Sol Giggleweed tries to weigh in on Jon Stewart’s pro-Israel bona fides — and fails spectacularly

Palestinians-Sieg-Heil--620x311Two weeks ago, I introduced you to Sol Giggleweed, a representative of DemProg passion in politics and society. I chanced to meet up with Sol today — or, more accurately, with a real human being whose views march in lockstep with Sol’s, but who doesn’t wish to have his name made public.  He’ll therefore be Sol Giggleweed in perpetuity at this blog. The topic of our very real conversation this morning was Jon Stewart and Hamas.

The conversation Sol and I had was a continuation of an earlier Jon Stewart-inspired discussion we had. It all began last week, when Jon Stewart decided to weigh in on the Israel=Hamas conflict. Stewart’s shtick was the usual “disproportionate force” argument that comes from the anti-Israel crowd: He essentially said that Israel’s warnings to civilians in advance of an attack were a fraud, since the Gazans had nowhere to run in their crowded rabbit warren of a city. Poor Gazans.

I explained a few things to Sol:   (a) Hamas routinely instructs civilians to stay in place in order to create more propaganda moments, which is the major weapon in Hamas’s arsenal; (b) Israel’s citizens had survived more than a thousand rockets in the past two weeks because Israel specifically created an infrastructure to protect them, something Hamas purposely did not do; and (c) contrary to Stewart’s implication about a lack of shelters, Gaza is riddled with perfectly good tunnels that are barred to civilians because the tunnels are for the gun-carriers, not the future telegenic dead bodies.

Sol was unimpressed.  When all was said and done, Sol’s primary argument boiled down to this: Jon Stewart is brilliant, so I believe him, not you, and certainly not the mountains of IDF evidence (videos, photographs, military images, Hamas’s own words, etc.) to the contrary.  There’s got to be some equivalency and nuance there.

I’d forgotten about that conversation, but today Sol contacted me, chortling gleefully about the fact that Jon Stewart, “showed them.”

I not unreasonably inquired, “Jon Stewart showed what to whom?”

“He showed the conservatives like you, the ones that think the IDF is the only voice to listen to. He showed them that they’re wrong.”

Sol then told me to check out this video footage, only the first couple of minutes of which are relevant:

“See,” said Sol. “See, Jon Stewart knows what you guys are saying. He’s aware of you.”

“Yeah, Sol, I see. But what’s your argument?”

“Jon Stewart,” he replied, “is showing that there’s nuance there. Because both sides are mad at him, he’s subtly telling the audience that it’s not clear-cut. Both sides have valid arguments.”

“So you’re saying that there’s an equivalence between Israel, the only free, democratic, pluralist society in the Middle East, and Hamas, an anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-American, anti-Christian entity that’s so bad even Egypt hates it?  And that this equivalence exists because both sides are willing to argue their cause against anyone who isn’t clearly siding with them?”

“No, I’m not saying that at all. After all, I emailed you that Wall Street Journal article about Hamas tactics. But there are other views than just the one the IDF says. You’re so judgmental and narrow-minded that you won’t listen to anything at all. If it doesn’t come from your right-wing blogosphere, you just dismiss it.  Jon Stewart listens to everything and he’s subtle, not dogmatic.”

Being a closed-minded right-wing wacko, I felt free to ignore Sol’s premise about my closed-mindedness.

“Sol, in many cases, there are nuances and sides. But in some cases, there’s just pure evil and you are complicit with evil if you do not reject them entirely. For example, would you argue that, in the fight between the Allies and the Nazis, there was nuance?”

Sol bridled. “Don’t be stupid. Hamas isn’t the Nazis.”

“Okay, tell me one thing that makes Hamas different from the Nazis.”

“Are you kidding?” Sol smirked. “You want me to compare Hamas to the Nazis?”

“I’m not kidding,” I answered. “I want you to tell me how Hamas is different from the Nazis.”

“Really, you want me to tell you how Hamas is different from the Nazis?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m asking you to do. And I’ve got to take something off the stove top, so you can think about it while I’m doing that. I’ll be back in five minutes.”

