Thursday, June 24, 2010

Gilad Shalit Remains Captive 4 Years After His Kidnapping by Hamas--and the World Does Not Care

Kudos to the Republican Jewish Coalition for reminding us of what it aptly called, "A sad and frustrating anniversary." Four years ago, on June 25, 2006, Hamas guerillas tunneled from Gaza into Israel, and launched an ambush attack on an Israeli army post. The attackers killed two Israeli soliders, wounded four others, and took one of the wounded soldiers prisoner. The prisoner, Gilad Shalit, has remained imprisoned in an undisclosed location ever since. He was 20-years old at the time of his capture, 24 now. In flagrant violation of international law and norms, Hamas has continuously refused to allow the International Red Cross to visit Shalit. The world has not lifted a finger to secure his release.

Keep in mind that at the time of the attack, Israel did not occupy a single foot of Gaza, having removed all Israeli towns, farms and soldiers in September 2005. The attack was launched on a Israeli army post within the June 1967 ceasefire lines. It followed hundreds of rocket and artillery attacks by Gaza terrorists against Israeli civilian towns.

As Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates this week: "A million and a half people are living in Gaza, but only one of them is really in need of humanitarian aid." That person is Gilad Shalit. May God grant him freedom quickly.

Iranian News Agency Reports Israeli Air Force Helicopters in Saudi Arabia

If this story is true, it portends major international developments. According to Haaretz, the semi-official Iranian news agency FARS has reported that that Israel Air Force helicopters recently landed at an airport in Saudi Arabia, of all places, and unloaded equipment intended for attacking targets in a Muslim state.

The HaAretz story continues:
This follows last weekend's reports of an American fleet passing through the Suez Canal, triggering fears that the United States and Israel were preparing for an attack on Iran, with Egypt's cooperation, the Arabic language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi said.

If the Obama Administration has successfully and secretly assembled a coalition including Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for an attack on Iran, I would have to take back everything I have ever said regarding the futility of President Obama's outreach to the Islamic world, his antipathy to Israel and the timidity of his foreign policy. Indeed, a combined U.S. and Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear installations, with Saudi and Egyptian cooperation, seems breathtakingly risky. Consider the likely backlash by the Saudi and Egyptian people against their own governments, if those governments were to participate with the U.S. and Israel in an attack on a Muslim state.

However, I remain skeptical of the accuracy of the report. One need only recall the pains that former President George Herman Walker Bush took to keep Israel on the sidelines during the first Gulf War, to the point of ordering Israel not to retaliate against Iraqi missile strikes. Would the Obama Administration be any more likely to welcome Israeli active military participation in an anti-Iranian coalition?

Therefore this story may be no more than an Iranian pre-emptive propaganda strike, aimed at the Saudi and Egyptian governments.

Still, it is undeniable that the Saudi and Egyptian regimes fear and hate Iran, and its influence on proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, even more than they hate Israel. [IAF Helicopter Photo credit: Tal Cohen]

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

America's Wealthy Fleeing to Low Tax Havens

An article in Forbes reports that the richest Americans are fleeing eight states that have targeted wealthy households with higher income tax rates, including California and New York, and are flocking to areas with warm weather, affordable real estate and low or non-existent state income taxes. Who would have thunk it? The result, of course, is that states such as California, which have passed income tax increases to try to reduce their budget deficits. will instead see their tax bases decline and their tax revenues further reduced, while the low-tax jurisdictions will prosper. Will the last person out of California please turn out the light?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Obama Administration Seeks to Deport Palestinian Who Spied on Hamas for Israel

Mosab Hassan Yousef is the son of Hamas leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef. However, rather than follow his father's footsteps into Islamist terror, he provided information to Israeli intelligence that prevented terror attacks. He came to the United States in 2007, converted to Christianity, and applied for political asylum. That was understandable, because as a self-confessed former spy for Israel, he is no doubt on the death list of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and sundry other Islamist terror organizations. He has written a best selling memoir, "Son of Hamas."

Incredibly, as reported in the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security currently is trying its hardest to deport Mosab Hassan Yousef to the areas of the West Bank (aka Yehuda and Shomron [Judea and Samaria]) under Palestinian control, as an alleged terror threat. More incredibly, as evidence of his support for terror, Homeland Security attorney Kerri Calcador bizarrely cites passages from "Son of Hamas," describing work that he did for Hamas while spying on behalf of Israel, as evidence of his aid to terrorists. "At a bare minimum, evidence of the respondent's transport of Hamas members to safe houses . . . indicates that the respondent provided material support to a [Tier I] terrorist organization," the U.S. lawyer wrote.

As the Wall Street Journal column notes:
But unless Ms. Calcador knows more than she's saying, this is bizarre. As a spy for Israel, Mr. Yousef had to make his colleagues believe he was a loyal member of Hamas. He used that trust to gain information that he provided to Israeli intelligence, which used it to prevent terror attacks and save lives. One of Mr. Yousef's handlers at Shin Bet confirmed his book's account to the Israeli daily Haaretz, and his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, has disowned him from the Israeli prison he has occupied since 2005.

I am sorry folks, but I cannot believe that our immigration and homeland security laws are applied so literally that they compel deportation of a man who risked his life to defy Hamas as a terror threat. I cannot believe that the government is mechanically compelled to cite as evidence for his assistance to a terror organization his infiltration into Hamas in order to spy for Israel and prevent terror attacks. Someone has made a deliberate policy decision to deport Mr. Yousef to a location where he will likely become an immediate assasination target, or will be arrested, tried and executed by the Palestinian Authority as a spy for Israel. There is another agenda operating here that has little or nothing to do with homeland security. Perhaps Mr. Yousef's real "crime" was not assisting Hamas, but rather assisting Israel.

If Homeland Security persists, I trust that Israel will offer Mr. Yousef asylum. In the meantime, it is appropriate to repeat the challenge made this week on the floor of the House of Representatives by U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who was speaking about Israel and Hamas in a somewhat different context: "Mr. President, whose side are you on?"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Genetics Prove "Am Yisrael Chai"--The Jewish People Lives!

The New York Times reports that Jewish communities with origins in Europe and the Middle East share many genes inherited from a common ancestral community in the Middle East some 3000 years ago. According to the published report:
A major surprise from both surveys is the genetic closeness of the two Jewish communities of Europe, the Ashkenazim and the Sephardim.

Jewish communities from Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus all have substantial genetic ancestry that traces back to the Levant; Ethiopian Jews and two Judaic communities in India are genetically much closer to their host populations.

Dr. [Gil] Atzmon and Dr. [Harry] Ostrer have developed a way of timing demographic events from the genetic elements shared by different Jewish communities. Their calculations show that Iraqi and Iranian Jews separated from other Jewish communities about 2,500 years ago. This genetic finding presumably reflects a historical event, the destruction of the First Temple at Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. and the exile of many Jews there to his capital at Babylon.

And so once again modern science bolsters the accuracy of the Biblical account of the history of the Jewish people. Moreover, this report demolishes the theory propounded by anti-Zionist, revisionist historian Shlomo Sand, in his 2009 book "The Invention of the Jewish People," in which he claimed that Jews have no common origin, and their peoplehood is a myth contrived by Zionists in the 19th Century in order to promote Jewish claims to the Land of Israel. Science now relegates Sand's theory to theory to the dustbin of history, while Am Yisrael Chai--the Jewish People Lives.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Israel Apologizes for Telling the Truth; Lefty Calls for Caroline Glick's Head

An Israeli government spokesperson whose superiors apparently have no backbone has apologized for sending out a link to the press of the online video "We Con the World." The Hedgehog posted the video here. My friend Rabbi Dov Fischer recommends that everyone view the video five times today.

As noted in the this Yahoo News story reporting the apology, one of the usual parade of clowns, Huffington Post's Eileen Read, a self-described "Los Angeles-based journalist focusing on foreign policy," has called for Jersusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick (photo above right), who produced the video, to be fired for a "blatantly racist video." There is nothing racist in the video, except to leftists such as Ms. Read, who consider any conservative to be a racist.

As for calling for an opinion columnist to be fired for expressing an opinion, I did not even wish that fate on Helen Thomas. Indeed, I was grateful that Ms. Thomas finally revealed her true opinions to the world.

I wonder if Ms. Read was as discomfited by the Helen Thomas statement as she is by "We Con the World." If so, she did not say so in a Huffington Post column. She is more preoccupied (in her May 2010 column) with defending the late Yasser Arafat, may his name be erased, against the charge made by Zionist tools such as former President Bill Clinton and Dennis Ross that Arafat torpedoed the 2000 Camp David talks. In her present column on the "We Con the World Video," she viciously attacks Caroline Glick, going so far as to state that Ms. Read is ashamed to have graduated from the same college (Columbia). So Ms. Read admires and defends Yasser Arafat, but dislikes Caroline Glick. Caroline, I would not be too upset.

