, for the United States, and in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, for Israel), while living in blithe disregard of the looming threats to their freedom and lives, owing to the protection they receive from their fellow, often less-privileged, citizens, who give their blood and lives in the nation's military services.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Jewish Girl Beaten Unconscious on London Bus

JTA reports that a 12-year old Jewish girl, a passenger on a London bus, was beaten unconscious by four other girls, while three boys stood guard during the attack to prevent interference. The attackers asked the victim if she was Jewish before they attacked her. A friend of the victim, who was wearing rosary beads, was not harmed.

Following the pattern of the El Al shooting in L.A., the Jewish Community Building shooting in Seattle and the automobile attack in front of the Jewish Community Center in San Francisco, public officials in London and the media will no doubt determine that the perpetrators were a deranged group of youths, not terrorists, and that there is no evidence that anti-Semitism was a motive.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Al Gore and his allies constantly lecture that the debate over climate change really is not a scientific debate. There is simply no legitimate opposing view to the scientific consensus that man - made carbon emissions drive global warming, they say. To suggest or report otherwise is irresponsible.

Boston Globe Columnist Alex Bream writes in this column that when a zealous advocate declares that there is no one to talk to with a legitimate contrary position, Bream's jounalistic instincts signal to him that the zealous advocate knows someone or something about which he does not want the reporter to learn. In this case, Bream writes, one such "someone" is Richard Linzen.

Richard Linzen is the Albert Sloan Professor of Meteorology at an illegitimate, unscientific, irreputable, probably unaccredited school called the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, usually abbrieviated as MIT. He has described Al Gore's movie on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," as "shrill alarmism." According to Dr. Linzen, global warming is real, and he acknowledges that increased carbon emissions might be causing the warming -- but they also might not.

``We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as ``the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," ``the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average," and ``Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why."

Hat tip to Instapundit.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Previously the Hedgehog noted the hesitancy of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to appoint a commision to investigate the performance of his government and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the recent combat operations in Lebanon. One may argue that this development operates in Olmert's favor--it proves that he does not only hestitate in military matters; it's a general trait. Dry Bones anticipates the results of the IDF investigation above.

Meanwhile, back in the Knesset, Prime Minister Olmert decided that the proper body to investigate his government is (drum roll) his government. He appointed his own commission. (Actually, at least one of the commissioners nominated by Olmert, Law Professor Ruth Gavison, would be a very good, and very independent-minded, choice.) His reasoning is that an independent "state" commission would distract attention from the real threat facing Israel, which is Iran. Even if that were a logical progression of thought, and it is not, it is difficult to understand why an independent "state" commission would interfere with the Israel's efforts to deal with Iran more than a government investigation. If anything, I would think it would be the opposite--having an independent commission conducting the investigation would allow the government to better devote its attention to the Iranian threat. However, one questions whether Israel will be able to address the Iranian threat, the Syrian threat, the Hezbollah threat, the Hamas threat or any other threat successfully until it constitutionally removes the more immediate threat of Mr. Olmert's failed leadership.

Happily, Mr. Olmert's proposal to investigate himself is earning the brickbats that it deserves right across the Israeli political spectrum, as reported here in the Jerusalem Post. The fact that many of the critical voices come from the Labor Party is just one of several indicators that Labor may be preparing to bolt the Kadima-led coalition government of Prime Minister Olmert. If so, Labor might join with the rightist and religious nationalist parties in a vote of no confidence in Olmert's government, leading to new elections.

History The Iranian Mullahs' Way

This video snippet from MEMRI is a depressing reminder of what passes for university instruction (and scholarly thinking) in present-day Iran. Then again, for some it may be more than a reminder-- like a wake-up call.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Olmert Identified the Problem and Solved It

On June 9, 2005, at the Israel Policy Forum Tribute Dinner, in New York City, then Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke the following words:
"We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies ….” [See "Churchill and Olmert: A Study in Contrast," The Hedgehog Blog, May 2, 2006.]

We are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies. Well, Ehud, you certainly found a way to solve that problem!

Not surprisingly, the Jerusalem Post reports today that Olmert is delaying a government decision on the type of inquiry commission that will investigate into the conduct of the war. When, oh when, will the nationalist right and the religious parties initiate a vote of no confidence in this government?

Thought for The Week

“It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations? These are mortal and their life to ours is as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Karl Rove: Maybe Not Quite As Evil As They Say

According to Michael Isikoff, the evidence is that Karl Rove was not the Valerie Plame leaker after all. Isikoff says it was Richard Armitage, then Colin Powell's no. 2 man at the State Department:
Armitage, a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters, apparently hadn't thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame's identity. "I'm afraid I may be the guy that caused this whole thing," he later told Carl Ford Jr., State's intelligence chief. Ford says Armitage admitted to him that he had "slipped up" and told Novak more than he should have. . . .

The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone.
What a disappointment this must be to Joe Wilson, who wanted Rove marched out of the White House in handcuffs.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Amir Taheri: Hezbollah Did Not Win

Amir Taheri (photo at left) is an Iranian-born journalist who specializes in Middle Eastern Affairs. A brief biography and lengthy list of Mr. Taheri's recent articles may be found here.

In today's Wall Street Journal
, Taheri cites the evidence that Hezbollah may have lost more than in gained, on the Lebanese political scene, even within Lebanon's Shiite community, and in the Arab world at large.

Please read Mr. Taheri's entire article. Two cautionary notes occurred to me:

1. Mr. Taheri notes that even within Hezbollah, some dissident voices criticize the leadership style of Hassan Nasrallah as "Stalinist," and feel that he is too beholden and subservient to Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei. If he is indeed Stalinist, and feels his political grip in Lebanon slipping, Nasrallah, with Iranian and Syrian backing, may well attempt a coup, to install a Hezbollah-led Shiite dictatorship. Such a move in all likelihood would rekindle the Lebanese civil war. Short of that, he may move to violently suppress his Lebanese critics.

2. If Mr. Taheri is right, and the Lebanese government forces Hezbollah to disarm, I lose my lunch bet to my friend Yossi, as explained in the Hedgehog Blog here. That is a bet that I would love to lose.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Mark Steyn is a conservative humorist who defends Israel. That fact and the fact that his name is a homonym of "Stein" is enough to lead many to conclude that he is Jewish, which he is not. Mark explores this phenomenon more fully, and entertainingly, in the August 28 issue of National Review (digital). [HT to Rick Richman at Jewish Current Issues. I am very impressed that Rick is able to link to the future. That sort of talent is difficult to compete with.]

For those who are unable to read the entire article, the following excerpt is a gem, since one is encountering more and more "legitimate" pundits who are calling into question whether the creation of the State of Israel was a mistake, or whether it should be permitted to exist. [See, e.g., Daily Kos Calls for Elimination of Israel, as reported in The Hedgehog Blog.]

So, yes, I am a Jew, because, after all, only a Jew could “defend” Israel, right? I don’t really “defend” it on anything but utilitarian grounds: Every country in the region — Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia — dates as a sovereign state from 60–70 years ago. The only difference is that Israel has made a go of it. So should we have more states like Israel in the region or more like Syria? I don’t find that a hard question to answer.

And the minute people start arguing about going back to the “1967 borders” or the “1949 armistice,” I figure, Why stop there? Why not go back to the 1922 settlement when the British Mandate of Palestine was created and rethink London’s decision to give 78 percent of the land to what’s now Jordan? If you propose that, folks think you’re nuts. But why should 40- or 60-year-old lines on a map be up for perpetual renegotiation but 80-year-old lines be considered inviolable?

Well, because one involves Jews and the other doesn’t. The oldest hatred didn’t get that way without an ability to adapt. Jews are hated for what they are — so, at any moment in history, whatever they are is what they’re hated for. For centuries in Europe, they were hated for being rootless-cosmopolitan types. Now there are no rootless European Jews to hate, so they’re hated for being an illegitimate Middle Eastern nation-state. If the Zionist Entity were destroyed and the survivors forced to become perpetual cruise-line stewards plying the Caribbean, they’d be hated for that, too.

The only difference now is that Jew-hatred is resurgent despite the full knowledge of where it ended up 60 years ago. Today, Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad openly urge the destruction of the Jews, and moderate Muslim leaders sit silently alongside them, and European media commentators take the side of the genocide-inciters, and U.N. bigwigs insist we negotiate with them. In the 1930s, the willingness of Europe not to see the implied endpoint in those German citizenship laws left a moral stain on that continent. Seventy years on, it’s not implied, and the moral stain on us will be worse.

Political Science and Economics Lesson

Here is one of those anonymous bits of web wisdom that find their way into our e-mail boxes, this one courtesy of my friend Luisa Latham:

Political Science for Dummies

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.
You feel guilty for being successful.
Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows.
Your neighbor has none.

You have two cows.
The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor.
You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

You have two cows.
The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
You wait in line for hours to get it.
It is expensive and sour.

You have two cows.
You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

You have two cows.
Under the new farm program the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

You have two cows.
You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one.
You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses.
Your stock goes up.


You have two cows.
You go on strike because you want three cows.
You go to lunch and drink wine.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.
They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains.
Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows.
You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour.
Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

You have two cows but you don't know where they are.
While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman.
You break for lunch.
Life is good.

You have two cows.
You have some vodka.
You count them and learn you have five cows.
You have some more vodka.
You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

You have all the cows in Afghanistan, which are two.
You don't milk them because you cannot touch any creature's private parts.
You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.


You have two cows.
They go into hiding.
They send radio tapes of their mooing.

You have one cow.
The cow is schizophrenic.
Sometimes the cow thinks he's French, other times he's Flemish.
The Flemish cow won't share with the French cow.
The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow's milk.
The cow asks permission to be cut in half.
The cow dies happy.

You have a black cow and a brown cow.
Everyone votes for the best looking one.
Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one.
Some people vote for both.
Some people vote for neither.
Some people can't figure out how to vote at all.
Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.

Supporting the Troops, Opposing the War?

Here is the beginning of a Salt Lake Tribune story about a mother and her Marine son:
Many in her country had turned against the war. The mayor of her city was organizing a protest against the president. And the insurgents in Iraq, Amy Galvez feared, were growing bolder by the day.

Galvez decided she had heard enough.

Hoping her words might persuade those who support the president, the war and the troops in Iraq to assemble in a great demonstration of patriotism and support, Galvez sat at her computer and began to type.

"My son, who is a resident of Salt Lake City, is now in Iraq," she wrote in an e-mail to The Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday. "American lives have been lost in this war because the enemy has been emboldened by our own words, actions and lack of support for our own mission."

Galvez was still sitting at her computer when she heard a car door close outside her northwest Salt Lake City home. Peering through the window, she saw two Marines coming up the walk.
You absolutely must read the whole thing. Every American should.

Meanwhile, Ann Althouse shreds Judge Taylor's opinion in the American Civil Liberties Union v. National Security Agency case — the one challenging President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. The Taylor opinion is a little short of defenders, apart from the New York Times editorial board.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

On Bill Clinton's 60th Birthday

Ben Shapiro comments on Bill Clinton's August 15 address to a world AIDS conference in Toronto, in which the former president philosophized about turning 60:
"Turning 60 is certainly a bummer for a man as reliant on his prostate as Clinton is. Nonetheless, Clinton's speech was a stunning testament to his egocentricity. Who whines about a post-midlife crisis while discussing a disease that has pushed Angola's average life span to 39.9 years, Zambia's to 39.7, and Zimbabwe's to 37.9? Who tells a roomful of people worried about the devastation caused by a global plague that he is personally devastated by having another birthday?

"Bill Clinton, that's who."
Read the whole thing.


If I were the Prime Minister of Israel, here is how my government would address the continuing threat posed by Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon:

1. I would allow about 30 days, perhaps 60 days at the most, from the passage of U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1701 for Hezbollah to surrender its arms to the Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL force. If present trends continue, at the end of that time period, Hezbollah would remain in possession of its arsenal of rockets, missiles and other weapons, with the Lebanese Army and the UNIFIL troops (if they actually arrive) standing idly by.

2. I would then, with the cooperation of the United States, convene an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, and demand that the Security Counsel take concrete steps to enforce Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, both of which require the disarming of Hezbollah. I would inform the Security Council that if the Security Council fails to act, Israel would exercise her right to self-defense under the U.N. Charter and disarm Hezbollah herself.

3. Concurrently with the appeal to the Security Council, I would send a demand to the government of Lebanon, demanding that the Lebanese Army disarm Hezbollah. I would inform the Lebanese government that the State of Israel holds Lebanon fully responsible for all armed militias acting within its borders, and for the continuing threat posed to Israel by Hezbollah.

4. During this 30 to 60 day period, the IDF would present me with a well-developed plan for a large-scale infantry incursion into Southern Lebanon, the objective of which would be to search out and destroy all Hezbollah arsenals, tunnels, and bunkers south of the Litani River. That plan, augmented by plans from my Interior Minister, would include adequate provision for the following matters, all of which were sadly ignored in the recent combat:(a) logisitical supply of the troops, including food and water (an obvious requirement of any military plan, but sadly lacking in the recent combat); and (b) provision for evacuation of the population of Northern Israel and sustenance of the remaining civilians there who cannot evacuate, in the event of resumption of Hezbollah rocketing.

5. Although I would leave tactics up to the IDF, I would anticipate that its plan would include an amphibious invasion just south of the Litani, moving quickly east to cut off the retreat of Hezbollah to the north; and then moving south toward the Israel-Lebanon border. A second column would move north across the border between Israel and Lebanon, to catch Hezbollah in a pincer. A third column would move into the Bekaa Valley, capturing Baalbek, and cutting off Hezbollah from the Syrian border. Reserves would be stationed to respond in the event of a Syrian attack. The troops to be used would be sufficient in number to occupy and hold conquered villages, instead of withdrawing and allowing Hezbollah to reoccupy strongholds, as happened repeatedly in the recent conflict.

6. Israel would mobilize sufficient reserves to support the military plan, and have all of its troops mobilized and prepared to move upon authorization.

7. When Lebanon and the Security Council fail to react to the demands from Israel, the IDF would be authorized to proceed with its mission. My government would insist that the operation continue until its mission was accomplished.


Yaakov Kirschen of Dry Bones tells us nearly everything we need to know about the U.N. condemnation of last week's Israeli commando raid on Baalbek, Lebanon. The rest of what one needs to know is provided by the photo blelow right of Hezbollah's Sheik Nasrallah and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, also courtesy of the Dry Bones Blog. Keep him mind that Nasrallah heads the organization that murdered 241 U.S. servicemen (220 Marines, 18 Navy personnel and 3 Army soldiers) in the 1983 suicide bombing of a Marines barracks in Beirut.

The Last Word on Land for Peace

A Priceless Bit of Parody

Thanks to Power Line for this version of Time's latest cover.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Hezbollah Rearmament Proceeds

According to DEBKAfile, Hezbollah is quickly rearming, with shipments of weapons from Syria that are entering south Lebanon without significant Israeli interference. On the positive side, Turkey forced Six Iranian ILDT type 4-cargo planes and a Syrian aircraft to land at the southeast Turkish military airport last Thursday after US spy satellites spotted they were loaded with missiles, missile launchers and eight boxes of Chinese made C-802 missiles, dubbed by Iran “Nur.”


Military strategist Edward N. Luttwak argues convincingly in the Jerusalem Post that pudits and public opinion have both exaggerated the military achievements of Hezbollah and unfairly denigrated the bravery and effectiveness of Arab soldiers in Israel's prior wars. He notes that Hezbollah failed to inflict heavy casualties on either the Israeli military or its civilian population. Indeed, he partially attributes the reluctance of the Israeli government to launch a large-scale troop operation to the fact that the nation had suffered so few civilian casualties despite the thousands of rockets launched by inexperienced and incompetent Hezbollah crews. From a strictly military perspective, he no doubt is correct. On the other hand, from a strictly military perspective, the Tet Offensive was a disaster for the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. Thanks to Walter Cronkite and public perception, however, it turned the tide of the war.

Sunday, August 20, 2006


Paul Kujawsky, an occasional guest columnist on The Hedgehog Blog, is a member of the California Democratic Central Committee. In this article posted at, the online service of the Los Angeles Daily News, Paul explains why his sister, a former Lefty, now votes Republican. Of course, we also need an explanation of why Paul still votes Democratic. (Sorry, Paul, low blow.)

Hope, Despair, and Islamofascism

In an article entitled "Hope Amid Despair? A reluctant world begins to confront reality," Victor Davis Hanson analyzes the war against islamofascism in his characteristic clear-eyed manner. Excerpt:
As the cliché goes: the Middle East needs to wake up and disown Islamic fascism. Otherwise, insidiously the entire world is turning against it, as radical Islam proves to be every bit as frightening an ideology as German Nazism or Soviet Communism — whether this is ascertained from the use of human shields, tribal lynchings and beheadings, Joseph Goebbels-like propaganda, Holocaust-denial, racist rants, or primordial hatred of Jews.

Three years ago no one was talking about profiling at airports. Now the British are exploring how best to do it. Indeed, one of the stranger developments in recent memory is now taking place the world over: Young, Middle-Eastern, Muslim men are eyed and studied by passengers at every airport — even as governments still lecture about the evils of the very profiling that their own millions are doing daily. Muslims can thank al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and an entire culture that won’t condemn terrorism for such ostracism, which only increases with each suicide bomber, human shield, hijacking, kidnapping, and macabre reference to genocide and Jew-killing.

*Read the whole thing.

Friday, August 18, 2006


It has been a trying month, and we may sometimes get the feeling that the bad guys are winning. Let us remember that we are fighting a war. What occurred in Lebanon was an unsuccessful campaign in that war. We must examine why Israel failed to defeat and dismantle Hezbollah. We must not excuse those who erred. But we must not give up. Lincoln did not give up after the Civil War battles of Manassas and the Seven Days, nor even after many worse Union defeats. We cannot give up either; Western Civilization literally depends on continuing the struggle.

Art sometimes imitates life, and in that vein, if you need inspiration, listen to Aragorn's speech before the Black Gate of Mordor, from The Lord of the Rings--Return of the King, which I have linked here.

The speech is worthy of a great photo, which I had, but I have not been able to successfully post a picture for over a week. Hedgehog says that posting images has been "spotty," but for me, depite multiple tries, it has been hopeless. Any thoughts would be appreciated. No, it is not my popup blocker. [As you can see, the problem has been solved. --Ed.]

An Emerging 2008 Front-Runner for the GOP, If It Weren't for His Religion?

John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics thinks Massachusett Governor Mitt Romney would "almost certainly" be the "clear frontrunner" for the GOP nomination "if the Mormon issue wasn't floating around in the background."

I've posted some thoughts on this at Article 6 Blog.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bottled Water Update

I'm pleased to report that here at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank,
California, bottled water is freely available for those willing to bypass
the water fountain and spend three bucks on it.

I'd say more, but blogging from a PDA is an art I have yet to master.


The triumphant supporters of Ned Lamont, including the Daily Kos and Arianna Huffington, somehow seem to forget that he has only won the Democratic Primary. As Senator McGovern proved in 1972, one can win a Democratic Party nomination supported by the left-wing Party base, and still lose in a landslide in the general election. Right now, polls show that incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman, now running as an independent, has a big lead over Lamont.

With that in mind, we present the following guest column from Paul Kujawsky, the former President and currently the Vice President of Democrats for Israel, and a member of the California Democratic Central Committee. Please note that the views expressed are Paul's own, not those of the Hedgehog Blog. The Kosher Hedgehog, who still maintains his Democratic Party registration in respectful memory of his parents, FDR, Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy and Henry "Scoop Jackson," has been voting Republican since the 2000 Presidential Election.

By Paul Kujawsky

Joe Lieberman is a politician with a notoriously sunny disposition. But Jewish Democrats (and former Democrats) who support Lieberman’s sort of politics can best help their party and their country by getting mad.

Joe Lieberman, a sensible liberal throughout his political career, was about the best the Democratic Party had on offer. He was thrown over in the Democratic primary by a rich novice who ran on a single issue: the Iraq war. Lieberman supported President Bush because he agreed that Saddam Hussein was evil, that Islamism poses a threat to this country, that our long-term security depends on liberal democracy taking root in the Muslim world, and that retreat will embolden our enemies—genuinely liberal positions. For this, the left wing of the party declared war. They’ve won this round.

Many Jewish Democrats are wondering, If there’s no room in the Democratic Party for Joe Lieberman, what am I doing here? The Republican Jewish Coalition is ready with its answer. It has launched a nation-wide ad campaign that argues, "What was once the radical Left—with its antipathy toward Israel, its indifference to anti-Semitism, and its desire to appease terrorists instead of fighting them—is now emerging as part of the mainstream in the Democratic Party." It’s designed to make Jewish Democrats ask, "Is this the political party I want to be part of?"

The answer remains yes. Don’t give up.

True, one is inclined to grieve over the state of the Democratic Party. The five stages of grief one is supposed to pass through are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Certainly, some Jews are in Denial, at least publicly, about the disheartening state of the Democratic Party. But that won’t do—you can’t fix a problem you won’t own up to.

My recommendation is that people who support Lieberman-style politics and are upset that he lost—call them Liebermaniacs—get stuck in the stages of Anger and Bargaining, and put them to good use.

The leftiest activists are defining the Democratic Party, but they are not actually the weight of the party. Opinion polls consistently indicate that about twice as many registered Democrats consider themselves "moderate," as opposed to "liberal."

These centrists have to get Angry, and become activists themselves. In every race, find the most reasonable candidate and sign up for his or her campaign. Give money and give time. Let politicians know that Democrats demand genuine liberalism, not illiberal leftism. Join Democratic Party clubs, caucuses, committees—be part of the grassroots.

Then start Bargaining. Don’t let the left wing rule the party unopposed. Make demands, submit resolutions, raise objections, engage in debate, and initiate some changes.
The alternative is Depression over the current state of the Democratic Party, and Acceptance of the notion that it can’t change, and switching to the Republican Party.
But giving up on the Democratic Party is inadmissible, for a simple reason: in a country with a two-party system, it’s dangerous if one party completely loses its mind. We must not let that happen.

