Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth, 1974

Hat tip to the boys at Power Line for reprinting these excerpts from Time Magazine's July 29, 1974 edition:
As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere--from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest. Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7 degrees F. ... When Climatologist George G. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamong-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. The University of Wisconsin's Reid A. Bryson and other climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth.

And no MSM climate catastrophe article would be complete without an ominous quote from the scientific expert:
Warns [Climatologist Kenneth] Hare: "I don't believe that the world's present popuation is sustainable is there are more than three years like 1972 in a row."

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Speaking of Baseball, How About a Dry Bones Double Header

As the immortal Ernie Banks used to say, "It's a beautiful day! Let's play two!" Here are two recent offerings from our blog buddy Yaakov Kirschen at the Dry Bones Blog. For the full play-by-play and color commentary, please visit his blog.

Pro Baseball Comes to Israel. Can the Messiah be Far Behind?

American Jews "making aliyah" (emigrating) to Israel in the past have faced only one glaring loss from the life they left behind, only one thing truly lacking in their new lives in the Holy Land. American pizza and American hamburgers are commonplace, Chinese and Mexican restaurants can be found with just a little effort, but until now there has been no professional baseball.

(There is no American football either, but that in the view of this writer is a relatively minor inconvenience. Basketball, in contrast, is a popular spectator sport in Israel. Israel's professional basketball teams play in the European leagues, and many past or future NBA players have made a stop in Israel for a few years of their careers.)

A friend, Jay Shapiro, who has lived in Israel since the early 1960's, describes how one day he was walking along a hedge that lined a park when he heard from the other side a distinctive, truly unique sound, greatly loved and sorely missed--the crack of a wooden bat against a hardball. He immediately found his way into the park and talked his way into the pickup game he found there. Amateur softball is fairly common among American immigrants, especially at Fourth of July picnics. Despite these substitutes, the experience of sitting in a pro ballpark, watching a game, has until now required a trip back to the States. For those who truly appreciate baseball, the absence of pro baseball in Israel has been virtually a spiritual shortcoming, evidence that the Messiah indeed has not yet arrived.

Well, perhaps the coming of the Messiah is imminent. JTA reports that professional baseball has arrived in Israel, in the form of a six-team league playing a 45 game schedule. Managers of the new teams include former major leaguers Ken Holtzman, Ron Blomberg and Art Shamsky, the latter a veteran of the 1969 World Champion "Miracle Mets." As befitting a former Met, Shamsky has already learned how to say "You're blind, ump," and "Why don't you open your eyes, ump," in Hebrew. Of course, the Bronx cheer needs no translation.

Monday, February 26, 2007

MSM Focus on Mitt Romney's Ancestors: Is This Really Necessary?

Over at Article VI Blog we examine the AP's latest voyage into very shallow waters. The title of the AP piece says it all: "Polygamy a prominent feature in Romney's family tree." It seems that over 100 years ago some of Mitt Romney's Mormon ancestors were polygamists.

This utterly unsurprising and well-known information may be the best example of "dog bites man" we've seen this year. Article VI does a dissection, with links to others; and Best of the Web Today performs a brutal and thorough smackdown.

Adds the Kosher Hedgehog: Now that AP has exposed this scandal regarding Mitt Romney's ancestry, the Kosher Hedgehog feels he too must come clean. Two of my ancestors were polygamous. One, Abraham, had two wives, Sarah and Hagar (aka Keturah), and his grandson Jacob had four wives, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah and Zilpah. Indeed, it is precisely in recognition of this shameful ancestry that I have decided not to seek the Presidency in 2008.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tom and Jerry Enlist in the International Jewish Conspiracy

In this actual lecture, taped from Iranian television, translated and distributed with English subtitles by the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Iranian University Professor Hasan Bolkhari teaches that "the Jewish Walt Disney company" created Tom and Jerry as a public relations device, to improve the European image of Jews after World War II. The portrayal of the cute, clever mouse was intended to counteract the 19th century European portrayal of Jews as "dirty mice," which came about because the Jews were "in most cases" the "main power to hoard money and wealth." The Times Comment Editor Daniel Finkelstein, who posted the MEMRI video at TimesOnLine Comment Central, notes that at least two of his colleagues at The Times thought this film was a spoof. Tragically, this is what is actually taught in Iranian universities (and probably some American ones as well). "Another reason," quips Finkelstein, why I don't want Iran to get a nuclear bomb."

Believers and Empiricism

In the Jerusalem Post, columnist Jonathan Rosenblum compares the empiricism of President George W. Bush with those of his left-wing, mostly secular, critics.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Did He Say It Or Not?

Some observers are saying that this amateur video of the recent Salt Lake City mall murder rampage reveals that the killer shouted "Allahu Akbar" before he was shot. I really can't tell. As Dean Barnett often says, I link, you decide.

Peggy Noonan: "Mrs. Clinton seems less inevitable after this week."

Ms. Noonan's Opinion Journal piece is insightful. Excerpt:
Americans have always--always--looked at and judged the character and personality of their candidates for president. And they have been right to do so. It mattered that Lincoln was Honest Abe, Washington had no personal lust for power, that FDR was an optimist and a manipulator, that Adams was a man of rectitude and no small amount of stubbornness. These facts, these aspects of their nature, had policy implications and leadership implications. They couldn't be more pertinent. They still are.
Read the whole thing.

Update: Then there's this from Bill Kristol in the Weekly Standard. Ouch!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quote of The Day: Steve Jobs

"What kind of person could you get to run a small business if you told them that when they came in they couldn't get rid of people that they thought weren't any good?" he asked to loud applause during an education reform conference.

"Not really great ones because if you're really smart you go, 'I can't win.'"

-- Apple CEO Steve Jobs on how technology in the classroom will do little to improve education unless the power of teacher's unions is curbed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ellen Goodman Compares Denial of Global Warming to Denial of the Holocaust

Boston Globe Columnist Ellen Goodman (photo left) wrote in her February 9, 2007 column , "Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future."

The Anti-Defamation League, so quick to go after Dennis Prager when he criticized Congressman Keith Ellison for taking his oath of office on the Koran, has been silent in response to Ms. Goodman's colossal overstatement. The Simon Wiesenthal Center also has not been heard from. All of which proves once again that being a liberal means never having to say you're sorry.

[The alert and culturally savvy reader will note the hidden allusion in my paraphrase of the famous line from Erich Segal's 1970 novel, "Love Story." Mr. Segal has noted that one model for the protagonist of Love Story was none other than Mr. Global Warming himself, Oscar nominee and former Vice President Al Gore. The other model named by Mr. Segal was Tommy Lee Jones, later the star of the movie "Men In Black," a comedy about space aliens among us, thereby also tying in the theme of the mental state of the swamp-gas left.]

Mark Steyn (photo right) is particularly amused to be lumped together with holocaust deniers, as he writes in this Chigago Sun Times column. Mark used Ms. Goodman's column as a jumping-off point for a discussion of the hostile reaction to his earlier Chicago Sun Times column, which challenged the pronouncements of pundits regarding the recent UN IPPC report on global warming. Mark dared to note, "Alas, the science isn't all that solid." Seeing as how Andrew Sullivan recently accused Mark of being only luke-warm or worse on the subject of genocide, the connection between global warming denial and Holocaust denial seems clear cut indeed.

In the most recent column, Mark writes, with all the callousness one would expect of someone certified by Ellen Goodman and Andrew Sullivan as a global warming/Holocaust denier and a genocide advocate, "So, faced with a degree rise in temperature, we could destroy the planet's economy, technology, communications and prosperity. And ruin the lives of millions of people. Or we could do what man does best: adapt. You do the math." Oh, what evil lurks in the hearts of man!

I particularly appreciated the citation by Mark in his earlier column of the "inconvenient truth" presented by the history of Greenland. The first Europeans to try to colonize North American were Vikings, led by Leif Erickson, in 1001 C.E. Those Vikings sailed from Greenland, from the colonies founded there by Leif's father, Erik the Red, around 982 C.E. The Viking settlers of Greenland sustained themselves and indeed thrived for centuries through fishing, hunting and farming! Farming was possible because, in the words of the Wikipedia article on the history of Greenland (which presumably was not written with the whitewashing of Mark Steyn's shameless global warming denial in mind), "The fjords of the southern part of the island were lush and had a warmer climate at that time, possibly due to what was called the Medieval Warm Period." Those colonies continued to thrive for almost 500 years, and then suddenly disappeared in the fifteenth century with the end of the Medieval Warm Period and the onset of the Little Ice Age. The bottom line is that Greenland today, even with the recent decades of warming, is far colder and less temperate than it was from at least 980 until 1450. One could not farm there today, or even in the foreseeable future with projected warming, in the manner that its Norse population did during the Middle Ages. Moreover, since Greenland today is a population center of the polar bear, somehow the polar bear managed to survive extinction during that long warm spell. Go figure. In any event, do not look for Mr. Gore to discuss the history of Greenland in his Oscar acceptance speech.

Finally, the reader might valuably peruse this column by Dennis Prager at RealClearPolitics, in which Dennis observes that the Ellen Goodman comparison is one more example of the difference in how the mainstream Left and the mainstream Right view their political opponents: "With a few exceptions, those on the Left tend to view their ideological adversaries as bad people, i.e., people with bad intentions, while those on the Right tend to view their adversaries as wrong, perhaps even dangerous, but not usually as bad."

Hezbollah Stronger Than Before 2006 War

Brig.-Gen. Yossi Beiditz, head of the Israel Defense Forces's Intelligence Wing Research Division, has told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hezbollah continues to smuggle weapons into southern Lebanon, and has surpassed its pre-war abilities. As reported by Israel National News, Gen. Beiditz related that Hezbollah has "returned to its pre-war capabilities, and has even become stronger."

Ever alert to further undermining of his declining political fortunes, Defense Minister Amir Peretz interrupted Beiditz's report and said, "Hezbollah has not increased its strength, but merely its potential." [What does that mean? Talk about political doublespeak!] Beiditz quickly agreed with Peretz, arousing a storm of protest from opposition Members of the Knesset.

Silvan Shalom, a Likud Member of the Knesset and former Finance Minister, noted that Beiditz's testimony proves that the war was a failure. Just a few days ago, Hezbollah head Sheik Hassan Nasrallah bragged publicly about the continuing smuggling of weapons into southern Lebanon, in public defiance of the ceasefire agreement that ended the fighting last summer. During that fighting, Hezbollah fired some 4,000 Katyusha rockets at Israel, killing 41 civilians (including 17 Arabs and Druze). 119 soldiers were also killed in the war. It was estimated that Hezbollah did not use even half of its rocket strength.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Damon Linker Says, "Get Your Religious Beliefs Out of This Public Square!"

The previous post mentioned the article by Damon Linker (photo left) in the January 1-15 issue of The New Republic, which questioned Mitt Romney's fitness to be President of the United States, solely on the basis of Mr. Romney's Mormon faith. In the current (2/19/2007) issue of The New Republic, a letter to the editor echoed the suspicions of The Hedgehog Blog that Mr. Linker's article amounted to a partisan attack based on a cynical appeal to religious bigotry. Pamela Hamblin of Albuquerque, New Mexico, noted:

If Romney's religion is such a concern, why didn't Linker fret about its impact on Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader? Reid is an active and believing Mormon, but Linker failed even to mention his name or explain why far more than half of Senate Democrats voted to make him their leader. Religion is only dangerous in the hands of conservative Republicans, it seems.

Mr. Linker responds with a defense equivalent to the proverbial parent murderer who pleads for the mercy of the court on the grounds that he is an orphan. He writes:
As for Hamblin's contention that, in my view, "[r]eligion is only dangerous in the hands of conservative Republicans," I unapologetically plead guilty, at least if we limit ourselves to the present moment in U.S. political history. It is, after all, the religious right that has injected piety into the nation's politics in recent years. Having done so, it now wishes to declare the religious views of candidates off-limits for public debate, discussion, and scrutiny. Sorry, but the right can't have it both ways. If believers want to keep their religious convictions private, I wholeheartedly encourage them to follow the lead of such Democrats as John F. Kennedy and Harry Reid in doing so. If, instead, they insist on bringing their faith with them into the public square, then they would be well-advised to drop their defensiveness and get used to reading articles like mine.
So Linker admits that his is a partisan attack, but justifies it because he is on the side of the angels (only figuratively speaking, of course), also known as left-wing Democrats. One problem with his response is that every objection to a Mormon President that he raised in his article, based on the tenets and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and especially his objection to the Mormon belief that the President of the LDS Church is a prophet, would apply equally to a devout Mormon of the political left. If the Church President could prophesy as arbitrarily as Mr. Linker seems to believe, he could just as easily reveal a prophecy calling for the institution of a socialist welfare state as he could one opposing gay marriage.

Or perhaps Mr. Linker's point is that liberal Democratic Mormons don't really in their hearts of hearts believe in all that silly religious stuff, and therefore won't muck up our laws with it. That would certainly be an offensive affront to Senator Reid. Nonetheless, that very possibly is what Mr. Linker thinks, because his response in The New Republic echoes the theme that underlies his career as a political pundit.

Mr. Linker is a rebellious disciple of Father Richard John Neuhaus, the conservative Roman Catholic theologian and philosopher who advocates the active involvement of religious citizens in public affairs and the influence of religious values in public policy. A former editor of First Things, the magazine founded by Father Neuhaus, Mr. Linker apparently has undergone his own conversion to a radical political secularism, and now dedicates his career to forcing religion back out of the public square with all the vigor that Father Neuhaus has applied to returning religion there.

In short, Mr. Linker feels that religion is a very nice, private matter. Let's just not take it too seriously, to the point of where it actually influences our lives and our relationship with larger society. Mitt Romney has no place in Mr. Linker's public square, and neither, one would suspect, does Joe Lieberman. But what about the Reverend Martin Luther King, Bishop Desmond Tutu or even Mahatma Ghandhi. If Mr. Linker is sincere and even-handed (as opposed to a partisan hypocrite), then he should find the careers of these men as objectionable as he seems to find Mr. Romney's presidential aspirations. After all, these men all considered their political activities to be natural extensions and expressions of their religious faiths and beliefs. None of them kept "their religious convictions private." All of them insisted on "bringing their faith with them into the public square." Thank God.

