Sunday, April 29, 2007

Congress Votes to Surrender

The mainstream media, covering the first Democratic Presidential candidates debate, remarked upon the remarkable unity of the candidates against the "common enemy," namely President George W. Bush. The Democrats seem to have forgotten that President Bush is not running for re-election. They also seem to have forgotten that the enemy posing a deadly peril to freedom in the Western democracies is not President Bush, but Islamism. Dry Bones has not forgotten, however, as Yaakov Kirschner proves with the cartoon above. The Democratic majority in Congress, however, has elected to accept defeat in Iraq as the price it will pay for political victory over the Bush Administration. Congress has as much as said to Al Qaeda and the Baathists insurgents, "Just hold out until October, and the U.S. military will no longer be around to oppose your efforts to take power in Iraq."

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Frank Pastore on Mormonism and Mitt Romney

I don't write about religion much here, but sometimes other bloggers make statements that cry out for a response.

A former baseball pitcher and conservative evangelical Christian talk radio show host named Frank Pastore has written twice about Mitt Romney and Mormonism. His efforts are more pathetic each time he tries. His first piece, in which he tries in vain to say something thoughtful, is here. Among other things, he finds the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Church") a polytheistic, non-Christian cult.

Now Pastore has tried again here. He's looking worse and worse the more he writes about this subject. This is a foolish discussion to perpetuate, politically, religiously, or otherwise.

Politically, Frank Pastore is not going to influence anyone's vote whose mind is not already made up. He has a narrow audience of listeners and readers who agree with him already; that's why they listen and read.

Religiously, much of Pastore writes here about Mormon beliefs is either wrong or distorted. That's just a fact. If you want to know what Mormons believe, ask them, not a talk show host who's clearly hostile to the Church. That's true of any religion.

Otherwise, Pastore's writing is very sloppy and suggests his is not terribly concerned with the truth or with fairness. It smacks of bigotry, despite all his denials.

To begin with, he knows, or should know, that "cult" is almost universally understood in a pejorative sense. When he says "cult," people think Jim Jones, Branch Davidians, and so forth.

He also should know that when he says "polytheist," people think of paganism.

When he says "non-Christian," people think of faiths that do not believe in Jesus Christ.

Any fair-minded and informed person (it seems clear Pastore is not the former and he may not be the latter) knows that neither definition describes the Church.

Finally, Pastore says he'll vote for Romney "if he can win the Republican nomination." That means only that Pastore could live with a Mormon president if the alternative is a Democrat.

There is no reason for anyone to care what Pastore thinks, except that his writing - regardless of his intentions-- may a few people misinformed who probably don't care if they learn the truth anyway.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Massive Israeli Defense Force Excercise Trains to Face Syrian Golan Attack

In the face of concerns raised by warnings from military intelligence of the prospects for a Syrian surprise attack on the Golan Heights, the Jerusalem Post reports:
"The IDF on Thursday held intensive training maneuvers in preparation for a feared Syrian attack on the Golan Heights.
Hundreds of tanks and thousands of soldiers, backed by helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, massed in the Judean Desert to drill simulations of war. The training exercise focused on Brigade 401 and its utilization of Israel's most advanced tank - the Merkava Mark 4 - against the Syrian advanced Russian-made T-72. "

Fatah Leader Calls Nine 82nd Airborne Soldiers Killed In Iraq "American Dogs"

Y-Net, the online service of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Acharonoth ("Afternoon News"), Israel's largest newspaper reports today:

A leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization, said the suicide car bombing that killed nine US soldiers in Iraq on Monday bolstered his belief that the US would soon be defeated and retreat from "Muslim lands."

"It was a very happy day for us Palestinians to hear nine American dogs were killed in Iraq. We feel encouraged and we feel great solidarity with our brothers in Iraq, and we consider this heroic operation, which aims to humiliate the Americans, as proof that the will of our resistance is more powerful than any (big) American war airplanes," Abu Ahmed, the northern Gaza commander of the Brigades terror group, said in a WND interview Thursday.

Abu Ahmed said Palestinians were learning from the Iraq insurgency for their own war against Israel.

Fatah, of course, is the Palestinian faction viewed by the U.S. State Department as the "moderate" Palestinians. The terrorist thug in question was referring to the nine soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division who were killed Monday in a suicide truck bombing near their patrol base in Iraq.

Jewish Woman Assaulted in France; Attackers Paint Swastika On Her Stomach

Two men of "Middle Eastern appearnce" viciously attacked a 22-year old woman at a train station in Marseille, France. They tore off a Star of David pendent hanging by a chain from her neck, lifted up her shirt and painted a swastika on her stomach. The attackers then fled. Local police are investigating the incident, but have not yet identified the assailants. (Source: Jerusalem Post online.)

This attack comes one week after an assault on a rabbi at the Paris Nord train station, as reported on this blog previously.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Harvard Study Cites Pro-Hezbollah Bias of Press In 2006 Lebanon War

A paper released by Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, entitled "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict," traces how the international press transformed "from objective observer to fiery advocate." Marvin Kalb, the author of the paper, painstakingly details how Hezbollah exercised absolute control over how journalists portrayed its side of the conflict, while Israel became "victimized by its own openness." As described in World Politics Watch:

The lessons from the Harvard paper go well beyond historic analysis. Kalb's thoroughly and persuasively documented case points to the challenges to journalists in future "asymmetrical" conflicts in which a radical militia provides access only to journalists agreeing to the strictest of rules.

