The attack on Gaza

Israel finally said “enough is enough” and counterattacked Gaza.  I think John Podhoretz nails everything that needs to be said on the subject in the short-term, and I’m impressed enough with his depth and brevity to reproduce his entire paragraph right here:

Israel launched a massive air campaign against the infrastructure of Hamas terror in Gaza — which is what it actually means when you read in the media that Israel’s strike was on “Palestinian security forces.” It will be a day or two until it becomes clear what happened and how successful the mission was. But there are three things to say about it immediately. First, when you hear people call on Israel to show “restraint,” remember that “restraint” is precisely what Israel has been showing for the past three and a half years as Hamas has launched thousands of Kassam rockets at Sderot and other locations inside Israel. Second, this was not an attack but a counter-attack, almost purely an act of self-defense that featured extensive warnings in the days before it was launched in an effort to minimize civilian casualties. Third, the Hamas terror bases were evidently located in civilian neighborhoods. According to international law, the responsibility for any civilian casualties in such a situation rests entirely with those who a) failed to wear uniforms and b) interwove themselves with non-combatants. The fault is Hamas’s, not Israel’s.

Call me Ishmael

I’ve been reading two things that seem to twine together.  The first is the ongoing news out of Gaza, about Hamas continuously firing missiles into Israel (as well as into their own population).  Noah Pollak wrote a very good commentary in response to a question about why Hamas, through its outpost in Gaza, keeps fighting and fighting and fighting.  The answer, of course, is that Hamas fights because that is its nature.  Fighting is its raison d’etre.  Without fighting, there is nothing.

The second thing I’ve been reading, which at first glance seems unrelated, is Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible — a very informative and enjoyable retelling of the Old Testament, along with Rabbinical commentary.

The story of Abraham and Sarah, of course, brings up the history of Hagar and Ishmael. Telushkin reminds us of two things about Ishmael. First, he repeats the prophecy that God’s angel made about Ishmael:  “He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Genesis, 16:12.) The second is the fact that the Muslim Arabs claim descent from this same Ishmael.

I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

[Link fixed. Thanks, Gringo.]

The enemy of my enemy is my friend *UPDATED*

Sometimes, the bizarre nature of the Middle East defies description (all emphasis mine):

Nine Palestinians were killed and dozens hurt in battles in Gaza City between forces of the rival Hamas and Fatah movements on Saturday, prompting Israel to open its border to fleeing Fatah members.

The fighting, which lasted most of the day, was sparked when Hamas security forces tried to arrest suspects thought to be behind a July 25 bombing that killed five Hamas militants and a little girl on a Gaza beach.

Hamas blames Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for the attack, but the secular group denies any involvement. Over the past week the two sides have engaged in tit-for-tat spates of arrests.

Hamas said two of its men were killed and medical officials reported seven more dead, mainly civilians, in Saturday’s firefights that broke out around a house belonging to the influential pro-Fatah Helis clan in the Shujwa neighbourhood of Gaza City.

More than 90 people were also wounded, including seven reported to be in a serious condition, the medical sources said.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri charged that members of the Helis family and other unidentified associates had “fired mortar rounds at the Hamas police as well as a rocket at Gaza City” from inside the Shujwa house.

Several members of the Helis clan “are responsible” for the deadly July 25 bomb attack and Hamas is determined to round up the suspects, Abu Zuhri told AFP.

But Adel Helis, a Fatah leader, denied clan members opened fire on Hamas.

“These are lies. We never fired rockets or mortar rounds. Hamas is the one committing crimes. We have asked all the Palestinian factions, Islamists and nationalists, to use their influence so that these crimes cease,” he said.

Clan leader Ahmad Helis told AFP that Hamas militants “laid siege to our house, firing mortar rounds… targeting our women and our children.

The two main Palestinian factions have been deeply divided since Hamas expelled Abbas’s security forces from Gaza in a week of bloody street battles in June 2007, cleaving the territories into rival entities.

Abbas himself called Ahmed Helis “to express his support and denounce the Hamas attack,” according to a statement by Abbas’s office.

The Palestinian president also told Helis that “Hamas’s attacks undermine my call for national dialogue between Palestinian factions.”

Shortly after the fighting subsided, dozens of Fatah members, including Ahmed and Adel Helis, fled to the Nahal Oz crossing with Israel in a bid to escape to the West Bank city of Ramallah, home to Abbas’s headquarters.

Israel allowed a total of 150 Palestinians who put down their guns to cross as a “humanitarian measure,” an army spokesman said. The wounded were taken to hospital and the rest were transported to Ramallah.

Israel’s Magen David Adom medical services treated six Palestinians for serious wounds and three more who were lightly injured, spokesman Zaki Heller said.

Funnily enough, no one in the wider world seems to be outraged by the women and children who are being killed, not as collateral damage, but as direct targets.  Equally funnily (do you hear me laughing?), no one seems to be impressed by Israel’s graciousness.  This is another reminder, if one needs it, that to the Left, it’s never been about humanitarianism and “the children.”  It’s always about Israel’s special, evil status in their eyes.

