Statistical help wanted

On Facebook, I linked to Bret Stephens’ article about the slaughter of the Fogel family in Israel (which is behind a pay wall).  In it, Stephens says that we in the West have essentially dehumanized the Palestinians by giving them a free pass for acting on their baser instincts:

I have a feeling that years from now Palestinians will look back and wonder: How did we allow ourselves to become that? If and when that happens—though not until that happens—Palestinians and Israelis will at long last be able to live alongside each other in genuine peace and security.

But I also wonder whether a similar question will ever occur to the Palestinian movement’s legion of fellow travelers in the West. To wit, how did they become so infatuated with a cause that they were willing to ignore its crimes—or, if not quite ignore them, treat them as no more than a function of the supposedly infinitely greater crime of Israeli occupation?

That’s an important question because it forms part of the same pattern in which significant segments of Western opinion cheered Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro and Robert Mugabe and even Pol Pot. The cheering lasted just as long as was required to see the cause through to some iconic moment of triumph, and then it was on to the next struggle. It was left to others to pick up the pieces or take to the boats or die choking in their own blood.

A friend objected to the article on the ground that it made the Palestinians sound murderous, since “some” of them celebrated the death.  She said the vast majority of Palestinians just desire peace.  I responded that one wishes that was so, and pointed to polls from just last year showing that the majority of Palestinians think Jewish deaths are a good thing.  Her comeback, which I’ve edited slightly, went this way:  The majority of Palestinians weren’t celebrating the murders, only some were.  Also, the same poll to which I cited shows that most of the Palestinians oppose violence, but are so frightened of the PA that they feel they cannot criticize it.  She also said a more recent poll said that, while a clear majority of Israelis polled say they want peace, the Palestinians are so misinformed that, when polled, they say that they don’t believe that the Israelis actually want peace.

So if I understand it correctly, she’s saying that Palestinians are lying to pollsters about wanting to kill Israelis because they’re afraid of the PA.  The illogic seems to be to be that, if they’re that scared of the PA, why are they freely admitting that fear to the pollsters?  Either you lie across the board (hate Israelis/love PA), or you don’t lie (want peace/fear PA).   As to the Palestinians’ misunderstandings about Israeli goals, it still doesn’t seem to me to deny their blood-thirstiness.  It just gives them yet another excuse, which is precisely what Stephens was bemoaning.

What do you say?  And can you think of a polite way for me to make the points or, perhaps, even better points.

Liberals — lording it over lesser beings *UPDATED*

If there is one defining characteristic of liberals, it is their sense that they are better than everyone else.  Nowhere was that more explicitly illustrated than in Ron Schiller’s comments:

In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives.

Schiller wasn’t unique, just unguarded.  The whole point of liberalism, after all, is to put government — controlled, of course, by liberals — in charge of everyone else’s lives.

This world view requires that liberals occupy the highest rungs in the world hierarchy.  Part of this means winning elections, by fair means or foul.  Another part, though, means ensuring that the little people stay little.  I’ve written before about the racism that is inherent in liberal thinking.  For all the liberal talk about liberals being the only hope for people of color in the world, one begins to notice that what liberals really mean is that they’re the only hope provided that they stay in the driver’s seat.  And why must they stay in the driver’s seat in perpetuity.  Rhetoric aside, it turns out that their expectations about people with skin darker than their own are shockingly low.

Just today, in the wake of a horrifically brutal murder in Israel — a sleeping couple and three of their five children, 11, 4 and 3 months, were brutally stabbed to death by Palestinians — the New York Times explained why the killing happened:

The killers appeared to have randomly picked the house, one of a neat row of identical one-story homes at the edge of the settlement, on a rocky incline overlooking the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta — the proximity underlining the visceral nature of the contest in this area between Jewish settlers and Palestinians over the land.  (Emphasis mine.)

You see, the brown people cannot be expected to resist visceral temptation.  They are the perpetual two year olds of the world, who need to be surrounded by locked cabinets and blocked off electrical outlets.  If you leave those things in plain view, they’re irresistible.  It’s not the two year old’s fault he burns the house down or breaks the china, it’s the adult’s fault for failing to remove temptation.  So too, did the Fogel family deserve to die, because they should have known better than to place themselves in the path of two year olds with guns, knives, bombs, and a hate-filled, genocidal ideology.  This is a “blame the victim” approach taken to existential levels.

Daled Amos provides painfully graphic evidence of the way in which Palestinians simply cannot resist the completely understandable (to liberals, that is) temptation to kill the Israeli children placed so temptingly within their reach.  If liberals were the decent people they boast they are, they would stop explaining away Palestinian bestiality and start demanding that Palestinians begin to behave like civilized human beings, with no excuses allowed.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

UPDATED:  If you have a strong stomach (seriously strong), the surviving members of the Fogel family have authorized the release of pictures of the carnage those “visceral” killers left behind.  This is what it looks like when a family of five is knifed to death.  It turns out that even 3 month old babies “have … so much blood in them.”  The media may not be interested, but we, as civilized people, should be.

YouTube shuts down Palestinian Media Watch

YouTube decided to shut down the Palestinian Media Watch (“PMW”) account, because it shows heinous and disgusting videos.  The problem with YouTube’s decision is that PMW doesn’t create these heinous and disgusting videos.  Instead, they are products of the Palestinian media, and PMW makes them available so that Americans can see their tax dollars at work, and so that the world can understand the belief systems driving an enemy implacable to Israel, Jews, Christians, Americans, gays, women, etc.

In other words, PMW isn’t promoting the views in the videos, it is exposing them.  YouTube either fails to understand this significant difference or, worse, it does understand it, but doesn’t want the ugliness underlying Palestinian culture to be so openly displayed.

Right now, PMW’s emergency email shows that it doesn’t have a game plan for counteracting YouTube’s attack on its work.  It seeks input from supporters, who might suggest tactics for reestablishing the account.  As far as I’m concerned, though, writing to YouTube and explaining the difference between creating hate speech and exposing hate speech is a useful start.

No sex for terrorists *UPDATED*

I spoke this weekend to a law enforcement agent who works in domestic counter terrorism.  He said what we all know:  one of the ways in which Islamic radicals recruit previously apathetic young men is through sex.  Not actual sex, but the manufactured sex of rock videos.  In other words, terrorist recruiters have figured out what Detroit knew in the 50s — if you attach a pretty lady to the product, men will associate that product with pretty ladies, and they’ll buy.

It turns out that one of the ways to counter this fantasy is to make it very clear that, not only will the product not produce fantasy sex, it won’t produce real sex either.  Evelyn Gordon writes about the fact that, slowly but steadily, Israel has used warfare to defeat the Intifadah.  I strongly recommend reading the whole article, but I’ll share one point here:

Palestinian terrorists, once lionized, were now unmarriageable, because the near-certainty of Israeli retribution made marriage to a wanted man no life. As one father explained: “I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one. I want her to have a good life, without having the army coming into her house all the time to arrest her while her husband escapes into the streets.” And therefore, the terrorists were quitting.

Most terrorists aren’t die-hard fanatics, and non-fanatics respond to cost-benefit incentives. When terrorist organizations rule the roost, recruits will flock to their banner. But when the costs start outweighing the benefits, they will desert in droves. And then the “unwinnable” war is won.

UPDATE: A reader emailed me saying that the word “warfare,” in my sentence that “Israel has used warfare,” sounded incomplete. He’s right, since warfare can connote all sorts of different tactics, both military and otherwise. I meant conventional warfare, as opposed to the one-sided diplomacy the international community keeps trying to foist onto Israel.

Reality checking Tom Friedman on the Middle East

I really shouldn’t pick on Tom Friedman.  If he was the average idiot holding forth in a bar or living room, I probably wouldn’t.  But this average idiot has a forum — the New York Times — that gives him license to spread his stupidity to a much wider audience than is made available to the normal fool.

Friedman has distinguished himself again this past weekend with an article, written from his Olympian vantage point in New York, opining that everyone ought to leave the Israelis and Palestinians alone so that both sides can see the error of their ways.  It is the usual Leftist pap that pretends there is a moral equivalence between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  They are, in his mind both equally sinned against and sinning.

Friedman is, as I said, a fool.  While the Israelis are no saints, they are not sinners.  The same cannot be said for the Palestinians, at least at the leadership level.  They are malevolent people who are happy to sacrifice their own citizens, and to make free use of the credulous fools in the West, in order to achieve their real goal:  not peace and certainly not a two state solution, but (as their own charter freely admits) the complete destruction of the Jewish state and all her citizens.  Aren’t they likely to have idiots take up their cause?

By the way, if you doubt my freely stated assertions about Israeli good will and Palestinian intransigence, read this.

And a second “by the way” — the Israelis aren’t so bright either.  There’s an old saying:  “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  The Israelis, blinded by their own Left, have clearly been fooled too many times to count.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions = the death of Israel

If you ever hear about the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement (BDS), do not fall for the advertised claims that it is about peace.  It is intended to destroy Israel and is actively hostile to any peace between the two peoples:

Please watch this video and, if you are a friend of Israel, send it along so that others can see it too.

Read this too, so that you have further evidence, as if you need it, of what Israel faces, not just at the macro level, but at the micro level too.

Right now, helping Israel in large part involves educating ourselves about the lies regarding Israel, present and past.  That way, when we hear those lies repeated, we can politely and firmly enlightened people who may indeed have good will but who have been systematically brainwashed by propaganda, lies and false witness.

Palestinians alone

Something is deeply wrong at the New York Times.  I think that, perhaps, someone sensible slipped into their offices in the dark of night and published Efraim Karsh’s op-ed about the Palestinians, and the way in which they’ve been puppets for the surrounding Arab states.  I’m sure whoever let that happen, if caught, will be suitably punished — perhaps by being trapped in a room with the only reading material being columns from Krugman, Herbert and Friedman.  Death by ants and honey might be preferable.

Palestinian corruption — on your dime *UPDATED*

I’m sorry I didn’t blog today.  I have a half finished post on my screen, but can’t seem to get it entirely finished.  Sometimes, when that happens, I just abandon the idea and move on to other things, but sometimes I just get mentally blocked up.  I seem to need to work this one out before I can move on.

Anyway, so that today isn’t a total blank slate, I’d like you to check out a video at Brutally Honest.  Lots of people should see it.

Also, if you’re in the mood for upsetting videos, get the inside look at a protest against the Arizona law.  (It took a lot of courage to shoot this footage, by the way.)

UPDATE:  While I’m still organizing my thoughts, you can depress yourself by reading how the Obama Justice Department is hard at work to get the vote to felons (reliable Democratic voters), while it shows a malevolent apathy towards the voting rights of those who fight and are willing to die for this country (who tend to vote more conservative).

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 will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us”

You recognize that quotation, right?  It’s one of Golda Meir’s most repeated sayings.  However, if you’ve been paying attention to the blogosphere lately, you’ll see that the Palestinians, with a lot of help from the Jordanians, are still raising their children to be cannon fodder.  Rick, at Brutally Honest, has my favorite post on the subject.

By the way, on the subject of the Jordanians urging Palestinians to turn their children into human bombs, please recall that Jordan is, in fact, Palestine, a historic reality from the 1920s, which has been assiduously ignored until Geert Wilder had the temerity to point it out.

Remembering Gilad Shalit

Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.  Think of that:  this young man has spent almost a fifth of his life held as a prisoner by Palestinian terrorists.  The Jewish Community Relations Council is asking people to send a message to Gilad in the hope that these words of hope, support, love and prayer will get to him.  At the very least, they will reach his parents.  You can send your message here.

Quick hits on a summer Monday afternoon *UPDATED*

Justice Scalia states more eloquently than I ever could the difference between feelings and morality.

[Sorry about this -- while I was in the midst of editing a longer, pre-existing post, Comcast service died completely and deleted everything I'd written after the above sentence.  Sigh.  Nine hours later, Comcast is back, but I have absolutely no idea what I had written about earlier.]

The illogical behavior and beliefs of the American Statist

“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” — C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Neither Data nor Mr. Spock, two relentlessly logical creations, could ever be liberals or Democrats or Progressives, or whatever the Hell else they’re calling themselves nowadays.  (For convenience, I’ll just lump them all together under the “Statist” title).  As I realized over the 20 plus years of my political journey from knee-jerk Statist to thinking Individualist, the single greatest difference between the two ideologies is that the former lives in a logic-free world.

Sure, as Statists will always shrilly point out, more Individualists than Statists subscribe to traditional religion — and the belief in God definitely requires a leap of faith — but that’s just about the only leap of faith in their lives.  Their political positions are almost always driven by a solid understanding, not only of human nature, but also of the realities of cause and effect.  Liberals, on the other hand, even as they pride themselves on the logic of their abandoning God (never mind that they cannot satisfactorily prove God’s nonexistence), apply magical thinking to just about everything else.

Here, in no particular order, is a laundry list of illogical policies espoused by Statists (with the understanding that modern statism is driven by identity politics and self-loathing):

Statists believe that America’s out-of-control illegal immigration has nothing to do with the fact that, when illegal immigrants sneak across the border, we provide them with education, health care, welfare, food stamps, and the promise that they will be allowed to remain in the country regardless of their unlawful status.  These same Statists, blind to the laws of cause and effect, are always shocked when temporary crackdowns result in a corollary (and, equally temporary) diminution in the number of illegal aliens.

Statists are wedded to the idea that government creates wealth.  To this end, they are bound and determined to use taxes to consolidate as much money as possible in government hands so that the government can go about its magical wealth creation business.  The fact that those countries that have all or most of their wealth concentrated in government hands have collapsed economically (Eastern Europe, Cuba) or are in the process of collapsing (Western Europe) doesn’t impinge on this belief.  As even my 10 year old and 12 year old understand, the government’s ability to print money is not the same as an ability to create wealth.  The best way for a government to create wealth is to ensure a level playing field with honestly enforced rules — and then to get out of the way.