Journalists did Hezbollah's work, offering little resistance to the Islamic militia's effort to portray itself as an idealistic and heroic army of the people, facing an aggressive and ruthless enemy. With Hezbollah's unchallenged control of journalists' access within its territory, it managed to almost completely eliminate from the narrative crucial facts, such as the fact that it deliberately fired its weapons from deep within civilian population centers, counting on Israeli forces to have no choice but defend themselves by targeting rocket launchers where they stood. Hezbollah's strong support from Syria and Iran -- including the provision of deadly weapons -- faded in the coverage, as the conflict increasingly became portrayed as pitting one powerful army against a band of heroic defenders of a civilian population.

Gradually lost in the coverage was the fact that the war began when Hezbollah infiltrated Israel, kidnapping two of its soldiers (still held to this day) and killing eight Israelis. Despite the undisputed fact that Hezbollah triggered the war, Israel was painted as the aggressor, as images of the war overtook the context.

(HT: Little Green Footballs.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

I am not ready to go out yet, but when I do, I could not summarize my approach to life better than Leonard Cohen did in the last verse of his 1984 song, Hallelujah:

"I did my best, it wasn't much.
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch.
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"

Cohen's first new book of poems in 20 years, "Book of Longing," will be published in paperback in June.

Happy Israeli Independence Day!

Every year the somber reflection and grief of Israel's Memorial Day, when Israelis remember their fallen soldiers, give way to the joyous celebration of Israeli Independence Day, Yom Aztmaut. This year those two days on the Hebrew calendar, the 4th and 5th days of the month of Iyar, fall out on April 23-24. Above is Dry Bone's Yom Atzmaut greeting.

Of great historical interest is an article that appeared in today's Jerusalem Post online, entitled "Independence 1948," by Yehuda Avner. A little background for the reader will prove useful. In May 1948, when the State of Israel declared its independence, the impending attack by five Arab armies was not the only problem facing Israel. Many people feared civil war. During the struggle for independence from the British mandate, the Jewish forces included the Haganah-- the military arm of the Jewish Agency, dominated by the Labor Zionist Party of David Ben-Gurion-- and the Irgun Tsvai Leumi ("National Military Organization"), a clandestine militia organized by the Revisionist Zionists, led by Menachem Begin. As leftists are want to do, in order to insure their grip on power, the Labor Zionists had slandered Begin and the Irgun as terrorists who planned a military takeover of the new-born Jewish State. On the night of May 15th, Menachem Begin, who had been in hiding from the British (and from the Haganah) for years, addressed the new nation of Israel from a clandestine radio station, and announced that the Irgun would dissolve and incorporate its units into the Israel Defense Forces. Begin proclaimed:
The Irgun is now leaving the underground. We Jews now rule ourselves over a part of our Homeland, and in that part the law of a Jewish government prevails. This law is the law of the land; it is the only law. Hence, there is no longer a need for an armed underground. From now on we are all soldiers and builders of the State of Israel. And we shall all respect the government of the day, for it is our government.

The determination of Menachem Begin to forge Jewish unity in Israel was put to an extreme test one month later, when Ben Gurion ordered Haganah troops, led by a young Yitzchak Rabin, to open fire on an Irgun-chartered ship, the Altalena, which was attempting to land a shipment of arms that was badly needed by the hard-pressed and under-armed Jewish forces fighting the Arab invaders. Ben Gurion insisted that Begin and the Irgun intended to use the arms to overthrow the legitimate government of Israel--a charge that clearly had no basis in fact, since the Irgun had informed the government of the time and place of the ship's arrival, and had requested trucks and assistance in landing and distributing the arms. Instead of the requested aid, the Altalena was met with artillery and automatic weapons fire that killed and wounded many of its crew and eventually sank the ship and destroyed the arms shipment. Sixteen Irgun men died; Menachem Begin himself, who was on the ship when the Haganah opened fire, narrowly escaped injury. Despite this most extreme of provocations, Begin again took to the airways, imploring his supporters not to seek revenge or raise their arms against their fellow Jews. Begin later said, "My greatest accomplishment was not retaliating and causing civil war".

The Avner article relates the reaction of ordinary Israelis, including supporters of both the Haganah and the Irgun, to Begin's first radio address, on May 15, 1948.

LA Times: Giuliani Enjoys Wide Support Among Evangelicals

A front-page feature story in today's Los Angeles Times describes the surprising support for Rudy Giuliani among conservative Evangelical Christians, despite his liberal positions on social issues such as abortion, gun control and gay rights. Is the Times' article correct? If so, why would a candidate such as Mitt Romney, with strong socially conservative positions, and a life that reflects his pro-family values, lack appeal among Christian conservatives? Do conservative evangelical Christians prefer a lapsed Catholic to a Mormon in good standing? I want to hear the views of Hedgehog readers on this question, and I am sure Lowell will want your views on the Article VI Blog.

The Legacy of the Closure of Mental Hospitals

In today's OpinionJournal, Jonathan Kellerman, M.D. considers "Why the Virginia Tech shooter was not committed." Dr. Kellerman is clinical professor of pediatrics and psychology at USC's Keck School of Medicine and the author of 27 crime novels and three books on psychology. He convincingly argues that the anti-asylum movement of the 1970s, which emptied out mental hospitals, for the most part leaving profoundly disturbed people to fend for themselves on the street, is responsible not only for the inability of Society to pre-emptively hospitalize mentally ill persons who pose a potential threat, such as the Virginia Tech shooter, but also for our "Homeless Problem."

Note how Dr. Kellerman avoids mentioning the Virginia Tech killer's name in his column. NBC could learn restraint from him.