Lowell the Hedgehog adds: Linker is clearly a polemicist more than a thinker, which helps explain his rather embarrassing reasoning. One glaring example: As Ralph notes, Linker's basis for justifying the attack on Romney is that religious conservatives "bring . . . their faith with them into the public square." Excuse me, but like just about every Mormon candidate for public office I have ever known, Mitt Romney never mentions his faith in public; others do that for him, and unceasingly. The irony in Linker's fuzzy thinking is delicious, but it doesn't make his argument any less silly.

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National Jewish Democratic Council Takes Cheap Shot at Romney

If one may judge what potential GOP Presidential candidate the Democrats fear most by the frequency of vitriolic attacks they direct at him, Mitt Romney must be a daunting threat to Democratic hopes of winning back the White House in 2008. First came the shamelessly partisan attack on Mr. Romney's Mormon faith in The New Republic. Then this week, following Mr. Romney's announcement of his candidacy at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the National Jewish Democratic Council weighed in with an attack that nearly borders on the bizarre, and certainly competes with The New Republic on the vile smear scale. "Henry Ford was a notorious anti-Semite and xenophobe," the NJDC spewed, and Mr. Romney had raised "serious questions" about his fitness to occupy the Oval Office.

Mitt Romney has a spotless record in his stance against anti-Semitism and his support for Israel. Just last month he was the only serious Presidential candidate to appear in person at the Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel's Security, where he presented a compelling case for confronting the threat to the United States, Israel and the West posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program. [See the above photo and The Hedgehog Blog, January 28, 2007, Mitt Romney Calls for Stop to Iranian Nuclear Program.]

In the Op-Ed Section of today's Los Angeles Times, Zev Chafets skewers the NJDC, not only because the attack was absurd, but because the concerns of the NJDC are so misplaced. Mr. Chafets writes:
"If attempting to link Romney with anti-Semitism is a cheap political trick, it is also something worse. Jews have real enemies these days, some of whom insist that a Jewish conspiracy has hijacked U.S. foreign policy on behalf of Israel. This is genuine Ford-ism, and it is found primarily on the "progressive" end of the political spectrum — as the National Jewish Democratic Council knows very well. Crying wolf is always irresponsible, but doing it in the middle of a forest is truly dangerous."

I couldn't agree more.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hamas Leader Says "Victory Over the Jews is Nigh"

Don't let the mainstream media or anyone else fool you into thinking that the agreement between Fatah and Hamas reached in Saudi Arabia last week means that Hamas has accepted the two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. JTA reports here:

Monday’s Al-Hayat, a London newspaper, quoted Hamas supreme leader Khaled Meshaal as saying that “Israel and its allies are at their most difficult hour, and victory over the Jews is nigh,” in reference to the Palestinian Authority unity government deal.
P.A. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, who along with Meshaal signed the coalition agreements in Mecca with P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, reaffirmed that Hamas would not yield to international demands to recognize Israel or renounce terrorism.

The photo above right shows Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, on the left, shaking hands with Palestinian Authority and Fatah head Mahmoud Abbas, at a meeting in Damascus, Syria on January 21, 2007. As Caroline Glick writes here, the only matter on which Hamas and Fatah reached agreement in Saudi Arabia, and which Meshaal and Abbas probably were discussing in Damascus with Syrian dictator Bashaar al-Assad as well, is the next phase of the Arab war to destroy Israel. They have even chosen a causus belli, worthy of the staged "Polish attack" used as a pretext by Nazi Germany to justify its August 1939 invasion of Poland. For the renewal of war against Israel, to unite the Arabs and Iran in support for the renewed fighting, and to garner support from the larger Islamic worlds, the Arabs have chosen the wholly fallacious charge that Israel is trying to undermine Al Aksa Mosque with an archeological dig that is 60 yards away from the Temple Mount. A complete fiction, of course, but the enemies of Israel hope that its emotional pull on Moslems will even force Egypt, Jordan and the Arab League (all of which have condemned the non-existent threat to Al Aksa) to acquiese in the forthcoming attacks. The campaign will include Arab rioting in Jerusalem and the West Bank, attacks on southern Israel by rocket and guerilla raids through tunnels, and renewed hostilities on the border with Lebanon, including missile attacks launched on northern Israeli cities and towns.

Despite the looming threat, Israel remains unprepared, with a government headed by the team that brought Israel the debacle of last July and August, Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz.

Friday, February 09, 2007

After Friday of Riots, Sheik Salah Calls for More

More unhappy Islamist protesters. After Arabs heeded the call of Sheik Salah for riots on Friday, the Moslem Sabbath, to protest Israeli archeological excavations near the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Salah called for another day of rioting on Saturday, so as to ruin the Jewish Sabbath as well. For a Hedgehog backgrounder on what underlies the rioting, please see our prior post, "The Real Reasons Why Moslems Protest the Archeological Dig Near the Temple Mount." The critical matter for the reader to keep in mind is that the dig presents no threat whatsover to the Al Aksa Mosque, and the Moslem leadership knows that this is the case. The objectives of the Moslem leadership are purely and simply to demonstrate their control over the Temple Mount and to repudiate Jewish historical and national claims to the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. That is also why Israel cannot afford to placate the rioters by shutting down the dig.

