Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bret Stephens in WSJ: Hamas is a Hedgehog; Israel Must Become One

Normally I might take issue with Bret Stephens, a member of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board and the former Editor-In-Chief of the Jerusalem Post, for appropriating the namesake and epigraph of the Hedgehog Blog for a column, but since (1) we are always linking to or quoting the Wall Street Journal opinion pages and (2) Mr. Stephens' insights are always incisive, he has my blessing. Lowell will have to speak for himself.

Mr. Stephens based his column, entitled "Hamas Knows One Big Thing," published yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, on the saying by the Greek poet Archilocus, "The fox knows many things, but the Hedgehog knows one big thing," which of course is the epigraph that appears in the upper left-hand column of our blog. According to Mr. Stephens, the reason why Hamas ignored warnings from Israel, Egypt, and even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to renew the rocket barrages against Southern Israel, is that Hamas is a hedgehog:
But Hamas knows one big thing, which it labels "resistance" or, for Western audiences, "ending the occupation." Just what that means was made clear by Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita in a televised interview. "The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine," he said, "is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine."

Hamas will not be diverted from this genocidal program even when it means hurt and ruin for the Palestinian population it rules, Stephens writes. And, what is more, he explains, Hamas has a rational belief that its strategy will actually bring it a victory over Israel, because Israel is a fox that knows many things, but will not do the one thing it needs to do to defeat Hamas:
Hamas is also sustained by the insight that Israel's considerable military capabilities are unlikely to be matched by political will. It believes that whatever attacks come will be tempered by a host of humanitarian and diplomatic considerations. It believes that Israel wants to avoid a public relations debacle (so Hamas will do everything it can to engineer or fabricate one). It believes that the weight of international sympathy will be on its side. It believes, too, that the last thing Israel wants is to reoccupy Gaza, with all the costs and complications that entails.

Hamas believes, in short, that while Israel will do many things, and do them well, it will not do the main thing. And that, in turn, means that as Israel exhausts its target list, as eventually it will, the storm will pass. Then the green flag of the movement will fly defiantly over the tallest building left standing, its prestige hugely boosted -- and Israel's commensurately diminished -- throughout the Muslim world.

Unfortunately, Mr. Stephens may well be correct. This battle is quickly following the pattern set in the disastrous (for Israel) war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, in August 2006: The Israeli Air Force strikes tremendous blows against its enemy, initially with both moral justification and U.S. support. Then worldwide media begins to focus on the inevitable civilian casualties (inevitable because both Hezbollah and Hamas are careful to locate their military installations in civilian areas), followed by demonstrations on the streets of the U.S. and Europe. Then come the calls for restraint from European capitals, followed by pressure from the U.S. State Department for a quick ceasefire. Finally, Israel capitulates to the diplomatic pressure, and implements a ceasefire without accomplishing the objective that led it to war in the first place. All Israel will have accomplished is to its own international image while handing Hezbollah or Hamas (fill in the blank) a plausible argument that it has defeated Israel on the battlefield.

As Mr. Stephens notes, there is an answer for Israel, and that is for Israel to transform itself into a hedgehog that knows one big thing:
This is not a counsel of restraint, of which Israel has shown more than enough through years of provocation. It is merely to point out that no ingenious conceit can disguise the fact that war offers no outcome other than victory or defeat. This is one big thing that Hamas understands, and that Israel must as well. The fox cannot beat the hedgehog. But the bigger hedgehog can -- and in this case must -- defeat the smaller one.
Moshe Arens, a former Israeli Defense Minister, under the late and much missed Prime Minister Menachem Begin, agrees with Mr. Stephens and writes in Ha'Aretz that the only way to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza is to conquer Gaza. In a column entitled "Seven ways (one effective) to stop the rockets," Arens writes:
Now that leaves the only effective alternative - for the Israel Defense Forces to take control of the rocket launching sites in the Gaza Strip. Over 60 years ago, in World War II, the Allies understood that the only way to put a stop to the shelling of London by German V2 rockets was for Allied armies to reach the launching sites in Western Europe.

Much has changed since then, but the rockets are essentially still the same (the Qassams and Grads fortunately have considerably less range than the V2s). So that leaves the job to the IDF ground forces.

Why has it been so difficult for our leaders - civilian and military - to understand this? The prospect of ground forces entering the Gaza Strip is not particularly attractive, especially after we have been told that "we have left the Gaza Strip forever." But nobody has yet found a way of defeating an enemy without invading their territory. Call it occupation or whatever else you like, but that is how wars have always been won, and if we are going to defeat Hamas and stop the rockets from raining on Israeli civilians that is what we will have to do.