Article VI Blog Interview: Stan Guthrie of Christianity Today

Today's post on Article VI Blog is an interview with Stan Guthrie, Senior Associate Editor of Christianity Today Magazine. If you're following the 2008 presidential election and the role religion might play, you'll find the interview quite interesting.

Friday, April 20, 2007

In today's Washington Post, columnist Charles Krauthammer echoes the revulsion of The Hedgehog Blog in reaction to a campaign speech by Senator Barack Obama, made on the afternoon of the Virginia Tech Murders. [See the Hedgehog Blog, Wednesday, April 18, 2007, "Senator Obama Compares Virginia Tech Shootings to Don Imus and Export of Jobs Abroad."] Krauthammer writes:

This whole exercise in defining violence down to include shock-jock taunts and outsourcing would normally be mere intellectual slovenliness. Doing so in the shadow of the murder of 32 innocents still unburied is tasteless, bordering on the sacrilegious.

Perhaps in the spirit of Obama's much-heralded post-ideological politics we can agree to observe a decent interval of respectful silence before turning ineffable evil and unfathomable grief into political fodder.

A Roundup of Revulsion to NBC and the Infamous Cho Video

I think the Cho video and related recorded rantings should have been released eventually, but not before the first memorial service had even been held for any of the murdered students. Maybe a few weeks out. NBC's handling of the matter was atrocious.

Here is an excellent roundup by Hugh Hewitt, who has been a leader in examining NBC's lame and transparent excuses.

French Rabbi Punched in Anti-Semitic Attack

Those who think that reports on rising anti-Semitism in Europe are exaggerated should ponder this: The Chief Rabbis of France and Norway have called on Jews not to step outside with obvious Jewish symbols. Of course, for Hasidic Jews, rabbis and other fervently religious Jews, that is not always practical, as illustrated by the latest incident in France, yesterday, when a French Rabbi was attacked at the Paris Nord train station. As reported by Israel National News:

Rabbi Elie Dahan said, “I arrived from Lille and was walking in the Paris station when the man, who was accompanied by a woman, looked at me and cried: dirty Jew, you are looking at me, I will punch you, dirty Jew," Dahan recounted. "He then punched me before running away.”

“My glasses were broken and my eye started bleeding. Several people try to catch my attacker but he escaped," said Dahan, who added that he was surprised by this attack. "I think the guy wanted to show off to his girlfriend. He saw my beard and hat, and told himself: here is a Jew to beat.”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"Showing the video is a social catastrophe."

"If anybody cares about the victims in Blacksburg and if anybody cares about their children, stop showing this video now. Take it off the Internet. Let it be relegated to YouTube. Showing the video is a social catastrophe . . . I promise you the disaffected will watch him the way they watched 'Natural Born Killers.' I know. I examine these people. I've examined mass shooters who have told me they've watched it 20 times. You cannot saturate the American public with this kind of message.

"I think that's very important for the viewing audience to understand. This is not him. These videos do not help us understand him. They distort him. He was meek. He was quiet. This is a PR tape of him trying to turn himself into a Quentin Tarantino character," Welner said. "This is precisely why this should not be released. Parents, you should cut the pictures out of the newspaper. Do not let your children see it. Take them out of the room when these videos are shown. Because he's paranoid and his agenda of blaming the rest of the world is unedited."

"There's nothing to learn from this except giving it validation. If this rambling showed up in an emergency room, my colleagues and I would listen carefully and, when we reflected that it was delusional, would go see the next patient and start the medication," he said. "This makes it sound like he was tormented. He wasn't."

--Forensic psychiatrist and ABC News consultant Michael Welner, discussing the consequences of the media airing the Seung-hui Cho video.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MSNBC's Utter Irresponsibility

This photo appeared on the MSNBC website this afternoon. Reportedly it is a photo sent to NBC, and only NBC, by the Virginia Tech murderer. Does anyone else wonder about MSNBC's irresponsibility in publishing it? Do we really want to say to other deranged killers, "Do something like Cho did and we'll publish your photo for the world too?"
UPDATE: I guess I'm on the losing side of this argument. Here's a different view.

Senator Obama Compares Virginia Tech Shootings to Don Imus and the Export of Jobs Abroad

On Monday, April 16, the day of the Virginia Tech murders, Senator Barack Obama, delivered an address at a rally in Milwaukee. Here is a long excerpt from his comments regarding the taking of 32 innocent lives at Virginia Tech:

"There's also another kind of violence though that we're gonna have to think about. It's not necessarily physical violence but that the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways. Last week, the big news, obviously, had to do with Imus and the verbal violence that was directed at young women who were role models for all of us, role models for my daughter. I spend, along with my wife, a lot of time making sure that my two young daughters, who are gorgeous and tall and I hope will get basketball scholarships, that they feel good about who they are and that they understand they can do whatever they can dream might be possible. And for them to be degraded, or to see someone who looks like them degraded, that's a form of violence - it may be quiet, it may not surface to the same level of the tragedy we read about today and we mourn, but it is violence nonethesame.
We [inaudible].... There's the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under 'em because their job has moved to another country. They've lost their job, they've lost their pension benefits, and they've lost their health care and they're having to compete against their teenage children for jobs at the local fast food place paying $7 an hour.
There is the violence of children, whose voices are not heard, in communities that are ignored. Who don't have access to a decent education, who are surrounded by drugs and crime and a lack of hope.
So there's a lot of different forms of violence in our society and so much of it is rooted in our incapacity to recognize ourselves in each other - to not understand that we are all connected that we are all connected, fundamentally, as a people -- that as I said at the convention in 2004 that 'I am my brother's keeper' and 'I am my sister's keeper.' And that those who may not look like me, or talk like me, or worship the same god that I do, are nevertheless worthy of respect and dignity and a sense of common humanity."

