The round-up I meant to do yesterday

Victorian posy of pansiesI got so taken up yesterday with my post asking if Obama is truly deranged that I never got around to sharing with you all the great material I found. Some things, however, only improve with age, so here they are.

** 1 **

When I was in Norway last summer, part of me really liked it, because it’s exquisitely beautiful and has fascinating museums commemorating its history (especially the Viking museum and the Open Air Museum). The other part of me, though, couldn’t forget that a stroll through Norway is kind of like a stroll through Nazi Germany in 1935 — not everyone’s a vile anti-Semite, but enough are to make it reasonable for you to view all with suspicion.

** 2 **

JoshuaPundit noticed something missing from Pew’s poll about American’s attitudes towards other religions: It conveniently “forgot” to ask Muslims how they feel about other religions. Could it be that Pew didn’t want the ugly truth about Muslim intolerance to leak out?

** 3 **

A 42-year-old, single, working man is at his peak: Physically and mentally mature, earning money (in theory), and still capable of fathering children. A 42-year-old, single, working woman is staring at the end of the line: She’s old in a youth-obsessed culture (when it comes to women), her career is her whole life, and she is unlikely ever to be a parent. Feminist promises about men and fish and bicycles were lies. No wonder she’s unhappy.

** 4 **

Brandeis doesn’t want Ayaan Hirsi Ali to say mean things about the Muslims who mutilated her, brutally murdered her friend and colleague, and continue to hunt her down.  It’s not always so sensitive, though.  The university named after the first Jewish Supreme Court justice is all good with having rabid anti-Semites on its faculty. More on the subject here.

** 5 **

While the world is weeping for the Gaza residents that Hamas has turned into cannon fodder, Gaza residents are actually fine with the whole thing. They’re especially sanguine when their own bombs kill them. It’s all part of the “glorious martyrdom for TV package.”

** 6 **

If you read only one thing about the evil that is Gaza and Hamas, and the complicity of a Western world that sides with terrorist monsters, read Charles Krauthammer’s latest opinion piece. It could easily be titled “Here Be Evil.”

** 7 **

“It’s for the children” is the Leftist cry . . . except when the mother of two young children is a law-abiding citizen who owns a perfectly legal gun to protect her safety in dangerous situations. In that case, “throw her butt in jail” becomes the cry from the anti-gun cadre.

** 8 **

In Detroit, though, at least one person is wising up. The Police Chief there credits gun-owning homeowners with a substantial reduction in that broken city’s crime rate. God bless the man!

** 9 **

It appears possible that the Left overreached itself with the border invasion. Of course, that doesn’t mean that America’s demographics haven’t been permanently changed in Democrats’ favor. Or . . . maybe not.  It turns out that Obama’s own Democrat politicians (outside of the Pelosi/Reid claque) aren’t so happy with what’s happening at the border either.

** 10 **

My mother’s San Francisco Jewish friends all raved about Ari Shavit’s book The Promised Land : The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. My Mom therefore read the book, which described many events she personally experienced or that her friends personally experienced.  She concluded that the book’s view of events before and during the Israeli War of Independence was a lie.

Martin Kramer looks at just one of those events — the claimed Lydda massacre — and clarifies just how much of a lie it was. Everything is explained when you learn that Shavit was a Ha’aretz writer. Ha’aretz is Israel’s Leftist paper, which is dying on the vine as Israelis realize how greatly the Left betrayed them.

** 11 **

Two videos from two brilliant political and cultural commentators:

Wednesday night mostly (but not entirely) Middle East round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesJust some stuff that wandered across my screen:

-1-

Brendan O’Neill pulls no punches: It’s no coincidence that the rage against Israel sounds remarkably like anti-Semitism. This is an article that I shared with my “real me” Facebook friends, as I’m sharing dozens of other pro-Israel pieces. This time around, the war has to be fought not just on the front lines, but in the cyber world too, where we’re all combatants.

-2-

One of the things that makes it easier to share this information with my “real me” friends (most of whom are Democrats) is the fact that support for Israel is appearing in the media they trust. For example, Time Magazine ran an opinion piece by Rabbi Eric Yoffe about the immoral demand for proportionality in a fight between Israel, which goes to extraordinary length to protect civilians, both hers and theirs; and Hamas, which would put its own children in its rocket launchers if it thought it could kill more Jews that way.

Indeed, the Washington Post, which has long been hostile to Israel, has suddenly realized this unpalatable truth about the cause it’s so long championed:

Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks.

-3-

Jonah Goldberg turns his gimlet eye on the ridiculous claim that Israel is committing genocide in Hamas. If there’s a genocide in Hamas, Hamas is committing it against its own children:

-4-

Tom Rogan on the fact that Hamas is a dead-end, with an emphasis on the word “dead.” It’s a death cult. The fact that it will kill its own people pointlessly in a fight with Israel is irrelevant to it.  The fact that it will stand on nothing but dust at the end of the day is irrelevant to it.  It’s set to “kill” and can do nothing else.

-5-

Michael Totten crafts an exquisite insult against Hamas:

The Israelis are seriously considering a ground invasion since Hamas won’t stop firing, but they’ve already proved to the population of Gaza that Hamas, even with its all its longer-range missiles, is capable of inflicting no more damage on the Zionist Entity than a lone killer armed with only a steak knife.

-6-

Grotesque propaganda won’t save Hamas this time.  People now know what to look for:

-7-

You guys all know I have a special soft spot in my heart for Marines. That’s why I find stories about men such as the “Lion of Fallujah,” who served both the Marines and the CIA in Iraq, incredibly moving.

-8-

Pardon me for being crude, but maybe I like Marines because many of them seem to have bigger balls than the next guy — witness Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, speaking truth to power (his boss, President Obama) about the administration’s obvious missteps in the Middle East.

-9-

Charles Hurt says what intelligent people intuitively understand: If you make people pay directly for something, you cannot reasonably tell them they don’t have any say in the thing for which they’re paying — or in the economic consequences flowing from that purchase. Even if you shriek that the law gives them no voice, they still think they have a voice.

-10-

How many times have I said that one of the things that’s moving me away from being pro-Choice and towards pro-Life is the fact that the pro-Choice side of the equation is really a pro-Death viewpoint? I simply cannot find myself siding with people who turn infant and maternal death into an untouchable sacrament. But that is what they do, and this is nowhere shown more plainly than in a bill that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D. Conn.) authored, removing all state control from abortions. (David French calls it the “Kermit Gosnell Enabling Act of 2014.”)

-11-

If I ever bothered to think about Simon Cowell, I pretty much thought of him as a genius impresario, and not much more. Now, though, I do think much more of him — he donated $150,000 to the Israeli Defense Force. Hurrah for Simon Cowell!

-12-

Pictures:

Good at making excuses

Holders view of critics

That awkward moment

You left the toilet seat up

When the combatants are morally unequal, it is immoral to treat them in the same way

One of the really icky things about the Left is that it lacks a moral compass.  There is no good or evil.  There are only evil haves and victimized have-nots.

In a sane moral universe, cultural arbiters would readily be able to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys in the Middle East.  The good guys are the ones that give equal rights to all religions, whether Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Bahai, or Atheist.  The bad guys are the ones that impose horrific burdens on those who do not follow the bad guys’ faith, with those burdens ranging from increased taxes, exile from the land of their ancestors, beatings, and mass murder.

The good guys are the ones that do not torture or kill people because of their sexual orientation.  The bad guys are the ones who routinely torture and hang gay men.

The good guys are the ones who acknowledge that women are fully equal to men, and are therefore entitled to both respect and civil rights.  The bad guys are the ones who view women as inherently evil, lascivious, stupid, and dangerous and, to that end segregate them; dehumanize them through clothing; institutionalize pedophilia; mutilate them; deprive them of basic freedoms, liberties, and rights; and turn any of their infractions, whether criminal or social, into capital crimes.

The good guys are the ones who put into place a defense system that allows them to suffer through thousands of rocket attacks before making the decision to retaliate and who, when they retaliate, will abort solid attacks against known targets if they realize that children are in the line of fire.  The bad guys are the ones who take land for peace, only to break their bargain immediately and rain rockets down upon the opposite entity in the exchange.  And the bad guys are the one who view children as both targets and shields, because they care more about propaganda than lives.

