Thursday, April 28, 2005
Knowing Who Your Friends Are
No, I wasn't too happy about this hand-holding pic either:
On the other hand, I'm apparently not the only one who believes that there's more here than meets the eye. (UPDATE: "more than meets the eye", indeed.)
First, I have to wonder how many cases of Arab nationalist heartburn will be caused by these photos. (And do the Saudis realize how much they're inviting the terrorists to strike them, being photographed buddy-buddy with The Great Satan?)
In more concrete terms, there's this:
Quillnews urges all to take a closer look at the realities that are obscured by the fancy in these snap shots of simple human courtesy. The US, acting virtually on its own initiative with only its closest blood brothers-in-arms as allies, responded to a single attack – Sept 11 – and destroyed the governments of Afghanistan, Iraq and changed the on-the-ground behavior of Pakistan, India, Syria, Lebanon, Libya. Bush 43 did this with a working majority of the American electorate, and all the while under relentless attack by his political opponents who, despite all efforts for two years, were unable to shake the American people’s support of the war. Abdullah knows his society has spawned a murderous enemy and ideology that has been growing for years and nurtured by his people and their clerics. Imagine what the American people would do to Abdullah's kingdom if the homeland of the US or its allies were hit a second time!!!Read the whole thing. Here's another quote, to whet your appetite:
The Saudi’s are masters as duplicity, but check out Bush 43. Sure the guy can be polite and solitious. So what? Bush 43 is at the top of his game; this is a guy who defended his country, redeemed his father and who is with a will, with a faith, with the weapons and the license to get done what he knows the people want. Any many of his countrymen are just beginning to connect the dots about religious freedom. (China take note!) A Yale Bonesman will always show courtesy. That’s basic. Of course Bush 43 would be kind and courtly in public to the elderly man visiting his home who is seeking reassurance that he is moving in the right direction. More important is whether the guest is “on the team.”...in other words, Bush isn't afraid of appearances. In fact, he's quite famous for doing things that look funny (or stupid, or downright evil) to other people... causing those other people to misunderestimate him.
I suspect he's far more interested in results than in appearances. If his quiet negotiations can get positive results from the Saudis, at the price of some silly photo-ops, more power to him.
On a different front entirely, it looks like we're closing in on Public Enemy #1. (You didn't think we'd forgotten about him, did you?) He recently had a narrow escape from U.S. forces, in which he left his laptop behind. (Bad mistake, dude. BAD mistake.)
Thanks to Citizen SMASH for pointing me in the right direction!
Monday, April 25, 2005
I was just leafing through some of BlackFive's old posts, and found a cool link:
It's a personalized map of the United States, showing states I've been in. (I refuse to count states I've just driven through or changed planes in; all of them are states where I've at least spent the night, albeit with a technicality or two.)
Damn, I don't get around much, do I?? (Click here to make a personalized map of your own, by the way.)
(And no, I'm not going to try the personalized World Map. I've lived in the United States and Israel, and I've stayed overnight in Canada, the UK, and one or two other places. Certainly not enough to brag about.)
Once my current barbershop quartet gets off the ground, I'll set up another map, showing states we perform in. (My last quartet performed in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire. Oh well, it's a start.)
UPDATE: That site has other uses, too. For example, playing License-Plate Bingo is a favorite at our house -- especially with three little girls in the car for long road trips! -- and this is an interesting way of keeping track. For example, here is a list of state license-plates I saw on my way home from work today.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The Gandhi Method
Courtesy of Instapundit, an interesting link:
Martin Luther King Jr. once said of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred World War II pastor, “if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer.”It's a crucial difference. As Richard Land points out, Gandhi opposed British colonial rule... and knew quite well that he could count on a British conscience to advance his cause. Bonhoeffer, on the other hand, opposed Hitler... who had no qualms about smashing anything in his way. So Bonhoeffer abandoned his pacifism and fought the Nazis, tooth and nail. He was also personally involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler directly.
Apparently, too many still look at Saddam's Iraq and see colonial Britain, not Nazi Germany. Or perhaps they view Britain's troubled colonial rule over India, vs. the Nazi brutal military conquest of most of Europe, and see no important differences. (Ironically, such differences were pretty easy to see at the time... whereas the modern equivalents are even more stark. The United States has no colonies, nor has it gone in search of any. No foreign countries are required to pay taxes of any sort to the United States, the way all the European colonial powers insisted on milking their colonies. What we're left with is comparing Saddam's brutal invasions of Iran and Kuwait with the proliferation of McDonald's... and inventing a ridiculous "war for oil" that requires conspiracy theories to have any basis at all.)
A reader replied to Instapundit with the comment that, while Gandhi's model of disciplined peaceful resistance would never have worked in Iraq, it ironically could have worked quite nicely for the Palestinians in their resistance against Israel. Reader Howard Greene commented: "If the Palestinians had followed Gandhi I think they would have had their state in 1970." I agree completely. And if a Palestinian Gandhi arose today -- and managed to avoid assassination by his own people -- I think he'd go far and fast.
The Palestinians clearly believe -- in spite of all evidence to the contrary -- that they are fighting a ruthless Israeli dictatorship, not a democracy with a conscience; so they follow Bonhoeffer, not Gandhi. (Alternatively, perhaps they -- or their self-declared leadership -- truly have no interest in living alongside Israel in peace, and have not changed their push for Israel's total destruction. Which alternative seems more likely to you? Think about it.)
And, as Land asks about anti-war activists:
Is [your] opponent President Bush, or Saddam Hussein?The Professor didn't say it, but I will. Read the whole thing.
Friday, April 15, 2005
This seems a link well worth preserving! (Hat tip: LGF.)
A Russian immigrant turned Israeli policeman has won the Jewish state's second-highest military honor.As an IDF veteran, this speaks to me strongly. Israeli soldiers don't get many decorations; there are no Good Conduct medals or Expert Rifleman medals, nor Purple Hearts for being wounded in combat.
Known only by his initial, Y., the commander of the Border Police undercover unit called Yasam was awarded the Medal for Courage on Tuesday for a string of deadly counterterrorist missions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Yasam is the Hebrew acronym for Police Reconnaissance Unit.
"I just did my job as best I knew how," Y., a 30-year-old father of two, told Ma'ariv before the awards ceremony. "I wasn't expecting a decoration." Yasam usually seeks out recruits among Sephardi Jews who can pass for Palestinians and handle the rough world of covert operations.
It might seem an odd home for Y., the piano-playing son of Muscovite academics who immigrated to Israel when he was 16. But he now has two dozen confirmed "kills" of terrorist fugitives to his name.
In the Israeli military, one ribbon means one war... with very few exceptions. Check out this picture, for example, circa 2000 or so:
All three men are generals. Note how "undecorated" they look (at least by American standards).
The man in the center is then Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz (in American military symbols, a three-star general, as high as Israeli generals go; only one Israeli wears that rank at any given time). On his left is a Major General (two-star); on his right is a Brigadier General (one star). All three wear the colorful Operation Peace For Galilee campaign ribbon (1982) over the left breast pocket; Mofaz and the Brigadier also wear the Yom Kippur War ribbon (1973), and Mofaz wears the Six-Day-War ribbon (1967) as well.
NONE of them wear any of the three solid-colored special decorations; they are extremely rare, and usually granted posthumously. (See here for a look at the special decorations.) As the Jerusalem Post article points out, the solid-red Medal of Courage has not been awarded to anyone in 23 years. (More detailed statistics can be found here.)
The guy clearly knows what he's doing, too, and why he's doing it:
Y. described Yasam as his Zionist calling. "Even in the worst of times, we always knew Israel was the place for us," he said. "The same went for the military. Even back in Russia, we would hear about the Israeli military. For me, it was a personal challenge to serve in it."In other words, he earned his award by going deep into the terrorist nests that the Palestinian Authority foments, seeking out terrorist leaders, and killing them:
"The Holocaust is very deeply ingrained in me. With time, I understood how terrible it was, and understood that we, the Jews, must know how to protect ourselves without asking questions or permission."
Drafted into the Border Police, Y. performed so well that the commanders asked him to become an officer despite his faulty Hebrew. Then came the outbreak of Palestinian violence in 2000, and Y. found Arabic to be just as useful.
According to comrades, he is first to volunteer for the most dangerous missions in the grim alleyways of the refugee camps favored as hideouts by Palestinian gunmen. "There is something wrong with his fear instinct. It does not exist," one said.
Once inside Tulkarm, Y. and his comrade found their target. When he resisted arrest, they shot him dead, waking up all the other gunmen in the camp.
So Y. decided to use the commotion to their benefit, driving out at full speed and shouting "Army! Army!" in Arabic. The Palestinian locals, thinking the two undercover cops were gunmen on the run from Israeli special forces, made way, letting them escape.
Y. "was the only one who said the mission was possible," said Col. Tamir Heyman, a West Bank brigade commander. "And he made it so."
Such courage deserves to be recognized and remembered. I'm glad he's getting the recognition he deserves... even if we may have to wait many years before we learn his name.
NOTE: An earlier version of this post mistakenly referred to Y.'s medal as the yellow Medal of Valor, the IDF's highest decoration. Sorry for the error.
And if you're curious to know what such a man looks like, well, the Israeli press knows better than to publicize his face! But here's a snapshot from his awards ceremony, in which Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon (right) proudly pins the medal on Y.:
Thursday, April 14, 2005
It's nice to know that the U.S. Secret Service is doing its job...
Apparently, this incendiary nonsense appeared in a Chicago art show:
The exhibit (titled "Patriot Act") -- as well as the artist, no doubt -- are being investigated by the Secret Service. The exhibit's curator find this "frightening" -- no, he's not frightened by the suggestion that anonymously assassinating the President is somehow patriotic; he's frightened by the investigation! No doubt he's the sort who claims his inalienable artistic right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater...
(As always, we can judge the fairness of something by putting the shoe on the other foot. Would "artwork" depicting the assassination of John Kerry, or Ted Kennedy, or Bill Clinton be considered incendiary? I'd consider it so... and I suspect the "artist" in question would agree.)
It's worth mentioning in passing, by the way, that there is (or was) a considerable amount of mechandise available for sale on this theme... but, according to Michelle Malkin, there is nothing advocating the assassination of John Kerry. (I couldn't find any either. Oh, plenty of people asking him to sign his SF180, as he promised he would, but no calls for his immediate burial.)
The closest I could find were the occasional halfhearted hopes by Kim du Toit that Hillary Clinton would shuffle off... but in spite of the serious firepower he owns (or perhaps because of that firepower, and the responsibility it inspires!), I don't recall him ever even suggesting that she be hurried along to meet her Maker.
Last I heard, it is a Federal crime to threaten the life of the President -- "whether you mean it or not", as the saying goes. I've also heard that it's stupid, almost Darwinian, to challenge the Secret Service by doing so.
UPDATE: Here's another example of the same sort of thing.
A while back, I argued that Bush was seeing unreasoning hatred that no sitting U.S. President has seen since the days of Lincoln. In a polite e-mail reply, Stephen den Beste replied that, no, Reagan was villified as much or more.
I was tempted to argue the point further... but then I realized that (a) one doesn't disagree with Mr. den Beste lightly; (b) the man was a mature adult throughout the Reagan presidency, and no doubt remembers it better than I; and, most tellingly, (c) there was an attempted assassination of Reagan (perhaps the only universal yardstick of how intensely a President is hated).
Still, you tell me -- do you think this sets a new low? Or was criticism of Reagan as bad or worse? Let me know in the comments; I promise to read your replies. Both of them.
UPDATE II: How come I didn't think of that? Blackfive points out what the logical consequence of all this would be. (Let me put it in terms that the Loony Left will understand immediately: President Halliburton.)
Now, I'm not scared of that... but I'd think some of these let's-talk-about-offing-the-President idiots would be!
UPDATE III: My my my, isn't this special...
And I love the subtitle: "Making fun of Repubicans won't get them on our side, but threatening to kill them might be more effective."
To which I reply: just remember which side has the guns...
It might also be useful to remember that, when talking to armed people, 'threatening to kill them' might be counterproductive to you and your cause. Just a thought.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Middle East Progress
Well, well! Can you guess who said this?
[He] pointedly added: "If Kurdish Jews want to return to their villages and lands which they left voluntarily tens of years ago, they are free to do so. There will be no double standards before the law in Kurdistan."Okay, that was a giveaway. The speaker was Jalal Talabani, the interim President of Iraq. (Hat tip: neo-neocon, via Meryl. High time to add a new link to the bloglist.)
As I said before, the acid test for Arab democracies will be when they choose to accept Israel. (They have everything to gain, and nothing but their hatred to lose, by becoming friends with their Jewish neighbor. Israel can help them in innumerable ways... and that help is available for the asking.)
We ain't there yet... and we've seen false alarms before. But let's remain hopeful!
UPDATE: This seems a little hopeful too:
That's a photo of some of the dignitaries at the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The gray-haired man on the left is Israeli President Moshe Katsav; the black-haired man looking to his left is Syrian President Bashar Assad.
From Qatar's Gulf Times:
Israeli President Moshe Katsav said he shook hands with the leaders of Syria and Iran at Pope John Paul’s funeral yesterday, when the Pontiff in death brought together Middle East foes as no man alive ever had.
Katsav’s encounters with President Bashar Assad of Syria, formally at war with the Jewish state, and Iranian President Mohamed Khatami occurred when hundreds of international dignitaries crowded together at the Vatican funeral.
The encounters, are believed to be the first time an Israeli president had shaken hands with Syrian and Iranian leaders. It was unknown whether the handshakes were captured on film.
“I told him ‘Good morning’ and he shook my hand,” Katsav, who holds a largely ceremonial post as head of state, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV on his encounter with Assad. The Israeli and Syrian delegations had been seated next to each other.
Iranian-born Katsav said he spoke in his native Farsi to Khatami about Yazd, their common city of birth.
“The president of Iran extended his hand to me, I shook it and told him in Farsi, ‘May peace be upon you’,” said Katsav...
The official Syrian news agency Sana later said Katzav and Assad had shaken hands but that it had “no political significance and does not alter the known Syrian position” toward the Jewish state.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom later told CNN that the handshakes gave Israel a “glimmer of hope that something can change in the Middle East”, but that peace between Israel and the two countries was still far off.
“There is still a long way to go before we can reach a compromise. But sometimes things can start with one gesture,” Shalom said.
Friday, April 08, 2005
Day By Day
From last week:
To paraphrase my grandfather: "in truth it's a pity, and pity it's the truth".
I used to respect the UN. (Not for long, mind you -- I am an Israeli, after all.) The UN had such wonderful ideals, and got off to such a great start. Of course, every movement's apologists say exactly that.
Now that the UN is at the center of the biggest corruption scandal in history, not to mention the most pervasive sex-abuse case ever known... why does anyone still respect them? (The best answer I've heard, anywhere, is a weasel-worded "well, we really need a World Government, and the UN is the closest we have to that; besides, you have to start somewhere". Sorry, not good enough by a long shot.)
Even if UN workers were not simultaneously acting like protection-money racketeers, wholesale child molesters, and outright cowards, they'd have to face up to the fact that they've failed, dismally, in precisely the objective the UN was founded for -- preventing war and protecting innocents from genocide. Future generations will not forgive us for Darfur. And now, with people by the thousands being murdered on the UN's watch, all they seem to care about is covering their own backs in the Oil-For-Food scandal. Inexcusable.
I've been watching the UN's prettied-up antisemitism and pandering to dictators for a good many years -- and I must say, it's a funny feeling to think that these are now the least of the UN's problems...
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Anti-Military Protest at UCSC
Yeah, I know; this is news??
But this one caught my attention (hat tip: Instapundit). Follow the link: it seems 200 or so anti-war protesters (and, apparently, generally anti-military as well) burst into a UCSC job fair, screaming for the two Marine Corps recruiters (in plainclothes) to leave. Eventually, the recruiters did leave... whereupon "...student protesters hugged each other happily after administrators allowed them to hand out information on alternatives to military careers".
I have to wonder: are UCSC undergraduates that clueless? Okay, fine, they don't like the war; they're entitled to their opinions. But to protest the very presence of nondescript military recruiters at a job fair?
This is wrong on so many levels. One: did they really feel they needed 200 screaming teenagers (and the accompanying riot police) to shout down two Marines? (The Marines I've known have been soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, unless provoked. Clearly these two didn't consider screaming UCSC protesters a provokation; good judgement on their part!)
For that matter, why on Earth did the protesters feel it necessary to silence recruiters? Were they afraid they'd find the military message attractive? Or did they feel that their leaflets could not compete with the recruiters' brochures, and so had to take desparate measures? Regardless, it's a case of "First Amendment for me but not for thee"; astonishing.
And in a larger sense, do these UCSC undergrads truly believe that they'd be better off in an America that had no military at all? (Given the way they were pushing "career alternatives", I have to assume they were.) The mind boggles.
Perhaps they believe, to the extent that the subject even crosses their minds, that an armed invasion of the United States is unthinkable. (As Kim du Toit says, yes, it's unthinkable, which is precisely the point! This does not mean that the U.S. military is unnecessary; it means that they are doing their job.)
No doubt the recruiters will seek more fruitful places to make their pitches... resulting in a dearth of recruits from certain places and groups. No doubt these same protesters will then complain that the U.S. military is racist, or classist, or some such nonsense.
Sheesh. Why couldn't the protesters have stormed a Marine base instead? Then we might at least get a worthwhile Darwin Award or two out of the deal...
UPDATE: In a related development, twenty students at Ohio State University staged a "die-in" to protest the war in Iraq. (This puzzles me -- isn't it a bit late in the game to protest the war now? Is anyone expecting the President to say "Oops, you're so right, I'm sorry, let's put everything back the way it was"?)
A senior at Ohio State, Marc Fencil, took this personally. (And well he might; he's currently stationed in Iraq.) He wrote a letter to the editor on the subject, addressing the protesters personally. The letter was quoted in full at OpinionJournal.com, and I feel obliged to do the same:
It's a shame that I'm here in Iraq with the Marines right now and not back at Ohio University completing my senior year and joining in blissful ignorance with the enlightened, war-seasoned protesters who participated in the recent "die-in" at College Gate. It would appear that all the action is back home, but why don't we make sure? That's right, this is an open invitation for you to cut your hair, take a shower, get in shape and come on over! If Michael Moore can shave and lose enough weight to fit into a pair of camouflage utilities, then he can come too!
Make sure you all say your goodbyes to your loved ones though, because you won't be seeing them for at least the next nine months. You need to get here quick because I don't want you to miss a thing. You missed last month's discovery of a basement full of suicide vests from the former regime (I'm sure Saddam's henchmen just wore them because they were trendy though). You weren't here for the opening of a brand new school we built either. You might also notice women exercising their new freedom of walking to the market unaccompanied by their husbands.
There is a man here, we just call him al-Zarqawi, but we think he'd be delighted to sit down and give you some advice on how you can further disrespect the victims of Sept. 11 and the 1,600 of America's bravest who have laid down their lives for a safer world. Of course he'll still call you "infidel" but since you already agree that there is no real evil in the world, I see no reason for you to be afraid. Besides, didn't you say that radical Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance?
I'm warning you though -it's not going to be all fun and games over here. You might have bad dreams for the next several nights after you zip up the body bag over a friend's disfigured face. I know you think that nothing, even a world free of terror for one's children, is worth dying for, but bear with me here. We're going to live in conditions you've never dreamt about. You should get here soon though, because the temperatures are going to be over 130 degrees very soon and we will be carrying full combat loads (we're still going to work though). When it's all over, I promise you can go back to your coffee houses and preach about social justice and peace while you continue to live outside of reality.
If you decide to decline my offer, then at least you should sleep well tonight knowing that men wearing black facemasks and carrying AK-47s yelling "Allahu Akbar" over here are proud of you and are forever indebted to you for advancing their cause of terror. While you ponder this, I'll get back to the real "die-in" over here. I don't mind.