This address displayed a severe lack of judgment and good sense. However repugnant were Don Imus' remarks, to compare his racist insult to the senseless murder of 32 people, on the very day of their deaths, at a time when the bodies had in all likelihood not even been moved, is nearly obscene. All the more so if the comparison is between murder and the exporting of jobs. Senator Obama has shown that he is trapped by the classic flaw in modern American left-wing thought, the inability to make rational distinctions, between good and evil, or, as in this case, between lesser and greater degrees of evil.

The entire speech may be read at Real Clear Politics. Richard Baehr, Chief Political Correspondent for The American Thinker, concurs that this speech proves Senator Obama is "not ready for prime time."

President Bush Honors Heroic Slain Professor

At a memorial service at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, in observance of the Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust, President George W. Bush honored the heroism of Professor Liviu Librescu, who was slain while saving his students during the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech. As reported by, the President said:
"That day we saw horror, but we also saw quiet acts of courage. We saw this courage in a teacher named Liviu Librescu. With the gunman set to enter his class, this brave professor blocked the door with his body while his students fled to safety. On the Day of Remembrance, this Holocaust survivor gave his own life so that others may live. And this morning we honor his memory and we take strength from his example."
The President also spoke of the need to counter the threat to Israel's existence posed by Iran's quest for nuclear weapons:
"'You who have found refuge in a Jewish homeland,' President Bush continued to say, 'This is a place devoted to memory. Inside this building are etched the words of the prophet Isaiah: You are my witness. As part of this witness, these walls show how one of the world's most advanced nations embraced a policy aimed at the annihilation of the Jewish people.'

"Turning his attention to the Iranian nuclear threat, the American president said, 'You who bear the tattoos of death camps hear the leader of Iran declare that the Holocaust is a myth. You who have found refuge in a Jewish homeland know that tyrants and terrorists have vowed to wipe it from the map. And you who have survived evil know that the only way to defeat it is to look it in the face and not back down.'”
There has never been a better friend in the White House to the Jewish people and to the State of Israel than President George W. Bush. It pains me that this fact is not recognized and acknowledged by more American Jews.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

For This Day

(Thanks to The Jolly Blogger for the graphic.)

Visit here to know something of some of the lives that were taken yesterday.

Holocaust Survivor, Israeli Professor Died Heroically Saving Students at Virginia Tech

A 76-year old Holocaust survivor, Professor Liviu Librescu, sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 33 dead and over two dozen wounded. The Rumanian-born Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer threw himself in front of the shooter, Cho Seung-hui, when the man attempted to enter his classroom. Professor Librescu was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio. Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe. The Jerusalem Post reports the story here. The Virginia Tech web page for Professor Librescu is here.

"Therefore Adam was created alone in the world to teach that whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world." [Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a)]. Cho Seung-hui, may his name be erased, destroyed 33 worlds yesterday. Professor Liviu Librescu, of blessed memory, saved an unknown number of worlds. May the Lord be his inheritance and may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 Update:For more on Professor Librescu, please see this post at Rick Richman's blog, Jewish Current Issues.

Gen. McCaffrey Says U.S. Military is Overstretched, Too Small

Retired General Barry McCaffrey testified before Congress today that the U.S military is overstretched to the point of putting the nation in strategic peril. As reported here by Reuters, General McCaffery said that the armed forces are too small, that its equipment is in disarray, and that it will take as long as five years to fix the problem.

Testifying in favor of Bush Administration's $100 billion military appropriation request, General McCaffrey said that delaying the funding would be "monumental bad judgment." However, he spared no criticism for the Pentagon's policies, which he complained had left the U.S. Army too small, with its equipment in disarray and lacking a fallback position should a challenge come from somewhere like Iran, Syria or North Korea.

The Bush administration plans to permanently increase the size of the U.S. Army and Marines by about 92,000 troops over the next several years, but McCaffrey felt increases were not happening fast enough.

"It is my judgment we are in a position of strategic peril that is going to take us three to five years to get out of," McCaffrey said.
It is remarkable to recall that during the Vietnam War, with a draft, of course, the United States was able to keep over 500,000 troops in the theater for an extended period of time, and still maintain more troops in Europe, Korea and other bases worldwide than are posted abroad today. To my mind, that fact proves up McCaffery's case for an enlarged army. However, one may question whether we can reach the necessary troop levels without a draft.

John Stewart on The Duke Lacrosse Case and Nancy Grace

I have never watched John Stewart's Daily Show, so I can't comment on its quality or worth; but I have to admit, his send-up of Nancy Grace here is devastating. I followed that story about as much as I follow Stewart's show, but it sure seems to me that lots of people in the news media have a lot of explaining to do.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The David Alen White/John Mark Reynolds Reading List

I don't think Laer at Cheat-Seeking Missiles (one of my daily reads) would mind if I blatantly steal his work and reproduce here the Hugh Hewitt-prompted David Allen White/John Mark Reynolds list of "the top 30 books that every one of you ought to have read, and certainly freshmen and sophomores ought to have read." My goal is to make this list all the more accessible, so I think Laer will forgive me:

1. Plato’s Republic

2. Homer’s Iliad

3. Dante’s Divine Comedy

4. Cervantes’ Don Quixote

5. Dickens’ David Copperfield

6. Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov

7. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

8. Odyssey

9. Oedipus Rex

10. Augustine’s Confessions

11. Second Treatise on Government by Locke

12. Virgil’s Aeneid

13. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

14. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

15. Charles Dickens’ Child’s History of England

16. The Birth of the Modern, Johnson

17. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States

18. Federalist Papers

19. Democracy In America

20. Wealth of Nations

21. Communist Manifesto by Marx

22. Origin of Species

23. On The Genealogy of Morals

24. Civilization And Its Discontents

25. C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man

26. Pensees of Pascal

27. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

28. Immortal Poems of the English Language

29. Melville’s Moby Dick

30. Essays by Montaigne

31. Canterbury Tales

32. The Prince

33. The Faerie Queene

34. Calvin’s Institutes

35. Chanson de Geste from the Song of Roland

37. Alice In Wonderland

38. Through The Looking Glass

39. King Lear

40. MacBeth

41. Henry V

42. Julius Caesar

43. As You Like It

44. Twelfth Night

45. Henry IV, Part 1

46. Winter’s Tale

47. Tempest

48. Paradise Lost

49. Boethius, the Consolation of Philosophy

50. Cicero on Friendship and on Duties

51. Hobbes’ Leviathan

52. Anna Karenina or War And Peace

53. collected poems of T.S. Eliot

54. Witness by Whittaker Chambers

55. Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor

56. Norman Mailer’s Of A Fire On The Moon

57. Walker Percy’s Lost In The Cosmos

I am too embarrassed to admit how few of these I have read, but I am working on it. I will say that my life goal of reading every one of Charles Dickens' novels may delay my completion of this list, but I have a good 30-40 years left on this old earth to complete the task. It will take some doing!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quote of The Week

The North Carolina AG spoke of "a tragic rush to accuse," and he just as easily could have been talking about journalists as Mike Nifong. Commentators have been chattering about whether Nifong will be disbarred, but no one gets to disbar the media.
-- Washington Post News Media Critic Howard Kurtz, commenting on the media's coverage of the Duke lacrosse-rape case.

"Islam vs. Islamists: Voices From the Moslem Center"--The Film that PBS Does Not Want You to See

Several years ago, in response to criticism from conservatives regarding the lack of political balance in the documentaries aired on public television, the Corporation For Public Broadcasting (CPB), to its credit, instituted an attempt at diversity, in the form of a program series entitled "America At the Crossroads." Among the documentaries selected by CPB to be broadcast in the first Crossroads increment was "Islam vs. Islamists: Voices From the Muslim Center," a documentary about courageous Moslems who speak out publicly against the extremism of Wahabism and other fanatic Islamist movements. Frank Gaffney, President of the Center for Security Policy (photo at right) is one of the executive producers of this documentary.

Unfortunately, CPB turned over the Crossroads project over to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and its flagship stations (including Washington's WETA) for execution, and what was executed ws "Islam vs. Islamists." PBS has refused to air the program, and has made clear that the reason it will not do so is its objections to the content and point of view of the program. Frank Gaffney's account of this outrageous attempt at censorship by a publicly funded agency appears today in Jewish World Review. Among the conditions that PBS sought to impose in order to get the program aired, acccording to Gaffney, were:
"insisting that yours truly be removed as one of the film's executive producers; allowing a series producer with family ties to a British Islamist to insist on sweeping changes to its 'structure and context,' changes that would have assured more favorable treatment of those who are portrayed vilifying and, in some cases, threatening our anti-Islamist protagonists; and hiring as an advisor to help select the final films an avowed admirer of the Nation of Islam — an organization whose receipt of a million dollars from the Saudis to open black Wahhabi mosques is a feature of our documentary."

Many conservatives oppose as a matter of principal the use of public funds to make any television program. But everyone, including principled conservatives, should raise their voices in protest over the high-handed attempt by PBS to muzzle the voices of Moslem centrists opposed to the highjacking of their religion by Islamist fanatics. Call your Senators and Congressional Representatives, and demand that "Islam vs. Islamists" be aired!

Don Imus: This Is Surprising?

I used to listen to Don Imus during my morning runs. He had interesting interviews with people who didn't often give interviews: Imus regulars included Chris Matthews (photo above, during one of his many appearances), Tim Russert, Dan Rather, John McCain, Pat O'Brien, Laura Ingraham, Chris Dodd, Brian Williams, Mike Huckabee, and the like. Republicans were rare, unless they were clever interviewees. But I finally stopped because I always felt like I needed to wash my hands after listening. The show was crude and cruel, or both, 50% of the time.

So I wasn't surprised at all when Imus finally blew it. But what he said about the Rutgers womens' basketball team was no worse than what he said almost daily for years before that time-- when all the above members of the news media elite seemed to be dying to be on his show. They knew very well what his show was like, but they were all regulars. So to me, the current level of outrage over vulgar and hateful remarks by a man who has run a vulgar and hateful show for years seems a little overwrought.

Here's what Jason Whitlow had to say:
In the grand scheme, Don Imus is no threat to us in general and no threat to black women in particular. If his words are so powerful and so destructive and must be rebuked so forcefully, then what should we do about the idiot rappers on BET, MTV and every black-owned radio station in the country who use words much more powerful and much more destructive?

I don’t listen or watch Imus’ show regularly. Has he at any point glorified selling crack cocaine to black women? Has he celebrated black men shooting each other randomly? Has he suggested in any way that it’s cool to be a baby-daddy rather than a husband and a parent? Does he tell his listeners that they’re suckers for pursuing education and that they’re selling out their race if they do?

