Hezbollah’s West Coast media office

A child’s death is always a tragedy, but this SF Chron report about Qana sounds like a Hezbollah PR office press release:

The tiny, lifeless bodies were laid out in a row on a black straw sheet in the concrete courtyard of the Tyre Government Hospital. Twenty-one of them, all still in the pajamas they were wearing before two Israeli bombs tore through Ali Hashem’s home in this southern Lebanese village early Sunday.

Dozens of members of the Hashem and Chalhoub families had sought refuge in the unfinished house about 10 days ago, thinking it was safe. Only eight survived.

After several sob stories with Lebanese pointing out the obvious — which is that their infants aren’t terrorists — we get to the article’s real point — the Israelis are cold-blooded civilian killers, who’ve murdered before:

There have been almost daily tragedies involving civilians since Israel unleashed its fury against Lebanon for Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12. In the days and nights since, the civilian death toll has sharply increased; the Lebanese Health Ministry now estimates nearly 550 people have been killed in air strikes.

But Sunday’s bombardment and killing of at least 56 helpless civilians — 37 of them children — is resonating with the Lebanese in a way that others did not: It occurred in Qana, the site of a bloodbath 10 years ago that is annually remembered with bitterness.

Just over 100 civilians cowering in a U.N. shelter were killed in an Israeli strike on the town on April 18, 1996. The attack sparked widespread international outrage and resulted in the “April Understanding” — an agreement by Israel, Lebanon, France, Syria and the United States that Lebanese and Israeli civilians would not be targeted in Hezbollah’s drive to end Israel’s decadeslong occupation of southern Lebanon. Four years later, the Israelis withdrew.

The story then flips back to the horrors, the horrors! As I’ve said, it is a horror when children die. Funnily enough, the story makes no mention of how the children ended up in a combat zone. You have to go beyond this MSM forum, which I was able to do thanks to a link that jg gave me (which took me from Dr. Sanity; to NRO’s Corner; to Rampurple, a Lebanese blogger, who wrote the following):

The situation in Ain Ebel is unbearable. Thousands of civilians have fled to the village from nearby villages and more than 1000 rockets have hit the village, there is no more food neither clean water and diseases r spreading.

Now here comes the most sickening part:

Hezbollah has been firing rockets from the village since Day 1 hiding behind innocent people’s places and even CHURCHES. No one is allowed to argue with the Hezbollah gunmen who wont hesitate to shoot you and i ve heard about more than one shooting incident including young men from the village and Hezbollah.

Urgent appeals have been done through phone calls from terrified people who wouldnt give out their name fearing Hezbollah might harm or even eliminate them.

This is the true image of our brave Islamic Resistance, putting the civilians and their homes as body shields to the Israeli bombardements.

Let the message spread and let those criminals move out of the village once and for all.

Free Ain Ebel from the terrorists !

The tragedy of villages held hostage to Hezbollah terrorists is not an isolated story. I’ve blogged — indeed, hundreds have blogged — about the fact that Hezbollah has made a strategic decision to use children to shield its military operations. Indeed, even a maverick at the UN has expressed disgust with Hezbollah’s tactics. You’d never know it, though, to read the Chronicle story. Instead of blaming the terrorists who trap children in the line of fire, the story, without saying so in so many words, clearly likens the Jews to the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, or any other 20th Century totalitarian killers. I would say that the Chronicle should be ashamed of itself for printing that kind of thing, but the Chronicle has no shame.

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Death by propaganda

It’s beginning to look as if those children’s deaths in Qana are a replay of the family death in Palestine. You know the latter — it was the one where the Palestinians, swiftly joined by the world media, blamed Israel when a family died while on the beach (complete with posed photographs of mourners). It was only Israel’s high tech surveillance that demonstrated that, in fact, the family died when Hamas bombs blew up under them. It may be that the same thing happened in Qana, only with higher casualties:

An IDF investigation has found that the building in Qana struck by the Air Force fell around eight hours after being hit by the IDF.

“The attack on the structure in the Qana village took place between midnight and one in the morning. The gap between the timing of the collapse of the building and the time of the strike on it is unclear,” Brigadier General Amir Eshel, Head of the Air Force Headquarters told journalists at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, following the incidents at Qana.

Eshel and the head of the IDF’s Operational Branch, Major General Gadi Eisnkot said the structure was not being attacked when it collapsed, at around 8:00 in the morning. The IDF believes that Hizbullah explosives in the building were behind the explosion that caused the collapse.