Statists believe that no-strings-attached welfare has nothing to do with the creation of a welfare culture.  My father, the ex-Communist, figured this one out:  “If you’re going to pay women to have babies (meaning constantly increasing welfare benefits), they’re going to have babies.”  In 1994, a Republican Congress forced Clinton to change “welfare as we know it.”  To the Statists’ chagrin, all their dire predictions about weening Americans off the government teat proved false.  Poor people are not stupid people.  If they’re getting paid to do nothing, they’ll do nothing.  If that money vanishes, they’ll work.  By the way, I’m not arguing here against charity for those who cannot care for themselves.  I’m only railing against a political system that encourages whole classes of people to abandon employment.  This subject is relevant now, in 2010, because there is no doubt but that, Rahm-like, Democrats are using the current economic situation as a backdoor to increase welfare benefits to pre-1994 standards.

During the run-up to the ObamaCare vote, Statists adamantly contended that, even if employers would find it far cheaper to pay fines than to provide insurance coverage for their employees, they would still provide coverage.  Likewise, they refused to acknowledge that, if insurers could no longer refuse coverage for preexisting conditions, and if individual fines were cheaper than insurance, savvy consumers would jettison insurance and wait until they were actively ill before knocking on the insurer’s door.  In both cases, the Statists’ illogical beliefs about human nature and economics were proven absolutely and conclusively wrong.  (Info and examples are here, here and here.)

For decades, Statists have contended that if we can just get guns out of citizens’ hands crime will go away.  To the Statists, the problem isn’t one of culture and policing, it’s that the guns themselves cause crime.  What’s fascinating is that they continue in this belief despite manifest evidence that it is untrue.  The NRA was right all along:  If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Statists firmly believe that Individualists (a group that includes Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and other “bitter” Americans), are an angry mob, primed and ready to explode against all non-white, non-straight, non-Christians.  They do so despite hard evidence that angry mobs, as opposed to scattered angry individuals, reside solely on the Left, anti-American side of the political spectrum.

Statist gays, who feel obligated to be Leftists because of identity politics, throw their wholehearted support behind Palestinians, whom they see as the beleaguered victims of evil Israeli imperialism.  They hold to this view despite the fact that Palestinians kills gays, and Palestinian gays regularly try to immigrate to the safe haven of Israel.  In the same way, Statist gays, hewing to their solid Leftist credentials, side with Iran against America, despite the fact that Iran is able to boast about the absence of homosexuals only because it routinely kills them.

Statist blacks, who feel obligated to be Leftists  because of identity politics, are deeply hostile to the police.  While there is absolutely no doubt that, in the past, police routinely harassed, arrested, and killed black people just for being black, we’re not living in the past anymore.  In modern America, the person most likely to kill a black person is another black person.  Blacks need police more than I do, sitting in my comfortable safe, suburbia — yet it’s here, in white suburbia, that our police force, which is largely decorative, is appreciated and admired.

American Statists believe that, if you placate a bully, he will see the error of his ways and become nice.  It didn’t work for Chamberlain in 1938, and I’m pretty damned sure it won’t work for us, whether the bully is Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia or any other totalitarian government intent upon expanding its power beyond its own borders.  I’m not advocating unbridled aggression our part.  That would mean we’re no better than the bullies arrayed against us.  I’m more of a Teddy Roosevelt, in that I’ll allow us to speak softly, as long as we carry a big stick.  Self-defense is not aggression — and sometimes you have to fight to defend a principle, a person, or a nation.

Statist women are silent, absolutely silent, about the condition of women across most of the Muslim world.  I think I’ll rename them “sadist” women, not “statist” women.

Statists tout as a quality Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan, who violated American law to bar the military from her campus because of Clinton’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, but who cheerfully accepted millions of dollars and a chair from the same Saudis who murder homosexuals and treat women like 32nd class citizens.  There’s logic for you.

I opened this post with a quotation from C.S. Lewis regarding the absence of logic in education.  We can see the profoundly dangerous effect that lack of logic has on real world policies.  I’ll end with Tweedledee and Tweedledum opining on logic in a way that only a Statist could appreciate and understand:

“I know what you’re thinking about,” said Tweedledum: “but it isn’t so, nohow.”

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

Even self-styled victims have lines their fellow-travelers aren’t supposed to cross

We all know that Palestinians are victims, right?  That’s why they get a free pass for eating up billions of dollars in foreign aid without establishing viable communities, for launching tens of thousands of missiles aimed at Israeli civilians, and for periodically boarding Israeli buses or entering Israeli restaurants to get an up-close-and-personal approach to massacring Jews.  Still, even self-styled victims have their limits.  In Israel, Palestinian women in Israeli prisons drew the line at being portrayed in Turkish television shows as the victims of sexual assault.  Their gripe is that it makes them look so . . . so . . . victimish:

The Turkish TV show which sparked a diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Jerusalem has now incurred the anger of those who were depicted by it as the victims. Female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails called on the Saudi MBC channel Monday to stop airing the “Valley of the Wolves” series. They claim that a scene depicting a prisoner being raped by soldiers offends their honor.

[snip]

According to a report in the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, “Valley of the Wolves” focuses on the “suffering of a Palestinian family whose sons are killed by the Israeli army.” The report states that Palestinian female inmates are outraged over a scene in which a supposed Palestinian prisoner named Miriam is being raped by IDF soldiers in an Israeli prison.

In a statement issued Monday, the prisoners said that the scene has no bearing with reality. “This is an attempt to slander the Palestinian female prisoner’s image and mask its heroic role.” The prisoners feel that the scene is offensive to Palestinian women portraying them as submissive.

“The broadcast of these images is a humiliation for the people and the whole nation and serves the occupation alone,” the statement read.

The al-Quds al-Arabi report noted that the prisoner in the scene is later seen released from prison and murdered by family members “as traditionally done by the conservative Palestinian society.”

The murder scene also incurred the wrath of the women. “It’s a slandering of the Palestinian family which kills its daughter to clear the family’s honor,” their statement noted.

The prisoners noted that they were proudly welcomed by their families upon their release from prison.

Interestingly, one former prisoner admitted something very important about those Israeli prisons — Palestinian women are not sexually assaulted there:

A former Palestinian inmate from the Gaza Strip Manal al-Nawajha told the newspaper she had never heard of any rape incidents of Palestinian inmates throughout her prison term. She said that the rape scene in the series “compromised the Palestinian struggle and society at large.”

I believe that. Aside from the fact that Israelis generally hold themselves to a high standard, rape has not traditionally been a Jewish crime. That doesn’t mean Jews don’t commit rape; it just means that rape, traditionally, has been aberrant, rather than a part of the larger cultural norm.

Obama administration to blackmail Israel into behaving suicidally

For anyone struggling to understand what has happened in the Middle East since the Oslo “Peace” Accord, I cannot recommend anything more highly than Evelyn Gordon’s Commentary magazine article, The Deadly Price of Pursuing Peace.  The so-called peace process, by destroying Israel’s long-standing legal rights, caused her to lose focus and room to negotiate.  The fact that demands were made only on Israel, and never on the Palestinians, allowed the latter to engage in ever more extreme and violent conduct, forcing Israel into acts of self-defense that played badly on televisions around the world.  And on and on.  In every way, the “peace process” disabled the Democracy and empowered the totalitarian, genocidal, corrupt, increasingly theocratic, and yet still remarkably anarchic collection of people around and within her borders.

“Peace” as mandated by one Democratic president (that would be Clinton), has not served Israel well.  Obama, typically, is taking the whole so-called peace process to a whole new level, asking Israel to commit suicide, or else he’ll try, slowly and bloodlessly, to kill her:

Mideast envoy George Mitchell has threatened that the U.S. could freeze aid to Israel if the country fails to advance peace talks, YNetNews.com reported.

Mitchell said the U.S. can legally cut its support for aid to Israel and that all options must remain open, YNet reports, though he clarified on PBS that the U.S. wants to put pressure on both sides in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

78% of American Jews voted for Obama. American Jews, obviously, are idiots. I am that rare American Jew who is not, because I see very clearly what is going on here:  as was manifest during the entire campaign, Barack Obama is not only not a friend to Israel, he is an active enemy.

The one thing that gives me hope is that, as the administration’s hostility becomes more and more apparent, Israel is going to feel herself less obligated to tow the American line.  Israel trusted George Bush, and abided by his requests, even when they were bad for Israel.  With Barack Obama, there is no such good will to sustain Israel.  Right now, Israel has a brilliant hawk leading her; she has a population that, for the first time, isn’t riven by a peace movement that keeps thinking you can negotiate with people who want only to kill you; and she has an increasingly clear understanding that nothing that the Obama administration requests or suggests will be good for her.  She may, therefore, start moving unilaterally and wisely in her own defense.

The end of cognitive dissonance in Israel

I think Obama has done a good thing for Israel.  With his abandonment of Israel, leaving Israel hanging out in the wind on her own, even the Israeli Left has been forced to face a reality they previously denied:  Palestinians are not partners in peace.  They are a force aimed at Israel’s total destruction and the death of her citizens.  Evelyn Gordon sums up the trail of facts that leaves Israel looking at 15 wasted years culminating in a hostile American administration:

Nor is it really hard to see why Israelis have stopped believing. First, every territorial concession since the 1993 Oslo Accord has produced only more terror. Palestinians killed more Israelis in the first two and a half years after Oslo than in the entire preceding decade, and in 2000-04 (the height of the second intifada), Israel’s terror-related casualties exceeded those of the entire preceding 53 years. The withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 led to the Second Lebanon War, and the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 produced daily rocket barrages on southern Israel. To most Israelis, bombs and rockets exploding in their cities don’t look much like peace.

This has been compounded by the complete lack of movement in Palestinian positions since 1993, even as Israeli leaders offered ever-increasing concessions. Israeli leaders routinely tell their people that peace will require “painful concessions.” Palestinian leaders are still telling their people that peace will enable 4.7 million descendants of Palestinian refugees to resettle in pre-1967 Israel, thus destroying the Jewish state demographically. And Israelis find it hard to believe in a peace whose price, according to their supposed “peace partner,” is Israel’s eradication.

The price to free Gilad Shalit

This month marks the third anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s long imprisonment with the Palestinians who kidnapped him.  Although it doesn’t seem to show up in American press, German and Israeli outlets are reporting that the Germans (!?) have brokered a deal for his release.  Here’s Der Spiegel:

Three years ago he was kidnapped by Hamas. Will Israeli solder Gilad Shalit soon be freed as a result of negotiations conducted by Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service? Under a proposal forwarded by the Germans, at least 450 Palestinians would be released in exchange for the soldier. The deal must still be approved by Hamas.

Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, has put forward a concrete proposal in negotiations for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, Israel would release at least 450 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit. After his release, the Israeli government has expressed a willingness to release further prisoners.

The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that the prisoner releases be done as a humanitarian gesture and without any time pressure. Hamas has been given until the beginning of September to respond to the proposal.

The same story has been picked up in Israeli media sites, such as the Jerusalem Post and YNet news, although neither offers independent Israeli corroboration for the story.  The only corroboration comes from Palestinians, and I don’t count them as an historically reliable source.  According to the JPost:

Asked to comment on reports in some Arab media outlets about a breakthrough in the negotiations, [Hamas legislator] Bardaweel said: “It’s premature to talk about a deal. The German mediators are still in the process of gathering information.”

Bardaweel said that reports to the effect that a deal was imminent were aimed at exerting pressure on Hamas regarding the case of Schalit.

He added that the ball as still in the Israeli court and that if Israel really wanted to reach a deal, it could do so quickly by accepting the demands of Schalit’s captors.

Bardaweel said that despite the involvement of German mediators in the negotiations, the Egyptians were continuing to play a role to bridge the gap between Hamas and Israel.

Sources close to Hamas said that Ahmed Ja’bari, commander of the movement’s armed wing, was still in Cairo for talks with Egyptian General Intelligence officials about the prospects of reaching a deal with Israel.

YNet news expands upon the reference in the JPost article to Palestinian newspapers touting a deal:

Prisoner swap’s details have been finalized, sides await Netanyahu government’s approval, Palestinian newspaper al-Manar reports; Shalit expected to be transferred to Egypt in first phase of deal

Coming back home? A swap for the release of IDF captive Gilad Shalit has been finalized and awaits Israel’s approval, Palestinian newspaper al-Manar reported Saturday.

According to the report, all details of the deal have been worked out and the parties are now waiting for the Netanyahu government to endorse the agreement.

The United States and Syria played a key role in finalizing the deal, the paper said, nothing that this involvement prompted both Israel and Hamas to show more flexible positions.

According to the newspaper, the first phase of the deal will see Shalit handed over to Egypt following the release of Palestinian prisoners to the West Bank and Gaza. Sources in the know are quoted as saying that Israeli officials have expressed great reservations over the heavy price to be paid by Jerusalem in exchange for Shalit. Hence, the sources said, both PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak wish to see a broad public campaign that would pave the way for the deal’s approval.

As for me, I don’t trust either source, whether German or Palestinian.  The Germans have never been power brokers in the modern Mid-East, and their sudden emergence now is suspect.  And as for the Palestinians, I already mentioned their dubious history with regard to truth.

In any event, the story only says the Palestinians have agreed — and it may have been an easy agreement to reach because it’s a no lose for them.  If the agreement reaches fruition, they get 450 fighters return to them to kill another day.  If the agreement fails, they can boast that they agreed, and Israel refused to cooperate.

On Israel’s side, I’m ambivalent.  Gilad’s captivity is one of the great unsung human rights abuses in an area that comes under the media’s (and the UN’s) obsessive watchfulness.  Had an Arab been held captive in Israel for even three months without the due process Israel routinely accords such prisoners, it would have been a cause celebre in every paper in the world on a daily basis.  I want Gilad to come home.  On the other hand, setting a price on his release of 450 prisoners creates a huge incentive for the Palestinians to kidnap again and again.  For a small effort — securing one Israeli — they get a huge return.