When Imus does any of that, call me and I’ll get upset. Until then, he is what he is — a washed-up shock jock who is very easy to ignore when you’re not looking to be made a victim.
Makes sense. And here's Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology - at Rutgers - who comments on the history of the word "ho," the use of which to describe a group of young female college athletes was part of Imus' downfall:

Perhaps because I was raised in Victorian Canada, I have always found the casual use of the H word perplexing, offensive and violent. Whatever its etymological derivation, the fact is that it's understood to be shorthand for "whore." The term appears to have achieved currency and seeming acceptability initially and mainly in the community of people with dark skin. Just take a look -- if your stomach is settled -- at any number of MTV video spectacles of Rapper Princes surrounded by wholly compliant and nearly nude women grinding their lives away. But this is of course no alibi at all for any people with any pigment to describe any woman or group of women in a manner which deprives them of their sexual autonomy and paints them with the sign "commodity for purchase."

. . .

When Don Imus meets with the Rutgers women, as they agreed he can, it is doubtful he will have the bravery or stupidity to call them whores to their troubled faces. He was after all an unelected representative of a broader culture when he used That Phrase.

Nevertheless, for those of us in the Rutgers community, these are our accomplished young women, whatever their color. In their stately tearjerker news conference on Tuesday, they conducted themselves with discreet dignity and care. And to a woman they called him Mr. Imus.

Sums it up for me.

Update: Here's an Imus clip that reminds of why I stopped listening. (HT: David Frum at The Corner. David's post is informative, too. I won't miss Imus.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Gloomy Despair in Washington; Cautious Optimism in Baghdad

Fouad Ajami is a Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and the Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at John Hopkins University. Today, in the OpinionJournal, he reports on the contrast between the political atmosphere he found in Baghdad on his recent visit and the prevailing sentiments in Washington D.C.:
A traveler who moves between Baghdad and Washington is struck by the gloomy despair in Washington and the cautious sense of optimism in Baghdad. Baghdad has not been prettified; its streets remain a sore to the eye, its government still hunkered down in the Green Zone, and violence is never far. But the sense of deliverance, and the hopes invested in this new security plan, are palpable. I crisscrossed the city--always with armed protection--making my way to Sunni and Shia politicians and clerics alike. The Sunni and Shia versions of political things--of reality itself--remain at odds. But there can be discerned, through the acrimony, the emergence of a fragile consensus.
Ajami, himself a Shia from Lebanon, writes movingly of the awakening among Iraqi Shia to the fact that for the first time in any Arab nation, they hold the ruling power. "In the long scheme of history, the Shia Arabs had never governed."

Optimistically, from my perspective, he writes that even though the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr had been viewed by the Shia of Baghdad as heroes who won the fight for Baghdad against the Sunni Baathist and Al Qaeda insurgents, the Shia are nonetheless cautiously backing the current U.S. crackdown against the Mahdi Army:
There is a growing Shia unease with the Mahdi Army--and with the venality and incompetence of the Sadrists represented in the cabinet--and an increasing faith that the government and its instruments of order are the surer bet. The crackdown on the Mahdi Army that the new American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has launched has the backing of the ruling Shia coalition. Iraqi police and army units have taken to the field against elements of the Mahdi army. In recent days, in the southern city of Diwaniyya, American and Iraqi forces have together battled the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr. To the extent that the Shia now see Iraq as their own country, their tolerance for mayhem and chaos has receded. Sadr may damn the American occupiers, but ordinary Shia men and women know that the liberty that came their way had been a gift of the Americans.
This lengthy analysis is well worth reading. Unfortunately, it will not be read by those who need to read it most--the Democratic majority in Congress.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Maybe Someone Should Start "Vinny Media"?

You're going to be up against people who have an opinion, a modem, and a bathrobe. All of my life, developing credentials to cover my field of work, and now I'm up against a guy named Vinny in an efficiency apartment in the Bronx who hasn't left the efficiency apartment in two years.
--Brian Williams, anchor of the "NBC Nightly News," speaking before New York University journalism students on the challenges traditional journalism faces from online media.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Evidence That Liberals Are Worried About Mitt Romney

It's right here. The Huffington Post? Doonesbury? That kind of attention is high praise indeed!


Today anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the terrorist death squad militia known as the Mahdi Army, openly called on his followers to attack American troops with the objective of driving them from Iraq. This is an open declaration of war, and must be answered as such.

Al-Sadr should have been taken out or arrested back in April 2003, when it is believed that he ordered the assassination of pro-U.S. Shiiate Imam Abdul Majid al-Khoei. A warrant for his arrest was actually issued in April 2004, and an armed confrontation began between U.S. troops and al-Sadr's followers, which was going rather badly for the Mahdi Army gunmen. However, at that point, the U.S. agreed to a compromise at the request of the Iraqi government, in which al Sadr agreed to disband his militia and participate peacefully in the political process. Accepting this truce with al-Sadr and allowing him to retain his freedom and political influence was one of the major blunders of the Bush Administration in Iraq. To all factions in Iraq, it did not demonstrate compassion or good will, but rather weakness, an indication that the U.S. could be pushed around and eventually pushed out of Iraq.

Of course, al-Sadr never held up his end of the bargain. The Mahdi Army continued in existence and established al-Sadr as the defacto ruler of the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad, effectively outside the authority of both the Iraqi government and coalition forces. In addition to importing weapons and trainers in their use from Iran, and regularly attacking coalition forces, the Mahdi Army, through the use of its death squads, has terrorized the Sunni population, causing Sunnis who might otherwise have cooperated with coalition forces and the Iraqi government to support the Baathist and Al Qada led insurgencies. Al-Sadr's goal from the beginning has been to prevent the emergence of a democratic regime in Iraq that had the support of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. He is backed by the Mullahs ruling Iran, who want to replace the Iraqi government with a Shiite-dominated dictatorship that is within the Iranian sphere of influence.

