Friday, June 22, 2007
Tighter Gun Control in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has proposed a new gun-control restriction (don't we have enough already?) -- which he calls "H3991", but which the rest of us call "one gun or magazine purchase per month".
This annoys me -- I can see the one-gun-per-month restriction as not being particularly onerous, I suppose (except to gun collectors). But magazines? Am I to understand that, if my local police chief authorizes a legal gun license for me, with which I then go to purchase a pistol, two magazines, and a box of ammo -- a perfectly legitimate way to start target-shooting as a hobby, for example -- the Governor wants it to take me three months, just to complete the purchase?
Part of the reason this annoys me is because, of course, it is a restriction on Second Amendment freedoms. But another reason is that I can't see what on Earth this is supposed to accomplish, other than to be a first step towards even more onerous legislation. (If the Massachusetts legislature can restrict us to one gun purchase per month, they can restrict us to one purchase per year... and, eventually, to one purchase per lifetime, or none at all.) Does anyone really expect a bill such as this to reduce crime? Can anyone imagine a criminal gang, in need of additional firepower for a bank robbery, being deterred by this bill and calling off the heist because of it?
(Thanks to The Hobbesian Father for calling my attention to this!)
Gaza: The Return of Realpolitik
NOTE: This post originally combined two topics -- recent events in Gaza, and gun control in Massachusetts. I've decided to split the two subjects into two separate posts. Sorry if this causes any confusion. --DiB
Apologies to both my regular readers; I've been busy with other things lately, without much time to blog.
Frankly, I've also been demoralized by some of what I've been reading. The Gaza Strip has fallen completely to Hamas, which consolidated its victory by threatening Christians and Muslims alike -- while Fatah, busy retaliating against Hamas in the West Bank, has Western politicians falling all over themselves to help!
Have we forgotten that Fatah is a terrorist organization, whose name means "conquest" and whose emblem features two crossed weapons, a stylized map of the entire state of Israel, and the slogan "revolution until victory"? These are the people President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert want to support? What on Earth are they thinking?
(I've duplicated the emblems of Fatah and Hamas at the top of this post, by the way. It might amuse you to figure out which is which.)
Mind you, there are reports that Fatah gave up Gaza without a struggle. Here's one report of that; IRIS seems to agree. Personally, I think it makes sense: I can easily see Abu Mazen throwing up his hands at the ungovernable mess that the Gaza Strip has become, thanks to his own apathy and Arafat's reign of terror.
UPDATE: One of the links above discusses Olmert's incipient transfer, to Fatah, of $400 million in withheld Palestinian taxes. (Does that sound wildly incomprehensible to you? Me too. But as I understand it, the deal is this: Israel has been providing Palestinians with essential services for many years, e.g. electricity, water, and so forth. Taxes are built into the charges for this; but taxes collected from Palestinians should, in theory, go to the Palestinian Authority, not to Israel. Israel has withheld these funds from the Palestinian Authority since last January, when Hamas won control of the PA.)
From that same article:
The withheld tax funds will be transferred to the Palestinians in installments, through a mechanism that will ensure none of the funds reach terror organizations, or any groups associated with terror, including Hamas.I'm reminded of President Lincoln's despair, upon hearing from Gen. Meade, during the American Civil War, that "we have driven the invader from our soil". Lincoln reportedly cried: "Will our generals never get that idea out of their heads? The whole country is our soil!"
Unbelievable. Olmert's government really has forgotten that Fatah is a terrorist organization, haven't they?
As if to underscore the point:
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni also remarked on the issue of the withheld tax funds during a visit to Luxembourg earlier in the week. Livni said that Israel would release the funds to the Palestinian Authority, if the emergency government acknowledged Israel's right to exist.Good grief, is that all? $400,000,000, if Abu Mazen's "emergency government" acknowledges Israel's right to exist? Does she not realize, based on endless bitter past experience, that Fatah will say anything, anything at all, if it is to their temporary advantage? Does she not realize that she is conditioning her support on words, which need not be backed up by anything?
If you still think Fatah are the "good guys" among Palestinians, you might want to read about the Fatah torture chambers, in which Fatah operatives tortured and murdered their political opponents. This is how they treat their own people, in other words.
And Hamas is just as bad:
The near-perfect public order that reigned in Gaza this week can be(emphasis mine)
attributed, at least in part, to the fear Hamas struck into residents'
hearts last week, during the Strip's civil war. Testimony collected from the
days of fighting indicates that Hamas imposed a methodical system of terror
and scare tactics intended to deter, shock and frighten Fatah operatives and
Gaza residents in general.
It began on a Monday 11 days ago, when a Fatah man was tossed off a
multi-story building in the Strip; it subsequently came to light that Hamas
operatives managed to shoot him in the legs before throwing him to his
death. Although this method was used on only one other Fatah operative, it
had the desired effect and became the talk of the town. A number of Fatah
leaders, who knew that their names appeared on Hamas hit lists, decided to
make their exit, with some heading to Ramallah and others crossing into
"It's very easy to criticize the senior officials who disappeared," says a
Gazan journalist. "But you have to remember that they wanted to stay alive.
People had already tried to assassinate them in the past and they knew that
Hamas wanted their heads. Someone like that wants to survive."
Hamas was not using a random hit list. Every Hamas patrol carried with it a
laptop containing a list of Fatah operatives in Gaza, and an identity number
and a star appeared next to each name. A red star meant the operative was to
be executed and a blue one meant he was to be shot in the legs - a special,
cruel tactic developed by Hamas, in which the shot is fired from the back of
the knee so that the kneecap is shattered when the bullet exits the other
side. A black star signaled arrest, and no star meant that the Fatah member
was to be beaten and released. Hamas patrols took the list with them to
hospitals, where they searched for wounded Fatah officials, some of whom
they beat up and some of whom they abducted.
Aside from assassinating Fatah officials, Hamas also killed innocent
Palestinians, with the intention of deterring the large clans from
confronting the organization. Thus it was that 10 days ago, after an
hours-long gun battle that ended with Hamas overpowering the Bakr clan from
the Shati refugee camp - known as a large, well-armed and dangerous family
that supports Fatah - the Hamas military wing removed all the family members
from their compound and lined them up against a wall. Militants selected a
14-year-old girl, two women aged 19 and 75, and two elderly men, and shot
them to death in cold blood to send a message to all the armed clans of
And now the West is dealing with the Palestinian civil war... by deciding which of two terrorist organizations to support? What kind of realpolitik nonsense is this?
