Monday, July 31, 2006

Hizballah Entertainment News: Way to Go Mel! 

Hizballah Entertainment News, July 31
Iranian Embassy sub-sub-basement, Beirut, Lebanon

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah today released a statement exclusively to HEN lauding American filmstar, theologian and noted anti-Zionist historian Mel Gibson for his latest act of heroism. The Sheik, admitting he had always prefered George Clooney until now, was moved to speak out in support of the hunky infidel actor after learning via website TMZ of Mr. Gibson's wise and true statements, and the subsequent effort of the totalitarian American police state to cover them up and persecute the one-time director of the popular film known on bootleg Hizballah video-cassettes as "The Jews Killed Christ:"

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?" [...]

Deputy Mee then wrote an eight-page report detailing Gibson's rampage and comments. Sources say the sergeant on duty felt it was too "inflammatory." A lieutenant and captain then got involved and calls were made to Sheriff's headquarters. Sources say Mee was told Gibson's comments would incite a lot of "Jewish hatred," that the situation in Israel was "way too inflammatory." It was mentioned several times that Gibson, who wrote, directed, and produced 2004's "The Passion of the Christ," had incited "anti-Jewish sentiment" and "For a drunk driving arrest, is this really worth all that?"

We're told Deputy Mee was then ordered to write another report, leaving out the incendiary comments and conduct. Sources say Deputy Mee was told the sanitized report would eventually end up in the media and that he could write a supplemental report that contained the redacted information -- a report that would be locked in the watch commander's safe. [...]

On Saturday, Gibson released the following [HEN- obviously coerced]  statement:

"After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed..."
The text of Sheik Nasrallah's press release compliments Mr. Gibson effusively for his courageous outburst, sagely noting how "Mr. Gibson's arrest by the police demonstrates that the moment one speaks truth to Zionist power in America, one is silenced and hustled away -- with the gestapo officers even attempting to conceal any record of the heroic speech from the public record. And these American sons of pigs, monkeys, donkeys and ocelots have the nerve to brazenly parade themselves before the Islamic world as champions of this so-called right to free speech? Here in Nasrallah's Lebanon, everyone is free to speak their mind, unlike in America. We just believe in consequences for improper anti-Hizballah speech, but people die every day in America in arguments over the price of a Twinkie, so they should be so lucky to live here. As long as no one criticizes where we store our weapons, what's the problem?"

Sheik Nasrallah announced that in honor of Mr. Gibson's brave and forthright condemnation of the F*****g Jews the Hizballah leadership (that is, Sheik Nasrallah) would be sending the talented and perceptive actor the first of what will be a lifetime of regular weekly gifts -- some of the finest hooch Hizballah can afford to buy from the local UN Peacekeepers. Sheik Nasrallah explained that while holy Muslims such as himself cannot personally join Mr. Gibson in a toast over Hizballah's generous gift, "we nevertheless salute Mr. Gibson's anti-Jewish wisdom (quite advanced for an infidel) and invite him to enjoy as many toasts on his own as he'd like each day. We join Mr. Gibson in spirit if not spirits as he raises a glass, 'to the f***ng Jews!'"

The Sheik also wished it communicated to the actor/director/producer, after a number of such toasts, that he'd like to know if Mr. Gibson has received his manuscript for a children's film called "Honey, those mother-f****g Jews have stolen our land!" and what he thought of it. The Sheik sees Robin Williams as the crazy dad -- so long as he can prove he's not Jewish.

(hat tip: Meryl Yourish)

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers, and thanks to Michael Totten for supplying everyone the map. There's lots more commentary on the Hizballah war, both silly and serious, on the front page. And for a little variety, feel free to browse some Hamas war commentary, also both silly and serious, listed on the sidebar. There are even a few posts thrown in commenting on Michael Moore's and Cindy Sheehan's various conflicts, if that interests you.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

They're not what you've been told, they're our neighbors' kids. 

You are being led to believe that Israel's soldiers are a bloodthirsty lot who apparently can't restrain themselves from blowing up Lebanese civilians for fun and sport.

Forget that the building in Qana was supposed to have been empty of civilians after days of leafletted warnings and unmistakable nearby attacks. Forget that this civilian area was the launching point for over a hundred missiles that have been aimed and fired without regret or remorse into the civilian heart of our cities for two and a half weeks. Forget that the intended target of the strike was Nasrallah's missiles and their Hizballah crews cowering inside the building between launches -- Hizballah forces that knew full well who was in the basement, even if the IDF did not. Forget that the IDF had done all it could, and had every reason to believe it was targeting missile crews, not civilians.

You are just supposed to believe that civilian death is what Israel's military wants.

I'll guarantee you it's not.

Because I know these soldiers. We know these soldiers. They're our neighbors' kids. They're all of our kids -- for some of us literally so. We've known them since they were little. They've grown up in front of us, we've watched how they're raised. We've watched them shoot hoops, and play games in the street. We've bought cotton candy from their neighborhood stand. We've followed their musical ambitions, saw them play in the band.

We know who they are, and who they are not. They're not killers but defenders, the best that we've got.

These kids were not raised on a steady diet of Kill-the-"Other" propaganda. They were not raised to believe a neighboring country should be eradicated -- but that it should live beside us in peace instead of attacking us. They were not raised to believe civilians are pawns in a struggle for the sympathy of the global media or the diplomats wandering the world's plushest halls. Nor were they raised to believe that death is a greater good than life. They were simply raised with the wish to live here in peace, and to do good. That these good kids must now take up arms to defend us, their neighbors, is one of the least known tragedies in this conflict: warfare is not what they were raised for, violence never their calling. They were raised with books, not guns.

They're barely young men, so recently kids, yet forced to assume the responsibility of defending the rest of us from a murderous, genocide-pushing Sheik and the country he's hijacked. And while enemy fighters exultantly rocket our civilians while hiding behind their own, our young soldiers struggle to defend us while being held accountable by the morally blind for the well-being of those same civilians whose presence, never noted as shields, is loudly trumpeted once they are victims.

Were you ready to deal with something like that when you were 20 and partying in college? Our neighbors' kids aren't partying in college. They're heroes, risking their lives to protect us from an enemy that violates the most basic laws of conflict -- that civilians must be protected from combat, not herded into the middle of it -- forcing our young men to defend us with the utmost care, lest the slightest mistake or misfortune of circumstance bring that tragic result they all fear yet must somehow cope with. And worse, this enemy puts our neighbors' kids in the position of living with the knowledge that some civilians may die no matter what they do, whether that tragedy befall Lebanese through their action, or their own families through inaction.

All these heroes are our neighbors' kids. They're all our kids. And whatever you might think, whatever you've been told, we're damned proud of them.

Learn about one of these brave and righteous chayalim (soldiers) here, at the American Chayal Home Page.

Thanks Eli.

Obsession: What The War on Terror Is Really About - Google Video 

A serious video that is seriously worth a look:

Obsession: What The War on Terror Is Really About

I'll make one point in anticipation of the morally relative challenge I fully expect from some who will watch this video.

The video points out the stunning magnitude of Jihad's attacks throughout the world, and identifies -- with video after video of jihad's populizers -- the threatening ideological core of radical Islam that is behind the Jihad. It clearly shows how these preachers create a hateful, distorted view of the West in order to raise support for the Jihad against the West they claim is attempting to destroy the religion of Islam.

I expect the moral relativists to accuse the West, and the makers of this film, of doing the same thing: raising fear of Islam by claiming there is a Jihad to destroy the West. They will claim this film is just a cynical part of the cycle of fearmongering, and that we should ignore it, instead seeking understanding of the Jihadis' complaints. Do not fall for this argument for a second.

After watching this video, ask yourself what each side seeks to accomplish by identifying threats against it. You willl find that Jihad's supporters use fear of the West to mobilize Muslims to fight the West, and subjugate or destroy it in the name of Islam's global superiority. The West, however, while also responding to the threats it sees against it, does so in the hopes of neutralizing the aggressive message against it, neutralizing the message that seeks to radicalize mainstream Muslims, so that a moderate strain of Islam can finally assert itself without fear, confident in Western support, so that Islam and the West can live in harmony.

Now ask yourself if the West and the radical Jihadis -- those who seek to inflame a religion of one billion to a war against the West -- are morally relative.