Prior to the onset of the "surge," President Bush extracted a promise from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki that Maliki would not oppose a crackdown on al-Sadr if al-Sadr defied the U.S. pacification effort. At first, al-Sadr appeared to back down. There were reports that he had fled to Iran, and the Mahdi Army disappeared from the streets of Sadr City as the U.S. and Iraqi Armies moved in.

However, now al-Sadr has thrown down the gauntlet. The Bush Administration must not ignore this provocation. It must come down hard on al-Sadr, either arresting him or, if he resists arrest, killing him, even if it means an open armed confrontation with al-Sadr's followers. If the U.S. feels it cannot prevail in such a confrontation, or if the Maliki government does not fully back the U.S. in taking out al-Sadr, then it is indeed time to withdraw from Iraq. Al-Sadr and Iran will have prevailed.

Easter Music, Easter Thoughts

Easter Music

Once again Easter is here, and as before I'll post the words of my all-time favorite hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing:"
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
This biographical summary tells us a little about the author, Robert Robinson. The music is a beautiful traditional tune named "Nettleton," about which you can find more in Wyeth's Repostory of Sacred Music, Part Second, by John Wyeth. I've heard several hymns set to the same tune. As a congregational hymn "Come Thou Fount" is a little on the difficult side but most church choirs can handle it easily. My favorite arrangement is the one by Mack Wilberg, associate conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Easter Thoughts

This is another favorite, from the late Neal A. Maxwell, of whom Hugh Hewitt is a great admirer. It's full of quotable nuggets:
The gift of immortality to all is so choice a gift that our rejoicing in these two great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy.

Even those who see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in the crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness.

Christ’s victory over death routs the rationale that there is a general and irreversible human predicament; there are only personal predicaments, but even from these we can also be rescued by following the pathway of Him who rescued us from general extinction.

A disciple’s “brightness of hope,” therefore, means that at funerals his tears are not because of termination, but because of interruption and separation. Though just as wet, his tears are not of despair, but of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door that will later be flung open.

It is the Garden Tomb, not life, that is empty!
Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, pp. 132-3

"Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness."

I love that. Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

For All Those Currently Crushing on Fred Thompson

You should read this George Will column.

I like Fred Thompson, and would vote for him with a smile and in a second if he were the nominee. But, but . . . prudence dictates that we take a hard look here, folks. George Will is no oracle, but he raises a lot of the same questions I've wondered about:
  • One of four senators to endorse John McCain, and co-chair of McCain's 2000 campaign?
  • Voted for McCain-Feingold?
  • Howard Baker's protege?
This is the true conservative alternative?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Speaker Pelosi In Syria Embarrasses the US and Herself

When even the liberal Washington Post lambasts a Democratic Party leader, one can be pretty certain that the Democrat has committed a serious gaffe. In the case of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's Middle East diplomacy tour, it was a doozy. On Thursday, in a lead editorial entitled "Pratfall in Damascus--Nancy Pelosi's Foolish Shuttle Diplomacy," the Post ripped into the pretentious Speaker:

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Israel was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria. What's more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to "resume the peace process" as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. "We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria," she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel," said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister's office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel." In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda.

Ms. Pelosi, the Post relates, went on to grandiloquently proclaim, ""We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace." Not impressed with Speaker Pelosi's attempt to don the mantle of Paul of Tarsus, the Post concluded:
Never mind that that statement is ludicrous: As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush's military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.

For another devestating critique of Speaker Pelosi's attempt at usurping the Constitutional power and duties of the President in conducting U.S. foreign policy, from a more expected source, the Wall Street Journal, read today's lead editorial in the OpinionJournal, "Democrats at War." All in all, a very bad week for Speaker Nancy "Give Peace a Chance" Pelosi. It would be amusing, were it not for the abuse to the Constitutional separation of powers and the Logan Act.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Why Not Use Force Against Iran?

Victor Davis Hanson has a must-read column in Real Clear Politics on that very subject. (Tip: He doesn't think we should use force.) It convinced me; maybe it will convince you too.

Meanwhile, Daniel Henninger asks:
Carried aloft on the gassy fumes of politics, the congressional Democrats may be overshooting on Iraq. Six months from now, they may wish they had been more temperate. Helped finally by the right U.S. military strategy, the Iraq nightmare might be ebbing. Then what? [snip]

This is heady stuff, rolling a president off the field, so heady the Democrats may be allowing their compulsions to make them the one force thwarting a much longed-for military success in Iraq. This in turn could leave the Democratic Party on the wrong side of the most revered institution in American life--the U.S. military. That is, back where they were when Bill Clinton was president. The "we support the troops" mantra will ring hollow if the Democrats are pulling out Army and Marine personnel just as they're gaining on the killers of their comrades.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fun With Fundraising Graphics

With a hat tip to Dean Barnett, the above is a laugh-inducing graphic from the folks at MyManMitt.

Full disclosure: I'm a died-in-the wool Romney supporter.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chris Matthews: How Does He Keep His Job?

Yesterday afternoon I happened to see part of "Hardball" (a show I rarely watch) and I heard Matthews make some of the most obtuse statements I have ever heard over the air (and that's saying a lot). Alas, I am on vacation and could not post about this; but lo and behold, Power Line has skewered Matthews far beyond my poor abilities.

Power Line, however, missed this Matthews gem:
[I]t seems to me that Romney, who‘s running about 3 percent in the polls, only has rich people behind him because if you look at the amount of money he‘s raised compared to the amount of support he has in the polls, per capita, it looks like they‘re all loaded.
That, dear readers, may be the dumbest thing I have ever heard a so-called pundit say. And that is saying a lot.