Five minutes later, I announced, “I’m back. Now you can tell me what’s different between Hamas and the Nazis.”

“This is stupid. You can write pages about things that are different between Hamas and the Nazis,” a now very ruffled Sol told me.

“I’m not asking for pages. Just tell me one thing.”

“Really? Really! You really want me to tell you one thing that’s different between Hamas and the Nazis?”

“Yeah. And let me clarify. It can’t be something like ‘The Nazis were Germans and Hamas is Arab.’ Or ‘Hamas is Muslim and the Nazis weren’t.’ Or ‘Hamas isn’t engaged in a world war’ (although it would certainly like to be). You have to tell me about one thing that differs in the basic values between those two organizations.”

“That’s easy,” Sol finally replied. “Hamas doesn’t have concentration camps and it didn’t start a world war.”

“Not tactics,” Sol, I sighed. “I was talking about values. You know, principles, like anti-Semitism or homophobia or genocidal desires or the lust for world domination. Things like that.”

Sol snapped, “This conversation is stupid.  Jon Stewart is brilliant and you’re just being dogmatic.” And then he hung up on me.

It was only after our little talk had ended that I realized that there was one difference between Hamas and the Nazis, and that it didn’t reflect well on Hamas: the Nazis revered their women.

Let me say again what I tried to impress upon Sol Giggleweed, a smart man who is so in thrall to moral relativism that he has lost his moral compass: While there are many disputes in which both sides are roughly equal, not necessarily on the battlefield, but at the ideological level (e.g., the equally evil sides in Syria), there are some circumstances in which one side is irredeemably and completely evil, while the other is not. In that battle, we should support the less evil side, even if it is only marginally less evil.

Thankfully, that’s not the case with Israel.  That is, we don’t have to choose between evil and somewhat less evil.  Israel, unlike all other nations in history, is struggling to fight an existential war with a moral standard so exquisite it runs the risk of being self-defeating.

It’s easy to support Israel.  All people of true good will should recognize that, in the fight between, on the one hand, an entity that has less going for it even than the Nazis and, on the other hand, a nation that is incomparable in the care it brings to protecting non-combatants (indeed, it cares much more than the U.S. and Barack “I choose who dies” Obama), there is no room for nuance or relativism. Israel wins hands down, and anyone who takes a contrary position is a moron and a moral midget.

Open thread — the illustrated edition

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556Not to make you feel less fortunate than I am or anything, but I won’t be blogging for a few hours today because I’m going to hear Daniel Hannan speak!! Even better, I’ll be going with Charles Martel. Yay!

While I’m gone, please consider this an Open Thread. I can suggest a few topics, and I’ve got lots of posters to spur you on regarding Israel’s latest fight for survival:

1. Are the tunnels that Hamas has dug into Israeli territory a game-changer in terms of Israel’s commitment to a long war?

2. Is Obama going to get a way with erasing the border between the United States and Mexico?

3. If you had the ability to act today to change that border situation, what would you do?

4. Are Europeans going to look at the anti-Israel riots in their cities and learn that they’ve nurtured a Muslim viper in their bosom?

5.  Has the UN finally gone too far?

6. Any cheerful news to report?

And now the pictures. First, one to lighten the mood:

Dog day in court

And second, a bunch from Israel. If you use social media, please think about sharing them. This is the first war in which Israel and pro-Israel NGOs are fighting back, not just on the field and in state houses, but in social media. We’re soldiers in this battle too and, if we support Israel, should help out:

Who protects the children

Hamas human shield

Terrorist tunnels under your street

Hamas ambulances

UN supports Hamas with rockets

Muslim impatience leads a fed-up world to express surprising support for Israel

Israeli flagI told my sister that I had reached out a few days ago to a relative in Israel, who assured me that she and her family, who live around Haifa, are currently far enough north that they’re not affected by the rockets.

“What rockets?” asked my sister, who has been unable, for the past week, to read the news.

“The rockets from Hamas,” I told her.  Then, knowing how she hates to hear “scary” bad news, I hastened to add, “What’s happening in Israel is actually good news in a peculiar way.”

Good news? Why, yes.

I’ve long said that the Islamists made a mistake when they started their jihadist rampage in dead earnest with the attack on 9/11. If they’d done nothing, the West would have continued its complacent ignorance, unaware of a demographic time-bomb ticking in its midst.

The nature of Islam, though, is that it cannot wait. As soon as it reaches critical mass, off it goes. Back in 2008, Edward Cline riffed off a friend’s email that used a percentage rule of thumb to measure levels of Muslim violence in any country:

“As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country it will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone….”

[snip]

“At 2% and 3% they [Muslims] begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs.”

[skip]

“From 5% on they [Muslims] exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. They will push for the introduction of halal (“clean” by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves – along with threats for failure to comply (United States).”

[skip]

“At this point, they [Muslims] will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia, or Islamic law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

“When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions (Paris – car burning). Any non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats (Amsterdam, Denmark – Mohammed cartoons, murder of Theo van Gogh).”

[skip]

[The one anomaly in this set of statistics is Israel, which has not experienced uprisings and threats of violence. Its Arab or Muslim population enjoys equal political rights with Jewish Israelis. The suicide bombings and rocket attacks that have killed hundreds have been perpetrated by outsiders.]

“After reaching 20% [of a population] expect hair-trigger rioting, Jihad militia formations, sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning:

[skip]

“After 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing militia warfare:”

[skip]

“From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and jizya, the tax placed on [conquered] infidels:”

[skip]

“After 80%, expect state-run ethnic cleansing and genocide:”

[skip]

“100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ – the Islamic House of Peace’ [more correctly, dar-al-Islam, or Land of Islam]. There is supposed to be peace because everybody is a Muslim.”

The problem with the “can’t wait” strategy that is intrinsic to Islam is that you tip off your opponent to your intentions.  In a perfect world, the West, once it got the tip-off about Islam’s intentions in 2001 would have embarked upon a true crusade aimed at doing whatever possible to quash Islamic aggression in and against the West.  This crusade would have involved wholeheartedly military action against armed Islamists; closed borders throughout the West to prevent any more Muslims from entering, regardless of how cute the children are; education at home aimed at getting Westerners to understand the threat and to tear young Muslims away from their affiliation to a conquering faith; and constant vigilance.

But we don’t live in a perfect world.  What we got in 2001 instead of immediate action to curb Islam’s territorial aggression was thirteen years of hogwash, emanating from people of good will and ignorance (such as George Bush with his “religion of peace” blather); from Leftists who see in Islam a temporary ally to destabilize the West; and from Islamists themselves, who realized that they had a lot of useful idiots at their disposal.  Rather than confronting Islamism head-on, those who have recognized its trajectory have been demonized, ridiculed, and marginalized.

In addition to silencing Islam’s critics, this hogwash also meant that, barring limited engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan (rules of engagement, COIN, etc.), we’ve spend the last thirteen years apologizing to Muslims; yielding to their increasingly outrageous demands; welcoming them into our countries and institutions; and handing them the levers of power wherever we could.

Considering how grim that last paragraph sounds, why am I saying that things are actually surprisingly good right now?  I’m saying it because the Muslims, flush with the power we handed them, may finally  have overreached themselves.  Moreover, they may have been aided in this regard by Barack Obama’s increasingly manifest hatred for Israel, the world’s only Jewish state.

Sitting at home, in America, which once was Israel’s greatest ally, things don’t look so good.  Obama refused to talk to Netanyahu when Iran bombs in Hamas hands rained down on that tiny nation.  He only picked up the phone when Israel finally began to retaliate, and he did so, not to cheer her on, but to tell her to stop being part of the “cycle of violence” and, instead, to hold her fire.  So not good.