As I said, it's been a demoralizing week.
UPDATE II: It's starting to look as though Muslims and Arabs have finally lost patience with the Palestinians. According to a New York Sun editorial by Youssef Ibrahim:
"Palestinians today need to be left without a shred of a doubt" as to what other Arabs think of them, a widely read opinion commentator for the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, Mamoun Fandy, thundered on Monday. "We need to tell them the only thing they have proven over 50 years is that they are adolescents who cannot and should not be trusted to run institutions of state or any other important matters."(emphasis mine)
While it could be argued that the overwhelming public outrage in Saudi Arabia reflects resentment over the collapse of the much-vaunted reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah -- which was personally brokered by King Abdullah earlier this year in Mecca -- the anger expressed across the Muslim Arab world reflects deep embarrassment at the discredit Hamas has brought, in the name of Islam, through its savagery against Fatah.
For its part, the Egyptian press has become unhinged, spewing vile denunciations of what is universally known as "the cause" -- support for the Palestinian Arabs -- and describing it as dead. Egypt's government pulled its embassy out of Gaza on Tuesday.
Kuwaitis, who have harbored contempt for Palestinian Arabs ever since they allied themselves with Saddam Hussein's occupation in 1990-91, also dropped all restraint. "Palestinians are neither a modernized nor a civilized people," Ahmad Al Bughdadi wrote Monday in Al Siyassah, an influential Kuwaiti daily. "They are not statesmen. If what happened in Gaza is what they do without a state, what then shall they do when they get one?"
If there could be an editorial coup de grace, it surely was delivered by no less than Abdelbari Atwan, undoubtedly the Palestinian Arabs most influential and respected journalist and a familiar face on both Western and Arab television.
Writing in the London-based Al Quds International, his painfully felt commentary, "Yes, We Have Lost the World's Respect," argued that "the cause" may have lost its legitimacy: "Many, myself among them, find it difficult to speak of Israeli crimes against our people in view of what we have now done," Mr. Atwan wrote. "I never thought the day would come when we would see Palestinians throwing other Palestinians from the tops of buildings to their death, Palestinians attacking other Palestinians to tear their bodies with knives, Palestinians stripping others naked to drag them through the streets."
My feeling is that, much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I think the Palestinians will succeed in restoring their reputation, both in the West and in the Arab world, and the demonization of Israel will continue as planned. Give it a few weeks, and it'll be back to business as usual.
I'd love to be proven wrong, of course.
Oh, and if you're still wondering about the two emblems at the top of this post, Hamas is on the left; Fatah is on the right.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
It's a question that's been asked many times before, of course. But Dr. Pipes addresses this from an Israeli perspective, which people on this side of the Atlantic may find interesting:
Barring a "catastrophic development," reports Middle East Newsline, George W. Bush has decided not to attack Iran. An administration source explains that Washington deems Iran's cooperation "needed for a withdrawal [of US forces] from Iraq."In other words: if America doesn't deal with a pre-nuclear Iran, Israel will be forced to do so... and Israelis are feeling less and less confident that the United States will take care of the problem.
If correct, this implies that the Jewish state stands alone against a regime that threatens to "wipe Israel off the map" and is building the nuclear weapons to do so. Israeli leaders are hinting that their patience is running out; Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz just warned that "diplomatic efforts should bear results by the end of 2007."
Can the Israel Defense Forces in fact disrupt Iran's nuclear program?
(Frankly, Israel arguably has more experience with this sort of operation anyway.)
So, what is Dr. Pipes' conclusion? Quoting MIT researchers, writing in International Security, he claims that destroying Iran's nuclear capability, by severing a few vital links, is not any riskier for Israel than was the destruction of Iraq's nuclear capability in 1981. (They estimate that three times as many combat aircraft would be needed. Then again, it's standard to over-plan missions of this sort. In 1981, fourteen Israeli warplanes were used, allowing for completion of the mission even if several were shot down -- and in fact, all fourteen returned safely to Israel.)
He does express concern over the need to fly over other countries on the way. Would the authorities of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or the American-allied Iraqis cause trouble? Frankly, I'm not particularly worried about that. Israel flew over Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq last time -- all three of them -- and, at the time, all three were hostile to Israel. Israel did it before, and can do it again if the need arises.
I'm not at all convinced that President Bush will sit on his hands over this issue. But it's nice to know that, if he does, Israel has what it takes to solve the problem.
And in the end, it might make more sense for Bush to let Israel handle it -- with support behind the scenes as necessary. Too many Congresscritters are already screaming in anticipation about not invading Iran. Israel, on the other hand, has its very survival at stake -- and has a strong need to prove itself, after the debacle of last summer's conflict with Hizbullah.
So it wouldn't surprise me much if Bush talks very quietly to Israel about Iran... and is told: "lead, follow, or get out of the way".
By all means, read the whole thing.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Gaza Gets Worse
Hard to believe, isn't it?
According to the BBC, Fatah leader Abbas warns that the violence in Gaza "is taking the region to the point of collapse":
Armed members from the rival Hamas and Fatah factions have been battling in Gaza for control of key security posts.
Five Palestinians were killed in an explosion in a tunnel under a security headquarters in Khan Younis.
The fighting has spilled over into the West Bank with a gun battle breaking out in the northern town of Nablus.
At least 17 people have been reported killed in fighting on Wednesday with more than 60 people confirmed to have died in the last week.
Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, called the violence in Gaza "madness" and called on all parties to stop.
"Without a ceasefire and stopping of the fighting I think the situation will collapse in Gaza," he warned from Ramallah in the West Bank.
No doubt many Palestinians will wonder why Abbas is speaking so loudly about the violence in Gaza, when he's safely holed up in Ramallah. Then again, with Gaza looking increasingly like a free-for-all, who can blame him?
Supporters of Mr Abbas blamed Hamas militants for the blast in the southern city of Khan Younis that destroyed much of a building used by the Fatah-linked Preventive Security force.
Heavy gunfire broke out after the explosion and witnesses said several people were trapped in the rubble.
Two workers from the UN relief agency were among those who died on Wednesday. One man was apparently killed in crossfire in Khan Younis, the UNRWA said; the other died from wounds sustained on Tuesday.
The UN said it would temporarily scale back its operations in Gaza.
About time. As any Israeli could tell you, the first letter in UN stands for "useless"... and never has this been more apparent than among the Palestinians, who have been hurt by UN "help" more than anyone else.
Frightened civilians have been forced to stay in their homes in the densely populated seaside territory.
Children have been kept indoors for safety, although important school exams were meant to take place this week.
Several hundred civilian protesters briefly turned out in Gaza City to call for a ceasefire, but they scattered when confronted by masked Hamas gunmen firing their weapons.
One protester was killed and there are reports 14 others were injured by the gunfire.
In short, it's open warfare between Hamas and Fatah for control of the Palestinian Authority, with both sides indifferent to the Palestinian noncombatants caught in the middle.
Does it matter who wins? Not really. A decisive victory for Hamas would speed the descent of the Palestinian areas into a theocratic dictatorship, even worse than we've been seeing for the past eighteen months. And a Fatah victory would return us to the status quo ante, of unbelievably corrupt bureaucrats encouraging an entire generation of children to kill Israelis by blowing themselves up.
(It's fashionable to think of Fatah as the "moderates" and Hamas as the "hardliners". Well, everything's relative, as they say. Both groups are terrorist organizations, pure and simple; Abbas is the undisputed heir of Yasser Arafat, and there's a reason why Israeli newspapers still refer to Abbas by his nom de terror, Abu Mazen. If there's a significant difference between Fatah and Hamas, it's that Fatah is willing to pretend to negotiate with Israel (in English), while still calling openly for Israel's destruction in Arabic; Hamas has little patience for that, and calls for Israel's destruction regardless of who's listening.)
And it looks as though Hamas is gaining the upper hand, or at least thinks it is. According to The Guardian:
Earlier today, Hamas issued Fatah forces in Gaza with an ultimatum to surrender their weapons within hours. [...]We'll see how well that works. I'll admit that I'm not optimistic.
A statement issued by the armed wing of Hamas today called on members of the Palestinian security services and other Fatah loyalists to "voluntarily hand over weapons" by 7pm local time (1700 BST). "Those who refuse will be considered wanted," it said.
In the meantime, people are taking notice:
The AFP news agency said seven people died in the fighting, while a boy was gunned down in crossfire elsewhere in the city.I agree. (I wish they'd also be considered such when the victims are Israelis, but the principle applies.)
Terrified civilians spent another day sheltering in their homes, and UN officials said it had been impossible to distribute supplies to the one-third of Gaza residents relying on international food aid. [...]
The violence has become increasingly brutal, with reports of fighting around hospitals and people being shot in the streets or thrown from rooftops.
Human Rights Watch today accused both sides of committing war crimes. "These attacks by both Hamas and Fatah constitute brutal assaults on the most fundamental humanitarian principles," Sarah Leah Whitson, of the US-based organisation, said.
"The murder of civilians not engaged in hostilities and the wilful killing of captives are war crimes, pure and simple."
The EU, UN, and others are calling for a cease-fire. However, as the Guardian points out: "[W]ith Hamas forces having seized the coastal strip's main north-south road, putting themselves in a position to prevent Fatah reinforcements reaching cut-off positions, no imminent ceasefire appeared likely."
Oh, and one mildly positive development:
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, has warned of serious "regional consequences" if Hamas becomes more radicalised, but stressed that his country would not get drawn into the violence.Best news I've heard all day.
My heart goes out to Palestinians caught in the crossfire between their current leaders and their former leaders. But this is a Palestinian problem now. They can't blame Israel for this, or anyone else; nor would they let anyone come in and impose a solution on them. It was nobody's idea but theirs to teach their children to want to grow up to be bombs; it was nobody's idea but theirs to think that only violence, and only terrorist violence at that, would solve their problems. Now they must face the consequences they have brought upon themselves.
It's tragic that they may need to batter one another to a standstill before the fighting can stop. But perhaps Palestinians will then be willing, as the trite saying goes, to "give peace a chance".
Golda Meir used to say that we'd see peace in the Middle East when Arabs love their children more than they hate Israelis. Unfortunately, we're not there yet... and it's going to get worse before it gets better.
UPDATE: Khaled abu Toameh, writing for the Jerusalem Post, doesn't mince words:
Jamal Abu Jadian, a top Fatah commander, fled his home in the northern Gaza Strip Tuesday evening dressed as a woman to avoid dozens of Hamas militiamen who had attacked it. He and several members of his family and bodyguards were lightly wounded.Bullets, not ballots! Fatah, having lost the election, is believed to be quietly targeting Hamas leaders; Hamas responds by targeting Fatah leaders in return (and not quietly, either).
But when Abu Jadian arrived at a hospital a few hundred meters away from his house, he was discovered by a group of Hamas gunmen, who took turns shooting him in the head with automatic rifles.
"They literally blew his head off with more than 40 bullets," said a doctor at Kamal Udwan Hospital.
Abu Jadian, a close ally of Fatah warlord Muhammad Dahlan and a sworn enemy of Hamas, was the third top Fatah commander to be killed by Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip in the past few weeks. The other two were Muhammad Ghraib, a senior commander of the Fatah-dominated Preventative Security Service, and Baha Abu Jarad, a leading member of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah's military wing.
All three were killed after dozens of Hamas militiamen surrounded their homes for hours, firing rocket-propelled grenades and detonating explosive charges.
Hamas targeted them because it believed they were heads of a Fatah group that has been targeting Hamas officials and activists over the past year. This group, Hamas officials claim, is headed by Dahlan and other senior Fatah leaders who, with the help of the US and Israel, are part of a "plot" to remove Hamas from power.
Abbas claims that this is a "military coup" by Hamas to control Gaza completely. Except for the fact that Hamas was already the ruling power there -- and that I wouldn't dignify their actions by calling them "military" -- I must admit that Abbas makes some sense; this does feel like a coup.
For the record: the Jerusalem Post provides this photo for context:
A Hamas gunman stands guard on a rooftop in Gaza City
See what I mean? Soldiers expect, and are expected, to be accountable for their actions. It is the terrorists, not the soldiers, who make a point of hiding their faces.
Mr. Toameh claims that we may see Gaza controlled by Hamas, and the West Bank controlled by Fatah -- a Palestinian version of the India-Pakistan partition of 1947:
Whatever decision Abbas and his Fatah lieutenants take, it will be hard to change the new reality that has been created on the ground, especially in the Gaza Strip. As of today, the Palestinians can boast that they have two entities - one in the Gaza Strip run by Muslim fundamentalists and another one in the West Bank under the control of secular Fatah leaders.(hat tip: Powerline.)
"The two-state solution has finally worked," a Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip commented sarcastically. "Today, all our enemies have good reason to celebrate."
UPDATE II: The battle rages on, with Hamas looking more and more as if it will control the entire Gaza Strip. And Fatah, which still has its strongholds in the West Bank, is paying attention to the savage treatment of its people by Gaza's Hamas... and is responding in kind to Hamas people in the West Bank:
Palestinian security forces allied with Fatah arrested three dozen Hamas activists in the West Bank on Thursday, as the Islamic group neared a military takeover of Gaza. [. . .]
Arrests of Hamas activists were reported in the West Bank towns of Jenin, Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah and Bethlehem.
In Bethlehem, security forces wore ski masks, to avoid being identified, as they seized Hamas activists in their homes and businesses, witnesses said.
In Nablus, masked security agents and Fatah gunmen rode together in cars, searching for Hamas members, and broke into several homes of Hamas activists. In one area, a brief firefight erupted.
Also Thursday, Fatah gunmen seized a Hamas preacher from a West Bank village and shot him in the legs, security officials said. Later, Fatah activists kidnapped three more Hamas activists from a building in downtown Ramallah. [. . .]
In Nablus, dozens of gunmen set fire to the third-floor office of several Hamas members of parliament and threw furniture into the street.
It seems clear that, with tit-for-tat ruling the day, the Palestinian Civil War has no end in sight.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Have a look at Israellycool's summary of the past day (or so) of fighting in Gaza:
Things are happening at a bloodcurdling pace, and it is very hard sometimes to keep track of all the terrorist vs terrorist goings on. Thus as a special service for Israellycool readers, I have summarized today's events in an easy-to-follow manner. No thanks needed, I'm a giver.Hamas:
Demanded that Fatah terrorists abandon their positions, threatening to attack those who remained in their posts Launched afternoon attacks against Fatah-allied terrorists Captured several positions from Fatah Surrounded a compound, in which approximately 500 Fatah terrorists were holed up, and fired mortars and rocket-propelled grenades at the building Ransacked the Gaza home of former palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath of Fatah, and shot one of his bodyguards in the leg. Deployed fighters in Khan Younis and erected roadblocks in order to inspect cars. Seized a hospital in Khan Yunis, the third medical center to come under Hamas control in two days Threatened to attack the headquarters of the Preventive Security Service in Gaza City, which is loyal to Fatah Attacked the home of a senior Fatah security official with mortars and grenades, killing 3 women and a child Accused Fatah of being "Zionist collaborators" Called for the execution of the Fatah's military and political leaders Described the fighting as a civil war Threatened to step things up a notch
Accused Hamas of staging a coup (ya' think?) Threatened to withdraw from the National Unity Government (ya' think?) Believe Hamas is trying to achieve a decisive victory in the Gaza Strip "within hours" (here's hoping this thing is drawn out for a longer time) Were up until the last few hours still awaiting orders from Mahmoud Abbas to fight back Announced it would kill Hamas officials unless Hamas ceased its attacks Abducted the deputy cabinet minister from Hamas in Ramallah Attacked the home of palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh with a rocket-propelled grenade (Haniyeh and his family were unhurt) Kidnapped a member of the Hamas military wing (a cousin of Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the arch terrorist we killed 3 years ago) and executed him in the street. Stormed the house of a Hamashole and burned it to the ground. Called for the execution of the Hamas' military and political leaders Started playing Fatah songs on Hamas TV (a possible sign that they have taken control of the broadcast) Described the fighting as a civil war Declared a State of Alert
Hamas or Fatah (not sure yet):Launched at least 4 shells at the Technological Science College
Human Rights Organizations:...............
And that's before the updates...
As was pointed out by a Palestinian recently, the only thing that “prevents the chaos and turmoil in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank is the presence of the Israeli occupation.”
In other words, the reason we're seeing open warfare between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, but not in the West Bank, is because Israeli troops still patrol the West Bank. Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 -- partly because the Palestinians were demanding it.
So now we get to see exactly what happens when the Palestinians get to govern themselves. (More precisely, we get to see what happens when a group of people, claiming to be victims of an historical wrong, can think of no reasonable response other than ever-increasing terrorism. Now that they have achieved a small part of what they said they wanted, with at least two competing terrorist organizations claiming credit, we see terrorist organizations fighting each other for government power... and, naturally, the terrorists fight like terrorists.)
As I've said before: it's a fallacy to think that a peaceful society could ever arise from terrorist tactics. Every accomplishment, however small, is seen as a victory (and vindication) of terrorism... and even if they eventually get what they want, why on Earth would they disavow the terrorism that they believe brought them victory? They'll continue to use the tools they know, the tools they've seen to work in the past.
So Palestinians, who for decades have supported the use of terrorism against the evil Israelis, now get to see it used on each other. And Israel, having been the victim of Palestinian terror for decades, seems quite content to stand by and let the Palestinians sort it out themselves.
(hat tip: my lovely wife.)
UPDATE: Cox & Forkum seem to have a similar take on the matter:
Can you spot the subtle discrepancy in this CNN screen-shot?
Yes, the violence in the Middle east is unending; and yes, it is Palestinians in their wretched refugee camps that seem to suffer the most. (Although even there, not all is as it seems; the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, Ismail Haniyeh, lives in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip... so perhaps the camps aren't as wretched as all that.)
So what is unusual here?
What's unusual, to my eyes at least, is that Israel is not mentioned.
Granted, Israel has nothing to do with this story; it is a battle between Palestinian Islamists and the Lebanese Army. Still, that has rarely stopped CNN, or other major news sources, from dragging Israel into it. I'm impressed that CNN did not do so this time, particularly since I can think of many ways they could have done it.
For example, this sort of operation, cleaning terrorists (or is it just political enemies?) out of a Lebanese refugee camp, is very similar to the events at Sabra and Shatilla in 1982, for which Israel was vilified mercilessly in the press for months -- not because Israel did it, but because Israel did not anticipate it and take steps to prevent it. (Israel, by the way, conducted a thorough investigation and sacked some high-ranking military officers as a result -- officers who failed to anticipate what later happened.)
Perhaps we'll see a similar vilification of the Lebanese Army in the world press now; perhaps Lebanon will conduct its own internal investigation into the matter. but I doubt it.
Or perhaps the fact that Red Cross workers were killed could have been used, by the press, to revive this incident. Or perhaps parallels could have been drawn to Israel's cleaning out of terrorists in the Jenin refugee camps in April 2002 (for which Israel was again vilified, as usual).
No doubt other news organizations will tie this story to Israel that way, or in other ways. But CNN, at least for the moment, is not doing so... and my hat's off to them for it.
UPDATE: Apparently I'm not alone in remarking on this. The Australian sports an incredulous headline: "Fight rages in Strip without Israeli in sight". (In other words, The Australian is amazed that Palestinians are capable of finding something else to fight about??? Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations...)
The journalist in question, Stephen Farrell, bemoans the fact that he used to be able to walk around Gaza freely and safely. He knew who the players were (with a subtle insinuation: Palestinians = Good Guys, Israelis = Bad Guys). But no more -- everyone wears black, everyone wears masks, everyone uses the same weapons.
Yes, he regrets the violence -- but it's hard to escape the conclusion, from his article, that it's all about him. Hamas has closed the bars in Gaza, and kidnapping isn't just for Israelis anymore. Poor baby.
Monday, June 11, 2007
The Latest From Gaza
So it's come to this:
Gunmen Fire At Two Palestinian Authority Officials
June 11, 2007 9:16 a.m. EST
Linda Young - AHN News Writer
Gaza City, Gaza Strip (AHN) - Gunmen on Monday fired on the home of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the office of the Sports and Culture Minister Bassem Naim, both of the Hamas political party. The attack on Haniyeh came early on Monday morning and the attack on Naim was Monday afternoon, local time.
Haniyeh lives in the Shati refugee camp, which is located next to Gaza City. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Haniyeh's wife, children and grandchildren were home at the time of the attack, but there was no word on whether he was inside the home or nearby at the time of the attack.
The gunfire came from a nearby high-rise building and lasted about 15 minutes, according to AP reports.
Naim, who was inside the building during the attack but was not harmed, is a close associate of Haniyeh. His sister and a ministry official identified only as Ahmed blamed factions within Fatah for the attack.
"It was the Fatah gangs. There was no justification. We were at work, and the ministry came under fire," Ahmed told the Hamas-affiliated Aqsa Radio, according to Jerusalem Post reports.
After the shootings, both Fatah and Hamas leaders called for an end to the violence, citing the need of thousands of high school students for calm to study for their matriculation exams.
"This is shameful for our people," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said. He spoke during a trip to a school in the West Bank, according to Jerusalem Post reports. "I call on everyone to stop this immediately, not only because of the examinations, but also for our people to live a normal life."
It looks as though the Palestinian Civil War has escalated -- again.
We're not talking about armed gangs roaming the streets, accountable to nobody; that's old news. Nor are we talking about Palestinian police forcing their way into a session of Parliament and firing their automatic weapons at the ceiling; that's old news too. We're not even talking about Fatah and Hamas attacking each other openly. Rather, we're seeing Fatah, having lost fair and square at the ballot box, resorting to assassination in order to regain power.
This, on the heels of a remarkable admission from last week:
'Palestinians are on verge of civil war'I expected, back when the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was complete, that we'd soon see Palestinians complaining that "Israeli occupation" is preferable to the chaos of Palestinian self-rule. But I wasn't expecting to hear it from Abbas -- and on the forty-year anniversary of the start of the Six Day War, of all things!
By JPOST.COM STAFF AND AP
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned Tuesday that his people were on the verge of civil war and said the infighting was worse than living under Israeli military rule.
. . .
Abbas focused on the bloody factional fighting between Fatah and Hamas. The two parties have been governing in an uneasy coalition since March, after a year of Hamas-only rule, but another round of deadly gun battles erupted in May.
"Regarding our internal situation, what concerns us all is the chaos, and more specifically, being on the verge of civil war," Abbas said.
He said he has spent hundreds of negotiating hours trying to halt the bloodshed, "realizing that what is equal to or even worse than occupation is internal fighting."
It isn't just Abbas saying this, either:
For example, Majed Azzam wrote in the Hamas-affiliated weekly Al Risala in Gaza that Palestinians “should have the courage to acknowledge the truth,” that the only thing that “prevents the chaos and turmoil in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank is the presence of the Israeli occupation.”
Another Palestinian writer, Bassem al-Nabris, a poet from Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, wrote in the Arabic electronic newspaper Elaph that if there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip on the question of whether people would like the Israeli occupation to return, “half the population would vote ‘yes.’ But in practice,” he continued, “I believe that the number of those in favor is at least 70 percent, if not more.”
"If the occupation returns," Mr. Nabris added, "at least there will be no civil war, and the occupier will have a moral and legal obligation to provide the occupied people with employment and food, which they now lack."
This has long been a crucial problem among the Palestinians. For all their longing for a state of their own, they have done very little of their own work to set up such a state, or to provide for their people in the event that a Palestinian state becomes possible.
For the record: the Jewish self-government under the British Mandate, 1922 to 1948, took care of everything, except for those priorities the British claimed for themselves. As a result, when the British left in 1948, the infant State of Israel was ready to go. No outside help was needed to provide electricity, or to repave roads, or to build hospitals; Israel depended on no one to build an economy for her. In 1948 Israel had several philharmonic orchestras, a thriving independent press, an increasing number of local industries, agricultural and industrial exports, and much more.
The Palestinians, by contrast, have the trappings of government, multiple competing militias (all of which are as comfortable with terror tactics against each other as they are against Israelis)... and not much else. Gazans launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilian populations daily... and still expect Israel to provide tens of thousands of jobs for them!
What infrastructure and institutions they have were mostly built for them, using other people's money. (Ironically, it was frequently Israel both doing the construction and footing the bill.)
If the Palestinians are ever to abandon their wretched status and join the 21st century, as the proud, productive people they want to be, they'll need to take responsibility for themselves, first of all. And if they can't even produce a home-grown government that's preferable to the hated Occupation, their short-term prospects do not look good.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
To both of my regular readers: if vocal music interests you (and if you have a taste for the irreverent), please do check this out!
The soprano is up-and-coming opera star Inna Dukach; her background singers are the GrooveBarbers (of Astelin fame), featuring Inna's husband Sean Altman (the tall guy in the middle).
I guess Sean wasn't satisfied with merely combining do-wop and opera... so he got a Madonna reference in there too. (Watch for it!)
And I have a feeling we'll be hearing more of this from them...
Friday, June 08, 2007
As seen this morning on CNN.com:
To which I can only say: good!
Admittedly, I'm no expert in these matters. I'll also admit that I haven't read the bill. But that's part of the problem right there -- it's a 326-page bill, and it was first made available on May 21st! Were we really expected to read, and fully understand, such a Frankenstein's Monster of a bill, in time to debate it and vote on it, all in less than three weeks?
I'm reminded of the French politician -- was it Dominique Villepin? -- who said, regarding the over-500-page EU Constitution: "The French have not read it. If they read it, they wouldn't understand it. If they understood it, they wouldn't like it. But they should vote for it anyway."
Congresscritters, we expect better than that from you. We elected you to represent us, not to force a telephone book down our throats for our own good. Go home and try again.
Here's a hint, by the way -- don't try to solve everything at once. Yes, we need to do something about our porous borders in this age of international terrorism. Yes, we need to figure out what to do about the ten-million-plus illegal immigrants already in this country. But these two are two separate problems; we don't need to solve them both at the same time.
Personally, I think the border is by far the more urgent of the problems. The illegal immigrants -- those who are already in the United States -- aren't going anywhere, and neither is the problem. But we will continue to have a massive influx of illegal immigrants, so long as the border is unsecured.
(By the way, we Americans should be flattered that we have an illegal immigration problem -- that is, that people from all over the world want to come here so much, that they're willing to break our laws and risk jail time in order to do it. That says a lot about America, and what it's like to live here. But even if it's a good problem for us to have, it's still a problem... and we need to secure the border to deal with that problem.)
So we should take care of the border first. As the man says, "Step One: remove hand from flame".
What should we do? Well, let me say up front that I'm all in favor of immigration -- legal immigration. I think that it's important for the United States to decide how many legal immigrants it can process in a year, and make sure to admit up to that number. I'm in favor of that number being high. But the number is not infinite, and we shouldn't assume that it is.
I also think that there's a lot we could be doing, and are not, to speed up legal immigration tremendously. In this age of global communications, a background police check -- is this person wanted for serious crimes somewhere? -- should practically be a while-you-wait procedure. Similarly, once a person is admitted to the United States provisionally, it ought to be straightforward to keep track of him; our technology for identifying people precisely gets better all the time.
(Yes, I know that most forms of ID cards can, eventually, be forged. Is that any reason to give up and do nothing?)
I think that the United States should encourage people to immigrate here legally, by making it reasonably straightforward to play by the rules. Some aspects will still take time; there's no going around that. But there's no reason for all the red tape; that's what computers are for.
And at the same time, I think that we should punish lawbreakers. Yes, that includes illegal immigrants. I don't care how many people are in our borders illegally; nor do I care about how difficult processing them all would be. We are a nation of laws. If laws are routinely violated, and the violations ignored, it becomes that much harder to enforce other laws -- any other laws.
So what should we do with all the illegals? Personally, I think we should give them a pathway to become legal -- with a penalty for being illegal in the first place -- and make it clear that, if an illegal is discovered to be so and cannot prove that he is working to rectify the situation, he will be deported. Period.
(You think that's expensive? How expensive would it be to have millions upon millions of new immigrants, all of whom know for a fact that some laws don't apply to them? How much would we need to spend on beefing up police forces across the country? How much of a crime rate would we be willing to swallow, before we admit that generating a brand-new criminal class in the United States might not have been all that great an idea?)
Please note that I've been rather unspecific as to the details. This was deliberate; as I said, I'm no expert in these matters. What penalty should illegals have to pay on the road to becoming legal, for example, that legal immigrants need not pay? Better minds than mine can decide that; I only ask that there be such a penalty, and that it be real, not symbolic. If we want to encourage legal immigration, we must discourage illegal immigration. You do that by providing incentives for legals and penalties for illegals; that's how it works.
Similarly, I don't know what the path should be for an illegal immigrant to become legal. The path should exist, it should be easy to find, it should be easy to prove that you're on it... and there should be harsh penalties for not following it! Again, you get more of what you encourage and less of what you penalize. If what we want is for illegals to come clean and become productive citizens, we should make sure they know how to do so... and look hard for the people who prefer to stay in the shadows, and get rid of them.
Fred Thompson put it well the other day. This is our home... and we get to decide who comes into our home, and who can stay here.
So, to President Bush: nice try, but I'm not buying it. Amnesty for law-breakers is wrong; calling it by another name doesn't make it right. Amnesty is, to me, only acceptable if it's necessary to avoid a much bigger crime going unpunished. (That's what plea-bargaining is about, for example.) That's not the case here; if anything, the consequences of amnesty, to me, seem a heck of a lot worse than the status quo.
To Congress: write us a bill that works, please. One without moral equivalence would be good; let's learn to differentiate between law-abiding citizens and lawbreakers. And let's give lawbreakers a reasonable chance to go straight. But let's look hard for the ones who don't want to go straight, and for them, let's remember that breaking the law is supposed to have penalties attached.
Don't worry so much about implementation. Americans are good at building things from a reasonable set of specifications. Just see to it that the law makes sense; we can take it from there.
UPDATE: It occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, we have so much red tape in place because of immigration quotas. That is, perhaps the red tape is intended to limit legal immigration all by itself.
If true, I think it's a terrible approach. It would also be a cop-out on the part of our decision makers. We should streamline our immigration process as much as we can, subject to security considerations and other factors. The INS could then issue a report saying, "We believe that we can efficiently process 20,000 new immigrants per year; any more would produce a backlog." (I pulled that number out of the air, of course.) Congress could then make a decision and say, "We will allow 15,000 immigrant visas this year"... and then take responsibility for that decision. Or they could say, "Not enough, INS; we want to issue 30,000 visas this year. Figure out a way to make that possible." Either way, we should be deciding how to handle this, not letting bureaucracy decide the issue for us.
UPDATE II: As seen on Instapundit, this remarkable statement:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Friday that Washington is taking steps to address Mexican concerns the U.S. is not doing enough to stop illegal weapons from being smuggled across the border and into the hands of brutal drug gangs. . . . "The firepower we are seeing here has to do with a lack of control on the (U.S.) side of the border," Patricio Patino, Mexico's top anti-drug intelligence official, said last month.Good Lord. So we're taking steps to fortify the US-Mexican border... in order to protect the Mexicans from us?
As Glenn Reynolds says, "Maybe they could build a fence, or something." I'd say it's worth a try.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Six Days, and Forty Years
This week is the forty-year anniversary of the Six-Day War, a military victory for Israel of almost unprecedented scope.
The victory is all the more impressive, given that hardly anybody outside of Israel thought she would survive the war at all. As Michael Oren writes in Powerline:
People don't realize, or remember, how close Israel was to being wiped off the map 40 years ago. On the one hand, it may not seem audacious that Israel acted in the nick of time to save itself. On the other, Israel used almost its entire air force in its successful gambit to wipe out Egypt's air force on the ground. If the attack had failed, Israel would have been extremely vulnerable to the forces already massed on the border.Indeed. Israel was "betting the farm" in several ways, simultaneously, in 1967. Fighting against the combined military might of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq -- yes, Iraq -- Israel was heavily outnumbered and outgunned. In contrast to all of her neighbors, Israel had no land whatsoever that she could afford to lose.
It is also forgotten that all this happened when Gaza belonged to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. There were no "Israeli settlements" or "occupation," yet the Arab states were poised to drive the Jews into the sea, as they put it. It is this Arab desire to destroy Israel, not Israeli intransigence, that remains the obstacle to both peace and to the creation of a Palestinian state (whether or not they are the same thing).
Bret Stephens (once editor of the Jerusalem Post, now an editor at the Wall Street Journal) wrote at length about the many misconceptions of that war:
Great events have a way not only of reshaping the outlook for the future but also our understanding of the past, usually in the service of clarity. "Why England Slept" was an apt question to ask of Britain in the mid-1930s, but it made sense only after Sept. 1, 1939. By contrast, the Six Day War laid a thick fog over what came before. Today, the pre-1967 period is remembered (not least by many Israelis) as a time when the country's conscience was clear and respectable world opinion admired "plucky little Israel." Yet these were the same years when Israel lived within what Abba Eban, its dovish foreign minister, called "Auschwitz borders," with only nine miles separating the westernmost part of the West Bank from the Mediterranean Sea.Mr. Stephens politely neglects to mention: if fog surrounds our memories of June 1967, it's fog that was intentionally (and unnecessarily) added later. When people claim that anti-Israeli terrorism started after the Six-Day War and because of it, I remind them that PLO terrorists participated in the war.
It is also often said today that the Six Day War humiliated the Arabs and propelled the region into future rounds of fighting. Yet President Aref of Iraq had prefaced his call to destroy Israel by describing the war as the Arabs' chance "to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948." It is said that the war inaugurated the era of modern terrorism, as the Arab world switched from a strategy of conventional confrontation with Israel to one of "unconventional" attacks. Yet hundreds of Israelis had already been killed in fedayeen raids in Israel's first 19 years of existence.
It is said that the Palestinian movement was born from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet the Palestine Liberation Organization was already in its third year of operations when the war began. It is said that Israel enjoyed international legitimacy so long as it lived behind recognized frontiers. Yet those frontiers were no less provisional before 1967 than they were after. Only after the Six Day War did the Green Line come to be seen as the "real" border.
Fog also surrounds memories of the immediate aftermath of the war. To read some recent accounts, a more sagacious Israel could have followed up its historic victory with peace overtures that would have spared everyone the bloody entanglements of its occupation of the Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights. Or, failing that, it could have resisted the lure of building settlements in the territories in order not to complicate a land-for-peace transaction.
In fact, the Israeli cabinet agreed on June 19 to offer the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace deals. In Khartoum that September, the Arab League declared "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it." As for Jewish settlements, hardly any were built for years after the war: In 1972, for instance, only about 800 settlers had moved to the West Bank.
Nor was there ever any need for Israel's antagonists to see themselves as victims; I still remember a televised interview with Moshe Dayan, then foreign minister of Israel, explaining (in that cute British accent of his) that the territories captured could be returned tomorrow, in exchange for a meaningful peace treaty. It is not to the credit of Israel's neighbors that it took Egypt another decade, and another brutal war, to give peace a try. Jordan dithered for an additional decade and a half; and Syria still considers itself at war with Israel.
How well do you know the history of the Six-Day War, by the way?
I got seven out of eight questions right. (I missed #2 on a technicality.) How about you?
For some contemporary news coverage, have a look at Time Magazine's initial report. (hat tip: LGF.) Needless to say, Time has changed its perspective considerably in the past forty years. (hat tip: FSZ.)
There are many amazing stories told about Israel's victories in 1967. Remind me to talk about them sometime. (Ask about the Israeli tugboat at Suez... or about the Egyptian tank column in the Sinai... or about the many Israelis overseas who, as soon as war broke out, scrambled to return to Israel, most of them after the war was already over. Or ask about some of the more serious stories -- Eli Cohen and Wolfgang Lodz, the secret intelligence wars of Meir Amit and Aharon Yariv, the incredibly tough nut that was Ammunition Hill. Or even some of the better-known stories, such as how the Israeli Air Force was able to catch the Egyptian Air Force with its pants down, destroying virtually every warplane Egypt had on the ground.)
If I sound extremely proud of Israel, my adopted country -- well, I am. Rarely has any country won such a decisive victory -- and this against overwhelming odds, while fighting for its life, in the span of six days.
(And yet: this victory came at a price. As Israelis occasionally point out, the number of Israeli casualties in 1967, as a percentage of the Israeli population of the time, was twice as high as the percentage of Americans lost during the entire Vietnam War. And Israel saw it happen in six days.)
Friday, June 01, 2007
Just when it seemed nothing was making sense...
Watching the pundits discuss our historic meeting with Iran, you would have mostly heard despair at the notion that we have no leverage in these talks, and so therefor why would Iran give on anything? Why would they stop waging war against us in iraq if they have nothing to fear? To all the experts in the media, the whole thing seemed like some grand puzzlement. Was it just an attempt to appease the administration’s domestic critics who have been chiding it for not engaging in diplomacy ( a vaguery if there ever was one ) with the world’s top terrorist? No one you heard from could really quite grasp what was going on.(emphasis mine)
For some reason, no one told you that just 5 days before Monday’s talks, an entire floating army, with nearly 20,000 men, comprising the world’s largest naval strike force, led by the USS Nimitz and the USS Stennis, and also comprising the largest U.S. Naval armada in the Persian Gulf since 2003, came floating up unannounced through the Straight of Hormuz, and rested right on Iran’s back doorstep, guns pointed at them. The demonstration of leverage was clear. And it also came on the exact date of the expiration of the 60 day grace period the U.N. had granted Iran.
And it came just a few weeks after Vice President Dick Cheney had swept through the region and delivered a very clear and pointed message to the Saudi King Abdullah and others: George Bush has unequivocally decided to attack Iran’s nuclear, military and economic infrastructure if they do not abandon their drive for military nuclear capability. Plain and simple. Iran heard the message as well, and although a lack of leverage may seem clear to America’s retired military tv talking heads, it is not so clear to the government in Tehran.
The message to both Iran and Syria is that if the talks in Baghdad fail, the military option is ready to go.
I'm not sure whether or not I trust this guy as a source. But I do like what he's saying.
Among other things, he provides video footage of the Naval Strike Force in question. Have a look.
(hat tip: Lileks, who isn't sure whether to give up or not)
UPDATE: Also according to Pat Dollard -- and no doubt to the delight of Star Trek fans everywhere -- the USS Enterprise is on it way to Iran as well:
The message we sent to Iran in Baghdad was significant only to people who don’t know better, like the media and dumb politicians. [. . .] Bush has made it quietly clear to them that we are going to strike.
It's certainly been less than clear to the rest of us. On the other hand, one doesn't send three carrier groups halfway around the world for no reason.
Forget Condi’s for-the-press face today. For many months now, while no one has been able to really see and understand, we have been waging a war of finality against Iran and her ambitions. While everyone in the media, and on the media’s receiving end, have been wringing their hands in anguish at our seeming impotence and inaction, the VP has been functioning as a nearly one man army/terrorist wreaking havoc through the halls of power in Tehran. Why do you think he has been taking all those trips through the region? To discuss the latest trends in couscous recipes? He has been shoring up relationships, building strategy, and waging the necessary war against Iran. Why is he about to visit all of Iran’s northern neighbors? Why has Iran been taking Americans captive in a feverish panic? Coincidence? Why is the architect of Iran’s nuclear program, Vladimir Putin, about to head to a private summit with Bush? Why all the posturing about a missile shield? It’s all about Iran, and Putin is working to get all he can as the price for his blessing.I hope you're right, Mr. Dollard.
No one is asleep at the wheel. Except the media and the Democrats.
Something else I find encouraging, pertaining to President Bush and his motives. He's not running for re-election... nor does he have much of a vested interest in any of the Republican candidates for President. (Sure, he'd no doubt prefer a Republican President in 2009, and not a President Barack Obama or a President Hillary Clinton to undo his policies. But Bush is his own man, not a pawn of the Republican Party... as we see from the many things he's done to tick off the party base, from immigration to Harriet Miers. He'll do what he thinks is right, not what serves the interests of the GOP.)
Bush has already lost the Republican majority in the House and Senate, and he has no other elections to bother with before he leaves office. In other words: he has nothing to lose. If he believes attacking Iran is in the American national interest, he'll do it.
No doubt this is disheartening, if not downright frightening, to many Americans of the Left. Personally, I find it encouraging. And within the next several months, one way or another, we'll know.
Sometimes it doesn't seem that anyone remembers how to keep a secret anymore...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Detailed plans for the new U.S. Embassy now under construction in Baghdad appeared online in a major breach of the tight security surrounding the sensitive project that will be America's largest diplomatic mission abroad.Uh-huh. I'll just bet it does.
Computer-generated projections of the nearly completed heavily fortified compound were posted to the Web site of Berger Devine Yaeger Inc., an American architectural firm that was contracted to design the massive facility in the Iraqi capital.
The post was removed by the company from its Web site Thursday shortly after being contacted about it by the State Department.
"We work very hard to ensure the safety and security of our employees overseas," said Gozalo Gallegos, a State Department spokesman. "This kind of information out in the public domain detracts from that effort."
Sounds to me as though someone at Berger Devine Yaeger wanted to boast about the fine job they're doing... and forgot completely about it being a top-secret facility!
The article continues with weasel-worded excuses from the company, and lame after-the-fact comments about how the architectural renderings weren't that accurate anyway. But I found this more convincing:
Some U.S. officials acknowledged that damage may have been done by the postings and used expletives to describe their personal reactions, but downplayed the overall risk posed.(emphasis mine)
"People are eventually going to figure out where all these places are, but you don't have to draw them a map," said one senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the embassy project.
So now the American Embassy in Baghdad, a 592-million-dollar project, is compromised before it's even completed. Nice going, guys.
Let me add, by the way, that there are enough goof-ups to go around. Some newspapers -- such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ("intelligent as a post") and the Washington Post -- managed to grab some of the images... and published them. (What, are they now jealous of the New York Times?)
Just to be clear, by the way: so far I've seen at least two of these images, cached and re-published by others. I have chosen not to put them up here.
Why? -- Not because I think it matters much. (I doubt either of my regular readers is an al-Qaeda operative.) And I understand that the barn door is now wide open, so any pictures I post probably wouldn't make matters worse.
No, I've chosen to keep those pictures off this site because I have my pride, damn it. Regardless of whether my actions make any difference to the Big Picture, I choose not to be part of the problem -- or to throw my weight in with those who are.
Other bloggers, including some I respect, have posted pictures. That's their decision to make; I've made mine.