Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hezbollah Plans Lawsuits Against Israel for Last Summer's War Damage

Who says that Arabs can't have chutzpah*? JTA reports that Hezbollah plans to initiate a series of lawsuits against Israel for damage caused during last summer's Lebanon War. The war began when Hezbollah guerillas crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel and attacked an Israeli army border patrol, killing several soldiers and kidnapping two others. The captured soldiers, if they are still alive, remain prisoners. Hezbollah had shielded the raid by diversionary rocket attacks on Northern Israeli towns. In the fighting that followed, Hezbollah maintained a constant barrage of rockets and mortars on Northern Israel.

Ibrahim Awada, a lawyer who heads Hezbollah's legal department, revealed the plan last week on Syrian television, Ha'aretz reported. Awada said Lebanese with dual citizenship would file the lawsuits in the country where they hold citizenship.

[*Chutzpah is an almost untranslatable Yiddish term. Perhaps the best functional definition I have found is: When a defendant is convicted of murdering his parents, and pleads to the sentencing judge for mercy because he is an orphan, that's chutzpah. Hezbollah has now trumped that example.]

Druze Israeli Policeman Assaulted Trying to Stop Illegal Excavations on the Temple Mount

As reported by Israel National News, a Druze Israeli police officer was assaulted when he tried to halt an Arab tractor that was employed in digging an illegal trench on the Temple Mount, threatening damage to priceless archaeological artifacts from the First and Second Temples. Entering the cabin of the tractor in an attempt to stop the illegal excavation, the police officer was pushed out by Arab workers, and then bravely took up a position in the trench and physically stopped the work. However at that point an Israeli police supervisor arrived to take control of the situation and, it appeared to witnesses, calm down the police officer.

The incident only became public because it was witnessed by eyewitnesses from the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities. The outcome of the incident is not known, because, according to Gideon Charlap, a top Jerusalem architect and Temple Mount expert, who witnessed the events, "because our allotted time was over." Jews are permitted onto the site - Judaism's most sacred anywhere in the world - only four or fewer hours a day.

Dr. Eilat Mazar, an archaeologist and a leading member of the Committee for the Prevention of the Destruction of Temple Mount Antiquities, spoke with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine about the desecration. "It is an untenable situation," she said. "Underneath the Temple Mount is a closed area, one that has barely been disturbed since the Destruction of the Second Temple. Anyone can realize that remnants of both the First and Second Temples are there, and can guess what damage is being done by the tractor. The most precious findings are just rolling around there and are available to be found - and instead they have a tractor there! If I would try to work with a tractor at one of my digs, the Antiquities Authority would stop me immediately! With a tractor, it's impossible to make any type of careful examination of the earth and pieces being dug up."

However, if past experience is any indication, it is quite likely that the digging continued after the supervising police commander removed his courageous subordinate from the scene. Despite years of almost constant illegal excavations conducted on the Temple Mount by the Moslem Waqf (religious body), which are known to have destroyed archaeological artifacts, the Israeli Antiquities Authority has refused to assert its legal authority for fear of offending Moslem sensitivities.

UK Arab Editor Says He Will Dance in Trafalgar Square When Iran Nukes Israel

As reported by MEMRI (where one can view a video clip of the interview, with English subtitles) and The Jerusalem Post, Abd Al-Bari Atwan, the Editor-in-Chief of the United Kingdom based Arabic daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, told a Lebanese television interviewer, "If the Iranian missiles strike Israel, by Allah, I will go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight." (HT: Little Green Footballs.)

Atwan founded the pan-Arab daily in London in 1989, and today the paper has a circulation of around 50,000. He is also a regular commentator on Sky News and BBC News 24. Apparently, those British news services were not terribly disturbed that one of their commentators applauded the prospects for the nuclear destruction of the Jewish State. A BBC spokesperson told the Jerusalem Post that any problem regarding Mr. Atwan's point of view would properly be addressed by informing "our audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint.” Probably something along the lines of "Listeners and viewers should be aware that Mr. Atwan is an advocate of genocide against the Jews. We welcome opposing points of view from responsible spokespersons."