Mitt Romney's "Journey to The Right"

Marc Ambinder writes in National Journal about the "evolution" of Mitt Romney's views on the key social issues of same-sex marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research. Ambinder, who runs National Journal's Hotline blog, has historically not been Romney-friendly (example here) but the article seems thorough enough.

To this observer (a committed Romney supporter) this whole discussion seems to miss the point: What will Romney do as president? It would be very difficult for him, after the very public, controversial positions he has taken on those issues, to back away from those positions as president.

If you believe him when he says his views have changed, then there is no reason to be concerned. If you don't believe him, and nothing he or his supporters say can change your mind, then by all means, support Brownback or Huckabee, and be ready to see John McCain as the nominee.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bibi Netanyahu Briefs Bloggers In Conference Call

This morning former (and perhaps future) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to bloggers in a conference call sponsored by One Jerusalem. I was invited to participate due to the kindness of Rick Richman at Jewish Current Issues, who put in a good word for me.

In his recent public addresses (such as his speech at the January 2007 Hezliya Conference on Israel's National Security, depicted in the photo at the right), Mr. Netanyahu has sought focus to attention on the threat posed to the West by the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Not surprisingly, that was the main topic of the conference call as well.

Mr. Netanyahu feels that the relatively mild UN economic sanctions already in place, while a welcome step forward from past international inaction, are too weak to compel Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. However, even those sanctions, when added to the effect of misrule by the Islamic government of Iran, are having a perceptible deleterious effect on the Iranian economy. Mr. Netanyahu stated that the Iranian regime is vulnerable. If its nuclear program is to be halted by steps short of military action, the West must act strongly now to escalate economic pressure.

As the next escalation, Mr. Netanyahu recommends a program of divestment from investments in Iran. The State of Missouri's public employee pension plan has already done so, according to Mr. Netanyahu. He said he has also spoken with the State of Massachusetts, and with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who he described as a "personal friend." As Mr. Netanyahu noted, the California Public Employees Retirement System is the largest pension fund in the United States.

I confess that Mr. Netanyahu's advocacy of a divestment campaign at first made me somewhat uncomfortable. Too often of late, such divestment campaigns have been aimed at Israel. Recent examples include attempts to compel divestment of investments in Israel by the Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the United Methodist Church. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA actually passed a divestment resolution in July 2004.

In 2002, a coalition of Harvard and MIT professors called for divestment from Israel by the huge endowments of those two universities. Then Harvard President Larry Summers nipped that campaign in the bud, stating:

"Members of our community are free as individuals to express their diverse views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conduct of the parties involved. The university protects that freedom, and affirms its proper role, by resisting calls to issue institutional judgments on that conflict through the act of divestment. Harvard is first and foremost a center of learning, not an institutional organ for advocacy on such a complex and controversial international conflict."

Can one draw a principled distinction between that campaign and the one advocated by Mr. Netanyahu, other than that we agree with Mr. Netanyahu's cause and not with the cause of the anti-Israel divestment campaign?

Yes, I believe one can. First, an Iranian nuclear arsenal poses not only poses an existential threat to Israel, but also severely threatens the security of Europe and the United States. Extraordinary measures are called for. Indeed, if economic pressure does not work, the only alternative is war, a far more dire alternative for the Iranian people than a divestment campaign. Moreover, it is already the official policy of the United States and the United Nations to exert economic pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program. Divestment is merely one aspect of economic sanctions.

Four Rockets from Gaza Hit Southern Israel

Arab terrorists launched four rockets from Gaza into Southern Israel yesterday. According to Israel National News, one rocket landed near Sderot, two near a Kibbutz in the Sha’ar HaNegev region and a fourth in the southern Ashkelon industrial zone. No injuries or damage was reported in any of the attacks. Please don't look for this story in the Los Angeles Times. Since no one was killed, it's not newsworthy. Indeed, even if an Israeli were killed it would only be newsworthy if Israel retaliated, in which case the story would be about Israel's disproportionate response. With the Olmert government in power, a retaliation is unlikely; it would not show appropriate restraint. In Jewish law, the term for abandoned property, which anyone may claim, is hefker. The Olmert government has in effect told the Arab terrorists in Gaza that the Western Negev is hefker.

Man Bites Dog! San Francisco State U. Takes a Stand Against Flag Burning! (Just not our flag.)

"At San Francisco State University, you can do anything you want to a US flag or a Christian religious symbol: burn it, deface it, submerge it in bodily fluids. It’s all good.
But step on paper copies of Hamas and Hizballah flags, and you’re in a world of hurt."

Read all about it at Little Green Footballs. Sometimes I think that I have been transported to an alternative bizarro world universe. But no, I just live in California.

The Real Reason Why Moslems Protest the Archeological Dig Near the Temple Mount

Why is this man unhappy? He is Raed Salah, the head of the Islamic movement in Israel, which perhaps is a sufficient enough explanation, since heads of Islamic movements are usually outraged about one imagined affront or another.

(By the way, the phrase "head of the Islamic movement in Israel" alone exposes the falsehood of former President Carter's accusations that Israel is an "apartheid state" that discriminates against its Muslim minority. Is there a head to the "Jewish movement" or the "Christian movement" in Saudi Arabia or Iran? Of course not, because the Islamic governments of those countries would never allow a political movement in the name of a non-Islamic religion. In Saudi Arabia, it is not even permitted to practice Christianity or Judaism. In Israel, a Western democracy, religious minorities are protected, their rights to practice their religions are guaranteed, and they may even participate in political movements in the names of their religions. But I digress.)

Salah's immediate unhappiness, however, arises out of the reconstruction by Israel of a ramp leading up to the Mughrabi Gate at the top of the Temple Mount. The old ramp, which was the main tourist access to the Al Aksar mosque compound and the Dome of the Rock, partially collapsed in a snowstorm some three years ago.
Yet, it is not the ramp construction that irritates Salah, but rather the archeological excavation below the ramp, which has uncovered breathtaking discoveries from the time of the Second Temple. As this press release from the Israeli Antiquities Authority relates:

"Among the ancient finds: a section of the lower aqueduct, which conveyed water from Solomon’s Pools to the Temple Mount; a rock-hewn and plastered ritual bath (miqve) that dates to the Second Temple period; remains of a magnificent colonnaded street - the Eastern Cardo - from the Roman-Byzantine period; a covered stoa; and a row of shops.

"At the top of the bedrock cliff, in an area that lay within the Upper City, a section of the lower aqueduct was exposed that conveyed water from Solomon’s Pools to the Temple Mount. A rock-hewn, plastered miqve that was originally situated in the foundation level of a private residential building from the time of the Second Temple was also exposed. The miqve was damaged at a later date when the bedrock cliff was being hewn into a vertical wall that rose up to a maximum height of about ten meters."

Salah and other Moslem leaders have reacted to the archaelogical dig with anger and threats of religious war. As reported in this story in the Jerusalem Post, Salah has accused Israel of "the crime of demolishing a part of the blessed Al Aksa compound" and of "pushing the whole region to religious war."

The accusation is a patent lie; the excavations are located dozens of yards from the Temple Mount. There has never been any archeological excavations on the Temple Mount, precisely due to Moslem religious sensitivities.

(This official Israeli attitude, by the way, stands in sharp contrast to the behavior of the Moslem Waqf, which with Israeli government permission administers the Al Aksa mosque compound at the top of the Temple Mount. During its excavation on the Temple Mount, near the location of Solomon's Stables (a fanciful name, they are neither Solomon's, nor Stables), for the foundation of the largest mosque in Israel, the Waqf refused to allow archeological supervision, in blatant definance of Israeli law, and dumped dozens of truckloads of antiquities mixed with tons of rubble in a garbage dump outside the Old City. The Waqf's actions were described as an "unprecedented archeological crime" by Israel's top archeological body for its massive destruction of antiquities at the site, but the Israeli government, always oversensitive to Moslem sensibilities, refused to intervene and enforce Israeli law.)

Perhaps even more serious than the threats of Salah, the Fatah-affiliated Aksa Martyrs Brigades threatened on Wednesday to attack synagogues if Israel continued the excavation. In a press release sent to newspapers, the group announced that all synagogues would become legitimate targets and that "the sanctity of the Al Aksa Mosque should not be less than that of the synagogues."

Egypt and Jordan have also now lodged official protests, saying that the dig threatens the resumption of Middle East peace talks.

So what's all the fuss, if no damage is being done to the mosques on the Temple Mount? The discoveries from the Second Temple do terrible damage to the Palestinian fantastic claims that a Jewish Temple never existed on the Temple Mount. Yassir Arafat, may his name be erased, was particularly adamant on this point. Arafat's steadfast denial of any Jewish historical claim or interest in the Temple Mount or in Jerusalem generally nearly drove President Clinton to distraction during the Camp David negotiations, as related by Dennis Ross in his book, "The Missing Peace." Of course, the intellectual and logical inconsistencies of Arafat's positions are incredible. He would proudly insist that Jesus was a Palestinian, harassed, persecuted and ultimately killed by the Jews; and that Jerusalem is legitimately holy to Moslems and Christians, but not Jews. Yet, if there was no Holy Temple on Temple Mount, how could Jesus have preached and taught in the Holy Temple, and why did Jesus come to Jerusalem for his last Passover?

Saleh and his like are simply following their late master's lead. The objective: to delegitimize the historical foundation for restoration of a Jewish State in Israel. Arafat knew then, and Saleh knows now, that if the Arabs can get the Israelis themselves to repudiate their Jewish heritage in the Land of Israel, and particularly in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, they will have achieved a major victory in their campaign to destroy the Jewish State. The Palestinians recognize that they cannot prevail over Israel militarily, and cannot match Israel's economic strength, but they can destroy Israel's morale and will to live, by depriving Israel of its spiritual foundation.

Sadly, the Moslems understand this point better than the Jews. At Camp David, Barak was ready to give up all Jewish claims to the Temple Mount. Just this past week, it was revealed that Prime Minister Olmert has agreed to allow the King of Jordan to build a fifth Moslem minaret on the Temple Mount, the first new minaret to be built there in over 600 years. At the same time, the government turned down a Jewish application to build a synagogue in the corner of the Temple Mount where the minaret will be located. Today, in the face of hysterical Moslem protests based on blatant falsehoods, left-wing Jewish members of the Knesset are calling on Israel to stop the excavations. As one might expect of persons with such weak ties to their own religious heritage, placating Moslem sensibilities, no matter how baseless the supposed offense, always takes precedence over Jewish sensibilities.

This attitude, so Western, so modern, and so tolerant of everything but Judaism, inevitably takes its toll. Due to left-wing secular control over the Israeli public school curriculum, today students in the secular public schools learn next to nothing about Judaism's ancient historical ties to the Land of Israel. This sharply contrasts with the practice of the first two decades of Israel's existence, when the Bible was thoroughly studied in Israeli public schools, not as a religious text, but as the historical foundation of the modern State of Israel. That approach seemed to die out with the generation of Israel's founders.

And so imagine the secular Israeli college graduate of today, who is extremely well-educated and technologically savvy, but knows little of his heritage in the land where he was born. He can live and prosper anywhere in North America or Western Europe. Whys should he sacrifice to live in the Land of Israel? Why should he face the continued threat of terrorism, war, and even nuclear annihilation to live in Israel? Denied of Jewish religious training and even of factual knowledge of his historical roots; and following the example set by Barak, Olmert and other left-wing politicians, who continually display little regard for Jewish heritage in the Land of Israel, he reaches the logical conclusion, and emigrates. (One should not be surprised to learn that Olmert's adult children have emigrated.) That is the result that Arafat hoped for. That is the goal of Saleh today, and, yes, of Mubarak and King Abdullah as well.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

This is a personal indulgence, just because this is my favorite Christian hymn of all, and perhaps my favorite arrangement, by Mack Wilberg.

John McCain Sings Barbra Streisand

As a friend of mine said in an e-mail, paraphrasing Hugh Hewitt: John's McCain's a great American, a terrible senator, a lousy Republican, and possibly one of the worst singers in the world. The evidence of the latter is here.

One must ask the question: What was he thinking?

Actually, McCain's performance is pretty funny and makes a point about entertainers who (like Streisand) get involved in politics. It looks like something that might have been on Saturday Night Live a few years back (McCain is visibly younger in this clip.)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hezbollah Head Admits Iranian Arms Supplies

JTA reports that the head of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah (pictured at left), admitted in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper, published over the weekend, that Hezbollah is armed by Iran, and that the weapons supplies pass through Syria. One might want to bookmark this story, for use the next time a Lefty asserts that there is no proof that Iran and Syria are trying to destabilize the Middle East.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

George Soros Calls For "De-Nazification" of the United States

George Soros told reporters at Davos conference on Saturday that "America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany. We have to go through a certain deNazification process." Most of the MSM gave him a pass, but not Martin Peretz, publisher of The New Republic, who rakes Soros over the coals. Peretz marvels:
"No, you are not seeing things. He said de-Nazification. He is not saying, in the traditional manner of liberal alarmists, that the United States is now where Weimar Germany was. He is saying that the United States is now where Germany after Weimar was. Even for Davos, this was stupid. Actually, worse than stupid. There is a historical analysis, a moral claim, in Soros's word. He believes that the United States is now a Nazi country. Why else would we have to go through a 'certain de-Nazification process'? I defy anybody to interpret the remark differently. The analogy between Bush's America and Hitler's Germany is not fleshed out, and one is left wondering how far he would take it. Is Bush like Hitler? If it is "de-Nazification" that we need, then in some sense Bush must be like Hitler. Was the invasion of Iraq like the invasion of Poland? Perhaps. The more one lingers over Soros's word, the more one's eyes pop from one's head. In the old days, the Amerika view of America was propagated by angry kids on their painful way to adulthood; now, it is propagated by the Maecenas of the Democratic Party."
Peretz concludes:
"In the same conversation at Davos, Soros announced that he is supporting Senator Barack Obama, though he would also support Senator Hillary Clinton. So my question to both of those progressives is this: How, without any explanation or apology from him, will you take this man's money?"
While I certainly appreciate the Peretz condemnation of Soros's remarks, in asking the last question, Peretz forgets what conservatives know only too well--Being a leftie means never having to say you're sorry.