It’s possible that the Democratic Party has reached a point of no return for Jews who support Israel and see its struggle in the context of the global war against Islamism. But I prefer to see a pendulum, preparing to swing back. It depends on us.

The Latest Terrorist Threat: Sealed Water Bottles In Airports

I am a frequent flyer (much more frequent than I would like), and so Hugh Hewitt's Townhall column today struck a nerve. I'm flying to Salt Lake City today and now will be sure to hydrate myself well before I get to the airport.

Why go to war if you don't intend to fight?

Jerusalem Post columnist Evelyn Gordon asks that excellent question here. Ms. Gordon says that Israel's critics were correct about Israel's military response being disproportionate, but not for the reasons that they cite. Israel's reaction was disproportionate, even though each of its actions individually, and indeed all of them put together, were justified. "However, all these acts are legitimate only in service of a legitimate military aim. And it turns out that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert never had any military aims - or, more accurately, he never had any intention of doing what was necessary to achieve them."

Gordon notes, as did the Hedgehog, that Olmert refrained from authorizing the large-scale infantry operations necessary to clean out Hezbollah (and in the process increased ground troop casualties by negating Israel's advantage of numbers):
"until, bizarrely, this past Friday, when the UN Security Council was already finalizing the cease-fire that took effect Monday morning. By that time, the move had no chance of success: Military planners said it would take at least three days to reach the Litani and two weeks to conduct the search-and-destroy mission, and the course of the fighting until then indicated that both figures were likely to prove underestimates. And indeed, few units managed to reach the Litani before the cease-fire, while the army had no time at all for search-and-destroy missions."

Gordon therefore concludes:
"For a country that many still seek to erase from the map, war will unfortunately sometimes be necessary. This was one of those times, and Olmert's decision to go to war was in principle justified. But thanks to his refusal to actually fight the war once he declared it, 159 Israelis and hundreds of Lebanese ended up dying for nothing. And that is unforgivable."

As previously stated on this blog, Olmert should resign. If he does not, the Knesset must pass a motion of no-confidence to bring down his government.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"Islamic Facists?" Call Them "Islamic Nazis"

Do you recall the furor that erupted on August 10, after President George W. Bush described the Islamic terrorists who tried to blow up 10 airliners as "Islamic facists." (Here is our post defending the President during the controversy.) The fact is that President Bush might have just as accurately described Islamic, anti-American and anti-Jewish extremists as "Islamic Nazis."

There is a very direct link between Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party and current Islamic anti-Jewish hatred. That link is in the person of Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini (1893-1974), the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. After fomenting deadly anti-Jewish riots in British Mandatory Palestine in the 1920's and 1930's, he openly sided with the Axis powers at the outbreak of World War II. Having aided a pro-Nazi revolt in Bagdad in 1941, he spent the rest of World War II in Germany, as Hitler's guest. A photo of Der Fuhrer and the Grand Mufti appears at the left. Hitler made the Mufti the commander of the Hanza Unit of the SS, composed of Bosnian Moslems. They were thoroughly indoctrinated in the Mufti's synthesis of National Socialism and Islam, based on the share doctrine that the Jews are engaged in a secret attempt to dominate the world, as recounted in the Czarist fraud, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

After Germany's defeat, the Mufti was inexplicably allowed to flee to Cairo, where he continue his anti-Jewish activities. You know his nephew and philosphical heir, Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini, by his nomme de guerre, Yasser Arafat, may his name be erased. One may follow the thread of his Islamic Nazism directly to Hezbollah, Hamas and Ahmadinejad today. This is well illustrated by a German video documentary, available for viewing here at Little Green Footballs.

The irony is that the defaming of Israel as a Nazi regime is a favorite theme of anti-Israel propaganda not only in the Arab world, but also in the American and European far left. They need not look far, however, to find the real Nazis. This is just one example of a trend in Arab anti-Israel propaganda about which I hope to write more in the future: The accusations that that they level at Israel are often the despicable acts of which the Arabs themselves are guilty.

Oslo Replay: Hezbollah Trying to Cheat and Keep Arms Caches

During the early days of the Oslo Accords, Israel's leaders such as Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres repeatedly turned a blind eye toward flagrant Palestinian violations of the treaty. The very plane that flew Yassir Arafat from Tunis to Gaza also smuggled in weapons in violation of the Oslo Accords, and Israel knew that. Arafat was making speeches in Arabic to Palestinian audiences, saying that Oslo was only a tactic in the phase-by-phase strategic campaign to destroy Israel, and Israel knew that as well. Not only were these violations ignored, but those critics, such as Benjamin Netanyahu, who called attention to them were labeled "enemies of peace" by the Israeli Labor-Left governing coalition, the Clinton Administration and the Israeli and American media elites.

In the incipient days of the ceasefire under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, a simliar pattern may be developing. According to this report in the Washington Post, under the compromise emerging out of all-day negotiations yesterday between the Lebanese government and Hezbollah, "Hezbollah indicated it would be willing to pull back its fighters and weapons in exchange for a promise from the army not to probe too carefully for underground bunkers and weapons caches." This later story from A.P. first quotes the Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi, who said "There will be no authority or weapons other than those of the state." However, it also quotes the Hezbollah commander in south Lebanon as hinting that hinted that the guerrillas would not disarm or withdraw but would keep its weapons out of sight. "Hezbollah will have 'no visible military presence,' Sheik Nabil Kaouk told reporters in the southern port city of Tyre."

So we already see how it is going to go down. Hezbollah's fighters wear no uniforms in the first place, and they live in the villages of south Lebanon. They will simply blend back into the local population. The Lebanese army will take over the positions of the Israeli army, which will withdraw, with the secret bunkers and caches of Hezbollah rockets, missiles and other weapons remaining intact. The U.N. international force, if and when it arrives, will certainly not go looking for those weapons, and probably will ignore new shipments from Syria that resupply spent or destroyed armaments. Lebanon and the U.N. will assert that Hezbollah has complied with Resolution 1701.

How the Olmert government and the Bush Administration react to this subterfuge will be a major test of their integrity. The easy path is the one followed by Prime Minister Rabin and President Clinton regarding Oslo, the one followed by all the Israeli Prime Ministers who ignored the buildup of Hezbollah's military power in the south for six years after Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. That would be to disregard the violations and leave dealing with Hezbollah to future Israeli and American governments, no doubt at a great cost of money and lives. Then there is the hard choice of insisting on the actual disarmament of Hezbollah, even if it means an immediate return to hostilities. What will be the fateful choice?

UPDATE: This story from the Jerusalem Post may give us an answer as to how the Israeli government will react, and it is certainly not the answer that I had hoped for (although I am not surprised). "Despite the public reappearance of armed Hizbullah gunmen in southern Lebanon, senior IDF officers said Wednesday that Israel would uphold the cease-fire and begin to gradually withdraw its forces ahead of the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south. "

Cartoon of the Month (And Possibly of The Year, And Maybe Even of The Decade)

This cartoon by Matt, the Daily Telegraph’s cartoonist, makes a point about about airline security much more eloquently than all the editorials yet written on the subject. (HT: Iain Murray in The Corner.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

IDF Chief Halutz Sold His Stock As War Began

Why is Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff smiling? Well, on July 12, 2006, within three hours after Hezbollah attacked an Israeli patrol, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two others, Halutz called his Tel Aviv stockbroker and instructed him to sell off almost $30,000 of stock. This quite literal fire sale enabled Halutz to escape the effects of an 8% decline in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange over the next two days. Halutz claims that no wrong-doing was involved. He no doubt only wanted to avoid distractions from his principal duty of directing Israel's forthcoming war effort. Of course, fault finders might point out that Halutz, more than nearly anyone else that day, had inside information on the war that had just begun. Also, if I had been Halutz, and knew that Israel was about to entrust its conduct of the war to me, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, I certainly would have wanted to sell my Israeli stock holdings.