Mr. Atwan and those of his ilk never seem concerned about the casualties that inevitably would be suffered by the Arab population of Israel, mostly Muslims, in the event of a nuclear attack on Israel. I rather suspect that the Iranian nuclear weapons program has not yet progressed to the point where its warheads will differentiate between Arab and Jew. Of course, by now that lack of regard even for Arab and Muslim lives should not be surprising. The Islamist world seems always prepared to welcome the death of martyrs as the price of attacks on the infidel, even where the martyrs have not volunteered to die.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Confessions of a Global Warming Denier

Bret Stephens tells all at WSJ

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Rise of the Fantasists

Rick Richman (pictured at right) at Jewish Current Issues has published a number of excellent posts recently on the renewed push by the George W. Bush Administration and the Ehud Olmert government in Israel for negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for a comprehensive Middle East Peace Agreement. This act of desperation by an unpopular U.S. Administration, an even less popular Israeli government, and a Fatah leader who has just lost Gaza to Hamas, and retains only a tenuous hold in the so-called "West Bank," somehow purports to find hope in a record of spectacular failures. Rick notes how these efforts remind one of Einstein's definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” as well as Santayana's definition of fanaticsim, "redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” Read Rick's posts here, here and here.

Rick links to an article by Evelyn Gordon, entitled "Surreal Diplomacy," which appeared in The Jerusalem Post. Ms. Gordon wrote:

This process has included five signed agreements in which Palestinians pledged to halt terror, Israeli withdrawals from all of Gaza and parts of the West Bank, the complete dismantling of 25 settlements and Israel's offer of Palestinian statehood on about 95 percent of the territories, including east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Yet not only has none of this dampened Palestinian enthusiasm for killing Jews; it has stoked it.
For Israelis, every stage of the "peace process" has produced less actual peace. In the two and a half years following the 1993 Oslo Accord, Palestinians killed more Israelis than during the entire preceding decade. In the four years following Ehud Barak's statehood offer at Camp David in 2000, Palestinians killed more Israelis than during the preceding 53 years. In 2006, the first full year following the August 2005 disengagement, the number of rockets launched from Gaza at pre-1967 Israel more than tripled compared to 2004 (the last full year pre-disengagement.

Yet the "Peace Process" continues to have its vocal advocates. In the current edition of The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Editor-In-Chief Rob Eshman, undeterred by the disasters that resulted from the "Peace Process" efforts he has enthusiastically supported in the past, including the Oslo Accords and the withdrawal from Gaza, doubles down. Using words he has never before uttered in his life, "Help Bush," he acknowledges the failures of the past even while calling for one more effort. The difference, in Eshman's view, is Iran. He believes that fear of the Tehran Shiite Islamic Iranian regime, and its aggressive efforts in support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Assad regime in Syria, Shiite opponents of the U.S. in Iraq and Hamas in Gaza, will somehow not only drive the U.S., Israel, Fatah, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia into one another's arms, but will convince the Arab parties to this anti-Iranian coalition to permanently accept the existence of Israel, as a Jewish State, behind secure and recognized borders.

Yes, Rob, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend," is an Arabic saying, but the corollary is that "once my enemy his defeated, my friend goes back to being my enemy." Moreover, Israeli military intelligence, and even the Labor Party leader Ehud Barak, have warned that territorial concessions on the West Bank will bring all of Israel's major cities and the Lod International Airport within rocket and artillery range of Palestinian terrorist militias. Israel's densely populated urban heartland would become the next Sederot, the target of daily attacks, and, unlike many of the rockets fired at Sederot, the rockets are unlikely to fall on empty desert.

What explains the "Peace Process Fanatics," as Rick Richman calls them? Caroline Glick attempts to explain the phenomenon, or at least describe it, in her column in the Jerusalem Post entitled, "The Rise of the Fantasists." Unfortunately, as Glick observes, these fantasies of peace are a world-wide trend that endangers the security of the West.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Communist China Bans Tibetan Buddhist Monks from Reincarnating Without Government Permission

In a bizarre attempt to control who will be named the next Dalai Lama, the government of the communist and atheist People's Republic of China has issued an edict, prohibiting Buddhist monks from reincarnating in Tibet withhout government permission. As reported in The Times Online, the order, which goes into effect on September 1, 2007, reads in part “The so-called reincarnated living Buddha without government approval is illegal and invalid.”

The Communist Chinese authorities have not clarified how they propose to enforce this edict against reincarnation without a permit, but presumably any Tibetan who claims to be a reincarnated Buddhist monk could be prosecuted. Only a Communist kangaroo court would be able to get a conviction on such a charge. In any court requiring due process and proof of the alleged crime, the prosecution would stumble over the fact that Communist doctrine dismisses the existence of an immortal soul, an afterlife and reincarnation. Logically, proof by the government of its case--that the defendant actually is guilty of reincarnation, as opposed to have only claimed reincarnation--would logically equally be proof of the falsehood of tenets of Communist orthodoxy. However, since truth and logical consistency have never been hallmarks of Red Chinese justice, the authorities may well be able to obtain a criminal conviction on the charge of unlawful reincarnation.

The apparent purpose of the new law is the very worldly objective of controlling who will succeed the present Dalai Lama (pictured above). In exile, the Dalai Lama, who like other reincarnated lamas is considered by Tibetan Buddhists to be a living Buddha, is a living symbol of resistance against the conquest and occupation of Tibet by Communist China. The present Dalai Lama has indicated that he will not reincarnate in Tibet while it is occupied by China. The rules instituted by China regarding reincarnation also forbid Buddhist monks from reincarnating outside of China (Tibet, in view of the Communist leasders, being part of China).

Apparently, following the death of the present Dalai Lama, the Communist Chinese leaders plan to name their own successor, a "Manchurian candidate" who will be strictly under the thumb of the Peking regime. Should a monk residing outside of China and Tibet claim to be the reincarnated Dalai Lama, the Communists will respond that they do not recognize that rival Dalai Lama, because by being born outside of China, he has violated Chinese law. As Newsweek notes, this is one of the most bizarre actions in the history of totalitarian government.

They occupy Tibet illegally. They imprison hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of political prisoners. They manufacture goods using convict slave labor. They sell us food adulterated with poison and toys coated with lead-based paint that poison our children. They tolerate, if not encourage, the piracy of our software, music and films. Why are the Olympics being held in Peking? Why is the U.S. participating?

Damascus International Airport is the Grand Central Station of Terrorism

Senator Joe Lieberman makes the point in today's Wall Street Journal online.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Barak Says Syria Does Not Want War--So Expect War

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, right, and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.Photo: IDF [file]

The gentlemen pictured above are the new Israeli Defense brain trust. Ehud Barak, of course, is a former Prime Minister, who tried to give away the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to Yassir Arafat, but, thank God, was unsuccessful because in return Arafat would have had to agree to peace with Israel. Mind you, this was already 7 years after the Oslo Accords, in which the PLO had supposedly already agreed to peace with Israel. Nonetheless, unlike his predecessor, the bumbling Amir Peretz, and Ehud Olmert, the current Prime Minister, Barak at least had a very distinguished military career, including service as a commando in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, and culminating as Chief of the General Staff.

Sitting beside him is the current IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Gabi Askenazi, who by all accounts that I have heard is a superb soldier and commander.

So why am I worried? Well, despite mounting evidence of Hezbollah rearming and positioning newer long-range missile systems, smuggled in from Iran through Syria, north of the Litani River, where they could reach all major Israeli cities; despite the return of the Russian Navy to its Cold War Syrian bases, where they could by their presence thwart an Israeli amphibious attack or an attack by an Israeli submarine or missile cruiser; despite the installation in Syria of the most advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft missile system, before it is even deployed to Russian military forces; despite the massive smuggling of arms to Hamas in Gaza, over the Egyptian border, including rockets believed capable of striking at Israel's port cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon; despite reports of that Iran is arming and training Hamas gunmen and missile and artillery crews; despite intelligence reports that the Syrian chief of military intelligence has persuaded his brother-in-law, Syria's President Assad, to launch a military attack against Israel--Barak says not to worry. That's why I'm worried.

Today's Jerusalem Post reports that Barak has advised the Israeli cabinet that neither Syria, nor Hezbollah, has any interest in reigniting combat with Israel.

Last week Barak announced that he will not order the distribution of gas masks to the civilian population of Israel, despite intelligence reports that Syria has built up an arsenal of missiles that can carry biological and chemical warheads. Barak decided to avoid taking any concrete action out of fear that distribution of gas masks might be misinterpreted by Syria as preparation for war.

So Israel does not want war, does not expect war and is not preparing for war. That virtually guarantees that Israel will get war. Look for a coordinated three-pronged massive missile and artillery Arab attack on Israel, launched by Hamas from Gaza, by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon and by Syria, in September or October, perhaps on the 34th anniversary of the surprise attack on Israel by Syria and Egypt, which began the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

And let me say in advance that I hope to be proven a hysterical alarmist.

UPDATE 8/20/2007: Listeners to the Hugh Hewitt Show are familiar with Hugh's resident expert on Israeli affairs, especially defense matters, Yoni Tidi. Yoni's response to my post above was encouraging in one sense but profoundly sobering overall. He wrote: "Israel is getting ready for war. We are training the reserve soldiers like they haven't been trained in years, we are updating their equipment. The chance for war in October is very high."

For more of Yoni's views, go to his blog, Daf Yoni ("Yoni's page). The name is a pun on a program of daily Talmud Study, called Daf Yomi ("daily page"), in which Jews all over the world study the same page of the Babylonian Talmud (both sides of a folio size page, actually) each day and finish the entire Bablylonian Talmud in a seven-year cycle.

Friday, August 17, 2007

National Health Service Orders Scottish Doctors Not to Eat In Front of Moslem Colleagues During Ramadan

This is the type of story that, when first heard, one thinks must be a hoax. But no, in our modern politically correct world, truth is stranger than fiction.

The Daily Express reports that in Greater Glasgow, Clyde and Lothian, Scotland, the Boards of the National Health Service have ordered doctors not to eat lunch at their desks or in the workplace during Ramadan, because the sight of them eating might upset their fasting Moslem colleagues. Vending machines are also to be removed from the workplace where Moslems work, and lunch trolleys are banned during the 30-day Moslem holy month, which begins next month.

What is next? Will the National Health Service boards prohibit feeding hospital patients, because the sight of them eating may offend Moslem doctors, nurses, and patients?

As a Jew who observes the kosher dietary laws, I have shared workplaces with non-Jewish and non-observant Jewish working colleagues for almost three decades. Not once did it occur to me that, to avoid offending me, they should be prohibited from diving into a shrimp salad or enjoying a ham sandwich or cheeseburger. Although the Hedgehog, a devout Mormon, has slipped below the radar of late at this blog site, I will say for him, and he hopefully will concur, that he has never taken offense at the site of a fellow employee slurping a cup of coffee.

It is peculiarly ironic that this condescending patronization of Islam began as a reaction to 9/11 and subsequent Islamist terrorism. It is as if society must take extraordinary measures, which one would never be expected to adopt regarding any other religious group, in order to assure Moslems that we don't think ill of them or their religion merely because their co-religionists regularly engage in the mass murder of innocent men, women and children, including other Moslems.

But don't necessarily expect sound-thinking and good-hearted Moslems to object to this patronization. Indeed, a Moslem senior consultant with the firm Meem, the Glasgow-based consultancy that authored the guidelines, said that he was "thrilled" that the National Health Service boards had adopted his firm's policy guidance. “After the Glasgow attack this is very important, " he said. "This is about educating people and making them more aware and more confident when dealing with issues surrounding the Muslim community."

Seeing how several of the suspects in the June 30 Glasgow Airport bombing were doctors, working in Great Britain's National Health System, once might think a better way of making people confident in dealing with healthcare professionals in the Islamic community would be for Moslems to forcefully reject radical Islamism, display more tolerance of their non-Moslem colleagues, and adjust to life in a pluralistic, secular society.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Syria Reportedly Has Deployed World's Most Advanced Anti-Aircraft System

Israeli media reported yesterday that, according to a senior Israeli military source, Syria has deployed the world's most advanced anti-aircraft system. The system, purchased from Russia (and probably with Iranian funds), includes over 200 antiaircraft batteries of various types, including Russia's most advanced ground-to-air missiles, which are considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology. The race to purchase advanced anti-aircraft weapons is one of the most prominent manifestations of Syria's recent preparations for a renewed conflict with Israel. More details about the anti-aircraft system may be found here.

Putin's regime has now thrown its full weight of military support behind President Assad of Syria (photo above left), its Hezbollah client militia in Lebanon and its Iranian ally. In addition to the sales of advanced anti-aircraft equipment, the Russian Navy has reopened former Soviet bases on Syria's Mediterranean seacost. See "Russian Navy Returns to Syrian Ports," The Hedgehog Blog, August 6, 2007. Syria has returned the favor by rearming Hezbollah, whose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, now claims to have superior weaponry, and more of it, than prior to last summer's war, as reported by Ynet here. Although the UN peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon has succeeded in keeping Hezbollah from returning to its former strongholds south of the Litani River, according to the Ynet story, The Sunday Telegraph has reported that Hezbollah has begun purchasing large tracts of land in Southern Lebanon, just north of the Litani River, possibly for installation of longer range missiles obtained from Iran through Syria. Nasrallah claims that Hezbollah's missiles are capable of reaching every Israeli city.

In this atmosphere of mounting military threats, the leaders of both Israel and Syria are publicly assuring one another that neither country wants to reopen hostilities, as reported today in the Jerusalem Post, including a speech in Lebanon by Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Shara. But al-Shara's speech must be considered in the light of reports that the Assad regime has marginalized Vice President al-Shara and that Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has been banned from hosting American, Arab and European officials, as recounted by Ynet here. Assad is increasingly being influenced by his brother-in-law, General Asef Shawkat, the head of Syrian military intelligence, who is counseling Assad that only war will bring Israel to the negotiating table with Syria. Shawkat reportedly is trying to drag Israel into a war in Lebanon, and possibly with Syria, next month.

It would be folly for Israel not to take that intelligence extremely seriously, and prepare for rocket attacks against its major cities.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hot Enough For You? Well, It was Hotter in 1934

The global warming alarmists love to cite NASA's listing of the hottest years for U.S. surface air temperature in the lower 48 states. Until recently, you would have seen that the hottest year on record was 1998, with 2001 in the top 10. This was supposed to prove the warming trend that the alarmists have warned us about, and that only someone in scientific denial would challenge.