Global Warming: A View

For some time I have been trying to figure out what I think about global warming. Now Glenn Reynolds has written the most reasonable piece I have seen on the subject. He begins:
"Do I "believe in " global warming? In the sense that the world seems to be warmer now than in recent history, yes. The more apocalyptic scenarios seem to me to remain unproven, but certainly cause for concern.

"Do I believe that global warming is anthropogenic? Not so clear. Plausible, but still far from certain.

"Does this matter? Probably not. Regardless of what you think of the above, burning carbon is a lousy idea. Coal and oil are, over the long term, far more valuable as chemical feedstocks than as fuels anyway, and burning them is unacceptably filthy regardless of greenhouse issues. . . ."
Glenn's entire piece is worth reading, and makes great sense to me.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

BREAKING NEWS!!! Tribal Uprising in Iran

Anti-Mullah, a blog "dedicated to the removal of the Islamic regime in Iran," reports that armed revolts by the Bakhtiari, Lor and Ghashghai mountain tribes gainst the regime have broken out. Telephoned reports on Saturday morning related that fighting had even broken out in Esfahan, a city of over 1,000,000 people. Alan Peters, who runs Anti-Mullah, describes himself as "for many years involved in intelligence and security matters in Iran and had significant access inside Iran at high levels during the rule of the Shah, until early 1979." Let us hope that his reports are accurate and that the revolt spreads.

Friday, February 02, 2007

From Power Line: Those Iranians Do Get Around

Power Line notes the report by senior Fatah sources in Gaza that its National Security Force (yes, I know it's hard to keep track of all of the Fatah militias) has arrested seven Iranian weapons experts working in the service of Hamas in Gaza. Of course, in recent weeks U.S. troops in Iraq caused a diplomatic furor and irritated the Iraqi government when they entered an "Iranian consular building" and captured several Iranian "diplomats" who were providing weapons and training to various insurgent groups. In addition, Iran provides funds and weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, which currently is busy trying to overthrow the Lebanese government.

All of this activity serves the primary Iranian objective, of creating a solid band of anti-American confrontation states, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. The Hedgehog Blog identified the Iranian strategic objective in this November 21, 2006 post. Apparently former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (who is hoping for a political comeback) agrees; he recently told Los Angeles Jewish Journal editor Robert Eshman that "Israel faces a Middle East in which radical Shiite power could extend from Teheran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut -- 'the Shiite banana,' he called it. And make no mistake, the virulently anti-Israel rantings of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are but the vocalization of beliefs that even more 'moderate' Iranian leaders hold. "

Barak, not unnaturally, focused his remarks on the Iranian threat to Israel. But one must never lose sight of the fact that while the Iranian Islamist regime calls Israel "the Little Satan," its ultimate target is "the Great Satan," the United States of America.

Update Feb. 4, 2007: Both Fatah and Hamas are denying the accuracy of the report that Fatah had captured Iranian agents in Gaza, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Palestinian State--Paradise on Earth

The Iraq Study Group says that resolution of the Israel-Palestine dispute is the key to resolving the problems in Iraq. James Baker said Tuesday that if the United States were to open talks with Syria, "we could get them (Syria) to get Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. It would be a huge step in the right direction." (This is what passes in Washington, D.C. for foreign policy realism.)

Would the creation of a Palestinian State increase stability in the Middle East and bring peace? As Caroline Glick recently wrote, the Palestinian State already exists. It has existed since August 2005, when Israel demolished flourishing towns and farms in Gaza, removed its military forces and civilian population, and turned over full governing authority in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority. Ms. Glick notes:
And so it is that as statesmen and activists worldwide loudly proclaim their commitment to establishing the sovereign State of Palestine, they miss the fact that Palestine exists. And it is a nightmare.

In the State of Palestine 88 percent of the public feels insecure. Perhaps the other 12 percent are members of the multitude of regular and irregular militias. For in the State of Palestine the ratio of police/militiamen/men-under-arms to civilians is higher than in any other country on earth.

In the State of Palestine, two-year-olds are killed and no one cares. Children are woken up in the middle of the night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshipers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques. And no one cares. No international human rights groups publish reports calling for an end to the slaughter. No UN body condemns anyone or sends a fact-finding mission to investigate the murders.

In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and wounded are shot in cold blood. Terrorists enter operating rooms in hospitals and unplug patients from life-support machines.

In the State of Palestine, people are kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight and in front of the television cameras. This is the case because the kidnappers themselves are cameramen. Indeed, their commanders often run television stations. And because terror commanders run television stations in the State of Palestine, it should not be surprising that they bomb the competition's television stations.
Anyone who requires proof of the validity of Ms. Glick's description need only look at today's news reports. Hamas ambushed a supply convoy entering Gaza from Egypt, killing six people. This, by the way, was during a ceasefire between Fatah and Hamas. Meanwhile, Nablus, a town in Samaria controlled by Fatah militias, has lapsed into lawlessness.

We already know what the new Palestine will be like. It will be a chaotic hellish landscape fought over by rival criminal gangs.