As Time Magazine reports here, now that the ceasefire has at least temporarily halted the real war, the political battles have begun, and the political casualties are beginning to mount. The main losers so far appear to be, not surprisingly, Olmert, Peretz and Halutz.

That is as it should be--democracy only works if those governmental leaders who err are forced to pay a political price. One of the astonishing aspects of Israeli politics in recent years has been how figures such as former Prime Minister Shimon Peres can commit Israel to dangerous blunders such as the Oslo Accords, and yet continue to play leading roles in government. It is almost as if they are being awarded for their displays of bad judgment.

The democratic downfall of the present government, through the political process, and its replacement by a government led by politicians of the caliber of Benjamin Netanyahu, Natan Sharansky, and Effie Eitam, is not only fitting and desirable; it is necessary if Israel is to successfully face the challenges to its very existence posed by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Lebanon, Hezbollah & UN Already Reneging on Ceasefire Resolution

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, the ink is not yet dry on the resolution before the Arabs and the U.N. begin to renege on their commitments. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly reached a deal allowing Hizbullah to keep its weapons but refrain from exhibiting them in public. This treats Security Council Resolution 1701 as if it were the reverse of a concealed weapons law--you can have as many missiles and rockets as you want, just keep them in their bunkers until you are ready to fire them at Israel. That approach would allow Hezbollah to keep an ICBM. And good old dependable Kofi Anan is now emphasizing that the U.N. international force that is to police the ceasefire is not mandated to actually disarm Hezbollah, but only to help the Lebanese do so. (Or at least help the Lebanese help Hezbollah conceal its weapons.)

Does Ahmadinejad Have Fans on The Left?

My post below brought a comment from Scott, who says I am making a "broad generalization" by referring to Amadinejad's "fans on the left," and that I am referring to "one dumb comment in a 70+ comment thread by one person on one web site."

Well. Here are a few more dumb comments from the same Daily Kos thread:
1. "I'd stick Ahmadinejad and Bush in a room with a bag of rabid rats and see who could last the longest. One is as bad as the other."
Well, not a fan comment, but an interesting moral equivalency argument: Bush and Ahmadinejad-- the same!
2. "On the other hand, we have been spoon fed a lot of information about him from BushCo that for the average person affects how they view Iranian people in general. Wallace's take on him gives us more information about how a guy like him could come to power for one thing. Based on what I'm seeing, he is a pretty smart guy in reading Bush's motivations for screwing around with his country. He is crazier than I'd like, but he is a product of Bush's militaristic policies. Iran was all set to become more moderate before we invaded Iraq."
OK, not a fan-like statement, but it does clarifies the matter: It's all Bush's fault.
3. "Ask them if they are or not. I'm fairly certain they're still proud of 'zionism.' I think in the US we're not taught about that in school, so we have a tendency to believe Zionism is some made up conspiracy by people who dislike/hate Jewish people. Just like we believe all Jewish people support Israel.

"Anyway, as far that comment quoted, I would hardly call Ahmadinejad Hitler. Iran has a huge Jewish population and members in the Iranian parliament. Not that Iran is a perfectly equal society of course, but it's absurd to suggest they're wiping out Jewish people over there. When we hear Ahmadinejad speak, it's important to note he's anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish."
Oh-oh, now we're getting close to admiration, or at least, rationalization.
4. "I would say that he is anti-Zionist not anti-Israel in general. At least he has said so much. He did make a very inflammatory comment about Israel needing to be 'wiped off the map' but came back the next day and explained that he only has a problem with the Zionists, and not all of Israel.

"I agree with you that he is definitely not like Hitler."
Oh dear, more rationalization and defense.

Sorry, Scott, those may not be the words of fans, but they are the words of morally blind people.

Monday, August 14, 2006

In Which We Do A Little Polling On Israel and Hezbollah

What do you think of the U.N. ceasefire in Southern Lebanon?
It's a brilliant diplomatic maneuver; the violence will end immediately
It's not perfect, but it's a real step forward.
It does not represent progress at all.
It's a step backward.
It's a disaster, and it will be years before the area and the world recover.
Ceasefire? What ceasfire?
Free polls from

The Ahmadinejad 60 Minutes Interview

If you missed it (like I did) you can read about it here. I'll say this about the man: He's a cunning fellow, despite a tendency to be a little, well, disingenuous. One quote:

"President Bush said — vowed — he will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. You believe it?" Wallace asked.

"Basically we are not looking for — working for the bomb," the president said. "The problem that President Bush has is in his mind he wants to solve everything with bombs. The time of the bomb is in the past. It's behind us. Today is the era of thoughts, dialogue and cultural exchanges."

Somehow I am not convinced. John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics has more.

And get a load of this. The Iranian thug has fans on the left.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Dry Bones shares my suspicions about the U.N. Security Council ceasefire resolution. The best that I can say about the situation is that it may never go into effect. If it does go into effect, and Israeli troops actually withdraw, neither the Lebanese Army nor the international forces (should they ever show up on the scene) will prevent Hezbollah from returning to their strongholds. Iran and Syria will quickly resupply all the missiles that have either been detroyed or launched at Israel.

On Friday night, at an "Oneg Shabat," I started to tell my friend Yossi, a native-born Israeli, that I had called on my blog for the resignation of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Before I could finish, he told me that in his view Olmert was the greatest Prime Minister in Israel's history. In Yossi's view, Olmert agreed to the ceasefire to save the lives of Israeli soldiers, because the IDF was not prepared to face the tactics and anti-tank weapons of Hezbollah. Yossi bet me lunch that in six weeks Hezbollah will either have disarmed or, having been absorbed into the Lebanese Army, would no longer present a threat to Israel. I very much hope to lose the bet, even though Yossi is a big eater and it will cost me. Sadly, I do not expect to lose the bet.

I should also add that Yossi supported the Oslo Accords and the unilateral withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, and indeed still defends both descisions. Please understand, my friend Yossi is a very intelligent person. He works for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and his work helps guide NASA interplanetary missions across space. He is quite literally a rocket scientist. So I guess that one can say, "Politics is not rocket science," but the meaning is the opposite of the conventional one.

Although this is a sad and depressing time, I do not believe that Hamas and Hezbollah will ultimately prevail. As reported in this story in the Jerusalem Post, the infamous Arab street already is trumpeting the ceasefire as the miliary defeat of Israel at the hands of the Hezbollah. At some point soon, having deluded themselves that they have actually defeated Israel on the battlefield (rather than in the world media and the halls of the Israeli Prime Minister's office, the U.N. and the U.S. State Department), the Arabs and Iran will try to press further against what they perceive is a wounded and weakened Israel, and move in for the kill. When Israel's citizens finally realize that they have no choice but to fight or be conquered, they will choose to fight, and they will choose a government who is willing to lead that fight to the end.

