Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hezbollah Officer Says His Fighters Would Have Surrendered in 10 More Days

Evidence mounts that poor leadership on the part of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (shown at left performing a characterisic choke) caused the failure of Israel in last summer's Lebanon War. The Jerusalem Post reports that a Hezbollah officer, in an interview aired today by Israel's Channel 10, stated that Hezbollah's fighters would have been forced to surrender in 10 more days, had the ceasefire not stopped the combat.

"The cease-fire acted as a life jacket for the organization" the Hezbollah officer said. He explained that the organization's gunmen had been running low on food and water and facing rapidly diminishing arms supplies.

The Hezbollah officer also said that its gunmen were forced to fire katyusha rockets from inside populations, because of the efficiency of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in destroying launchers minutes after a launch had been detected. He said that when the gunmen relocated to cities and villages, they knew innocent civilians would be hurt as a consequence.

Prime Minister Olmert and his Defense Minister (since resigned) Peretz precipitously launched the war against Hezbollah a year ago, following an across-border raid by Hezbollah, who killed several Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two others. (The fate of the kidnapped soldiers remains unknown.) Misled by the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz (also since resigned), a former commander of the Israeli Air Force, into believing that a war against Hezbollah could be won employing air power alone, without the large-scale commitment of ground forces to take and hold ground, Olmert began the war with little advance planning and no diplomatic effort. Ground forces made only limited forays into south Lebanon, and then withdrew from the villages they captured, allowing Hezbollah fighters to quickly return to them and resume shelling and rocketing of Israeli towns and cities. Planning for a ground campaign was so poor that IDF soldiers suffered shortages of food and water themselves, although they were only a few miles north of the Israeli-Lebanese border and had open supply lines. No effort was made to land ground troops north of Hezbollah's forces, to cut off their retreat across the Litani River.

Israeli air strikes against Hezbollah launch sites sheltered within civilian populations predictably dissipated the initially strong diplomatic support of Israel by the United States, and turned world opinion against Israel, as if it had been the agressor, despite the fact that Hezbollah began the war by launching shells and rockets at Israeli civilian targets, and never stopped. Stung by the outcry about alleged Israeli atrocities (many of which turned out to be completely fabricated), suddenly the Bush Administration was pressuring Olmert to accept a negotiated cease fire.

After finally realizing that his limited war strategy would not work, Olmert and his security cabinet authorized the long-delayed large-scale infantry offensive, only to almost immediately put the attack "on hold", to await the outcome of ongoing diplomatic efforts. After the UN Security Council passed a U.S.-sponsored ceasefire resolution, Olmert initially indicated that he would ignore it, and then belatedly ordered the full-scale ground attack to proceed. Then he switched direction again, accepting the resolution, with the ceasefire scheduled to take effect only a few days later, while he continued the ground offensive. He literally ordered Israeli soldiers to continue fighting with the knowledge that their gains--at the loss for some of their lives or limbs--would be turned back to Hezbollah as soon as the ceasefire took effect.

The time for diplomatic effort was before going to war. That would have been the time to seek a Security Council resolution condemning the unprovoked attack by Hezbollah, launched from Lebanese soil, and demanding that Lebanon disarm and control Hezbollah. If that diplomatic effort had failed-and it almost certainly would have failed--Israel could have gone to war, asserting its right under the UN Charter to self-defense, having used the interim time period to adequately plan a ground offensive and position its troops.

In the past, when Israel had strong wartime leadership, it resisted diplomatic pressure, even from the U.S., until it had achieved its military objectives. The Channel 10 interview with the Hezbollah officer strongly suggests that despite the Olmert government's early hesitancy and mistakes, Israel could have actually won a military victory if it had persevered with its ground offensive for only 10 more days.

One hopes against hope that this latest development will finally lead to Olmert's resignation.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cambridge University Has Hired Fundamentalist Christian to Teach Math and Physics!

Shockingly, this Christian Professor was hired not for just any teaching position, but to occupy the prestigious Lucasian Chair in Mathematics at Cambridge, once held by Sir Issac Newton (pictured above) and most recently held by Stephen Hawking (pictured at left). The hired Professor even unabashedly includes in his scientific writings his awe and admiration of the works of God as Creator. Read all about it in Jeff Jacoby's column over at Jewish World Review.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Logical Fallacy of Inference from the Absence of Evidence

Yesterday I had to appear at a deposition in San Diego, and used the opportunity to see the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Natural History, in magnificent Balboa Park. Tickets may be purchased in advance, and all tickets are for appointed times at 15-minute intervals, in order to avoid overcrowding the exhibit.