Supporting a totally debased culture *UPDATED*

One thing I have to give credit to Barack Obama for being is a complete pragmatist, even if that pragmatism operates to the exclusion of moral decency.  Witness his decision to jettison Israel entirely (something Elliott Abrams explains carefully here) in order to placate the Muslim world.  Many think that Obama’s affinity for the Muslim world has a lot to do with his upbringing, although that’s mere speculation.  (I wouldn’t doubt it, but it’s still speculative.)

Much more likely, though, because it’s been an oft expressed sentiment on the Left for years, is that Obama is animated by the pragmatic belief that the Muslim world hates us because we support Israel and, if we’d just stop that support, they’d stop hating us.  If this theory is correct, the benefits that would flow from sacrificing Israel would be obvious:  cheap oil and no suicide bombers.  If you’re goal driven, it’s a worthwhile experiment.  After all, Jews have died before and they’ll die again, but peace in the Middle East is a once in a lifetime experience.  (And who cares if its the kind of peace only Tacitus would recognize?  Atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.)

The problem with this type of bottom-line pragmatism is that you have to sell your soul to achieve it.  Aside from running the risk of exposing a liberal democratic nation to nuclear annihilation (or just good old-fashioned machete slaughter), you also find yourself sending almost a billion dollars in aid to people who espouse values you might find just a little bit, just a wee bit, antithetical to your own.  We know about the misogyny, the homophobia, the antisemitism, and the anti-Christianity that characterize the Muslim world.

(Thinking about it, we ought to find new words than ones I used to describe Middle Eastern Muslim culture.  In America, those words lack punch, because in practice, they involve saying mean things about woman or gays or Jews or Christians, or depriving them of jobs or housing or, very, very occasionally, physical attacks.  In the Muslim world, the word “misogyny” means women have no legal rights, suffer regular physical abuse, including genital mutilation, and are regular victims of honor killings; homophobia means that gays are tortured and executed; “antisemitism” means a cultural press for total genocide; and anti-Christianity means that Christians are dispossessed, expelled and killed.  You know a culture is bad when it demands a whole new vocabulary to be intelligible.  But as is often the case, I digress.)

But if you thought those were the only things that need change in a culture that Obama proposes become our ally against the Jews, you’re wrong.  At Brutally Honest, Rick exposes yet another stomach churning aspect of Muslim culture.

In the culture of alcohol and drug abuse, a well recognized person in the game of addiction is the enabler:

An enabler in most definitions is a person who through his or her actions allows someone else to achieve something. Most often the term enabler is associated with people who allow loved ones to behave in ways that are destructive. For example, an enabler wife of an alcoholic might continue to provide the husband with alcohol. A person might be an enabler of a gambler or compulsive spender by lending them money to get out of debt.

The West has always been a Muslim enabler, whether it’s by buying Muslim oil (which we admittedly have needed, especially because we refuse to produce our own), or by funding to the tune of billions of dollars the most corrupt, hate-filled governments on planet earth.  Barack Obama is taking it to a new level.  Voters need to look inside themselves and see whether they want to take a gamble on pragmatism that sees them supporting these same governments, or if they want to continue to exist on the side of greater truth and morality.  I know where I fall.  Sadly, I also know where my president falls.

UPDATERick cautions that the video to which he linked might not be as it seems.  Nevertheless, I stand by everything else I said, and the possibility that Rick’s video isn’t as bad as it looks doesn’t change the basic tenor of my post.

UPDATE II:  Today, it’s a story out of Sudan regarding the misogynistic cruelty committed in Islam’s name.  And just reflexively, I’ll ask:  Where’s NOW now?

I can think of another reason for the Palestinian shortfall

Here’s the beginning of the story about why $200 million in taxpayer money is being poured into the bottomless pit that is the Palestinian people (emphasis mine):

The United States has transferred $200 million to the Palestinian government to help ease a growing budget deficit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been struggling in recent months to keep his government afloat, borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars from commercial banks just to cover the public payroll.

The reasons for the shortfall include Israel’s restrictions on the Palestinian economy, the border blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and the failure of some donor countries to make good on their aid pledges, Fayyad said Friday, in a video conference with Clinton.

With Friday’s aid transfer, donor countries have given the Palestinian government $606 million in budget support this year, covering only about one-third of the estimated deficit of $1.45 billion for 2009, Fayyad said.

“We have received aid, but not enough to deal with our needs, and we faced sharp economic difficulties throughout the last months,” Fayyad told reporters.

Since 2007, donor countries have pledged more than $10 billion to the Palestinians, to help shore up the Western-backed government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost Gaza in a violent Hamas takeover two years ago. However, the aid has had little impact, largely because Israeli restrictions on Palestinian trade and movement have prevented a recovery of the Palestinian economy.

Maybe another reason for the shortfall is that the Palestinians, as a nation, are engaged in a zero sum game, with their only product being unprofitable suicide bombers.

The Palestinian people comprise one giant welfare state, with all the pathologies that normally entails, multiplied by a thousand because of their genocidal culture.  Perhaps the best thing we could do for them is to announce a cut-off date, after which they get no money whatsoever.  Perhaps if they were forced to be economically self-sufficient — to tend their crops, manufacture goods, and focus on production — they’d have less time to pursue their insanely hate-filled, murderous path.  As it is, by pumping money into the West Bank and Gaza, the West is creating precisely those idle hands that are the devil’s playground.

Israel blocks leftists — including McKinney — from delivery aid to Gaza

Israel stopped a contingent of Hamas supporters who tried to run a blockade bringing money and supplies into Gaza.  Cynthia McKinney figures prominently in their number:

The Israeli navy intercepted a ship carrying foreign peace activists – including a San Rafael woman – trying to break a blockade of Gaza on Tuesday and forced it to sail to an Israeli port, the military said.

A statement said the Greek-registered freighter Arion ignored a radio message from the Israeli military saying it would not be allowed to enter Gaza waters and ordering it to turn back.

[snip]

Also on board (in addition to a Marin County resident) is former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and other activists from Britain, Ireland, Bahrain and Jamaica.

[snip]

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel was planning to free the crew and passengers. “Nobody wants to keep them here,” he said. “They will be released as soon as they are checked.”

The Free Gaza Movement has organized five boat trips to Gaza since August 2008, defying a blockade imposed by Israel when the militant group Hamas seized control of the territory from its Palestinian rivals in June 2007.

This blockade running is a stunt, of course.  Unlike sieges of old, Israel is not imposing a blockade in order to cause the citizens of Gaza to experience famine and disease.  The amount of government-sanctioned money flowing into Gaza from all points of the world is staggering.   In 2009 alone, Saudi Arabia promised $58.9 million; President Obama (bless his little Leftist heart) promised a staggering $900 million; and, ‘tho I can’t find 2009 figures, as little as two years ago, Europe was giving annual aid at the 500 million Euro level.  None of this, of course, is chump change.  If the Palestinians had spent it wisely, they could have had a true Utopia.  As it is, because they are a mix of corruption and murderous hatred, they’ve created a foul dystopia.

But I digress.  Given the money that pours into Gaza, and given that Israel allows food, water and electricity to flow into that hate-filled territory, why the Israeli blockade?  Only useful idiots would fail to see that the blockade is a desperate effort to prevent arms from flowing into Gaza.  As it is, despite the blockade, Israel deals with thousands of rocket attacks annually.  One only shudders to think what would happen without a blockade.

I’m willing to believe that the useful idiots on that ship have nothing to do with arms smuggling.  Frankly, they’re too dumb to be trusted with what is, after all, a delicate task.  They are cover, pure and simple.  Hamas has discovered that there’s no better way simultaneously to hide and support their murderous agenda than to encourage the belief on the part of the credulous on the Left that Palestinians are victims of a genocidal Israel plot.  One of the hallmarks of Leftists, both those who are informed and committed, and those who are merely stupid, is the inability to realize that not all Goliaths (that is, all big guys) are bad, and not all Davids (that would be the little guys) are good.

As I’ve said time and again in this blog, it’s not enough to be little.  You have to stand for something good to be deserving of the David appellation and the world’s assistance.  Right now, there are Davids in the world, but they are the Iranian citizens facing the guns and axes of their own government in an effort to bring some small measure of freedom to their totalitarian corner of the world.

Somehow, though,  I don’t think I’ll see Cynthia McKinney and her fellow-travelers making a stand for Iranian citizens any time soon.  She takes her cue from our President, who seemingly has never met a totalitarian government he hasn’t liked.

Palestinians plan anti-Israel “de-shelving” at Trader Joe’s on June 20th

Do you recall that, in France, Palestinians raided a grocery store and stripped the shelves of Israeli products, while store personnel and customers passively stood by and watched?  Flush with their success in France, Palestinians, and their friends, are planning on “de-shelving” Israeli products here at home, and they’ve selected Trader Joe’s as their target.

As far as I can tell, Palestinians (and their friends) are generally hostile to Trader Joe’s for its temerity in stocking Israeli products.  The pressure is on June 20th, however, because June 20th is World Refugee Day.  (Considering that it is the UN that has ensured that Palestinians have been refugees for decades, you’d think they’d simply boycott the UN, but that kind of logic seems to elude these groups.)

So far, Trader Joe’s (bless its corporate heart), is standing firm.

This letter was received by the Central Pacific office of the Anti-Defamation League from Jon Basalone,Senior VP, Marketing, Trader Joe’s:

“We have received a few letters like this via our customer relations email as well. Our response is that we sell products, and do not use our products as political tools or to make any statements about any political causes. We have no intention of removing any products based on pressure from any group, no matter what they support or don’t support. As always, we believe our customers are smart, and they are capable of making decisions about what they purchase. Let me know if you have any more questions or need more information.”

That’s the kind of attitude we like to see our American corporations show, and in this regard Trader Joe’s is proving itself to be a courageous organization deserving our praise.

And courage may really be needed.  As the episode in France demonstrates, de-shelving can be an actual physical process in which political thugs vandalize a store.  It is entirely possible, of course, to de-shelve a product by putting pressure on management not to stock that product or by stopping your own purchases of that product (and encouraging others to do the same).  As to these last two tactics, as long as the pressure isn’t illegal, they are a legitimate use of marketplace power.

People who support the state of Israel, however, can also use marketplace power.  It’s very simple:  Go to Trader Joe’s and buy products made in Israel.

Purchasing Israeli-made products at Trader Joe’s isn’t a hardship, by the way.  The Israeli products it carries are excellent ones, and can comfortably fit in any kitchen and pantry.  A non-inclusive list of products is Dorot Crushed Garlic (one of my freezer staples), Dorot Chopped Cilantro, Dorot Chopped Garlic (also a freezer staple), Holyland Matzos, Pastures of Eden Feta Imported (many people consider this to be one of the best Feta cheeses around), Trader Joes Israeli Couscous (ditto for best couscous) and Trader Joes Harvest Grains Blend.

So, if you’re in a shopping mood, on June 19th or the 20th (which is Shabbat), go to your local Trader Joe’s and make your market power felt.  And indeed, as a general matter, when you’re in a store and have a choice of imported products, think about supporting the Israeli economy.  I try to buy American when I can, but when I can’t, I’m careful about which the countries to which I like to send my money.

Grading Netanyahu’s speech

I commented on and graded Obama’s much heralded speech to the Muslim world, so I think it only fair to grade Bibi’s speech, which is directed to much the same audience (plus the western world, too).  As I did with Obama’s speech, I’m making me comments in real time, without having read ahead, so every phrase is taken on its own terms, without the benefit of subsequent information.  The summary in the next two paragraphs is something I wrote after inserting my red font comments in the speech.

I give Bibi’s speech an “A” for factual accuracy, structure, logic, and intelligent national self-interest.  Bibi sets out his goals, lays out his facts, and establishes his conditions.  Bottom line:  The precondition for any negotiations with the Palestinians is their recognition of Israel’s right to exist, coupled with an end to the killing.  If Palestinians will do that, Israel will bow to the two state solution (which will no longer be a suicide pact on Israel’s part), and it will work in every way to strengthen the Palestinian economic position.

The speech is also a very polite slap in the face to Obama.  Bibi corrects error after error in Obama’s speech, reminds everyone about modern Israel’s contributions to the world (without even mentioning the Jews’ wider contribution in terms of Western monotheism, justice and morality), and calls Obama out on his campaign promise that Jerusalem will never be divided.

Obama should be humiliated by this speech but Bibi is counting on Obama’s narcissistic egotism to isolate him from feelings of shame.  What we hope happens, though, is that Jews will realize that one man speaks truth, and one man doesn’t.

And now the speech:

*********************************************************

Honored guests, citizens of Israel.

Peace was always the desire of our people. Our prophets had a vision of peace, we greet each other with peace, our prayers end with the word peace. This evening we are in the center named for two leaders who were groundbreakers for peace -Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat – and we share their vision.  [Elegant opening.  Let's see where it goes.]

Two and a half months ago, I was sworn in at the Knesset as the Prime Minister of Israel. I promised that I would establish a unity government, and did so. I believed, and still believe, that we need unity now more than ever before. We are currently facing three tremendous challenges: The Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace. [I like speeches that tell you what will follow.]

The Iranian threat still is before us in full force, as it became quite clear yesterday. The greatest danger to Israel, to the Middle East, and to all of humanity, is the encounter between extremist Islam and nuclear weapons. [This is calling something by it's true name.  Interestingly, there is no invective here about "evil Iran" or, on the opposite side, the employment of euphemisms.  This is admirably straightforward.]  I discussed this with President Obama on my visit to Washington, and will be discussing it next week on my visit with European leaders. I have been working tirelessly for many years to form an international front against Iran arming itself with nuclear armaments.  [Interesting that Bibi says nothing about Obama's response.  Absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence, but I think it's telling that Bibi is unable to state affirmatively that he and Obama view Iran through the same lens.]

With the world financial crisis, we acted immediately to bring about stability to the Israeli economy. [And I understand that it was a market based reaction.]  We passed a two-year budget in the government and will pass it through the Knesset very soon.

The second challenge, rather, the third, so very important challenge, facing us today, is promoting peace. I discussed this also with President Obama. I strongly support the idea of regional peace that he is advancing. I share the President of the U.S.A’s desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.  [I'm so glad both these leaders want peace.  Is this a genuine peace, or is Bibi being bullied into the Tacitus description of peace as reducing a civilization to a desert?  I anxiously await the specifics.]

I discussed this in my meetings with President Mubarak in Egypt and with King Abdullah in Jordan to obtain the assistance of these leaders in the effort to expand the circle of peace in our region.  [Again, one wonders how those discussions ended.]

I appeal tonight to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: Let us meet. Let us talk about peace. Let us make peace. I am willing to meet at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut, and in Jerusalem as well. (Applause)  [Smart.  Positions Israel as a country willing to reach out to anyone and any nation that it is willing to work with it to promote true peace.  Also, because Bibi is a known hawk, his audience trusts that he won't sell Israel down the river.]

I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to join together with the Palestinians and with us to promote economic peace. Economic peace is not a substitute for peace, but it is a very important component in achieving it. Together we can advance projects that can overcome the problems facing our region. For example, water desalinization. And we can utilize the advantages of our region, such as maximizing the use of solar energy, or utilizing its geographical advantages to lay pipelines, pipelines to Africa and Europe.  [Implies that peace is possible with less pressure on natural resources.  With many enemies this might be true, as a struggle for precious resources is often a trigger for war.  Here, of course, Israel faces an enemy that seeks its existential annihilation, without regard to water rights.  The fact that the Palestinians have burned through billions of dollars without becoming economically viable suggests that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in actual nation building.  They are religious nihilists.  So, to me, this sounds good but is functionally meaningless.]

Together we can realize the initiatives that I see in the Persian Gulf, which amaze the entire world, and also amaze me. I call upon the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world, to come and invest here, to assist the Palestinians and us, to give the economy a jump-start. Together we can develop industrial zones, we can create thousands of jobs, and foster tourism that will draw millions, people who want to walk in the footsteps of history, in Nazareth and Bethlehem, in the heights of Jericho and on the walls of Jerusalem, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and at the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is a huge potential for the development of tourism potential here. If you only agree to work together.  [See above.]

I appeal to you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions. Israel is committed to international agreements, and expects all sides to fulfill their obligations.  [Again, probably wise for Bibi to say loud and clear to the world that it's not Israel that wants war -- but that Israel expects an equal negotiating partner.]

I say to the Palestinians: We want to live with you in peace, quiet, and good neighborly relations. We want our children and your children to ‘know war no more.’  [This has always been Israel's want.  I don't think the world can hear this often enough.]

We do not want parents and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to know the sorrow of bereavement. We want our children to dream of a better future for humankind. We want us and our neighbors to devote our efforts to ‘plowshares and pruning hooks’ and not to ?swords and spears?? I know the terror of war, I participated in battles, I lost good friends who fell [in battle], I lost a brother. I saw the pain of bereaved families from up close ? very many times. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. (Applause)  [True, although I doubt this statement will penetrate the brains of those in the West who believe that Palestinians are peace-loving and Israelis are war-mongering -- all evidence to the contrary.]

Let us join hands and work together in peace, together with our neighbors. There is no limit to the flourishing growth that we can achieve for both peoples – in the economy, in agriculture, in commerce, tourism, education – but, above all, in the ability to give our younger generation hope to live in a place that?s good to live in, a life of creative work, a peaceful life with much of interest, with opportunity and hope.  [Ditto to all of the above comments re Bibi's reiterated desire for peace.]

Friends, with the advantages of peace so clear, so obvious, we must ask ourselves why is peace still so far from us, even though our hands are extended for peace? Why has the conflict going on for over 60 years? To bring an end to it, there must be a sincere, genuine answer to the question: what is the root of the conflict? In his speech at the Zionist Congress in Basel, in speaking of his grand vision of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish People, Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel, said: This is so big, we must talk about it only in the simplest words possible.  [Good question.  What's Bibi's answer.]

I now am asking that when we speak of the huge challenge of peace, we must use the simplest words possible, using person to person terms. Even with our eyes on the horizon, we must have our feet on the ground, firmly rooted in truth. The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been ? and remains – the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.  [Yes.  This is the answer.  This is an absolute truth, and explains why Bibi spent 7 paragraphs going on about Israel's desire for peace and her willingness to work towards it.  The problem is the Arab/Muslim refusal to recognize Israel.  Jews will compromise by granting miles here and miles there, but to Arabs/Muslims there is no compromise:  Israel must be destroyed.]

In 1947 when the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the proposal, while the Jewish community accepted it with great rejoicing and dancing. The Arabs refused any Jewish state whatsoever, with any borders whatsoever.  [Correct.  Bibi doesn't need to make up this fact.]

Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.  [Correct -- and a pointed message to Obama and others who imply otherwise.  Once again, Bibi can rely on real facts to support his thesis.  He doesn't need to make anything up.]

To our joy, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of hostility. They signed peace agreements with us which ended their hostility to Israel. It brought about peace.  [Well, aside from Egypt's fomenting of violent antisemitic hatred true "peace," he is correct. Egypt has honored its territorial promises.]

To our deep regret, this is not happening with the Palestinians. The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict.  [Factually accurate again.  It's fascinating how, unlike Obama, Bibi doesn't need to make up facts to make his point.]

A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.  [And another factually accurate statement.]

We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.  [Boy!  Bibi just keeps spilling one truth after another, supporting his contention that one side (that would be Israel) does everything it can for peace and the other side (that would be the Palestinians) keeps raising the bar.]

We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter, we uprooted dozens of settlements and turned thousands of Israelis out of their homes. In exchange, what we received were missiles raining down on our cities, our towns and our children. The argument that withdrawal would bring peace closer did not stand up to the test of reality.  [True -- and reality is an awfully good standard by which to measure a theory's virtue.]

With Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, they keep on saying that they want to ‘liberate’ Ashkelon in the south and Haifa and Tiberias.  [Accurate, again.]

Even the moderates among the Palestinians are not ready to say the most simplest things: The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish People and will remain so. (Applause)  [Nailed it.]

Friends, in order to achieve peace, we need courage and integrity on the part of the leaders of both sides. I am speaking today with courage and honesty. We need courage and sincerity not only on the Israeli side: we need the Palestinian leadership to rise and say, simply “We have had enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish People to a state its own in this Land. We will live side by side in true peace.” I am looking forward to this moment.  [Good rhetorical stand.  I am willing to be brave.  Bring forward a Palestinian leader who will match me.  He also knows that this statement commits him to nothing, because no such Palestinian leader will step forward.  The current leadership is committed entirely to Israel's destruction.]

We want them to say the simplest things, to our people and to their people. This will then open the door to solving other problems, no matter how difficult. The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. (Applause)  [This is absolutely an excellent condition to place on the Palestinians.  Palestinian leadership over the years has lied, broken promises, and prevaricated, but even the most duplicitous leader has not been able to force over his tongue the words "Israel has the right to exist."]

For this to have practical meaning, we need a clear agreement to solve the Palestinian refugee problem outside of the borders of the State of Israel. For it is clear to all that the demand to settle the Palestinian refugees inside of Israel, contradicts the continued existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People. We must solve the problem of the Arab refugees. And I believe that it is possible to solve it. Because we have proven that we ourselves solved a similar problem. Tiny Israel took in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were uprooted from their homes.  [Good paragraph.  Rejects the right of return (which Israel must do), and reminds the world that Israel, teeny Israel, absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews ejected from Arab countries seeking to make themselves Judenrein.]

Therefore, justice and logic dictates that the problem of the Palestinian refugees must be solved outside the borders of the State of Israel. There is broad national agreement on this. (Applause)  [He stated his facts, and presented the only logical conclusion.  As a lawyer, I like this way of speaking.]

I believe that with good will and international investment of we can solve this humanitarian problem once and for all.  [Yeah, like that's going to happen.  The international investment will continue to shower money without condition on the Palestinians, rewarding them for their hatred and intransigence.]

Friends, up to now, I have been talking about the need for the Palestinians to recognize our rights. Now I will talk about the need for us to recognize their rights.  [It's smart that Bibi positioned this concession at this point in this speech.  Instead of starting with the self-abasement, as Obama would do, he stated Israel's goals, made a demand from the opposite party and then promised a return should the opposite party abide by really quite limited preconditions.  In other words, in terms of the speech's structure, Bibi did not commit Israel to recognize a Palestinian state unless Palestinians accept that Israel has the right to exist in the first place.]

The connection of the Jewish People to the Land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah ? this is not a foreign land, this is the Land of our Forefathers. (Applause)  [A direct refutation of Obama's statement to the effect that the Jews got Israel from Europe as a consolation prize for their slaughter in the Holocaust.  Obama's worldview implies that the Jews could have been sent anywhere, and that it's not fair to the Arabs that they got stuck with this religiously unclean group of people.]

The right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel does not arise from the series of disasters that befell the Jewish People over 2,000 years — persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, murders, which reached its climax in the Holocaust, an unprecedented tragedy in the history of nations. There are those who say that without the Holocaust the State would not have been established, but I say that if the State of Israel had been established in time, the Holocaust would not have taken place. (Applause) The tragedies that arose from the Jewish People?s helplessness show very sharply that we need a protective state.  [Ditto.]

The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the Land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish People. (Applause)  [Ditto.  What he could say, but didn't, is that Jews have inhabited the land far longer than either Arabs or Muslims.]

As the first PM David Ben Gurion in the declaration of the State, the State of Israel was established here in Eretz Israel, where the People of Israel created the Book of Books, and gave it to the world.  [Ditto.]

But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor?s security and existence.  [This vision is acceptable at this point in the speech because it follows, rather than precedes, a demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel and cease constant warfare against the Jewish people.]

These two facts ? our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.  [Acknowledgment of political realities.  Let's see where he goes with it.]

I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace. (Applause)  [Absolutely rock solid.  Everything demand here arises naturally from the accurate facts he stated previously.  This is the logical culmination of his two rhetorical threads; namely that Israel wants peace and Palestinians must give up their drive for Israel's destruction.]

And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.  [This statement is good domestic politics:  "All of us in Israel, regardless of politics, want to stop being targeted for death."]

This is why we are now asking our friends in the international community, headed by the USA, for what is necessary for our security, that in any peace agreement, the Palestinian area must be demilitarized. No army, no control of air space. Real effective measures to prevent arms coming in, not what?s going on now in Gaza. The Palestinians cannot make military treaties.  [I wonder if, with this statement, he's publicly calling out Barack Obama.]

Without this, sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan. We can?t agree to this. Israel must govern its own fate and security. I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state. (Applause)  [Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence, but it's again telling that Bibi reports what he told Obama, but fails to report that Obama agreed.]

Whenever we discuss a permanent arrangement, Israel needs defensible borders with Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel. (Applause)  [This again calls out the Obama.  As you may recall, when running for President, Obama promised Jews he would never seek to divide Jerusalem (although I pointed out the dubious nature of that promise almost a year ago), and who has backed off this promise completely.  As for the defensible borders, all nations need defensible borders and Israel shouldn't even be forced to insist on this.]

The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. (Applause)  [Bibi stuck to his guns on this one.  He will allow normal growth in the settlements.  This is another polite thumb on the nose to the Obama administration.]

Friends, unity among us is, to my view, vital, and unity will help with reconciliation with our neighbors. Reconciliation must begin now. A strong Palestinian government will strengthen peace. If they truly want peace, and educate their children for peace and stop incitement, we for our part will make every effort, allow them freedom of movement and accessibility, making their lives easier and this will help bring peace.  ["Palestinians:  if you stop killing us, we will give you access to our free society."  Sounds like a fair deal to me.]

But above all, they must decide: the Palestinians must decide between path of peace and path of Hamas. They must overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit down at conference table with terrorist who seek to destroy it. (Applause)  [This is another nose-thumbing to Obama, who welcomes Hamas to the discussion.]

Hamas are not willing to even let the Red Cross visit our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit who has been in captivity three years, cut off from his family and his country. We want to bring him back whole and well.
With help of the international community, there is no reason why we can?t have peace. With help of USA, we can do we can do the unbelievable. In 61 years, with constant threats to our existence we have achieved so much. Our microchips power the worlds computers unbelievable, we have found cures for incurable diseases. Israeli drip irrigation waters barren lands throughout the world. Israeli researchers are making worldwide breakthroughs. If our neighbors only work for peace, we can achieve peace. (Applause)  [We are a nation among nations.  Treat us as one.]

I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let?s go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let?s go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more.

Let us know war no more. Let us know peace

Has Obama already written the history books?

I haven’t seen the context in which Obama made the reported statement and, really, I don’t want to, because the AP report — which is a mere one sentence in length — seems to encapsulate everything we know about the man.  Here is the entire AP report:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Obama to Israeli leader: capitalize on “historic opportunity” to restart Mideast peace talks.

Without knowing more, you’ve just got to believe that Obama views himself as the “historic opportunity.”  After all, nothing has changed on the ground.  The only significant difference in the world (as opposed to merely “more of the same,” whether in Gaza or the West Bank, or even in Iran, Pakistan, Europe or Russia) is Obama’s election.

Relying on facts on the ground, without the benefit of an Obamian gloss, the above report means that Obama is advancing himself as the game changer.  His presence on the earth will make the lion lie down with the lamb.  No surprise, I guess.  He assured us all that “we [royal we?] are the change we’ve been waiting for.”  He promised us that rising waters would fall and that all sorts of other beautiful metaphysical things would take place upon his election.

Pragmatic egotism or insane delusion?  I guess history, the real history, rather than Obama’s anticipatory version, will tell.