Another possibility is that the rickety building remained standing for a few hours, but eventually collapsed. “It could be that inside the building, things that could eventually cause an explosion were being housed, things that we could not blow up in the attack, and maybe remained there, Brigadier General Eshel said.

Read the rest here.  Little Green Footballs has lots of other stories about how Qana is being manipulated and exploited to feed the Press’ insatiable demand for horror stories about Israel.

Hat tip: Little Green Footballs

How to pander with elan

You can’t say that the French lack style. When they pander, they do so with panache. Take their homage, as Reuters reports it, to one of the world’s major terrorist states:

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy says Tehran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East – ‘a great country, a great people and a great civilization’

Iran is a significant, respected player in the Middle East which is playing a stabilizing role, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on Monday.

“It was clear that we could never accept a destabilization of Lebanon, which could lead to a destabilization of the region,” Douste-Blazy said in Beirut.

“In the region there is of course a country such as Iran – a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region,” he told a news conference.

The United States blames Iran and Syria for destabilizing the region by backing Hizbollah in Lebanon which have been battling Israeli forces for nearly three weeks.

Really, there are few things more stabilizing than a nuclear bomb in a madman’s hand.  That scenario removes all decision-making from surrounding countries.  You do what the madman asks, and you hope that you’re the last one on his hit list.  Sounds very peaceful to me, if you’re the kind of person or country that doesn’t want to be bothered with vexing little questions about right or wrong, or freedom, or respect for human-kind.

In any event, if you’re not as charmed with the French as the French are charmed with Iran, you might want to check out I-Hate-France.com, the ultimate site for those who view France with, at best, a jaundiced eye.

Thoughts from Israel

Since Israel is at the epicenter of events right now, I wanted to share with you two emails that I’ve received.  The first one is from an Israeli — an old Leftist — writing about the battle in Lebanon.  I’ve redacted it for privacy, and edited it for spelling (no criticism is intended here, since I can’t write in any language but English):

Hizbollah is the proxy of Iran here and both are fanatic Islamic people who believe that Palestine is a sacred ground and Jews should not stain this land and they have one common interest, which they say it openly – the annihilation of Israel. The only reason why they have accumulated near the border 12,000 rockets of mid and long range, threatening the whole country, is to deter Israel, deter from what?  From self defence when Iran is ready to attack us and achieve their goal.

They have turned the border with Israel into a fortress full with underground tunnels, ammunitions and rockets, and for the last six years since we left Lebanon there were quite a number of provocations, in which they shelled the Galilee with rockets, kidnapped and killed soldiers and civilians and Israel hardly retaliated. That way the deterrent force of Israel was reduced to a dangerous level.

At this stage, our deterrent force is the only guarantee to our existance here and I pray for the day that it will not be required any more. The situation reached to a level that after the last provocation we had to retaliate, with the goal to reduce the force of Hizbulla as much as possible, otherwise we can close the shop here, and this is also the reason that more than 80% here are unified and prepared to go through the destruction and shelling of their villages and town and risk their lives, in order to end this threat once and for all. So this is the situation here, how a leftist person like me sees it, as most of the the leftists in this country do.

The second is an email that intermittently surfaces when Israel is in the headlines.  It predates the current conflict, but does spell out well Israel’s (and the Jews’) sense of history and at least one Jew’s growing disdain with world opinion:

Dear World, I understand that you are upset by us, here in Israel.

Indeed, it appears that you are quite upset, even angry. (Outraged?)

Indeed, every few years you seem to become upset by us. Today, it is the “brutal repression of the Palestinians”; yesterday it was Lebanon; before that it was the bombing of the nuclear reactor in Baghdad and the Yom Kippur War and the Sinai campaign. It appears that Jews who triumph and who, therefore, live, upset you most extraordinarily.

Of course, dear world, long before there was an Israel, we – the Jewish people – upset you.

We upset a German people who elected Hitler and upset an Austrian people who cheered his entry into Vienna and we upset a whole slew of Slavic nations – Poles, Slovaks, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Russians, Hungarians and Romanians. And we go back a long, long way in the history of world upset.

We upset the Cossacks of Chmielnicki who massacred tens of thousands of us in 1648-49; we upset the Crusaders who, on their way to liberate the Holy Land, were so upset at Jews that they slaughtered untold numbers of us.

