Norwegian Blogger has spent quite a bit of his valuable time on this MST3K parody. It's a novel way of commenting on the much-blogged remarks of Arab Psychiatric Association chairman Adel "Bush is Retarded" Sadeq, and it's funny. Check it out.
Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard makes a valuable contribution to the discussion on the current wave of European "Judeophobia." If you're interesed in "the real reason the French don't think they have a problem with anti-Semitism, and the reason they're wrong," Caldwell provides much food for thought . I think he's onto something here:
For anyone who inhabits Western culture, the Holocaust made that culture a much more painful place to inhabit--and for any reasonably moral person, greatly narrowed the range of acceptable political behavior. To be human is to wish it had never happened. (Those who deny that it did may be those who can't bear to admit that it happened.) But it did. If there's a will-to-anti-Semitism in Western culture--as there probably is--then the Arab style of Judeophobia, which is an anti-Semitism without the West's complexes, offers a real redemptive project to those Westerners who are willing to embrace it. It can liberate guilty, decadent Europeans from a horrible moral albatross. What an antidepressant! Saying there was no such thing as the gas chambers is, of course, not respectable. But the same purpose can be served using what Leo Strauss called the reductio ad Hitlerum to cast the Jews as having committed crimes identical to the Nazis'. They must be identical, of course, so the work of self-delusion can be accomplished. We did one, the Jews did one. Now we're even-steven.
Foer gets to the heart of the matter here:
When I reached Cockburn to ask him about these conspiracies, he insisted he was just reporting what was already in circulation. "I don't think I said they are true. I don't know there's enough exterior evidence to determine whether they are true or not."
But, of course, that last sentence is the giveaway. There most certainly is enough exterior evidence to determine whether the stories are true or not. The answer is that they are not. They are wild rumors circulating, if at all, in some of the least credible corners of the Internet. No respectable media outlet has given these stories credence. Merely by stating that these ideas are in circulation, merely by saying it's impossible to judge their veracity, Cockburn confers these ideas with legitimacy.
Consider, for example, the story about the mad Jew scientists out to ruin the Muslims. I searched for it on the Lexis-Nexis news database but came up with nothing--not one single mention of the story in a mainstream news outlet. And I only found it on the Web at an obscure, far-far left site that refers to the United States as "gringoland" and accuses Daniel Pearl of working for Mossad. (Note the similarity of the Jewish anthrax rumor to the Nation of Islam creation myth about the wicked chemist Yacub.)
(Incidentally, I suppose the Daniel Pearl/Mossad story clears up the mystery of what Andrew Stephen of the New Statesman had in mind when he adduced an alleged Jew-controlled media cover-up of Pearl's Jewishness as an example of a broad tendency to conceal or exonerate Jewish wrong-doing under all circumstances. These guys are twisted...)
Marriage is hard.
That's what married people always say whenever they find out you're joining their ranks. I'm sure they know what they're talking about, but it really doesn't seem all that difficult. All you need is a girl, a license, a witness, and an appointment. A couple of drinks don't go astray, I admit. But a couple of drinks rarely ever go astray in my experience.
There's a lot more to come in the post-ceremony phase, I know. And I'm bracing myself for the oft-predicted difficulty, I promise. When it occurs, I hope we'll manage to bear it with the same grim determination that can be discerned faintly on the faces of those issuing the warning.
That said, the verdict on the first three days of matrimonial domesticity, however, is: pretty cool. Mostly, we've just been walking around marvelling at how weird it is that we actually did it, we're actually married.
"Hey," she'll say. "Isn't it weird?"
"I'm your wife now."
"You are." I'll say. "So you wouldn't mind getting me a beer, then?"
And she doesn't mind. Now that's my idea of a help meet.
We've spent quite a bit of time engaged in different versions of that same conversation. Do other newly-weds do this, or are we just goofier than everyone else? We contrive ways to steer the topic around to the subject so we have an excuse to refer to each other as "husband" and "wife," "Mr." and "Mrs.", "old man" and "old lady" (not particularly popular with the missus, that last) "ball" and "chain," etc. There are colorful British phrases for wife like "'er indoors" and "trouble and strife" that don't have male equivalents-- they're fun anyway. Lots of options. (By the way, that's one of the benefits of transatlantic marriages: you have a lot more goofy phrases at your disposal. The other day my wife-- there I go again-- said this: "bloody buggery bollocks! we forgot the bleeding loo roll." Like I said, pretty cool.) I suppose we'll get tired of this after awhile. For now, though, it works if you work it, as they say. It passes the time.
Despite pronounced anti-social tendencies, we've even found ourselves going out of our way to encounter new people, just so we can introduce each other as "husband" and "wife." They look at us like we're insane. I don't how it is for most married guys, but I don't suppose I'll ever forget the first stranger to whom I had the occasion to refer to her as "my wife." It was a belligerent drunk at the Starry Plough in Berkeley, where we celebrated the first evening out of our marriage, experiencing the rock and roll of my good friend and guitar genius Chuck Prophet. The belligerent drunk tried to sit in her chair when she was "in the loo" (as she would put it) and I had to explain to him that it was my wife's seat.
"Your wife? Your wife?" said the belligerent drunk. "Lemme ask you a question."
I said I was all ears.
"How did you acquire this girl?"
"Oh," I said in that off-hand manner I have, "the usual way, I suppose. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, and so on. It's a tale as old as time, really."
The belligerent drunk had little to add, and after casting a few menacing looks my way, his attention began to wander. Fortunately, so did he, eventually, sparing my wife the necessity of having to say, upon her return, something like "stop beating up my husband."
The first belligerent drunk of our marriage. One in a series of thought-provoking, perspective-illuminating firsts, for which we never tire of congratulating ourselves. I've already told you about the first beer of our marriage. Last night we watched the first Seinfeld re-run of our marriage. And it was extremely funny.
Trouble ahead? Perhaps. We've got a long way to go. But so far the most difficult part of our marriage has been sitting through Mullholland Drive on video. I have a feeling if we can make it through that, we can probably handle just about anything.
Anyway, thanks very much to all the blogosphere denizens who sent congratulations. You folks rule.
I'm going to have to lay off the posting for a bit here, as I have to attend a wedding-- my own, as a matter of fact. "Normal" blogging should resume presently. Uh, wish me luck...
Were war crimes committed at Jenin? Robert N. Hochman of the New Republic says "yes," and he's got a point:
All civilized people agree on the premise of the Palestinian leadership's argument about Jenin. There is a vast moral difference between targeting civilians and combatants. It is wrong, even during a war, to target civilians intentionally.
But this is an odd principle for terrorists, and those who harbor them, to preach. After all, terrorists seek to obliterate the distinction between civilian and combatant. And, remember, it is the Palestinian terrorist groups that send human sacrifices as bombers into Israeli restaurants and shopping malls, where the murder of innocent civilians is not just a consequence but the very explicit goal. And it is the official Palestinian leadership--with the apparent support of the vast majority of Palestinians--who hail these bombers as heroes. If targeting civilians is a crime, as the Palestinian leadership now suggests, then the Palestinian terrorists and their supporters have been guilty of it for years.
And they were guilty of it at Jenin, too--only in an even more twisted sense. The large loss of life in Jenin is a tragedy, no doubt. But against whom should we direct our moral outrage? In Jenin, terrorists sprinkled bomb-making factories, storehouses of weapons, and combatants throughout the civilian population. And when the Israelis came in to find the terrorists, the Palestinians didn't hesitate to use civilians as human shields. One Israeli general described a structure with bombs on the first floor, civilians on the second, and snipers on the third. Elsewhere, terrorists placed bombs in ambulances carrying away the wounded. They hid rocket launchers in mosques, employing the sacred structure itself as a shield. In Bethlehem, the terrorists have taken this immoral tactic to a new level, occupying one of Christianity's holiest sites, using both the sacred structure and the civilian occupants as shields from the Israelis. In Jenin, as in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Netanya and Haifa, the terrorists employed civilian death intentionally as a weapon in their jihad.
Gary Farber has posted some very kind words about the Blogs of War on his great Amygdala blog. By way of returning the favor, I'll say that Amygdala is definitely on my "A" list of commentators. Here's an example of why:
the depth of personalized hatred and vilification of politicians from people (and bloggers) on both left and right never fails to amaze me. Y'know, sane people might take note that however passionately one might feel various policies are wrong, and will hurt many people, the country has survived every damn President, and likely will continue to do so.
If I turn out to be wrong on this, rest assured you will have the comfort of my full apology.
Quote of the Day
From Tim Blair:
AL-AHRAM'S Mohamed Hakki interviews Lyndon LaRouche, as part of the ongoing process by which the world's multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force.
The Case for Alarmism
Ron Rosenbaum's follow-up to his previous article on Euro-anti-Semitism (mentioned below) is an excellent summary of the alarming signs coming from Europe these days. I'm still not sure that Le Pen's electoral "success" is all that significant; and the "guilt/blame the victim" explanation still seems weak to me. But it all adds up to an unsettling picture, with disturbing parallels to the last time Europe turned against the Jews. Perhaps some of these parallels are superficial or coincidental, but taken together they're hard to ignore.
Or rather, sustaining the pretense of ignoring them requires considerable skill and determination. As many have noted, it is astonishing how little mention there is of the Holocaust in all of the European Israel-bashing. It's the central historical event, the defining phenomenon in the relationship between Europe and its Jews. Indeed, many see it as the defining event of the twentieth century. Bill Quick puts it well:
The Holocaust is the 800 pound invisible gorilla in the middle of the room. Much as Europeans would like to pretend it doesn't exist, it is the heart and core to understanding modern Israel and its actions. That Europe can so easily "forget" what happened in the camps sixty years ago, or pretend that it has no relevance today, it both shameful and despicable. The answer to the question, I'm afraid, is that yes, Europe learned a lesson of the Holocaust - it's just not the one everybody thinks it is. It learned that many, many of the guilty can escape all responsibility for genocide.