(hat tip: Little Green Footballs)

Nobody Moves, or the Lebanese Civilian Gets It 

The central pillar of Hizballah's military tactics is no great secret. You'd have to be blind not to see it -- or at least carefully averting your eyes from inconvenient truths. Alan Dershowitz, among the many who have discussed this, characterized Hizballah's secret weapon quite nicely:

It should be obvious by now that Hezbollah and Hamas actually want the Israeli military to kill as many Lebanese and Palestinian civilians as possible. That is why they store their rockets underneath the beds of civilians. That is why they launch their missiles from crowded civilian neighborhoods and hide among civilians. They are seeking to induce Israel to defend its civilians by going after them among their civilian "shields." They know that every civilian they induce Israel to kill hurts Israel in the media and the international and human rights communities. They regard these human shields as "Shahids," or martyrs, even if they did not volunteer for the lethal jobs. Under the law, criminals who use human shields are responsible for the deaths of their shields, even if the bullets that kill them come from policemen's guns. [...]

The world must come to recognize the cynical way in which terrorists exploit civilian casualties. They launch antipersonnel rockets designed to maximize enemy civilian deaths, then they cry ``human rights" when their own civilians -- behind whom they are hiding -- are killed by the democracies while trying to prevent further terrorism
Yael at Step-by-Step has put together a few examples of the tactical brilliance of Hizballah's military planners, and how they are holding off Israel's superior military might by holding Lebanese civilians hostage at point of gun or rocket, and yes, even murdering their own people.

Are these techniques working? Are they impeding the ability of the IDF to find and destroy Hizballah's missiles and the forces that launch them before they can be fired into Israel's cities? Of course they're working:

Despite the enemy's tactics, [Israeli Defense Minister, Amir Peretz] told Rice, the IDF was still operating as a moral and ethical army. Hizbullah, he told her, fired at Israel from within mosques and homes, using civilians as shields. "We called up one home and told the residents that we were going to attack, and that they needed to evacuate," Peretz told Rice. "They fled the home and only then did we level the building. A home whose occupants didn't answer the phone, he added, was not targeted.
Even the Professor who wrote the IDF's code of ethics seems somewhat stymied by the tactic:

Kasher admitted that the decision to bomb a house or town was quite complicated, especially if there are citizens who wanted to leave but were prohibited from doing so by Hizbullah.

"We should take into consideration that people want to leave and aren't allowed to leave, and that changes the situation, but not on a grand scale," he said. "There you can justify certain infantry attacks... but only if it doesn't dramatically increase the jeopardy of our troops.
Which doesn't really sound much different than the current solution of dialing up houses the phone and attacking only those where someone answers the phone and agree to release any civilians being held inside. In the meantime, while IDF forces are busy calling house to house, Hizballah fighters are tossing grenades and firing rockets from the windows of those same houses. Will this eventually cause the IDF to stop imperiling its own soldiers lives in this risky effort to reduce the risk to Lebanese civilians? How long will the IDF let its soldiers pay with their lives protecting civilians endangered by the very same Hizballah forces those civilians have accomodated and supported for years -- as at Bint Jbail? Will the IDF simply bomb villages that are Hizballah strongholds instead? It hasn't yet.

Despite what Israel bashers would have you believe, Israel is not intentionally slaughtering civilians. Even a shred of common sense is enough to recognize the obvious. If Israel wanted Lebanese civilians dead, would they have sent ground troops into Bint Jbail, suffering casualties Nasrallah is still crowing about? No, an army intentionally looking to inflict civilian casualties would have simply flattened the entire village. If these "civilian killer" aspersions on the character of Israel and the IDF were true, the death toll in Lebanon after more than 2 weeks of fighting would not be only 300. For simple proof, look at how many of their own Arab citizens other Arab governments have been able to kill, often in much less than two weeks. Syria killed thousands at Hama. Saddam is estimated to have killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. And they weren't firing rockets into his cities. Israel is showing amazing restraint, perhaps reckless self-endangering restraint. And Nasrallah is banking on it.

Hizballah's tactic of holding it's own people hostage as human shields is indeed working to an extent I haven't witnessed in years. It makes me think Nasrallah must have Mel Brooks, the master of this technique, on staff as a military consultant.

It worked for Cleavon Little in Mel Brooks' classic, Blazing Saddles. Sheik Nasrallah has clearly read, or rather watched Mel Brooks' version of "The Art of War" and thinks it will work again. Frankly, Kofi and the international community are reacting pretty much the same as the concerned lady in Brooks film, crying out: "Isn't anyone going to help that poor man?" (video link) The way they blame Israel for the deaths of civilians instead of Nasrallah, the one who intentionally imperils his own civilians and ours too, I'd have to say they might be proving Nasrallah right.


After the death of 50 to 60 civilians in a destroyed building in Qana, there are many who suddenly believe this must all stop. Of course, many of them felt it must all stop yesterday as well, and will continue to say so tomorrow regardless of what happens. I will say it clearly: I regret the loss of innocent Lebanese life.

However, Hizballah celebrates the loss of Lebanese life as a victory in its effort to enlist the world in its effort to stop Israel from defending itself. It has worked hard to create the precise circumstances which will maximize civilian casualties on both sides, since civilian casualties are known to affect modern democracies. In case anyone doubts Hizballah's intentional endangerment of its own people, despite the countless reports already published on the subject, I can only say "seeing is believing." Take a look at these infuriating pictures smuggled out of Lebanon and published exclusively at Australia's Herald Sun, showing just how much Hizballah cares about the lives of Lebanese civilians.

I will pray for Lebanese civilians, that they will soon know peace and prosperity. However, their suffering is caused not by Israel, but Hizballah. Their salvation will not come from condemnation of Israel. It will come from the utter destruction of Hizballah, and corresponding global condemnation of its pervasive and perverse use of human shields, so that this tactic is so thoroughly discredited it will never be tried again. Until then, Lebanese will continue to be little more than pawns who have only been granted a few days of quiet with which to unload more truckloads of Iranian missiles -- at least, until the next time Nasrallah requires civilians to camoflauge his attacks.

More at:

Captain's Quarters has a clear explanation of the meaning of the Herald Sun's photographs.

Rhymes with Right sympathizes with the suffering of innocents while still maintaining the perspective needed to condemn the Hizballah forces who put them in danger.

Dry Bones aims his characteristic wit and humor at Hizballah's human shield phenomenon.

Elder of Ziyon has some great information on how ridiculous the international legal structures are with respect to human shields, and that Israel is still doing everything it can to respect these conventions despite Hizballah's blatant, intentional and nearly universally ignored violations.

Soccer Dad reminds us that the world has actually recognized the difference between the regretable but practically unavoidable problems of a justified air campaign, and intentional attacks aimed at harming civilians. Now getting anyone to recognize that difference when Israel is involved could be another story.

My First Week on the Watcher's Council and Here are the Results 

Last week I was selected to join the Watcher's Council which is run by the Watcher of Weasils, presumably with the express purpose of watching weasils. Since my blog's primary activity is watching weasils, whether Hamas weasils or Hizballah weasils or UN weasils or the various weasils from the deranged and unhinged fringes of the far Left, this sounds like it should be fun. By the way, I do acknowledge that there are indeed weasils from the far Right, and perhaps even centrist weasils too and certainly Israeli weasils as well, but there is a whole industry known as Main-Stream-Media already devoted to watching them, so there's little danger they will lack for publicity.

The Council's main activity is nominating and voting on the web's outstanding posts each week. The nominations are divided into two categories: posts written by Council members, and, separately, top posts gathered from anywhere on the web. This week's results are in:

The winning post among members of the council was ShrinkWrapped's post, A Perspective on Tribes and Anti-Semitism. Second place went to Gates of Vienna for As Old As the Garden of Eden

The winning non-Council post was Solomonia's report, Mayhem at the Defend Hizballah Rally. Second place went to Counterterrorism Blog's post, Worst Case Scenario: Hizbollah's Conventional Forces.

If you've written a particularly strong post you'd like to have considered for next week's vote, the process for submitting a post for noimination can be found here.

While I'm on the subject of the "best of the web" I should point out last week's Haveil Havalim, hosted at Life-of-Rubin, before this week's edition at Soccer Dad comes out.

And I'll close with something you rarely see here at AbbaGav: poetry. In fact, I've only posted one of my own poems, and I'm sure those of you who read it will thank me for having abandoned the field. But today I'm highlighting a guest poet: Yehuda, from Jerusalem Games. Yehuda doesn't generally post about politics -- his blog really is all about games. If you have any interest in games, whether chess or role-playing, Yehuda's blog is for you. But as an indication of how the attacks on Israel's northern border have united Israelis behind the need to fight Hizballah, bear in mind that they have now driven Yehuda to take time away from his blog's bread-and-butter -- gaming -- to put quill to parchment for some rhyming, anti-Hizballah punditry. Nasrallah, you do not want to make Israeli gamers mad, trust me on this one. They've simulated every battle since Troy -- having played both sides of each conflict -- and can kick your butt with one twelve sided die tied behind their backs. So, dear Sheik as well as Hizballah apologists, this one's for you:

Same Old, Same Old

How sad and how blind. How predictable.
It's always the same old same old.
The kicks and the curses that rain down upon
The young boy lying down in the cold.