Well, Mark Steyn informs us that NASA was flubbing its number crunching. When the flaw in methodology was pointed out, by a Canadian gentleman named Steve McIntyre at, and NASA corrected its data, Lo and Behold, the hottest year on record was not 1998, but rather 1934. Indeed, 4 of the 10 hottest years on record were in the 1930's, in the midst of the Great Depression, not normally considered to be the heyday of American fossil fuel consumption.

Mitt Romney Can't Seem to Win For Winning

And the winner of the Iowa straw poll is...Mike Huckabee, who came in second? That's what one would think if one relied on the pundits on the Sunday morning news and analysis programs, NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation, ABC's This Week.

True, the actual winner was Mitt Romney. True, the Romney Campaign turned in a very strong performance, just as Governor Romney predicted. True, Romney trounced the other GOP contenders, leading second-place finisher Huckabee by some 14 percentage points. True, Romney's well-oiled and well-financed campaign discouraged Rudy Giuliani and John McCain from even showing up in Iowa to compete in the straw poll. True, Romney's showing among the Republican Party activists who participate in the Iowa straw poll should have dispelled any lingering doubt about whether Romney can appeal to the GOP base, or whether his Mormon religious faith would put off fundamentalist Christians.

But the emphasis on every program except Fox News Sunday was the second-place finish by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and speculation on whether his showing vaulted him into the "first tier" of GOP Presidential candidates. Only Chris Wallace on Fox actually interviewed the winner, Governor Romney.

At some point, the talking faces will have to acknowledge the achievements of a politician who says what he is going to do--in this case, win the Iowa straw poll--and then goes out and does it, convincingly. That type of performance characterizes the leadership of Mitt Romney, whether in politics, business, community service (such as his rescue of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics), and, not unimportantly, his family life. At some point, whether it is in the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the South Carolina primary, or on the February 5th Super Tuesday, a string of victories by the Romney Campaign will undeniably begin to mean something to our political analysts. At some point, one can't ignore success, and it wouldn't matter even if one does, because the voters have the final say.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An Interesting Mitt Romney YouTube Clip

I was intrigued to see that while Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney once appeared on the Don Imus show (remember him?). Here's the YouTube clip:

I thought the Governor's relaxed demeanor in this setting was different from the man we usually see on the presidential campaign trail. He's also pretty funny.

By the way, reports by my brother Hedgehog, Kosher, of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Beauchamp Scandal Update: TNR Points Fingers as Its Credibility Erodes

The New Republic's defense of Scott Beauchamp's column, "Shock Troops," continues to erode. [See "The New Republic Admits 'Error' in Iraq Soldier Story," Hedgehog Blog, August 3, 2007.] Beauchamp's alleged description of brutal and cruel conduct by soldiers in Iraq included an account of a Bradley vehicle driver who took pleasure in trapping and killing dogs in the vehicle's tracks. Critics had challenged whether a Bradley driver in fact could maneuver his vehicle in the manner described in the Beauchamp article. Last week, TNR claimed that it had "contacted the manufacturer of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System, where a spokesman confirmed that the vehicle is as maneuverable as Beauchamp described." However, Michael Goldfarb, writing in The Daily Standard, says that he tracked down the unnamed [by TNR] company expert who spoke with TNR, Doug Coffey, head of Communications, Land & Armaments, for BAE Systems. Mr. Coffey had not been shown the Beauchamp column by TNR. Once he read the article, he challenged the credibility of the account both as to the ability of the Bradley vehicle to engage in such a maneuver and as to the likelihood of the commander and crew of the vehicle allowing the driver to engage in behavior that might well damage the vehicle and its equipment and endanger its crew.

TNR, in the meantime, continues to defend itself, but the defense sounds increasingly uncertain, and TNR now contends that the U.S. Army has "stonewalled our efforts to get to the truth" by blocking its access to Mr. Beauchamp. Too bad that TNR did not exert the same effort to fact checking before publishing the shocking, and now discredited, narrative of Mr. Beauchamp.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Iran's Mullahs Covet Bahrain

The oil-rich Persian Gulf island nation of Bahrain has the fastest growing economy of any Arab nation. This has not escaped the covetous eyes of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary regime, writes Daniel Pipes in Jewish World Review.

Pipes notes that Hossein Shariatmadari, an associate of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and editor of the daily newspaper Kayhan, published an op-ed on July 9 in which he claimed: "Bahrain is part of Iran's soil, having been separated from it through an illegal conspiracy [spawned] by ... Shah [Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, along with] the American and British governments." Of course, that language is extremely similar to that used by Saddam Hussein's regime when it invaded and tried to erase the existence of Kuwait in 1990.

