Saturday, July 29, 2006

The politics of Hizballah

Lebanon profile lays out the politics of Hizballah, and it is a must read! I just want it to be known that if I ever intimated that all Shia Lebanese are bad, I am sorry. I only was referring to the *majority* of Shia Lebanese, who even this author admits are anti-semites. Still, MUST READ! As always, the Middle East is more complicated than what it would seem like at first blush. Money part:

Obviously, Hezbollah hardliners are just as bad or worse than Iranian fanatics. Even Shia Lebanese are frightened of these guys, which is why they are not the face Hezbollah shows to the outside world. Hezbollah recruits young, attractive, intelligent, professional, moderate candidates to run for office. These people are the public face who publicize all of Hezbollah's humanitarian projects. Sadly, the Shia population of Lebanon has few other choices in Lebanon's sectarian framework. As can be seen in the archives on this blog, I cannot stand Hezbollah. I marched on 14 March and started this blog to counter the message Hezbollah, Syria, and pro-Syrian Lebanese parties send to the rest of the world. I hate religious politics. I don't want to be led by men with beards (although, David Obey is okay). I believe in coming to peace with Israel. I write this to show the complexity of the situation in Lebanon. There are those in Lebanon whose sectarian racism comes out often. Readers of this blog who are disgusted with me for associating with people who support Hezbollah will be happy to know that there are people in Lebanon willing to kill Shia on sight. But that's exactly what I'm fighting against. There are tens of thousands of good, innocent people who support Hezbollah for internal sectarian reasons who deserve another option. This is the tragedy of moderation. For all that I have said above, I will be hated by everyone. It will be said that: "I support terrorists. I'm an anti-semite. I'm a traitor. I'm a limp wristed idealist." All of this is far from the truth. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog long enough knows that I believe strongly in imposing myself on others and pushing for what I believe in. Most of the time, to accomplish one's goals and to further what is good, just, and honorable, one must begin with knowledge. One must know the Lebanese system. It's impossible to negotiate with al Qaeda. I take aggressive action any time I encounter anything that comes close to support for that evil organization. It's impossible to befriend a supporter of al Qaeda. I've encountered them before. They no longer walk on the streets.

For Israelis and Westerners, the situation with Hezbollah is different. For Lebanese and Arabs, the situation with Israelis is different. Erecting barriers of ignorance only escalates the conflict. Yasmine, Muhammad, Rida, and Zeina are good people confronting a whole slew of issues thrown at them. I'm doing my best to navigate and find a solution.

You should read the whole thing, and the comments.

Mel Gibson goes on antisemitic tirade -- alleged cover up!

Go read all about Gibson's DUI arrest and subsequent anti-Jew tirade...the scary thing is that I am not even surprised!

The report says Gibson then launched into a barrage of anti-Semitic statements: "F*****g Jews... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." Gibson then asked the deputy, "Are you a Jew?" The deputy became alarmed as Gibson's tirade escalated, and called ahead for a sergeant to meet them when they arrived at the station. When they arrived, a sergeant began videotaping Gibson, who noticed the camera and then said, "What the f*** do you think you're doing?"

A law enforcement source says Gibson then noticed another female sergeant and yelled, "What do you think you're looking at, sugar tits?"

The Khazar Jews, antisemitism, and "Islamophobia," oh my!

It is quite well known that "The Protocols of Zion" are not only a total and complete fabrication, but they also are taught as fact in much of the Muslim world, and formed much of the basis behind Mein Kampf. However, a less well known fabrication that has hit the hate circuit is based upon the notion of the "Khazar Jew." Essentially, what is said is that Ashkenazi Jews are not "real Jews," and have taken over the Jewish faith, and do not deserve Israel. This is all based on fabrications and stretching of the facts that are known. There are genetic studies that in fact show a genetic link between Jews and Middle Eastern populations. The genetic studies can be found here and here. In short, there is genetic proof that Jews are "semites." Moreover, I am not sure why it would matter if someone converted, anyway? The point is not that my direct ancestors 2000 years ago fled Israel. The point is that Israel is a land that Jews as a PEOPLE have long historical ties to, and in fact lawfully purchased the land of. It was also deeded over to the Jews via the UN. It is one of the most legitimate states one can possibly conceive of. For more on the history of Khazar, you can read Wikipedia. Other sources are found here, here, and here. As you can see, the history of Khazar is not settled, and there is no "proof" that the Ashkenazi Jews are descendants from Khazar. The only proof is that there were Khazar Jews - that's it. There is no corresponding connection between those Khazar Jews and Ashkenazis. But even if there was proof, so what? How is that relevant? Why would that matter even one iota? The legitimacy of Israel is not based upon a blood connection with people from thousands of years ago. One common thing stated by people across the world is a moral equivalence - that somehow Jews are taught to hate just as Muslims are. This is quite untrue! Jews are taught, rightfully so, that the majority of Muslims hate us, but we are not taught that the Koran is an evil document. We just are not. All we are taught is that the Koran is not correct. That's it. Guess what? It isn't correct! I don't believe in any religion, including Judaism! None of them are correct! In any case, Jews are not taught that the Koran is a violent document. We are basically not taught much about the Koran, or the New Testemant. We are just told they exist. I say this as someone who was bat mitzvahed and went through Hebrew School - and spoke to plenty of Jewish friends who had similar experiences. Jews are not taught to hate, quite unlike the majority of the Middle East - where the Protocols of Zion are taught as fact. Don't just trust me - you can look at the Hebrew School resources online. You will see them hate-free! Look here to see the history of Hebrew Schools. Now, as far as the Koran goes. It is a document that depends on the passage one looks at. It tells of the wars that Mohammed went through, and speaks of his Jihad. Is it violent? Yes. But to be fair, so is the bible - the religious texts are violent in general. This is part of the problem I have with religion. However, Jews are taught to question everything, including the bible. We are not told that anything except for the Ten Commandments are the literal word of God. That contrasts with Muslims, who are NOT taught to question. It is because Jews are taught to question that they, statistically speaking, have produced more scholars, world leaders, scientists, and academics than any other group of people. Questioning and thinking is the very BASIS of Judaism. It is the basis for the Talmud. There are even strains of Judaism that embrace agnosticism! Thinking is the key to the advancement of civilizations. It is the reason why the tiny number of Jews that exist in the world have such a disproportionate impact upon the world. It is how Jews made the desert bloom in Israel in a few simple decades, after it was swampland for thousands of years. They used their brains! They used science and technology! I say this, and yet to be honest, I am not schooled enough in Judaism for my liking. I do not believe in Judaism, or any religion, but I think it is important to learn about something prior to writing about it. This is why I hope to learn more about Islam as well. I am not content with the amount of knowledge that I have. I am always seeking ways to learn more, and devour yet another book. This is the basis of Judaism, which has produced one of the finest people that ever walked the earth. --- UPDATE: Proof of the widespread dissemination of the Protocols of Zion can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. That's just for anyone who doubts that the Protocols are taught as fact in the Middle East.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My take on religion

My cousin in Israel sent me a link to a video that perfectly encapsulates my opinion about religion. I laughed, I cried, and I was so giddy with excitement to see it! The title is "DANCE, monkeys, DANCE!" It is the stuff of brilliance. Overall, my actual thought on religion resembles ignosticism. I do not believe humanity can ever understand the notion of "God," if God exists, and so it is pointless to try. I also fail to see what is so great about humanity. I honestly believe that if God does exist, he/she/it/etc does not care about any of us. Why would god care one way or another whether lowly humans believes in it? We are a cosmic blip on the radar screen, a fart in the history of time. What makes us so signficant that God really should care one crap whether we believe in it? And let me further ask that if God does care, then this is a very weak God. If God is so all-knowing and all-encompassing, then why does it matter if a peon believes in God or not? Why should it make any difference? If God does care, and really does have such an ego, isn't that a very weak God? How would such a God be capable of creating the universe? Paradoxically, a God that you pray to is a God that cannot possibly have created the universe, because any God that cares about prayer is too weak to have had the power to do so. And so, what is the purpose of praying, other than the psychological enjoyment of praying? How are prayers answered in an age of genocide? Why are one man's prayers somehow better than another? In a world with no rhyme or reason to it, how in any way have prayers been proven effective? And if prayers are not effective, then why should believing in God be effective, even in the "afterlife"? Assuming there is an afterlife (massive assumption), why is God so petty that it would say "this otherwise righteous person goes to hell solely because of a lack of belief in me." And which belief? Monotheism? Polytheism? Which version of monotheism? Why is one version right and another wrong? Why would God give a crap if one is believed in and another is not believed in? In short, I realize there is a need to want to believe that all of this matters. But where is there any indication that we are anything other than walking bags of flesh and bone, that dissolves into the earth upon death? And finally, believing in God has many external problems associated with it, so don't kid yourself. It means you do not engage in activities that the false moralists found in the religious texts say are bad. It means you go through life praying - spending precious hours out of the day PRAYING - when this accomplishes nothing other than waste time. (well, it can be an inner refuge, but we kid ourselves if we think it's anything more) It means living a life of fear - "I cannot do this because Angry God will get me in the afterlife." And it breeds division - "You are crap because you don't believe in what I believe." Humanity is unequipped to deal with such concepts as infinity and the great beyond. We are unequipped to ever truly grasp the notions of "forever." And so I wonder why we really bother. Who are we fooling? What makes mankind so special? Why is humanity so unique that God gives even half a crap about any of us?

New map of Beirut negates claims of mass destruction

THIS IS KEY! Please look at the following map - it negates the so-called "fact" of the destruction of Beirut. It shows that Israel is targetting Hizballah strongholds. Spread the word! It seems like there is yet another example of a Jenin faux-massacre. UPDATE: shlemazl made charts and graphs to show even more clearly how there is absolutely no "massacre" going on!

How the UN legitimizes terrorists

The You Tube above shows Palestinian terrorists using the cover of a UN ambulance in order to commit their acts of terror. What does this do? It takes away the cover of "neutrality" of the UN. Disgusting beyond belief. Also, the following is a must read, written by Alan Dershowitz, explaining how the UN legitimizes terrorists. Important things to remember - this is how the diplomatic community works. It is enough to put one into a total state of despair. UPDATE: More info on Hizballah firing from the vicinity of UN positions.

Anger on the Iranian street over Hizballah support

Found via Sandmonkey, evidently there is anger on the Iranian street for Iran's support of Hizballah - support that could go to paying for Iranian services. Interesting! Also interesting that I found the NY Times article on Sandmonkey's blog, and not by reading the NY Times myself. I have to get to reading the NY Times more, dammit. An Egyptian should not be scooping me on articles published in my hometown paper!! But that said, I think the NY Times article should be read in conjunction with a wonderful article published in Slate by Christopher Hitchens. It is titled "How President Bush Can Solve the Iranian Nuclear Crisis." I think it really puts Iran into perspective. The government of Iran may be terror supporting central, but it seems the the PEOPLE of Iran are quite different. Nothing is ever what it seems in the Middle East.

Religious intolerance

Via Andrew Sullivan, I found a link about the execution in Iran of a 16 year old girl. Her crime? Attending a party and being alone in a car with a boy. Completely inexcusable. Let us take a moment to mourn the loss of this young lady, Atefah Sahaaleh. It is so clear that the war against Islamofacism MUST be won, and yet Bush doesn't tseem to really care about winning. At least not when there is still the policy of "don't ask, don't tell," that led to the firing of 55 Arabic translators - just because they are gay. It is sickening that such prejudices would take precedance over national security. (I am not comparing this action to what happened in Iran as an equivalence - I am just saying that the firing of of the gay interpretators is inexcusable) The one common thread is religious intolerance. Religion gives the perfect excuse to be prejudiced against those who are different. "God told me this was the right way!" Never mind that we don't know what the texts actually say - after so many translations upon translations. Never mind that the texts were written by man, who is fallible. Never mind the words are open to so many interpretations. "GOD TOLD ME YOU ARE A GODAMNED SLUT, AND YOU MUST DIE!" Or "GOD HATES FAGS!" That's all that the nutjobs hear and that's all they understand. Well, I stand against such intolerance. I will not be tolerant of intolerance, and do not consider religion to be an excuse for such intolerance.

Why Sharia laws would be bad for the world

This entry was formerly a comment that I wrote to The Sphinx, but I figured it is so important that it needs its own entry. The Sphinx told me that Sharia laws would be great for mankind, and this was my reply. (NOTE: I already wrote a related post explaining that there never truly was peace between Muslims and Jews - in the history of the world) ---- Sphinx, your quote from the Koran contained the following: God promises those who believe and lead a righteous life forgiveness and a great recompense." I am fully aware of this quote. Yet, it gives justification for the horrible treatment of Hindus, Buddhists, and atheists. Historically, that has been born out - and they were treated as lower than second class citizens. I am sorry, but that is inexcusable. Secondly, you are just simply wholly incorrect about the way dhimmi laws have been born out. In fact, the nonMuslims lacked many of the rights that Muslims took for granted: a) they couldn't be secure in owning their property; b) they couldn't testify in court against a nonMuslim; c) the dhimmi taxes sometimes were in fact crippling; d) they could be relocated at any time by the government; e) no right to protest the dhimmi laws; f) death penalty for blasphemy; g) the value of a dhimmi life was only half that of a Muslim's life. I could go on. You are simply ignorant of what it means to be a dhimmi. A quick primer to it is found on wikipedia. As far as interest goes. Economically, it is impossible to ban interest. It has been tried for thousands of years, and never succeeded. Why? Because banning interest only means that people will use loan sharks and get the money illegally - paying much higher interest rates, and increasing criminality. This is a historical fact. Moreover, interest itself makes sense from the perspective of natural law. Here is what I mean. The productivity of the earth has increased exponentially just in the past 100 years - that's forgetting the past thousands of years. We are able to make much more efficient use of our time than ever before. As such, when money is lent to someone, that money is then not going to be invested or used to create something up. It is being tied up. During that time, the earth is getting more and more efficient, and hence the money that is being tied up is being devalued - whether or not interest is charged. Merely to recover the time value of money, some form of interest needs to be charged to give an incentive to loan money. And it should be noted that most scholars agree that the Industrial Revolution never would have happened without the more ready available of capital. This was only possible through the liberalization of many of the usury laws that existed at the time. In fact, the speed and growth of the Industrial Revolution was greatly hampered by the still existing usury laws. The following economic paper explains this. It is easy to say "wow, charging interest is just haraam," and to not examine what that means. It should be noted that Islamic banks actually do charge interest, under a different name - because it is wholly impossible to be a bank, not charge interest, and remain in business. ----- UPDATE: More documentation on life as a dhimmi can be found here, here, here, and here.

How not to act on jdate

This is brilliant! Kevin messaged me a link about how not to act on j-date. (the Jewish dating service) Jdate is a service that pretty much all of my Jewish friends have tried at one time or another. Anyway, enjoy the horror of Darren Sherman. Very funny! For me personally, I do not like the idea of paying to get a date, and so when jdate required that everyone pay in order to read their emails, I stopped looking at it. I have a profile up on jdate, however, and probably 100 emails sitting in my box. Tsk tsk! Lordy, I have some hysterically funny dating stories I could tell you all. I have gone out with a veritable panoply of freaks. I chalk it all up to "well, at least I get to tell the story afterwards!" Still...nothing ever was quite like that link. It puts things in perspective!

Is there a definitive spelling for "Hezbollah"?

I have read this organization spelled as "Hizballah," "Hizbullah," "Hezbullah," "Hezbollah," "Hezballah," and "Hizbillah." What is the accepted English spelling? This is really irking me, goddammit!

Cartoon irks Israel

A cartoon of Olmert as a Nazi has appeared in Norway. It is the crudest form of attacking a jewish person by invoking the holocaust. If people feel Olmert has broken any international laws, then depicting him as a Nazi concentration prison camp guard is the wrong way to go about it. It's crude and not very clever. Yes it will make Israeli's and Jewish people in general angry, but it will also fan the flames of Anti-Semitism. The Cartoon in question BBC Article

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Update on my thoughts

I said before in comments that I thought Israel (with international troops) should occupy Southern Lebanon after the war, to help with rebuilding. I have to amend myself, after speaking with a friend of mine. I think that would be a disaster, thinking about it. In retrospect, all Israel can hope for with this war is to weaken Hezbollah and their ability to inflict harm, with the thought that that will bring a temporary detante. That's it.

The UN aids and abets Hezbollah

A report recently came out, found via Little Green Footballs, that the UN is busy repairing Lebanese roads that Israel bombed to restrict Hezbollah's movements...in the middle of the war! Inexcusable. So much for the "neutrality" of the UN. Not like that was ever in doubt!

COUNTER Protest in D.C. on August 12, 2006!

I found out that there will be a massive demonstration in favor of Hezbollah on August 12, 2006, in Washington, D.C. I say we should organize a counter-protest, because it is quite clear what the ANSWER people stand for... Zombie chronicled how the A.N.S.W.E.R crowd is pro-Intifada So who's with me? Does anyone know of a counter-protest being organized?

Some dark humor

I am not saying I agree with the following cartoon I found linked on Beirut to Beltway, however, it certainly does put things somewhat in perspective! See: Mark Fiore's Swearing to Succcess. I personally believe that Bush was right about Syria and that Syria is the problem and disagree with the point of the cartoon. I believe there is right and there is wrong, and Hezbollah is wrong and Israel is right. But that said, I figured you would all appreciate the alternative perspective.

What SOME Lebanese think of the war

Via Mechanical Crowds, I found a link to a Lebanese forum that asked the question: "Will an immediate cease fire end the violence?" This is a nonscientific poll. But even still, over 96% of the Lebanese said no. Something to think about.

Is the war in Lebanon winnable?

Given the recent report that Nasrallah may be in Syria, it would seem that Hezbollah can function without him, ala al queda. How do you win a war against such a decentralized enemy? On top of that, as Sandmonkey pointed out, the fight for the Hezbollah peeps has become one about honor - it's not about winning, it's about fighting. Fighting against what? Why? It doesn't matter if, rationally, they would be better off if they cooperated with Israel as a friendly neighbor. Rationality is not that important to them - hatred is where they are coming from. In order to better understand the mindset of these people, I think you should all watch the following AMAZING interview of ex-terrorists, discussing how and why they were terrorists to begin with, and what exactly can be done to fight them. It seems that these ex-terrorists say that the only thing that is understood is force. That is why I have come to the conclusion that Israel should just carpet bomb southern Lebanon if they want to win. As I already stated, legally, the Lebanese are in fact collectively responsible for the actions of Hezbollah - but particularly the Shia Lebanese. Israel already is letting the Lebanese who do not want to fight leave. They are minimizing civilian deaths. Only a carpet bombing will truly root out Hezbollah, and then hopefully afterwards, an international force can come in and rebuild Lebanon, and make it better than it ever was - ala what the allies did after WWII. I honestly believe this is the only way to win the war. Anything less than this will not work. But thankfully, Condi Rice sees things as they are. She refuses to negotiate merely for a cease fire, because she sees it is not a solution to the problem. Lasting peace is the only answer, according to Condi. I do not believe lasting peace is possible. But in order to get a temporary detante - which is alll one can hope for in the Middle East - then it seems that overwhelming force must be used.

Has the UN been neutral in Lebanon?

Much of the internet is going mad over the fact that four UN "peacekeepers" were killed in Lebanon the other day - Kofi Annan included, who said the attack was "apparently deliberate." Via Little Green Footballs, I heard an interview with a Canadian General, Lewis Mackenzie, stating that the UN allowed Hezbollah to use UN facilities. You must listen! Also great about that interview is that Lewis Mackenzie stated that there is no "bombardment" in Lebanon, and Israel is using amazing restraint. (well, obviously!) Good for him! Then, via a comment on Sandmonkey, I found a link to the Sydney Morning Herald's Blog, showing more proof and substance that the UN was complicit with Hezbollah terror. The UN was used as a shield by Hezbollah, and allowed themselves to be used as such. They are in the middle of a war zone, and are aiding and abetting Hezbollah. It's no wonder they were hit! It should be noted that the UN has since backed off their claim that no Hezbollah activity was occurring near their base. It is such a breath of fresh air to see and read the truth being published, and it is disgusting when Kofi Annan bloviates all over about Israel, without even acknowledging the UN's complicity in this debacle, or knowing all the facts! It is easier to speak out of the ass, isn't it? I mean, it's easy to see the level of 12 city blocks and conclude 'LEBANON IS BEING DEMOLISHED!' But of course, the facts and the truth tend to portray a rather different tale.

Colbert: Opposite Day

I will editorialize here and say that Stephen Colbert is a national treasure. This video was said in gest, but often the truth is said in gest! I was thinking about it, and I actually believe that he is onto something. So many people in the world hate something just because Bush likes it. They blindly think "If Bush likes it, it must be bad!" Think about why so many people voted for Kerry - he was "anyone but Bush." I think at this point there does need to be an opposite day!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Is collective punishment justified?

I was skimming the incredibly brilliant Becker-Posner blog (they are the two most brilliant legal minds in America), when I came two very interesting takes on collective punishment. MUST READ for those who claim that Israel is "collectively punishing" the Lebanese! Richard Posner:
An important example of collective punishment in law is the rule that all members of a conspiracy are criminally liable for the crimes committed by any member within the scope of the conspiracy, provided it was forseseeable. So if one member of a drug gang beats up a defaulting customer, the other members are apt to be guilty of assault and battery as well even though they had nothing to do with the beating. A related rule, the felony-murder rule, makes a criminal guilty of first-degree murder if a killing occurs in the course of his crime, even if the killing is by someone else and he did not authorize or even expect it--as in the case where a policeman in the course of trying to thwart the crime accidentally kills a bystander. The theory behind these rules--the theory behind collective punishment in general--is that someone other than the actual perpetrator of a wrongful act may have more information that he could, if motivated, use to prevent the act than the government has. The employer may have been faultless in the particular case, but knowing that it is liable anyway will give it a strong incentive to exert control over its employees to prevent accidents--even by such indirect measures as reducing its work force by substituting robots or other mechanical devices for fallible human workers. Similarly, conspirators have an incentive to police their members to avoid getting themselves into unnecessary trouble; and the perpetrators of a bank robbery, for example, have an incentive to avoid being armed or provoking bank guards or police.
Gary Becker:
Parents should often be held responsible for harms to others caused by their younger children. Parents can discourage crimes and other anti-social acts of these children by the upbringing they provide, and also by the punishments they administer to children who engage in such acts. Since after a certain age, perhaps sixteen or eighteen, parents have much less control over children, parental responsibility for children's acts should diminish, and children's responsibility should increase as the children age. At one time, children were responsible after the death of parents for any debts their parents left. Children were also punished for other anti-social behavior of their parents. This type of collective punishment has been eliminated by developed nations, presumably because children do not have the power typically to deter their parents from contracting debts or committing crimes. The only justification for such collective punishment of children in these cases would be that parents care about the children, and that caring parents would be less likely to enter into debts they cannot pay, or engage in anti-social acts, if children were held responsible for parental behavior. But such collective punishment to children would have little effect on selfish parents, and it would increase the suffering of their children who already are harmed by having selfish parents. To take a different political example than the Lebanese one that Posner uses, should the German people have been held collectively responsible for the atrocities committed by Hitler and other Nazis? It was inevitable that many German people suffered from World War II, although bombing of Dresden and some other cities by the Allies was probably unnecessary. Collective punishment of leading Nazis was appropriate, as was the requirement that Germany pay reparations for property taken, for some of the damages caused by German occupations of various countries, and for the murder of millions of Jews, Poles, Russians, and other groups.
I would be interested in what you all think of this! I think I agree with both perspectives - but I don't want it to be misconstrued to think that I don't have sympathies for Christian/Druze/Sunni Lebanese. I do. Becker and Posner don't take into account the fact that it may have caused a civil war for the secular Lebanese to go after Hezbollah. But that said, sometimes I do wonder about the innocence of the non-Shia Lebanese, when I read of the Lebanese politicians saying they would team up with Hezbollah... Anyway, I welcome comments and thoughts from both sides of the political spectrum on this!

Do the Jews run the media?

Sandmonkey wrote a great/hilarious post, summing up what Nasrallah said on TV in nine simple points. I highly suggest you read it, it's a blast! But in response, I had this to say in the comments section re: Nazzie's statements that the Jews/Zionists/Israelis/etc run the media, and I figured you would enjoy it all! ---- I am not sure you are aware of this, but during the time that the Jews actually DID control the media (or at least the movie studios during the “Golden Age of Cinema”), the only movie that was made about antisemitism was made by Darryl F. Zanuck - he was the one nonjew studio head at the time! True story! I saw the movie, it was called “Gentleman’s Agreement,” and it won some Oscars in 1947, and starred Gregory Peck as a Jew. It’s rather ironic! The Jews were too scared to make a movie about Judaism, for fear of causing antisemitism. They were too afraid to cause a ruckus. Kinda funny and pathetic. I also believe that many of the studio heads knew of the Holocaust, but decided to be quiet about it. Nowadays the media is just owned by large corporations - see my paper on this. The days of the old Yid owned media are long since gone, and yet the myth remains. But the bottom line is that maybe it’s in the interests of the Jews for them NOT to own the media, at least based on what happened when they had control over the media, historically! EDIT: I want to add that Ben Stein thinks that the Jews DO run the media, but then asks: What of it? He thinks it's no big deal. It is a very interesting read, I highly recommend it!

I freaking LOVE New York

So, in case you all did not know, I have been studying (or should I say PRETENDING to study) for the bar exam over these last few weeks. I just took the NY portion of the bar - okay, yes, I live in New Yawk City. I am a Jewish American almost lawyer stereotype, leave me alone! But anyway. First things first. The NY part of the bar was really not that bad! Here I was sleepless, worrying, and freaking out for WEEKS now, and it turned out to be not that bad! I was shocked! And that's the worst part of the test! I was thinking "this is an exam???" I mean, I still could fail, technically, but at this point I would be a bit surprised if I did! Whoa! But anyway, back on topic. Walking out of the Javits Center, which is probably a terrorist target right now, I mean what with thousands of would be law-yas crammed in one space, I stepped into the bright sunlight, and I saw...people. Mixing together. People of all different races and ethnicities. I saw my non-Jihadist Muslim friends from law school, and I saw Jews...mixing...talking...able to engage in peaceful conversations. Then walking home, getting out of the subway, I saw, on one block, a Middle Eastern man, a black man, a blonde woman, and a Chinese woman. All walking next to each other like nothing was wrong! And I thought to myself..."Self. Maybe there is hope in the world. Maybe people can live together in peace and harmony and sing koombaya and dance around in the forrest and be happy with rainbows and flowers and humingbirds. Maybe the world is not such a bad place after all!" And so, in honor of the greatest city on the planet (that I have ever visited, anyway), I want to salute New York City. New York, the city that never sleeps. New York, with its urban beat and unbelieveable vastness that really is a small town, when you get down to it. New York, the city that has 8 million people, and yet I seem to run into people I know all the time by chance. New York, the city of fashion, of entreprenurialism, of the media, and of ordinary working class Americans living their lives, just getting by, and living side by side. Does New York City problems? Sure, there are problems. But if a city like New York can exist on this planet, there is hope for us all yet. New York is the city that stole my heart and soul. No matter where I am in the world or where I end up, I know that my heart will always be singing that New York State of Mind.

Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhoodHop a flight to miami beach or hollywood.

Im taking a greyhound on the hudson river line-Im in a new york state of mind.

I seen all the movie stars in their fancy cars and their limousines, Been high in the rockies under the evergreens, But I know what Im needing and I dont want to waste more time-Im in a new york state of mind.

It was so easy living day by dayOut of touch with the rhythm and the blues, But now I need a little give and take,The new york times, the daily news...

It comes down to reality-and its fine with me cause Ive let it slide...Dont care if its chinatown or riverside, I dont have any reasons, Ive left them all behind-Im in a new york state of mind.

Repeat 3rd verseIm just taking a greyhound on the hudson river line-cause Im in a new york state of mind.

I actually sang that song in a singing Irish pub in Ireland. Little known fact about me: I have sometimes taken to kissing the airplane when I get back to NYC after a trip. It seems that the further the go, the more I miss home. No joke. New York, my love, my life. As Carrie from Sex and the City said: "I'm dating the city. I think it's pretty serious, I think I'm in love!" When blogger works, I will upload some images I have taken of the greatest city on earth.

Wafa Sultan drops all the P.C. nonsense!

Wafa Sultan is a secular psychologist of Syrian-American origin. Here, on Al Jazeera, she speaks strongly about the civilization clashes. This woman is unbelievably courageous, and her video is shocking in its honesty. It is an old video from a few months ago, but my cousin recently sent this to me, and I think it's worth watching again. She really frames the "clash of civilizations" issue in a wholly different way - saying that the Jihadists are too uncivilized to even have a civilization, and hence there is no clash of "civilizations," it's just Jihadi fucks trying to trash all the learning and progress of Western society. When you think about it, she's right. And my god, it is astounding that Al Jazeera aired that on their TV station! I would love to have input into this all. Comments/questions/concerns?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Colbert Report reports on tits and ass

In light of the following post on Sandmonkey's blog, I felt that Colbert's recent "Word" would be appreciated. Everyone's a winner when the battle is between Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon. That is a fight I think the world would enjoy watching. Meow! Though I think it's good for the world that neither Miss Israel nor Miss Lebanon won. Miss Puerto Rico is now Miss Universe. I always thought this competition was just so earth-centric. I mean, how dare we be so presumptuous to assume no other species is hotter! I also bet that conservative liberal is upset that Miss Colombia didn't win. Better luck next year!

The latest Middle Eastern crisis

So here we are again. The Middle East on the brink of a regional war that is more dangerous than the other wars that have taken place. Why ? Because the world is much more connected than it was even 20 years ago. What happens in one region has a knock on effect in other places. The most obvious knock on effect in this case would be the price of oil hitting $78+.

The cause of this crisis ? Hezbollah and it's continued rocket attacks on Israel which climaxed with the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. Has Israel's response been a bit heavy handed ? Yes it has, but you must understand that Israel is a nation under siege in the middle east. You cannot expect it to react in any other way than to crush what it deems to be a direct threat to the state of Israel.

But that does not excuse the deaths of innocent civilians killed by Israeli forces or Israeli citizens killed by militants from Hamas or Hezbollah. It is a cycle of violence that has to stop. I don't believe a ceasefire would work unless the underlaying causes are tackled.

Some of those being (there are so many it would take up several pages to state them all):

Palestinian militant groups with the sole goal of destroying the state of Israel.

Arab nations with a similar goal.

Israel's desire to secure it's future and to live in peace with it's neighbours – it sometimes over reacts and hits back with too much force.

The issues of land ownership between the Israeli's and Palestinians.

The issue of prisoners.

But while tensions remain high and mutual hatred of Jewish people exists between the Arab nations then the problems will continue to grow and a war of unimaginable terror will take place eventually.

The only nation in the Middle East that seems to have gained some benefit from this crisis is Iran. It was extremely odd that the violence broke out just as Iran had to give it's answer to the deal it was offered by the US and co over it's Nuclear desires. Iran is a slightly worrying factor in this, as the Iranian president has already stated his desire to wipe Israel off the map. The religious leaders of Iran are the problem. But that is a subject for another time.

What i want to see is all the Israeli soldiers released (including the one Hamas took) and for Israel to pull back from the brink of starting a war it probably does not want.

I may have some idealistic desires for the middle east, however in reality they are unlikely to happen unless some miracle takes place. Though one must remain hopeful for the future otherwise one becomes nihilistic. Which in itself can feed into situation and make it worse.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stephen Colbert gets Congressman Wexler to Open Up

Amidst all the death and destruction in the Middle East, I figured this video would lighten everyone's spirits. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Bibi was right - Netanyahu saw it coming!

The National Review has a great column up right now, written by Bridget Johnson, explaining how and why Benjamin Netanyahu was right in June 2005, when he warned that withdrawal from Gaza would only embolden the terrorists. The below paragraph is an excerpt from a larger article which is a MUST READ, explaining why a pullout from the West bank/Israeli "cease fire" would be the biggest mistake Israel can make.

“Our security problems are not about to go away with the withdrawal; they will only begin.” The prophecies of Israel’s former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come to fruition, and proponents of the Gaza Strip pullout have a lot to answer for.

Written off as a reactionary right-winger by those who think that militant Palestinian minds can be swayed from the goal of the destruction of Israel, one can take note today of why Netanyahu so fervently opposed Israel’s Gaza pullout — and why he was right to do so.

“Gaza will be transformed into a base for Islamic terrorism adjacent to the coast of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post days before the withdrawal.

The Post reported last October that al Qaeda may have moved in as soon as Israel moved out. “Our efforts are now focused on establishing a strong and unified Muslim nation where love prevails among all its members,” read a leaflet distributed in Khan Younis. The al Qaeda group also claimed in a video that it had fired rockets into Israeli settlements on the eve of disengagement. In March, two West Bank Palestinians allegedly plotting a large-scale attack were charged with membership in al Qaeda.

In addition to physical presence, al Qaeda has stepped up propaganda in the region. Their online “Voice of the Caliphate” news show has accused Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of collaborating with Israel against Hamas, and in June al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri called on Palestinians to reject a two-state referendum proposed by Abbas. A pamphlet circulated in Gaza by the Army of Jihad in February and obtained by World Net Daily claimed that al Qaeda had a leader in the region, to appear “very soon.”

Gaza, post-pullout, has provided a safe haven in a pitifully weak security situation, with a government sympathetic to jihad.

This has also inspired terrorist groups to get more ambitious. Hamas’s military wing scored distance records with its upgraded Qassam rockets, striking deeper than previous Palestinian rockets have ever reached into Israeli territory. Hezbollah has also achieved its deepest strikes into northern Israel.

THE REST CONTINUES HERE!

— Bridget Johnson is a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She blogs at GOP Vixen.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Crisis in Israel/Lebanon: How you can help

I am sure most of you dear readers have felt powerless to do anything to help the citizens of Israel and Lebanon in this horrible conflict, however, I have researched some aid organizations, and have found trusted places you can donate money to. 1) The best and most trusted place has to be Magen David Adom - the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross. They are also helping Lebanese refugees.

2) Helem - it is the gay Lebanese organization. They are taking donations on their webpage via paypal, and are helping Lebanese refugees. I have been following this organization for quite some time, via Al-Fil on gaymiddleeast, and this is a trusted Lebanese organization.

3) Doctors without borders. They are all over the world, doing great work - not just in Lebanon. In fact, you should donate to them because they are out there helping the Indonesians after their recent tsunami. Again, I am very familiar with their work and know the money is going to a good place if you donate here.

4) Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces. This is donating funds to help the IDF. Now, I realize some readers may not be comfortable doing this, but most readers are pro-Israeli, so I figured a link to this might be appreciated. This is the link for making donations.

I am not aware of any specific funding for the Israeli-Lebanese crisis on the main Red Cross site, but I do have to note that the Red Cross has been rather spotty in the way it has distributed funds in the past, so I am not sure I trust them. I mean, look at how they mishandled Hurricane Katrina - and also how long it has taken to recognize Magen David Adom.

Please donate if you have any money. I know blogging is a great way to win the war on ideas, but there is also physical suffering that needs ammelioration in the present.

Steven Update: PizzaIDF and BurgerIDF is a service which sends hot food to IDF soldiers and families who were evicted from Gush Katif. Donate a Pizza and give a IDF soldier a happy warm belly. :) Israeli Bonds are an excelent way of supporting Israel through investment. Last but not atall least, One Family Fund: Supporting the victims of terrorism in Israel. Update 02: Another way of supporting Israel every day (and my favorite method) is by visiting boycott websites and specifically purchasing goods which they want people not to buy. ;) I find it very satisfying - it's sort of using their own weapons against them. Mawhahahaha! ;-) ***** Support Israel Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Nasrallah Speech on Al-Manar TV: The Zionist Entity's Weakness is "Their Strong Adherence to This World". They are described by Allah as "the people who guard their lives most". Comment: Nasrallah misunderstands our love for life and interprets it as a fear of death. The two are not the same. Nasrallah continues his speech: "Our Strength is the Willingness to Sacrifice Our Blood & Children" Support Life

Developments

Israel may send in some ground troops. Lebanon, aka. not Hezbollah, declared they will repel any Israeli ground troops. The Lebanese army does not move against Hezbollah, but may move against Israel: conclusion - Lebanon is a supporter of terror.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

This is why I love Bill Maher!

Somehow, Bill Maher always has the ability to say what's on my mind. It's quite incredible! Today, Bill Maher wrote an incredibly insightful post on Huffington Post, that just summed up my opinion of the prez in a nutshell. Go read it yourself! Memorable quote:

I have to say, watching George Bush talk about Israel the last week has reminded me of a feeling that I hadn't felt in so long I forgot what it felt like: the feeling of pride when your president says what you want your president to say, especially in a matter that chokes you up a bit. I surrender my credentials as Bush exposer - from the very beginning - to no man, but on Israel, I love it that a U.S. president doesn't pretend Arab-Israeli conflict is an even-steven proposition. Lots of ethnic peoples, probably most, have at one time or another lost some territory; nobody's ever completely happy with their borders; people move and get moved, which is why the 20th century saw the movement of tens if not hundreds of millions of refugees in countries around the world. There was no entity of Arabs called "Palestine" before Israel made the desert bloom. If those 600,000 original Palestinian refugees had been handled with maturity by their Arab brethren, who had nothing but space to put them, they could have moved on -- the way Germans, Czechs, Poles, Chinese and everybody else has, including, of course, the Jews.

Oh how I love Uncle Bill! I cannot wait for Real Time to come back on the air! Alan Dershowitz also was busy on HuffPost, issuing a challenge!

In today's Wall Street Journal I have an article demonstrating that Hezbollah and Hamas actually want Israel to kill Lebanese and Palestinian civilians (see 'Arithmetic of Pain') . I challenge the readers of this post to come up with a better alternative for Israel than to try to destroy Hezbollah's rockets, even at the cost of some civilian casualties.

My argument is that by hiding behind their own civilians, the Islamic radicals issue a challenge to democracies: either violate your own morality by coming after us and inevitably killing some innocent civilians, or maintain your morality and leave us with a free hand to target your innocent civilians. This challenge presents democracies such as Israel with a lose-lose option and the terrorists with a win-win option. I challenge the readers of this post to recommend to Israel better ways of responding to this challenge. What would you do? What would America do? What should a democracy do?

I issue that challenge to Culture for All readers. Can you think of a solution to this quagmire, different from the path Israel is taking?

President Bush Uses The First Veto Of His Presidency To Strike Down Science...and Hope

I mean I get emotional when I see this - http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/19/washington/19cnd-stem.html. This president does not represent the interests of the majority electorate in America. He is a zealot and he placates to his fanatical small religious base at the expense of the hopes and dreams of others who actually are living and consciously experiencing pain and depression. He serves only to inhibit scientific progress and human advancement and is a danger to mankind, for a variety of reasons, while holding such a powerful office. Update: Shortened Hyperlink

Sandmonkey calls it like it is!

I found a post on Sandmonkey's greatest hits list, which I think perfectly encapsulates the mindset of the Arab world. I think you will quite enjoy it, if you have not read this before! They are the seven rules of A.P.U. - the Arab Parallel Universe.
1) Arabs never make mistakes, and they rarely lose wars. 2) The Zionists and the Americans are always to blame for everything that is wrong in the APU. 3) If there is any credit at all that can be contributed to Arabs in any way, they will take it. 4) Good leadership is inversely related to how US-friendly a leader is! 5) Any media that is not the official state-owned media is filled with Zionist, Jewish, American, Christian, imperialist, anti-arab influences and they LIE ALL THE TIME! 6) There is really no need for elections in the APU, because Presidents and rulers are presidents and rulers for life. 7) The only viable alternative candidate to the current leader or president is this current leader or president’s son.
Go see a full explanation of what this means at the one and only Egyptian Sand Monkey!

Show Your Support

London stands with the people of Israel Israel Solidarity Rally: YES TO PEACE, NO TO TERROR When? Sunday July 23 - 5pm Where? JFS, The Mall, Kenton, HA3 9TE Find out more: Telephone - 02075430105 Email - solidarity [at] bod [dot] org [dot] uk EDIT: There is also a thread on Little Green Footballs detailing pro-Israel rallies around the world.

Syria Supplies

IAF foils rocket transports from Syria. "While army continues to strike Hizbullah, limit its weapons resources, outside groups trying to rearm group. IAF manages to bomb trucks transporting missiles from Syria. IDF Maj.-Gen. Eisenkot: These rockets belong to Syrian army." Is this not an act of war against Israel? Off Topic News Update: There has been an increased number of attacks against Israel today, including 4 rockets which have hit Nazareth.

Clarity

Bigger Brother

Opening a security conference in Tehran on July 8, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad exhorted the Islamic world to mobilize against Israel and "remove the Zionist regime." The nations of the region are growing furious, he said. "It will not be long before this intense fury will lead to a huge explosion." Four days later, Hezbollah terrorists staged a raid across Israel's northern border, kidnapping two Israeli soldiers and killing eight more. Over the next day, more than 120 rockets rained down across northern Israel. Among the communities struck was Haifa, Israel's third-largest city and home to its busiest port and a large oil refinery. It was the first time rockets fired from Lebanon had penetrated so far into Israel; Haifa had been thought to be out of Hezbollah's range. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives at Shanghai's Pudong airport Wednesday June 14, 2006. Ahmadinejad arrived to attend Thursday's summit of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Ahmadinejad will make a speech at the security summit and his presence is helping to draw unprecedented attention to the annual gathering of the Chinese and Russian-dominated grouping, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. (AP Photo/Greg Baker) Israel replied to Hezbollah's artillery barrages and hostage-taking with a military invasion, much as it did in Gaza last month in response to incessant rocket fire and the Hamas kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. In short order, Israel's warplanes struck Beirut's international airport, Hezbollah's offices, and two Lebanese army bases; the Israeli navy put Lebanon under a blockade. And so by week's end Israel was at war again, this time on two fronts against two of the most lethal terrorist forces in the world. Except that the real enemy confronting it is not Hamas and Hezbollah. Terrorist organizations cannot function without state sponsorship, and no state anywhere sponsors more Islamist terrorism than Iran... [Read More]

America: "You have one week."

When normal countries are forced to go to war against their neighbors, they get to fight those wars until they win or give up. In the Middle East, Israel’s enemies get to start wars with the confidence that Israel will not be allowed to retaliate for more than a week or two before the international community steps in and puts a halt to Israel’s impending victory. That’s why Israel had to learn to win wars in six days - they aren’t allowed to fight for any longer than that unless they’re losing (see: Yom Kippur War). And so now, with Israel finally beginning to wear down Hezbollah, comes the news that the US is giving the IDF one more week before joining the rest of the world and demanding that Israel stop winning… [Read More] Update 01: Haarez A senior military source said on Tuesday that Israel seeks "to significantly weaken Hezbollah but not crush it." He said that "it is impossible to crush a popular, religious movement." [...] Some IDF ground troops crossed into southern Lebanon on Wednesday to carry out attacks on Hezbollah guerrilla outposts.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I cannot take it anymore.

I wanted to stay away from the internet, but I am finding it impossible. I have been worried sick about the war in Israel/Lebanon. I am worried sick about my family in Haifa, who are Holocaust survivors, and I am worried sick about the people of Israel and Lebanon. The Lebanese are good people, and they are being held hostage to Hezbollah, who is also holding Israel hostage. Why can't the world be a better place? I long for the day when I can go on vacation to Israel and Lebanon - and just drive from Israel to Lebanon, without worrying about terror. I wish peace were possible, but it's not at the moment. War is hell, but sometimes it is necessary. If only. I can dream, can't I? Please wake me up from this nightmare.

Hezbollah Isolated

Iran to Hizbullah: Curb attacks on Israel Arabic language newspaper reports Iran was warned by European country that Israel is ready to attack targets in Syria in campaign to liquidate Hizbullah; Tehran sends foreign minister to Damascus to demand Hizbullah curtail attacks against Israel.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Enough is Enough

WorldNetDaily After six days of war, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset and the world today he will fight until the terrorist threats of Hamas and Hezbollah are eliminated. Emphasizing Israel did not ask for the conflict, Olmert said the Jewish state, nevertheless, will not back down from fighting. "We stand at a national moment of truth. Will we agree to live under this evil threat or will we fight. … There is no more just struggle than that we are now engaged in," Olmert said, according to Israel National News. "Citizens of Israel, there are moments in the life of a nation, when it is compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say: Enough," he said. "And I say to everyone: Enough is enough. Israel will not be held hostage – not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state." "There is nothing we want more than peace on all of our borders," Olmert told the Knesset. But, he said, "Israel will not agree to live with rockets fired on its citizens. Only a nation that can protect its freedom deserves it." The prime minister once again affirmed Israel's refusal to negotiate with Hezbollah and Hamas over kidnapped soldiers. "It is of regional and international interest to control and dismantle the terror organizations and remove this threat from the Middle East," he said. "We intend to do so." Olmert invoked the names of the grandmother and grandchild killed in a missile attack in Har Meron, 50-year-old Andrea Zeidman and teenager Ella Abouksis. "Our enemies were mistaken to think that our desire to show restraint was a sign of weakness," Olmert declared.

Why Israel Should Bomb Syria

IsraPundit Back in 1966, Israel recoiled from attacking Syria and instead raided Jordan, inadvertently setting off a concatenation of events culminating in war. Israel is once again refraining from an entanglement with Hezbollah’s Syrian sponsors, perhaps because it fears a clash with Iran. And just as Israel’s failure to punish the patron of terror in 1967 ultimately triggered a far greater crisis, so too today, by hesitating to retaliate against Syria, Israel risks turning what began as a border skirmish into a potentially more devastating confrontation. Israel may hammer Lebanon into submission and it may deal Hezbollah a crushing blow, but as long as Syria remains hors de combat there is no way that Israel can effect a permanent change in Lebanon’s political labyrinth and ensure an enduring ceasefire in the north. On the contrary, convinced that Israel is unwilling to confront them, the Syrians may continue to escalate tensions, pressing them toward the crisis point. The result could be an all-out war with Syria as well as Iran and severe political upheaval in Jordan, Egypt, and the Gulf... Update 01: Bush Candid Camera Update 02: A light unto the nations

Special Bulletin

Embassy of Israel, London
14 July 2006 Re: Lebanon & Hizballah Currently, the Israeli civilian population is facing indiscriminate missile attacks from Hizballah. Only in the last day, two Israelis have been killed and 100 injured whilst 220,000 are in bomb shelters and a total of 1 million remain under threat from these missiles. Israel regrets all Lebanese civilian casualties and is making every effort to minimise them. These have, however, occurred primarily around sites used to launch and store Kaytusha rockets. Israel 's borders with Lebanon are in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. However, Hizballah has not disbanded nor put its weapons beyond use, and continues to attack Israel. It remains an armed terrorist organisation, whilst at the same time playing an active part in the Lebanese government. In 2004 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1559 which explicitly called for the Lebanese Government to disarm Hizballah and extend full sovereignty over the whole of Lebanon. The Lebanese government has never implemented this, choosing instead to co-opt Hizballah and allowing it to continue its presence and military build-up in Southern Lebanon as a separate militia, funded and coordinated by Iran, and backed by Syria. Israel remains committed to peace, but in Hizballah, as with Hamas, Israel faces an implacable enemy, opposed to Israel's very right to exist. Neither terrorist group believes in compromise, and Israel's repeated efforts towards peace are met not with reciprocal steps but with continuous provocation and deliberate attacks on civilians. Against such enemies, Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, and will do all it can to stop these attacks. For further comment and analysis, see the following recent pieces from the British press: Editorial, The Daily Telegraph Con Coughlin, The Daily Telegraph Jonathan Spyer, The Guardian Editorial, The Times

They are not 'militants' ...they're terrorists

It is now a fortnight since Palestinian terrorists tunnelled under the Gaza border and crossed into sovereign Israeli territory, bringing fear and bloodshed to an ordinary Sunday tea time. They killed two soldiers who were guarding an army post and, infamously, kidnapped a 19-year-old boy, Corporal Gilad Shalit. He has not been seen since. The only news of him for his grieving parents and an anxious Israeli nation comes in the form of repeated ransom demands from the Hamas terrorists believed to be holding him hostage on the direct orders of their Syrian-based leader, Khaled Meshaal. I have a personal connection to these terrible events: Cpl Shalit is a relative of mine. I do not want to claim that Gilad is more than a distant cousin. He is not. He is less than half my age and, although I am told we have met, I cannot recall it. But he represents the sort of direct connection to the land of Israel shared by many, if not most, British Jews. To me, and to them, this abduction is not just another episode in this long-running conflict, happening in a place far away. This is not just another anonymous Israeli. It is personal. By way of background, my grandfather Leon Shalit served with distinction in the British Army during the Second World War. He then moved to Palestine to serve as a lieutenant-colonel in the Israeli Army. This was in 1947, in preparation for what became the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, when five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel in the hope of wiping out the fledgling country. Against all odds, 650,000 Jews won - with minimal help from the West - and the state of Israel became a reality. The country has survived five major wars since then, and that is without even mentioning the on-going conflict with the Palestinians. Last summer, in an attempt to reach lasting peace, Israel voluntarily withdrew more than 8,500 citizens and its troops from Gaza, turning the area over to the Palestinian Authority. By doing so, it made painful sacrifices. Israelis gave up their homes, places of work and worship as well as their schools and farms. Since then, Palestinian terror groups have used Gaza as a launch pad for countless attacks against Israel, including the raid which led to the kidnap of Gilad Shalit. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, the government of Gaza and the West Bank, has fallen into the hands of Hamas, a movement which supports and sponsors this terrorism. Yet coverage by Western TV news - and the BBC is as much to blame as anyone - is consistently distorted. [...] There is a double standard at work. Why do 'terrorists' bomb innocent civilians in London but 'militants' bomb innocent civilians in Tel Aviv? In 2003 the Associated Press, one of the most influential news services in the world, published a list of 15 terrorist incidents during a five-year period between August 1998 and August 2003. In that same time, more than 800 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks, but not one of the incidents in Israel made the list. Why? The double standards even affect the politics of football. FIFA condemned an Israeli strike on an empty Palestinian football pitch (a pitch that had been used for terror training exercises, by the way). But it refused to condemn a Palestinian missile attack on an Israeli soccer pitch just moments before the daily training session was set to begin. Everyone has an opinion of Israel - often ill-informed due to the constant criticism in the British Press. Of course Israel would prefer a negotiated peace rather than having to prepare for another military action to aid the safe return of one of her soldiers. But the new Palestinian government refuses even to recognise the right of Israel to exist. [...] By JONATHAN SHALIT, The music impresario who discovered Charlotte Church 22:00pm 8th July 2006. Mail on Sunday.

Thank you

Who knows better than Lebanese Christian Brigitte Gabriel? For the millions of Christian Lebanese, driven out of our homeland, "Thank you Israel," is the sentiment echoing from around the world. The Lebanese Foundation for Peace, an international group of Lebanese Christians, made the following statement in a press release to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert concerning the latest Israeli attacks against Hezbollah: We urge you to hit them hard and destroy their terror infrastructure. It is not [only] Israel who is fed up with this situation, but the majority of the silent Lebanese in Lebanon who are fed up with Hezbollah and are powerless to do anything out of fear of terror retaliation." Their statement continues, "On behalf of thousands of Lebanese, we ask you to open the doors of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport to thousands of volunteers in the Diaspora willing to bear arms and liberate their homeland from [Islamic] fundamentalism. We ask you for support, facilitation and logistics in order to win this struggle and achieve together the same objectives: Peace and Security for Lebanon and Israel and our future generations to come." The once dominate Lebanese Christians responsible for giving the world "the Paris of the Middle East" as Lebanon used to be known, have been killed, massacred, driven out of their homes and scattered around the world as radical Islam declared its holy war in the 70s and took hold of the country. They voice an opinion that they and Israel have learned from personal experience, which is now belatedly being discovered by the rest of the world. While the world protected the PLO withdrawing from Lebanon in 1983 with Israel hot on their heals, another more volatile and religiously idealistic organization was being born: Hezbollah, "the Party of God," founded by Ayatollah Khomeini and financed by Iran. It was Hezbollah who blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon in October,1983 killing 241 Americans and 67 French paratroopers that same day. President Reagan ordered U.S. Multilateral Force units to withdraw and closed the books on the marine massacre and US involvement in Lebanon February 1984. The civilized world, which erroneously vilified the Christians and Israel back then and continues to vilify Israel now, was not paying attention. While America and the rest of the world were concerned about the Israeli / PLO problem, terrorist regimes in Syria and Iran fanned Islamic radicalism in Lebanon and around the world. Hezbollah's Shiite extremists began multiplying like proverbial rabbits out-producing moderate Sunnis and Christians. [...] The latest attacks on Israel have been orchestrated by Iran and Syria driven by two different interests. Syria considers Lebanon a part of "greater" Syria. Young Syrian President Assad and his Ba'athist military intelligence henchmen in Damascus are using this latest eruption of violence to prove to the Lebanese that they need the Syrian presence to protect them from the Israeli aggression and to stabilize the country. Iran is conveniently using its Lebanese puppet army Hezbollah, to distract the attention of world leaders meeting at the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Apocalyptic Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the ruling Mullah clerics in Tehran want to assert hegemony in the Islamic world under the banner of Shia Mahdist madness. Ahmadinejad wants to seal his place as top Jihadist for Allah by make good his promise to "wipe Israel off the map. No matter how much the west avoids facing the reality of Islamic extremism of the Middle East, the west cannot hide from the fact that the same Hamas and Hezbollah that Israel is fighting over there, are of the same radical Islamic ideology that has fomented carnage and death through terrorism that America and the world are fighting. This is the same Hezbollah that Iran is threatening to unleash in America with suicide bomb attacks if America tries to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. They have cells in over 10 cities in the United States. Hamas, has the largest terrorist infrastructure on American soil. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to evil for decades, hoping it will go away.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

"Disproportionate"

Israel's military invasion and naval blockade of Lebanon is being denounced in European capitals and at the United Nations as a "disproportionate" response to the kidnapping this week of two of its soldiers by Hezbollah. Israel's decision late last month to invade Gaza in retaliation for the kidnapping of another soldier by Hamas was also condemned as lacking in proportion. So here's a question for our global solons: Since hostage-taking is universally regarded as an act of war, what "proportionate" action do they propose for Israel? In the case of Hamas, perhaps Israel could rain indiscriminate artillery fire on Gaza City, surely a proportionate response to the 800 rockets Hamas has fired at Israeli towns in the last year alone. In the case of Hezbollah, it might mean carpet bombing a section of south Beirut, another equally proportionate response to Hezbollah's attacks on civilian Jewish and Israeli targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s.
Update 01: M Bard IsraPundit

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Proposition

Re: Imagine a world without Israel To Qrswave, You have decided to blame every problem in the Middle East on the existence of Israel. Your solution is the destruction of Israel. Here are 3 of your premises: 1) If Israel did not exist, Muslims, Jews, and Christians could live in peace without fear of mutual destruction. 2) If Israel did not exist, there would be no suicide bombers, sniper fire, and no more dead civilians. 3) If Israel did not exist, [Arabs] and Jews could live together and the world could address other issues. If you stand by your words, I invite you to CultureForAll to defend these statements.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

FORCED absence!

I just wanted to say that I will have a forced absence over the next few weeks, in order to study for the bar exam. I am going to forcibly shut off my computer and stay ignorant of the world, because I lately have become way too obsessed with politics - instead of focusing on studying! IN THE MEANTIME, I gave Steven admin status, and I know he will be able to carry the mantle quite well. I want to say I am so proud and happy to have the group of people assembled here, who comment on this blog. I love the mix of commentators from all over the spectrum. We often have our differences, and we have exchanged words, but overall, the level of discourse gives me hope in the world. Thank you all for your wonderful contributions.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What does "CULTURE FOR ALL" mean?

I originally named this site "culture for all" as a reference to the restrictive intellectual property laws that grip the world, and the way in which our culture is being tied up for way too many decades by a small number of individuals/corporations. However, over time, this blog has changed in character. CULTURE FOR ALL has a new connotation to this blog, and in my opinion, this blog truly represents a belief in "culture for all." This blog stands for the belief that ALL people have a right to exist, and ALL people should be treated with humanity and respect. The culture and laws of a nation are not meant to benefit just a few - but rather should benefit ALL. And so, domestically, I stand for the constitution and the system of checks and balances within America, and the parliamentary democracies seen in the Western world. The core essence of these nations and their laws should be there to protect EVERYONE within them, and the core values should not be sacrificed as a sort of ends justifying the means. This means I stand for two precepts: a) strongly in favor of civil liberties, and b) strongly against ammeliorating the Christian facists, Islamofacists or any other facists by caving into their whims and CHANGING society so they feel more "comfortable." Because of a belief in "culture for all" I also am strongly in favor of freedom of speech, women's rights, gay rights, sexual freedom, and religious freedom, as long as this does not include the freedom for people to discriminate against others or treat others with disrespect in the name of "religion." As far as foreign policy, I recognize the threat that Islamofacism is to the continued precept of "culture for all." I am perfectly fine with Muslims peacefully living wherever they want - but Islamofacism, as distinct from Islam, seeks to assert Sharia law against the world. Islamofacism seeks to elliminate Israel, deingrate women, seeks to elliminate Jews and gays, and wages a mighty war on thought. In order to continue to allow for different cultures and people to coexist, and with a belief in a pluralsitic "culture for all" society, I see that Islamofacism MUST BE STOPPED. There is no appeasement for those who wish to annihiliate those who think differently. This means I am against pulling out of Iraq until we get the job DONE (but was against the war when started), and I am against all attempts of Western society to appease these Islamofacists. NOTHING appeases these people. This doesn't mean I advocate going to war with everyone who wages a saber at the West. We should fight SMART and not act impulsively, and only fight those who are truly a threat or who actively harm us, and take care to avoid civilian death. We also should not sacrifice our civil liberties in this fight, because then the Islamofacists win and we become more like them. I further strongly back Israel, and see Israel as a shining republic in the Middle East, amidst despotic regimes. Israel is truly a model of "culture for all," - where women have equal rights, gay people have full civil union rights, there is full free speech, and freedom of religion. (remember, 20% of Israelis are "Arab Israelis.") In contrast, the Palestinian cause is "anti-culture for all." The Palestinians wish to kick out all Jews from the West Bank, if they were to get control over the West Bank. They seek to have Islam as the official religion, and they do not allow freedom of religion or freedom of speech. In the Palestinian territories, you can get SHOT for suspicion of collaboration with Israelis. The Palestinians aim for civilians, have a media that is shockingly anti-semitic and teach their children a death cult, and then play victim when Israel fights back. Yet, because I believe in "culture for all," I believe the Palestinians should have their own state - as soon as they pledge to recognize Israel and pledge they will not attack Israel. (which they have not done) There are many great Muslims out there. Islam the religion is not inherently good or bad, just as any religion is not inherently good or bad. However, the face of Islam today is Islamofacism. Until Muslims on a greater scale seek to TAKE BACK their religion, this will be the public face of Islam. I know there are Muslims out there who want the notion of CULTURE FOR ALL. They want inclusiveness and a pluralistic society. I only wish they banded together and SHOWED THE WORLD that Islam can be peaceful. I believe in CULTURE FOR ALL. Live and let live. Peace. But I am not tolerant of intolerance.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

NATURAL male enhancement!

NATURAL male enhancement! This is something I am sure many of the international visitors to this blog have never seen...erectile dysfunction ads! This one for the brand "Enzyte" is particularly...well...you can see it yourself! But all's fine, because it's NATURAL male enhancement. Ahem.

YOU AIN'T NEVER HAD A FRIEND LIKE ME!

My best friend, Entercenter, is at it again with his sheer funny-itude. Check out his latest post. I laughed, I cried, I vomited! (the good vomit, hooray!) I will not even quote from the link because it is one big marathon of funny and I want you to read the whole thing!

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Hamdan or Ham-do?

After the recent Supreme Court ruling on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the usual conservative blather started calling SCOTUS members treasonous, and all sorts of other unpleasantries. I think the best way to analyze the situation is to actually examine FACTS. Georgetown Professor Marty Lederman wonderfully lays out some essential myths and facts about the decision. (found via Andrew Sullivan) Here are the money parts:

MYTH NO. 8: "[T]he Court, without any grounding in either American law or the Geneva Conventions, has effectively signed a treaty with al Qaeda for the protection of its terrorists." So says the National Review. This meme has been front and center of many reactions to Hamdan -- that it is preposterous to construe a treaty to provide protections to persons who are not party to the treaty and refuse to abide by its terms.

FACT: Nonsense.

As Carleton Wu pointedly remarks in the comments section below, saying that we've now "effectively signed a treaty with Al Qaeda for protection of terrorists" is like saying that because we've signed the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, we've now entered into a treaty with the whales. There are many modern treaties, promoted by the United States and universally accepted -- think of the Convention Against Torture, for example -- that require signatory states to refrain from acting in certain ways universally, even with respect to persons, entities and states that have not signed, and do comply with, such treaties. Simply put, reciprocity is not a necessary prerequisite of many modern human-rights treaties. And that's largely a U.S. innovation: As noted above, from the Civil War until Febrauary 2002 it was the view of the United States that we are legally and morally obligated to treat our enemies according to a baseline of civilized conduct, whether or not our enemies (e.g., the Confederacy; the Germans and Japanese in World War II; the Viet Cong) do likewise. Contrary to Sen. Graham's assertion that to give Al Qaeda detainees this baseline protection is "breathtaking," there's nothing at all unusual about it: The Court's decision simply returns us to the standards we applied to our enemies -- including barbarous and lawless enemies -- for many decades prior to February 2002.

Indeed, the whole point of Common Article 3 -- its only application -- is to provide Geneva protections to parties who have not themselves agreed to be bound by the Conventions. As OLC explained, "Article 3 is a unique provision that governs the conduct of signatories to the Conventions in a parlicular kind of conflict that is not one between High Contracting Parlies to the Conventions. Thus, common article 3 may require the United States, as a High Contracting Party, to follow certain rules even if other parties to the conflict are not parties to the Convention."That is to say, the now-oft-heard complaint that those who have not signed the treaty should not be protected by it would mean the rejection of Common Article 3 altogther.

MYTH NO. 9: The Court's holding affords Al Qaeda terrorists the same treaty protections as U.S. soldiers.

A "senior administration official," to whom the Washington Post accorded anonymity for no good reason ("because the issue is still being debated internally"!), previewed the Administration's spin on the question: "Members of both parties will have to decide whether terrorists who cherish the killing of innocents deserve the same protections as our men and women who wear the uniform."

FACT: At least insofar as this argument refers to Common Article 3, it's wrong.

The Court did not hold -- not even close -- that all of the protections of the Geneva Conventions apply to suspected Al Qaeda detainees, or that they are entitled to all of the protections afforded U.S. POWs. (POWs, for instance, may not be coerced at all in interrogations, and may not be "threatened, insulted, or exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind" for refusing to answer questions beyond name, rank, serial number and date of birth.) The Court held "merely" that the minimum baseline protections of Common Article 3 are binding on the U.S. in the conflict with Al Qaeda. The Court did not suggest that Al Qaeda detainees are entitled to POW status, and did not opine on the procedures that may be required to deprive a detainee of POW status. As OLC explained, "article 3 requires State parties to follow only certain minimum standards of treatment toward prisoners, civilians, or the sick and wounded -- standards that are much less onerous and less detailed than those spelled out in the Conventions as a whole."

Conservatives hate the judiciary

It is not really a shock that conservatives hate the judiciary, but the following comments on Little Green Footballs act as a fine example of how and why conservatives hate the judiciary. To that, I wrote a very long and detailed reply, that I think you might enjoy reading. 1) Conservatives are the biggest "judicial activists" out there - they use the 11th amendment to justify practically unlimited power of states. The 11th amendment states:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

The Yale Daily News wonderfully lays out how the conservative justices have judicially activated the crap out of this amendment.

The Eleventh Amendment is meant to give states immunity to suits arising under state law (this is perfectly consistent with the traditional story that the Eleventh Amendment was passed in order to overturn the 1793 case of Chisholm v. Georgia, which arose under state law, but between a state and a citizen of another state), but not to suits arising under federal law.

But that's not how the Supreme Court has seen it. Since 1996, the Court has extended absolute sovereign immunity to states, both in state and federal courts. This immunity has protected the states against suits by both their own citizens and those of other states.

What does this mean? Basically, that the states can get away with an awful lot. In the Seminole Tribe case, the state of Florida was allowed to get away with refusing to comply with a federal law that required it to negotiate in good faith with native tribes for the purpose of allowing the tribes to operate gambling activities in the state. In the 1999 case of Alden v. Maine, the state of Maine was allowed to get away with a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act in the treatment of state employees. In the two 1999 Florida Prepaid cases, Florida violated the patent rights of a private company. And in the Kimel case, Florida violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in its dealings with its employees.

But the principle involved is much broader; it cuts to the very notion of what American government is. The Constitution opens with an assertion of popular sovereignty: "We the People" are sovereign here. Unlike monarchical England, whence we imported the concept of sovereign immunity, the state here is sovereign only insofar as it is our servant.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly appealed to the "dignity" of the states in its sovereign immunity decisions, but that kind of talk flows from what Blackstone referred to as the "imperial dignity" and "great and transcendent nature" of the King. It certainly has no place in a free American polity! Ours is a government "of the people, by the people, for the people," and when it violates the rights of the people -- whether those rights are constitutional or statutory in origin -- it ceases to be sovereign. As Akhil Reed Amar, the Southmayd Professor of Law at the Yale Law School, points out, "when government violates the express limits on its powers imposed by We the sovereign People in our Constitution, government, properly speaking, is neither 'sovereign' nor 'immune' and cannot in justice or logic invoke 'sovereign immunity.'"

2) Marbury v. Madison set the groundwork such that the judiciary is the third branch of government via judicial review. In other words, a function of the judiciary is to overturn unconstitutional laws that the legislature enacts, or unconstitutional actions of the executive. To disrespect this disrespects the very constitutional republic we live in. 3) No arguments from me that Roe v. Wade was poorly written. However, the notion of a "penumbra of rights" is not out of left field. The framers of the constitution enacted the 9th amendment for a reason. The 9th amendment states:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
This means that rights that existed when the constitution was drafted were meant to be protected, even if not laid out by the constitution. These rights include the right to procreation, right to marry, and the right to privacy. I know you all get up in arms over the right to privacy, but how would you feel if the judiciary decided "You know what? There is no right to marry, because it's not in the constitution." If you do not believe in a "penumbra" of rights, technically that is a possibility. 4) Lawrence v. Texas and the death penalty case from last year were not decided on international law grounds. Indeed, it would be illegitimate of the judiciary to decide a case on international law grounds, because they are meant to ground their rulings in the constitution. However, that is NOT what was done in those cases. Rather, they were decided on constitutional grounds, and international law was cited in "dicta." (flowery language that is not the basis of the holding) In fact, there has not been a single case decided in the history of the Supreme Court on international law grounds. International law has been used in DICTA, but it has never been used as the basis of a holding. 5) The Supreme Court in fact is made up of 7/9 justices chosen by Republicans. Stevens was chosen by Nixon, and Souter was chosen by Bush Sr. Kennedy, as is well known, is a Reagan appointee. As it stands, the Supreme Court is actually QUITE CONSERVATIVE. 4/9 justices are outright conservatives. Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito really are outright conservatives. Kennedy is a "swing" justice. The four "liberals" are not even particularly liberal compared to the Warren court. 6) There is a very real mission of conservatives nowadays to discredit the judiciary. It is sickening and sad. Here is a statement by John Cornyn on the SENATE FLOOR.
I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence.
This was said after an outbreak of violence against the judiciary and seems to excuse violence against the judiciary. It is dangerous language, and such thought is the thought of those who wish to elliminate a check of power on the president/legislature. Very dangerous indeed. 7) The Kelo decision was a bad outcome, but it was actually in line with the precedant that came before it. I am not happy with the decision, but if you don't like it - then pass laws against it! Easily solved. 8) Overall, the disrespect of the judiciary is dangerous and also stems from a total lack of knowledge of the constitution and the concept of "balance of powers." If you disagree with a judicial opinion, that's one thing. I disagree with MANY judicial opinions. However, this total demogoguery re: the judiciary is disgusting and dispicable.