For centuries, we upset a Roman Catholic Church that did its best to define our relationship through inquisitions, and we upset the arch-enemy of the church, Martin Luther, who, in his call to burn the synagogues and the Jews within them, showed an admirable Christian ecumenical spirit.

And it is because we became so upset over upsetting you, dear world, that we decided to leave you – in a manner of speaking – and establish a Jewish state. The reasoning was that living in close contact with you, as resident-strangers in the various countries that comprise you, we upset you, irritate you and disturb you. What better notion, then, than to leave you (and thus love you)- and have you love us and so, we decided to come home – home to the same land we were driven out 1,900 years earlier by a Roman world that, apparently, we also upset.

Alas, dear world, it appears that you are hard to please.

Having left you and your pogroms and inquisitions and crusades and holocausts, having taken our leave of the general world to live alone in our own little state, we continue to upset you. You are upset that we repress the poor Palestinians. You are deeply angered over the fact that we do not give up the lands of 1967, which are clearly the obstacle to peace in the Middle East

Moscow is upset and Washington is upset. The “radical” Arabs are upset and the gentle Egyptian moderates are upset.

Well, dear world, consider the reaction of a normal Jew from Israel.

In 1920 and 1921 and 1929, there were no territories of 1967 to impede peace between Jews and Arabs. Indeed, there was no Jewish State to upset anybody Nevertheless, the same oppressed and repressed Palestinians slaughtered tens of Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Safed and Hebron. Indeed, 67 Jews were slaughtered one day in Hebron in 1929.

Dear world, why did the Arabs – the Palestinians – massacre 67 Jews in one day in 1929? Could it have been their anger over Israeli aggression in 1967? And why were 510 Jewish men, women and children slaughtered in Arab riots between 1936-39? Was it because Arabs were upset over 1967?

And when you, dear world, proposed a UN Partition Plan in 1947 that would have created a “Palestinian State” alongside a tiny Israel and the Arabs cried “no” and went to war and killed 6,000 Jews – was that “upset” caused by the aggression of 1967? And, by the way, dear world, why did we not hear your cry of “upset” then?

The poor Palestinians who today kill Jews with explosives and firebombs and stones are part of the same people who ­ when they had all the territories they now demand be given to them for their state -attempted to drive the Jewish state into the sea. The same twisted faces, the same hate, the same cry of “itbach-al-yahud” (Massacre the Jew!) that we hear and see today, were seen and heard then. The same people, the same dream – destroy Israel. What they failed to do yesterday, they dream of today, but we should not “repress” them.

Dear world, you stood by during the holocaust and you stood by in 1948 as seven states launched a war that the Arab League proudly compared to the Mongol massacres.

You stood by in 1967 as Nasser, wildly cheered by wild mobs in every Arab capital in the world, vowed to drive the Jews into the sea. And you would stand by tomorrow if Israel were facing extinction.

And since we know that the Arabs-Palestinians dream daily of that extinction, we will do everything possible to remain alive in our own land. If that bothers you, dear world, well ­ think of how many times in the past you bothered us.

In any event, dear world, if you are bothered by us, here is one Jew in Israel who could not care less.

Don’t try this at home

I just learned that my cholesterol is slightly elevated.  It’s still in the normal zone, but on the high end of normal.  I’ve already cut a lot of fat out of my diet, so I was casting around for another way to control my numbers.  I know that people take Niacin to help lower their cholesterol.  I also know that Niacin is fairly benign, although it can cause unpleasant flushing as it dilates the blood vessels.

In any event, I dutifully went out and got some Niacin.  The bottle recommended two pills a night, so I took one.  About 1/2 later, I thought I was going to die.  I didn’t just flush; all of the blood vessels right under my skin swelled up so badly, I couldn’t move.  My heart was going a million miles a minute, and my head was clearly about to explode.  After about ten minutes of this, the symptoms abated somewhat, only to resume a half hour later, on a slightly lesser scale.  This pattern — cessation and resumption — kept on for two more exhausting, demoralizing cycles.  Today, I’m tired and feel as if I’ve been beaten by a big stick.  Is this really what Niacin does, or am I unusually sensitive?

Suffer the children, Part II

Drudge linked this morning to an article in Australia’s Herald Sun that displays a series of damning photographs showing Hezbollah terrorists, and their weapons of course, comfortably ensconced in a dense residential neighborhood.  The terrorists are dressed in comfy casuals, so that they can easily blend into the crowd.

Hezbollah didn’t end up in neighborhood by accident.  This strategic positioning is intended to deter Israel, which loaths civilian casualties, from destroying Hezbollah’s weapons.  And if that fails, it’s meant to increase civilian casualties, with the sheeplike Western media pointing the finger of blame at Israel rather than at Hezbollah, where it properly belongs.  In other words, Hezbollah is perfectly willing to see Arab civilians, especially children, die if it will make Israel look bad.

Suffer the little children

The press is all over Israel’s missile strike that killed children. Fortunately, LGF is all over the fact that Israel, unlike any aggressor in the history of the world, warned civilians days in advance that the strike was coming and begged them to leave. The reason Israel was striking that area was not to kill civilians, but because it was a Hezbollah stronghold. Hezbollah, true to its belief-system, was using those civilians for the twofold purpose of preventing an Israeli strike in the first place or, failing that, using the strike as a public relations event — something our credulous, ill-informed media is only too will to help with. (Note: I’m being nice when I assign stupidity to the media for its reporting here, rather than the malice that I think motivates so much of the reporting from European outlets, from AP and from Reuters.)

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Thoughts,words and deeds

Most people harbor bad thoughts. It’s the civilizing instincts we learn over a lifetime that help us tamp down those thoughts. Thus, while we may hate, really hate, the boss who destroyed our career, we don’t kill that boss — or at least most of us don’t. “Going postal,” for all the press it garners, is a rarity. For most people, their bad thoughts remain just that — bad thoughts.

The reason I’m thinking about thoughts is the latest story about Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson’s always been tied to anti-Semitism because of his father, who is an anti-Semite in the old-fashioned Catholic tradition. This is something the modern Catholic church is trying with great vigor and success to stamp out — and part of the reason why Gibson’s father has broken with mainstream Catholicism, which has no room for his hate mongering.

When Mel Gibson made his big movie, The Passion of the Christ, there was huge uproar about whether or not it was anti-Semitic. Although I didn’t see the movie, I came away with the impression that it was a fairly accurate retelling of the Passion as described in the New Testament, with all the attendant baggage that carries. It certainly wasn’t friendly to the Jews, but it was also insufficient to spark an American Kristallnacht. It’s impossible to tell whether the latter is what Gibson would have wished to occur.

Mel Gibson is once again in trouble for suspicions that he harbors ill will towards Jews, and this time he’s convicted out of his own mouth. According to a credible report, Mel Gibson made a wild, anti-Semitic tirade:

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?”

The thing is, when he made this tirade, Gibson was rip-roaring drunk. In other words, remove the mask of civility that maturity and social constraints impose, and you discover that Mel Gibson is, in fact, the anti-Semite everyone thinks he is. However, that’s not where Mel Gibson wants to be in the public eye, either because he’s embarrassed by his deepest, darkest thoughts or (more likely, I think) because harboring those thoughts will affect his bottom line. In any event, he is now trying to distance himself from his statements:

“I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable,” the actor-director said without elaborating.

My question, and one I don’t know how to answer, is how far we allow bad thoughts, if they’re not accompanied by bad acts. Normally, I’d say we shouldn’t control thoughts at all, we care only about acts. This is why I find the thought police taking over American college campuses so despicable and 1984-ish. But what about a situation when someone does an act — say, making The Passion of the Christ — which seems to be a subliminal forum for the thoughts — such as anti-Semitism? If you’re scooting in the direction of bad acts, is it enough to deny your spoken thoughts? I really don’t know. And I’ll admit that I’m handicapped in this regard by the fact that I’ve never liked Mel Gibson at any stage in his long Hollywood career. I’m therefore not inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

In any event, I doubt that Gibson’s latest flirtation with anti-Semitism will affect him much. I think the movie The Passion was the big career divide for him, separating the fans from the non-fans. For me, the whole episode — the drunkenness, the major crime of drunk driving, the epithet spewing, the effort to avoid arrest, the anti-Semitic rants — is enough to condemn him for being a disreputable, unappealing, anything-but-admirable character, and if I hadn’t already stopped watching his movies twenty years ago, I’d stop watching them now.

