Saturday, April 06, 2002

No posts today; I am going on a day trip. Be back tomrorrow.

Odds 'n' ends:

Added Libertarian Samizdata to the daily read section (not sure how I missed it earlier).

Added It Came From the Blorg to the links. (Thanks for the permalink!)

I've been searched! My first Google search: zinni gay

Whatever. I don't think Mr. Zinni goes that way. Sorry, big guy.

Friday, April 05, 2002

Another thought occurred to me--the Palestinians seem to have a history of picking the losing side in various conflicts. Remember thei celebration and rejoicing when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990? They were joined by Jordan, Yemen, and Sudan, the only three nations that supported the Iraqi annexation. Of course, they were (and continue to be) rewarded by Iraq for their support; the odd thing is that the Kuwaitis are now siding with them as well.

And who can forget the images from Ramallah on September 11? There was dancing in the streets. That was a turning point for many Americans; people who had not "taken sides" one way or the other decided that the Palestinians were the enemy, regardless of who carried out the attacks. Rejoicing in the deaths of over 6000 innocents (later revised down to 3000) is repugnant, regardless of their nationality, religious affiliation, or political beliefs. I already supported the Israeli position, but the thought of Palestinians rejoicing while my sister (who worked in New York) was terrified fortified my resolve. The quick demise of the Taliban and the disruption (and eventual eradication) of Al Qaida would have been embarrassing for the Palestinians, if they stopped long enough to think about it. They were too busy building bombs to think about what their support of the largest terrorist act in world history had done to their reputation.

I think that the Palestinians have picked a losing side yet again by stepping up their attacks on Israel. This time, I don't think Israel will be brought to the bargaining table, unless it is set with the heads of the leaders of Fatah (Arafat), Hezbollah, and Hamas. Once these groups are destroyed, peace will be possible.

The Media Minder links this post over at WaPo that has four quotes I want to dissect. I have a few other links in this post as well.

One of the most shrill critiques of the U.S. president came from Al Hayat columnist Abdul-Wahab Badrakhan, who accused Bush of viewing recent events as just another "episode in America's revenge for September 11."

The only connections I can draw from this and the September 11 attacks are that both involved Islamic Arabs murdering civilians. Osama bin Laden never claimed any affinity for the Palestinians; his stated opposition to the US was the fact that we have forces stationed inside Saudi Arabia, the host country to Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina.

All Bush sees in this crisis are "acts of terror" regardless of the sacrifices of Palestinians, Badrakhan wrote.

Sacrifices such as this, or this, or this, or this, or this, and especially this, which was the final straw. The only problem with these Palestinian "sacrifices" is that they took out a whole lot of Israelis with them.

Of course, not all of the sacrifices resulted in dead Israelis; this one killed a bunch more Palestinians, but since they were Palestinians, their deaths will get lumped into the death toll of Palestinians, and used as propaganda against the Israelis.

Jamal Khashoggi, deputy editor in chief of the Arab News, an English-language daily published inJiddah, Saudi Arabia, wrote yesterday about questions from American readers of the paper's Web site about suicide operations. Khashoggi questioned the "legality" of Israeli soldiers killing civilians and the justification for subjecting the Palestinian population to imprisonment in much the same manner that Americans challenged the killing of Israeli civilians in suicide bombings.

Oh, the moral equivalence card. The difference is that the attack he cites (of which I do not know details) would not have occurred if the murderous bombings had not been carried out. Israel is now at war to defend its citizens against an intransigent, intractable enemy, and any attacks carried out earlier were those designed to take out leaders of groups that were actively plotting against Israeli citizens. Terrorist leadership does not entitle one to the title of "civilian", even if one is not a member of a formally organized military unit.

. . . The president, unfortunately, sees only terrorism and suicide attacks. Bill Clinton coined the phrase 'It's the economy, stupid.' Now it is time for us to say: 'It's the occupation, stupid.' "

The reason for the occupation is the fact that Arafat would not settle for less than 100% of the land Israel took from Jordan and Egypt in 1967. A offer for 95%, plus additional land to compensate for the remaining 5%, (plus a deal that ended Israeli sovreignty over the portion of Jerusalem that it annexed in 1967) was rejected 18 months ago, just before the current intifada began.