That time may come sooner than one would expect. Yoni reports that Syria has begun removing removing land mines located in the zone between the Syrian and Israeli lines on the Golan Heights and has moved a tank formation into the area. There would be no defensive reason to remove those land mines; indeed, if Syria feared an Israeli attack, it would want them in place. However, if Syria is contemplating an attack to try to recapture the Golan Heights, it would have to clear the mines to allow its armor, vehicles and troops to pass through. I would hate to be a Syrian tank crew in such an assault; the Israeli Air Force would very quickly turn the tank column into a smoking junkyard. For that reason alone, such an attack would seem to be pure folly.

But perhaps Syria does not plan to act alone. The repeated announcements from Iranian President Ahmadinejad that Iran will respond to the U.S. concerning its nuclear program on August 22 has prompted Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis to speculate on what might be the significance of that date:

What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

Is Syria therefore planning an assault across the Golan Heights to coincide with some sort of Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, perhaps by missile, or perhaps a small atomic device or "dirty bomb" to be set off by a suicide jihadist already inside Israel? One hopes that Israel's security and military leaders have given adequate attention to the possibility.

"Americans will die for liberty"

My blogging partner at Article 6 Blog, John Schroeder, posts this article on his own blog, Blogotional. He calls it the "Blogotional Must-Read of the Weekend," and he's right. Read it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

So How Did They Catch Those U.K. Airplane Bomb Plotters, Anyway?

There's a lot of the story still developing, of course, but it looks like there was some -- gasp! -- telephone serveillance going on:

A senior Pakistani security official said the arrest of Rashid Rauf, a British citizen, was followed within days by a telephone call from someone in Pakistan urging the British plotters to execute their plan.

"This telephone call intercept in Karachi and the arrest of Rashid Rauf helped a lot to foil the terror plan," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(HT: Called As Seen.)

Then there's this:
Last night US officials told reporters that substantial sums of money had been wired from Pakistan to two of the alleged ringleaders in Britain, so that they could purchase airline tickets.
Oh, dear, it looks like financial transactions were being monitored through that awful SWIFT system. Doesn't this make you want to get together with someone you love and pray for the future of civil liberties in this country?

Friday, August 11, 2006

A Federal Court Judge With A Sense of Humor

Apparently two attorneys with a lawsuit in federal court could not agree on the location of a deposition and ended up asking the judge to resolve the dispute. I don't think the judge was amused, but he wrote an amusing order. Read it and brighten up your late summer weekend.

Olmert Should Resign

I call this photo, which I have used in the past, "Olmert Dukakis." It was Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who, ignoring the advice of his general staff, chose to put off an infantry offensive in Lebanon for over a month, trying to make do with air strikes and limited and ultimately futile infantry incursions. The result was to dissipate the the initially strong diplomatic support of the U.S. and to allow world opinion to mobilize against Israel as a direct result of its air campaign. After finally realizing that his limited war strategy would not work, Olmert and his security cabinet finally authorized the long-delayed massive infantry offensive, only to almost immediately put the attack "on hold", to await the outcome of ongoing diplomatic efforts. I thought to myself, "If Olmert is willing to accept a ceasefire now, and leave Hezbollah in the south with its rockets, accomplishing nothing after all this loss of life, property and fortune on both sides, he should resign." Now I find that Ari Shavit, in Haaretz, beat me to the punch. Also, more people probably (probably?) read his columns. HT to Yoni.

Now, having waited out the diplomatic process, just when the UN Security Council is about to actually to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire, Olmert apparently is going to reject the resolution and proceed with the infantry offensive, putting Israel at direct odds with the current diplomatic efforts of the U.S., its strongest (practically only) ally and supplier of arms. More from Yoni on that here.

Perhaps I am being unfair, since I damned Olmert when he did not attack, and now I am damning him when he does. But timing in war can be everything, and Olmert's timing has been disastrous for Israel. The likely result of his passive-aggressive, Hamlet-like indecision is that Hezbollah will remain in southern Lebanon, more popular than ever, its stores of rockets quickly restored by Syria and Iran, recruits flocking to its hateful yellow and green banner, the toast of the Arab world for having fought Israel to a standstill for over a month. (Of course, the fact that the IDF was not allowed by its civilian leadership to properly apply its strength to the effort will be ignored and forgotten.) For all but the most hardy souls, the north of Israel will be uninhabitable, because few of its residents will want to return to live under the constant threat of Hezbollah rockets, a threat that the government of Israel, through its tragic misconduct of the war, will have seemingly proven itself impotent to remove. Since Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and Syria will have not given up their overarching objective, the elimination of Israel, the ultimate result will be a bigger and bloodier war.

UPDATE: Israeli PM endorses U.N. cease-fire deal. The following sentence from the news story says it all: "Only six hours passed from an initial decision by Olmert to broaden the ground offensive to his acceptance of the cease-fire deal. The zigzag reflected Israel's dilemma after a month of inconclusive fighting."

UN Agencies Brand Israel as Racist; An Israeli's Actions Refute the Lie

The newly created United Nations Human Rights Council has so far passed three resolutions aimed at the acts of a specific country. The subject of all three resolutions--Israel of course, the most recent condemning its actions in Lebanon. No other of the U.N.'s 119 member nations has been deemed worthy of the Council's disapproval.

Meanwhile, another U.N. committee, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, also is focused on Israel. Not on the facts that its citizens and its armed forces include whites, blacks, and Asians, Jews, Christians and Moslems. Rather, 15 years after repeal of the infamous General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism, the Committee is holding hearings on Israel's defensive war against Hezbollah! Brazilian expert Jos Augusto Lindgren Alves accused Israel of "blatant racism," which, he added, was "at the root of its disproportionality" in Lebanon. He asked if Israel "would react the same way to exterminate an entire population if Hizbullah launched the same attacks from a non-Arab country." [Of course, Israel has hardly acted to exerminate an entire population, in Lebanon or anywhere else. But facts are of little relevance in international diplomacy.] Jos Francisco Cali Tzay of Guatemala suggested that Israel's actions were close to "mass genocide." The South African, Patricia January-Bardhill, said that Israel's response reflected "institutionalized racism." Pakistani member Agha Shahi justified Hizbullah's attacks on Israel as an exercise of "the right of resistance against occupation." [Those with memories of more than one month may recall Hezbollah began the current hostilities with an unprovoked attack on Israel, across an international border, after the UN itself certified that Israel had withdrawn from every inch of Lebanon. No occupation is involved here. Ah, but once again I betray my petty obsession with truth.] Read more about it here.

My wife Laura, aka Mrs. Kosher Hedgehog, directed my attention to the perfect response to the UN's libels. Motti Taiman, an Israeli man, is the sole survivor of three brothers, the other two of whom were killed by a Hezbollah rocket last week. Taiman asked if his one of brother's eyes could be donated. As reported here by ABC News:

There was a long list of patients in need, including an Arab, Nikola Elias, who was blind in one eye and had lost nearly all his vision in the other eye.
Dr. Uri Rehany, an eye surgeon, said he was told by Motti Tamam to "go ahead" and use his brother's eyes to help the Arab man, as it would be a mitzvah, meaning a good deed.

Of course, Mrs. Hedgehog, those are just more tedious facts. How little you understand of international diplomacy!

Letter from Tzfat, Northern Israel

Linda Stern is the Overseas Administrator for the Yeshiva Hesder in Kiryat Shemona. As I have previously mentioned, Kiryat Shemona is a town in the far north of Israel, near the Lebanon border. My wife and I spent three months there 30 years ago, when we spent the first year of our marriage doing volunteer work in Israel.