The Yahoo News Story says "some" have called for Ms. Glick to be fired. Apparently, one far-left Huffington Post columnist qualifies as "some" to reporter Liz Goodwin. "Some" also advocate the secession of California from the United States, for that matter.

Ms. Goodwin also breathlessly reports that Ms. Glick "served in the Israel Defense Forces." We are shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that an Israeli citizen served in the Israel Defense Forces. Has any one told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Ehud Barak? Does Ms. Goodwin believe that military service should disqualify Ms. Glick from working in journalism?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Reuters "Disarms" "Activists" in Cropped Photos of Attack on Israeli Commandos

Those who think the prior two posts were exaggerating media bias might want to read this story from Haaretz. When Reuters published a photo taken by a Mavi Mamara "activist" of an attack on an Israeli commando who had boarded the ship, the news agency conveniently cropped out a knife in the hand of one of the "activists" and a pool of blood. Here is the first photo:

And here is the uncropped version:

Reuters of course claimed the cropping was inadvertent. Haaretz reports the Reuters statement:
Reuters on Monday rejected accusations of biased coverage, adding that it had reverted to the use of "the original set" of images, once the organization realized that the photographs it had published had been cropped.

A Reuters spokesman told Haaretz: "Reuters is committed to an accurate and impartial reporting. All images that pass over our wire follow a strict editorial evaluation and selection process.

"The images in question were made available in Istanbul in following normal editorial practice were prepared for dissemination which included cropping at the edges. When we realized that the dagger was inadvertently cropped from the images Reuters immediately moved to the original set as well.”

The credibility of that response was undermined by a second instance of the exact same type of cropping, this one also "disarming" an "activist" attacker of his knife in photos of a different wounded commando:

Reuters' claims of innocence also lose credibility because the photos with the knives and blood showing are more dramatic and compelling and therefore obviously have greater newsworthiness, assuming one is trying to report a story instead of covering it up. Indeed, it is possible to misinterpret the cropped photos as showing the activists coming to the aid of the wounded commandos, and one may speculate that this was the intention of the editing.

The Haaretz story also reminds us of the record of Reuters in the 2006 Lebanon war, when attentive bloggers compelled Reuters to admit it had used a computer graphics program to alter an image of destruction in Beirut caused by the Israeli bombing campaign.

Of course, apologists for the "activists" will argue that they wielded their knives and clubs in self-defense, to protect themselves from the attacking Israeli commandos. However, no one was injured by the Israeli commandos who boarded the other five boats in the flotilla, whose passengers did not violently resist the boarding. Similarly, a few days later, no one was hurt when the Irish blockade runner, the Rachel Corrie, was boarded without resistance and forced to land in an Israeli port for inspection. Indeed, Israel has offered to forward all non-contraband shipments of humanitarian aid into Gaza by truck if the shippers will land in Israel and submit to inspection of their cargo.

But, of course, humanitarian aid was never the true objective of the Islamist organizers of the "Peace Flotillas." Rather, they are trying to break the Israeli blockade in order to open Gaza to shipments of rockets, grenades and other weapons, in order to build Gaza into as great a threat to Israeli security as South Lebanon, where Hezbollah has re-armed in open violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war. Those who call on Israel to end the blockade should ask themselves why Israel should trust that the international community will exert any greater effort to keep Gaza from effectively becoming an Islamist military base than it has done in Southern Lebanon. Those who defend the flotilla and attack Israel's blockade, such as Peter Beinart and Andrew Sullivan, are the Islamists' useful idiots.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A Joke That is so Funny it Hurts.

A man is walking down a Paris street, when he witnesses a pit bull viciously attack a little girl. The man rushes over, pries open the jaws of the dog from the girl's leg, and then, when the dog turns on him, manages to kill it. A gendarme rushes overs shouting, "Monsieur, you are a hero! Tomorrow the newspaper headlines will proclaim 'Brave Parisienne saves little girl from vicious dog!' "

"Oh, but I am not from Paris," the man responds.

"No matter, monsieur. Instead the headlines will read,'Heroic Frenchman saves little girl from vicious dog!' "

"But I am not from France, either," the man explains.

"Then where are you from?" asks the gendarme.

"I am a Jew from Israel," the man answers.

"Oh," the gendarme continues, "Well, in that case the headlines will read 'Israeli murders dog. Little girl injured in attack.' "

Friday, June 04, 2010

We Con The World

LATMA is the Israeli right-wing's version of Jon Stewart or the Colbert Report, providing political humor, from the conservative, nationalist side of the political spectrum. LATMA has teamed up with Jerusalem Post Columnist Caroline Glick to produce a hilarious send off of "We Are The World," as it might be produced by the crew of the Turkish "Love Boat," the S.S. Mavi Mamara. Here is the YouTube video:

You can also watch it HERE. The satire is laced with chilling actual video footage showing the "activists" of the Mavi Mamara arming themselves with metal and wooden clubs, preparing to attack the Israeli commanders about to board their vessel, throwing one commando overboard and stabbing another.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What About World Opinion? Israel No Longer Cares.

In a column in the Wall Street Journal, Ronen Bergman, a senior military and political analyst for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, says that Israel's tactics in the Gaza flotilla fiasco show that it no longer cares about the battle for world opinion, which it knows it has lost. Mr. Bergman writes:

"It makes no difference what we do, or how careful we are, or how we tackle the matter of the flotilla," I was told by a very senior military source two days before the operation. "Whatever we do, they'll all be against us, they'll condemn us at the U.N., and we'll be scolded. We might as well at least preserve our national dignity and maintain the blockade of Gaza." In other words, the war over world opinion is over—and Israel has lost.

Everything that has happened in the past year—the Goldstone Report condemning Israel's war in Gaza, the international furor after the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, even the statement singling out Israel at the recent Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference—is taken as an indication that any attempt to do the "right thing" is pointless and perhaps counterproductive. One might as well simply give up.

This feeling is shared by a large section of the Israeli population—not merely the right wing of Israeli society. While many are condemning the IDF's operation on Monday, it is probably fair to say that the majority of the country instinctively understands why these events were permitted to occur.

Bergman believes this outlook on the part of the Israeli government and public to be an ominous development that only increases volatility in the Middle East.

Bret Stephens, a Wall Street Journal editor featured in a video that may be viewed at the same Wall Street Journal link, does not disagree with Bergman. However, he notes that for Israel to lift the siege on Gaza would open Gaza to smuggling of advanced Iranian weaponry and militia, making an outbreak of hostilities almost inevitable. Israel, he notes, would rather take the international heat for maintaining the blockade than face even greater condemnation for its actions in another Gaza war, accompanied perhaps by horrendous military and civilian casualties in Israel.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Pro-Hamas Flotilla Outmaneuvers Israeli Navy

Hamas and its supporters have watched the movie Exodus, or perhaps have read the Leon Uris novel on which it is based. In that movie, the Haganah, the pre-State Jewish defense forces in mandatory Palestine, are trying to embarrass the British armed forces into allowing the Exodus, a ship filled with Jewish Holocaust survivor refugees, to leave Cypress and land in Palestine. Of course the ship cannot run the British naval blockade without a risk of loss of life--the British Navy in that era did open fire on ships trying to smuggle Jewish refugees into Palestine, sometimes resulting in deaths like the incident off Gaza this week. So Paul Newman, playing Haganah officer Ari Ben Canaan, comes up with the idea of a hunger strike, designed to swing world opinion against the British. It works, and the refugees are allowed to embark to Palestine.

The historic SS Exodus incident in the summer of 1947 ended more tragically, and in a manner more reminiscent of the Gaza flotilla. As recounted in Wikipedia's entry on SS Exodus:

The British Royal Navy cruiser Ajax and a convoy of destroyers trailed the ship from very early in its voyage, and finally boarded it some 20 nautical miles (40 km) from shore. The boarding was challenged by the passengers (the ship was in international waters where the Royal Navy had no jurisdiction), and so the British soldiers used force. Two passengers and one of the crews, 1st mate William Bernstein, a U.S. sailor from San Francisco, died as a result of bludgeoning and several dozen others were injured before the ship was taken over.

The ship's ordeals were widely covered by international media, and caused the British government much public embarrassment, especially after the refugees were forced to disembark in Germany.

The pro-Hamas organizers of the so-called humanitarian flotilla have successfully pulled off the same ploy as did the Haganah in Exodus, with perhaps even greater success. Danny Gordis presents the justice of the Israeli side of the incident well in this column. Yet at the same time he realizes the Israel won the at-sea skirmish while losing the propaganda war, again. Dan Pipes critiques the political fiasco well in this post. Pipes states that Israel has never adjusted to a new era of asymmetrical warfare, where the primary field of battle is world opinion. As a result, every Israeli military success begets a diplomatic disaster that leaves Israel weaker than before. [HT: Al Levine. Photo credit: Jerusalem Post.]