One of the more hopeful aspects of the exhibition is that scrolls are on loan, and displayed along side one another, from both the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Department of Antiquities of the Kingdom of Jordan--a rare public manifestation of Israeli-Arab cooperation at a tumultuous time. That is perhaps all the more surprising giving the Palestinian campaign to deny Jewish historical links to the land of Israel, which the Scrolls richly symbolize. Indeed, the Dead Sea Scrolls collectively (all of them, not just the scrolls in this exhibition) include fragments from every book of the Jewish Bible--what Christians call the Old Testament--except for, curiously and perhaps appropriately, the Book of Esther, which takes place in Persia at the end of the Babylonian Exile. The Israeli-Jordanian cooperation also is fitting, because the first scrolls were discovered by a Beduin shepherd boy in 1947, just prior to Israeli independence and the first Arab-Israeli war that followed. Sold to a Bethlehem Arab dealer in antiquities, they were first viewed by Professor Eleazar Sukenik, an Israeli archaeologist and scholar at Hebrew University, and the father of Israeli archaeologist, soldier and politician Yigdal Yadin, at a distance through a barbed wire barrier that separated Jewish and Arab Jerusalem.

It struck me how the Scrolls demonstrate the logical fallacy, currently rampant among Middle Eastern revisionist archaeologists, to derive proof for their propositions from the absence of evidence. For example, because of the absence of archaeological evidence for the entry of the tribes of Israel into Canaan, they question whether the exodus from Egypt ever occurred, and the existence of Moses and Joshua. They also doubt the historicity of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They even call into question the Kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon.

And yet, to give just two examples, the findings in the caves of Qumran demonstated that in the second century before the common era, Jews already wore tefillin--the prayer boxes that traditional Jewish men wear during their morning weekday prayers--even though secular scholars previously had assigned the origin of tefillin to a time some centuries later. (Of course, Jewish tradition holds that tefillin originated with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.) Also, one of the scrolls is a first century B.C.E. Aramaic translation, or targum, of the Book of Job. Scholars had previously declared with confidence that the first such Aramaic translations appeared in the first centuries of the Common Era. Yet the evidence from the Qumran caves that conclusively proved both those prior scholarly conclusions to have been wrong was incredibly fragile, and its discovery completely fortuitous. When the Beduin shepherd boy who found the clay pots containing the scrolls brought his uncle to the cave, the uncle initially smashed the clay pots that held the scrolls, hoping to find treasure. He chose to take the fragile and perishable parchment scrolls to an antiquities dealer; in a different mood, he might have thrown them into a fire or left them exposed to rot.

Lowell and his co-religionists will especially want to examine the Papyrus Bar Kokhba 44—the Alma Scroll, a lease of land that the document states was previously owned by the government of "Simeon Bar Kosiba, Prince of Israel." That dates the scroll to 134 C.E., during the rebellion against Rome led by Simeon Bar Kosiba--also known as "Bar Kochba," whose regime held sway over parts of the land of Israel before being crushed by Hadrian's legions. The commentary on the scroll remarks, "Latter-Day Saints find this scroll of particular interest, because it specifies 'Alma son of Judah' as one of the people involved in the agreement on the fourth line and at the bottom of the document. This text contains the oldest known occurrence of the name 'Alma' outside of the Book of Mormon."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

For Baseball Fans

Now here's a minor league manager who gives new meaning to the term, "making a fool of yourself by losing your temper." Mississippi Braves manager Phillip Wellman was ejected from a game Friday, June 1 and apparently didn't like that. Something tells me we won't be seeing him manage in the majors soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Ocean:" Mitt Romney's Seventh Television Advertisement

Here it is. A few questions arise: Is Giuliani saying these kinds of things? Can he even do so credibly? What about Fred Thompson?

Just asking the questions.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Quote of the Week: Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, Chap. li

'It was all Mrs. Bumble. She WOULD do it,' urged Mr. Bumble; first looking round to ascertain that his partner had left the room.

'That is no excuse,' replied Mr. Brownlow. 'You were present on the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, and indeed are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.'