Will Israel's leaders listen to the wise voices of Messrs. Stephens and Arens? Or, as Arab nations press the UN Security Council for an "enforceable" (meaning enforceable against Israel only)resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, will Israel once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Monday, December 29, 2008

WSJ: All You Need to Know About Israel's War With Hamas in Gaza

Since 2005, Hamas and its terrorist allies have launched more than 6300 rockets and shells at Israel from Gaza. Following expiration on December 19 of a six-month so-called truce (during which rocket attacks decreased, but never stopped), Hamas fired some 300 rockets into Israel. This week Israel finally struck back in force, in an air and land battle that continues as I write.

The sensible voices at the Wall Street Journal editorial page today published two essential columns, which together explain all that one needs to know to understand the current fighting and its stakes for peace in the Middle East. The first is an unsigned staff editorial, entitled, "Israel's Gaza Defense: The More Damage to Hamas, the Better Chance for Peace." The second, by Michael Oren and Yossi Klein Halevi, from the Shalem Center in Israel, is called "Palestinians Need Israel to Win; if Hamas Gets Away With Terror Again, the Peace Process Will be Over." Please read them both.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Latest Target of Gay Activist Outrage--Barack Obama

The latest hate-filled homophobic bigot to be targeted by gay activists is none other than President-elect Barack Obama. Here we are less than 60 days from the election and still 31 days from the inaugeration, and the bloom is already off the rose, so to speak. And what is the President-elect's unpardonable offense? He selected Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inaugeration.

Poor Barack Obama! It is not enough that he vociferously opposed Proposition 8 (even though he also previously said he was against gay marriage-go figure). To avoid the wrath of gay activism, one must be 100% ideologically pure. Unlike the President-elect, Pastor Warren supported Proposition 8. Therefore Pastor Warren is a hate-filled homophobic bigot, and by extension so is Barack Obama. Reminders from the President-elect that America needs to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues, and that "dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," have fallen on deaf ears. (Oops, did I just offend another activist group?)

A revolution always devours its children, but some revolutions do so faster than others. Sorry, Mr. President-elect. Perhaps the gay activists would prefer the Reverend Jeremiah Wright?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Should Civil Unions Supplant Civil Marraige?

The anti-democratic, anti-free speech opponents of Proposition 8 are so fanatic that they even attack their own supporters if they veer from the party line. So found out Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8 and advocate of gay marriage, when he interrupted his sharp criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and the Mormons in order to express a modicum of sympathy for Margie Christofferson, the unfortunate manager of El Coyote Restaurant, which became a target of anti-Prop 8 animus when her $100 contribution to the Yes On 8 campaign was outed. As Lopez explains:

"To summarize the column, I said I was opposed to Prop. 8 and to the ugly campaigns against gay marriage by organized religion. I also wrote that Christoffersen is entitled to her views no matter how objectionable they are to me or anyone else, and that 89 El Coyote employees shouldn't be hurt by their manager's politics."

For this offense, Lopez is being called a homophobic bigot by the No On 8 crowd. One of his readers e-mailed, "Your article defending" the manager "is making the rounds on gay boards, which means that you're becoming notorious for your bigotry."

Such nice people, and so tolerant of diversity of opinion! I would be totally amused if these people didn't scare me so much.

In any event, Lopez also quotes an interesting point of view expressed by another of his readers:
T. Miyashiro-Sonoda wrote: "All couples (of any combination) should apply for a civil union license and have a civil ceremony. This would have all of the legal rights that are now granted by what we recognize as a 'marriage.' If the couple would like this union blessed or recognized by a church, synagogue, temple or any place of worship as a 'marriage,' another ceremony could be performed there. That way, any church, synagogue, temple or place of worship would have the right to recognize the union or not. What do you think?" I think I like it.

Well, I think I like it as well. It appeals to my libertarian instincts-why is the state in the business of defining marriage in the first place? It would allow each religious sect to define and sanction marriage as it sees fit. It would remove a potential political threat to freedom of religion, should the California Supreme Court or U.S. Supreme Court overturn Proposition 8.

Also, one of my major objections to "gay marriage" has been that the concept does violence to language and thought, to the meaning of marriage as the union of man and woman, which has prevailed in all human societies for thousands of years if not tens of thousands of years. Substituting civil union for marriage as a legal institution, but leaving it intact as a religious sacrament, disarms the violent attack on traditional concepts of marriage that is one of the objectives of radical gay marriage advocates.

On the other hand, as Proposition 8 advocates argued, the state has a legitimate interest in promoting a stable nuclear family structure as the best environment for rearing children. If marriage becomes a religious sacrament, rather than legally sanctioned institution, the state loses its ability to advance that interest.

What do you think?

Dry Bones On Advocacy Journalism

Back on October 28, I posted a rather long column entitled "If Obama Wins, the Left-Dominated Media Will Be the Real Victors." In the column, I described how the pro-left bias of the American media in the Presidential election resembled the situation that has prevailed, in even greater excess, in Israel for decades. As usual, DRY BONES says it better in pictures than I did in a thousand words. American liberal journalists, watch the current Israeli election campaign to see how the real pros, the left-dominated media in Israel, go after Likud's Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu.

Rod Blagojevich: The Man No One Knows (Any More)!

Disclaimer: Although I really hoped Senator Obama would not become president, he's been elected and I hope he has a successful presidency. (My 401(k) needs him to be successful.)

Even so, I am enjoying my new role as an observer instead of defender. (Defending GWB has been a bear.) The above photo, and the surrounding commentary and background information, are really pretty funny. As 24AHead reports:

Now, the state of Illinois has deleted from their website the PDF that contained that picture. It was in the state publication "Governors Gazette" and originally at That page now returns a 404 not found, as does Version 2 of that Gazette (originally located at and the /gazette directory.

I don't know why there's such a vigorous effort underway to remove all vestiges of Blago from President-elect Obama's life. It seems to me that there is no real problem, because apparently Obama barely knows Blago.

In fact, there is not a Democrat anywhere who knows Blago, or who supported him for any political office.

Certainly no one now living ever talked with Blago about who should take Obama's Senate seat. Not one word!

And Rahm Emanuel didn't talk to Blago either.

Interestingly, all these people who do not know Blago, and who never discussed Obama's Senate seat with him, are nevertheless very eager to get him off the political stage as quickly as possible, including the Illinois Attorney General, who began a ludicrous legal proceeding intended to remove Blago as governor without even impeaching him.

It's really great political theater.

Monday, December 15, 2008

President Bush with the troops in Iraq

Heart-warming, at least for me:

Friday, December 12, 2008

Immigration to the U.S., 1820-2007

This is graphic presentation, and somewhat counter-intuitive:

Immigration to the US, 1820-2007 v2.

(HT: Instapundit.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WHAT GIANT OCTOPUS? Even After Mumbai, the Western World Ignores the Islamist Threat

Dry Bones' Yaakov Kirschen is not imagining things. It really happened. As reported by MEMRI:
Following the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistani security expert Zaid Hamid was interviewed by Pakistan's News One television channel; in it, he accused "Western Zionists and Hindu Zionists" of planning the 11/26 Mumbai attacks. He also warned that if the Indians attack Pakistan, the war will be fought within India, not on Pakistani soil. The interview was telecast 24 hours after the Mumbai terror attacks began.

Mark Steyn at National Review Online feels that the Western press has only been marginally more accurate in its description of the perpetrators than Mr. Hamid. He notes the general reluctance to mention certain salient facts concerning the identity or motives of the attackers:
In fact, you’d be hard pressed from most news reports to figure out the bloodshed was “linked” to any religion, least of all one beginning with “I-“ and ending in “-slam.” In the three years since those British bombings, the media have more or less entirely abandoned the offending formulations — “Islamic terrorists,” “Muslim extremists” — and by the time of the assault on Bombay found it easier just to call the alleged perpetrators “militants” or “gunmen” or “teenage gunmen,” as in the opening line of this report in the Australian: “An Adelaide woman in India for her wedding is lucky to be alive after teenage gunmen ran amok…”

Kids today, eh? Always running amok in an aimless fashion.

Steyn also notes, courtesy of Tom Gross at National Review, this sterling contribution to journalism by the U.S. newspaper of record:

The discovery that, for the first time in an Indian terrorist atrocity, Jews had been attacked, tortured, and killed produced from the New York Times a serene befuddlement: “It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene.”
Hmm. Greater Bombay forms one of the world’s five biggest cities. It has a population of nearly 20 million. But only one Jewish center, located in a building that gives no external clue as to the bounty waiting therein. An “accidental hostage scene” that one of the “practitioners” just happened to stumble upon? “I must be the luckiest jihadist in town. What are the odds?”

Steyn observes that far from being an accident, the massacre at the Mumbai Chabad House reveals everything about the essential pathology of the murderers:
In a well-planned attack on iconic Bombay landmarks symbolizing great power and wealth, the “militants” nevertheless found time to divert 20 percent of their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the city’s poor in a nondescript building. If they were just “teenage gunmen” or “militants” in the cause of Kashmir, engaged in a more or less conventional territorial dispute with India, why kill the only rabbi in Bombay? Dennis Prager got to the absurdity of it when he invited his readers to imagine Basque separatists attacking Madrid: “Would the terrorists take time out to murder all those in the Madrid Chabad House? The idea is ludicrous.”

And yet we take it for granted that Pakistani “militants” in a long-running border dispute with India would take time out of their hectic schedule to kill Jews. In going to ever more baroque lengths to avoid saying “Islamic” or “Muslim” or “terrorist,” we have somehow managed to internalize the pathologies of these men.

What Mark Steyn brilliantly exposed in prose, Dry Bones summarizes in pictures:

Instead of identifying the problem, the Western world continues to be preoccupied with the feelings of the co-religionists of the terrorists. Steyn recalls the near-perfect parody of a Western newspaper headline sent by a reader to Tim Blair of the Sydney Daily Telegraph: “British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.”

Yes, we continue to ignore the giant octopus at our peril.
[HT: Jewish Current Issues]

Sunday, December 07, 2008

General Shinsheki May Be Right for the VA, But He was Wrong About Iraq

President-elect Barack Obama has selected General Eric K. Shinseki (ret.) (photo left), a former U.S. Army Chief of Staff, as the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. This may be a fine selection, but the nomination is not attracting press attention because of General Shinseki's fitness to lead the Veterans' Administration. Rather it is one more opportunity for the press to batter President George W. Bush and his Administration over Iraq. Typical is this paragraph from an AP article announcing the appointment, which was parroted on NPR, among other media outlets:
"Shinseki was nudged out as Army chief of staff in 2003 after testifying to Congress that the U.S. needed more troops in Iraq than Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believed at the time. Shinseki was later proved correct. "

No, he was not proved correct, and indeed his statement regarding troop strength in Iraq in 2003 was demonstrably incorrect, as proven by subsequent history. In his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, responding to a question from Senator Carl Levin regarding how many troops would be required to effectively handle the occupation of Iraq, General Shinseki answered:

I would say that what's been mobilized to this point -- something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required. We're talking about posthostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems. And so it takes a significant ground-force presence.

Now "several" according to the dictionary means "more than two or three." Consequently, the most straightforward interpretation of General Shinseki's answer is that he believed more than 300,000 troops would be needed to carry off a successful operation of Iraq.

It was this estimate that then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called "far off the mark," and he was right. Although more troops were required in Iraq than Rumsfeld's original estimate, the so-called surge involved only about 20,000 additional troops, and brought the total U.S. troop strength in Iraq to about 150,000soldiers. Even more troops arguably might have been useful, but the bottom line is that the U.S. and its allies managed to successfully carry out the occupation of Iraq with 150,000 troops. 150,000 is not "several hundred thousand." It is not even "a couple of hundred thousand."

This sort of media-driven revisionist history about Iraq goes well beyond any supposed vindication of General Shinseki. On November 27, the Iraqi parliament overwhelmingly approved a security pact calling for the end of U.S. occupation by 2012. Pundits described the pact as vindicating Barack Obama's call, during his Presidential campaign, for a withdrawal of U.S. troops on a 16-month timetable. Such a claim ignores two salient points: (1) Three years is 36 months not 16 months; and (2) were it not for the surge, which Mr. Obama opposed, the U.S. would not be in a position now to conduct a staged withdrawal without Iraq plunging into chaos. Indeed, throughout the recent Presidential campaign, the press tried to portray plans by the Bush Administration for gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops as a vindication of the position of Candidate Obama, as if the Bush Administration originally had planned to keep U.S. troops in Iraq forever, and had not always said that U.S. troop levels would be reduced when conditions on the ground permitted reductions.

Any objective study of what has transpired in Iraq would have to conclude that the overall course of events in Iraq has conformed far more closely to the predictions of the Bush Administration than to those of its critics. However, such objectivity is beyond the desire, if not the capability, of the American mainstream media, and will have to await the judgment of history.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Monica Brown: An American Military Heroine

Watch this 60 Minutes report and feel pride in being an American.

Watch CBS Videos Online

What makes such people behave in such ways? Many things, I suppose. I am just glad to be one of Monica Brown's fellow-citizens.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Palestinian Mortar Attack Damages Gaza Power Cable

Ha'Aretz reports that Palestinian terrorists in Gaza launched 3 Qassam rockets and a volley of mortar shells at Israel today. One of the mortar shells damaged a power cable that provides electricity to Gaza, proving that God does have a sense of humor.

Keep in mind that the Palestinians and international bleeding hearts have decried how Israel has restricted fuel shipments into Gaza, causing the power plants there to curtail service. Israel is the first nation in history that is expected to provide food and fuel to an enemy with whom it is actively engaged in armed conflict. Gaza is governed by Hamas, whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel.

Now the terrorists have cut off their a portion of their own electrical supply. Look for international demands that Israel repair the power cable immediately, so terrorist workshops are not interrupted in the production of more rockets and mortar shells.