"It's unjustified that you always kick back!"
"Brutality is how you thrive!"
"There's always a conflict when you're to be found,
It's unfair that you're still alive!"

From whose mouth come all of these tired refrains?
Who cries about "foul" and "unfair"?
Whose playing the victim only when he's hit back?
Oh, yes, it's the instigator.

Your prisoners sitting in our crowded jails
Were trying to blow up our kids.
Your houses and buildings that now lie in ruins
Are where all your weapons were hid.

Your entire life is devoted to killing
You've not, in the end, wanted peace.
The word "peace" to you means that after we're dead
Only then, then the killing will cease.

You Europeans, you belly soft cowards
Have never been able to learn;
You still think that everyone thinks just like you
Even after your cities have burned.

You can't understand that their goals aren't yours
That they're set on a mission from God.
They've ten martyrs lined up to kill each of you
And they're ready to go at a nod.

You poor Lebanese, now you're suffering hard
After sheltering and giving your aid
To murderers and kidnappers in your country
Only now you are getting well paid

For your aid and support. Don't cry out to me.
Cry out to the ones you've supported.
This defensive war would never have started
If arms and supplies had been thwarted.

Even now it could end, in twenty-four hours
If you'd simply go pick up the phone
And swear that from now on the Hizbullah army
Will never call Lebanon "home".

Thank you, any of you, who can see through the lies,
And are willing to stand up and tell.
All the rest of you well-meaning puppets of terror
Are no surprise to us, so go to Hell.

We expect nothing less, and frankly we say
After two-thousand years of this sort
Of treatment, we've never been stronger than this
And we'll do it without your support.

No blood would have flown if they didn't start up
No Jew ever started a war.
The Islamists think negotiations for peace
Is a weakness, and soon they will "score".

It's time for all lovers of freedom and progress
To join us and stand tall together
Against this great evil, shouting loudly and clearly,
That Israel will live strong forever.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Nasrallah: Would I Lie to You? 

YNet's Avi Cohen has Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah's response to Israel's claims of actually having killed some of his fighters.

A number of bodies of Hizbullah operatives who were killed during combat against IDF troops in south Lebanon were transferred Thursday to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir. With the aid of military personnel, the institute identified the bodies.

Other than the few bodies taken by IDF troops to the forensic institute, it is doubtful that anyone knows the precise number of Hizbullah operatives killed thus far. A senior military official said that by Tuesday, before the deadly confrontations in Bint Jbeil, at least "many dozen Hizbullah members" had been killed.

"We have documents attesting to these numbers, and it is likely that as the ground fighting continues, the number of Hizbullah casualties will rise," he said, noting that senior Hizbullah staff leaders, but apparently no political leaders, were killed on the battlefield.

Hizbullah, however, was exerting diligent efforts to paint a different picture. In his most recent speech Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah was seen practically pleaded to his men and the Lebanese people not to believe Israeli media reports on death tallies, because Israel was waging "a psychological war packed with lies."

"I am stressing to you – we don't hide the number of our dead. If a large number of our men are killed – we wouldn't hide it but on the contrary we'd be proud of it. Like in Maroun a-Ras. We said there was a battle and we didn't hide it. You must listen to us and not to the enemy's psychological warfare," he said.
Let's rewind Nasrallah's rhetorical brilliance for a second so we can pause and marvel at the conciseness of his lunacy.

Israel was waging "a psychological war packed with lies."

What Nasrallah means: well, at least we WISH they were waging a psychological war against us, like the UN asked for. We certainly expected them to respond by wondering what they had done to provoke us. We were pretty sure they would send out feelers to learn what we wanted in exhange for information about their soldiers and perhaps a several week break in from the hell we are raining down upon them. In short, a good old-fashioned psychological war. The kind where your enemy learns to get in touch with your  feelings. But instead the Zionists insist on wasting their bullets and rockets trying to beat us in battle -- HA! Like that could ever happen. Not so long as the brave civilians of Lebanon and also the UN peacekeepers continue to march with the banner of Hizballah, up front, right ahead of us.

I am stressing to you...

Not that I'm personally getting stressed, mind you -- that would imply that the enemy's psychological warfare is succeeding against me, which it most decidedly is NOT. I am impervious to their lies, and do not fear them at all. I am completely relaxed. However, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that, in the wake of our many recent battlefield successes, I willl be taking a very,very short trip to Syria, as soon as possible.

...we don't hide the number of our dead.

No need to hide it. There just aren't any. And how can you hide something that doesn't exist? You can't. And that's just what I'm saying. Trust me. Clear?

If a large number of our men are killed...

Which of course they AREN'T and HAVEN'T BEEN, no matter what you've heard, and they will continue not to be killed, in huge numbers. That's only an IF, a hypothetical. I'd love to bring in the commander of the western region, sector 2 to back me up on this, but he just went on extended vacation. But if his deputy could be here to explain to you, you would certainly believe. Unfortunately he was caught in traffic, and I can only read his written statement on the subject: "Nasrallah is telling the truth, believe him. We are not being slaughtered in great numbers. Definitely not."

...we wouldn't hide it but on the contrary we'd be proud of it

Proud indeed. Just like we're so proud of all of you who have been dying for us, shielding our missiles and our firing positions with your own brave bodies. How can we lose with such a steadfast people behind us, and in front of us. And that's not even to mention the courageous UN observers who absorbed the brunt of a Zionist attack actually aimed at us and, sadly, were killed instead of our fighters -- Allah be praised.

Like in Maroun a-Ras. We said there was a battle and we didn't hide it.

Yes, this is my counter-example, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that I would not hide the number of dead, if there were any. But please note that I am NOT admitting in this, my sole counterexample, that any of us were actually killed in Maroun a-Ras. I'm just pointing out that if there was a battle there, we wouldn't hide it. Yes there was a battle there. No more questions on the subject please.

You must listen to us and not to the enemy's psychological warfare,

You can trust me; in fact, you MUST. I'm not calling it an order so much as an enforceable suggestion. But what's the big deal? If you couldn't trust me, I certainly wouldn't lie to you about it -- I'd come out and tell you, right to your face, and your family's face too, even your little kids -- that's the kind of managerial transparency I'm putting in place with my latest massive -- massive! -- reorganization. It's sort of like an ISO9000 thing, replacing lots and lots of field commanders and fighters all at once. Giving some new blood a chance.

I could go on but I believe my flight to Syria is waiting. Best of luck, and I'll be back. Really.

Is Reuters Running Out of Kids to Photograph? 

I recently took a stroll through Yahoo's Mideast Conflict News Photos, as is my wont when I'm looking for something easy to blog about -- if you have a blog that deals even remotely with media bias, you owe it to yourself to wade in there at least once a week because those posts practically write themselves.

You might think that I, a pro-Israeli blogger, would tremble and quake at the mere thought of sifting through all those insinuating captions, the photos of Israeli-inflicted damage from every conceivable angle -- and some of those twice -- not to mention the countless clever ways of photographing the same Israeli tank's gun barrel. Yes indeed, the AP, Reuters, and AFP photographers do have a tendency to dwell on images of carnage and collapse, tears and tragedy, with the occassional exasperated-diplomat image thrown in just for effect. But I can handle that. We have to face the fact that war -- especially war against unscrupulous forces with no hesitation to use their own civilians as human shields -- is going to result in injury and loss.

But to hide from that fact, to pretend that our lives are only worth defending if the action photographs well, is slow suicide. So we face the fact that accidents happen, and we work to correct them. We face that our enemies violate the most basic rules of war, forcing their own civilians to stand between them and incoming bullets. And we face the photos, forcing ourselves to answer the question of whether we are right, rather than simply letting others answer in the negative for us. We face the fact that AP and AFP and Reuters don't care why or how so many civilians are hurt while gunmen operate among them, since Hizballah's script is so much more photogenic than an IDF press conference explaining ballistics and targeting angles.

So I took my stroll. You probably won't be surprised to learn that out of the approximately 1000 images I've clicked through over the last week or so, there were a lot of pictures of refugees -- refugees sleeping in schools, refugees fleeing in cars, refugees being evacuated by kind and gentle non-Israel soldiers -- but not one of them Israeli. I did not see a single picture of Israeli refugees, leaving their homes and jobs and belongings behind, seeking shelter from Hizballah's missiles. You might even think there aren't any such refugees, as the gratuitous picture I found of paddle boarders in the gorgeous Tel Aviv sunset would indicate. But that's not the case.