Rosenbaum quotes from a piece by Rod Liddle on the flap over the now-notorious Oxford poet Tom "American Jews should be shot on sight" Paulin. I missed it the first time around, and it bears on the "British anti-Semitism vs. anti-Zionism" question I've been wrestling with recently:
the Paulin business shook me out of my Wasp-ish complacency. I'd been inclined to dismiss as paranoid repeated complaints from British Jews that there was a new mood of anti-semitism abroad: I was wrong.
Paulin will undoubtedly claim that his remarks are not anti-semitic, but merely anti-Zionist. He may even believe that himself. So might the others, generally from the left, who, when cross-examined about their opposition to what they call Zionism, reveal a dark and visceral loathing of Jews.
There is a theory, loosely based on Freud, that the left's demonisation of capitalists was simply a displaced anti-semitism; and it's true that the old communist caricatures of big businessmen were almost identical to the Nazi depiction of the "filthy Jew", with his business suit, venal expression and relentless appropriation of other people's money. But the whole thing seemed too neat, too glib a theory, to be convincing.
But I can see the displaced anti-semitism at work in the catch-all, ill-defined term "anti-Zionism". And if you doubt it look at Paulin's words - not the stuff about the rights of Palestinians, which we might all agree with - but, quite simply, in this: "hatred" and "shot dead".
Abu Zubayda has indicated that an al Qaeda attack on an American shopping center is imminent. According to this "This is London" report, "there is a strong desire on the part of American investigators to believe what Zubaydah is telling them."
Eric Olsen has a series of excellent posts on NPR's anti-Israel bias. Go to the main page and search for NPR.
Nick Denton makes a good case for the "build a fence" solution to the Israel/Palestine dispute. Summary:
· withdraw from most of the occupied territories
· annex land around Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem
· abandon settlements beyond the boundary
· forget about regional cooperation
· bar all migrant workers from Palestinian-controlled territory
· build barrier between Israeli and Palestinian territory
· maintains overflight rights
· air force bombs source of any cross-border rocket attacks
· wait two generations
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis says, "no wall."
The first problem is Jerusalem. It, just like Berlin, wants to be an international city, a free zone, and that will complicate any plan to build a wall. No one will reasonably be able to keep Muslims from the Temple Mount and Jews from the Wailing Wall and Christians from their holy places. Jerusalem must be free. So if you make Jerusalem an international city, you build a big hole in the wall where bombers masquerading as pilgrims can pass through. You are soon forced to build a wall within the wall. You might as well not build a wall at all.
The second problem is image: The last thing Israel needs right now is to be seen as the wall-builders of our era.
The third problem, is that building a wall just avoids the problem, the real problem: the hate.
Fine, so a wall would make it yet harder for suicide-murderers to wander by a market or a hotel or a bus and trigger terror. But these merchants of hate, these people who will stop at nothing -- even selling their own children into death and murder and hell -- will find new ways to detonate hate. They invented the 737 bomb. They invented the woman bomb. They invented the child bomb. For all we know, they invented new, improved anthrax. A wall will not stop their weapons. A wall will not stop the retaliation. A wall will not stop the killing. A wall will not stop the hate.
Ken Layne has some fun riffing on the protest puppet phenomenon:
What do they mean? Why are they so poorly constructed? Is a large round face a symbol of the universal oppression of democracy and hamburgers, or is it simply the only thing a bunch of stoners can make?
I've dealt with papier-mâché. All people have, as children. It's safe for the youngsters. If you eat the newspaper-paste mix, it doesn't kill you. Those blunt-bladed scissors can't do much damage to a clumsy artisan, and all mistakes can be "fixed" by simply adding more layers of gluey paper mush. It's the perfect craft for a Greyhound's load of sleepy dirtbags — and it's a filling snack!
Sadly, the resulting art symbolizes one thing only: the terrible challenges faced by those with no eye-hand motor skills. It reflects the utter incoherence of the protesters' world views...just like those political metaphors you hear so much about these days.
All the Way
We watched a bit of the anti-Israel protest on C-SPAN over the weekend.
It's difficult to believe anyone could ever be persuaded by a chant like "we don't care what you say, Intifada all the way."
The first line is, no doubt, perfectly accurate. The second is rather imprecise. What is meant by "all the way?" I suppose the answer is indicated by the speakers' suggestions that the Intifada be "globalized" and "brought to America."
I admit, its silliness and triteness made me giggle at first. Then I started to think about it. What they were really calling for is not only the destruction and ethnic cleansing of a tiny democratic state in the Middle East (bad enough) but also for "the struggle" to be extended to the rest of the world. And by "struggle" is meant indiscriminate slaughter of masses of ordinary people by maniacs who turn themselves into bombs and blow themselves up in public places in order to make an unintelligible "statement" for their cause and to blackmail the survivors into granting the demands of their leaders. And by "the cause" is meant a variety of fascism. And the demands include the elimination of an entire people, by death or "transfer" (depending on how "moderate" you are.) And by "the rest of the world," they mean, among others, us: our families, our friends, our neighbors. Theirs, too. Death to us!
This is a "peace movement?" Suicide Movement, more like. ("Homicide Movement?")
Once you realize that the demonstration you're watching on CSPAN is, in effect, a pep rally in honor of the spirit of 9/11, and a call for future 9/11s, it doesn't seem quite so amusing.
Yeah, I know it's a lot to read into a silly demo-chant. Those kids are just having fun, raising a little hell just like they're supposed to. They also said "George Bush is a ho." (Now that's funny.) Globalize the Intifada. Bring it to America. Go "all the way." They can't really mean it. Can they?
Lileks had a similar reaction to these sound bites:
I heard some clips today from a rally held by the Washington Monument in support of the PLO and Hamas. Part of the merry anti-Globo puppet parade. It’s just so charming to hear rudely amplified voices calling for the death of the Jews again. It’s just so . . . bracing to hear a speaker take the mike beneath the two-toned obelisk named for America’s Cincinnatus, and demand the destruction of of a small democratic state in a sea of technocrat tyrannies. And it gives you such a warm feeling to hear the crowd bay their approval. A speaker demanded that the borders of the Middle East be returned to 1947; the crowd cheered.
Death to the Jews, death to Israel.
Stated and applauded.
In America. In Washington. On the Mall.
I had a sudden flash of Martin Luther King Jr. standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, beholding this rally, and thinking: I have a nightmare. And here it is...
Another insisted it was time to GLOBALIZE THE INTIFADA - an interesting remark coming from the anti-Globalization crowd, but if this recent rally proved anything it’s that they despise America itself, not America’s behavior. Whatever point they originally had about globalization - some of which I used to share - has been consumed by their adoration of fascism and political violence. When a speaker promised to bring the intifada to America, and use “whatever means necessary” - enunciating each word so the reference to St. Malcolm the X was welded to the current definition of “means” - then the point is naked and obvious: you have a movement that wants young people to blow themselves up at the Disney store in Times Square. Not that any of the people at the rally would do it, of course. Not that they would necessarily approve of it. But they would certainly understand it.
Meanwhile, there was yet another lynching of "collaborators":
With a three-week curfew lifted in Ramallah and no Palestinian police on the streets, three Palestinians were dragged from their car and shot in the arms and legs this afternoon in the city's main square. Masked gunmen yelled to the crowd that the victims were collaborators with Israeli occupation forces. A mob formed and blocked ambulances. At least one of the victims was finally spirited off to a hospital on the rooftop of a taxi that careened down the street.
No one in the crowd objected to the violence. Many were smiling. Men whistled their approval on the street and women yelled from rooftops. Young children wandered past the sticky pool of blood on the ground and stared. Local reports later said one of the men died.
"No problem," said a 16-year-old boy standing nearby. "They deserved it. They talked to Israel."
And they found a stockpile of poison gas at Arafat's headquarters.
Just in case you haven't clicked in yet, Matt Welch's review of Ralph Nader's campaign memoir is up. Terrific stuff.
"Criticism of Israel isn't Necessarily Anti-Semitism"
I suppose the British Left and the American mainstream will never understand each other when it comes to anti-Semitism. What it boils down to is this: we think their rhetoric sounds anti-Semitic; they think it doesn't.
Americans, reading the Guardian, Independent, or New Statesman, tend to find the hostility towards Israel and Jews fairly shocking, if not always actually anti-Semitic. The British lefties think such shock is misplaced. They maintain that Americans are too dumb to see the difference between true anti-Semitism and legitimate criticism of Israel and its policies. "Criticism of Israel isn't necessarily the same thing as anti-Semitism" runs the constant refrain, repeated in op-ed after op-ed and time and again in casual conversation in pubs and cafes. "We don't hate the Jews," they seem to be saying. "Just their state and everything it does. Is that so wrong?"
Well, of course criticism of Israel's policies isn't the same thing as anti-Semitism; I don't know of anyone who has ever maintained that it is. But there's something about the sheer intensity of this hostility and determined ill will that gives pause. I suppose their ideology (broadly speaking, '68-era Marxism) requires that international conflict be understood in terms of a "sophisticated" analysis of the "underlying structure," a dichotomy of Oppressor vs. Oppressed in which the only decent thing is to side with The Oppressed and excoriate The Oppressor. Even without the retrograde ideological claptrap, support for Palestinian nationalism is as worthy as support for any other cause of national liberation. I suppose it's possible to claim (though not very convincingly) that Israel is entirely and uniquely in the wrong in the matter. I have no intention of arguing for or against any of these positions or attitudes, or challenging the substance of the Leftist critique of Israel. I merely point out that the terms and tone often adopted by the British Left when they write about Israel and Jews can be jarring, unpleasant, and rather perplexing to everyone else. Maybe it's all just honest well-intentioned "criticism," maybe it's not exactly anti-Semitic, but the over-the-top hostility is undeniable. And a bit creepy, to be perfectly honest.
Even a dumb American like me can understand their argument. Yet I admit, I'm at a loss to understand the depth of the hostility. I'm not the only one. Recently, Ron Rosenbaum wrote a piece in the New York Observer proposing a not entirely convincing psychological explanation for contemporary Europe's distaste for the Jews and lack of support for the Jewish state: they are "in denial" over their collective guilt for having murdered so many of them in the last century and must therefore "blame the victim." Whether or not you're inclined turn to the platitudes of pop psychology for an explanation, there does appear to be something unwholesome and irrational behind the deeply-felt antipathy. The pretense of a rational critique arising from a sober assessment of geopolitical realities does not seem to square with the extreme bitterness and vehemence of the denunciations. Even if you take the Brit-lefties at their word, allowing them to exempt themselves in advance from any hint of suspicion of anti-Semitic sentiment, and accepting that they may indeed hate Israel for purely creditable reasons, the puzzle remains.
(The last time I tried to puzzle it out, I received quite a lot of email from affronted British leftists, most of whom took care to explain carefully that criticism of Israel isn't necessarily anti-Semitism, etc. If I ever had any confusion on that point, rest assured I'm well aware: your position is that criticism of Israel isn't necessarily anti-Semitism. Whatever. There's still something odd about the tone of the New Statesman's "criticism" of Jews and Israel, even if it's not "necessarily" anti-Semitic. I know you guys don't think there's anything at all odd about it-- that's the point I'm trying to make here.)
In a way, the British Leftists have the same difficulty: they find America's lack of hostility towards Israel and the Jews to be utterly unfathomable, and can't account for it without recourse to conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the media or secret Jewish enclaves in the government. Those who point out that such rhetoric echoes the rhetoric of classic anti-Semitism and thus sounds a bit, well, anti-Semitic, are themselves alleged to be part of the Jewish conspiracy to silence legitimate criticism, which is not necessarily the same as anti-Semitism, etc.
The weird thing is, writers for publications like the New Statesman don't seem to have any clue that positing Jewish conspiracies isn't the most convincing way of establishing your bona fides where anti-Semitism is concerned. It sounds, at minimum, a bit "off" to us; it sounds just fine to them. "Come, come, my dear fellow! I say! I was merely stating the simple fact that the Jew lurks in the highest echelons of power and has a stranglehold on the American media, crushing dissent with merciless claws. What's all the fuss about?"
A case in point is New Statesman writer Andrew Stephen. In this piece (cited by Gary Farber as one reason he could never live in Britain) Stephen attempts to answer a fairly silly question: "why doesn't the US take immediate action against Israel?" Real answer: we rarely launch military attacks upon our allies, even if doing so would please the Swedes and Fleet Street. New Statesman Answer: the US has no choice, because Jews control the government through the all-powerful "Jewish lobby" and "Jewish money." (Stephen even manages to turn Clinton's pardon of "Jewish fugitive" Marc Rich into a sinister Jewish conspiracy-- I don't approve of the pardon, but casting it as part of a Jewish plot is spectacularly twisted.)
And why do Americans think this kind of "criticism" sounds anti-Semitic? Real answer: because it kind of does. New Statesman Answer: criticism of Israel is not allowed, Stephen writes, curiously echoing Rosenbaum, because Americans feel a collective guilt for failing to save the Jews in WWII. "Jews and Israelis can therefore do no wrong here in whatever they choose to do in order to right the monstrous wrongs of history." Then, in a truly bizarre turn, Stephen offers this example of America's determination to excuse Jewish wrong-doing at all costs:
When the Wall Street Journal man Daniel Pearl was kidnapped in Pakistan, the US media collectively agreed not to mention that he was an Israeli citizen whose bar mitzvah was held at the wailing wall in Jerusalem; I read that in the Israeli press, but not a word of it (as far as I know) ever appeared here.
As a general matter, Stephen doesn't think the American media do a satisfactory job of informing the public about Jews in high places. And he expresses astonishment at all the fuss over this "mild observation" from another New Statesman column a few months back:
Though Jews comprise no more than 2 per cent of the US population... Hanukkah is now seen as an event that the US president must officially recognize and celebrate. His spokesman, Ari Fleischer, is Jewish and a couple of weeks ago put his spin on how the White House expected Yasser Arafat to behave... The deputy defence secretary is also Jewish and vociferously argues for war on Iraq. But I have never seen these facts mentioned in the media here.
United States Assures the Arab World That It Will Keep Working With Yasser Arafat. I wonder how the rope-a-dopers will spin this. All part of the master plan?
I'm still reserving judgment, but it sure sounds like they're sticking to the usual arrangement of rewarding Arafat's terrorism with sternly-worded concessions. To be sure, Israel's campaign has made progress towards weakening the terrorist organizations in its midst and capturing or killing some dangerous individuals. Israel is marginally more secure. Yet with regard to the security of the US and the West, the overall message of "working with" Arafat remains: terrorism is worth a try, and suicide bombing works. (And further, perhaps, that there is no act of wanton murder so outrageous that the "international community" will not eventually forgive you for it, provided that the victims are Jews.)
As for "rope-a-dope," I'm with Stryker:
Let's apply Occam's Razor to all of this. Which is more plausible:
Bush and the Gang are playing a high stakes game of Diplomacy with the rest of the world, incorporating doubletalk, feints, blind alleys and Sun Tzu-based stratagems. They have constructed a complicated Rube Goldberg-like strategy which will result in the destruction of every regime in the middle-east, starting with Iraq.
Bush and his advisors are torn about what to do and how to do it. They're just riding the wave hoping for a lucky break while at the same time trying not alienate anybody in the Middle East with their actions.
Over the last few days, the American media have been spinning a vaguely "European" analysis of Bush's foreign policy predicament: according to this typical example President Bush, "whose clarity in responding to foreign policy crises propelled him to unprecedented popularity, is watching global events overtake his black-and-white view of the world." Actually, there's nothing wrong with a "black-and-white" view of the world where Islamo-fascism and terrorism are concerned. Those who threaten us and our allies with suicide bombing campaigns are unequivocally our enemies. What's complicated is how best to organize the campaign to vanquish them; and there are lots of "gray areas" there. The Bush administration's contradictory rhetoric, reflecting not a lack "resolve" but rather a surfeit of options amongst which it cannot decide, has begun to blur the distinction between these two, formerly discrete, categories. Hence the "loss of focus." Hence the Wall Street Journal's nostalgia for the GWB of yester-month.
Is it possible to grant statehood to the Palestinians-- generally agreed to be a desirable goal-- without compromising Israel's security and threatening her continued existence? That's a complicated and vexing question. Should they be allowed to advance towards this goal by means of terrorist blackmail? Should we negotiate with the perpetrators of terrorist atrocities? The answer is a simplistic, black-and-white, "absolutely not."
The Israelis are wrong about a lot of things, but they have one thing, at least, right: Arafat is an enemy, no less than OBL. The Bush administration has apparently decided, for the time being at least, to refrain from acknowledging this truth. How long can they keep this up? Not forever, surely.
Fair and Balanced...
...and a bit of an idiot. In other words: Geraldo Rivera, "Palestinian-ist":
I have been a Zionist my entire life. I would die for Israel. But watching the suffering of the Palestinian people, I'm also becoming a Palestinian-ist.
I'm sure the Middle East can always use another squalid corrupt dictatorship, but at the very least it ought to be a viable squalid corrupt dictatorship. An Arafatist squat on the West Bank and Gaza would be insufficient. If Israel is, to the French, a "shitty little country," this would be littler and shittier. Therefore, Arafat would seek to augment it with territory from either west or east, Israel or Jordan. The likelihood is that he'd be able to destabilize Jordan far more quickly than he could destroy Israel. If it's a choice between an Arafat sewer straddling the Jordan River or the Hashemites, I know which I'd prefer.
Israel should take what it needs of the West Bank for a buffer, round up every terrorist it can, and announce that the Jordanians are welcome to what's left. If King Abdullah doesn't want it and chooses to call in the UN blue helmets in perpetuity, so be it. But the last eight years should have taught Israel that it cannot live within its 1967 borders next to a thug statelet whose sole purpose is to liquidate it. The Arabs have succeeded in luring the West into their bizarro alternative universe, where land lost by a foolish king is mysteriously transformed into the personal property of a terrorist organization, where the "armed struggle" of wired schoolgirls is UN-approved, and where the "right to exist" is something to be negotiated. Fantasy land is fun, but we've encouraged the Arabs in their peculiar dementias for too long. It's time to get real.
If you haven't already seen this at Little Green Footballs, Charles has turned up this behind-the-scenes look at Jenin, from the Egyptian publication al-Ahram. In the words of Omar, an Islamic Jihad explosives "engineer":
"Of all the fighters in the West Bank we were the best prepared," he says. "We started working on our plan: to trap the invading soldiers and blow them up from the moment the Israeli tanks pulled out of Jenin last month."
Omar and other "engineers" made hundreds of explosive devices and carefully chose their locations.
"We had more than 50 houses booby-trapped around the camp. We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them," he said.
"We cut off lengths of mains water pipes and packed them with explosives and nails. Then we placed them about four metres apart throughout the houses -- in cupboards, under sinks, in sofas."
The fighters hoped to disable the Israeli army's tanks with much more powerful bombs placed inside rubbish bins on the street. More explosives were hidden inside the cars of Jenin's most wanted men.
Connected by wires, the bombs were set off remotely, triggered by the current from a car battery.
According to Omar, everyone in the camp, including the children, knew where the explosives were located so that there was no danger of civilians being injured. It was the one weakness in the plan.
"We were betrayed by the spies among us," he says. The wires to more than a third of the bombs were cut by soldiers accompanied by collaborators. "If it hadn't been for the spies, the soldiers would never have been able to enter the camp. Once they penetrated the camp, it was much harder to defend."
And what about the explosion and ambush last Tuesday which killed 13 soldiers?
"They were lured there," he says. "We all stopped shooting and the women went out to tell the soldiers that we had run out of bullets and were leaving." The women alerted the fighters as the soldiers reached the booby- trapped area.
"When the senior officers realised what had happened, they shouted through megaphones that they wanted an immediate cease-fire. We let them approach to retrieve the men and then opened fire.
What really happened at Jenin? This article (via Bill Quick via Max Power) is an attempt at a balanced consideration of the question. The New York Times and the Washington Post reports are full of gutwrenching horrors, but no evidence of the kind of atrocity that has been alleged. The New York Post calls it "the massacre that wasn't. Probably: but the real answer is, no one really knows yet exactly what happened.
I can think of only one explanation for the eagerness of the British press to proclaim a massacre and a war crime before the facts have been established: wishful thinking. (The Brits don't have a monopoly on that sort of perversity if Andrew Sullivan's story about CNN's Andrea Koppel is to be believed.)
MuslimPundit is back, with another thoughtful, wide-ranging essay on Arab anti-Semitism:
Islam has indeed provided a basis for the virulent anti-Semitism that, unfortunately, is now one of the main motivating forces trying to shape the Middle East. Although the roots of the conflict were steeped in political differences, Islam has played no small part in the development of this conflict, and befuddled Arabs now view the current conflict with the religious fervour of the Crusades, albeit with a different set of unbelievers this time around. The question is, why?
The great Doc Searls says that "some of the best blogs (most well-reasoned, funny, wise, artfully written) are what we call warblogs." He hotlinks to this particular warblog as an example. Unless there's some mistake, I'd say that's a pretty nice compliment. So thanks for the kind words, Doc.
I don't agree that "pro-war" is merely an abstraction that means the same thing as "pro-death." (Unless you are some kind of psycho who gets excited about war for its own sake-- I imagine there are very few of those, though they probably exist.) The way I see it, supporting this particular war-- the one against al Qaeda and Islamofascism-- is in fact quite the opposite of being "pro-death," if you want to use those terms. I'm not sure that the terms make much sense, though. I'm opposed to death myself. I'd sign up for the "anti-death" movement if I thought it would do any good. Unfortunately, death is here to stay. So, also unfortunately, is war. You can't change that with a prefix. (Or by passing a law against it, as Jonah Goldberg noted a few days ago.) Some wars are necessary, just and right, while others are not; some may be avoided, while others may be inevitable. (Sometimes, avoiding the avoidable ones in the wrong way actually makes them inevitable.) Even unavoidable and just wars can be conducted in an unjust way. Most often, the rights and wrongs are extremely difficult to sort out. But passivity in the face of evil, pusillanimity when under attack-- these hardly ever work out well for the passive-pusillanimous party.
If your conscience isn't troubled by the destruction and death that result from wars that are prosecuted in your interests, then there's something wrong with you. Yet being "against war" as a matter of general principle doesn't solve the problem, but rather side-steps it. It's like switching the channel because you don't like what's happening on the screen. That said, I respect the conviction, if not necessarily the logic, of the true pacifist, though I doubt there are very many of those. By "true" pacifist, I mean a person who would prefer being bitten to shooting a rattlesnake. That's certainly an option. Works out well for the snake. There used to be a common bumper sticker that said "what if they held a war and no one showed up?" When I was 14, that seemed like iron-clad, inarguable logic to me. Let's just not show up for the next war, and set a good example. My view now is that someone always shows up. And sometimes you have to kill them before they kill you.
Is Doc Searls right that "pacifists" have to keep silent about the war on terror because they're afraid to "risk exposing their families to the often unpleasant consequences of pacifist speech?" I haven't noticed this silence, but then, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. But what are these "unpleasant consequences" faced by the families of peaceniks? Just curious, that's all.
In a related item, "Emmanuel Goldstein" over at Airstrip One has not kept silent, and has been having a little back-and-forth with Natalie Solent about the question: "what motivates the warbloggers?" As "Goldstein" sees it, support for the war on terror-- and particularly the idea of removing Saddam Hussein from power-- is nothing more than a barely-disguised "dream of genocide on the Euphrates." As usual, La Solent's words are worth quoting:
Warbloggers do, by definition, want the war on terror to be waged. They do not merely warn against it, they advocate it as better and safer than alternative strategies. My analogy with my time in CND does not hold when considering the "basic war". In making that analogy, I referred to a common additional belief held by many but not all warbloggers. (I myself sometimes do and sometimes do not convince myself that it is a probable outcome.) Namely that if terrorism is seen to succeed then there will be more of it, and in return more and more indiscriminate reprisals, until you might end up with mutually catastrophic, intentionally genocidal war between Islam and the West/Israel. Were this to happen the West would "win", for lack of a better word, but that would be small comfort indeed. The point I was making was that I haven't come across any warblogger who wants this nightmare to come true. They want to fight before the monster grows too big.
I'm sure Michael Kelly is right about "what Bush expects" in the Middle East.
Bush wants to state for the record, in a once-and-for-all fashion, exactly how the United States sees the situation, in terms discrete and general. The Palestinians have a legitimate grievance that needs to be addressed, as indeed Israel has accepted. But suicide bombers (homicide bombers, says the White House) are murderers, not martyrs. And regimes such as Yasser Arafat's that use mass murder as a tool of statecraft are complicit in murder; and so are regimes that encourage and celebrate such use of murder -- as do almost all of the Arab and Islamic states. Henceforth, the United States will not accept or excuse any of this, and the president "expects" Arafat, the Palestinians and the Arab states to govern themselves accordingly.
What Kelly rightly calls Arafat's "insane gamble" (rejecting a peaceful settlement in hopes of securing greater spoils through violence) was doomed to fail, and has failed. Yet Arafat hasn't come away from the most recent campaign of suicide bombing empty-handed. He has a fresh set of grievances, the accumulation of which has always perversely seemed to be one of his chief goals; he still wields the threat of a further suicide terror campaign in the event that his demands are not met; and it appears that concessions will indeed be granted. A fresh wave of terror seems inevitable. It seems to me that the administration, at some point, will have to do more than merely express disapproval.
Everyone knows that the true focus is Iraq; most agree that it ought to be. The widespread assumption is that no action in Iraq is possible until the West Bank is pacified. As Mark Steyn rather flippantly put it:
From Washington's point of view, the peace mission was necessary because of a scheduling conflict over scheduling conflicts: they'd booked the Middle East for a war with Iraq only to discover the joint being used for some other guys' war. In an ideal world, the US would like to restore peace in the Middle East in order to launch a massive conflagration there.
Ken Layne's FoxNews column is about the brand new NY Sun and the boundless possibilities for creating other new, non-boring newspapers out of ordinary household materials. The enthusiasm is contagious-- I'm starting to get all over-heated here... gonna have to go have a lie-down...
When you apply for a marriage license in the state of California, they give you a booklet called "If There are Children in Your Future." It's not just about having children, but rather, it's a collection of general information that the state feels you need to know before you get married. It's a very important part of the process, and they make a pretty big deal out of it. Both parties have to raise their hands, solemnly swear, and sign and date a statement that they have received it.
The booklet is very much like the ones they give you at the DMV or the gun store, though there's no written test. That's fortunate: I think we both would have flunked the section on the "cycle of violence," parts of which, my adorably politically incorrect fiancee remarked, "sound like fun." She's joking of course. She was also joking (I'm pretty sure) when she said she was going to keep the booklet by the bed and check off everything I ever do, so that her first call to the domestic violence hotline will go smoothly. On the other hand, there is a little space for notes in the booklet, so maybe that is indeed what it's for.
In effect, the state of California puts a warning label on its marriage license: THIS COUPON GOOD FOR ONE MARRIAGE. CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN CHILDREN, DISEASE, SUBSTANCE ABUSE, AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. I suppose I understand why they do this (though I don't for one minute believe that the booklet prevents violence in any way) and I don't mean to make light of a serious problem. But it does seem like a pretty weird way to set the stage for those entering into the institution of holy matrimony.
My British fiancee sees this preemptive provision for disaster as quintessentially American, like the coffee cups that warn you that coffee can be hot, or the label that informs you that the packet of almonds "contains nuts." (Can there really have been a case where someone sued the state for failing to warn them that marriage can result in children, or that men can be bastards?) When she was signing up to be an exchange student at UC Santa Cruz a few years ago, she received as part of the application package a "sexual harassment grievance" form; the implication, she said, was that they felt you might as well fill it out in advance. That's the American way.
As I've said many times before, Ken Layne understands the situation in the Middle East better than anyone.
All We are Saying Is: Give Appeasement a Chance
Is the apparent incoherence of Bush's Middle East policy simply a clever contrivance, intended to disguise and deflect attention from the real underlying coherent strategy? Are the admonitions to Israel to curtail its pursuit of terrorists and to leave some of the terrorist infrastructure intact delivered with a wink? Is Bush just talking sternly in public to appease the Europeans and Arabs while privately sending the message to Sharon that he has the administration's blessing to continue the crackdown? Has the time-honored determination of the State Department to adhere to its preferred pattern of engagement with Arafat and his terrorist minions (a period of denunciation, closely followed by sucking up spell, rinse, repeat) suddenly and fundamentally and secretly transformed itself, the new policy to be revealed at some future date?