A Yeshiva is a Jewish religious school, and the term may be used for anything from an elementary school all the way up to a rabbinical seminary. It is common for young Orthodox Jewish men to spend a year or two, or even more, engaged in intensive full-time Torah study at a yeshiva after high school. In Israel, those same years correspond with the years of compulsory military service. For those religious, and Zionist, Jewish men who do not wish to avail themselves of a religious exemption, and want to serve in the army, but also do not want to deprive themselves of the critical years of Torah study, the Yeshiva Hesder program was conceived. It could not have been implemented in any nation in which the ACLU holds sway. Its students combine military service with Army duty. A fuller explanation of the Yeshiva Hesder program appears here.

When the war against Hezbollah broke out, most of the Hesder students in Kiryat Shemona were immediately called away to their units. Kiryat Shemona immediately became a target of daily rocketing by Hezbollah; on Wednesday alone 66 rockets hit the city. The few students remaining in the dorms became volunteers to provide aid to city residents in the shelters, many of whom did not evacuate because they had nowhere to go. The yeshiva itself, as a building with dormitories and food facilities, became a barracks and staging area for reservists called up to the northern border, awaiting orders to enter Lebanon. The photo above (provided by Linda) shows morning prayers by soldiers in the Beis Midrash (study hall) of the yeshiva.

Linda and her family live in Tzfat (Safed), another northern Israeli town that has been the frequent target of rocket attacks. Tzfat is a famous town--it was the center of Jewish Torah scholarship and mysticism in the early 16th century, the home of Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch code of Jewish law, and the home of Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzchak Luria. As the Sabbath approached today, Linda sent this e-mail:

The best thing about an email is that if you don’t want to read it, you just delete it. That’s it – all gone.

The worst thing about this war is that I am never going to be able to delete it.

I’m writing my thoughts to you because it’s very important to me that you - my friends, relatives and other wonderful people, some of whom I haven’t even met - hear from me personally how my life has changed over the past month. Thoughts like mine will not be described in the media, because ostensibly, there is no drama – no one has been injured or killed, my home is still intact, I still have my work and am inundated, as is my husband, my children and grandchild are fine, thank God, and that includes my son, Elazar, who has been fighting in Lebanon for the past two weeks.

But I am living my own personal drama – Tzfat, the beautiful town nestling up in the hills of Galilee that we chose as our home 26 years ago, is hurting badly; 80% of her citizens have left; Katyusha bomb scars can be found in almost every corner, people have been injured and killed, but not enough to warrant a newspaper report of any real interest. The town is empty apart from a few shops that stock necessities. Instead of the throngs of visitors, tourist buses, and groups of youngsters that usually fill our historical Old City in the summer months, you now hear the sound of silence. Last Friday our synagogue was damaged from a Katyusha bomb that landed a few yards away – just think of it - aimed a few millimeters to the right, and a few hours later, we would definitely have been a news item… But after all, nobody was injured, only a few stained glass windows were broken, only a little bit of shrapnel embedded in the outside wall – who cares. At least 5 bombs have landed within a 50 yard radius of our home over the past couple of weeks, and what could have been, wasn’t – so nobody know about it. I think of the hundreds of bombs that have landed in Tzfat alone and think – what if…?

Yitzchak and I have stayed in Tzfat the entire time, and now I find myself preparing for the 5th Shabbat of the war and writing to you with such a heavy heart.

So far we have been fortunate that bombs have not been aimed at us during the night time, so we have been managing to sleep. But the days, especially this past week, have been horrendous. With one air raid siren after another, the “swoooosh” of the Katyusha right over our heads and the crash; the instant thought “where has it landed this time?” – I don’t know how long even I, with my apparent resilience, can go on living this way. And then I look with wonder at our people in Kiryat Shemonah, and I stop this thought in its track – they survived much worse for so much longer, and I know that I too will survive, with the help of God and our wonderful soldiers, including my own two sons.

I think I have to stop now – or this will get out of hand. If you haven’t deleted this yet – I wish you all a quiet and peaceful Shabbat.
Linda SternTranslator and AdministratorHahaganah 175/5, Tzfat 13351, IsraelTel: 972-4-6924422Fax: 972-4-6921822Mob: 052-2937575

Shabat shalom, Linda.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

When Does A Candidate's Religion Matter?

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University. My blogging partner at Article 6 Blog, John Schroeder, directs us to this piece by Dr. Reynolds that deserves a read by anyone who's interested in the intersection of religion and presidential politics.

He begins with this:

[T]o be blunt, Romney carries extra baggage: He is a member of the LDS (Mormon) Church. Will Evangelicals and traditional Christians vote for a candidate that they believe worships in a fringe cult?

If Romney cannot get traditional Christian votes, he cannot win in the primaries let alone the general election.

Should Christians oppose Romney on religious grounds?

What follows is a remarkably candid, intellectually rigorous, and even-handed piece that is sure to annoy some people on both extremes of the argument. Note: Dr. Reynolds does not confine his comments to Mitt Romney, but lays out a set of tests for Christians to use in deciding whether a particular candidate's religion is relevant to deciding whether to vote for him/her. I think it's the best work I have seen yet on the subject.

Go to Article 6 Blog for a fuller discussion of the subject.

Mike Wallace and "The Zionist State"

The Jerusalem Post contains an AP report on Mike Wallace's upcoming 60 Minutes interview of Iran's Ahmadinejad:

"You'll find him an interesting man," he said. "I expected more of a firebrand. I don't think he has the slightest doubt about how he feels ... about the American administration and the Zionist state. He comes across as more rational than I had expected."
The American administration and the "Zionist state?"

The what?

Are your eyes popping out like mine did?

Here's a little exercise for you. Google the term "Zionist state" and see who uses those words to describe Israel. The first 13 hits I got led me to rabidly anti-Israel sites (including one rant about a worldwide Jewish conspiracy).

Imagine any sitting senator or presidential candidate (especially a Republican) using "Zionist state" to describe Israel. Do you think CBS News would give that person a pass like the one Mike Wallace will probably get?

U.S. Muslims Decry W.'s Use of "Islamic Fascists"

U.S. Muslim groups criticized President George W. Bush on Thursday for calling a foiled plot to blow up airplanes part of a "war with Islamic fascists." Let's examine the legitimacy of the complaint of Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), as reported by Reuters.

According to the Merriam Webster online dictionary, "Islamic" is the adjective form of "Islam," which means:
1 : the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet2 a : the civilization erected upon Islamic faith b : the group of modern nations in which Islam is the dominant religion.
So since all of the plotters in the terrorist plot to blow up airplanes were, in fact, Muslims, the use of the adjective "Islamic" would seem accurate.

Now let's turn to "fascist." The Merriam Webster online dictionary identifies "fascist" as a noun or adjective derivative of "fascism," which it defines to mean:
1. often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. 2. : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.
That definition could be problematic for the President. While they do seem quite autocratic and dictatorial, Islamic terrorists rarely exalt a particular nation or race--they are quite ecumenical in that respect--but rather promote the Ummah--the association of all Islamic people. So it would appear that if there is any inaccuracy in the use by W. of the phrase "Islamic facsists," it would be the inclusion of the word "fascist," not the word "Islamic."

Of course, there are Islamic democrats and Democrats, Islamic republicans and Republicans. There are freedom-loving, loyal and patriotic Islamic soldiers serving in the United States Armed Forces, the armed forces and security agencies of Great Britain, and even in the Israel Defense Forces (usually Bedouin). But there are also Islamic Fascists trying to blow up airplanes, and the sooner that CAIR realizes that the problem lies not with the President's choice of language, but with the hateful theology spread by some of their co-religionists, the sooner it can contribute to the solution of that problem.