I'm not trying to start a CNN-style refugee scoreboard contest with our neighbors to the north (let's check the tote-board Bob; yes, I do believe the Lebanese have pulled back ahead by a narrow margin, but Israel's suffering is catching up fast). I just want to make sure people recognize that much of the world's most visible media consistently and predictably presents a pretty one-sided view of how this conflict is supposed to work out: Israelis attack and destroy, while innocent Arabs suffer. Israelis are soldiers, Arabs are refugees. Heck, the editors could have written the captions even before the Hizbullah kidnappings and rocket fire that set this whole thing off; the only thing missing would have been the pictures, which Hizballah will happily supply on demand.

Just to make it official though, let me post a few pictures of some of the Jewish refugees in this war, not that we intend to let them remain refugees for decades, or pressure the world to compensate them or anything. But please understand that Israel did not choose this war, and that we will defend not just our kidnapped soldiers, but also those like Yosef and Flora who are living here in Beit Shemesh wtih other refugees in the room that was my daughters' kindergarten classroom:


Or the Mamah family, who've put aside their lives and left their homes for weeks, to live in strangers' homes like ours, with no end in sight.


After almost a week with us, the Mamahs are now staying in another house, playing a game of musical homes, so long as they don't return to their own home -- which has had a missile land right next to it while they've been away, as well as a nearby strike at their daughter's school. Of course there are lots of Lebanese who've been forced from their homes too, but you know all about them already, and have been led to the opinion you are supposed to hold as to why this has happened to them, and who should be blamed. What the media wants you to feel about Jewish refugees is not nearly so clear, since they haven't shown you any.

I'll just close with one last discovery from my latest photo tour, a photo caption found while looking for my regular Reuters dose of poor Lebanese children hospitalized in the midst of Israel's war against them. While I'm not reproducing the image, here is the caption of what Reuters felt was a newsworthy photograph to be displayed amongst the rest of the important photos of the "Mideast Conflict":

A Lebanese child suffering from cerebral palsy lays with other children on a bed at the Dar Al-Ajaza-Islamia Hospital near the Hizbollah stronghold of the south part of Beirut July 26, 2006. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (LEBANON)
Don't get me wrong, I have great sympathy for anyone with cerebral palsy, children especially, Lebanese or otherwise. But unless our Zionist scientists finally managed to produce the much-coveted Cerebral Palsy Inflicting Ray Gun, I must confess to not having a CLUE how this photo relates to the current conflict the way it's presence in this collection asserts. The only news I can see here is that Reuters must be running out of sad kids to photograph and has taken to trolling the hospital wards -- any hospital wards -- for suffering little kids. Either that or Reuters has finally decided not even to bother with the mythical mask of objectivity anymore, and is just letting loose with every photo of Arab pain or misery it can muster, regardless of cause or context, in order to advance the idea that it is all Israel's fault.

Welcome to the club, Reuters. Take a number, you're right behind the UN in line.


Seawitch has more on the subject. Although she lives in the US, she is able to personally explain what it feels like to be a forgotten refugee.

Seawitch also passes on a link to a news agency that appears to be interested in civilians on both sides of the border, HonestReportingUK.

Cozy Corner notices the anti-Israel bias outside the hallowed halls of Yahoo News Photos too.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why the UN Post was Bombed 

While I haven't blogged about the UNIFIL post that was hit by Israel yet, I did enter this in my commment section yesterday regarding the incident that killed four UN peacekeepers:

I agree, accidents happen, at least in the real world. Especially when Hizbullah has been documented to operate near and even collocate with UN bases. When in battle, return fire is called in against a missle location, I don't know if IDF gunmen have to verify every return coordinate against a table of all known locations of UN bases. Perhaps they figured peacekeepers would not be allowing missiles to be shot from next to their base and didn't check. Or mabye it was just simple coordinate error. Stuff happens. My sympathies to the families of the soldiers who were killed though.
Other than that, I haven't made a big post about this because I didn't have any information to do more than cynically speculate about Hizballah's involvement. But after the Gaza beach incident, after the Al-Durah video and subsequent global martyrdom, and after Anderson Cooper's revelation of Hizballah's Pallywood-worthy manipulative media methods (Cedarwood), it's hard to believe the world's journalists still can't restrain themselves for even a day or two before screaming "Butcher!" at much-loathed Israel in their headlines.

And Kofi Annan, ever the consumate diplomat. How many more months did he buy at the trough by sucking up to terror's defenders, accusing Israel of intentionally killing UN peacekeepers? Any good deeds Kofi may have performed back in elementary school notwithstanding, he is slowly building up a remarkably despicable legacy. It's time to replace Kofi, I don't care who takes his place at this point. Ashton Kutcher could run the UN and it would at least be only inefficient.

Well, information is coming in now about how and why this happened. Andrew Bolt of Australia's Herald Sun is putting together the pieces, and the picture is so ugly this is one jig-saw puzzle you'll want to do upside down. Make sure you read the whole thing, and then watch CNN or BBC (if you have a strong stomach) or your local newspaper to see if there are any clarifying stories or headlines to fix the harm done in their haste to condemn Israel's fight against war criminals (who hide behind civilians and UN peacekeepers):

What makes Annan’s allegation so unforgiveable is that his UN Interim Force in Lebanon has been warning for days about what almost certainly caused this tragedy. Hezbollah fighters, who have already been firing behind screens of women and children, have also been shooting from behind and next to the UN positions, presumably hoping Israel will not dare shoot back and risk exactly this kind of propaganda disaster.

Read the UNIFIL press releases for yourself to learn that Hezbollah has not just shot at and seriously wounded UNIFIL observers - without any protest from Kofi Annan or The Age. You’ll also learn that UNIFIL has repeatedly reported Israeli shelling and bombing near UNIFIL outposts because Hezbollah fighters were shooting from right beside them.

Says the UNIFIL press release of 20 July:

Hezbollah firing was also reported from the immediate vicinity of the UN positions in Naquora and Maroun Al Ras areas at the time of the incidents (of Israeli return fire).

Can the jeering critics of Israel stop catcalling for a minute and explain how Israel is to defend itself against an enemy that shoots from among women and children, and from behind UN soldiers? Can they explain why they are such apologists for terrorists? Can Annan explain why he did not call on Hezbollah to stop risking the lives of his staff, or pull them out when they were being used to screen terrorist fighters?
And there is more. (Hat tip to lgf).

Correction: Apparently the UN Post in question wasn't specifically a UNIFIL post, but rather a UNTSO post. Who knew they could squeeze so many different variations of international human shields into the same little region? Well, other than Itamar Frenkel that is.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Face of Peace Calls For Cease Fire, Iranian Style 

If this is what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks like when he's calling for a cease fire, I can't wait to see his face when he promises to open the Gates of Hell in revenge for the destruction of his nuclear weapons program. I have to give the man credit though. Even in the middle of an obviously excruciatingly painful cranial bleed, the man has the composure to keep his hand in Bill Cinton's trademark "I'm making a point, without pointing" configuration -- either that or he likes to squeeze the life out of his Diva-worthy rat-snacks before popping them in his mouth.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures as he talks at a news conference in Dushanbe, Wednesday, July 26, 2006. Ahmadinejad called for a cease-fire in Lebanon and lambasted U.S. policy in the Middle East on Wednesday, saying the United States wanted to 'recarve the map' of the region with Israel's help. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
I wonder exactly what he expects to contribute to this cease fire. Certainly he isn't going to try to negotiate with Shimon Peres himself in some Quixotic quest for a Nobel of his own -- sorry dude, that "Peace Prize while preparing to kill the Jews" trick only works once and Arafat beat you to it. But what else could he possibly contribute to the quest for peace in Lebanon? How can Mr. A help bring about a cease fire? Perhaps by sending his envoys of peace?

Iranian volunteer militiamen pray beside a Hezbollah's flag, during a meeting at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery, just outside Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 26, 2006. Surrounded by yellow Hezbollah flags, more than 60 volunteer militiamen set off Wednesday to try to join the fight against Israeli forces in Lebanon in what organizers called the first convoy of 'Islamic warriors' offering their help from Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Fortunately, the blogosphere is blessed with the services of Meryl Yourish, who is qualified to translate AP's euphemisms, and explain what is actually meant by "militiamen":

Now they’re sending suicide bombers.

Is Tehran stepping up its involvement in the Israeli-Lebanese confrontation? Iran is set to send the first group of suicide bombers to Lebanon on Wednesday, the Iranian news agency ILNA reported.
[...] What good are suicide bombers going to do against the IDF, you may be wondering. So was I. Well, apparently, they’re not going to kill Israelis. They’re going to kill Lebanese civilians.