Is there any basis, beyond mere wishful thinking, for this conspiracy theory in reverse? I would love to be mistaken, but the widespread "rope-a-dope" interpretation of US maneuvering (as Glenn Reynolds has called it) seems more doubtful than ever. Of course, I don't think there can be anyone, within the administration or outside of it, who thinks that Powell's "peace mission" ever had any hope of success. That is to say, no one actually believes that it will secure anything like "peace," nor even the basis for some future peace, nor even a temporary cessation of hostilities, nor, in fact, anything at all. In this sense, the Powell mission was indeed clearly intended to fail, in order to buy time, to forestall the inevitable re-escalation of attacks, perhaps even to allow Israel to proceed with a bit more of its ruthless crackdown and round-up of terror perpetrators, to put off the terrible choices which must inevitably be made. The failure has succeeded, but at a cost: the sacrifice of the moral clarity which was once the administration's chief strength in the debate, despite European charges of "simplisme." In a way, the administration has in fact adopted the "sophisticated" approach preferred by the Europeans (though I daresay Bush will get scant credit from them for the conversion.) All they are saying is "give appeasement a chance." It will not work.
The weakly-worded condemnation of terror, which could be extracted from a reluctant Arafat only by applying maximum diplomatic pressure, changes nothing. Its real message was that he has every intention of maintaining his policies exactly as before, to continue to "write in blood the map of the one homeland and one nation." Despite the statement, and even as Powell was meeting with Arafat, the Palestinian Authority explicitly announced its determination to continue the suicide bombing campaign. Meanwhile, Arafat refuses to consider a "cease fire" (that is, he denounces, but refuses to call a halt to the terrorism he claims to condemn) until his demands are met.
Israel is certainly not beyond reproach, and the Palestinians have legitimate grievances. Nevertheless, offering concessions under the threat of terrorist attack amounts to a guarantee of, and an effective acquiescence to, further atrocities. It hardly matters whether or not the concessions are "real." It hardly matters whether or not the President is "winking" when he delivers his comments. All that is required is that the promoters and practitioners of terrorist activity as a form of political "activism" or "resistance" believe that such blackmail allows them to gain ground against the powerful forces arrayed against them. As it stands, they have every reason to believe that suicide bombings advance their cause; thus, they have every reason to continue them. Israel is their current target; but we're next. Therefore, US policy should not only allege that such activity is futile, but also attempt to demonstrate this futility.
Perhaps the final round of the "rope-a-dope" is not yet at hand, and the shining brilliance of the real strategy behind the "sideshow" will soon be revealed. I'm not holding my breath, though.
UPDATE: Steven den Beste says that Powell's answer to Arafat's refusal to rein in terror means that "Arafat is now out of the loop." I think they'll find a way to keep him in the loop. But I hope den Beste is right.
H. D. Miller, in his great new blog Travelling Shoes, has turned up this love letter to Noam Chomsky ("honoured patron of the revisionist movement") posted on a website dedicated to celebrating the life and work of British Fascist Oswald Mosley.
It's Chomsky's cagey flirtation with the Holocaust denial movement that earns him a place amongst such luminaries as Ezra Pound, Heidegger, Spengler, and assorted British Blackshirts, past and present.
"He reserves his vitriol," writes an anonymous member of the 'Friends of Oswald Mosley' society "for the state of Israel and the Zionists squirm helplessly because Chomsky is too respected as an academic, a prolific writer and a Jew... He can balance Left and Right and appeal to both in his condemnation of both Israel and America and his belief that the Jewish religion is anti-social."
Of course, Chomsky claims that his defense of holocaust "revisionists" arises solely out of concern for Free Speech. Yet the modern-day Mosley-ites appear to believe that anyone, Left or Right, who can make Jews "squirm helplessly" on any basis is a kindred spirit, or a useful ally, at any rate. And they have a point.
The whole system is extraordinarily well-organized, both pre- and post-explosion.
Pre-explosion training begins with the Al Aqsa Brigade's "martyrdom unit:"
The planning of suicide bombing missions is a tightly held secret. About six or eight volunteer cells are involved. They groom the bomber religiously and tactically; they make the bomb; they transport it and the bomber; they select and monitor likely targets; and they organise accommodation and disguises.
A few days before the mission, the bomber is instructed to quietly disappear from his or her home and work. Then begins a period of immersion training, of intense periods of time spent with a father-figure minder, upon whom they are coached into great psychological dependence - both to please him and to follow his every instruction.
The post-explosion phase begins when "the first drop of the martyr's blood spills on the ground," according to terror bomb theologian Sheik Ahmed Yassin. At that point, the terrorist maniac immediately "goes to paradise," while "his victims, the Jews, go to hell." Then after a brief bureaucratic procedure at the gate, the martyr moves on to collect valuable prizes, including the oft-noted virgins. When they say 72 virgins, they mean 72 virgins. And they're not just talking about two scoops of raisins:
Khaled, a hotel worker, spoke in wonderment of a martyr's encounter at the gates of heaven as someone having their file checked: "There will be blessings for 70 of his family and friends. The 72 virgins are real - their skin is so pale and beautiful that you can see the blood in their veins. If one of these virgins spits in the ocean, the seawater becomes sweet. The martyr is so special he does not feel the pain of being in the grave and all that his family has to do to cleanse his file thoroughly, is to repay his outstanding debts."
Surely, we ask, this view of the Koran should be seen as philosophical? As a parable? But no, there was a chorus of disagreement from a gathering of his friends in the teeming Jabalya refugee camp near Gaza City: "No. This is real . . . this is as it will be," said Khaled, as much for himself as on behalf of younger Palestinians who now talk endlessly of the benefits of death over life in a bombing campaign that has killed more than 200 Israelis in 18 months.
OK, I'm warning you: when I said the last time was your last last chance I must have been wrong because this is your last last chance. I mean it, this is absolutely and positively the final last chance you're going to get.
Every time I think Alexander Cockburn has finally completed his long descent into madness, he somehow manages to find room to descend just a little more. Awhile back, Gary Farber, Matt Welch, and I commented on this peculiar article, in which Cockburn planted a laundry list of gratuitous, unsourced anti-Semitic conspiracy theories into a column about Billy Graham and Richard Nixon. As I noted, Cockburn didn't make it clear whether or not he approved of these "stories sloshing around in the news." It was a strange thing to do either way. What, if anything, was he out to accomplish?
This piece (once again via Gary Farber) in the New York Press provides further comment, if no answer. He tells the story of a phone call from a writer from the New Republic ("Frank"-- is that Franklin Foer, maybe?) who asks him that very question.
Cockburn is a seasoned veteran of such persecution and smear campaigns. "Cockburn." writes Cockburn, "will be stigmatized yet again as the purveyor of anti-Semitic filth. It’s all pretty predictable." Accusing him of spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Cockburn asserts, is itself part of a wider conspiracy to silence all criticism of Jews and Israel. But what if the Jews really are up to something? Isn't that a "legitimate topic of comment?"
Everyone's in on it. The New York Times, out-cloak-and-daggering the amateurish New Republic, has figured out a particularly ingenious way of facilitating Jewish wrong-doing:
And on the topic of the Times, have you noticed how that great paper has had a front-page piece rubbishing the Catholic Church as a nest of molesters every day for some time, especially since Sharon invaded Ramallah? The uncharitable could see this as a preemptive strike against papal criticism of Israel’s actions, and also to shift attention away from the blood-stained molestations of the adherents of one of the other monotheistic religions.
He also thinks that CNN's Rudi Bakhtiar is sending him secret messages by means of facial tics and meaningful looks, indicating "by cunning artifice her own distancing from the garbage her employers force her to regurgitate."
Alex: I see a nice, comfortable place in the uncharitable bin in your future.
Hmm, I don't know. Every English person I know would rather have a live rat sewn into his or her belly than do this.
"The Purblind Peevishness of Polyphemus..."
...isn't a phrase you come across very often, but that's what happens when you give writers like Wole Soyinka a few free drinks. (By Polyphemus, he means Israel, by the way.)
Now, see if you can make it all the way to end of this:
Arafat! Arafat! Arafat! Long before there was the likelihood of my venturing near the cave of Polyphemus, I had found myself shaken to the foundations of reason that anyone with the slightest intelligence, with even a minimal grasp of the psychology of humiliation and desperation, could exhibit such inanity as to imagine that within the context of the Middle East conflict, any one individual, no matter how highly respected by his followers, how sacrosant his authority, could control a form of action that stemmed out of both collective and individual desperation and trauma.
Wobblin' or Winkin'?
"George is going wobbly, say the editors of the New Republic, "and so is his administration..."
the hour is late for debater's points. Too many innocent Israelis and Palestinians have died. About this no decent person can disagree. It would be awfully wonderful if the Israelis could immediately withdraw from the hostile casbahs of the West Bank in an expectation of calm and reason, so that the scholasticisms of Tenet and Mitchell can be given a chance. For the Palestinian question cannot be reduced to a question of terrorism: About this, too, no decent person could disagree. But if it is not only a question of terrorism, it is also a question of terrorism; and neither Tenet not Mitchell has the answer to it. The United States, of all powers and all peoples, should not treat Israel's defense of itself as an inconvenience.
Daddy Warblogs reads the Arab News and the European press and notes that it's not always easy to tell the difference.
A truck filled with natural gas crashed into a wall surrounding a synagogue on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba earlier this afternoon, killing at least five people and injuring about 20, the official news agency reported...
The nation's official news agency, TAP, qualified the blast as an "accident."
The old "bomb disguised as bundle of joy" trick.
You don't need me to tell you this, but...