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Romance novels are changing

Since I have a sometimes embarrassing fondness for romance novels (Mr. Bookworm teases me a lot), I’ve written about romance novels before (once about British chick-lit, which I think is demeaning to women; and once about the conservative morals underpinning American romances). I was therefore intrigued when AP did a little story about the Romance Writers of America’s 26th annual conference. The reporter chose to spin it by saying that the stories are changing, with more plot, and less frothy sex. That may well be true, and may explain why I like them more than I did twenty or so years ago. I’m a big believer in plot. What’s also interesting is the claim that, as the genre explands outwards, it’s attracting more male readers:

With the expansion of romance novels into science fiction and military tales, though, the male following is increasing, said Nicole Kennedy, a spokeswoman for the group. The 2004 market survey indicated that male readership jumped from 7 percent of romance readers in 2002 to 22 percent in 2004.

Kennedy cited the success of Suzanne Brockmann, who has written two series of romance novels featuring Navy SEAL teams, which Kennedy said are wildly popular among Navy SEALs.

Though romance writing remains an almost exclusively female vocation, some men have ventured into the field. Former Green Beret Bob Mayer, who has written many non-romance books under his own name and under the pen name Robert Doherty, teamed up with veteran comedic romance writer Jenny Crusie for a military romance called “Don’t Look Down,” released this year.

Mayer and Crusie met at the Maui Writers Conference three years ago. Both were looking to do something different, and they decided to collaborate. Crusie writes the parts that come from a woman’s point of view, while Mayer weighs in with the male perspective.

That’s a big leap in male readership, and one I find heartening, considering that I like the genre, and that I believe in the values system unpinning so many of these books.

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Being too powerful to win a war

Isn’t it judo where you use your enemy’s own power and momentum to destroy him? I know it’s one of the martial arts. I was thinking of that principle when I read Mark Steyn’s accurate diagnosis of the problems with the mighty American military:

We live in an age of inversely proportional deterrence: The more militarily powerful a civilized nation is, the less its enemies have to fear the full force of that power ever being unleashed. They know America and other Western powers fight under the most stringent self-imposed etiquette. Overwhelming force is one thing; overwhelming force behaving underwhelmingly as a matter of policy is quite another.

So even the most powerful military in the world is subject to broader cultural constraints. When Kathryn Lopez’s e-mailer sneers that “your contribution to this war is limited solely to your ability to exercise the skillset provided by your liberal arts education,” he’s accidentally put his finger on the great imponderable: whether the skill set provided by the typical American, British and European education these last 30 years is now one of the biggest obstacles to civilizational self-preservation. A nation that psychologically outsources war to a small career soldiery risks losing its ability even to grasp concepts like “the enemy”: The professionalization of war is also the ghettoization of war. As John Podhoretz wondered in the New York Post the other day: “What if liberal democracies have now evolved to a point where they can no longer wage war effectively because they have achieved a level of humanitarian concern for others that dwarfs any really cold-eyed pursuit of their own national interests?”

That’s a good question. If you watch the grisly U.S. network coverage of any global sporting event, you’ve no doubt who your team’s meant to be: If there are plucky Belgian hurdlers or Fijian shotputters in the Olympics, you never hear a word of them on ABC and NBC; it’s all heartwarming soft-focus profiles of athletes from Indiana and Nebraska. The American media have no problem being ferociously jingoistic when it comes to the two-man luge. Yet, when it’s a war, there is no “our” team, not on American TV. Like snotty French ice-dancing judges, the media watch the U.S. skate across the rink and then hand out a succession of snippy 4.3s — for lack of Miranda rights in Fallujah, insufficient menu options at Gitmo.

Oooh, icky

If you’re doing Yoga, be sure to bring the disinfectant:

In the last two years, Dr. Cohen said, he has seen a 50 percent spike in patients with athlete’s foot and plantar warts. The likely culprit? Unclean exercise mats, he said.

Gyms have long been hothouses for unwanted viruses, fungi and bacteria, a result of shared equipment, excessive sweat and moisture in locker rooms. Many facilities provide disinfectant so clients can wipe down machinery, but they are often less diligent when it comes to exercise mats. It’s common to see staff members clean a stationary bike. It’s rare to see them disinfect a mat.

This is starting to worry many yoga practitioners who go barefoot on high-traffic mats. Half a dozen kinds of yoga-mat wipes are now sold nationwide, and new products like hand and foot mitts, to protect serial mat borrowers, have hit the market.

Once again, solid evidence to back my gym avoidance complex.