'If the law supposes that,' said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, 'the law is a ass--a idiot. If that's the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience--by experience.'

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rick Monday And The American Flag

A friend sent this to me. It's thought-provoking on several levels. For example: What would be the reaction today if the same thing happened in Dodger Stadium? I like to think it would be the same, but I do wonder.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What Has Israel Produced? What Have Hamas and Hezbollah Produced?

The coin pictured above is a "High Tech in Israel" commemorative coin issued by the Bank of Israel. It depicts a growing tree with binary leaves.

Along those lines, Rabbi Aryeh Markman of Aish HaTorah, Los Angeles, reports:


Despite the second Lebanon war, the divestments, and the boycotts, Israel’s economy enjoyed the largest growth in its GNP of any Western country at 8% for the last quarter of 2006. Foreign investment hit a remarkable high of over US$13 billion and the budget deficit was under 1%. Industrial exports, excluding diamonds, rose 11% to $29.3 billion in 2006 with the hi-tech sector leading the surge, according to the Manufacturers Association of Israel. Israel’s hi-tech industry exported $14.1 billion in goods last year, growing 20% from 2005. What follows is a selection of Israel’s achievements in the first month of 2007 [Editor's note--we are talking here about one month, January 2007]:

1. Scientists in Israel found that the brackish water drilled from underground desert aquifers hundreds of feet deep could be used to raise warm-water fish. The geothermal water, less than one-tenth as saline as sea water, free of pollutants, and a toasty 98 degrees on average proves an ideal environment.

2. Israeli-developed designer eyeglasses promise mobile phone and iPod users a personalized, high-tech video display. Available to US consumers next year, Lumus-Opitcal’s lightweight and fashionable video eyeglasses feature a large transparent screen floating in front of the viewer’s face that projects their choice of movie, TV show, or video game.

3. When Stephen Hawkings visited Israel recently, he shared his wisdom with scientists, students, and even the prime minister. But the world’s most renowned victim of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, also learned something – due to the Israeli Association for ALS’ advanced work in embryonic and adult stem cell research, as well as its proven track record with neurodegenerative diseases, the Israeli research community is well on its way to finding a treatment for this fatal disease which affects 30,000 Americans.

4. Israeli start-up Veterix has developed an innovative new electronic capsule that sits in the stomach of a cow, sheep, or goat, sending out real-time information on the health of the herd to the farmer via email or cell phone. The e-capsule, which also sends out alerts if animals are distressed, injured, or lost, is now being tested on a herd of cows in the hopes that the device will lead to tastier and healthier meat and milk supplies.

5. The millions of Skype users worldwide will soon have access to the newly developed KishKish lie-detector. This free Internet service, based on voice stress analysis (a technique commonly used in criminal investigations), will be able to measure just how truthful that person on the other end of the line really is.

6. Beating cardiac tissue has been created in a lab from human embryonic stem cells by researchers at the Rappaport Medical Facility and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s biomedical engineering facility. The work of Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein has also led to the creation of tiny blood vessels within the tissue making possible its implantation in a human heart.

7. Israel’s Magal Security Systems is a worldwide leader in computerized security systems with products used in more than 70 countries around the world protecting anything from national borders to nuclear facilities refineries, and airports. The company's latest product, DreamBox, a state-of-the-art security system that includes intelligent video, audio and sensor management, is now being used by a major water authority on the US Ease Coast to safeguard the utility’s sites.

8. It’s common knowledge that dogs have better night vision than humans and a vastly superior sense of smell and hearing. Israel’s Bio-Sense Technologies recently delved further and electronically analyzed 350 different barks. Finding that dogs of all breeds and sizes bark the same alarm when they sense a threat, the firm has designed the dog bark-reader, a sensor that can pick up a dog’s alarm bark and alert the human operators. This is just one of a batch of innovative security systems to emerge from Israel, which Forbes calls “the go-to-country for anti-terrorism technologies.”

9. Israeli company BioControl Medical sold its first electrical stimulator to treat urinary incontinence to a US company for $50 million. Now it is working on CardioFit, which uses electrical nerve stimulation to treat congestive heart failure. With nearly five million American presently affected by heart failure and more than 400,000 new cases diagnosed yearly, the CardioFit is already generating a great deal of excitement as the first device with the potential to halt this deadly disease.

10. One year after Norway’s Socialist Left Party launched its boycott of Israel, the importing of Israeli goods has increased by 15%, the strongest increase in many years, reported by Norway Statistics.

In contrast to the efforts of tiny Israel to make contributions to the world so as to better mankind, one has to ask what have those who have strived to eliminate Israel from the face of the earth done other than to create hate and bloodshed?

Amplifying on what Rabbi Markman wrote above, I would note that the West Coast Office of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America sends out a weekly bulletin, one section of which is always devoted to the latest news of scientific, medical and high tech developments from Israel. Every week brings word of more amazing achievements comparable to those discussed by Rabbi Markman. As God promised Abraham (Gen. 12:3), "And I will bless them that bless you, and him that curses you will I curse; and in you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed." As for the British academics and trade unionists, Norwegian Socialists, American leftists and others who call for boycotts against Israel, they might want to look to the experience of the Egyptians who oppressed the Children of Israel (Exodus 1:12): "But the more they [the Egyptians] afflicted them, the more they [the Children of Israel] multiplied and the more they spread."

Babylonian Clay Tablet Confirms Existence of Biblical Figure

A tiny clay cuneiform tablet discovered near Baghdad in 1920, but only recently translated, has confirmed the existence of a person mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah. As reported by Israel National News, Dr. Michael Jursa, a Vienna expert on ancient Babylonia, translated the tablet for the first time on a visit to the British Museum. The tablet, a bill of receipt, read:

"[Regarding] 1.5 minas (0.75 kg) of gold, the property of Nabu-sharrussu-ukin, the chief eunuch, which he sent via Arad-Banitu the eunuch to [the temple] Esangila: Arad-Banitu has delivered [it] to Esangila. In the presence of Bel-usat, son of Alpaya, the royal bodyguard, [and of] Nadin, son of Marduk-zer-ibni. Month XI, day 18, year 10 [of] Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon."

Sensing that the name of the chief eunuch mentioned on the tablet sounded familiar, Dr. Jursa turned to the 39th chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, where in verse 3 the prophet recounts the names of Babylonian officials sent by King Nebuchadnezzar to assist in the destruction of Jerusalem. One of them is (Shamgar) Nebo Sarsechim, which Dr. Jursa identified as a slightly different spelling of the name of the official mentioned in the Babylonian tablet.

Irving Finkel, assistant keeper in the British Museum's Middle East Department, was very excited: "This is a fantastic discovery," he told The Telegraph, "a world-class find. If Nevo-Sarsekim existed, [then] which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed? A throwaway detail in the Old Testament turns out to be accurate and true. I think that it means that the whole of the narrative [of Jeremiah] takes on a new kind of power."

Speaking with The Times, Finkel said, “A mundane commercial transaction takes its place as a primary witness to one of the turning points in Old Testament history. This is a tablet that deserves to be famous.”

Stories on the discovery appeared online in The Telegraph and The Times.

Israel National News notes wryly that Mr. Finkel's reaction indicates "that the discovery has not yet totally shaken the core faith of some who believe that the Bible is not true," as evidenced by Finkel's statement, "which other lesser figures in the Old Testament existed"; as if the proven existence of Nevo-Sarsekim may turn out to be a fluke. Nonetheless, as Jews approach the annual fast of the Ninth of Av, when we mourn for the destruction of the First Temple by Nebuchadnezzar's army, and read the Book of Lamentations, also written by Jeremiah, it is timely that a new archeological discovery testifies to the veracity of Jeremiah's account.

A Gracious Lady Takes Her Leave From Us

Goodbye to Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007), former First Lady of the United States (1963-1969), and the widow of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Her tenure in the White House epitomized public service and Texas hospitality (much like Laura Bush, the incumbent First Lady). A savvy business woman who turned a $17,500 investment in a faltering Austin, Texas radio station into a multimillion dollar radio corporation, she never promoted her business achievements, always preferring to let the media spotlight shine on her public causes and her larger-than-life politician husband. Having qualified in her college education as a public school teacher, she shared a dedication to public education with the present First Lady, and served as honorary chairwoman of Project Head Start. Another beloved cause was the environment--she was perhaps best known for her campaign to replace roadside billboards and junkyards in Texas with trees and wildflowers. She raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to beautify Washington. The $320 million Highway Beautification Bill, passed in 1965, was known as "The Lady Bird Bill," and she made speeches and lobbied Congress to win its passage. Lady Bird, we will miss you. Please campaign for wildflowers in heaven.