This is yet another manisfestation of Iran's quest for hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Fortunately, the U.S. Fifth Fleet probably would have something to say about those plans, to the extent that they threaten Bahrain.

Hopefully, that would remain true even if the next President of the United States is Hillary "I was for the Iraq war before I was against it" Clinton, John "the Haircut" Edwards or Barak "Bomb Pakistan" Obama. Still, I suspect that the good people of Bahrain, if they had the right to vote in U.S. Presidential elections, would vote GOP.

Farewell, Hal Fishman. Booomers--Schedule that Colonoscopy!

Hal Fishman, the distinguished KTLA news anchor, a dignified and restrained throwback to an earlier era of television news, died Tuesday, of complications from colon cancer, at age 75. His cancer had been diagnosed only one week before his death, following a collapse at his home. Mr. Fishman had worked right up to that time; one might almost say he died with his boots on, and no doubt that is how he would have chosen to leave his beloved profession. The Los Angeles Times report of his death is found here. Our condolences go out to his family, friends and loved ones.

Today I took the one step that all of us post-50 boomers need to take, the one preventive action that most assures early detection of colon cancer. I had a colonoscopy. It was my second; my first was at age 50. I am now 55. This second procedure revealed one small benign polyp, which was removed. Because the colonoscopy discovered a polyp, my doctor will likely recommend another colonscopy in 5 years.

My procedure had been scheduled over a month ago, and had nothing to do with Mr. Fishman's illness. Nonetheless, when I heard the news of Mr. Fishman's diagnosis a week ago, and how advanced the cancer was when discovered, having already spread to the liver and other vital organs, I wondered why Mr. Fishman, certainly someone who kept abreast of the news, including in healthcare, would not have undergone a colonoscopy years ago. Members of his profession are no doubt even more aware than the general public of CBS news anchor Katie Couric's campaign to encourage colonoscopies, as the best medical tool for the early detection and treatment of colon cancer, a campaign that Ms. Couric undertook following the death of her husband from the disease. As the illness of a celebrity tends to raise public awareness of a disease, one would hope that more people will discuss with their physicians whether they should have a colonoscopy. One has to believe that Hal Fishman would applaud such a result.

Of course, one who is saved from colon cancer by a colonoscopy today may be fatally hit by a car tomorrow. The length of our lives is solely in God's hands. Nonetheless, as with everything else in life, God expects us to contribute what in Hebrew we call histadlut, a good faith effort and initiative to try to do what is right and best for us; then we trust in Him regarding the ultimate result of our efforts, whether it may seem good or ill in our human eyes. So, fellow baby boomers, speak to your physicians and schedule a colonscopy. It may be a pain in the tuches, but it's good for you.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Russian Navy Returns to Syrian Ports

It is not for nothing that Russian President Putin sometimes wears a Russian naval hat, as in the photo at the left. Ynet, the online service of Yediot Acharonot, Israel's largest daily newspaper, reports:

For the first time since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russia plans to re-operate the Tartus and Latakia ports in Syria as permanent bases for the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean basin, according to recent western media reports.

And its analysts are right on target regarding the significance for both the United States and Israel of this expansion of Russian Navy influence:

Another phase in Russian President Vladimir Putin's imperialistic aspirations is being realized. It was just a matter of time before the Russian navy returned to the Mediterranean and resumed permanent command over the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia, which it abandoned with the fall of the Soviet Union.

A Russian flag on Syrian soil has significant strategic implications. Firstly, it challenges the US and the dominance of the Sixth Fleet stationed in the Mediterranean. Secondly, with its actual presence in Syria, Russia is announcing that it is actively participating in any process and conflict in the Middle East, that it has a stance of its own, and that it must be reckoned with.

From Israel's point of view, we can expect a change in the rules of the game in the Mediterranean in general, and more specifically along the Syrian-Lebanon coasts: We haven't seen Soviet spy ships in the Mediterranean for quite some time. A permanent port in Syria would significantly facilitate its operations in our arena.

Under such circumstances, the Israeli navy's freedom of action would inevitably change – and we may assume that Israel would have a problem striking at land-based facilities during wartime. The large-scale Syrian-Russian arms deal also includes systems for protecting coasts and ports and land-to-sea missiles of the most advanced type.

Israeli Researchers Develop Theoretical Model for Time Machine

Here is a story that is bound to give fits to those benighted individuals who are preoccupied with imaginary Zionist conspiracies of world domination. Researchers at Technion University, in Haifa, have developed a theoretical model for a time machine, based on Einstein's theories concerning the capacity for curvature in the space-time continuum, and, more importantly, their work merited publication in the current issue of Physical Review.