In a sane world, if these two entities went to war because the good guys got tired of years of being the bad guys’ target practice, coverage would be much like the news was in the years leading up to and during WWII:  the good guys would be praised and supported, while the bad guys would be excoriated.  Back in those days, the media knew that the Allies had some bad individuals amongst them and that there were Axis soldiers who were forced to fight and hated what they did.  The media understoid the fundmentak difference, though, between the Axis powers and the Allies — the latter was a healthy society fighting against a sick one before the sick society’s cancer could spread.

Those days of sanity are over.  The media hasn’t gone quite so far as to pretend that the bad guys — the Palestinians, the Iranians, and the Islamists — are actually fighting a good fight.  They do something much more insidious, because only people who pay attention are aware — as Dennis Prager explains, they pretend that the two sides are the same:

[A]n evil entity made war on a peaceful, decent entity, and the latter responded.

How has the New York Times reported this?

On Friday, on its front page, the Times featured two three-column-wide photos. The top one was of Gaza Muslim mourners alongside the dead body of al-Jabari. The photo below was of Israeli Jews mourning alongside the dead body of Mira Scharf, a 27-year-old mother of three.

What possible reason could there be for the New York Times to give identical space to these two pictures? One of the dead, after all, was a murderer, and the other was one of his victims.

The most plausible reason is that the Times wanted to depict through pictures a sort of moral equivalence: Look, sophisticated Times readers! Virtually identical scenes of death and mourning on both sides of the conflict. How tragic.

If one had no idea what had triggered this war, one would read and see the Times coverage and conclude that two sides killing each other were both equally at fault.

The Times technique works only too well.  Just today, one of the women in my mother’s retirement community said that none of this would happen if the Israelis would just give Gaza back to the Palestinians.  She was surprised when my mother told her that Israel had already done this years ago, only to be rewarded with a barrage of rockets.  The MSM, which this lady watches assiduously, failed to make that point clear.

Prager’s conclusion, after giving more examples of the Times inability to understand moral absolutes, is the same as that with which I started this post:

As the flagship news source of the Left, the New York Times reveals the great moral failing inherent to leftism — its combination of moral relativism and the division of the world between strong and weak, Western and non-Western, and rich and poor rather than between good and evil.

Why Gingrich said something important when he talked about an “invented” people

Others have said it, but I like best the way Evelyn Gordon said it.  After confirming the historic accuracy of Newt’s claim (namely, that Arabs moved into the land at the end of the 19th century, rather than having lived there since time immemorial), Gordon goes on:

One might ask why this should matter: Regardless of when either Jews or Palestinians arrived, millions of both live east of the Jordan River​ today, and that’s the reality policymakers must deal with. But in truth, it matters greatly – because Western support for Palestinian negotiating positions stems largely from the widespread view that Palestinians are an indigenous people whose land was stolen by Western (Jewish) interlopers.

Current demographic realities would probably suffice to convince most Westerners that a Palestinian state should exist. But the same can’t be said of Western insistence that its border must be the 1967 lines, with adjustments possible only via one-to-one territorial swaps and only if the Palestinians consent. Indeed, just 44 years ago, UN Resolution 242 was carefully crafted to reflect a Western consensus that the 1967 lines shouldn’t be the permanent border. So what changed?

The answer lies in the phrase routinely used to describe the West Bank and Gaza today, but which almost nobody used back in 1967, when Israel captured these areas from Jordan and Egypt, respectively: “occupied Palestinian territory.” This phrase implies that the land belongs to the Palestinians and always has. And if so, why shouldn’t Israel be required to give back every last inch?

But if the land hasn’t belonged to the Palestinians “from time immemorial” – if instead, both Palestinians and Jews comprise small indigenous populations augmented by massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the West Bank and Gaza becoming fully Judenrein only after Jordan and Egypt occupied them in 1948 – then there’s no inherent reason why the border must necessarily be in one place rather than another. To create two states, a border must be drawn somewhere, but that “somewhere” should depend only on the parties’ current needs – just as the drafters of Resolution 242 envisioned.

Read the rest here.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Yesterday, White House officials were telling Jake Tapper that Obama would support Israel.  Any minute moments of hope I cherished that the administration actually meant what it said were swiftly dashed.  This is Obama’s version of support:

The Obama administration considers Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be untenable and plans to press for another approach to ensure Israel’s security while allowing more supplies into the impoverished Palestinian area, senior American officials said Wednesday.

The officials say that Israel’s deadly attack on a flotilla trying to break the siege and the resulting international condemnation create a new opportunity to push for increased engagement with the Palestinian Authority and a less harsh policy toward Gaza.

As is this:

President Barack Obama said Thursday that the deadly Israeli raid on an aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip was “tragic”, but he stopped short of condemning the actions of Israeli forces.

While Obama said the deaths of nine people were unnecessary, he said the U.S. wants to wait for “an investigation of international standards” to determine the facts. Israel, he said, should agree to such an investigation.

“They recognize that this can’t be good for Israel’s long-term security,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Larry King airing Thursday night.

Just so you know, even though the Obama administration seems to have misunderstood the facts on the ground, there is a good reason for the blockade:

Hezbollah in Lebanon, which shares a land border with Syria and is not under blockade, has a gigantic arsenal of rockets and missiles, more than most governments in the Middle East, and that arsenal includes missiles that can reach every single inch of Israeli territory, including Jerusalem, downtown Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion International Airport, and the Dimona nuclear power plant. The next war between Israel and Hezbollah will likely mean missiles, artillery shells, and payloads from air strikes will explode all over the Eastern Mediterranean, making last year’s small war in Gaza look even smaller.

Hamas has a relatively tiny arsenal of crude rockets, but if the Gaza Strip were not under military blockade, it could acquire whatever weapons Syria and Iran felt like sending by ship. Gaza could bristle with as many destructive projectiles as Hezbollah has. Food and medicines are allowed into the Strip already, so the most significant difference between Gaza now and a Gaza without a blockade will be the importation of weapons and war material.

More Israelis would be likely to die during the ensuing hostilities, and an even larger number of Palestinians would be likely to die when Israel fights back harder against a better armed and more dangerous adversary.

And again, let me remind everyone (although I know Obama isn’t listening to little ol’ me), the blockade blocks weapons, not anything else.

Having now gotten a glimpse at Obama’s “support,” I have to ask:  What the Hell does life look like if you’re on Obama’s enemies list, rather than receiving his “support”?  Does he come in the night and flay you alive while robotically reciting his boring, pompous meaningless speeches?  I’m no longer pretending that Obama is inept, or misguided, or stupid, although I think he is all those things.  I’m convinced he is evil, as only a true antisemite can be.

It’s a sad day when the only person in a presidential administration making any sense and showing any signs of human decency is Joe Biden, who really stepped up and said the right thing this time:

“I think Israel has an absolute right to deal with its security interest. I put all this back on two things: one, Hamas, and, two, Israel’s need to be more generous relative to the Palestinian people who are in trouble in Gaza,” Biden said, according to a transcript of the interview, in which he went on to discuss Hamas’s control of Gaza:

“[The Israelis have] said, ‘Here you go. You’re in the Mediterranean. This ship–if you divert slightly north you can unload it and we’ll get the stuff into Gaza.’ So what’s the big deal here? What’s the big deal of insisting it go straight to Gaza? Well, it’s legitimate for Israel to say, ‘I don’t know what’s on that ship. These guys are dropping eight–3,000 rockets on my people,’ ” Biden said.

Kudos to Biden.  He’s not right often, but when he’s right, he lands it square in the middle of the target.

To clear your brain from the miasma that is Obama-think, please read Michael Oren’s op-ed, which the New York Times at least had the decency to publish.

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.

Fighting an enemy that uses its own people as weapons

Using your own people as weapons is not a new tactic.  During WWII, the Soviet Union was effective against the Germans, not because it had good weapons, but because it had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of cannon fodder.  When the Germans advanced on Russia, the Soviets threw unarmed men in front of the Germans, causing the Germans to exhaust their missiles and bullets, even as the Soviets willingly threw more bodies in front of the guns.

What the Soviets did was just a numbers game — “our population is so big that, even semi-armed, it can absorb all your bullets and leave you dangling” — but what Hamas did in 2008 in the Gaza strip was little bit different.  Hamas fighters made a calculated decision to use civilians as an integral part of Hamas’ own weapons infrastructure.  This IDF, using data discovered during Operation Cast Lead, explains how Hamas operated:

AP serves as Hamas propaganda arm — again

Here’s a sickening AP story blaming Israel for the “trauma” inflicted on Gazan children.  The story’s only acknowledgment that Hamas itself placed the children in the line of fire is the following paragraph, one that is carefully crafted to make it seem as if it was Israel’s fault that the poor Hamas fighters had to crowd into those child-infested residential areas:

Facing the Israeli invasion, Hamas gunmen often operated from densely populated Gaza neighborhoods, drawing massive Israeli fire that killed and wounded large numbers of civilians, along with fighters. Tens of thousands fled their homes, seeking shelter in U.N. schools.

Even worse, the whole article fails even to mention that Hamas has been raining rockets on Israel for years, with schools as its favorite target, or that it is Hamas that has created a perpetual war culture that puts its children at risk.

The story is a gross piece of propaganda that is entirely consistent with AP’s manifest bias.  And I say all this with due sympathy for the poor children who are victimized, not by Israel — a nation that called in its attacks in advance to give the children time to escape — but by their own countrymen, who gleefully use them as intentional targets precisely so that they can garner this kind of maudlin, dishonest (but sadly far-reaching) press coverage.

A mish-mash

It’s been an incoherent day, one that never gave me the opportunity for contemplation and writing.  Instead, I’ve been bopping here and there, and dealing with one thing and another.  Nevertheless, I have been tracking the news, so I thought I’d just write up a mish-mash of thoughts about current issues and events.

Gaza

The top issue/event, obviously, is Gaza.  By now you’ve all seen the hysterical headline about Israel having blown up a UN school, killing scores of civilians.  At the exact second I read the words “UN school,” I knew it wasn’t a school at all but was, instead, a weapons storage facility and a headquarters for fighters.  Why did I know this?  Because the UN in Gaza is completely complicit with Hamas.  In that part of the world, the two are one and the same entity.  I also knew that the school wasn’t really a school because Gaza intentionally places fighters and weapons around children precisely so that it garner this type of scare headline.  Michelle Malkin has a fact-filled post detailing all the many ways in which my instincts on this one were dead on the money.

Speaking of Hamas setting its children up as targets so that it can further vilify Israel in the eyes of the world, you really must read Ron Rosenbaum’s article explaining why, to the extent there are differences between Hamas and the Nazis, Hamas is infinitely worse.  As part of that line of thinking, it’s worth noting that even the Nazis weren’t willing to sacrifice their own children merely to score propaganda points.

As is always the case, everyone in the world outside of America is urging Israel to back down.  (In America, while Obama is ominously quiet, even Dirty Harry Reid has acknowledged Israel’s right to defend against the non-stop rocket attacks that have poured death and destruction on the land for years now.)  In the past, Israel has listened.  This time, I’m hoping against hope that she gives the world the middle finger and does what she has to do to defend herself.  I’ve never understood why Israel, rather like the pathetic nerdy kid in high school, keeps twisting herself into damaging contortions to satisfy people who will despise her regardless.  Eventually, the nerd just has to go it alone and the hell with the critics.

Incidentally, although the world doesn’t deserve good fortune, if Israel is wise enough to give it the finger, it may just get good fortune anyway — the good fortune in this case being that an Israeli victory against Hamas in Gaza is also an Israeli victory against the mad Mullahs in Iran.  As has been the case for decades now, Israel is our proxy, and we should be grateful that she’s putting her bodies on the line so we don’t have to.

And one last word on the subject:  Reader Lulu send me an email pointing out something interesting, which is that Hezbollah is doing nothing right now.  You’d think that this would be a perfect time for Hezbollah to force a two-front war on Israel.  That it’s not doing so might be a good indication that, all propaganda to the contrary, Israel may have inflicted serious damage on it back in 2006.  Iran can replace the arms, but maybe she can’t replace the men.

God

In England, the atheists have launched an ad campaign encouraging people to abandon religion so that they can be happy.  One of the brains behind this initiative is Ariane Sherine. She decided to launch the ad campaign because “she became angry after noticing a set of Christian advertisements carrying a website address which warned that people who reject God are condemned to spend all eternity to ‘torment in Hell.’”

I’m perfectly willing to admit that trying to scare people into religion may not be the smartest way to go about things.  I do find the ad campaign peculiar, though, because I was under the impression that polls show religious people are more happy, not less happy, than the average atheist (putting aside the fact that the average vocal atheist always seem to be a pretty darn angry person).

As you all know, I’m a big believer in the many virtues of religion, although not particularly religious myself.  Aside from liking the core moral aspects religion brings, I’ve also always appreciated (and envied) the way religion brings meaning to life.

In a religious world, man is not just a random collection of atoms, molecules, cells and organs, put on earth to procreate and scrabble for food until he dies.  Instead, at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition with which I’m familiar, man’s life has meaning and purpose.  Whether God used evolution as his tool or instant creation, man exists in God’s image.  His corporeal body may not necessarily be the mirror image of God’s being, but he is in God’s image to the extent that his mind and spirit are attuned to justice and a higher purpose.  We’re not just meaningless bugs.  We are something special and our time on earth has meaning, whether we emphasize that in our own lives or not.

All of which is to say that it strikes me as mighty darn peculiar to advertise an absence of religion as the answer to the search for happiness.  You might as well say, “You’re a meaningless bug.  Get used to it.”

Tolerance

While the first wave of hysteria following the passage in California of Prop. 8 has finally died down, hard feelings continue.  A Catholic Church in San Francisco was covered with offensive graffiti, likening the church and its parishioners to Nazis. The beautiful irony of this story is that this particular church, located near the Castro district, has always been a welcoming place to gays.

Aside from the fact that vandals, by their very nature, can’t be expected to be intelligent (I guess), I find it strange that we live in a world in which hewing to unexceptional traditional values that span all cultures and all times is an invitation to vandalism.  As you know, I’d be perfectly happy to see the state get out of the marriage business, leaving that to religion, and instead get into the domestic partnership business, with an emphasis on encouraging stable behaviors that strengthen society.  Pending that unlikely situation, however, I can’t help but wonder if the gay marriage advocates realize that offending ordinary people who support ordinary values is not likely to advance their cause.

How liberals would fight wars *UPDATED*

Vacation is over and I’m back to my work schedule, which means no more morning blogging (not that I was very inspired in the morning during vacation).  Still, I had to share this gem with you.

I spoke with a liberal friend yesterday, who is lukewarm about Israel, and he told me that Israel absolutely cannot fight this war because it’s killing children and that’s unacceptable.  This dialogue ensued:

Me:  Did you know that before any strike on a building, Israel gives a warning to the residents to evacuate?

LF:  No.  If that were true, it would be headlined in the news.

Me:  It is true.  It’s just buried in the stories.  What’s also buried is that the Gazans use those warnings to hustle children back into the buildings.

LF:  No.  That’s not true.  If it were true, it would be headlined in the news.

(This went a few rounds and then stopped.)

Me:  You do know that Gaza has fired over 5,000 rockets into Israel, right?

LF:  Yeah, but they didn’t do any harm.

Me:  You do know that the last few, supplied by Iran, fell within about 13 miles of Tel Aviv?  (Note:  I think I got those mileage stats correct.)

LF:  Well, I guess they have to defend themselves.

Me:  How would you have them defend themselves?

LF:  They should have announced to the world that, if Gaza didn’t stop firing rockets by January 2, then they’d attack Gaza.

Me:  They did announce to the world that they were going to attack Gaza.

LF:  No.  that’s not true.  If it were true, it would be headlined in the news.

At this point, we glared at each other in frustration, and the conversation ended.

UPDATE:  I wonder if this kind of editorial, in a reputable liberal paper (the LA Times), would change my friend’s mind.  It spells out carefully the real issues involved in the current war (Iranian hegemony in the Middle East, the fact that Israel is not the only nation out there that fears Iran, and the way in which Hamas manipulates the media precisely in order to fool credulous liberals).

The attack on Gaza

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

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

Call me Ishmael

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

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

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

I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

[Link fixed. Thanks, Gringo.]