An article in the Thursday New York Times (no longer available on the web; excerpt courtesy of Instapundit) is instructional about the true mindset of the groups that are fighting the Israeli "occupation":

Hamas wants Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank and Gaza, the dismantling of all Israeli settlements and full right of return for the four million Palestinians who live in other states. After that, the Jews could remain, living "in an Islamic state with Islamic law," Dr. Zahar said. "From our ideological point of view, it is not allowed to recognize that Israel controls one square meter of historic Palestine."

"Historic Palestine" includes all of Israel. And somehow, I doubt that "Islamic Law" is going to safeguard the freedoms enjoyed by all in Israel, Jew or Arab.

Perhaps I will get around to writing a real response on the Abdullah "peace' initiatuve, but it seems rather pointless now. Sorry, Michal. (wry smile)

Note to readers: Michal had asked me to start a separate thread on the Peace plan proposed by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Unfortunately, the post that started out addressing that subject degenerated into a rant in short order. I don't have the motivation to go back to that subject right now.

I haven't really been inspired to write anything today, but this post over at Daily Pundit is a welcome antidote to the general sense of Bush betraying Israel that has been eminating from all sides. Mr. Quick's analysis of what Bush said shows that most of his comments were aimed at Arafat, not Sharon and the Israelis.

I cannot add anything to the post, and doing so would only cheapen Mr. Quick's analysis.

Check it out; you will be pleasantly surprised, and you might feel better about Bush's speech.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

I added a new section of blogs over on the right; these are blogs I visit sometimes, but they are not daily stops for me. They are all top-rate, though. Enjoy them.

If anyone discovers a broken link, let me know so I can fix it. (Yes, I know VodkaPundit is down. He'll be back on Friday.)

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

Israeli reader Michal suggested that I start a new topic on the Saudi “peace proposal” instead of continuing that thought on the comments of the history piece from earlier this week. Sounds like a good idea to me.

*Warning* This started out as a dispassionate statement, but it has turned into a rant. Proceed at your own risk.

As I had mentioned earlier, the governments of the Arab world do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, except for Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. This might be one of the reasons that the Israelis don’t listen to them—why should they listen to people who don’t acknowledge their legitimacy? Diplomatic recognition comes before negotiation. (This does not mean that they have to exchange ambassadors or pretend to like each other; this is a fundamental recognition of Israel as a state.)

Another issue is the repeated assertion that Israel is “illegally occupying” the territories it captured during the 1967 conflict. Okay—this means that Italy and Romania are going to return Trieste and Transylvania, respectively, back to the the Austro-Hungarians, Russia is going to give Kaliningrad (nee Konigsberg) back to the Germans, and China is going to return Lushun (nee Port Arthur) to the Russians? These areas were all captured as the result of wars (started by the losers, for the most part), and they are all recognized as legitimate. Why is it that Israel’s capture of the disputed territories is different? And the point can also be made that Israel was filled with Jews for 2000 years before Mohammad was even born, so it certainly has a historical claim to the old city of Jerusalem (which, BTW, is in “East Jerusalem”) and the Judea and Samaria regions adjacent to the Jordan River (AKA the West Bank). The fact is that these regions were captured from the Jews during wars from centuries past.

Some say that the Palestinians are waging a war for self-determination. OK, do they support the ETA (in Spain and France), the Kurdistan People’s Party (in Turkey), the Chechens (in Russia), the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines, and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka? All of these groups are separatist groups that carry out terrorist attacks in the name of self-rule. Or is it only groups waging war against Israel that warrant recognition?

I am not one of those who equates anti-Israeli sentiments with Anti-Semitism, but I cannot help but note that Europe has both a higher number of Anti-Semitic crimes and a general disdain for Israel, whereas here in the US, the equation is reversed. We have our share of Anti-Semites, but they are nowhere near as prominent and dangerous as those in France or Britain. Austria and Germany have also seen significant numbers of hate crimes, and their role in the Nazi movement cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Most of the bashers of Israel condemn the oppressive role the Israeli military plays in keeping Palestinians out of Israel, but forget the era before the intifada when unemployment in the West Bank was lower than that of much of Europe, when tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Israel every day to work. It was only when the massive waves of violence began that Israel closed the travel routes between Gaza and the West Bank, bulldozed the runway at the international airport in Gaza, and stopped the influx of Palestinian workers into its borders. Israel has no safety now, as nobody wants to accept the Palestinians, and the Palestinians have made it clear that they do not want Israel. Somebody has to give, and it’s not going to be the Israelis.

Many point to the disparity in the death figures between the Palestinians and the Israelis a proof that the Israelis are brutal. Well, gee, if I was an Israeli soldier, ARMED WITH A GUN, and four Palestinians started throwing rocks at me, you bet your sweet ass I’d shoot back. If I lived, that would be four Palestinians dead, and no Israelis. Don’t tell me that stones are not as lethal as bullets; stoning is a form of the death penalty still carried out in Islamic countries. BTW, the Palestinian Authority authorizes the death penalty as a form of punishment for ordinary crimes; Israel authorizes the death penalty only for military crimes.

“What about destruction of homes and property by the Israelis?” one may ask. May I remind those people that all demolition activities by the Israelis have occurred after the structure was used in an attack upon Israelis citizens or property. An end to the attacks would bring about an end to the destruction.


Tuesday, April 02, 2002

Why doesn't this article surprise me?

I will admit to surprise at Mathahir's original proposal, however. While he's certainly no friend of Israel, the fact that any Islamic leader called for condemnation of the Palestinian terrorists is unexpected, to say the least. Coming from the man who accused "the Jews" for the depressed value of the ringgit (Malaysia's currency) a few years ago, it's downright astonishing.

If you visited this site between 7:30pm and 10:00pm Pacific Time, please accept my apologies. I decided to try a different template on my site, which was a *big* mistake.

Of course, Blogger was acting up again, so the restore operation was a bear. (Mr. Potty Mouth was in the house tonight). :P

My links are temporarily gone, as I am back to the basic template, and I don't feel like retyping and reformatting any more tonight. They will be back tomorrow, with a few additions. At least everyone's comments didn't disappear (the advantage of having them on another server).

My head hurts.

Monday, April 01, 2002

Is this also a civil rights violation?

Our friends in the European press have scathingly attacked our treatment of the detainees in Gitmo, so I wonder what their take on this is.

Paging Amnesty International...

I have added It Can't Rain All The Time to the link list on the right. The blog is new, but I've seen the name many times. I'm sure her site will be as interesting as her comments elsewhere.

Sunday, March 31, 2002

Time for a history refresher.

In 1917, Lord Balfour, in his capacity as British Foreign Secretary, wrote a letter to Lord Rothschild, leader of the Zionist movement. This letter became known as the Balfour Declaration, and is the first governmental document supporting the establishment of a Jewish homeland.

After the first World War, the League of Nations partitioned the Ottoman Empire, and assigned mandates to various nations (Italy, Britain, France) to cover the middle east region. Britain was assigned a mandate over Palestine, a region that covers present-day Israel and Jordan, plus the Golan Heights region (claimed by Syria). The LoN mandate specifically addresses the goal of restoring a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

Emir Faisal, leader of the Arabic faction that had overthrown the Ottomans, signed an agreement with Chaim Weizman and other Zionist leaders at the 1919 Paris Peace conference. “Mindful of the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the Jewish people,” it said, “and realizing that the surest means of working out the consummation of their national aspirations s through the closest possible collaboration in the development of the Arab states and Palestine.” Furthermore, the agreement looked to the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and called for all necessary measures “ encourage and stimulate immigration of Jews into Palestine on a large scale, and as quickly as possible to settle Jewish immigrants upon the land through closer settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil.”

The cooperation was to be short-lived, however, as strains began to appear in the relationship within 18 years. A group of Arabic leaders began to protest Jewish advances into the region, and after three years of rioting, the British decided to limit Jewish immigration to a small portion of Palestine, the area west of the Jordan River.

In 1947, the United Nations called for an end to the British Mandate, and began looking at ways to establish a Jewish homeland. (The Holocaust in Europe drove home a need for such a state). 15 UN representatives debated the issue—11 called for the creation of two separate nations, 3 called for a unitary state with Arab and Jewish provinces, and one nation abstained. A partition plan was drawn up, based solely on population. Jerusalem was in international city, not under the control of either Arabs or Jews. The plan was not wholly satisfactory to either group, but the Jews agreed to the partition, The Arabs refused.

While the negotiations dragged on, Britain announced that they were withdrawing their administration of the Mandate on May 15, 1948. The day before the British left, Jewish leaders announced the formation of the State of Israel. Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Transjordan invaded. The Israelis were able to repulse the invasion, and by the time hostilities had ended, were in control of more territory than they had under the UN partition plan.

At this point, events began to take a sinister turn. Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950, and began destroying or desecrating dozens of synagogues. Further, hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab countries found themselves targets for hatred and contempt; these Jews would form a large majority of the immigrants into Israel over the next few years of the nation’s existence.

It’s interesting to note that during this period, when Egypt and Jordan controlled the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, no mention was made of establishing a Palestinian state in these territories. If such a request had been made, however, it is unlikely that it would have been considered.

In 1951, Egypt began a new economic blockade with the Suez Canal, refusing to allow ships bound to and from Israel to use the canal. Egyptian President Nasser ignored UN resolutions to open the canal to all shipping for several years. He ultimately nationalized the canal in 1956. After Egypt blockaded Eilat, Israel’s port on the Red Sea, and its major trade point with Asia and Iran, the Israelis attacked, with assistance from France and Britain. They captured much of the Sinai, all the way to the canal and to Sharm el-Sheikh on the southern tip of the peninsula. Another cease-fire led to the return of the peninsula to the Egyptians, and the installation of a UN peacekeeping force.

In 1967, Egypt and Syria began a massive buildup on Israel’s borders. Syria stepped up its attacks on Jewish settlements from its fortifications on the Golan Heights, while Egypt ejected the UN peacekeeping force on the Sinai and blockaded Eilat again. Israel mobilized its forces, and notified the Jordanians that they would not be attacked unless they initiated hostilities. Unfortunately, Jordan attacked, and Israel fought back against them as well. Six days later, when a cease-fire was negotiated, Israel controlled the Sinai, the Golan Heights, all of Jerusalem, and the West Bank (or Judea and Samaria, as they are also known).

UN Resolution 242 called for a “return of lands occupied by Israel” during the war. Note that the word “all” is NOT included in the resolution; this was not an oversight, but an intentional omission. The Arab countries lobbied long and hard to include “all” but were not successful. Negotiations dragged on for six years, with no change in the views of the entities involved.

In 1973, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon again attacked Israel, with troops and weapons from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Jordan,and Sudan. The attack began on Yom Kippur, the holiest day for Jews. Israel was on the defensive for the first two days, but recovered quickly and was prepared to destroy the Egyptian Third Army (which was cut off and surrounded) when the UN-brokered cease-fire took effect.

Since that time, Egypt has made peace with the Israelis (which resulted in the return of the Sinai peninsula again) and Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel as well, which resulted in Israel returning a small portion of the West Bank to Jordan. Much of the rest of the West Bank was ceded to the Palestinian Authority during the Oslo peace talks and the Wye River Accords during the late 1990s.

Thus endeth the history lesson; I am sure that there will be replies if anyone is actually reading this…

Edited 6 April 2002 to correct error regarding Jordan's status in the 1973 war. Thanks to Geoff M. for the feedback.

Reality sets in for a US Senator:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman said on Sunday he feared the Palestinian leadership had been "hijacked" by extremists whose ultimate goal was not statehood, but "the annihilation of Israel."

Ummm, this should not be news to you, Senator Lieberman. There has always been a fanaticism to the Palestinian situation. Any group that has a large number of people willing to blow themselves up in order to kill a bunch of other people is not a group of rational, thinking moderates. The leadership has not been hijacked, they simply stopped pretending to disapprove of their followers' tactics.