Think of the possibities, you paranoid anti-Semites out there! The Jews will be able to travel willy-nilly through time, working their will on history! [HT: David Goder at]

The Hanging Mullahs: Iran Executes 118 in Six Weeks

Amir Taheri, writing in the Opinion Journal, writes that the Tehran Islamist regime has carried out the largest wave of executions since 1984, putting to death 118 persons in the last 6 weeks. Four of the executions were by stoning, and the rest by hanging. The hanging of seven young men in Mashad, Iran was broadcast live on television last Wednesday. Taheri writes, "According to Saeed Mortazavi, the chief Islamic prosecutor, at least 150 more people, including five women, are scheduled to be hanged or stoned to death in the coming weeks."

Taheri adds:
The campaign of terror also includes targeted "disappearances" designed to neutralize trade union leaders, student activists, journalists and even mullahs opposed to the regime. According to the latest tally, more than 30 people have "disappeared" since the start of the new Iranian year on March 21. To intimidate the population, the authorities also have carried out mass arrests on spurious grounds.

Authoritarian regimes always respond to internal threats with increased repression, usually acccompanied, as in the case of the Iranian Islamic revolutionary regime, with dark warnings about conspiracies by external foes to topple the ruling government. Of course, Tehran is not reacting purely out of paranoia--there is no question that the West in general and the United States in particular would welcome the overthrow of the mullahs. It is likely, however, that all but a few of the victims murdered by the Iranian government were either domestic political opponents of the regime or persons convicted of non-political crimes; not agents of a foreign conspiracy.

Only time will tell whether this new wave of repression in Iran will more firmly entrench the mullahs, in a regime of fear, or instead represents the death throes of a desperate tyranny.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fatah Alleges Hamas Kidnapped Christian Professor, Forced Her to Convert to Islam

As reported in the Jerusalem Post, Fatah officials claimed over the weekend that Hamas had kidnapped Sana al-Sayegh, a prominent Christian professor at the Palestine University in Gaza City, and had forced her to convert to Islam. The officials stated that the President of the university, Dr. Zaher Khail, had assisted Hamas in the kidnapping of the professor.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The New Republic Admits "Error" in Iraq Soldier Story

Avid readers of the conservative blogosphere are well aware of the suspicions raised by many bloggers regarding the truthfulness of the New Republic's "Baghdad Diarist," since revealed to be one Private Thomas Scott Beauchamp. Perhaps the most poignant and personal incident related by Beauchamp involved the merciless teasing by Beauchamp and his buddies of a female soldier, whose face had been severely disfigured by burn wound scars. Reflecting on this cruelty, Beauchamp had written:
Am I a monster? I have never thought of myself as a cruel person... Even as I was reveling in the laughter my words had provoked, I was simultaneously horrified and ashamed at what I had just said. In a strange way, though, I found the shame comforting. I was relieved to still be shocked by my own cruelty—to still be able to recognize that the things we soldiers found funny were not, in fact, funny.

The theme of this incident, and others related by Beauchamp in the same column, was the degree to which combat in the Iraq war had brutalized him and his comrades.

Now, however, Beauchamp has been forced by blogger scrutiny of the story to admit that the incident took place in Kuwait, before his Iraq service had even begun. The New Republic assures us that "we sincerely regret this mistake." Of course, it was a lie, not a mistake, and the fact that the incident took place in Kuwait, before combat in Iraq could possibly have brutalized Beuchamp, completely undercuts the theme of the "Baghdad Diarist" column.

Writing in The Corner at National Review, Mark Steyn, as nearly always, puts it best: "War is hell, but, if you beat up a bloke in a pub in southern England a year before D-Day, that may not be the best anecdote to prove your point."

Powerline provides a valuable blogosphere roundup of the ongoing revelations of this latest liberal press scandal. (HT: Instapundit.) The most recent development as I write this post... Matt Sanchez reports that an official investigation of Beauchamp's allegations by 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division has concluded that the allegations made by Private Thomas Scott Beauchamp have been "refuted by members of his platoon and proven to be false."

Oops. One wonders why the left has been so lathered over the prospect of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp buying The Wall Street Journal. The liberal media has proven time and time again that it can publish and broadcast hoaxes without any assistance from Mr. Murdoch.

Oh well, Private Beauchamp, nonetheless, thank you for your military service.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Have You Seen This Real Missing Person?

Lowell Brown, also known as the Hedgehog, is the founder of The Hedgehog Blog. Until recently, he was known to frequent The Hedgehog Blog and Article VI blog. He has also occasionally made a guest appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. However, he has not been seen in his familiar haunts for some weeks now, and his blogging partner is concerned. Lowell reportedly was last seen in his Century City law office, packing for a move downtown. Other witnesses claim to have seen him dragged into a Mitt Romney campaign van (although curiously the witnesses all reported that the abducters closely resembled Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson) . Anyone with any knowledge of Lowell's current whereabouts or who thinks he may have spotted Lowell should leave a comment on this post.

Egyptian Soliders Kill 4 Sudanese Trying to Enter Israel

The Jerusalem Post reports that Egyptian soldiers murdered 4 Sudanese refugees, trying to cross the border from Egypt into Israel, on Wednesday night, as Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops watched helplessly. After shooting two of the refugees to death, and wounding a third, the Egyptians beat the wounded man and the fourth, previously uninjured refugee to death, using stones and clubs.

After the initial fusillade of bullets killed his two companions, the unwounded man rain to the border fence. An IDF soldier reached over the fence to grab his arms and help him across. The Egyptians soliders grabbed him by the legs, however, and a macabre tug of war followed, which ended when the IDF soldier released his grip, fearing that the Egyptians were about to open fire on him. "They were aiming loaded weapons straight at us, I was afraid they were going to shoot us," he said.

The Egyptians then took the two surviving refugees several meters away from the border fence, and proceeded to beat them to death. "What happened there yesterday was a lynch. These are not men, they're animals. They killed him without even using firearms," the soldier said. "We just heard screams of pain and the sounds of beatings. Then the screams stopped."

Although the entire incident was filmed by IDF security cameras, but a spokesperson for Israel's Channel 10, which apparently had access to the tapes, stated that the channel chose not to broadcast them to avoid a diplomatic row with Egypt.

Read the entire account here. You are unlikely to read about the incident in the Los Angeles Times.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Demographic Argument For Surrendering Land to Arabs Is a Crock

For over thirty years, advocates of surrender of portions of the Land of Israel, for incorporation into a Palestinian Arab state, have argued that the demographics of Arab population growth demand such concessions, if Israel is to remain a democratic state with a Jewish majority. That was the rationale behind the disastrous Oslo Accords and the Gaza withdrawal. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert still cites the "demographic threat" to justify further territorial concessions to the Arabs in Judea and Shomron, the historical heartland of the Jewish people.

In the Jerusalem Post, David Rubin writes that the "demographic threat" is a chimera, a fantasy wielded by the Israeli left to silence their opponents:

"The demographic argument of those who advocate Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, whether unilateral or negotiated with our peace-loving neighbors, ignores both the steady high birthrates of the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria and the ongoing and increasing emigration of the Arab population from those areas. Furthermore, the media rarely notes that the reports of massive Arab population growth have been deliberately exaggerated to serve Arab/Muslim political interests. By closing our eyes to these simultaneous trends, we are simply supporting Hamas/Fatah propaganda and lies, intended to destroy the Jewish state.

"YORAM ETTINGER, who headed the Israeli research team in a major demographic study carried out in 2005, has pointed out that Israel is not losing the demographic race and emphasized that "there is no need to retreat from Jewish geography in order to secure Jewish demography." Furthermore, the true demographic threat for Israel is not in Judea and Samaria, but in regions like the Galilee, with its large and growing Arab majority, or in secular Tel Aviv, where large families are unfortunately not the norm. As Prof. Dan Meyerstein, president of Ariel College, has pointed out, the birthrate in Judea and Samaria is "crazily higher than the rest of Israel" - 4.4 children, as opposed to the national average of 2.8. "

So there you have it. The Arabs are not going to overwhelm their Jews of Israel with their birthrate. The only relevant demographic risk is that posed by the very leftist societal elites that scream for territorial concessions--they are not having babies. The much maligned settlers who populate the towns of Judea and Shomron are the very people who are most contributing to the preservation of a Jewish majority in Israel.

Maybe there are some sound arguments for the creation of a Palestinian State in Judea and Shomron (although the likely outcome will be a terrorist state within easy shelling and rocket range of all of Israel's major cities). But the "demographic threat" is not one of them.

Mitt Romney Urges a Surge of Support for Our Troops

In a campaign e-mail, Governor Romney writes:

When I was recently in Colorado Springs, I spoke with a man whose son is serving in Iraq. He said the criticism at home of the war effort was demoralizing. He made the point that as our fighting men and women are defending our liberties overseas, we as Americans need to stand by them. Afterwards, my nephew suggested there should be a "surge of support" to go along with the troop surge. I told him that I couldn’t agree more.

Governnor Romney urges all Americans to join this surge of support, and at the website linked above provides links to a number of organizations that boost the morale of armed forces. No matter who your preferred Presidential candidate is, this is a campaign message that everyone can proudly back.