Despite What You Read in the Defeat Sheet (the Los Angeles Times), the Surge is Working

This morning, the local propaganda organ for Islamist victory, the Los Angeles Times, published a news story describing startling and (to the Times) conclusive evidence of the failure of the surge--a local Iraqi contractor hired to clean out the portable toilets at a U.S. Army base in the Baghdadi neighborhood of Ubadi had quit, after his life was threatened by members of a local Shiite militia.

It is not surprising that the Times focuses on sewage in its Iraq war coverage. Yesterday the Times published a column by a Hamas official on its editorial page. One wonders whether the Times editors would have published an opinion piece by an official of the Third Reich in 1939, justifying the German invasion of Poland, or perhaps a piece by Joseph Stalin in 1951, giving the Communist side of the story in Korea. As for the general level of its coverage of the war in Iraq, the Times has incessantly published negative stories, while almost totally ignoring last month's Operation Phantom Thunder, the largest U.S. single military campaign of the Iraq war. [See "Why You Can Trust the Los Angeles Times for Biased Middle East Coverage--A Continuing Series," the Hedgehog Blog, July 1, 2007]

For refreshing change from the perspective of the Los Angeles Times, and a more accurate account of the progress of U.S. military efforts in Iraq, please read "Moving Forward," a column by Kimberly Kagan, an affiliate of Harvard's John M. Olin Institute of Strategic Studies, is executive director of the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, which appears in today's WSJ.com OpinionJournal. Here is a sample:

In Washington perception is often mistaken for reality. And as Congress prepares for a fresh debate on Iraq, the perception many members have is that the new strategy has already failed.

This isn't an accurate reflection of what is happening on the ground, as I saw during my visit to Iraq in May. Reports from the field show that remarkable progress is being made. Violence in Baghdad and Anbar Province is down dramatically, grassroots political movements have begun in the Sunni Arab community, and American and Iraqi forces are clearing al Qaeda fighters and Shiite militias out of long-established bases around the country.

This is remarkable because the military operation that is making these changes possible only began in full strength on June 15. To say that the surge is failing is absurd. Instead Congress should be asking this question: Can the current progress continue?

Baseball Values

Back in February, the Kosher Hedgehog exulted over the advent of professional baseball in Israel. [See Pro Baseball in Israel. Can the Messiah be Far Behind?, February 27, 2007.] Following in quick succession after the announcement of the formation of the league came the initial player draft (in which one of the teams symbolically drafted Sandy Koufax; regrettably, Koufax elected not to sign); and the onset of the first season of play by the six-team league.

Perhaps some readers thought the Kosher Hedgehog to have overreacted to what some people mistakenly describe as "only a game." If so, here is evidence of how wrong they would be. As we Americans basked in our All-Star game glow--can you believe it, an inside-the-park home run?--one of the most distinguished and beloved leaders of American Orthodox Judaism, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, took up his pen and published a column in the Jerusalem Post, entitled, "Baseball Values." Rabbi Feldman was a Rabbi in Atlanta, Georgia for 40 years, where he was privileged to watch the play of Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, and, of course, Henry Aaron (pictured above with two other immortals of the game, Roberto Clemente and my own boyhood hero, Willie Mays). He now resides in Jerusalem (that is, Rabbi Feldman, not Willie Mays). Here are the melodious opening paragraphs of his column:

"The pulse of Israeli baseball addicts quickens as professional baseball comes to this land. For such a fan - as in "fanatic" - to live in Israel and watch baseball is to possess both this world and the world-to-come. Things cannot get any better than this. "For lo, the winter is passed, the rain is over and the voice of the baseball is heard in the Land" (see Song of Songs, 2:12).

Ah, the memories of the boys of summer: pennant races, inter-city rivalries, World Series, poems like "Casey at the Bat," songs like "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," the crack of the bat, the smack of the catcher's mitt, the duel between lone batter and crafty pitcher, the clay-colored base paths, the sparkling green outfield grass, double-plays, strikeouts, stolen bases, home-runs, the esoteric signals from the third-base coach, the roar of the crowd..."

When I read that opening paragraph, I realized that I have always associated the arrival of spring training with the description of the arrival of spring in the Song of Songs. I only needed Rabbi Feldman to reveal that to me.

Please read the whole column, and learn how Torah and baseball teach some of the same important lessons of life. True, we have to live with the Barry Bonds steroid scandal, but as the Torah also teaches, God has given man the inestimable gift of free moral choice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

British PM Brown: Don't Call Terrorists Moslem and Don't Say War On Terror

The Hedgehog Blog is a bit late in addressing this story out of Great Britain, because we had access problems for about a week. The Daily Express reported last week that new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in the wake of the failed bombings by Islamic terrorists in London and Glasgow, has banned the use by his ministers of the word "Muslim" in connection with the terrorism crisis. (Presumably "Moslem" and "Islamic" also fell under the ban.) Moreover, he has also directed his ministers not to refer to the War on Terror, as that phrase is too closely identified with the governments of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush.

I have never liked the phrase, "War on Terror," for reasons expressed best in the Dry Bones cartoon posted below. However, we seem to be facing a real paucity of language. Suggestions from our readers are welcome. How about the "the people's struggle against violence by misguided practitioners of the religion of peace?" If you can do better, leave us a comment.

The Flow of History--An Exchange between Dean Barnett and the Kosher Hedgehog

Dean Barnett was kind enough approve posting of the following e-mail exchange between him and me, which followed his post earlier today at Hugh Hewitt.com:

From the Kosher Hedgehog to Dean Barnett:
Shalom Dean:
Here is my response to your Hugh Hewitt.com post, as posted at The Hedgehog Blog: http://hedgehogcentral.blogspot.com/2007/07/nostra-aetate.html. I also posted a comment to your post, #20. I love spirited debate, but I don’t know if I can ever forgive you—before Elul that is [note: Elul is the traditional season before the Days of Awe for Jews to reconcile and forgive offenses by others]--for throwing me into the same box as Abe Foxman.
Best regards,
Ralph B. Kostant

From Dean Barnett to the Kosher Hedgehog:
But you are in the same box. You're afraid of the same thing - Gentiles traveling back in time re their attitudes towards Jews. That's the heart of the matter.

From the Kosher Hedgehog to Dean Barnett:
And if that is the heart of the matter, I suppose that my differences with Mr. Foxman do become more of style than of substance.

Well enough, but do you believe there is no possibility of “Gentiles traveling back in time re their attitudes towards Jews?” If so, you view mankind from a liberal perspective, not a conservative one. It is liberalism, rather than conservatism, which believes that mankind always progresses, and that such a reactionary movement in Catholicism would now be impossible. Prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, no one would have predicted a reversion of significant numbers of Moslems to the doctrines of conquest of the early centuries of Islam. Prior to the rise of the Third Reich, many German Jews bet their lives and fortunes (and lost them) on the proposition that they had become fully integrated and valued citizens of Germany.

Dean, please do not belittle my position by suggesting that I am a paranoid who already hears the loud footsteps of the Inquisition or the Gestapo outside my door. I ask only that you recognize that history does not move in only one direction. Vatican II took place less than 50 years ago—that is not a long period of time in the history of a 2000 year old Church or a 3500 year old Am Yisrael. Until then many faithful Catholics believed and taught their children that all Jews were literally guilty of deicide, and acted accordingly.

The real test of whether my concerns are valid will be if, as Hugh’s caller advocated, the Church undertakes a reexamination of Nostra Aetate. If that occurs, hopefully even you will agree that a Jewish protest of that type of reactionary theology would be warranted, even if the crazies in Tehran, Gaza and Al Qaeda still pose a more serious threat. It is not unwarranted butting into someone else’s religion when Jewish lives are at stake. I would also suggest that when spokespersons such as David Allen White and Father Fessio publicly question whether there has been historic persecution of the Jews by the Church, one ought to consider whether that is an early warning sign of such a reactionary movement in the Church.

Shalom. Ralph B. Kostant

From Dean Barnett to the Kosher Hedgehog:
I'm not belittling your position, just disagreeing with it on the ground of significancy. History does travel in different directions, and it's taken nearly a century for the Islamic world to wind up at its current state of blind hatred for everything, but especially the Jews.

Nostra Aetate

Hugh Hewitt had a session yesterday on the restoration of the Latin Mass by the Roman Catholic Church. Both Dean Barnett and I called in. I followed my call with a long e-mail to Dean at Soxblog@aol.com. Today, at Hugh Hewitt.com, in a post entitled Abe Foxman vs. Everybody, Dean quotes my e-mail at length and then incredibly states, "This letter actually hits upon and amplifies what really drives me bonkers about Foxman. ...Both on the air and in his email, my correspondent mentioned that Catholics had a duty to be cognizant of Jewish sensibilities. I assume he makes this argument not because he’s worried about Jewish sensibilities actually being offended, but rather because he’s concerned that the wrong phrase at Mass could turn an entire Church into foaming anti-Semites or at the very least trigger revivals of 150 year-old kidnappings."

Well, no, I merely believe that one cannot ignore history, or pretend or pretend that the respect accorded Judaism by the Roman Catholic Church today has always been the case and always will be. Dean's post ignored the fact that one Catholic caller to Hugh's show, rejoicing over the restoration of the Latin Mass, remarked that a repudiation on Vatican II positions on religious liberty should follow. That remark was almost certainly directed against Nostra Aetate, the 1965 Vatican II Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, issued by Pope Paul VI.

Nostra Aetate repudiated the concept of the collective guilt of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus. It condemned anti-Semitism in all its forms and at any time. Finally, the Declaration stated that all men are created in God's image, and that it is contrary to the teaching of the Church to discriminate against, show hatred towards or harass any person or people on the basis of colour, race, or religion. The very fact that a Catholic caller enthusiastically viewed the change in the mass as presaging a re-examination of Nostra Aetate gives good reason for Jewish apprehension.

My concern was only heightened by the on-air response of David Allen White and Father Fessio to my explanation that Jewish apprehension stems from a historic experience with Catholics who, motivated by concern for saving the souls of Jews, often have campaigned for conversion through compulsion rather than persuasion. Mr. White and Father Fessio dismissed my statement as a distortion of history, as if we Jews imagined Christian persecution, or provoked it.

Today's atmosphere of Catholic tolerance for Judaism is the product of decades of effort by persons such as Popes John XXII, Paul VI, and John Paul II. If taken for granted, their work could be undone.
After mischaraterizing and trivializing my position, Dean Barnett responded to my e-mail in his post at Hugh Hewitt.com by noting that the greater threat to Jews and Judaism today is from radical Islam, not from Chrisitan conversion efforst. Of course that is true, but it is a facile response to my expressed concern. One does not ignore a cold because it is not as dangerous as pneumonia. Indeed ignoring the lesser affliction can lead to the more serious disease.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Breaking News: Jews Kill "Mickey Mouse" Lookalike Farfour on Hamas TV! Is Bambi Next?

Oh, those perfidious Jews! As readers may have heard previously, "The Pioneers of Tomorrow," a Hamas television children's program, has featured Farfour, a Mickey Mouse ripoff, who inspires Palestinian children to martyrdom in order to liberate Palestine from the Jews. On this past week's program, an Israeli interrogator beat Farfour the Mouse to death.

Farfour's martyrdom occurred when Farfour refused to turn over to the Jews the key and documents that proved that Farfour's family owned "Tel Al-Rabi," which according to Farfour's late grandfather the Jews renamed Tel Aviv after they occupied it in 1948. Or maybe it's Jerusalem; the Hamas children's program is inconsistent on that point. (Actually, Jewish pioneers built Tel Aviv on purchased coastal sand dunes from 1908-1910--as depicted in the photo reproduced at the bottom of this post--but let's not confuse our Palestinian children with bothersome facts.) In any event, Farfour refused "lots of money" that the Israeli interrogator offered the mouse for the key and documents, because of Farfour's loyalty to the promise he made to his dying grandfather to return to live on the land when it was redeemed from "the filth of the criminal, plundering Jews."

Farfour's pledge to his grandfather occurs in the opening scene of the program. Farfour's grandfather dies after extracting the promise from Farfur, apparently of old age, but Farfour declares immediately afterward that the Jews have killed his grandfather. Apparently in the fictional nation of Palestine, before the creation of the State of Israel, no one died of old age. Death is another disaster introduced by the Jews. It is not explained why the grandson of the elderly Palestinian Arab is a mouse.