Lowell adds: I am frankly glad that President Bush actually used the term to describe them. Caling them simply "terrorists" is only a step above calling them "militants," in my book.

The Foiled (for now) U.K Bombing Plot

There are times when a "spare time" blogger like me just has to throw up his hands and say:

When something like today's foiled terror plot happens, I wish I had the talent and the time and the depth to write something really touching and profound. But I don't. So I have to rely on people like Dean Barnett, whose post today is all of those things. Take five minutes and read it. Your day will be better and you'll feel more prepared to deal with the "New Normal," as Dean terms it.

You must read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt:

[I]t’s past time we face the facts and realize that this is our New Normal. It’s worse than the old normal, the one that we had before 9/11 when we felt completely safe even though we weren’t.

It’s time we stop having a sphere of things that are “unimaginable.” Let’s imagine airliners exploding over our cities. Let’s imagine a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv. Let’s imagine a mushroom cloud over New York.

Let’s imagine how such things might happen. And then let’s resolve to stop them.

Israel puts ground offensive on hold

Mr. Prime Minister Olmert, the people of Haifa, Nahariya, Netanya, Kiryat Shemona, Tzfat, Meron and the rest of the northern Israeli communities want to know: has Hezbollah also put its rocket attacks on hold?

UPDATE: I guess this is my answer.

Brothers In Arms

From YouTube: A salute to the men and women of the Israel Defense forces on land, air and sea, called "Brothers In Arms." The link was sent to me by a Hedgehog Blog reader. I do not know who made it, but it seems to have reached our reader by way of a nice Russian lady. The song "Brothers In Arms" is a rock classic by Dire Straits.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mark Steyn is better read than nearly all of us and therefore thinks more deeply than most of us. In this column from (the online service of Canada's Maclean's Magazine), called "Digging up a long-lost form of anti-Semitism,"
he peels away superficial differences to reveal how the current attacks on Israel's right of self-defense reprise a centuries old tool of Jew hatred--the denial to Jews of property rights.


Now that the Daily Kos crowd has succeeded in knocking off Joe Lieberman (as least as the Democratic Senate nominee in Connecticut), and given its long-time preoccupation with conspiracies of the "neocons" [code word for Jews] to skew American policy in favor of Israel, it was probably only a matter of time before the Daily Kos came right out and called for elimination of the Jewish State. Drum roll please ...Today Hanyost at the Daily Kos comes out of the closet, so to speak:

"In my diary of yesterday, I proposed that our party support the creation of a single secular democracy in the area now controlled by Israel, and I was impressed by the quality of responses. Based on this tiny sample of 100 or so Democrats, I'm thinking that maybe the average Democratic voter might be open to taking a more impartial role in the Middle East - and thus making our country less of an object of hatred by Muslims everywhere.
"The most common objections to such a proposal is that the two sides hate each other too much to stop the killing and that outside forces, like the USA, cannot impose a solution.
However, I think that the US, as the prime, and virtually the only, supplier for the Israeli Defense Force for the past many decades has the capacity to force a settlement simply by cutting off that support."

So there it is. The pre-Oslo platform of the PLO ("a secular democratic state in all of Palestine") is now the platform of the Daily Kos. No matter that there is no state in the Arab world that is secular or democratic. Of course, what would really result is another Arab Islamic theocracy.

The argument shows the usual intellectual acumen of the swamp-gas intoxicated Left. "The most common objections to such a proposal is that the two sides hate each other too much to stop the killing." Does anyone really believe that Israelis hate the Arabs the way that the Paletinians and Hezbollah hate Israel? Does anyone really believe that if tomorrow the Arabs miraculously saw the light and forswore attacks on Israel, that the Israeli-Arab conflict would continue for even an hour longer?

And please note the Hanyost mechanism to reach his utopian ideal: deprive one side only, the Israelis, of the means for their self-defense. How convenient, how balanced, how inciteful. I am sure that Iranian President Ahmadinejad would heartily approve the sentiment.

If there are any Jews out there who love Israel and yet still believe that the Democratic Party is the true friend of Israel, please muster up what is left of your self-respect and recognize that the inmates are now officially in charge of the Democratic asylum. (HT: Little Green Footballs]

IDF Operating North of Metulla--Why Only Now?

Ynet, the online news service of Yediot Acharonot, Israel's largest circulation daily newspaper, reports here that the IDF is now operating in the area of Lebanon north of the Israeli border town of Metulla, which is the area from which Hezbollah has launched rockets daily at the city of Kiryat Shemona and other northern Israeli targets.

I continue to be astonished at the way that Israel has conducted this war. Metulla is only a few kilometers north of Kiryat Shemona. It is on the border with Lebanon. The area of Lebanon immediately across the border fence has been a Hezbollah stronghold since Israel pulled out of Lebanon in 2000. Rockets have been raining on Kiryat Shemona, launched from this area immediately on Israel's border, for a month now. (The Hezbollah rockets that accompanied its initial incursion to kill and kidnap Israeli soldiers would have been launched from there.) We are talking about yards from the border, not kilometers. Why now, only now, is Israel sending troops into this area?

Are questions such as these the reason that the Chief of Staff of Israel's armed forces, Dan Halutz, yesterday appointed a "liaison" to the Northern Command? As reported by Israel National News here, this move is widely seen as a demonstration of "no confidence" in the northern district commander, Major General Udi Adam, and preparation for a major insertion of ground troops, perhaps 30-100,000 soldiers, into southern Lebanon. If so that might be a helpful sign. But one must ask the following questions:

1. Is it already too late? Will U.S. pressure on Israel to call a truce stop Israel before it can clean out Hezbollah south of the Litani River?

2. Why did it take so long? Was it General Adam's fault, or did Halutz and Israel's political leaders deny him the ground troops to properly accomplish the mission of confronting Hezbollah, relying instead on air power? Remember, Chief of Staff General Halutz is the former commander of the Israeli air force. Who was more likely to have insisted on the use of air power instead of ground troops, Adam or Halutz?

The pity of it all, whatever the cause of the delay, is that the failure to go to war with all the force needed to do the job has a cost in lives of Israeli soldiers and civilians, and, yes, Lebanese civilians as well. Israel is paying the toll in soldiers' live in any event--15 today alone as reported here. Four soldiers died on Tuesday in Bint Jabril, a town that Israel first entered weeks ago. It seems clear that insufficient ground forces were available in order not only to clear out the town completely, but to prevent enemy forces from returning to it. And every day that Hezbollah continues to fight increases its standing in the Arab world.

And yet, delay only continues. The Jerusalem Post reports that although 40,000 troops are massed on the border, in preparation for the expanded ground operations, the IDF General Staff has postponed the onset of the operation. The story continues:

"A high-ranking IDF officer and member of the General Staff told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday that it would take the military at least one week to reach the Litani and beyond, and to set up position and begin taking control of the area.
"The officer said that it would then take four to six weeks to clear out southern Lebanon, from the Litani river south, of the Hizbullah presence and to destroy the thousands of Katyusha rockets and rocket launchers believed to be in that area. "

Of course, Israel does not have 4 to 6 weeks before a ceasefire is imposed. And as for a week to advance to the Litani River, is this the IDF that defeated the combined armies of Syria, Jordan and Egypt and conquered the Golan Heights, the West Bank and the Sinai Peninsula in 6 days?