Update: Newsbusters has much more.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Arabs Who Sold Hebron Building to Jews Face Death Penalty

Human Rights activists, especially in Europe and on the Israeli and Jewish Left, regularly rail against discrimination against Israel's Arab citizens. In fact, those Arabs enjoy equal rights with Jewish Israelis under Israeli law and enjoy civil liberties that would be unavailable to them as the citizens of any Arab country in the world. Specfically with respect to real estate, the Israeli Supreme Court has upheld the right of an Israeli Arab to buy real property and live in any residential neighborhood in Israel.

In the "moderate" Arab Kingdom of Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, to say that the converse is not true would be a gross understatement. In fact, selling real property to a Jew is a capital crime, meaning, yes, the seller is subject to the death penalty.

Some weeks ago, the news became public that a Jewish organization, acting through non-Jewish intermediaries, had purchased a building in an Arab neighborhood of Hebron from its Arab owners. At least one of the Arab owners was unaware of the Jewish identity of the purchasers; most likely all of them were kept unaware, in order to protect them. The new owners of the building, pictured at upper right, promptly renamed the building Beit Shalom, House of Peace, and stated that their objective was to live at peace with their Arab neighbors. Immediately following the announcement of the transaction, Israeli police launched an investigation into the legality of the sale, and the Defense Ministry under the auspices of left-leaning Labor Chairman Amir Peretz began searching for grounds to expel the new Jewish residents of the building. The resulting police investigation could not find any evidence of wrongdoing in the sale, and many within the police and defense establishment are acknowledging the sale was legal, albeit off-the-record.

Now Israel National News reports that two Arabs involved in the sale have been arrested, one by the Palestinian Authority and one by Jordan, and are charged with the unforgiveable and dastardly crime of selling real property to a Jew. They both face the death penalty if convicted.

The Kosher Hedgehog waits for the outcry from Human Rights organizations throughout the Arab and Moslem world, or even from the European Union, or Peace Now, or the Reform Jewish movement. However, since due to the allergy season and the effects of a recent office fire, the Kosher Hedgehog finds that he is suffering some breathing impairment, he will not hold his breath.

[In the interest of full disclosure, the Kosher Hedgehog is a real estate attorney who favors the unfettered alienability of real property, even to Jews.]

And why would Jews be interested in a building in Hebron. Hebron was one of the dwelling places of Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. One of the first recorded real property transactions was the purchase by Abraham of a burial place for his late wife, Sarah, at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron. [Genesis, Ch. 23.] Later, Abraham himself was buried in the Cave of Machpelah, as were his son Yitzchak (Isaac), Yitzchak's wife Rivka (Rebecca), Yitzchak's son Yaakov (Jacob), and Yaakov's wife Leah.

Still later, Hebron was the first capital of King David, when he became King over Israel.

The site of the Cave of Machpelah has been continuously identified since Biblical times, and today is inside a building constructed in the first century of the Common Era by King Herod the Great. (See photo, above left.) Despite the holiness of the site to Judaism, during lengthy periods of time when Hebron was under Islamic rule, Jews were not allowed to enter the building, but could only climb up to the seventh step of the entry stairs.

Because of its holiness, Jews have always sought to live and study Torah in Hebron. Jews lived in Hebron continuously, even after the Roman and Arab conquests of Judea. Arab and Jewish historians describe Jews living in Hebron in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries of the Common Era. When the Crusaders conquered Hebron in 1099, they expelled its Jewish residents and turned their synagogue into a Church. However, Jewish life began again when the Kurdish Muslim leader Salah ed Din retook Hebron in 1187. His Jewish personal physician, the famed Jewish scholar and philosopher Moses Maimonedes, even managed to visit the Cave of Machpelah in 1166, near the end of Crusader rule. "And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of Marheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Makhpela. And on that very day, I stood in the cave and I prayed, praised be God for everything."

From then until 1929, Hebron was the site of a small Jewish community. Throughout the Ottoman Empire rule, (1517-1917), groups of Jews from other parts of the Holy Land, and exiles from Spain and other parts of the diaspora and settled there. Hebron at this time became a center of Jewish learning. In 1540 Rabbi Malkiel Ashkenazi bought a courtyard and established the Abraham Avinu Synagogue. In 1807, the Jewish community purchased a 5-dunam plot upon which the city's wholesale market stands today. Then, in 1929, Arabs rioters killed 67 Jews and wounded 60, and Jewish homes and synagogues were ransacked. Two years later, 35 families moved back into the ruins of the Jewish quarter, but after further riots, the British Government decided to move all Jews out of Hebron "to prevent another massacre".

From 1948 until 1967, Hebron was under the rule of the "moderate" Arab Kingdom of Jordan. During this time period, the Jewish Quarter was destroyed, Jewish cemeteries were desecrated, 58 synagogues were destroyed and an animal pen was built on the ruins of the Abraham Avinu Synagogue. Jews were not permitted to visit the holy site of the Cave of Machpelah at all. That situation ended with the Israeli conquest of Hebron in the June 1967 Six-Day War. Thereafter, Jews returned to start the settlements of Kiryat Arba and Hebron. Such people are referred to by the United States State Department as "obstacles to peace."

Because of its long veneration as a Jewish holy site, Hebron, the City of the Patriarchs, is regarded by Jewish tradition as one of the four holy cities of the Land of Israel, the others being Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), always first and foremost in the Jewish heart, Tiberias and Tzfat (Safed).

It should be noted, however, that Palestinian Arab historians deny that any of the above thoroughly documented Jewish connections to Hebron have any semblance in reality.