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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mosab Hassan Yousef — a portrait of moral clarity and raw courage

Yesterday, I wrote about those rare individuals who can rise above fear in a terrorist state to become part of the solution, rather than a mere victim of the problem.  With perfect timing, a friend sent me an article from the Times of Israel, about Mosab Hasson Yousef, a young man of unusual moral clarity and admirable courage:

Mosab Hassan Yousef has a knack for controversy. The son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, he has already broken every taboo in the Palestinian book. He has worked for Israeli intelligence and converted to Christianity. Now he is developing a new film which is sure to be no less sensational: a biography of the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

Yousef, 33, broke ranks with Hamas in 1997 and began working for the Israeli internal intelligence service Shin Bet. Ten years later, after helping Israel thwart dozens of terror attacks and arrest many members of his former movement, Yousef left for the United States where he sought political asylum and later converted to Christianity.

Today, he says, he is back in Israel for the first time on a personal visit “to inspire a new generation of Palestinians.”

“I love Israel because I love democracy,” he told journalists in Jerusalem Tuesday. “I am here to protest religion’s absolute control of people’s lives.”

Please read the whole article.  It’s very inspiring.

The MSM: Telling a story in reverse chronological order so as to harm Israel

With a few stellar exceptions, the best way to tell a story is in chronological order.  This is because, in the real world, cause and effect matter.  I suspect that the AP knows this is true, which is why they had their latest report from the Middle East start with the effect (Israeli airstrikes) and the loop back, very reluctantly, to the cause (Hamas terror attacks on civilian centers):

Israel pounded Gaza for the second day in a row Saturday, trading airstrikes and rocket fire with Palestinian militants and killing 15 of them as the deadliest Gaza violence in over a year showed no signs of abating.

Despite Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire, Palestinians fired more than 100 rockets, some striking major cities in southern Israel and seriously wounding an Israeli civilian. The military responded with more than a dozen airstrikes and the targeted killings of Palestinian militants from various Gaza organizations.

Israel’s lauded Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted more than 25 projectiles. Still, residents were told to stay close to home and the cities of Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon called off school for Sunday.

Tit-for-tat exchanges between Israel and Palestinians have been routine since the 2009 war, but a flare-up of this intensity is rare. The Arab League called the Israeli attacks a “massacre.” The United Nations and the State Department condemned the violence and called on both sides to exercise restraint.

Relativism and dishonesty are normative in the media.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Hat tip:  Sadie)

Probing questions for the useful idiots aboard the Hamas Flotilla — by guest blogger Lulu

  1. Are you aware that Iran was caught smuggling weapons into Gaza?
  2. Do you think Israelis have any legitimate reason to be concerned that Hamas may try to receive weapons via boat?
  3. Did you know that Hamas activists have shot about 4000 rockets into southern Israel since Israel withdrew form Gaza?
  4. Does that trouble you?
  5. Do you think it is possible that weapons might have been aboard your ship?
  6. Here are pictures of an Israeli soldiers being beaten with metal poles, another held behind a door by armed guards, and another lying in a pool of his own blood. How do you reconcile this with the concept of peace advocacy?
  7. There has been much news made of Helen Thomas’ statement essentially stating that she believes Israel should be ethnically cleansed of Jews. Do you share that sentiment?
  8. Do you think Israel has a legitimate right to exist? What about Australia? New Zealand? Canada? The United States? Jordan? Pakistan?
  9. Is there a reason you don’t object to living in the United States when you are not a Native American?
  10. If Israelis are killed by weapons brought into Gaza because you succeed in ending the blockade would you feel morally responsible?
  11. What is your opinion of suicide bombings?
  12. As a peace activist would you be willing to advocate for the release of Gilad Shalit who has been totally denied his human rights for the past 4 years, denied any contact with the Red
  13. Cross or anyone else, and held in unknown conditions by Hamas?
  14. Would you be willing to visit Israel and hear their side of the story?
  15. Are you aware that Hamas’ charter calls for the mass murder of Israelis and Jews?
  16. How do you explain your support of this murderous regime while still claiming to be for peace?
  17. If Israel were ethnically cleansed where do you propose the Israelis should go?
  18. Where do you suggest Jews with ancestry from Arab lands that do not accept Jewish residents should go?
  19. What about those Israelis whose families have lived in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the land of Israel for thousands of years?
  20. Do you like Jews?

(Bookworm here: What do you think the odds are that any news journal will ask the useful idiots these questions?)

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:

Dead men talking *UPDATED*

These men aren’t dead yet, but they will be if they’re ever released back to Hamas’ TLC.  The men of whom I speak are Gazans whom Israel captured during the recent Gaza incursion, and who have spilled the beans about Hamas’ myriad war crimes and financial defalcations — all of which consistently starve, murder, and make targets of the Palestinian people:

Nuaf Atar spoke about the use of Gazan schools to shoot rockets at Israel. Zabhi Atar revealed that Hamas used food coupons to entice Palestinians to join its ranks and Hamad Zalah said Hamas took control of UNRWA food supplies transferred to Gaza and refused to distribute them to people affiliated with Fatah.

These are three examples of testimony from Hamas and Islamic Jihad men who were captured by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. Details of their interrogations have been released for publication by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

[snip]

Nuaf Atar, 25, lives in Atatra, in the northwest Gaza Strip, and was captured by paratroopers on January 11. In his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Atar said Hamas government officials “took over” humanitarian aid Israel allowed in to the Strip and sold it, when it is supposed to be distributed for free.

Hamas set up rocket launchers and fired rockets into Israel from within school compounds since the operatives knew that the Israel Air Force would not bomb the schools, he said.

Palestinians who opposed Hamas’s use of their land and homes as launch pads were shot in the legs, Atar added.

[snip]

Hamad Zalah, 29, is also a resident of Jabalya and was captured by the IDF on January 12. During his interrogation, he revealed that together with his brother, he was tortured by Hamas at a headquarters in Jabalya for his affiliation with Fatah and his intention to light a memorial candle for Yasser Arafat.

He said that he was whipped and beaten with electrical cords. In 2007, Hamas operatives shot and killed his brother, who was a security guard at the home of a Palestinian Authority official in Gaza.

Since June 2007, when Hamas took over Gaza, the terror group, Zalah said, also took control of all humanitarian aid sent into the Strip and refused to distribute it to Palestinians affiliated with Fatah.

You can read the rest of this illuminating inside look into Hamas rule here.  Then, if you’re truly disgusted, you’ll probably get some savage joy out of watching this video (h/t American Thinker):

UPDATE:  For those of you who arrived to late to see this video, the only possible violation could have been that it offended Muslim sensibilities.  It should a Hamas man firing a mortar at 6 second intervals, with every firing preceded by an off-camera man crying “Allah Akbar.”  At about the 7th round, something happened, and fireball fills the screen, at which point the video cuts off.  No blood; just a martyr on his way to meet the virgins.

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.

Food for thought while I don’t blog

I’ve had some family management issues taking up my time today (all is good, but, boy, was the management time-consuming), but my faithful friends send me wonderful, thought-provoking things that I can pass along to you.  Here’s a good video trying to help Americans understand what Israelis have suffered for the last ten years — without even touching upon the fact that, over ten years, Israelis have experienced an ever increasing barrage, with rockets of steadily greater range: