Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

They are not happy in Gaza.
They are not happy in the West Bank.
They are not happy in Jerusalem.
They are not happy in Israel.
They are not happy in Egypt.
They are not happy in Libya.
They are not happy in Algeria.
They are not happy in Tunis.
They are not happy in Morocco.
They are not happy in Yemen.
They are not happy in Iraq.
They are not happy in Afghanistan.
They are not happy in Pakistan.
They are not happy in Syria.
They are not happy in Lebanon.
They are not happy in Sudan.
They are not happy in Jordan.
They are not happy in Iran.
They are not happy in Chechnya.
And where are the Muslims happy?
They are happy in England.
They are happy in France.
They are happy in Italy.
They are happy in Germany.
They are happy in Sweden.
They are happy in the Netherlands.
They are happy in Switzerland.
They are happy in Norway.
They are happy in the US.
They are happy in Canada.
They are happy in Hungary.
They are happy in any other country in the world which is not ruled by Muslims.
And whom do they blame?
Not Islam.
Not their leadership.
Not themselves.
But the very countries they are happy to live in!

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Sandy Cash is back with another song, this one hailing the upcoming Free Gaza Flotilla II.

In case Allen Krasna’s masterful video editing makes you miss some of the lyrics, here they are:

HEY JEWS (parody lyrics based on the song Hey Jude by Lennon & McCartney)

Hey Jews, we’re setting sail
Bound for that big jail that’s known as Gaza.
“Flotilla” was once a word no one knew;
Here comes number two, we’re back to Gaza.

Hey Jews, don’t be afraid,
You know your blockade can’t last forever.
The Egyptians tried too, but let down their guard.
Deterrence is hard; surrender’s better.

And if we hide Iranian bombs, hey Jews, come on!
We’re all just humanitarian sailors
With ammo belts and bars of steel.
Hey Jews, get real!
Code Pink buys the same at Lord and Taylor.

Hey Jews, don’t lose your cool,
The revolution is all around you
From the Golan to Sinai’s lines in the sand.
We’ll cross overland ’til we surround you.

No matter what we smuggle in, hey Jews, give in.
We’re riding the wave of world opinion
‘Cause don’t you know when we attack and you fight back,
It tightens the noose we hold your head in.

Hey, Jews, can’t you excuse 10,000 rockets on civilians.
You’ve spent all that dough on reinforced rooms,
The whole world presumes you want to use them.

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Months after the murder of the Fogel family by Arab teenage products of PA “education,” I have finally reached the point where I don’t think about the slain, or the remaining children, every day.  But sometimes, their name comes up in conversation, in a newspaper article (the most recent being that the vermin who committed the atrocity are proud of what they did “for Palestine”; this is news?), or my kids’ questions.  “Did they shoot the boys?  How did they kill the baby?  Did you see the pictures?”  None of us can begin to fathom the horror, but they’re still trying to get their heads around it.  They asked me about it again the other night, and it occurred to me again when I was shopping in Rami Levy this morning for Shabbat.

My local Rami Levi supermarket is located at Gush Junction.  It is staffed by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, and patronized by the same.  The butchers are all Arab, the loading dock workers are Arab, most of the stockers are Arab.  The two men we usually see behind the cheese counter are also Arab.  One is in his 40s with a round face that manages to be both pleasant and unsmiling.  He doesn’t appear to love his job, or the customer contact.  The second is in his 50s, graying, with eyes that wrinkle around the edges when he smiles, and he always gives whatever children I have tagging along with me a free slice of cheese, teaches my eldest a new Arabic word (she’s interested in learning the language), and clearly enjoys talking to the customers he interacts with.  Since the massacre in Itamar, I have sometimes looked at these two men (the closest thing I have to Arab acquaintances) and studied their faces to try to discern what they REALLY think about Jews and Israel.  I learn nothing from this.  It may be that the dourer of the two men has some secret sorrow in his life that keeps his mood low, but wouldn’t dream of committing or approving of violence to achieve any ends.  And it may be that the warm, smiling face of the older Arab disguises a compartmentalized view of his situation, where in day-to-day interactions he can exercise civility towards his Jewish “occupier” employer and customers, but given a choice, would prefer to have them gone from this land by any means necessary, including bloodshed.

The cheese man today was a new one.  In his late 30s or 40s, he was nice-looking, friendly, and very taken with Bill, who he said is the cutest kid in the world.  After packaging my cheese slices, he went back and sliced one more which he gave to Bill.  While he cut a hunk of parmesan for me, I asked if he has children.  He looked up and smiled.  “Ten,” he answered.  “And I want more.  I love kids.  Whenever I feel down, all I have to do is look at an adorable kid’s face,” he said, glancing over at Bill munching his slice of Emek, “and I feel better right away.”  I felt tears well up in my eyes for a moment, and was terribly tempted to ask him, “Then how can someone enter someone else’s house and stab their children, and slit their throats?”  But I didn’t.  Perhaps as a father, he can’t imagine either.  Perhaps he found the incident as revolting as I did.  Or perhaps not.

At the same time that I occasionally crave answers to these questions, part of the complication of living here is that I don’t dare make any assumptions about the Arabs I see, good or bad.  I don’t want to embarrass them when they’re at work and doing their jobs.  I don’t want them to say what they think I want to hear, that it was terrible, if in their hearts they secretly rejoiced at the horrific news.  I also don’t know if I really want to know the answer, on the off-chance that they would throw their employee’s caution to the wind and answer me straight, that they hate and resent the “occupation,” and that while for the moment, they and I can be face to face in a civil, vendor-customer situation, in the bigger picture, I am a foreign occupier of Arab lands, and whatever it takes to dislodge me and the rest of the Jews is fair.  There is a barrier of civility which prevents me from asking what I might want to ask, and from their answering as they might wish—or not wish.

Some might read this and think, “Who cares?  What’s done is done.  Their society is what it is, controlled by hate and oppression, brooking no opposition or dissent.  Yours is holding the wolf by the ears, and it doesn’t matter what they think or feel, only what they do.”  There might be truth to this, but it doesn’t stop me wondering.

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There have been ample and immediate reactions to US President Barack Obama’s recent speech about the changes in the Middle East.  After surfacing from the festivities of Shabbat and Lag B’Omer, I’d like to share my own thoughts.

I appreciate that as the leader of the free world, Obama sees America’s fortunes intertwined with those of people elsewhere in the world.  America enjoys a comfortable distance from the countries in turmoil, but at least Obama has absorbed the lesson from 9/11 that even when you don’t got looking for trouble, sometimes trouble has a way of coming to find you.  His talk of looking for ways to shore up the economies of the Middle Eastern countries after their changes in government and encourage the expansion of individual liberties (without the delusion of establishing American-style democracies where that is neither conceivable nor the popular will) is appropriate.  Whether such investment of time and treasure will prove fruitful remains to be seen.

But Obama has certain blind spots that cannot be ignored.  He is very willing to see the evil in Al Qaeda terror, but less willing to recognize that same hate, bloodlust, and will to destroy in the Palestinian Authority.  When he said, “Bin Laden … was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate – an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change” and that Bin Laden “rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy – not what he could build,” he could easily have substituted Mahmoud Abbas’s name for Bin Laden’s.  Yes, Abbas makes a show of being a “peace partner,” but that has to be seen in context.  The PLO has been in the terror business longer than Al Qaeda, invented airline highjacking, and has traditionally responded to concrete offers of peace with refusal and more violence.  But since terrorism’s failure to make Israel go away, the PA has adopted new methods.  For Abbas, appealing to the international community and double-speak is the new terrorism, made easier by an eager willingness on the part of the West to sympathize with the Arabs based on racist double standards for behavior (dark-skinned people must follow their nature and commit violent acts to express their anger and frustration, while light-skinned people must observe every rule of restraint in handling theirs), belief in the Arabs’ false narrative of victimhood (which in fact is simply the Arabs’ failure to annihilate the Jews), and participation in a campaign intended to cripple Israel economically, politically, and intellectually.  And none of this rules out Abbas’s commitment to teaching hatred and inciting violence against Israel, or his willingness to allow terror attacks to resume at any time, claiming that he cannot control the rage of his people or curb their freedom to express themselves through bloodletting.  Obama adds that before Bin Laden’s assassination, “al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life.”  Why Obama believes that the PA is still relevant outside the territories inhabited by Palestinians, or that the PA answers the need of its constituents for a better life, is never explained.

Obama has also stubbornly refused to see the corruption and oppression in other Middle Eastern countries before the start of the “Arab Spring,” including that of Bashar Assad in Syria.  (Sidebar: See Barry Rubin’s discussion of the term “Arab Spring.”  It’s an eye-opener.)  After Assad quashed Lebanon’s government (only recently freed of the Syrian yoke after the Beirut Spring of 2005), installing Syrian-supported, Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah in the government and near the border with Israel and assassinating Lebanon’s own democratically elected prime minister, Obama recently reopened an American embassy in Damascus, normalizing relations between the two countries, and Hillary Clinton, just weeks before Assad’s forces opened fire on his own, unarmed civilians, called him “a reformer.”  This is not foreign policy, or Realpolitik.  It’s delusional.

Obama also stressed in his speech the importance of ensuring freedom of religion and of women to enjoy equal status with men in these turbulent Arab societies.  While churches have been burned and Coptic Christians slaughtered in Egypt, and Christians everywhere concerned about their future in these revolutionary Arab states, Bethlehem is no longer a Christian city.  Because of Muslim harassment, Christians who have the means have fled the country.  And has the PA honored its commitment as part of the Oslo “peace” agreement to allow Jews access to their holy sites?  Well, Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem is surrounded by a heavily secure bunker to protect worshipers and pilgrims from attack, there is a long list of Jewish worshipers denied access to Joseph’s Tomb in Ramallah, and just a couple of weeks ago a Palestinian policeman shot and murdered a Jewish worshiper at the tomb (yelling “Allahu akbar!” as he did so), so it’s apparent they haven’t.  As for equal rights for women – well, in Arab society, that’s as likely as a peaceful gay pride parade through the streets of Mecca.

And regarding Israel and the Arabs here, Obama repeats the same slogans he has always repeated: the need to cast off “the burdens of the past,” the unsustainability of the status quo, the need of Arabs to “recognize” Israel, and the need of Israel to take “bold” steps for peace.  These have been used in speeches so often, I’m not even sure what they mean anymore.  The “burdens of the past” seems to be a euphemism for history, and that cannot be changed or ignored by anyone, least of all Jews and Arabs with long memories.  (Americans, on the other hand, have a well-earned reputation for forgetting history.)  It is undesirable to continue things the way they are, but since they’ve been this way for 44 years (longer, if one’s memory or knowledge of history goes back before 1967), why is davka this year the year things much change, especially when none of the other factors have altered?  Arabs could save a huge amount of time by simply saying they recognize Israel, then reneging on that recognition and proceeding with their plans to destroy it.  (I’m surprised they haven’t thought of this, since reneging on promises is something they’ve elevated to a fine art.)  And Israel’s “bold steps” always involve more territorial concessions and lower security, which result in wars and increased terror attacks.

But when hope springs eternal, and the hopeful have been encouraged by what they believe will be positive changes across the Middle East, it’s hard to contain one’s enthusiasm.  When dictators are in peril, it can only mean one thing to hopeful people: the dawn of universal democracy and peace.  Simple regime change, from one corrupt, oppressive, power-hungry regime to another, is not part of Obama’s imagined outcome of the Arab Spring, but rather the belief that a “region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people – not just a few leaders – must believe peace is possible.”  “Must” believe it possible – the language of hope, not certainty (or even likelihood).

Where I think Obama nails reality is in a comment he makes about how the “international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome.”  That’s really it, isn’t it?  I’ve suspected for years that the occasional frenzies of American presidents to solve the problems of the Middle East (using the same language, tactics, demands every time) are really an attempt to get the problem off everyone’s desk.  The fact that none of them seems to understand the problems here, and that no one can be bothered to adhere to prior agreements (the San Remo Conference, UNSC Resolution 242, Oslo) is a damper and a side issue which is more comfortable to overlook than to overcome.  When talks break down over real issues, the international community chooses to take it as a personal affront, as though Arab incitement and Jewish settlement building take place for no other reason than to undo the international community’s hard work.

In trying to be seen as an impartial broker, Obama may see it as his job to overlook these issues, but from Israel’s perspective, this is irresponsible and flies in the face of his professed friendship for Israel.  An effective foreign policy necessitates knowing one’s enemy.  I’m sure America turned a cold, analytical eye on Bin Laden, his activities and his movements, and this eventually reaped the reward of finding and killing him.  But Israel, too, knows its enemies.  It lives next door (and sometimes among) us.  We have had long experience with them, some peaceful and fruitful, but much deadly and dangerous.  We know what they teach their kids.  We know from polls how they feel about suicide bombings (68% support them), Palestinian suffering (71% blame the Jews for Arab suffering after 1948), and Israelis in general (over 62% “believe Jews are a foreign imprint on the Middle East and are destined to be replaced by Palestinians,” with a similar percentage believing that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state).  We know how they feel about terrorism (the PA recently named a square in Ramallah for Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist responsible for the deaths of 37 civilians inside the Green Line, and the PA has just passed a law granting convicted Palestinian and Israeli Arab terrorists in Israeli prisons monthly salaries, with those serving sentences of more than 20 years receiving higher salaries, to be paid from the day of arrest until release).  Obama’s call for Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders (including land swaps), which was already worked out in 2000 and again in 2008 and still rejected by the Arabs, is simply a return to the borders that led to the 1967 war.  With his own statement, that “technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself,” how many more of these wars does he think Israel can survive?  (See this video for a tutorial on why the 1949 Armistic lines, aka the June 4, 1967 borders are indefensible; hat tip: Westbankmama).  And how does Obama think a Palestinian Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be “contiguous” without some arrangement for travel between them through Israeli territory?

The real upshot of Obama’s talk of borders and security as preconditions to talks is more of what bothers me about the whole “peace process”: Arabs get land, and Jews get promises.  Land, once given, cannot be taken back.  Promises once made are easily broken and, like the San Remo Resolution, forgotten by the rest of the world.  Obama talks of “provisions … to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security,” and in the next sentence calls for the “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces … with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility.”  More promises, and more farfetched assumptions.  For Israel to trust that the people sworn to its destruction are to be handed control of the borders with Arab states that have so far (at least in Egypt, and weak Jordan could just as easily join in) proved highly cooperative in importing weapons and materiel to Palestinian terrorists to be used against Israel is wildly optimistic at best, mad at worst.  And the final two gut-wrenching issues, i.e. the future of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees (using the current UN revised definition which includes all descendents of those displaced by the war), involve, again, the Jews giving the Arabs stuff in exchange for – what?  More promises?

There have been alternative peace plans suggested by right-wing Israelis (to annex the West Bank and either make the Arabs there citizens or not) and, of course, there is the Arab longterm strategy, which is to challenge Israel’s legitimacy in international fora with a view toward chipping away at Israel’s territory, rights of self defense, and perhaps very existence.  (A body which, they believe, voted a noxious country into existence can just as easily vote it out of existence.)

I don’t have a solution that will please everyone.  I don’t necessarily know what would end the conflict forever (short of a major change in the Palestinian Arab narrative, or universal Israeli withdrawal to the Mediterranean).  What I do know is that the current peace plans represent concession of too much land for Israelis, and too much peace for the Arabs.  Exchanging land for hopes, promises, and “assurances,” as that done with Egypt, Gaza, and southern Lebanon, and their accompanying failures, should be remembered before Israel is pressured to accept any more such arrangements.

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Nakba review

Well, another year, another Nakba Day celebrated, this one with a truck rampage in Tel Aviv (killing one and injuring tens), burning cars and dumpsters in Arab neighborhoods, clashes with IDF all over the country, and attempted border infiltrations from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza.  One Arab teen reportedly died from his injuries in a riot (and, as frequently happens, no one has produced a stiff to prove it), and there are several dead from border infiltration attempts, though whether those were killed by IDF or Southern Lebanese Army is also uncertain.  (The Syrian army at the border did nothing to stop infiltrators into Israel.)  By all measures, this year’s Great Pity Party of Bogus Narrative and Self-Inflicted Misery was a rousing success.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas says it’s a turning point in the Israeli-Arab conflict and proves that Arabs are committed to ending the occupation, and let’s be clear what “occupation” means: When Israel offers to swap land for peace, that won’t end the occupation.  The occupation is not Israel’s control over lands won from Jordan, Syria and Egypt in 1967.  It’s the existence of Israel on the land from the Green Line to the Mediterranean since 1948.  It’s why there’s a Nakba Day every year, it’s why the Arabs have refused every offer of a state made to them, and it’s why Abbas has said that no Jew will ever be allowed to live in a Palestinian state.  (He doesn’t comment on Arabs living in a Jewish state because to him, no Jewish state has a right to exist, and the Palestinian state he aspires to found will comprise all the land from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, judenfrei.)  No, the occupation will end when Israel as a sovereign state comes to an end.  This is why pedestrians and motorists in Tel Aviv are targeted, Israel’s borders are disregarded by infiltrators from neighboring countries, and the dead dubbed “martyrs” instead of the rioters that they are.

Whether or not the day’s destruction actually reaps benefits for the Arabs long term, it has made their leadership happy to see their friends and constituents wreak havoc, make asses of themselves, and get killed, because no matter how they behave or how many laws they break, Israel will always get the blame.  (Remember when Israeli soldiers were fired upon from across the Lebanese border last August for simply pruning the bushes?  Israel is already accused of violating international law by firing at rioters trying to cross its borders.)

In the words of the inimitable 5-year-old Banana, “Ach!  When is the Moshiach going to come already?  The Arabs are so annoying!”  (She doesn’t know the half of it.)

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The other night, the Cap’n and I watched Timothy Spall in the 2005 film, “Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman.”  Besides being a die-hard Spall fan (I loved him in “Chicken Run,” “Topsy-Turvy,” “All Or Nothing,” and “Shooting the Past”), I had heard a friend praise the film itself.

Based somewhat loosely on the story of Albert Pierrepoint, at one time Great Britain’s premiere executioner in the final days of capital punishment, the action of the film spans Pierrepoint’s application to the Prison Commissioners, his training and longstanding employment with them, including his commission by Field Marshal Montgomery to fly to Germany to preside over the executions of Nazi war criminals.

One of the things the filmmakers sought to emphasize in the film was Pierrepoint’s ethos regarding the corpses of the hanged convicts.  He explains to his assistant that the reason he performs the task of preparing the corpses for burial himself, rather than letting the mortuary staff do it, is because he believes the mortuary staff would not treat the bodies with respect.  In a later scene, to his military assistant in Germany, he becomes indignant and irritable when they execute 13 Nazi war criminals in one day, but are only provided 12 coffins in which to bury the corpses.  (The thirteenth, he is told, is to be shrouded and dumped into a grave sans coffin.)  He vehemently asserts his belief that no matter who they were or what they did, they have paid the price and that once they are hanged, the body is innocent and should be treated with respect.  His insistence on this point convinces the assistant, who slinks off to find another coffin.

While the highly principled Pierrepoint (and I’m talking here about the film Pierrepoint, not the real one who appears to have been more self-serving and slippery) takes pride in his work, using planning and precision to effect the quickest, most instantaneous death, never concerning himself with the crimes his subjects had committed, and always showing compassion for his subjects’ fear of death (even in Germany), the job takes an increasing toll on him as time passes.  The stress he feels as a result of the unprecedented number of hangings he performs in Germany is further ramped up when he finds himself executing a man who maintains his innocence to the end (one of the historically accurate details in the film), and another, a longtime acquaintance of his, who murdered the woman who jilted him in a moment of passion.  When the film ends with a quotation from Pierrepoint’s 1974 autobiography, “I have come to the conclusion that executions solve nothing, and are only an antiquated relic of a primitive desire for revenge which takes the easy way and hands over the responsibility for revenge to other people,” the filmmakers seek to show that Pierrepoint had become an opponent of the practice.

These two issues, respect for the corpse and capital punishment, make for an interesting paradox.  Is it possible to have both?  Are there some crimes (mass murder, for example) for which capital punishment is appropriate, and others (first degree murder) for which it is not?  Where does terrorism fall in this?  As premeditated murder, part of a genocidal movement, or something else?  Eichmann was exposed as a wholehearted supporter of the Final Solution and convicted on overwhelming evidence.  He was hanged and buried at sea.  Bin Laden was not tried, though his hand was clearly visible in the murders of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001, and after being killed in a raid in Pakistan, he too was buried at sea.  What if Khaled Mashaal or Hassan Nasrallah were to be apprehended alive?  What would they deserve?  Life imprisonment or swimming with the fishes?

And what about kavod hamet (respect for the corpse)?  Sea burial is respectable and prevents the grave site from becoming a shrine to the twisted faithful.  And publishing photographs of corpses?  The Fogel family chose to allow photographs of the bloodied family members (minus Ruth, the mother) to be posted on the Web.  The horror of reading what had happened to them was increased manifold by the photos of the corpses.  To anyone who questioned the humanity of settlers, or tried to explain away the murder of a family as “frustration” at the “occupation,” the photos bore witness to the naked savagery and boundless hatred of the murderers.  So what would publishing photos of a bullet-riddled bin Laden show?  Justice?  Closure?  Simple verification of the kill?  The comment section on a recent Westbankmama post debates the merits of this issue, and while I’m not impressed with the argument of it as a deterrent against crime or compromising the dignity of the corpse (that was buried at sea), I think perhaps its value in debunking conspiracy theories (before they fester into “facts”) is worth considering.

It’s highly unlikely that Israel will have the opportunity to repeat the capture and trial of a major actor like Eichmann again.  None of the high-profile, heavily-guarded figures who seek Israel’s destruction would have any interest in being captured alive, and while there are certainly opponents to targeted killings, I prefer them to drawn-out celebrity trials and orderly executions or imprisonment.  The German conviction of John Demjanjuk, a guard at Sobibor, the other day was suspended pending appeal, and the 91-year-old Nazi will now walk free, most likely for the rest of his days.  There’s also an honesty to simply killing one’s enemies when they’re self-professed combatants, use the language of war to describe their relationship to Israel (and everything else), and violate every law of war and humanity in working toward their ends.  The new face of war is no longer uniformed soldiers engaging a uniformed enemy and observing the Geneva Conventions.  As such, the targeting of masterminds and leaders seems appropriate, and the questions that arise in this context are no longer “whether” but “when” and “how.”

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For those struggling with the long history and intricacies of Middle Eastern politics, Michael Totten (an independent journalist who appears in my blogroll and about whom I once blogged) appears on the show “Uncommon Knowledge” to break it down for you (in the embedded video below).  He also recently authored a book entitled The Road To Fatima Gate, his exploration of the current political state of Lebanon with the information and analysis of a journalist but written, critics have said, like a novel.    (You can read excerpts from it, as well as several reviews, on Michael’s blog.)

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