To view the entire heartrending story (with English subtitles) of how the Jews stole the land of poor Farfour's family and built Tel Aviv (or maybe Jerusalem) on it, go the Memri site.

Mohammad Saeed, the director of production at Al-Aqsa Television, told Reuters the station would use other famous cartoon characters in future shows.
'Farfour was a story alive and he has turned into another story as a (martyr),' Saeed said."

Auction of lots at site of future city of Tel Aviv, 1909.

Happy Independence Day

The Declaration of ind.jpg

The manner in which the whole of this business was conducted was such a miracle in human affairs, that if I had not been in the midst of it, and seen all the movements, I could not have comprehended how it was effected. I had no doubt of our finally succeeding in this war by the blessing of God. This is the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.


I have lived a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men! If it had not been for the justice of our cause, and the consequent interposition of Providence in which we had faith, we must have been ruined. If I had ever before been an atheist, I should now have been convinced of the being and government of a Deity. It is He who abases the proud and favors the humble! May we never forget his goodness to us, and may our future conduct manifest our gratitude.

--Benjamin Franklin, reflecting on the signing of the Declaration of Independence 231 years ago.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Why You Can Trust the Los Angeles Times for Biased Middle East Coverage--A Continuing Series

In the preceding Hedeghog Post, we linked to a YNet news story from Friday, June 29, 2007, about an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation in Nablus, which discovered a Fatah bomb factory and a large Fatah weapons cache. Five Israeli soldiers were wounded in fighting with Fatah gunmen during this operation. What follows is the entire Los Angeles Times coverage of that operation, which appeared on Saturday, June 30:

Israeli troops kill Fatah member
From Times Wire Reports
June 30, 2007

Israeli troops killed a Palestinian militant with President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement on the second day of a large-scale military raid in the West Bank.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers shot the man as he fled from troops in a refugee camp near Nablus.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has accused Israel of trying to undermine Abbas' emergency Cabinet.

That's it. No bomb factory. No weapons caches. No battle in which 5 IDF soldiers are wounded. Just one man, shot as he fled from a refugee camp; and an accusation that Israel is deliberately undermining the emergency cabinet of the "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas and Salan Fayyad. The slain terrorist may well have been armed, and may have fired at the IDF soldiers, but the L.A. Times news story leaves, probably deliberately, the impression that the nasty Israelis shot a fleeing, unarmed man in the back.

The same attitude prevails in the Los Angeles Times Iraq coverage. Operation Phantom Thunder, the largest U.S. single military campaign of the Iraq war, has been underway for about two weeks in Diyala province. The leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq have been encircled in the provincial capital of Baqouba. ABC News reports that U.S. troops in the past week have killed more than 159 suspected insurgents, detained more than 700 and seized 128 weapons caches. Other reports note that former Sunni insurgents in Diyala assisted the Americans in their operations against Al Qaeda, as previously occurred in Anbar Province. As U.S. military operations in Bagdad begin to have an effect, Iraqi civilian casualities in June fell 36% from May, to the lowest level this year.

Anyone foolish enough to rely on the Los Angeles Times as his sole news source would know none of this. A search online disclosed that the Times has only run a single story on Operation Phantom Thunder (under the name Arrowhead Thunder), back on June 20, when it had scarecely begun.

The Times totally ignored the drop in civilian casualties, today instead running a story about how a U.S. raid in Sadr City on Saturday, conducted without the permission of the Iraqi government, had angered Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. [Maliki's government has strong ties to the Shiite militias in Sadr City, and it is highly like that had the U.S. sought permission in advance for this operation, the Shiite militias targeted by the operation would have been tipped off.] The final paragraph of the story states that June ended the deadliest calendar quarter for U.S. troops in Iraq since the invasion. Although this would have been an excellent place to note the contrasting drop in Iraqi civilian casualties, that information apparently would have offended the Time's campaign to keep its readership uninformed of any positive developments in Iraq.

The high U.S. casualties of the last three months result directly, and not unexpectedly, from the commencement of aggressive offensive operations against Al Qaeda and insurgents, made possible by the troop surge. Without the context of stories about major military operations and their successes, the increase in U.S. casualties naturally may mislead the uninformed to assume that the war in Iraq is going more poorly, when the opposite is true. And that, my friends, is exactly what the Los Angeles Times intends.