But Obama, it turns out, is one of the few national leaders who’s taken this anti-Israel stand.  Other nations, most surprisingly, are supporting her, not Hamas:

France’s Prime Minister Hollande, unlike Obama, got on the phone with Netanyahu and expressed his nation’s strong support for Israel in her battle with Hamas.

The Arab world as a whole is fed up with Hamas:

*United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “Today we face the risk of an all out escalation in Israel and Gaza with the threat of a ground offensive still palpable and preventable only if Hamas stops rocket firing.”

*The Lebanese Internal Security Forces detained two persons for having fired rockets into Israel.

*Egyptian security forces seized 20 rockets on their to being smuggled from Gaza.

*Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, attended a Ha’aretz “peace conference” in Israel the day the current fighting began* and has infuriated Hamas by his willingness to continue to work with the Government of Israel.

*Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh demanded that Israel “stop its escalation immediately,” but balanced this with calls for “the restoration of complete calm and avoidance of targeting civilians” and “the return to direct negotiations.”

*François Hollande, president of France, gave Netanyahu the most vervent backing of any foreign leader when he assured the Israeli leader that “France firmly condemns the attacks” against Israel and expressed “the solidarity of France against the rockets being fired from Gaza. The Israeli government must take all necessary measures to protect its population against threats.”

In the same Daniel Pipes’ article from which the above information comes, Daniel Pipes also points out that the world’s media is unusually quiet this time around, without any of the ringing denunciations of Israel’s self-defense that have become the norm. Indeed, many of us have already remarked upon the peculiar fact that the BBC, usually one of the most virulently antisemitic media outlets outside of the Muslim world, was the first to point out that the Palestinians were using pictures of people killed in Syria in an effort to demonize Israel.

The Egyptians, who have always sided with Hamas even though they recognized that it was a destabilizing element on their border, are now open in expressing their hope that Israel will destroy Hamas:

Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the “armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.”

Sisi’s Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.

The Egyptians today understand that Hamas and other radical Islamist groups pose a serious threat to their national security. That is why the Egyptian authorities have, over the past year, been taking tough security measures not only against Hamas, but also the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

Clearly, nations are realizing that their interests are aligned more closely with Israel than with a radical Islamist organization.  Any stable or semi-stable state, including a Muslim one, has looked into the Syrian or Iraqi abyss and realized that there is no benefit to Islam completely unleashed.  In addition, to the extent that leaders such as Vladimir Putin are expressing their support for Israel too, I suspect that some of the support is a way to highlight the fact that Obama is a completely marginal national leader now.  If he’s against Israel, why then everyone else will be for it.

One other thing that’s different is that, for the first time, both the Israeli Defense Forces and pro-Israel NGOs have been flooding social media with pro-Israel posters, videos, and articles.  Here’s a comprehensive gallery of such images, some of which you’ve seen before, some of which are new:

Who's saving lives in Gaza

Hamas headquarters

Bill Maher on Israels right to self-defense

Hide the rocket

Israel and Hamas and their civilians

Rockets are indiscriminate

Gaza hostages

365 rockets in 72 hours

What would you do

Does all this mean that the world loves or will come to love Israel? Most decidedly not. It could mean, though, that the world, including the Arab world, is finally figuring out that Israel is not the enemy. She is, instead, the canary in the coal mine when it comes to battling radical Islam. Moreover, people may finally be figuring out, thanks to Islamists having shown their hand too soon, that (a) if ISIS is Islam, it’s not a religion of peace and we don’t want it; and (b) that if we don’t want it, we must act decisively or we’ll end up having it, regardless of our desires.

This and that — about the Middle East, mostly, with a little Obama stuff thrown in too.

It’s been another family-maintenance day, which precludes not only blogging but, quite often, even thinking.  Having a house full of children is revitalizing and exhausting all at once.

I also took my Mom clothes shopping, which makes her extraordinarily happy, but leaves me limp and floppy.  I am every cheapskate’s dream, because I just hate to shop.  When I was young and shopped only for clothes to hang on my lithesome frame, it was all fun.  Now, though, shopping means shlepping out to get groceries, household supplies, supplies for my Mom, clothing for the children, etc.  It’s drudgery not pleasure and, to add insult to injury, I’m not as lissome as I once was.  Clothes shopping tends to demoralize rather than hearten me.

All of which is irrelevant to this post’s purpose, which is to pass on to you interesting articles I read this weekend.  So without further ado, here are things that you might find as interesting as I did.

I begin with a whole series of articles relating to the fact that, after having rockets rained down upon her for years — and in exponential numbers since Obama’s reelection — Israel is finally pushing back.  I’ll throw in here that, while Obama got encomiums from Israel’s supporters yesterday because he said that Israel has the right to defend herself, today he managed to un-deserve those same encomiums.  Why?  Because he added that this right to self-defense exists so long as Israel doesn’t actually do anything . . . you know, defensive:

Obama said that his message to Erdogan, as well as Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, was that it would be “preferred” if Israel could deter missiles from landing in its territory without ramping up military activity in Gaza. “That’s not just preferable to the people of Gaza, that’s also preferable to Israelis,” he said.

In other words, Israel is once again going to be bullied into a ceasefire after universal obloquy from the usual suspects, but before she can achieve any of her national defense goals.  Obama can’t seem to get it through his head that it takes two to tango — and two to make peace.  Constantly forcing Israel to hold back, while doing nothing about the thousands of rockets from Hamas and others (well, not nothing, because Obama does send them lots of taxpayer dollars) is just another example of government picking winners and losers — and in this game, Israel always loses.

Yesterday I posted about how the educated elite is economically ignorant, so today it shouldn’t be surprising that we learn that the educated elite is also ignorant about realities in the Middle East.  Obama is simply the most visible ignoramus on the subject.  Barry Rubin focuses on the foolish mentality Obama displays:  namely, that Israel is totally entitled to defend herself, provided that she doesn’t do anything . . . you know, defensive.

One of the things I love about my conservative friends is that, contrary to the stereotypes the Left likes to propagate, they truly respect Israel — and it’s not just because they want all the Jews packed back into that small nation in order to facilitate the Second Coming and subsequent destruction of the Jewish nation.  This canard, incidentally, is one of liberal Jews’ deepest suspicions about philosemitic Christians.  Instead, true conservatives are people who value individual liberty and economic freedom, and they recognize what the elites refuse to see; namely, that this beleaguered Middle Eastern nation is a bastion of humanism in a dark, cruel, Islamo/Marxist region.

Richard Baehr points out that one of Israel’s problems is that the media and the Left (to the extent there’s any difference) completely ignore the dark cruelties that are integral to Islamic nations today, ranging from starvation in Egypt to civil war in Syria to attacks on sovereign U.S. territory in Libya.  Instead, the media focuses obsessively on the small number of civilian deaths Israel tries so desperately to avoid, against an enemy that deliberately places its most vulnerable citizens in the softest targets.

Jay Gaskill tries to give the media a reality check:  the problem isn’t Israel, the problem is an aggressive Islamism that has been pushing against and probing at the non-Muslim world since Mohamed first ordered it to do so.  Given that this last election proved that the media has deep, strong tentacles into the American psyche, as long as it cannot distinguish cause from effect and predator from prey, both America and Israel are in great danger.

Not everyone thinks that Israel’s imminent incursions into Gaza will be disastrous.  Jonathan Spyer argues that the Islamists aren’t truly ready for the fight they picked.  Instead, they’re acting from a burst of hubris brought about by Obama’s reelection.  According to Spyer, Hamas acted too soon because the Arab Spring effectively bankrupted Egypt, which is now dependent on American and other Western dollars to keep its citizens from starving.  As long as the West wants to avoid all-out war in the Middle East, it can put economic pressure on Egypt, which will then put pressure on Hamas.

Okay, I’m done with the Middle East, but no Bookworm Room political post would be complete without some Obama bad-mouthing.  I don’t like the man.  It’s not just his Leftist policies and ignorance.  It’s him.  I find his narcissism and egotism repellent and dangerous.  So does Neo-Neocon.

And finally, on a lighter note, Joel Pollak has some advice for surviving the holidays if you find yourself with liberal relatives.  I’m fortunate in that my relatives, like me, have also made the transition from unthinking Leftist Jews to thoughtful Jewish conservatives.  For me, the Thanksgiving holidays mean a restful time in the company of intelligent, fun, like-minded people.

 

A Muslim sponsored letter to free Gilad — not just too late, but amoral (immoral?) too.

Five years after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, a period during which he has been completely invisible and denied any access to humanitarian agencies, a small handful of American Muslims has finally decided to say something:

The Aug. 26 letter’s 11 signatories include the two Muslim members of Congress — Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.) — as well as Muslim academics and communal figures.

“We believe Hamas’ harsh treatment and five-year detention of Shalit is wrong,” the Muslim leaders wrote in their letter, which was addressed to Khaled Mashal, the Syrian-based chairman of Hamas’ political bureau.

I admit that I’m a literalist when it comes to analyzing documents.  Sometimes I get so tangled in specifics that I lose sight of the big picture.  It’s a sad fact, too, that a lot of people are lousy writers.

All of which is to say that, when I read that excerpt, I understand it to mean, not that the letter’s authors believe kidnapping was wrong but, rather, that they are concerned that Hamas has taken it too far.  Had Hamas treated Shalit a little less harshly (and since Shalit has been hidden, who really knows how he’s been treated?), and if Shalit had been held only, maybe, three or four years, instead of five . . . no problemo.  As phrased, the excerpt indicates that as Ellison and Co. think that Hamas started off with a good idea, but that it’s handled the thing so maladroitly that it’s become embarrassing.

As I said, I’m a literalist, and most people are bad writers, but that’s what the letter, taken literally, says.

(Hat tip:  Sadie)

Terrible news out of Jerusalem

The world’s useful idiots never get it.  Israel targets Palestinian soldiers, and is terribly troubled when she inadvertently kills the civilians amongst whom the fighters hide.  The Palestinians deliberately target civilians, and try to kill the largest number possible.  Today, they succeeded:

A bus explosion in Jerusalem has caused dozens of casualties, police said Wednesday.

Scores of ambulances converged on the area near the central bus station and a city conference hall in a Jewish neighborhood of downtown Jerusalem, Reuters reported, citing Israeli TV and radio.

People were lying on the ground and taken away on stretchers, according to The Associated Press.

The explosion appears to be the first bus bombing in several years and comes amid rising tension between Hamas militants and Israel.

Israel is fighting a principled war; if Sherman’s March through Georgia is any guide, the Palestinians are the ones who, ultimately, will be fighting a successful war.  Wars end, not when the military gives up, but when the civilians give up.  That’s why the Palestinians target that population.  As long as Israel goes after buildings and specific fighters, she stiffens resistance, I think, without achieving a military goal.

Having said that, I’m not sure I see an option for Israel.  She’s in an untenable situation, made worse by the fact that the world forgives the mass murderers and pillories the principled fighters.

 

Gazan suffering

The popular meme amongst the unholy cabal that is Islam and the Left is that Israel is a murderous genocidal regime that is currently using the blockade to impose unimaginable suffering on the Gazans.  Fortunately, modern communications allow us to see the full extent of that “suffering” (h/t Sadie):

By the way, Gaza is governed by Hamas, and I thought I’d share with you some gems from the Hamas charter:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. ”

“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.”

“After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”

“Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.’ (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).”

Random fascinating stuff out there, plus a few opinions of my own about the California Academy of Sciences *UPDATED*

Although it’s been open for more than a year now, I went for the first time today to the newly rebuilt California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  My visit there was an interesting contrast to my first visit, some years ago, to the newly rebuilt De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Although I can’t find it now (I think it was on my old Word Press blog), my review of the De Young Museum was that, on the outside, it looks like a series of stacked chicken coops but that, on the inside, it is an exceptionally lovely museum, with beautiful flow and lighting.  And since I go to see the art and not the exterior, it’s basically a very satisfying experience to visit the place.  It makes the art accessible, which is all one can ask for.

I have the exact opposite view of the newly rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  On the outside, the designers managed to create a facade that is both classical and streamlined in a very modern way.  It nestles contently on the eastern side of the Park’s main concourse, and is a chic, appealing visual treat.  Inside, however, it is utterly chaotic.  Various exhibits all seem to struggle to occupy the same space.  There is no flow whatsoever, which is disastrous for a building that is meant to cater, not only to crowds, but to crowds composed, in significant part, of highly kinetic little children.

The underground aquarium, for example, is a maze of short tunnels, each of which has exhibits placed randomly in the center of the walkway, as well as along the sides.  Tossed about by the milling crowds, it is impossible to discern where one is or what one is seeing.  Although I grasped, intermittently, that there was some overarching geographic organization (e.g, fresh water, salt water, tide pools, etc.), everything was so noisy and chaotic, I couldn’t make sense of the exhibits.  The old Academy may have had a pokey rectangular layout, but it sure was easy to move through, to see things, and to understand.

Nor has the Academy improved the food problem that always vexed it.  For as long as I can remember, the old Academy offered vile food at a shabby underground food court dominated by a stuffed grizzly.  The new Academy now has three food venues:  a fancy hot dog stand, a buffet style restaurant, and a very pricey restaurant.  Oh, did I say that only the last named was very pricey?  Forgive me.  They all are.  If you want anything more than a $3.00 pork bun, feeding a family of three in the Academy will run you close to $50.  The prices are justified by the fact that everything is organic this and organic that, but the fact is that the all-organic ham and cheese sandwich tastes remarkably like an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich, only $4.00 more than I usually pay.  Of course, the food prices are consistent with the admission prices.  It cost me almost $50.00 to take my two kids there, which is a pretty hefty price tag for an experience that left me with an eyeball popping headache.

The new Academy also disappointed me for a very personal reason:  they’ve done away entirely with the old gem and mineral collection.  Although not of the scale or caliber of the amazing gem and mineral collection at the New York Museum of Natural History, this was a lovely, little gathering of precious, semi-precious and simply interesting stones.  For me, it was always one of the highlights of a visit to the Academy, and I sorely missed it today.

Speaking of all-powerful centralized government, if you haven’t thought long and hard about the implications of Obama’s appointing a “Food Czar,” you should.

What I also disliked about the Academy (and what I also dislike about the newly, and nicely, refurbished San Francisco Zoo), is the hectoring tone all these places take.  In the old days, the message was, “Aren’t these natural wonders great?”  Nowadays, the relentless message is “These natural wonders are great, but you’re destroying them by your very existence.”  I don’t take kindly to spending massive amounts of money only to be insulted.

The only part of the Academy that I thought was wonderful, although it too had design problems, was the rain forest dome, which was almost, standing alone, worth the price of admission.   It’s a clear plastic dome that has a spiral walkway that takes one up through three levels teaming with trees, plants, birds, butterflies, moths, frogs and lizards.  It’s truly beautiful and really well done.  The only down side is that the only way to get out is to stand in line at the very top, waiting for an elevator.  The lines are long and chaotic.  Additionally, since the elevator is at the very top of a rain forest dome, it’s incredibly hot, steamy and, as with the rest of this echo-y, clamorous place, incredibly noisy.

I will say that what made the trip there a much greater pleasure than it would otherwise have been was the fact that I met up with my brother-in-law and niece there.  My two were delighted in the company of their cousin, and I always feel lucky when I get to spend time with my brother-in-law, no matter where that time is spent.  What a nice man he is.

Whining is finished now.  This is where I put in all the links for the things I read today, many of which readers brought to my notice (thank you!), but that I really didn’t get a chance to think about.

I think I am the last conservative blogger in America to link to it, but link to it I will.  You must read Angelo Codevilla’s America’s Ruling Class — and the Perils of Revolution, which pretty accurately spells out the state of American politics.  You won’t be less worried or frustrated when you’re done reading it, but you will be enlightened.

Did I mention whining a couple of paragraphs above?  That’s actually something important to think about.  Although I do it all the time, I’m aware that whining is not an attractive quality.  A couple of PR and public policy experts have figured out that Israel has been whining lately.  The whines are completely righteous and justified, but they fall into a vacuum of ignorance.  Listeners are not sympathetic.  It turns out that the effective way for Israel to deal with her plight is to do exactly what the Palestinians and their fellow travelers have been doing for so long:  she needs to demonize the opposition.  And what’s so great about this tactic is that, rather than making things up, as her enemies do, all that Israel has to do is broadcast the opposition’s actual words and deeds.  When people see what Israel is up against, as opposed to just hearing how Israel suffers, they become remarkably more sympathetic to Israel’s situation and dire security needs.

By the way, those same Palestinians who have managed to convince just about everyone in the world that the Israelis are worse than Hitler, have managed to hide from the world’s view the fact that, with Israel as their enemy, they are living high on the hog, enjoying standards far in excess of those Arab Muslims in lands that don’t have the good fortune to have Israel as their next door neighbor and enemy.

I loooove Andrew Breitbart.  Seriously.  I’m just crazy about the guy.  I think he is one of the most brilliant political thinkers in America right now.  He’s figured out what the PR folks are talking about:  show the opposition’s ugly side, using real footage of them being really ugly.  And to that end, immediately after the NAACP made waves complaining about unprovable and almost certainly non-existent Tea Party racism, he came out with actual footage of vile racism courtesy of — the NAACP.  Genius.  Sheer genius.  Here’s just one example of the ugly, discriminatory race obsession that characterizes the NAACP and its fellow travelers:

UPDATEAndrew Breitbart jumped the gun.  The snippet he got was taken out of context and, when put back into context, shows Sherrod explaining that, having once been a racist, she’s learned the error of her ways.  It also appears that the NAACP audience, which should have been the real focus of this video, as the video was a counter-attack to the NAACP’s decision to lambaste the Tea Party on racism grounds, murmurs approvingly when Sherrod reveals her new, enlightened views of race.

If you need it, here’s a little more on the Democrats’ entire ugly obsession with race, one that turns on its head Martin Luther King’s vision of an America in which people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Oh, and here’s one more thing about that race obsession, and how Obama’s administration uses it to consolidate power, while sowing civil dissent.

When I wrote my post about burqas as a weapon, not just a type of clothing, I dragged in discussions of mosques and minarets too.  I entirely forget to mention in that article the mosque that is plotted for Ground Zero.  Pat Condell did not forget:

Even the New York Times periodically recognizes that federalizing school funding with no regard whatsoever for the situation at the ground is unfair, disruptive and damaging.  What staggers me is that these same NYT types are incapable of recognizing an overarching principle, which is that reactive government closer to home is always more understanding than directive central government far away.

Whether you’re in the military or not, don’t believe this administration when it claims to love the military and cries crocodile tears over its sufferings.

It took me almost half a lifetime to figure out that the NRA has always been right:  “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”  I needed to see crime rates soaring in London, in Chicago, and in Washington, D.C., as well as the chaos in post-Katrina New Orleans neighborhoods that did not have gun owners to finally understand this simple principle.  More and more, statistics are revealing the obvious:  a law-abiding, armed citizenry is safer than a law-abiding unarmed citizenry.  Contrary to liberal fears that arms will automatically turn us into Liberia or some equally horrific anarchic society, it’s clear that what effects such a change is leaving arms only to the criminals.

We have not forgotten Gilad Shalit

StandWithUs is circulating a petition directed to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, aimed at putting pressure on Hamas to free Gilad Shalit. Given that those organizations are all rabidly antisemitic and anti-Israel within their own four walls, I think it’s an excellent idea to apply as much external pressure as possible.

Please take a minute to sign the petition.