Other reports claimed that two groups made up of 27 volunteers have already left for Syria on their way to Lebanon. The volunteers’ task, after having undergone a months-long training, would be to carry out suicide bombings aimed at wreaking havoc and fear around military and civilian targets. According to the report, the group’s mission is to trigger a civil war within the divided Lebanese society, and cause the situation in the country to deteriorate even further.
Wow. The President that Time Forgot is so committed to peace that he's sending suicide bombers to help Hizballah reach a ceasefire agreement. I'm not sure how much of an effect they'll have, but it's the thought that counts.

Nevertheless, these future martyrs for peace should be very comfortable hanging out in Lebanon waiting until it's time to blow themselves up, what with the exquisite hosting skills of their fellow Iranian Revolutionary Guards who are already there and contributing to the peace effort -- well, at least those who haven't been killed already:

The bodies of several Iranian Revolutionary Guard soldiers killed by the Israeli army in Lebanon have been transported to Syria and flown to Tehran, according to senior Lebanese political sources.

The information was confirmed by Israeli and Egyptian security officials. It follows scores of reports that Iranian soldiers have been aiding Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon in their attacks against Isral, including helping to fire rockets into Israeli population centers.

Israeli security officials said they have "concrete information" that hundreds of Iranian soldiers are stationed at Hizbullah positions in Lebanon. They said Iranian guards directed the firing two weeks ago of a radar-guided C-802 missile that hit an Israeli navy vessel off the coast of Lebanon, killing four soldiers. Israel says Iran acquired the missile from China.

The officials said the Iranian soldiers' duties in Lebanon include keeping custody of long-range missiles within Hizbullah's arsenal, including Zalzal rockets, which are said to have a range of 125 miles, placing Tel Aviv within firing range.

Iran and Syria are the largest financial sponsors of Hizbullah. Israel says many Hizbullah rockets were made or upgraded by Iran. Earlier, Israeli Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev said Israel has information that Hizbullah was trying to transfer the two soldiers it kidnapped to Iran.
Of course Iran has already rejected this "baseless" "Zionist" report in language reminiscint of North Korean press releases extolling Glorious Leader Kim Il Sung's prowess at personally bringing in the bounteous winter harvest. It doesn't get much more convincing. Fling the rhetoric and let the scare quotes fall where they may, that's the spirit! Of course, the Iranians are also rejecting the "baseless" confirmation of that report from "Zionist" Lebanese political sources in addition Egyptian security sources known to be practically Hasidic in their love for the Jewish State.

But we'd better get used to reports like these. As Ahmadinejad gets closer and closer to his atomic objectives, we can expect peace to be breaking out all over.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stuff I Just Don't Get 

I do my best to stay informed -- which means reading a lot of blogs, of course -- but there are still a few hidden truths in this world that I just don't get.

Earlier today I happened to bump my brain on just such a low-hanging mystery. I was background googling another post I'm hoping to write later -- if I can stay awake long enough -- when I came across this gem, an oldie but a goodie from 2004. Arab News had an article explaining, entirely without irony, how the death of "Hamas Spiritual Leader" Sheik Ahmed Yassin had forced open the very Gates of Hell:

Believe what you want, Condi, and remain mired in your ignorance of the fact that Yassin was merely the spiritual leader of Hamas -- Hamas being not just a resistance movement like any other, that has resorted to revolutionary violence to free its people from an already 37-year old brutal occupation, but also an organization that spends millions of dollars on schools, clinics, orphanages, mosques, food distribution, sports leagues and other social programs to help a people that have been pauperized by that very same occupation.
People really seem to buy this idea, that a little bureaucratic busy work -- raising money for Hamas midnight basketball and such -- somehow renders terrorists immune to criticism or consequence. Raise enough money to name an orphanage after a suicide bomber and suddenly the world loses the ability to distinguish between your philanthropic and misanthropic endeavors. Which makes it all the more puzzling to me when criticism time rolls around that no one seems to cut Israel's sadly socialist government any slack, apparently not noticing that Israel also runs schools, clinics, orphanages, lotteries, airlines and probably even mosques too. I just don't get it.

Here's another one: the democratic Western World is often lectured that Hamas leads a democratically-elected government. This frequent reminder is apparently necessary, lest the West forget that no one is allowed to punish democracy-loving Hamas voters by withholding donations to the Arafat Memorial Ammunition Fund, since that would amount to "not respecting their democratic choice." This is especially true whenever Hamas henchmen -- the ones who aren't in the government, for sure -- decide to launch Kassams at us Israelis based on their democratically guaranteed freedom to prefer us dead. Sure, the Palestinian people have elected an uncompromising party committed to unending terrorist attacks against the Jews of Israel. But that's their Democratic right.

Besides, didn't Thomas Jefferson say that liberty requires that trees should be watered with blood, or something like that? And if "democratic" Israel elects a government that chooses to defend itself against those same tree-watering attacks, that's grounds for an immediate academic boycott, or at least a snub of Israeli vintners at next year's French wine tasting competitions, am I right?

Which brings me to another puzzler: boycotts and collective punishment. When Israel takes criminal actions like security searches to stop ALL Palestinians from carrying out suicide bombings, just because one bomber blew up, a lot of seriously sophisticated people go positively ballistic -- figurative speaking -- about the issue of collective punishment. Yet when it comes time to take action against Israel for this collective crime, how is it that these same collective-punishment-hating people are suddenly pro-boycott? Am I missing something? I had thought that a boycott was a collective commercial punishment of every member of a group, even those who had nothing to do with the alleged sin in the first place. I guess it doesn't count in this case, since although the boycott is applied to everyone, it's only enforced one at a time. (Yeah, sorry. That's the best explanation I can come up with -- I know some AUT academics will differ with me on the grounds that every Israeli is collectively guilty of participating in the ultimate sin, occupation, by existing, but much the same could be said of Palestinians, who collectively fail to stop their fellows from exploding.)

Why is the weakness of an Arab government its strength, but the strength of a Jewish government its weakness? Whenever it has come time for Palestinians to deliver on a negotiated commitment -- let's say, to stop attacking Jews with suicide bombers, or to confiscate unauthorized weapons from four- and five-year-olds at their political rallies -- the world has typically given them an automatic mulligan to skip over any particular odious chore and move straight ahead to the next task of extracting more from Israel. Why? Because everyone knows that Abbas, or Arafat, or Haniyeh or the Rais-du-Jour is simply too weak to be expected to carry out commitments he has agreed to -- such a weak leader can't possibly be expected to survive asking his people to give up even a sliver of their dreams of destroying Israel.

Israel, on the other hand, due to its great strength -- a Nietzschean strength built on decades-worth of that which continually didn't quite kill it -- is expected to go beyond mere fulfillment of its committments. These are known as confidence-building measures, and have succeeded in building great confidence in the Palestinians that they can get pretty much whatever they want out of Israel if they just wait long enough and host enough European diplomats.

Another thing I don't get: are the Palestinians really the completely helpless charity cases they frequently make themselves out to be, who couldn't get by without handouts from America, France, Belgium and Somalia? Or are they instead the powerful fighting force they also claim to be, regularly boasting of their plans to destroy a neighboring nation -- the one with the world-respected military and the yarmulkes?

Why is Zionism, a Jewish nationalist movement, globally vilified for being a racist impediment to the achievement of Arab nationalism's central dream: creating a 23rd Arab state with no annoying sovereign Jews nearby?

Lastly, if the world's governments really feel it is so important not to pre-judge negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians (I know, I know, but maybe in another decade or two) why are the world's embassies in Tel Aviv and not in Israel's capital, Jerusalem? Somehow, we are told, doing so would pre-judge the negotiations. What negotiations? I was unaware the world agreed with Palestinian maximalists that all of Jerusalem, as opposed to just the disputed eastern half, was somehow up for negotiation. After all, the western part of Jerusalem (where embassies could be put) has been in Israel's hands since the very beginning, and certainly before the events of 1967 that everyone insists is the part we're supposed to negotiate. Does the world really desire negotiations here in which Israel is pre-conditioned to actually LOSE territory it held before the war -- its capital city -- even after a war that it WON? Because that's what it looks like to me.

But then again, I just don't get it.

It's not Pallywood, but it might be Cedarwood 

I've seen the pictures. I've read the hype and the headlines, too.

Yes, I realize there is suffering not just in Haifa and Nahariya, but in Lebanon, too, and I really hate that it is happening. Most people in Lebanon, those not smuggling missiles and giving support to Hizbullah's attacks, have no part in this fight. Of course, neither do Israeli civilians living under Katyusha fire either. Sadly, war does tend to hurt those who want no part of it, alongside those who do.

