The Bookworm Beat 12/17/14 — Hanging in by the skin of my teeth edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI sometimes wonder if my family’s entered into a secret compact to keep me away from my computer. I’ve gone from having five hours or so to myself every day from Monday to Friday to having perhaps two hours to myself for the entire week.  It’s hard to think sometimes.

Of course, my week’s gone a whole lot better than Sony’s week. It isn’t every day, is it, that a whole studio is forced to cave to blackmail and threats? While I don’t think Sony should have caved (more on that in a minute), I think much of the blame for today’s end game belongs with news outlets that should have assiduously ignored the hacked information.  By paying attention to it, they signaled to every hacker in the world, whether individual, NGO, or government, that hacks can be used to blackmail institutions, because the media will gleefully participate in the hack by disseminating stolen information.

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[MUST-SEE VIDEO] Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosser’s speech to the UN General Assembly

Israeli flagEvery thinking person hopes that his or her words will be important and have meaning far beyond the moment they are spoken. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosser’s November 25, 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly achieves that goal and then some. The world would be a better place if people would pay attention to his words and use them as a guide in approaching Israel and the surrounding Muslim nations and territories. (President Obama, I’m talking to you!!)

Transcript:

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Out of the mouths of . . . interpreters? UN interpreter accidentally speaks the truth

Hillel Neuer writes in the Times of Israel about an accidental moment of moral clarity at the UN:

Thursday a United Nations interpreter, unaware that her microphone was on, uttered words of truth in reaction to the General Assembly’s adoption of nine politically-motivated resolutions condemning Israel, and zero resolutions on the rest of the world.

Under the mistaken impression that she was speaking only to a colleague, the interpreter uttered the following words into the headphones of every UN delegate, and before a live webcast audience worldwide:

“Isn’t it a little weird? There are nine or ten resolutions against Israel. And I know there’s a problem with the Palestinians. But there’s other bad shit going on and they’re spending so much time on this.”

Laughter erupted among the delegates. “The interpreter apologizes,” said the unfortunate truth-teller, moments later. I sincerely hope she won’t get fired.

Because the one who should really apologize today is the UN. Founded on noble ideals, the world body is turning the dream of liberal internationalists into a nightmare.

For by the end of its annual session next month, the General Assembly will have adopted a total of 22 resolutions condemning Israel—and only four on the rest of the world combined. The hypocrisy, selectivity, and politicization are staggering.

Read the rest here.

The UN’s ugly obsession with Israel

I don’t believe there is anyone in the world who knows more about the UN’s ugly obsession with Israel than Anne Bayefsky.  In this short video, she nicely sums it up.  Almost none of this is new to me, but I appreciate her calm, objective, organized approach to the information.  The only thing that I had sort of known, without ever thinking about it, is how radically different the UN’s make-up is now, as compared to its make-up in 1949.

Just as the Democrat party is no longer my Dad’s Democrat party, so too is the UN no longer my parents’ UN.  If you’ve washed your hands of this loathsome institution, it’s not because you’re betraying it, it’s because it has changed beyond recognition and is betraying you.

The truth about Palestinian refugees

Another powerful Danny Ayalon video.  Watch it, then, please, please, please share it with people.

(Or view it here if it doesn’t load on my webpage.)

Incidentally, will it make you feel better to know that Danny Ayalon, reciting just the facts set forth in the above video, is causing some embarrassment for the UN, which is incapable of addressing the charges?  It certainly made me feel better.

Question:  I just wanted to ask a question about comments that were made by Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel Ayalon, before the Human Rights High Commissioner for Refugees’ ministerial event in Geneva last week.  He basically said that the cause of the Palestinian refugee issue was not so much the dispossession of the majority of Palestinians from their homeland by Jewish militias during the 1948 war and refusal of Israel to enable their right to return under resolution 194.  He said rather that it was the establishment of UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] which has perpetuated the refugee status by applying unique criteria to it.  And I just wonder whether either the Secretary-General or UNRWA has made any response to this statement.

Associate Spokesperson:  No.  We don’t go into the lengthy history of how the refugee crisis started.  As you know, the historians may have differing interpretations of what brought on the refugee crisis.  UNRWA, it should be stressed, was established in response to the refugee crisis.  And, as you know, the presence of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency throughout the region is designed to deal with the number, the very large number of Palestinian refugees throughout the region.  If the situation can be resolved and the situation of the Palestinian refugees can be addressed fairly, then UNRWA’s work will have been done, but at this stage, we are not there.  It has a lot of work in a lot of countries with, as you know, tens of thousands of people.

Question:  Excuse me, is there no response to the statement by [Deputy] Foreign Minister Ayalon that UNRWA is perpetuating the status of the refugees?

Associate Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t react to specific comments.  Over the years people have disagreed and have had their own interpretations of…

Question:  This is not just a personal comment, this is on the Israeli Government official website, his statement is made.  And he is a minister in the Israeli Government.

Associate Spokesperson:  Like I said to you just a second ago, the creation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency was in response to the refugee crisis.  It is there to handle the situation, the very large situation of refugees across the region that had erupted.  And its existence over the decades is testament to the fact that, throughout this time, the situation of the Palestinian refugees remains to be resolved.  Yes?

Hat tip:  Sadie

Israel needs to reframe the debate to win the battle

Over the years, I helped win at least two major cases because I re-framed the debate.  In one case, a will contest case, the opposing party claimed that our client, a housekeeper, had committed fraud and elder abuse in order to inveigle a little old lady into leaving the housekeeper a substantial chunk of the old lady’s estate.

In defending against the charges, we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to prove the negative proposition — namely, that our client hadn’t in the privacy of the lady’s house, bullied and manipulated the old lady into changing her will.  It was only as I was re-reading the case documents for the umpteenth time that I suddenly had an insight:  one of the contestants’ primary pieces of evidence, a letter the old lady wrote that they claimed showed she was under the housekeeper’s thumb, actually showed something quite different.  It showed that the little old lady really, truly hated those family members who were now suing.  More than that, if one took the letter at face value (“I hate you, because you tried to take me away from my beloved house”), instead of assuming that it might have been the product of the housekeeper’s behind the scenes manipulation, many previously disparate bits and pieces of evidence suddenly fell into place.  Suddenly, after a very difficult case during the pre-trial phase, at trial, we won, and we won big.

On another case, a construction law case, the opposing party accused our client of having installed a door so badly that the building lobby routinely flooded.  I spent forever analyzing and arguing about the construction agreement and the building plans in an effort to prove that our client had done precisely what the building owners asked.  It was only when I was reading the security guard’s logs, logs that recorded all these floods and that were a chief piece of evidence against us, that something jumped out at me:  the dates.  What the heck was the guard doing noting major flooding in July?  It never rains in San Francisco in July.  I managed to get hold of weather records for the relevant year, and proved that defective construction could not have been the cause of the flooding because there was no rain.  It turned out that the city’s street cleaning trucks were driving by and shooting high powered jets of water into the building, something that had nothing to do with construction defects.

I mention these cases because each involved taking existing facts and re-framing them so that we were in a strong offensive position, instead of a weak defensive position.  Caroline Glick makes the same suggestion with regard to Israel’s current defensive position at the UN.  Benjamin Netanyahu can make all the incredibly wonderful speeches he likes (and his speech before the UN was great), but that’s not going to change the game.  Glick says that Israel has to bypass the UN garbage entirely:

As for Israel’s allies in the US Congress, they have responded to the PLO’s UN statehood gambit with two important legislative initiatives. First Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill calling for the US to end its financial support for the Palestinian Authority and drastically scale-back its financial support for the UN if the UN upgrades the PLO’s membership status in any way. Ros- Lehtinen’s bill shows Israel that there is powerful support for an Israeli offensive that will make the Palestinians pay a price for their diplomatic aggression.

Ros-Lehtinen’s bill is constructive for two reasons. First, it makes the Palestinians pay for their adversarial behavior. This will make them think twice before again escalating their diplomatic warfare against Israel. Second, it begins an overdue process of delegitimizing the Palestinian cause, which as is now clear is inseparable from the cause of Israel’s destruction.

Were Israel to follow Ros-Lehtinen’s lead and cut off its transfer of tax revenues to the PA, and indeed, stop collecting taxes on the PA’s behalf, it would be advancing Israel’s interests in several ways.

It would remind the Palestinians that they need Israel far more than Israel needs them.

Israel would make them pay a price for their diplomatic aggression.

Israel would end its counterproductive policy of giving the openly hostile PA an automatic seal of approval regardless of its treatment of Israel.

Israel would diminish the financial resources at the PA’s disposal for the advance of its war against Israel.

Finally, Israel would pave the way for the disbandment of the PA and its replacement by another authority in Judea and Samaria.

And this brings us to the second congressional initiative taken in anticipation of the PLO’s UN statehood gambit. Earlier this month, Rep. Joe Walsh and 30 co-sponsors issued a resolution supporting Israeli annexation of Judea and Samaria.

While annexation sounds like a radical formula, the fact is that Israel already implemented a similar move twice when it applied Israeli law to Jerusalem and to the Golan Heights. And the heavens didn’t fall in either case. Indeed, the situation on the ground was stabilized.

Moreover, just as Israel remains willing to consider ceding these territories in the framework of a real peace with its neighbors, so the application of Israeli law to Judea and Samaria would not prevent these areas from being ceded to another sovereign in the framework of a peace deal.

And while not eliminating the prospects of a future peace, by applying Israeli law to Judea and Samaria, Israel would reverse one of the most pernicious effects of the 18-year-old phony peace process: the continuous erosion of international recognition of Israel’s sovereign rights to these areas.

The above quotation is just a small part of a much longer article.  You would probably enjoy reading the whole thing.

Achmed the Dead Terrorist comes to the UN

Are you familiar with Achmed the Dead Terrorist?  Jeff Dunham, a ventriloquist, came up with a skeleton-shaped dummy named Achmed.  Achmed is a self-identified terrorist, with the catch-phrase “I kill you.”  Here, see for yourself:

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with Achmed, read this bit of wisdom from the Palestinian representative to the UN:

“The UN is the only alternative to violence,” Shaath said during a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.”It will be very costly to us and the Israelis. Our new heroes are Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King.”

Could Dunham come up with better comedy than that?  “If you don’t give us what we want, ‘We kill you.’  And, by the way, we get the inspiration for our ‘do as we say or die’ negotiation tactic from those famous pacifists, Gandhi, Mandela and Martin Luther King.”

Is there any sanity left in a world that thinks these violent, duplicitous people are ready for their own state?