If al-Qaeda had attacked European capitals, and the EU had marshaled its military forces to respond
most of the critics would be far more supportive, because it was Europe on the move, not yee-ha American cowboys from the Bar-Bubba Ranch. Few would demand that Europe examine its past to see why the Arabs hated them. So some Europeans shot the face off the Sphinx for grins? So they feasted on the remains of the Ottoman empire? So they carted away the spoils of the tombs of the Pharaohs, invaded Ethiopia, made claim to Algeria? They have an excellent track record when it comes to the PLO. You hate the Jews? Hey, we hate the Jews! Come here, you big lug. All is forgiven.
When it comes to the troubles of the Middle East, you have four factors: the Arabs, the Jews, the Europeans, the Americans. Which one killed the most Arabs? Which one occupied the most land? Which one feasted on the bones of the Ottoman empire? Which one expelled its Jews?
So does Layne: if you're like me, his sermon in favor of "informed American optimism" will be just what you need to hear about now.
Now this is cool: Eugene Volokh has a blog.
Tony Blankley makes a pretty strong case that "Mr. Bush has been winking to us as much as he can" when it comes to Israel's campaign. And according to this article, Arab leaders are noticing all the winking, even if we're not.
It doesn't really have much to do with his main point, but I'm going to quote the funny bit:
Now, the same media commentators who have misunderstood the world since their college days have pronounced that with the president's deeper involvement in the Middle East mess, his authority and credibility will be smashed, should he not succeed. They are as wrong now, in their stylish clothes, as they were 30 years ago in their bell bottoms and beads.
Look mom! I'm famous!
I don't know how I managed to miss it till now, but I just realized that Glenn Reynolds has put up a Dr. Frank permalink on InstaPundit. I'm not worthy... but thanks, Professor!
You can expect to hear a lot more of this argument over the next few days:
Palestinian officials said the blast on a bus from the northern city of Haifa to Jerusalem shattered Israel's argument that the 12-day-old sweep for militants would bring security to Israelis shaken by a spate of suicide attacks last month.
In the week just before the offensive began, there were an average of about two bombings per day in Israel. This is the first bombing to take place in the 12 days since then. A reduction in the rate of bombings is a victory; it's that many more Israelis who didn't get cut to pieces by flying nails....
Another point is that this attack was apparently made by Hamas. Hamas operates primarily out of Gaza, and so far the Israelis haven't concentrated heavily on Gaza. After they've finished cleaning out the West Bank, Gaza is next on their list.
Why doesn't the American government understand that what we're doing here is a fight against terror ? same terror that struck down WTC on September 11th, same terror that threatens all of the free, western democratic world?
Powell wants to meet Arafat, well, go ahead, do it if you feel it'll do any good in stopping the attacks against Israeli citizens. I just have a great suggestion for PM Sharon - let Powell get there by bus.
Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?
A Matt Welch reader turned up the link to this open letter to "friends of President Bush" by diehard Saddam apologist Jude Wanniski. Welch's extensive commentary on it is well worth a look. Wanniski casts Jeffrey Goldberg's powerful piece on Saddam's genocidal war against the Kurds as insidious, baseless propaganda. I agree with Matt and Human Rights Watch that Goldberg's take is far more credible than Wanniski's dismissal of it.
According to Wanniski, concerning Goldberg's credibility, "it should make a difference that Goldberg served in the Israeli army and is a citizen of Israel." Should it indeed? Jewish lies. Kurdish lies. Yep, it's all propaganda...
TNR's Lawrence Kaplan has a typically sharp analysis of the Bush administration's multiple personality disorder on Israel/Palestine. "The principal reason the Bush administration can't intervene effectively in the crisis is that it can't make up its mind," writes Kaplan. "Actually, it has two of them... [and] every time the administration wades into the conflict, this schizophrenia becomes more apparent."
This article in the Financial Times [via USS clueless] offers the most cogent argument I've seen to the contrary. I agree that the administration hasn't "lost focus" on Iraq. But I'm still skeptical about the idea that the State Department's habitual deferential overtures to Arafat have suddenly changed their character, and are now to be read, for the first time, as Machiavellian manoeuvres designed to undermine him.
We'll really have to wait to see what they do and say next, especially in view of the latest attack. Here's another passage from Kaplan:
When questioned in an Israeli TV interview last December, the Palestinian leader exploded, "who cares about the Americans?" Not Arafat. As one State Department official puts it, "Every time we take a step in his direction, he takes another step back." In the past few weeks alone, Arafat has refused to issue a public appeal to end terrorist attacks in exchange for a meeting with Cheney and has rejected a U.S.-devised cease-fire proposal--a draft copy of which requires Israel to lift "all internal closures"; pull back to "its positions of September 28, 2000"; and cease "attacks on [Palestinian] security forces or institutions." (Sharon agreed.) In fact, the deeper the United States involves itself in the conflict, the worse Arafat behaves. Hence, he greeted U. S. Special Envoy Anthony Zinni with a wave of suicide bombers on the envoy's first trip to Israel. On Zinni's second trip, Arafat greeted him with a ship from Iran packed with 50 tons of missiles, guns, and mortars. The results of Zinni's third and ongoing trip are before us today. "Arafat has always used terror as a negotiating ploy," says Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, "and he is doing so once again because of a logic that is hardly responsive to American influence.
Quote of the Day
Michael Gove on the IRA and the Riverdance of Death:
The choreography is superb, the discipline impressive, the applause thunderous. These two Irish spectacles, having won over London and wowed the States, have made their directors rich men. But that’s not the only thing which links Michael Flatley’s Riverdance and Gerry Adams’s peace process. In both cases the audience is meant to think — how wonderful, massed ranks of arms, but they never use them.
Rio de Janeiro's tourist board is threatening legal action against The Simpsons, claiming that the episode "Blame it on Lisa" has hurt the tourist industry with its unfavorable portrayal of Rio's rat- and monkey-infested streets.
"What really hurt was the idea of the monkeys," said tourist board spokesman Sergio Cavalcanti, "the image that Rio de Janeiro was a jungle. ... It's a completely unreal image of the city."
The world's first cloned human embryo is the son of a rich Arab, according to claims made by Severino Antinori, the Italian fertility specialist.
Dr Antinori said that the embryo was the clone of a VIP and that he had been experimenting to produce human clones "in an Islamic country".
Dr Antinori has told Giancarlo Calzolari, a friend and science reporter at Il Tempo newspaper in Rome, that the pregnancy is real and that he has a "limitless supply of money" for his experiments. Mr Calzolari said that he had been contacted by the doctor on Friday.
"He told me it was a clone of an important, wealthy personality," Mr Calzolari said. "However, he was vague when I asked him the name of the woman and to at least describe the father. He would only say that he was a grosso personaggio [a big cheese]."
Fred Pruitt, who knows far more about the matter than me or Andrew Sullivan, has some interesting additional speculation about the anthrax mailings. I think we're all agreed that it's not domestic. The question is, is it over?
Bill Quick has posted four well-written and well-thought out "reasons for killing Yasser Arafat now."
"Were Israel to kill Arafat," he writes, "the puffed-up bubble of Palestinian triumphalism that prevents Palestine from negotiating from a position grounded in reality would vanish." I'm not so sure; such is the perversity of the suicide-bomber ethos that triumphalism and defeat have merged into a single, crazy cult, a celebration of victimhood where the revelers cheer wins and losses with equal relish. The world would be no worse off without Arafat, certainly; but I fear it wouldn't make much practical difference. It's hard to argue with reason #4, though:
Arafat is a monster. Anybody who believes that he doesn't have the consciously willed blood of hundreds, even thousands, of innocent men, women, and children on his hands knows almost nothing of his past. I feel no qualms at all about comparing his methods, aims, and goals to Hitler himself - the same insane anti-semitism driving the same urge to wreak holocaust on the Jewish race by any means possible. He has lived all his life by a sword drenched in the blood of innocents. It seems fitting to me that he should die by the same sword wielded on behalf of his innocent victims.
I heard Daniel Pipes expound the "two speeches in one" analysis of Bush's remarks on the O'Reilly Factor last week. A reader forwarded me the link to this LA Times article where he makes the point more systematically.
Whence comes this illogic? From two mistakes. One is to believe that Arafat can change his ways, ignoring the fact that he entered the terrorism business in 1965 and has never abandoned it. This man is irredeemable, and any diplomacy premised on his behaving in a civilized way is doomed to failure. (Curiously, the U.S. government itself makes no parallel mistake of negotiating with the Taliban's Mullah Omar or Iraq's Saddam Hussein.)
Second, the president seems not to understand the purpose of Palestinian violence against Israel. It is not directed at winning an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. Had the Palestinians wanted just that, they could have taken it on a silver platter during negotiations at Camp David in July 2000.
Rather, this violence has a much more ambitious set of goals: the destruction of the Jewish state itself... To watch Bush dealing with an increasingly acrimonious Arab-Israeli theater leaves me with two impressions: His larger vision-to support Israel against terrorism-shows a clear understanding of the situation. But his limited understanding of the issues leads him to adopt superficial, even counterproductive policies.
Welch takes on Eric Alterman, reads his mail, and tells it like it is.
Reuel Marc Gerecht makes yet another strong case against appeasement of suicide bombers, their supporters, and their figurehead. Noting Arafat's assertion (all too true, no doubt) that accepting the Camp David proposals would have amounted to a death sentence at the hands of his own people, Gerecht writes:
What in the Palestinian kamikazes' psychological makeup makes the Bush administration believe that they are going to be more pragmatic than Arafat was in 2000? Or is Arafat supposed to be more willing to die for "peace" now than he was then? Arafat has consistently encouraged and endorsed suicide-bombings as blessed work. At what future point in negotiations is Arafat supposed to turn to wannabe martyrs and tell them that their holy war against the Jewish state is wrong? Even if Arafat wanted to, how could he even begin to construct the ethical argument to quiet the passions that he has unleashed?
The Bush administration seems to believe that there is some rational switch inside the Palestinian national movement, which has now elevated holy-war kamikazes to iconic status, that if flipped would make it a committed convert to the sober Western gradualism inherit in the Tenet, Mitchell and Oslo peace plans.
The administration's approach follows the appeasement logic of the Clinton and first Bush administrations. That is, Israeli concessions will eventually slake the Palestinian recourse to terrorism. The administration appears to believe--the State Department certainly does--that Israel's military response to terrorism actually provokes further terrorism (the "cycle of violence").
Tony Adragna has it right: Bush, "walking a tightrope between the State Department and DoD," lost his balance because of the recent round of unexpectedly brutal suicide attacks. His speech attempted to restore this "balance," by giving everyone a bit of what they wanted to hear. (In this sense, it was rather "Clintonian.") At best, the balancing act may buy a little time, at least until it becomes clear that the Powell mission has failed-- if there is, in fact, anyone to whom this is unclear. At some point, though, the administration will have to make a choice. None of the options are particularly enticing, but if they, like their predecessors, choose appeasement, they will in effect be giving the green light to further suicide attacks. Again.
Wake up and smell the anthrax
Unfortunately, I think Sullivan is probably right about the latest info on the Leahy anthrax, which, according to this report, is indeed 'a “weaponized” form of the bacterium more sophisticated than any previously known.'
Whoever did it, he or she was a real pro. My suspicion is that it was a warning from Iraq that any attempt to disarm Saddam would lead to an immediate chemical or biological response in the U.S. I'm sorry, but that's still my suspicion. I'd be happy and relieved to be disproved, but so far, the signs are nothing but ominous.
There's no way of telling what these people were/are up to, but for some reason I still have a hunch that that's what was going on. As a bio-attack, the anthrax mail campaign was a miserable failure. Yet the idea that the people capable of producing such sophisticated weapons would be so inept at delivering them seems fairly dubious. Unless they had other immediate motives than trying to infect people, such as judging the response of law enforcement and disease control authorities, or calculating a rough "panic per spore" ratio with regard to the public. Obviously, the "experiments" ceased. Because the FBI inadvertently caught the "researchers" in a sweep? Or because they learned all they needed to know, and are waiting for the proper time for phase II? I suppose I should insert the obligatory "I know I'm paranoid" disclaimer here; but as Sullivan says, the signs are nothing but ominous.
Colin Powell explains what GWB means by "pull back without delay."
Powell said Bush "does expect something to happen soon with respect to bringing this operation to some culminating point where you can start to see a movement in the other direction."
Sir, I admit your general rule that every poet is a fool but as you yourself should serve to show it every fool is not a poet.
As a poet, bin Laden can be compared to Shakespeare: Shakespeare, he ain't.
Here are some highlights:
Why in our area do we see
Nothing but parapets and pits?
Is it because America has come
Manipulating funds and media?
What can I utter to a world bereft
Of physical and moral vision,
Where nations are bought and sold
In an inflationary and speculative trade?
This bit is more like the Lemon Pipers:
So then I traveled eastward
Where there are men of radiant brows.
Gary suggests that I might be able to give this "a good beat." I would try, but in fact it has already been done by the Lemon Pipers, by Bad Religion, and, most recently, by the Daisy Cutters.
Two Deaf Lesbians is not a rock band, but rather a couple of, um, deaf lesbians, Sharon and Candy, one of whom impregnated herself with sperm from a deaf man in hopes of fulfilling their cherished dream of passing on their handicap to their offspring. The baby has been born, but they'll have to wait two or three months before a test can determine whether they have successfully doomed their child to a life of severe disability.
see deafness as an identity, not a medical affliction that needs to be fixed. Their effort -- to have a baby who belongs to what they see as their minority group -- is a natural outcome of the pride and self-acceptance the Deaf movement has brought to so many.
According to the author of this article (which I found via A Dog's Life):
Sharon and Candy are a little like immigrant parents who, with a huge and dominant and somewhat alien culture just outside their door, want to ensure that their children will share their heritage, their culture, their life experience.
Sometimes news stories can confer new life upon old bumperstickers: in this case, I'm reminded of the one that goes "if you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?"
Dr. Frank, Superstar
Well, not really. But I do feel like a big shot now that favorite warblogger Matt Welch put a Dr. Frank link on his revamped front page. Not just me: he's got a pretty comprehensive list of warblogs up there now.
His latest post on the thin skin of the gate-keepers is another must-read, by the way.
(Incidentally, I'm impressed that he managed to make heads, not to mention tails, of my 4 am babbling-- I'm pretty sure lesser mortals would have heard something like "burble harrumph *cough* mmmmm." Speaking of which-- early am babbling, I mean-- we spent most of last night at Ye Olde Hut on College Ave. in Oakland. The result: ouch. Burble harrumph *cough* mmmmm. And never again.)
That Speech Again
Is the sky falling? Stephen Green says it isn't.
Robert Fisk says it is, but he's got a different set of criteria, I suspect. As Fisk spins it, Bush's remarks were decidedly unwobbly. Here's how he boils it down:
the White House... is to give the Israeli Prime Minister more time to finish his invasion, destroy the Palestinian infrastructure and dismantle the Palestinian Authority.
I agree with Fisk and VodkaPundit (how often can you say that?) that the actual speech wasn't as wobbly as the headlines made it sound. And I'm not at all surprised by this. It was a peculiar speech, though, a call for simultaneous advance and retreat. Usually, the backpedaling doesn't occur within the same speech.
The Wall Street Journal's editors find a "silver lining" in Bush's cave-in on the Israeli offensive, and say that it will be worth it if it allows him to "re-focus the war on terror back on Iraq." Peggy Noonan thinks there wasn't a cave-in at all: the speech was "good good good." And Glenn Reynolds seems to be leaning toward the view that's it's all part of a clever Machivellian strategy.
I hope all of them are right. Despite the "silver lining" (the hint that future policy will focus on Iraq, Syria and Iran as a "terror problem" for the US as well as for Israel) I have to say I remain as pessimistic as the WSJ editors, who write:
Mr. Bush's speech did also at least recognize "Israel's right to defend itself from terror," which presumably means further military action if the suicide bombings continue.
Nonetheless, Mr. Bush has now committed his own prestige to solving the unsolvable Arab-Israeli conflict. While denouncing Mr. Arafat for failing to control terror, the President still props him up as the Palestinian Israelis are supposed to negotiate with. Mr. Arafat has never confronted terror, not even when he promised after Oslo, but we are supposed to believe that he will now that world pressure has forced Israel to back down one more time.
For the bombings to stop, Mr. Arafat will have to disband the terror wing of his own Fatah organization that he's spent the past 18 months building up. Syria and Iran will have to stop arming Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist bombing sources. And Egypt and the Saudis will also have to use their leverage on the Palestinians, especially by threatening to cut off their money. Just to repeat this list shows how preposterous it is.
All the more so if Colin Powell now wastes his own and American credibility by begging Mr. Arafat to cooperate. The only terms Mr. Sharon has set for resuming negotiations with Mr. Arafat is an end to the violence--hardly unreasonable. If Mr. Powell now waters even that basic demand down, as European elites and the State bureaucracy will insist, then the U.S. will truly be rewarding terror.
Zinni met with Arafat last night. No details yet, but I suppose we'll know soon enough. Does anyone believe that his mission has a ghost of a chance of success? The sponsors of the suicide bombers have made it crystal clear that they have no intention of stopping the attacks under any circumstances, whether or not Arafat utters the increasingly meaningless words "cease fire."
Coddle, Denounce, Coddle, Denounce
Should this make a difference? You bet. It proves that Arafat has been lying all along, as if any proof were needed.
Will it make any difference? Of course not. Those who believe that negotiations can still succeed will ignore this because if they accepted it they'd have to acknowledge that they're trying to deal with someone who won't keep his word.
The Bush administration seems to have adopted the same coin-flipping strategy.
Bush had little good to say about Arafat, saying "the situation in which he finds himself today is largely of his own making."
"He has missed his opportunities and thereby betrayed the hopes of his people," he said. "Given his failure, the Israeli government feels it must strike at the terrorist networks that are killing its citizens."
to lay the foundations of future peace, I ask Israel to halt incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas, and begin the withdrawal from those cities it has recently occupied.
The result of capitulating, under threat of terrorist attack, to the demands of thugs like Arafat and his anti-American/anti-Jewish cheerleaders will certainly not be "future peace." Does the Bush administration understand this? They don't seem to be able to decide.
Speaking of Europe's dumbest peace activists, they were surprised to learn that it can be quite dangerous in the middle of a combat zone.
Here's the full quote from Kate Edwards, a "community worker from Manchester:"
"We were walking up the hill from Bethlehem when a tank came down the hill towards us.
I could see a man in the tank and he was shouting at us to go back.
We carried on going...
...but then heard several bangs. We thought they had fired stun grenades to chase us off.
"We decided to stop for a moment to get used to the sound of the bangs before deciding what to do.
I never thought for a moment that they would fire live ammunition at us. Then I heard several more bangs and I realised that I had been hit in the stomach."
"I'm keeping away from the windows because a tank's going past and there are snipers all round here," she said.
"We're surviving on crisps, Diet Coke and a lot of fruit-and-nut chocolate.
It's too dangerous to go out anywhere but there's no point anyway because all the shops are closed."
This is a couple of days old now, but David Warren's latest take on Arafat and Israel is well worth reading:
European "peace activists" were used as a front by the Palestinians in a clever operation to smuggle several of the most-wanted terrorists who had retreated to Mr. Arafat's office. They surprised the Israelis on their way in, but on their way out IDF soldiers surrounded them and detached and grabbed their suspects. These may have included the murderers of the Israeli tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi.
Under the Madrid/Oslo "peace process," Mr. Arafat agreed, in return for being allowed to return to the West Bank and Gaza, to limit armaments in Palestinian-administered territories to sidearms and standard equipment required by police. He undertook not only to prevent violent attacks on Israel and Israelis, but to adopt a pacific tone, and of course disavow terrorism.
The pretense that he has done anything other than fuel and incite violence, since the moment he arrived, is no longer sustainable. Explosives of the very kind used by Palestinian suicide bombers have been found in Palestinian Administration police caches all over the territories. And Mr. Arafat's constant rhetorical celebration of the cult of "martyrdom" and other forms of homicide is now a matter of public record. His game is up.
Most significant is the intelligence haul from Mr. Arafat's compound. The IDF soldiers have been at pains to secure and remove files, documents, and communications records; the mission to Ramallah was in some sense planned like the commando raid on the Karine A in the Red Sea in January. There is presently a large traffic of intelligence "content" between the Israeli government and the CIA, Pentagon, U.S. State Department and White House in Washington. Connections between the Palestinian Authority and international Islamist terror organizations, including al-Qaeda, are being established, chapter and verse.
Still skeptical about the Axis of Evil?
More on Saddam's anti-US terrorist program.
Iraq planned clandestine attacks against American warships in the Persian Gulf in early 2001, according to an operative of Iranian nationality who says he was given the assignment by ranking members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle.
The alleged plan involved loading at least one trade ship with half a ton of explosives, and – sailing under an Iranian flag to disguise Iraq's role – using a crew of suicide bombers to blow up a US ship in the Gulf.
The operative, who says he smuggled weapons for Iraq through Iran for Al Qaeda during the late 1990s, says he was told that $16 million had already been set aside for the assignment – the first of "nine new operations" he says the Iraqis wanted him to carry out, which were to include missions in Kuwait.
The first plot, remarkably similar to the attack on the USS Cole on Oct. 12, 2000, was never carried out. The status of the other nine operations remains unclear.
In some of the quotes in the article, this "operative" uses language that seems to suggest that Iraqi military has several formally trained "suicide squads." Pythonesqueness aside, the level of organization hinted at in this article is pretty disturbing, though perhaps it ought not to be surprising.
Are there such Iraqi "operatives" and suicide squads in the US, waiting to spring into action once the war begins? It seems more likely than not. (It's also pretty likely that their weapons wouldn't be limited to incendiary devices, but would include Saddam's favorite low-cost, high-impact chemical and biological weapons.) Considering Saddam's clear ties to Palestinian terrorist groups, the Fatah threats against US interests "all over the world" are even more worrying. "We are not bin Laden," said the head of Arafat's Fatah movement, "but we have our own style."
$16 million would fund enough suicide terror welfare payments to raise a substantial suicide army. He's already managed to wring a great deal of destruction out of a mere $500,000 in Israel; and the Saudis apparently have also been funding the martyr brigades, putting up $400 million last year alone, according to the Weekly Standard's Steven Schwartz. Schwartz does the math:
The kingdom pledged $400 million last year for the support of "martyrs' families," according to the Saudi Embassy's Web site. At $5,300 per "martyr," that works out to about 75,000 martyrs, suggesting the Saudi princes anticipate a lot more suicide bombings than Israel has yet suffered.
Getting them into the US, as we have unfortunately learned, would be a piece of cake.
(By the way, the link to the Weekly Standard comes via Best of the Web-- in the same item, Taranto cites this blurb by Bob Novak about Bill Clinton's receipt of a $750,000 speaking fee as well as a pledge of Presidential Library funding from the Saudi government. The caption: "you don't have to kill Jews to benefit from Saudi largesse." Does the goal of Clinton-bashing over-ride all considerations of taste and decency? Apparently so.
The final article in the series cited in this item is about the Clinton administration's quashing of a 1995 investigation of Islamic charities, which is an interesting story to be sure. Taranto comments: "Federal agents raided 14 Islamic businesses in Virginia that are suspected of sending money to terrorists, but the feds aren't saying what they found." I'll tell you one thing they found: Grover Norquist. I'm sorry, but there are as many Republican fingerprints as there are Democratic ones on the "lack of sufficient vigilance against Arab terrorism" crime scene.
Clinton's not my favorite guy, but the anti-Clinton people are starting to remind me of the logic-deprived "activists" of my youth, who are to this day still babbling the same anti-Reagan platitudes as though he were still President. You've got to get over it, fellows.)
Spare us from any more Middle East peace plans, writes Michael Gove in today's Times. And bring on Netanyahu:
Terrorists care only about winning. To defeat terror one must prove that it will not secure political gains. Israel needs a government that can grasp that logic properly, which will tighten its security policy accordingly, explain fluently to the West that its struggle is democracy’s struggle, point out that there can be no peace in the Middle East while the regimes which sponsor terror survive, and then refuse to engage with peace plans until terrorist violence has ceased. The Israeli politician who best understands this is Binyamin Netanyahu.
Any “diplomatic settlement” wrung out of Israel as a consequence of the current terror campaign will only guarantee further terror, for it will have delivered a political yield for an investment in violence, secured a better forward base for the terrorists’ stated goal of exterminating Israel, and indicated to tyrants from Baghdad to Damascus that the West was unwilling to hold the line.
Worse, it would advertise to the world what al-Qaeda hoped to establish on September 11: it would show that suicide bombing, if prosecuted for long enough, will work. Yesterday Haifa, tomorrow who knows?
Once again I'm going to risk redundancy by mentioning that Lileks has another great Bleat on the blogging, old media/new media topic. His ideal paper would be mine as well:
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it’s all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin “I am smoking in such a provocative fashion” Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn’t buy that paper? Who wouldn’t want to read it? Who wouldn’t climb over their mother to be in it?
By the way, here's the Boston Globe article, the "research" for which sparked the bleat. As Reynolds and Sullivan point out, Alex Beam, Professional Columnist, somehow failed to grasp that Bjorn Staerk's "I love Stalin!" page was an April Fool's joke. It is simply beyond my power to imagine what it would be like to be that dim.
Providing the url to Lileks's blog was another hare-brained credibility-undermining mistake: any reader who follows that link will instantly realize that, compared to Lileks, Beam couldn't write himself out of paper bag. And that Lileks "scooped" Beam by writing a better column about Beam's own column before it was even published. That sort of thing is only possible in the blogosphere. The blog people win this one.
(Beam, like most professional journalists writing about the blog phenom., only cites other pro-journalists. But I must point out that Sullivan does it, too: he mentions, but does not provide a link to, Bjorn Staerk's page, for instance. Say what you want about Lileks, he's no filthy gatekeeper.)
UPDATE: The VodkaPundit piles on.
And the Winner is...
After months of nominees for the "Begala Award," Andrew Sulllivan has finally turned up a true champion. It is difficult to imagine that this quote from the Guardian's Julie Burchill will ever be surpassed:
I'd venture, for a start, that Catholicism has caused more pedophilia than it has cured; in my opinion, the reason why this church is so dead set against abortion is so that its priests can have a ready stream of children to molest.
Layne answers his mail, too. Damn-- I've got to get on the ball, here. Somebody, anybody: send me some hysterical hate mail, relatively easy to pick apart and ridicule, and preferably with at least one reference to something that is not frivolous so I can have the opportunity to attempt a reply like this:
Ahmad, buddy, the sad thing for you is that I'm exactly the kind of liberal American who tended to side with the Palestinian cause, as did many liberal American Jews I know. (Sometimes they even shared their Muslim-Blood Cupcakes with me.) But you people made a very serious mistake: you thought Americans (and Israeli doves) would be charmed by your suicide bombers.
Well, buddy, not only were we not charmed, we're still digging up bodies from the suicide-bomber attacks against our nation. And we remember the happy Palestinians dancing in the streets on Sept. 11.
In case you haven't yet read Matt Welch's reflections on Opening Days past and present, you really should. And here it is. Baseball, the Gulf War, 9/11, the ex-pat experience-- it's all in there, and it's really quite something.
Dr. Weevil answers his mail (unlike some doctors I know.) Result: considerable amusement. Lesson: think twice about sending hate mail to a man who writes this well and knows the word "litotes."
Sadly, I think Perry de Havilland is probably right about The Palestinian Götterdämmerung and the irrelevance of Arafat. Killing Arafat won't make much difference; neither will allowing him to survive.
The killings will go on, the bombings will go on, the murderous hatreds will continue unabated until Israel shrugs off the last political restraints and finally by sheer force of arms imposes the quiet of the graveyard over the occupied territories.
Israel must do terrible things to survive and be damned for doing them. Do them they must... and be damned they must. Israel will survive but there will be no winners in this ghastly inter Semitic madness. Now today Tel-Aviv has been subjected to the insane horrors and thus individual Palestinians move a day closer to the end of their identity as a member of a distinct identifiable society, regardless of their personal responsibility.
I would just love to be completely wrong about this.
So would I.
Steven den Beste has a lengthy, thoughtful disquisition on the subject as well. I think he's right about the motivation behind the current campaign, which is only peripherally "about" whether to grant Arafat his supposed wish of martyrdom:
what they do seem to be doing now is to make the anti-terrorist sweep that they think Arafat should have made all along, that they think Arafat never had any intention of making because he's actively behind the terrorist campaign. They won't get everyone, and they'll bag a lot of uninvolved Palestinians, and they'll make the Palestinians royally pissed off, but maybe the rate and intensity of the attacks will fall off because the organizations opposing them will have been reduced substantially. Given that it's difficult to imagine the Palestinians being any more angry than they already are, and given that Israel is already internationally isolated, there's really little to lose, and a decrease in the attack rate is a victory.
(By the way, den Beste also has, I believe, the right take on this report about US interest in establishing bases in Romania and Bulgaria. It's a message to the Turks that it's in their interests to "play along" when it comes to Iraq.)