But there remains the question of what really is going on in Lebanon. Who is actually being hurt, and why? The picture-takers and headline-writers would have us believe that Israel is engaged in a massive, almost Nazi-like "blitz" of destruction -- by the way, does it ever puzzle you how Israel can consistently be accused of so much Nazi-like behavior by the media and her enemies, year after year, and yet never make so much as a tiny dent in the threatened Palestinian demographic time-bomb?

Of course Hizbullah is quite active in putting forth this story -- that Israel is brutally and hatefully murdering only Lebanese civilians -- and this message is making a lot of headway in the global media. The purely anti-Israel rhetoric of condemnation and castigation is reaching levels not seen since the Jenin libels of 2002. Almost everything we've heard so far on the subject has been passed through Hizbullah's "Israel is slaughtering innocents for no reason" filter, whether directly by their spokesmen, or simply through journalists' unquestioning acceptance of Hezbullah's own allegations against its Israeli enemies -- all this even as the journalists themselves are intentionally endangered, presumably in the quest for bonus propaganda points against Israeli journalist-killers.

Yet perhaps there is more to the story than the Hezbullah talking points so far publicized by credulous journalists. When we are told that Israel has destroyed large numbers of Hizbullah rockets and weapons caches, while killing only massive numbers of civilians rather than Hizbullah fighters in the process -- Israel allegedly being either too incompetent or too callous to bother aiming for Hizbullah fighters -- common sense should tell us we are being fed propaganda. Undoubtedly civilians and civilian infrastructure are unfortunately unintentionally caught up in this fight, as happens in every war -- except, obviously, terrorist warfare in which civilian deaths are the entire point. But it is far from clear that the extreme version of the story told so far is the full, uncompromised truth. Until the IDF's side of the story is told, such accounts should certainly be accompanied with appropriate context explaining the one-sided nature of the reporting. For the most part, we don't see that.

We've seen this rush to judgement before. We don't really know yet what has happened here, all we have are the convenient allegations of one side in the conflict presented as cold hard facts in the media, even though Israel has yet to respond. The very same thing happened in Jenin. It happened on the beach in Gaza. While this may not exactly be a Pallywood production, there are growing signs of Cedarwood showing up in what we're being sold here.

In fact, before the world convicts Israel in absentia based solely on its enemy's unchallenged testimony, we should look a little closer at what is really going on. While the Hizbullah message has been the one widely disseminated to this point, there is other Lebanese testimony available in this case, pointing to
Hizbullah's filthy methods that endanger the very civilians Hizbullah claims to be protecting. Lebanese civilians are not dying because Israel wants them dead, but because it suits terrorist propaganda purposes to place civilians in dangerous proximity to militants' weapons and then blame Israel for anything that happens.

Not to mention that it is also far from clear that every body counted as civilian is actually civilian. It is a ridiculous idea to think there is an easy way to quickly count militant deaths when a reporter is working under deadline, expecially given that militants dress like civilians and hide among them. After 9/11, the world temporarily announced "we are all Americans now." In Lebanon, after Hizbullah's kidnap and initial missile salvos were launched and the wait for Israel's response begun, Hezbullah's announcement went out, "we are all civilians now." It may very well take some time to unravel just who are the civilians and who are the "civilians."

Just to be clear once more though, skepticism of knee jerk body counts and assessments of blame does not mean I doubt that Lebanese civilians have been affected, or that I do not pray for their peace as well as the peace of my fellow Israelis. Lebanese civilians have been caught in the middle and are paying a terrible price, as those prevented from fleeing by Hezbullah gunmen, or sitting on Hezbullah missiles in their living rooms, are forced into a dangerous situation no civilian should have to face.

Sometimes, however, when one is stuck in the middle, the best way out is to pick a side -- preferably the side whose dreams are most compatible with yours. In the case of Lebanon, those who dream of investement, growth, tourism and a resurgent, prosperous Beirut would be wise to look toward a similar city,Tel Aviv. I know such a choice, opposing Hezbullah and what it stands for, is a difficult and frightening step for Lebanese civilians to take in the face of Hezbullah's violence. But there is a reason we refer to the "courage of your convictions" instead of the "convenience of your convictions."

So, I wish courage in their convictions to those Lebanese who value freedom and the non-Hizbullah view of what Lebanon used to be, and should be again.


UPDATE -- Interesting Links and More Information

Elder of Ziyon has a clear example of the Cedarwood phenomenon, or what he calls Hezbywood.

Mad in Israel answers a really stupid question I've also heard a few times, and does a splendid job of it.

Soccer Dad demonstrates in detail that the charges of "genocide" some are trying to level against Israel and the US are ridiculous, unless it refers to crushing a people under truckload after truckload of humanitarian aid.

Elder of Ziyon shows another side of Big Media's "Jewish genocide" filter -- they publicize every Arab killed by Israeli actions without regard to intent, while completely ignoring the shocking number of murders committed by Palestinians against their own people.

Hashmonean notes an amazing statistic which fails to catch Big Media's interest: while perhaps 300 Lebanese civilians have been killed in approximately two weeks of fighting between Israel and Hizbullah, Lebanon reports that over 100,000 of its civilians were killed by internecine fighting throughout the 90's. To put this amazing contrasting media silence in perspective, for the present fighting to reach a casualty level matching Lebanon's own decade-long record of civilian slaughter, about 25% more Lebanese civilians would have to die every week, and that rate maintained for ten years.

Amazingly, even the UN is starting to wise up here:

The UN humanitarian chief [Jan Egeland] accused Hezbollah of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel.

The militant group has built bunkers and tunnels near the Israeli border to shelter weapons and fighters, and its members easily blend in among civilians. [...]

On Monday [after visiting Lebanon and Beirut] he had strong words for Hezbollah, which crossed into Israel and captured two Israel Defense Forces soldiers on July 12, triggering fierce fighting from both sides.

"Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men.
Especially when even UN representatives are losing the ability to pretend it's because of alleged Israeli cruelty instead of Hezbullah cowardice. If this recognition and condemnation took hold universally, such that there was no reward for Hezbullah's behavior, then Lebanese civilians (and Palestinian civilians for that matter) would no longer bear the brunt of their so-called protectors' violent choices.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

UN Observers Wouldn't Know a Hizbullah Missile if it Hit Them 

As the world slowly settles into its acceptance of the inevitability of the imposition of international peacekeeping forces between Israel and Lebanon -- or rather, Hizbullah -- it's worth reviewing the performance of the current international peacekeeping force that has already been busy keeping, well, something  these past many years.

This "force" that is supposed to be helping Lebanon enforce sovereignty over its own territory -- so Hizbullah doesn't have to -- is called UNIFIL, which I believe stands for UN Ineffective Force Ignoring Lawlessness, or something like that. What are some of UNIFIL's key accomplishments? What exactly is it that diplomats from Brussels to Turtle Bay think is going to convince Israel that an even larger version wouldn't just result in even more kidnappings and 30 thousand missiles intead of just 10?

Let's see now, there was the time 6 years ago when UNIFIL prevented Hizbullah from cleverly attacking and kidnapping three Israeli soldiers by disguising themselves as UN peacekeepers themselves. Okay, they didn't exactly prevent the kidnapping, but it can't be proved that they actively took part in it either, since the UN destroyed most of the evidence. And just because UN peacekeepers accepted bribes doesn't mean they knew that the disguised Hizbullah gunmen with the bombs and fake vehicles that wanted to sneak up to the border were actually going to do anything. Who knows, maybe they just wanted to install more of those long pointy things that Hizbullah likes to aim at the sky so much -- now what are those things called again?

And all of that earlier practice 'mostly not facilitating attacks' came in really handy last week when UNIFIL almost succeeded in keeping the peace. While it is true that Hizbullah's most recent kidnappings and concurrent rocket attacks into Israeli cities successfully inflamed the border, UNIFIL has so far avoided being accused of having accepted any bribes in the affair, and that's got to count for something.

But the crowning achievement of UNIFIL's tenuous tenure on the border has to be their jaw-dropping success at not having recognized a single Hizbullah missile being smuggled under their noses and installed on Lebanon's "sovereign" border with Israel. And it wasn't easy either, what with Nasrallah's constant bragging about his 10,000 missiles. It takes some serious committment to peace to avoid raising an inconvenient fuss about that many missiles, and possibly getting the guy who used to bribe you angry.

Yes, ignoring kidnapping attempts and cross border raids and massive numbers of long range missiles is a dirty job, but fortunately, the UNIFIL guys are just the guys to do it. In fact, it could be said that these UN observers wouldn't know a Hizbullah missile if it hit them. And now, ironically, via Haaretz, we learn this really is true:

A United Nations observer was seriously wounded in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah fire, a UN spokesman said Sunday. [...]