UPDATE: And now they’re going back home again, apparently at Abbas’ request (I guess he needs his fighters home, and not hiding in Israel).

Ah, these linguistic subtleties!

Did you know that a rocket could break a truce?  I didn’t.  Being neither a scientist nor a weapons expert, nor a member of the MSM, I kind of thought that, absent human intervention, rockets would just lie around inert.  It’s just always seemed to me that, for a rocket to fly through the air and strike something far away, there has to be a human who placed it in a launcher and pressed the button.

Thanks to the AP, which I dare not quote since it will bankrupt me if I do, I’ve now learned how wrong I am.  You see, when I went to Drudge at 11:14 P.S.T. today, I saw a headline that said “Rockets break truce.”  While Drudge may not be an . . . ahem . . . rocket scientist, even he must know that rockets probably don’t have the intelligence to do any truce breaking.  Curious about this peculiar headline formation, I clicked on his link and discovered that AP story from which I dare not quote.  I can tell you however, that the AP was the one who misled poor Matt Drudge by telling him about those rockets, using an even more mangled headline than Drudge’s.

Ah, heck!  I’m going to live dangerously here and actually quote that headline, since it defeats paraphrasing:

Rockets hit Israel, which says truce broken

So, the rockets acted without human intervention but Israel, that spoilsport, is once again backing out of its sacred obligations to Hamas.

It’s only when you read the story that you discover that it was those darned “Palestinian militants” (is that a copyrighted phrase?) that actually launched the rockets that hit Israel.  What’s really funny is that the AP, after explaining that it was humans who were parties to a truce that launched the rockets, injuring civilians, goes on to add that this behavior presents that same truce with “a serious test.”  (Please tell me that’s not a copyrighted phrase either.)

Again, in the “silly me” category, I actually thought truces were binary.  Both sides promise not to fight.  If one side breaks that promise, the truce is gone.  It’s vanished as if it never existed.  It’s dead.  It’s not a truce any more if only one side sticks with it.  In AP-land, however, it appears that a truce continues to exist as to the Israelis, but that the Palestinians may violate it with impunity.

Indeed, in that same faraway AP-land, Palestinian truce violations are probably a good thing, since we here in America like “testing.”  We see tests as a way of proving how well things are doing.  If that truce can survive the Palestinian test of unfettered rocket launches against Israeli civilians, it must be a very strong truce.  It gets the AP seal of approval, that’s for sure.

I’m sick of this whole thing.  Can the reading audience really be as stupid and biased as the AP writers?  Sadly, I’m going to bet that Israel can be even more stupid, since I think it’s going to let the Palestinians pass this test and, in the face of a blatant truce violation, do either nothing or so little in response that it’s tantamount to nothing.

Good idea, bad leader *UPDATED*

Richard Baehr initially supported Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israel from the Gaza Strip.  He now believes that the withdrawal was a terrible mistake, and carefully explains why.  As for me, I don’t think it was a mistake then.  I think it collapsed for a reason that could not be foreseen.  Let me explain.

What I said at the time was that, as long as the territories were under Israel’s aegis, Israel could not wage war against them.  If they were a separate hostile nation, however, she could treat them as one would any other hostile nation on one’s own border — with full-scale warfare.  I believe that Ariel Sharon would have done that.  However, Ariel Sharon was struck down, and in his place is Olmert, whose only significant skill seems to be to retain office with a zero approval rating.  Sharon would not have allowed 3,000 rockets to rain down on Israel from an enemy nation.  Olmert has.

Olmert is terrified of looking bad in the eyes of the world.  Mr. Olmert, a hint:  The world already hates Israel.  Short of voluntarily turning the country over to the Arabs and then having all Jewish residents take a farewell march into the Meditteranean, the world will always hate you.  You are the unpopular kid in school, and nothing will change that.  Stop trying to get in with the in-crowd and take care of yourself.

UPDATEHere’s a bit more about the truly horrible Olmert.

I give it an hour or two at best

Hamas never enters into truces with an eye to peace.  It enters into truces with an eye to getting its troops rested and rearmed before the next offensive.  Israel, equipped with knowledge of both core Islamic doctrine (hudna) and Hamas’ own past behavior, nevertheless keeps giving its opponent a breather, rather than keeping the pressure on when Hamas is on the ropes.

When I was growing up in the 1970s, common currency in the Jewish community was the joke about how much smarter Jews were than their Arab opponents.  The one I remember best from the 1973 Yom Kippur War (although it’s certainly not the best joke) went this way:

Shocked by their losses, the Arabs regrouped and began studying their Israeli enemy.  They realized that one out of every three Israeli soldiers was named David.  They therefore came up with a new strategy.  When they were within shouting distance of the Israelis, the Arab soldiers would holler out “Hey, David,” confident that the David’s would rise up, ready to be shot down by snipers.  It didn’t work quite as planned.  When the Arabs yelled out “Hey, David,” the Israelis would holler back, “Is that you, Mohammed?”  Half the Arab soldiers would then rise up and get shot down by snipers.

Bad joke, but you get the point.  These jokes have no currency now.  Israel has been strategically out-thought at every turn.  All she has left is brute force.

The myth of the occupied territories

I’m beginning to think that incrementalism is one of the most dangerous things out there, whether it’s the way Obama leaks out the truth about his big lies or the way in which the jihadists keep asking for little things from us — no pigs, no dogs, no occupied territories.  As to that latter bit of incrementalism, Charles Krauthammer reminds us of the big lie behind the current theory that the whole problem with Israel is the occupied territories  (so that, if she just gave them up, everything would be hunky-dory, with no further demands against her):

[In the 1948 War of Independence, which had all the Arab nations massed at 650,000 Jews] Israel prevailed, another miracle. But at a very high cost — not just to the Palestinians displaced as a result of a war designed to extinguish Israel at birth, but also to the Israelis, whose war losses were staggering: 6,373 dead. One percent of the population. In American terms, it would take 35 Vietnam memorials to encompass such a monumental loss of life.

You rarely hear about Israel’s terrible suffering in that 1948-49 war. You hear only the Palestinian side. Today, in the same vein, you hear that Israeli settlements and checkpoints and occupation are the continuing root causes of terrorism and instability in the region.

But in 1948, there were no “occupied territories.” Nor in 1967 when Egypt, Syria and Jordan joined together in a second war of annihilation against Israel.

Look at Gaza today. No Israeli occupation, no settlements, not a single Jew left. The Palestinian response? Unremitting rocket fire killing and maiming Israeli civilians. The declared casus belli of the Palestinian government in Gaza behind these rockets? The very existence of a Jewish state.

Israel’s crime is not its policies but its insistence on living. On the day the Arabs — and the Palestinians in particular — make a collective decision to accept the Jewish state, there will be peace, as Israel proved with its treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Until that day, there will be nothing but war. And every “peace process,” however cynical or well-meaning, will come to nothing.

Jimmy Carter, loathsome old man

The New York Times again gave a forum to Jimmy Carter. This time Carter defends his immoral, illegal decision to consort with terrorists, something that would be objectionable if the ordinary private citizen were to do it, but that rises to outrageous levels of indecency when a former President does the same thing.

Carter’s most recent column is worth fisking because it either shows the thought process of a senile immoral old man or, more scarily, the thought processes of a liberal immoral old man:

A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE Washington policy in recent years has been to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates. [That's cute. Hamas, which (a) took over Gaza by war, (b) announced its intention to destroy Israel, (c) terrorizes its own citizens, and (d) routinely and purposely attacks civilian targets, especially children, is just a "political faction[] or government[] that refuse[s] to accept United States mandates.” This is truly an Orwellian perversion of language.] This policy makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.

Two notable examples are in Nepal and the Middle East. About 12 years ago, Maoist guerrillas took up arms in an effort to overthrow the monarchy and change the nation’s political and social life. Although the United States declared the revolutionaries to be terrorists, the Carter Center agreed to help mediate among the three major factions: the royal family, the old-line political parties and the Maoists.

In 2006, six months after the oppressive monarch was stripped of his powers, a cease-fire was signed. Maoist combatants laid down their arms and Nepalese troops agreed to remain in their barracks. Our center continued its involvement and nations — though not the United States — and international organizations began working with all parties to reconcile the dispute and organize elections. [I can't comment about this, knowing nothing about it. Any information from others who do would be helpful.]

The Maoists are succeeding in achieving their major goals: abolishing the monarchy, establishing a democratic republic and ending discrimination against untouchables and others whose citizenship rights were historically abridged. After a surprising victory in the April 10 election, Maoists will play a major role in writing a constitution and governing for about two years. To the United States, they are still terrorists. [Considering that Maoists are arch communists, and considering that arch communists have invariably enacted arch repression, I rather wonder about Carter's sanguine view of these guys as just good old liberal style Democrats. After all, the original Maoist -- that would be Mao himself -- was a psychopath who oversaw the death of 70,000,000 of his people. Again, information on this subject would be appreciated.]

On the way home from monitoring the Nepalese election, I, my wife and my son went to Israel. My goal was to learn as much as possible to assist in the faltering peace initiative endorsed by President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Although I knew that official United States policy was to boycott the government of Syria and leaders of Hamas, I did not receive any negative or cautionary messages about the trip, except that it might be dangerous to visit Gaza. [Who are you going to believe -- Rice or Carter? Given that Carter has been caught in lie after lie over the years, while Rice has not been shown up as a liar even once (one may disagree with her, but she doesn't lie), I have absolutely no doubt but that this is a blatant lie.]

The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. [Except for that little fact that it eventually took over leadership from Fatah by a small civil war, complete with atrocities. Apparently things like that just don't bother Carter, the cheerleader for leftist oppressors. Bad as Fatah is, Hamas is worse.] As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.

Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. [Aside from the fact that it took over and rules Gaza by terror, there is that little problem of Hamas' stated policy of destroying Israel, one dead child at a time. Frankly, if Carter doesn't consider that a terrorist, what is a terrorist? George Bush? Cheney? That lying skank Condi Rice (Carter's theory, not mine, of course)? I'd really like him to set down his definitions so we can get an insight into his Orwellian use of language.] Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza [care to explain how, Mr. Carter, or would that raise too many twisted linguistic difficulties?], and Fatah is “governing” the Israeli-dominated West Bank. [You ,appreciate, I'm sure, all the deep meaning behind those quotation marks. Gaza is "real" government, Fatah is a puppet government. We know which Carter prefers.] Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. [Because a terrorist organization is liked by a population raised to hate and kill, does that mean it's no longer a terrorist organization? Apparently in Carter-world it does.] Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)

Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. [There's not much of a dispute. When Syria held the Golan Heights, it used that advantage to kill Jews. It will do the same again. Of course, since Carter has no problem with the Jews -- he did want to "f**k them" in 1980, blaming them for his defeat -- I can see where he thinks there might be a dispute: dead Jews versus not dead Jews. Hmmm.] Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials. [The US might be ostracizing the Syrian government for a few other little problems, such as the fact that it's a shill of Iran and Hezbollah, that it sponsors world-wide terrorism, and that it's planning to go nuclear. Silly stuff like that, you know. Even in Carter-land, is it really possible for everything to be caused only by Jewish conspiracies?]

We met with Hamas leaders from Gaza, the West Bank and Syria, and after two days of intense discussions with one another they gave these official responses to our suggestions, intended to enhance prospects for peace [Please keep in mind as you read this that Hamas had the last laugh by denying all the agreements Carter purported to make on its behalf]:

Hamas will accept any agreement negotiated by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel provided it is approved either in a Palestinian referendum or by an elected government. Hamas’s leader, Khaled Meshal, has reconfirmed this, although some subordinates have denied it to the press. [I notice that Meshal hasn't gone out of his way to repudiate those denials. In any event, given that Palestinians by a vast majority have announced their intense desire to murder all Israelis, I don't see many of them passing this referendum. Same for the "elected" Hamas government.]

When the time comes, Hamas will accept the possibility of forming a nonpartisan professional government of technocrats to govern until the next elections can be held. [Pardon me while I laugh myself sick. These are the people whose only skill is sucking up world dollars and turning them into bombs.]

Hamas will also disband its militia in Gaza if a nonpartisan professional security force can be formed. [Only someone truly naive or deeply evil would believe this given Hamas' history. It's like speaking with Hitler in 1942, and then writing an op-ed saying he'll be pleased to disband the Gestapo, or at least to rename it to something with fewer negative connotations, such as the "Friends of the Jews" organization.]

Hamas will permit an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in 2006, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, to send a letter to his parents. If Israel agrees to a list of prisoners to be exchanged, and the first group is released, Corporal Shalit will be sent to Egypt, pending the final releases. [This is truly obscene. Hamas has held in captivity for two years a young man who was merely standing guard duty. In exchange for his freedom, they except the release of hundreds of convicted killers. Not guards, killers. Aside from how disgusting this is, I'd like to remind all of you that Israel has frequently released killers in return for promises from the Palestinians. None of the promises have been kept, but the killers have done what killers will do: killed again.]

Hamas will accept a mutual cease-fire in Gaza, with the expectation (not requirement) that this would later include the West Bank. [I believe this promise. The cease fires usually last one or two days while Hamas/the Palestinians regroup, and then, having enjoyed a breather, the cease fire magically terminates. I believe the technical term for this strategic little breather is hudna.]

Hamas will accept international control of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, provided the Egyptians and not the Israelis control closing the gates. [Hamas apparently hopes that it will have the fox guarding the hen house. Or at least Carter hopes that's the case. More cynically than the American fool, Hamas probably hopes that Egypt, which is less then thrilled by having radical Islamic guerrillas stream into the country, will be less adept than Israel at preventing incursions.]

In addition, Syria’s president, Bashir al-Assad, has expressed eagerness to begin negotiations with Israel to end the impasse on the Golan Heights. He asks only that the United States be involved and that the peace talks be made public. [1938, 1938, 1938, 1938, 1938, 1938....]

Through more official consultations with these outlawed leaders, it may yet be possible to revive and expedite the stalemated peace talks between Israel and its neighbors. In the Middle East, as in Nepal, the path to peace lies in negotiation, not in isolation.

Now that I’ve fisked what Carter has to say, I feel confident concluding that he manages to be both a fool and entirely evil. This is a very, very bad man, and the US should muzzle him with every weapon in its arsenal of laws against treason and consorting with enemies.

A bipartisan Congressional attack against Carter

Congress isn’t actually doing anything beyond complaining about how upset it is, but I was very pleased nevertheless to see that two representatives have sponsored a bipartisan resolution specifically mentioning Carter in connection with Hamas and reiterating that Hamas is a dangerous terrorist organization that should be isolated, not courted.  To date, it has 47 signatories or co-sponsors.  Most of them are Republicans, but there are enough Democrats on board to earn my kudos for people who can put principles ahead of politics.

Can we try him for treason?

Hamas is an official terrorist organization. That minor detail, however, doesn’t seem to deter President Jimmy Carter, a man who has never met a sleazy Islamic or communist terrorist he doesn’t admire and trust:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said in remarks to air on Sunday that his upcoming visit to the Middle East probably would include a meeting in Syria with leaders of the militant group Hamas.

“I’ve not confirmed our itinerary yet for the Syrian visit, but it’s likely that I will be meeting with the Hamas leaders,” Carter said, according to a transcript of his interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”

The Bush administration and close U.S. ally Israel oppose the meeting, which would take place during Carter’s nine-day trip to the Middle East that begins on Sunday.

U.S. policy has been to isolate Hamas, which seized control of Gaza last June, and to bolster pro-Western President Mahmoud Abbas, who rules the West Bank and is in U.S.-sponsored talks with the Israelis.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who sought Carter’s counsel on his own previous Arab-Israeli peacemaking efforts ahead of a U.S.-hosted Middle East conference in Annapolis last November, called Hamas a “terrorist organization” on Friday.

With regard to his travel plans, here is what Carter said:

“I think there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that, if Europe is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Nazis, that Hitler will have to be included in the process,” said Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

“I think someone should be meeting with Hitler and the Nazi Party to see what we can do to encourage them to be cooperative,” he added.

Carter, who served one term as president from 1977 to 1981, would be one of the most prominent Americans to meet with the leader of the Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler.

“We’ll be meeting with the Nazis, the Italian Fascists, the Japanese Imperialists, the Vichy Government, and with the whole gamut of people who might have to play a crucial role in any future peace agreement that involves Europe and the World,” Carter said of his trip.

Oh, silly me. I was having a weird historical flashback. What Carter really said was:

“I think there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their [sic -- proving that he's not only an idiot, but a grammatical cretin] next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process,” said Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

“I think someone should be meeting with Hamas to see what we can do to encourage them to be cooperative,” he added.

Carter, who served one term as president from 1977 to 1981, would be one of the most prominent Americans to meet with the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.

“We’ll be meeting with the Syrians, the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudi Arabians, and with the whole gamut of people who might have to play a crucial role in any future peace agreement that involves the Middle East,” Carter said of his trip.

You can see where I might suffer some temporal confusion when it comes to a bumbling idiot, who lacks anything approaching a moral compass and who doesn’t even have the common sense of an old-fashioned real politician (a la Kissinger), inserting himself into foreign policy.

Two more things: First, a reminder that not only was it morally wrong to talk to Hitler, it was also useless. Hitler simply used those talks as a way to buy time to arm himself. He then kept making incremental terror steps, broken by brazen apologies to the West, and each of which was followed by an even bigger step, all of which culminated in WWII itself. Hitler loved to talk because he had no interest in cooperation or peace. For him, talk was as much weapon in his arsenal as anything else.

Second, if you find Carter’s conduct utterly loathsome, remember that Obama will be even worse, because he’ll be in the White House when he meets with Ahmadinijad.

Reality check for the economic equivalence argument

In today’s Guardian, there is a glowing review of Ron Paul, particularly with regard to Paul’s stance on American support for Israel:

If that weren’t enough, when the House of Representatives was recently passing another denunciation of Palestinian violence, Paul refused to support it. He abhorred all attacks on civilians, he said – but on Palestinians by Israelis as much as on Israelis by Palestinians.

“It is our continued involvement and intervention – particularly when it appears to be one-sided – that reduces the incentive for opposing sides to reach a lasting peace agreement,” he said. “We must cease making proclamations involving conflicts that have nothing to do with the United States. We incur the wrath of those who feel slighted while doing very little to slow or stop the violence.” It says something about US politics today that words as sane and humane as those come from an “extremist”.

No doubt this excellent man’s bid for the Republican nomination was by way of being a romantic gesture. But what about Ron Paul for secretary of state?

Frankly, I’ve considered Paul such a crackpot in so many ways that I never seriously considered the idiocy in this statement, now embraced by Geoffrey Wheatley, a Guardian columnist (or something).

It’s that bit about “our continued involvement and intervention — particularly when it appears to be one-sided…” that got me. I did some digging. According to one site, US aid to Israel in 2006 broke down to about $2.4 billion dollars.  I’ll accept that as true.

But is that really one sided? How about if we look at US aid to Israeli’s opponents, the Palestinians. And, if we’re counting outside help from other parties, how about aid from the rest of the world, including the UN, to the Palestinians. Here’s the aid information for 2006, when there was an ostensible embargo on Palestinian aid after Palestinians elected a government that boasted about its intention to destroy a UN member and commit genocide against its people (that would be Hamas):

Despite the international embargo on aid to the Palestinian Authority since Hamas came to power a year ago, significantly more aid was delivered to the Palestinians in 2006 than in 2005, according to official figures from the United Nations, United States, European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Finance Minister Salam Fayyad estimates that the Palestinian Authority received more than twice the amount of budget support in 2006 than in 2005.

Instead of going to the Palestinian Authority, much of the money was given directly to individuals or through independent agencies like the World Food Program.

The International Monetary Fund and the United Nations say the Palestinians received $1.2 billion in aid and budgetary support in 2006, about $300 per capita, compared with $1 billion in 2005.

While the United States and the European Union have led the boycott, they, too, provided more aid to the Palestinians in 2006 than 2005. Washington increased its aid to $468 million in 2006, from $400 million in 2005.

As for European giving in 2006:

In 2006, Ms. Udwin said, the European Union and its states spent $916 million on the Palestinians, not including United Nations contributions.

Even UN employees note the overwhelming outpouring of world money into Palestinian hands, as well as the deleterious effects of that money:

In 2007, the United Nations began a humanitarian appeal for the Palestinians of more than $450 million, twice the 2006 appeal, the third largest United Nations request, after Sudan and Congo, ahead of 18 other disasters.

“These numbers are quite stunning,” said Alexander Costy, head of coordination for Álvaro de Soto, the United Nations special Middle East envoy, “given the relatively small size of the population of the Palestinian territory.”

He added: “What we do know for sure is that Palestinians, and their economy and society, are becoming increasingly dependent on humanitarian handouts, and this dependency is growing fast. For a state in the making, I think this was a step backwards in 2006 and a cause for alarm.”

What’s amazing is that even the above, from the International Monetary Fund, from the UN, from the Americans, and from the Europeans, is not all that the Palestinians received during an embargo year:

But Salam Fayyad, the finance minister in the new Palestinian unity government, thinks the Palestinians received at least 250 percent more than that in direct support when cash from Iran and Arab nations is counted, as well as the amount smuggled in by Hamas officials after trips abroad.

“I say the minimum for direct budgetary support was $880 million in 2006 compared to about $350 million the year before,” Mr. Fayyad said. He estimates total aid in 2006 was closer to $1.35 billion.

Please keep in mind a few things:  (a) this was money during an alleged embargo on money and (b) most of this money goes directly into the hands of the terrorists, either as graft with which they enrich themselves (remember Arafat’s $10 billion estate) or to fund weapons.  Further the story above just looks at cash handouts.  It doesn’t calculate the massive amounts of military aid sent to Palestinians from Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

The above report also doesn’t take into consideration the fact that Palestine’s have created for themselves just one enemy — Israel, which is a reactive enemy only, in that it simply seeks to take out weapons aimed at it, and terrorists handling those weapons.  Israel, on the other hand, faces active hostility from Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinians, and Iran.  (And let’s not forget that Hussein funded terrorism against Israel when he was alive and operating.)

All of which means that it’s nonsensical for Paul and his followers to pretend that America has been giving Israel an unfair advantage by giving her money.  America has, instead, been giving Israel a clearer path to a level playing field.  If Paul and his fellow-travelers truly wants funding in that region to stop, before they pull the plug on Israel, they’d better be damned sure to pull the plug on all funds flowing to the Palestinians as well — and they should stop funding nations that fund the Palestinians, such as Egypt.

I’m sure Israel would love to see the cash flow to Palestinians stop, because the latter might then be forced to turn their energies to creating an economy, instead of just to creating ever increasing numbers of zombies, trained only to kill.  Indeed, I’m willing to be that if the world promised to stop funding Palestinians, Israel might be happy, in exchange, to subsist on its own thriving economy.

The stupid dance begins again *UPDATED*

We now know that the Gazans instant collapse into existential despair the last time Israel reduced their electricity flow was a carefully choreographed dance that served two purposes: it enabled Hamas to knock down the wall Egypt had built (a wall about which no one in the West ever complained) and it gave photo ops to the useful idiots in the Western press. It looks as if the whole grotesque dance is starting all over again:

Israel began reducing the amount of electricity it sells to Gaza as part of sanctions against continued rocket fire, Israeli officials said on Friday. The move prompted a warning from the United States not to “worsen the humanitarian situation” of the civilian population in Gaza, and was followed by the firing of yet more rockets at Israel by militants there.

Israel began reducing its electricity flow into the Gaza Strip by less than one percent late Thursday night. By Friday afternoon, 21 rockets had been launched against Israel, an Army spokeswoman said, with several landing in and around the Israeli border town of Sderot and in open areas south of Ashkelon, a larger Israeli coastal city north of the strip.

Israeli officials said the electricity had been cut by about one megawatt out of the 124 megawatts that Israel provides to Gaza, and that an additional megawatt could be cut each week depending on the security situation and the needs of the Gaza population. Israel said it would continue to provide the necessary minimum to prevent harm to the safety or health of the residents.

Has there ever been a time in the history of the world when Country A repeatedly states its wish to destroy Country B and then acts upon that wish, only to have Country B continue to keep vital material flowing into Country A? I’d like to say that it’s gotten to the point that Israel is too stupid to deserve the gift of national survival, but I won’t. It’s true that the Israelis, for reasons unclear to me, keep the amazingly ineffectual Olmert in office, and it is true that the Israeli peace movement could more aptly be named the National Suicide Pact, but there’s more to it than that.

The fact is, Israel inadvertently made a pact with devil when she began to rely. Because America is a necessary part of the Israeli war machine and the Israeli economy, Israel can’t afford to alienate her — that would be a suicidal act as sure as just opening the borders and letting in the Palestinians. So as long as the US has this bizarre “let’s make nice with your killers” attitude, Israel is completely handicapped. She cannot fight a war against her open enemies and, instead, ends up subsidizing them as they fight a war against her.

It always was a Catch-22, of course, because Israel could never have survived as long as she did without US aid. It’s like steroids I guess: first they make you stronger, then they destroy you.

UPDATE:  While Israel is forced by world pressure to support her enemy, fellow Arabs have no such constraints.  As James Taranto describes:

Arabs love Palestinians in the abstract–as a symbol of the putative evil of the hated Jews. But they’re not so crazy about Palestinians as actual human beings. Here is a prominent Egyptian who is so averse to Palestinians that even their money isn’t good enough for him.

Maybe Condi has a plan

I respect Condi Rice for the most part, but have thought her naive for believing (or, at least, appearing to believe) that the Palestinians want peace with Israel, as opposed to Israel in pieces.  David Brooks, however, thinks that there is a method to her madness, and that Iran’s follies may result in a back door route to some stability in the Middle East:

It’s not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it’s about Iran. Rice is constructing a coalition of the losing. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is on the march. The nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to gather the “moderate” states and to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance.

It’s slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. It’s like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose. But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.

Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.

Though this article originated in the NY Times, I take its conclusions with a grain of salt, simply because I’ve come to distrust the Times.  Nevertheless, this is certainly not a wacky idea, and it does reflect an impulse to bring some central stability to a region that will become entirely unbalanced if the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis does in fact ascend to real power, rather than stopping at the noises of power, along with the violence of terrorism.

Why I support Israel

My blog, lately, has hosted a really interesting discussion about both Israel’s legal rights in the disputed territories and the Palestinians’ lack of legal rights. Those two statements (Israel’s rights vs. Palestinian non-rights) are not mirror-like redundancies. It’s entirely possible to argue (although I wouldn’t), that while Israel has no right to the disputed territories, neither do the Palestinians. That is, for Israel’s sake, advancing one argument is just as important as advancing the other.

The problem with the argument about rights to the disputed territories is that these arguments often boil down to something like the lawsuit from Hell. The various disputants point to events in 3,000 B.C., 2,000 B.C., 1,000 B.C., the 19th Century, the 1910s, the 1920s, the 1930s, the 1940s, and so on, ad nauseum, right up until events taking place yesterday. Throw in the sagging Ottoman Empire, the British Empire, the British Mandate, the League of Nations, the United Nations, five wars, the fact that Arabs routinely lost on the battlefield but were rescued at the UN, endless border battles, strategic missteps by the Israelis, and the rhetorical hijacking of purely legal, territorial arguments by Islamists and radical Leftists — face it, you’re not going to create any easily comprehensible arguments.

Then, layer over this whole factual and rhetorical swirl of words the fact that Israel, in her endless quest for some sort of meaningful ceasefire from the Palestinians, has soft pedaled her own indisputable rights. Israel’s tentative approach, from the 1940s onward, to asserting her legal and post-war rights creates a situation where, to either the uninformed eye or the eye looking for Israel’s faults and failures, it appears that Israel doesn’t believe in her indisputable rights. Then, consider that Israel is a truly pluralist country hampered by a coalition style government imported from Europe. This last point explains why Israeli policy wobbles from strong to weak, and why Israel is exceptionally bad at setting out a coherent statement of her case before a hostile world.

These problems, where fact and law intersect, where arguments became muddy, and where Israel sometimes appears terrified of asserting her own case, are also easily exploited by those who have Israel and Jews in their cross hairs. Indeed, a point of exploitation, right now, is the publication of a revamped Walt and Mearshimer book, which AFP is pushing hard as the ultimate truth regarding Israel’s alleged evil control over world debate and American foreign policy.

At times like this, it sometimes helps to pull back and look at larger issues. Throwing around legal arguments dating back either 4,000 years or 1 day can be fun, just as playing an endless game of Monopoly can be fun. Still, there’s no doubt that these arguments, while satisfying their makers, don’t necessarily shine light on the situation.

For me, the larger issue is the nature of the two cultures currently at war, and my own moral decision about the culture I believe deserves my support.

On the one hand (that would be the Israel hand), we have a representative Democracy that gives equal legal and political rights to women, gays, Arabs, Christians, Hindus — hey, to all citizens within its borders. It is so desperate for peace that it routinely compromises its own security in the hope of obtaining that peace. Recently, rather than mowing down entirely a neighboring community devoted to killing its citizens, Israel built a wall, immuring its own people to help prevent their deaths. It’s also a country with free speech and a thriving marketplace of ideas, one that adds quality to the day-to-day life of people around the world.

On the other hand (that would be the Palestinian hand), you have two lawless communities that subjugate and brutalize women, murder and harass gays, murder and expel Christians, and refuse to allow anyone else within their territories (including, of late, even grovelingly friend journalists). For generations, these people’s sole goal, and the value they’ve passed to their children, is to murder the Israelis — every last one of them — that live next door. While Israel tries to prevent its own citizens from dying, these people put their children in the front line of battle, not even because they actually aid fighting, but because their inevitable deaths help this culture look pathetic, giving it a leg up in international opinion.

Given these two different cultures, I say law is useful, but not determinative. I have no truck with moral relativism, and I’m therefore able, with a clear conscience, to place my support behind Israel, the country of (sometimes flawed) Western humanism, and not behind Hamas or Fatah, territories of animalistic immorality and violence.

UPDATE: A little more on the perverted lessons taught to Palestinian children.

UPDATE II: Today’s example of free speech (NOT) amongst the Palestinians.

UPDATE III: And this is where the UN falls on the moral question of backing either a free Democracy or a nihilistic, murderous, semi-theocracy.

UPDATE IV: Yet another recent story about Israeli innovation that makes a difference — this time for American soldiers.

Here’s how the story could have been reported

Israel, which has been the victim of endless and destructive rocket attacks originating in Gaza, successfully stopped one before it happened. Taking facts directly from the BBC, this is how I would have reported the Israeli Army’s successful action:

Israel destroys several rocket launchers in Gaza

The Israeli Army reports that it surveillance into Gaza revealed several rocket launchers aimed at a heavily populated industrial zone in Beit Hanoun. Several people were clustered around the rocket launchers, apparently preparing to fire them. The Israeli Army responded by shelling the rocket launchers.

In the last four months, Gazans have launched ten qassam rocket strikes on Israel. The seventy-seven rockets fired over this fourth month period killed two people, wounded several others, and caused significant damage to a factory containing hazardous materials, requiring evacuation.

Palestinian spokespeople announced that three children were killed in the attack. This report has yet to be confirmed.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible. “The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

In fact, this is how the BBC reported the story, using the same facts, but with a very different emphasis:

Three Palestinian children have been killed after an Israeli tank shell hit northern Gaza, Palestinian doctors say.

Israel’s military confirmed it launched an attack, saying it had targeted people setting up a rocket launcher.

Doctors said two boys aged 10 and 12 died of shrapnel wounds. A 12-year-old girl who was critically injured in the blast died also in hospital.

The Israeli army expressed sorrow for the deaths of the children, but said it held militant groups responsible.

“We identified and fired at several rocket launchers aimed at Israel in the Beit Hanoun industrial zone,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

“We also identified several suspicious looking people fiddling with the rocket launchers before we fired. The army regrets terror organisations’ cynical use of children,” she added.

This is what I mean when I talk about spin. The spin one could put on it is that Israel successfully deflected what was shaping up to be the tenth rocket attack on it in just four months. Unfortunately, because the Palestinians place their children in combat areas, both to use them as soldiers and to increase youth casualties for propaganda purposes had, in fact, had children swarming around these rockets, which are also obvious targets.

The alternative, of course, is that the Israeli Army kills children. Then, at the back end, you note that, perhaps, just perhaps, the children were in what could possibly be classified as a combat zone, since they were near weapons about to be fired. An in the really alternative, you don’t even mention that these type of rockets have been fired into Israel unceasingly for years, with increasing numbers of civilian dead and wounded.

Sadly, the second alternative is the type most commonly found in newspapers, especially European newspapers.

By the way, if you’d like to hear the Israeli point of view directly from the horse’s mouth, you can read this article, which points out that Israel believes (as I do) that the launch sites are war zones. I’ll just add that I don’t believe that a humane people cluster their children around weapons and war zones, unless they intend to use those children as soldiers or strategic targets.

UPDATE: More on Palestinian children used as instruments of war.

UPDATE II: Here’s a report from the LA Times identifying in the lede that the children were hanging out near rocket launchers.  It also gives a bit more context for the Israeli actions, by acknowledging the fact that, last month alone, more than 90 rockets were launched into Israel from the same area.

Two articles about the Middle East

It’s rare that, on the same day, two articles come out that neatly bookend a single subject.  Today, though, that happened, with the first article being a Mona Charen piece about Israel, which discusses its overall humanism (despite a few bad apples) and which points out the difference the wall has made in Israel.  As to that last, no one can doubt that the wall has stopped the cycle of violence everyone on the liberal side decried.  Without Palestinians intentionally blowing Israeli citizens into little pellet and nail ridden pieces, Israelis are not forced to go into the territories and mow down the houses that hid these same mad bombers.  Sounds good to me.

Having read that, check out this glowing San Francisco Chronicle review about a Palestinian activist who decries the wall as a totally unfair abomination, but who is nevertheless viewed by the Chron as an even handed, clear-eyed assessor of the Palestinian scene.  As to that last, it’s not because he recognizes that the Hamas people are cold-blooded killers bent on genocide, but because he, like everyone else who isn’t completely brain-dead, can tell that Hamas’ murderous tactics may be just as bad for the Palestinian people as they are for the Israelis.