The observer is the second member of the UN monitoring team injured in 12 days of fighting. Several UN positions on the border have taken hits from Israeli shells, and Israel said earlier this week that a UN post on its side was hit by a Hezbollah missile - though the observer team said it was a stray Israeli shell.
Coudn't have been a Hezbollah missile -- whatever that is -- they would know one of those if they saw one, and trust them, they've never seen one.

The international community is going to have to come up with a better solution than a bigger and better, new and improved force of Keystone Peacekeepers if they expect their proposals to be taken seriously as realistic solutions to Lebanon's problems governing its own border. The present model, UNIFIL, has been nothing but a fig leaf for Hizbullah's naked aggression, conveniently providing cover for the placement of those thousands of missiles.

And a bigger UN force is just a bigger fig leaf, useful only to Hizbullah for covering larger missiles, but useless to Israel. Cease fires that are nothing more than a temporary pause in the onslaught, lasting just long enough for Hizbullah to rearm, won't bring peace.

Even if those cease fires are monitored by the UN. Maybe especially so.

Friday, July 21, 2006

In case you didn't know, it's not Israel, it's the Jews 

If Nasrallah's violence were part of a national struggle against the entire state of Israel as we are so often told, how does one explain racist comments like this:

Of the two Arab children from Nazereth who were killed by a Katyusha rocket on Wednesday, Nasrallah said they were 'martyrs for the Palestinian cause.'
Martyrs. Why? Because they were civilians? No, he's killed other civilians. Because they were kids? Again, no, been there, done that.

The kids he's killed are martyrs in Nasrallah'seyes because they're not Jews; they were Arabs.

Nasrallah and Hamas are waging racist violence against us. I hesitate to bother posting such an obviously true statement as if it were some brilliant new revelation.

Then again, what of the people who have been telling us over and over again that Israel is the regional racist? Yes, according to many the racist here is the nation whose citizens include black Ethiopeans, white Europeans, Arabs who serve in the Knesset, Persian Jews, as well as a smattering of converts from all over the world. Are these pro-Nasrallah, anti-Israel people aware in the slightest that the struggle they support is a racist campaign to ethnically cleanse this region of its Jews, or at least Jewish sovereignty? Could they possibly just dispense with the anti-racism charade from now on and just get to the point? They want the Jews gone. Israelis and Israeli sovereignty are not the problem, if we are talking about martyrdom-eligible Israelis. The only problem is the J-word.

They can try to hide from it, keeping their self-righteous prejudices submerged deep in the murky waters of denial. But Nasrallah isn't making that easy for them. He instead insists on publicly calling Israelis he's killed martyrs -- so long as they aren't Jewish.

That's got to be psychologically inconvenient for those ever-so-open minds that were long ago made up. They shouldn't let facts, evidence, or Nasrallah's expert testimony stop them from delivering their pre-written, Israel-racism-must-go verdict.

** Note: In reality, the issue of race and Judaism is slightly complicated. I use the term racism here because I am refuting common charges in their own terminology.

What is the virtue of a proportional response? 

Anyone other than commenter Rick remember who uttered this famous line challenging the received wisdom of proportional response?

Here is the rest of what President Barlet said:

What is the virtue of a proportional response?

I’m sorry.

What’s the virtue of a proportional response? Why’s it good? [beat] They hit an airplane, so we hit a transmitter, right? That’s a proportional response.

Sir, in the case of Pericles...

They hit a barracks, so we hit two transmitters?

That’s roughly it, sir.

It’s what we do. I mean this is what we do.

Yes sir, it’s what we do, it’s what we’ve always done.

Well, if it’s what we do, if it’s what we’ve always done, don’t they know we’re going to do it?

Sir, if you would turn your attention to Pericles One.

I have turned my attention to Pericles One, it’s two ammo dumps, an abandoned railroad bridge and a Syrian intelligence agency.

Those are four high rated military targets, sir.

But they know we’re going to do that, they know we’re going to do that. Those areas have been abandoned for four days. We know that from the satellites. We have the intelligence.


They did that, so we did this, it’s the cost of doing business, it’s been factored in, right?

Mr. President...

Am I right or am I missing something here?

No sir, you’re right sir.

Then I ask again, what is the virtue of a proportional response?

It isn’t virtuous Mr. President. It’s all there is sir.

It is not all there is.

Sir, Admiral Fitzwallace...

Excuse me Leo, but pardon me Mr. President, just what else is there?

A disproportional response. Let the word ring forth from this time and this place, you kill an American, any American, we don’t come back with a proportional response, we come back [bangs fist on table] with total disaster!

Are you suggesting we carpet-bomb Damascus?

General, I am suggesting that you and Admiral Fitzwallace and Secretary Hutchinson and the rest of the national security team take the next sixty minutes and put together a U.S. response scenario that doesn’t make me think we are just docking somebody’s damn allowance! [gets up and leaves the room. Everyone stands.]
I'm not suggesting anyone carpet-bomb Damascus, or even bomb Syrian carpets although that is a thought. But bean counting referees of war are not going to keep the world safe. In the end they just keep attackers safe to play their deadly game all over again, confident the world will never allow anyone to make them pay a high enough price that they would change their choices.

Great find, Rick.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

We Don't Wait For the UN; We Help Our Own Refugees 

The missiles have been falling on Israel's northern cities for a week now. That's a long time to stay in a bomb shelter. Especially for the kids. That's a lot of sleepless nights listening to explosions. Especially for the kids.

Not surprisingly, many families are packing suitcases and travelling south to get away from the danger and the chaos -- anywhere else in the world and they might even be described as refugees, albeit temporary ones. As they leave, carring with them the anxiety of leaving their homes and possessions behind, I can only wonder at how they held out as long as they did.

One such family is staying with us right now. They arrived the night before last with their three kids (3, 9 and 15), all exhausted and shaken -- especially the three year old who walked around saying "boom boom boom." That's all a three year old can say to describe the experience of having explosive laden rockets flying randomly over his house and exploding nearby, day after day.

Brief anti-troll immunization interlude:

Of course I realize there are Lebanese and Palestinian youngsters suffering through trying situations as well. But I will not be harrassed into apologizing for trying to help fellow Israelis who are facing enemy bombing, especially since all the other side needs to do if it really wants peace for its own people is to stop attacking us. Nevertheless, the innocent kids on both sides deserve help, and peace, and I hope they get it.

One other thing to clarify: When this post's title refers to Israelis not waiting for the UN to help its refugees, it is not trying to make a statement comparing our situation to that of how the Lebanese refugees are treated today. The comparison is directed at how the world, and Arab governments in particular, treated the refugees of 60 years ago, the Palestinian refugee problem. Rather than doing the best they could to get the refugees back on their feet and integrated into a life somewhere like refugees from every other conflict in world history, they treated their people like poker chips and left them to rot where they were, scoring political and diplomatic points at the expense of their ability to move on with their lives. Israel has tried to negotiate various solutions to this problem, but it will not be solved by revoking Israel's license to exist, either by military, diplomatic or nuclear means. But as the world has shown over and over since time immemorial, there are other ways of solving these problems. Arab governements instead turn Palestinian refugeeism into a new sort of religion that is passed to children and grandchildren until down the road a few years, based on current rates of the growth of the "refugee problem," most of the world's inhabitants could be Palestinian refugees.

For many Israeli families the move South, while stressful under such traumatic circumstances, is not difficult in practical terms. Many have cars for the trip and friends or relatives ready to welcome them.

But not all are so fortunate. Not everyone has a car. Not everyone can afford extended time without work. Not everyone has family or connections where the missiles have not reached.

The family staying with us doesn't have a car and had to write a check to pay for a taxi to bring them all the way down to our town, Beit Shemesh, a two or three hour drive. And they don't know us, having been sent to us only because we volunteered on a list of willing hosts. They're staying with strangers -- welcoming strangers, but strangers nonetheless. And even they consider themselves lucky compared to those who don't have the money for such a taxi ride, or for whom volunteers have not yet been found to host them. There are still families remaining in the North, never straying far from their basement shelters and praying the warning sirens give them enough time.

Compared to what they go through, this war seems like little more than a top-of-the-hour fixation for the rest of us. But if we examine the effect of our own sense of personal powerlessness -- our inability as concerned citizens to make the missiles stop, to shelter our people from danger -- we realize it eats away at all of us. Especially our own children. I can see it clearly in my own kids, with their anxious questions about bombs, and need for reassurance that we would move them if they were in danger.

So far, the best thing for our kids, and for us, has been this chance to help another family. It has been a chance to attach this distant problem to a real-world face, and to do something to help. When these three kids and their parents arrived, our own kids were so excited they even cleaned their rooms to make them feel welcome.

That same opportunity is available to all of us. We all can help. There are a number of groups organizing relief and fund-raising to make sure no one slips through the cracks and everyone has a safe place to stay. One is an effort local to Beit Shemesh, Lema'an Achai:

Over one million Israelis are now suffering constant barrages of over a thousand rockets and missiles, and the terrifying, constant threat of death and injury.

And the flow of families fleeing from the war and terror on the northern half of Israel, and from the rockets from Gaza in the South, is rapidly growing from a trickle to a flood.

Yesterday, our town, Beit Shemesh was asked to accommodate 117 'refugees' from Naharia. Today, a bus-load from Tiberius, 74 people from Carmiel and 119 people fleeing from Haifa. Tomorrow... Our small community is now preparing to absorb 1000-2000 people for up to a month.

So we are turning our public buildings (schools, community centers, sports halls..) into sprawling camps - where our guests receive a roof over their heads, sustenance, and no imminent threat of rockets.

Local families are 'adopting' the refugee families, and help with their laundry, meals, and social integration into their new (temporary) community.

Lema'an Achai (www.lemaanachai.org) is heading this community-based emergency relief project in partnership with the Beit Shemesh Municipality, the community centres, Ezrat Achim, and numerous shuls and organisations.

Lema'an Achai has been mandated to raise funds to meet the multitude of needs of such a large group of newly homeless families.

For Food, Drink, Provisions, Bedding, Fans, Kettles, Clothes.... teams of social workers & counsellors to help with trauma...

Lema'an Achai has established a designated Refugee Relief Fund to meet these emergency needs.

Please now donate generously to:-

24 Hour Credit Card Service in Israel - 02-99.999.33

US Tax Deductible Donations:
Checks payable to: "US Friends of Lema'an Achai"
Memo line - "Refugee Relief"
PO Box 532, Oceanside, NY 11572-0532

UK Tax Deductible Donations:
Cheques payable to "Jewish Aid Committee"
c/o Refugee Relief Fund - Lema'an Achai,
40/7 Nachal Lachish,
Ramat Beit Shemesh,
99093, Israel.

Canadian Tax Deductible Donations:
Checks payable to: "Shaarei Tefilah Charity Fund" -
Memo Line: Refugee Relief Fund - Lema'an Achai
C/O Murray Shore, 31 Marvill Street
Toronto, Ontario, M3H 3L2

Israel Tax Deductible Donations:
Checks Payable to "Lema'an Achai - Refugee Relief Fund"
40/7 Nachal Lachish,
Ramat Beit Shemesh,
99093, Israel.

In the (happy!) event that any funds raised are not required for Refugee Relief, they will be used for other critical charitable services.
Centrerion Canadian Politics is also publicizing another effort being organized by the Jewish Federation:

North America's Jewish federations are fundraising to move Israeli children south, away from Hezballah's rockets. To that effect, there's an emergency fund in
He has a donation badge and more information at his site.

Please consider even a small donation to one of these charities, or another of your choice. You'll not only help protect Israelis from this danger, you'll also help fight off your own sense of powerlessness in the face of this terror, the very sense Hezbullah and Hamas are counting on.

It's the Head Count, Stupid 

Michelle Malkin's Shot of the Day:

Scary. How soon can we surrender? What chance do we have against an enemy whose arthritic grandmothers even want to kill us -- and are packing the RPGs to prove it.

Oddly enough, this picture reminded me of a story I heard a few years ago about venture capital and a bubble-era internet startup. Those were the days, back when the IAEA was still confidently if not competently assuring us Iran was not seeking nukes, and irrational exuberance was still the biggest unexploded bombshell hanging over us.

An entrepreneur had gotten an internet startup going and was doing well enough by the measures of success of that day -- not necessarily making a profit but showing a good product plan and having an office with nice carpet and an espresso machine -- that it was time to solicit another round of investor money.

But as the entrepreneur waited at the airport to chauffeur a potential big wallet to see his company before investing, he was worried about one problem. What if the investor saw the empty desks back at the office that weren't yet filled with new hires, and decided the startup wasn't spending its money quickly and aggressively enough? Back in those days, an overly cautious burn rate -- that is, a monthly level of losses that wouldn't leave the company penniless within the year -- could be the kiss of death when soliciting investors with eyes only for shooting stars: companies that either burn up quickly and go away, or blossom into supernovas like Microsoft or UsedToothpickAuctions.com.

So the enterprising entrepreneur did what entrepreneurs do: he solved his problem. He called ahead and aked his staff to fluff the head count a bit by rounding up people off the street to fill those empty desks, pretending to be employees so the investor wouldn't worry that his money wouldn't be spent fast enough. The staff, not being fully-qualified entrepreneurs themselves, were skeptical. "What if they do something wrong? What if they've never seen a computer mouse before or don't know how to sip a double mocha latte convincingly?"

But the entrepreneur reassured them. "Just round up anyone you can find and it will be ok. Investors want to invest, and they just need to be shown what they want to see."

So the staff quickly rounded up a few people who were passing by -- perhaps even some little old ladies just like Michelle Malkin's rocket-wielding-Granny Of The Day. They quickly instructed the "new hires" to sit at the desks and not to say a single word no matter what. In exchange, they would contribute to the corporate burn rate to the tune of a few dollars and all the espresso they could drink.

And you know, it worked. It actually opened the great wallet.

It doesn't really matter whether old ladies actually know how to hold a mouse or fire an RPG; that's not why they're in the picture. They just need to give the viewer room to see what he wants to see -- or what he's afraid of seeing. Entrepreneurs and Jihad leaders understand this: when trying to seal the deal with those who already want to believe, you just have to create the right image and let human nature do the rest. Not that there is any moral equivalence between the entrepreneurs and jihadis; I LOVE entrepreneurs, even if I can't sip a latte like a pro.

Still, I just can't quite see our guerilla granny sipping a Caramel Macchiato properly. The image just doesn't work for me. So maybe there is still room for a glimmer of hope for us in this never-ending conflict, if not actual irrational exuberance.

Disproportionate Response, and Other Older Responses 

Commenter and friend Yehoshua reminded me of a topic that is in the news right now that needs to be discussed:

Here's a creative idea, Gav: why don't you do an analysis, in your inimitable fashion, of the craven idiocy behind the whole notion of "proportionate response" toward people who would murder every last one of us?
I quote his comment first of all because it's a pretty good and succinct answer all by itself, and I also really like his phrase "craven idiocy."

But Yehoshua's comment also prods me to deal with the subject of "proportionate response" myself -- and indeed a few other subjects that are "hot" right now.

I don't usually do roundups of my own posts, but current developments on the Lebanese border have returned the spotlight to a few issues I've already dealt with in recent months. While I may very well come up with new and more sarcastic ways to make the same points again in coming weeks, I thought I'd start by pointing you to a few of these older but still relevant posts you might not have seen yet. Remember, however, that one of my blogging goals has been to constantly improve my writing skills, so, if I've had any success in that area, please bear in mind that these older posts should absolutely suck helium.

Back in December I had a disproportionately sarcastic response to those who project their own proportionality fetishes onto Israel.

As Israel's three kidnapped soldiers are still missing, presumably in the hands of parties within the Palestinian and Lebanese governments, another December post examining the U.N.'s view of hostage takers still stands as relevant but useless given the particular special place Israel holds in the international community's heart.

And if you wonder who exactly are these Hezbollah and Hamas bozos and who is pulling their strings, you might be interested in seeing a little puppet show.

You may be wondering why I haven't done one of my by-now-cliched game shows about Hezbullah. In fact, I do hope to have on in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with a peek at the real thing -- a Hezbullah Game Show from the people at Hezbullah's Al-Manar Television Network that Israel is apparently so wrong to want off the air.

And finally, I'll just arbitrarily add a fun post I ran across in the search for my kidnapping- and Nasrallah-related posts: bumper stickers for the Islamist bumper. A couple examples:

Shiite happens.

He who dies with the most infidels wins.

Potfry is disproportionately funny as usual on this very topic with his latest post, Scoreboard Installed in Lebanon to Ensure Israel Wages "Proportioned" War.

John Soper also makes some good points, including:

Reaction from around the world has been divided, muted, and detractors have primarily said that Israel's response was "disproportionate"... i.e. they have the right to respond but not quite so much.

Cease-fire is about the weakest form of non-violence agreement imaginable. The scale goes something like: cease-fire - armistice - peace treaty - non-aggression pact - alliance. Notice how no terrorist group ever wants a more lasting peace other than the minimum necessary to regroup their forces. Their true, ambitious final goals never diminish.

Noahtorious B.I.G. has some strong opinions on the subject.

Of course Cox and Forkum bring their overwhelming wit to the topic of "disproportionate force" too.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: