29 February 2012

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Special Apology Edition

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.

Council News:

This week, Liberty’s Spirit, The Grouch, Crazy Bald Guy, Right Truth, Ask Marion and Capitalist Preservation took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status.
You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.
Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category, and return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week.
It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?
So, let’s see what we have this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that!

28 February 2012

Nonie Darwish in UNM: freedom of speech vs hypocrisy

The gist of the story is simple:

A group of University of New Mexico students "mic checked" an Israel Alliance talk on their campus Thursday night, when audience members got up out of their seats and physically attacked the protesting students.
The interpretation is quite another thing. To start with, the "mic checking", which in this case is a euphemism for interrupting somebody's speech. But the "mic checking" is only one way of misrepresenting the story. Here comes another one:
Some UNM students and Unoccupy Albuquerque protesters were speaking out against Nonie Darwish. Her views on Islam have been controversial.
"Speaking out" is a nice version of events, you may think. But it is easily topped (in my opinion) by another thinker:
The public lecture, which began at 7PM in the Anthropology lecture hall, was attend by some UNM students who exercised their right to freedom of speech by vocally protesting the against the opinions put forward by Darwish.
I would say that in this impromptu competition of hypocrisy "exercised their right to freedom of speech" is a clear winner over "speaking out" and "mic checking". But it's a matter of taste, of course.

The interpretation of what had happened isn't a matter of taste, though. You, if you are an ardent supporter of Palestinian aspirations for freedom, will find all you need as ammunition in the first sentence that starts the article where "right to freedom of speech" comes from:
Thursday evening, pro-Israel audience members physically assaulted students and solidarity activists at an Israel Alliance event hosted at the University of New Mexico.
According to this presentation of the event, some bloodthirsty Zionists identified (how?) the "solidarity activists" and immediately pounced on them. You are welcome to watch a video recording of the event:

Now you know how the "activists" were recognized. Besides having screechy armor-penetrating voices, the activists could be easily identified by their outstanding stupidity. People who must have their two or three slogans written down for them are hardly going to make much progress as far as their academic record is concerned.

But of course, the article in question mentioned the "mic checking" only in passing, so if you get to it, the fact will be already overshadowed by the beginning of that piece. The headline of the piece* is, by the way:
Israel’s ‘Gandhi’ clearly absent from Israel Alliance event at U of New Mexico
Israel's Gandhi doesn't pick up his phone lately, true. However, there is another and more necessary element missing in this story: a parent that will find a strong belt and apply it to the posterior of the pampered entitled deluded brat that in all seriousness considers stifling a speaker to be an exercise of the right to freedom of speech. If a person could report on his/her behavior in this way:
These students were assaulted on UNM campus for simply trying to make their voices heard and it is a shock that a non-violent action was met with such aggression.
, the person in question is in dire need of a shock treatment. Some of it (but far from enough) were meted out in that brawl. It is past time that the "anti-Zionist" hooligans that do their best to prevent pro-Israeli speakers on campuses from speaking their minds, intimidate Jewish students and display their hate in many other ways, are taught a few lessons.

(*) The site where this piece is published deserves some small measure of attention, even it will mean going off on a tangent from the topic of this post. The explanation of the name of that blog includes the following:
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion took exactly sixteen minutes to read the scroll of the Establishment of the State to a crowd of 250 people in what was then the Tel Aviv Museum. In such a short matter of time, Palestinian sovereignty was stripped away and the forthcoming establishments paved the way for decades of humanitarian injustices institutionalized by prejudiced policies and settler-colonialist conquest.
Quite an interesting example of bending history to your immediate needs. Consider the construct "Palestinian sovereignty was stripped away". That about a land where, after destruction of Israel and dispersal of its people, there was no sovereignty but several consecutive temporary occupiers. Consider the next one: "and the forthcoming establishments paved the way": does the moron who has written this include in the list of "forthcoming establishments" the war against Israel that immediately followed Ben-Gurion's 16 minutes? Bleh... now you can see how the Palestinian school books are written.

Hat tip: Fred Lapides.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com

27 February 2012

Iran war hysteria surpasses all bounds of sanity

This hysteria really should stop. Israel isn’t going to get into a long, bloody and avoidable war because bloggers and op-ed writers are screaming for it.
Hear, hear!

26 February 2012

Mormon Baptism, Anne Frank and related conversions

According to HuffPost and many other publications:

Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diary and death in a Nazi concentration camp made her a symbol of the Holocaust, was allegedly baptized posthumously Saturday by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to whistleblower Helen Radkey, a former member of the church.
Apparently this is not the first time Mormons do it with Anne Frank, too.

I really don't know what to say. First of all, Mormons can no more stop their shtick then, for example, rabbits could refrain from eating carrots when the latter are made available. Or whatever else rabbits cannot refrain from doing when available.

On the other hand, being a practicing atheist, I cannot say that I am especially irked by that Mormons' obsession. My stiff most probably will be planted according to the tenets of Judaism, and if Mormons succeed to get hold of my soul posthumously - the loss is all theirs. My soul will definitely mar the existence of all other baptized souls in the Mormons' after-world. I know what I am talking about, believe you me.

And yet on the next hand (the third one already), being an atheist, I am a cautious one, after the immortal Mikhail Samuelevich Panikovsky who, while being an atheist, still hedged his bets on theological issues - just in case. So, in the same vein, I really wouldn't mind being converted (posthumously only!) to all existing religions at once. Who knows, maybe one of them will click...

Anyway, as you can see from the above, I am all for diversity. As such, I would dearly like to offer the same diversity to the Mormon folks, and I am certain there is a way. Here is an Internet tool that easily adds a new dimension to their rather one-dimensional life. A quote that shows how it is done:
Sadly, many Mormons throughout history have died without having known the joys of homosexuality. With your help, these poor souls can be saved.

Simply enter the name of your favorite dead Mormon in the form below and click Convert! Presto, they're gay for eternity. There is no undo.
I know, dear Mormon brothers and sisters, that it is only a first step. But, as you know, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step*.

(*) Which is a part of another belief system we'll have to master together...

Update: It looks like the second step on the conversion diversity road was made already. Cool. And thanks to Citizen Wald for the tip.

Hat tip: Fred Lapides.

25 February 2012


Just some subtle wordplay and a bit of Photoshop. And don't say that Russians don't have any sense of humor.

24 February 2012

Caudillo Chaves and his tame media

This year may be a beginning of a change in Venezuela. For a change, the fractured opposition to the Caudillo decided to unite in the face of the common enemy, so Chavez may be faced with a real fight for the job, unlike in the previous elections hailed mainly by Jimmy Carter.

The man to lead the opposition this time is one Henrique Capriles Radonski, Governor of Miranda state. He is facing an uphill battle, taking into account the ways and means used by Caudillo and his supporters. And this time, undoubtedly feeling the pressure, Chavez really let his loyal dogs free.

Of course, smearing one's political opponent, especially during the pre-election period is not news. Point me to a democracy where it doesn't happen... but then Venezuela is not, strictly speaking a democracy. Yet. And the viciousness of media, which is mostly in Chavez' hands, is boundless, if not exactly coordinated, as you shall see.

The main "weak point" used by Chavez' loyalists is Radonski's pedigree. You see, his maternal grandparents happen to be Jewish immigrants from Russia and Poland who left Europe during World War II. While Radonski himself is a practicing Catholic, he is not hiding or denying his Jewish blood, and in the current atmosphere of his country it is, apparently, somewhat of a handicap.

The topic is not new for pro-Chaves crowd. Since his election to the post of Miranda state Governor, the use of his ancestry to smear him started in earnest. However, recently the histrionics went up in the pitch and intensity.

Well, also in the stupidity, mirroring Chavez' own unbridled hate to anyone who dares to challenge the Caudillo.
Chavez himself called Capriles in appearances last week on state TV a “low-life pig” and compared him to former French presidential candidate Jean Marie Le Pen, who favors clamping down on immigrants.
"You are not going to be able to disguise yourself, even if you look for advisers, masks. Dress yourself up however you dress yourself up. Pig's tail, pig's ears, pig's nose: It's a pig," Chavez said, laughing along with pro-government lawmakers.
I wonder what exactly was Chavez thinking about, using that specific animal for comparison, while himself looking like this:

Well, a colonel will remain a colonel, and you could hardly expect refined manners from a Caudillo. His media, however, has taken the fight several steps forward. Follow a few examples chosen from the three links above.
Venezuela’s state media has accused opposition presidential nominee Henrique Capriles Radonski of offenses ranging from participating in a Zionist conspiracy to joining a Nazi-inspired effort to wipe out blacks and the poor.
Of course, with the usual Z suspect at the helm:
The column that raised anti-Semitism concerns said Capriles "has a platform opposed to our national and independent interests" and urged Venezuelans to reject "international Zionism" by re-electing Chavez.
Of course, consistency (or excess of brain power) is not the strongest trait of Chavez-led press, so:
Oddly, the column also accused Carpiles of involvement in a group that promotes "the national Aryan race," referring to a racial concept promoted by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
And, if the above wasn't sufficient:
Another media report, aired Feb. 13 on state channel VTV, said Capriles was a member of a Catholic group called Tradition, Family and Prosperity, which it described as a “neo-Nazi sect” that sought to assassinate Pope John Paul II and “eliminate blacks, mestizos, communists and the poor.” The report didn’t say what evidence it had to support its claim.
Now, to crown the whole deal, here comes a juicy one:
Mario Silva, a staunch Chavez ally who hosts a late-night talk show on state television called "La Hojilla," or "The Razor Blade," recently suggested that Capriles is gay.
On Feb. 10, Mario Silva, host of a late-night debate program aired on state-owned Venezolana de Television, or VTV, accused Capriles of being caught by police performing oral sex in a car with another man in 2000.
Of course, all of the above is only a tip of the iceberg, but we can summarize the findings: the unfortunate presidential candidate is, apparently, a closet fascist gay Nazi racist Zionist Aryan Catholic supremacist.

What can I say? No wonder, that being a man of so many diverse qualities, Mr Capriles succeeded to unite the anti-Chavez opposition under his flag. After all, to believe Chavez and his friends, all the opposition supporters are bent in one or another of the above mentioned ways.
Chavez was supported by 47.3 percent of those surveyed in a December poll by Caracas-based Consultores 21, while an unspecified opposition candidate had 44.9 percent.
Not yet, but getting there. And good luck, Mr Capriles, you closet ...

P.S. You may wonder about the picture adorning the beginning of that post. First of all I like it, and secondly, you may guess its link to the gentleman in the second  picture by yourself.

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

23 February 2012

It is not the jeans, stupid...

As seen at Elder of Ziyon's place:

A member of the Sawarka Bedouin tribe, Muhammad al-Mani'i, who was interviewed on the show, also accused Israel of manufacturing "toxic" jeans that cause infertility. He claimed the Jewish state sells them to Arab countries reduce population growth.
Mr al-Mani'i blames the magnets:
The tribesman said that the denim pants are equipped with belts that contain a magnet, which is the source of their toxic powers.
Of course, it is not some steenking magnets, nor is it the jeans. At least, not directly. It is that thing called "zipper" that became so popular lately with the free trade, globalization and all that jazz. Now the zipper came to Bedouin tribes of Sinai peninsula, with some side effects, apparently.

Lacking proper preparation for use of zipper-equipped jeans, I have only two measures to offer:
  • The unfortunate ones who are already suffering the aftereffects of careless zippering: read carefully this handy guide and follow the instructions to the letter.
  • New owners of zipper-equipped jeans: do not touch the zipper at all prior to getting acquainted with the device. 
  • Stay unzipped for the first month or three. 
  • Test your zippering talents first on mannequins - or best friends.
Besides, what is wrong with good old Jellabiya?

Oh, and another reminder:

22 February 2012

Marie Colvin and Rémi Ochlik RIP

The better a war correspondent does her/his job, the riskier it gets.

Israeli developed cures the BDS will find good reason to use, if they're ill.

I am on an email list from the US which informs anyone who wants to know about the science, engineering and other social changes flowing out of Israel. Here are two items from a very recent posting.

The first is how the fast-growing tobacco plant has been genetically engineered to provide, relatively cheaply, an otherwise very expensive drug called artemisinin. Given that "In Africa, 20 percent of childhood deaths are due to the effects of the disease and every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria", this cannot be anything other than a good thing. Indeed, the unnamed writer of the article notes, immediately before this quote, "[t]his groundbreaking research from Israel could be a significant stepping stone toward meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by the end of 2015.”

The same issue of Israel21c also carries another article, this time on research at the Technion Institute's School of Medicine, Haifa, on the development of a new drug which will slow down the effects of Parkinson's disease. So we have Israeli researchers affecting life for the better at both ends of the life cycle: the very young and the elderly. That story is here

We'd all like to think that stories like these are all good, as indeed they are: note how both talk of the widespread, even world-wide, use of such drugs. Old cynic that I am, my guess is the the BDS mob merely have yet another couple of things to tell everyone to boycott, because they come from Israel.

I further suspect that they will find excellent reasons why their relatives (or indeed themselves) should use these drugs. After all, we're still waiting for them to stop using their cell phones and desk-top computers.

By Brian Goldfarb.

By the editor: old cynic that I am, in my opinion the real relief for the BDS crowd will come only when the learned professor Youdim develops a treatment for dementia. Let's wait...

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Hail To The Chiefs Edition

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.
It has always saddened me that two of our greatest presidents,one who risked everything to create our beloved Republic and another who gave his all to save it should have to ‘share’ a day to honor them while others who arguably contributed far less have a day all to themselves to honor them because it’s politically expedient. That’s particularly true in my home state, where someone who was essentially a mere labor racketeer is so honored.
And let’s not even mention another president born this month who in living memory saved this nation from decay and defeat by sheer force of his principles, character and personality.
This goes beyond the question of a mere day off.As I’ve often written,usually vis a vis the people who identify themselves as ‘Palestinians’, you can tell a great deal about a people by whom and what they honor and hold up as heroic.
Ah, well! To the business at hand….
Council News:
This week,The Grouch, Capitalist Preservation, The Pagan Temple and Right Truth took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status.
You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.
Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category, and return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week.
It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?
So, let’s see what we have this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

21 February 2012

Come on, Hagai, really...

Op-ed writer of Yediot Aharonot/Ynet, Hagai Segal, is seriously pissed off at the shameless behavior of British government. To the tune of penning and article British lesson on hypocrisy. Its lede tells almost the whole story:

Op-ed: Shameless Britain clings to faraway Falklands while reprimanding Israel over ‘occupation’.
Almost but not quite. Since Hagai is really irked by what he considers hypocritical and disgusting British behavior, I shall do my best to pour some oil on the troubled waters. Lest we get into a war with the mighty Albion.

To start with, I would like to soften the following statement:
The Brits most certainly don’t have any ancestral rights there.
Now, come on, Hagai. The CIA World Factbook says loud and clear:
Although first sighted by an English navigator in 1592, the first landing (English) did not occur until almost a century later in 1690, and the first settlement (French) was not established until 1764. The colony was turned over to Spain two years later and the islands have since been the subject of a territorial dispute, first between Britain and Spain, then between Britain and Argentina. The UK asserted its claim to the islands by establishing a naval garrison there in 1833.
"Sighted by an English navigator in 1592" should be enough proof of ownership for everyone. And we better thank whoever we are thanking usually that the first manned space flight didn't occur in XVI or XVII century, because the whole Earth would have been sighted by British navigators with nothing left for lesser nations.

And if we are into old colonial habits, why go as far as Falklands? There is a place to the north of the republic of Ireland...

Anyway, the ancient wisdom may bring some relief to that rage, Hagai, here are some memorable examples:
  • What is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to the ox.
  • Might makes right.
  • Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs.
Frankly, the last one was added only to round the number to lucky three, but you know what I mean. Now you can listen to this* and try to relax.

(*) Though I continue to insist that "politics" and "knavish tricks" make a poor rhyme, but what do I know?

Kate Upton: dare to outstare

For you, my dear reader, it may be a fun contest, involving a beautiful female and an insurmountable challenge:

Not so for me. I was only filled by dark thoughts about the burden of male species, the hazards, the daring, the achievements to bring home - all that to end up outstared and kicked below the belt, where it hurts most.

And then, of course, being sent to a workshop on feminism, gender (un)equality and getting in touch (no pun intended in the context of that clip) with your feminine side.


20 February 2012

How do you know you are in trouble?

Very simple: when Roger Cohen, one of the NYT luminaries of freedom, progress and let's-feel-good-about-the-life-the-universe-and-everything tells you that your situation could hardly be better, like in:

This is not 1938 revisited, or even 1967. Israel is strong today, a vibrant economy and the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed state. Its unwavering ally, the United States, is home to a Jewish community that has never been more integrated or influential. Turbulent Arab states are focused on their own reinvention, not Israel; Iran’s principal regional ally, Syria, teeters on the brink.
you should consider getting rid of the stock ASAP. Roger Cohen, a man who rarely misses an opportunity to miss a point, put me in dire straits with this "vibrant" thing. The last time he called something "vibrant", it was the Iranian democracy. A bit before the last Iranian elections where Mahmoud the Mad achieved his everlasting victory, if you still remember...

Usually my approach to anything predicted by Jolly Roger is to do the opposite of what he recommends and expect the opposite of what he predicts.

So what now?

Pet peeve time

To fellow bloggers: I know, people, that the visitors to your blogs belong (roughly) to three categories: the regular readers, the human trolls and the inhuman spambots. While the proportion of membership in each category varies from blog to blog, the latter is repulsed by automatic spam filters and/or a rather annoying requirement to manually enter some text that will prove your benign intentions. Like this one:

I don't know how many spambots are turned away by this measure (usually the automatic spam filters work quite well), but the annoyance value of that manual check-up grows with time, as the texts to enter become longer and longer, reaching the threshold when leaving a comment becomes too much trouble.

So, folks, please consider the fact that erasing a comment takes just one click, rely more on automatic spam filters and let's get read of this maddening ceremony.

What say?

19 February 2012

Nick Cohen adds his voice to criticism of HRW

A few days ago, I posted an article on how the founder of Human Rights Watch had "dissed" his own creation. Now Nick Cohen has added his voice, on the occasion of the Executive Director of HRW, Kenneth Roth, releasing his annual report.

Cohen starts his excellent article from The Spectator as follows: "Human rights campaigners need to follow a self-denying ordinance if they are not to become enemies of the values they espouse. Like a civil servant or judge, they must leave their passions at the office door…" It will come as no surprise that he immediately notes that this fails to happen. Thus, he continues that "...the record of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International tells you that it is hard for them to do so. To their politically committed workers impartiality can feel a thin and bloodless doctrine. It requires them to criticise people they regard as friends and provide inadvertent comfort to enemies."

Here, on Simply Jews, we are well aware of this. Nevertheless, it is valuable to have Nick Cohen confirming that what happens is that while "Human Rights Watch’s main concern is opposing western governments [and f]air enough, there is much to oppose, particularly in their policies on the Middle East", there is "[..] the danger is that liberals start believing that their enemy’s enemy is their friend, and embrace Islamists, who are anything but liberal." This, he says, is unfortunately what has happened to HRW and Amnesty International.

He goes on to note (last quote) "The point to bear in mind is that wealthy westerners, who call themselves liberals and feminists, have become the least reliable defenders of liberals and feminists from the poor world, who need their support. Nowhere more so than in the Middle East." He links to a book he has written on this matter, and that is "What's Left?", and while that is, of course, on this topic, so is at least the first third of his latest book (which is as far as I've read to date) "You Can't Read That Book".

The second half of this article directs us to Gita Saghal and her Centre for Secular Space and the open letter/petition she is writing to Kenneth Roth of HRW. It is certainly worth a few minutes of your time following the link to the letter and reading it. You could also, as Cohen says, consider signing it, especially if (in my opinion) you are able to add a weighty institutional name to your e-signature. The whole article is here.

By Brian Goldfarb.

56 Islamic States Slam Gays for "Abnormal Sexual Behaviour"

What do you know?

A Pakistani spokesman for the UN’s Islamic bloc sparked outrage today after announcing to the UN’s top rights body that its 56 member states would ignore a scheduled UN rights panel on anti-gay violence, saying they were “disturbed” at the “attempted focus on certain persons” on the grounds of their “abnormal sexual behaviour,” which “have nothing to do with fundamental human rights.”
And that too:
Gays threaten the continuation of the human race, Libya’s delegate told a planning meeting of the UN Human Rights Council today, reported the Geneva-based UN Watch monitoring group. It was the first appearance in the 47-nation body by the post-Gaddafi government, whose membership was restored in November following Libya’s suspension in March.
Tell me more about the Arab Spring, please...

18 February 2012

Is an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities imminent?

And we all know who would be imminenting that attack, don't we? (Sorry for the assault on the English language.) What follows is from from the Henry Jackson Society (which I've mentioned before) and popped up today in my wanderings around the net. It is cross-posted from the UK's Daily Telegraph. It is about whether, and if so, when, Israel will strike at Iran's nuclear-bomb making facilities.

It has to be noted that only the credulous and ideologically committed Islamists/Jihadists (to the extent that these are different categories) believe the stories emanating from Tehran that this is all for the peaceful development of electricity for domestic consumption. From a country with 20% of the world's proven oil reserves? With abundant gas reserves? (Any readers of simplyjews who live in or near London should try and get to The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, north-west London, before 1 April - no, it's not an April Fool - to see "The Bomb - A Partial History", from which these figures come.) Unlike many of these efforts, given that this effort fits the classical definition of agit-prop (and to my cynical surprise), Israel is treated both fairly and, where appropriate, humorously.

Anyway, the author, Julia Pettengill, a Research Fellow at the HJS, argues that "the possibility that Israel has finally had enough is not exactly far-fetched. This will no doubt prove the ultimate factor in Israel’s decision to attack; yet the wider regional context may also present Israel with compelling strategic incentives to act sooner rather than later." What she means by this is that, among other factors, Saudi Arabia has had enough as well, as have the Gulf States. Thus, whatever their public stance in the event of Israel doing the deed and doing to Iran's nuclear programme what it did to Iraq's nuclear programme back in the early 1990s, they will, behind the scenes, be congratulating Israel on a job well done. As I commented elsewhere and at another time, the Saudis prefer a sane Israel (which it is, even with Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister) to a mad Iran.

Further, with Bashir Assad possibly not much longer for the Presidential Palace in Damascus, the balance of power in the Moslem Middle East is set to change, and the Saudis are looking to get control of their sphere of influence back, unthreatened by Shias to the north-east of them. What all this means is that the author suggests that "Israel may also judge the current regional dynamics as presenting the most propitious opportunity to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities."

Pettengill concludes that "the end-game for Israel has always been clear – a disarmed Iran, no matter what the costs. Yet the current strategic context could well furnish Israel with additional powerful incentives to fulfill Leon Panetta’s prediction that we could be seeing an attack as early as this spring." Further, a successful destruction of, or even heavy setback to, Iran's nuclear programme would also have the extremely useful (especially if Assad disappears from the scene) unintended and desirable consequence of severely undermining Hamas and Hezbollah. No tears and no flowers of condolence from me (or you?), that's for sure.

How would Israel achieve this oh so desirable outcome (even allowing for possible undesirable consequences for Israel itself)? Consider this: a little while ago: back on 23 September, 2011, JPost had this item, reporting that President Obama had authorised the transfer of several dozen of the new US "bunker-busting" bombs to Israel. Who was it who said that Obama was seriously less pro-Israel than his immediate predecessors? Especially given the suggestion in the column that President G.W. Bush had refused to transfer these self-same bombs to the IAF.

By Brian Goldfarb.

Another book on "not to read" list

At least, judging by this: "He had a deep voice with high testosterone level..."


17 February 2012

Underwear bomber files notice of appeal. And deserves it.

As WaPo reports:

A Nigerian man who was given a mandatory life sentence for trying to blow up a packed jetliner using a bomb sewn into his underwear on Christmas Day 2009 has appealed the punishment.
His lawyer is right:
Anthony Chambers, an attorney assigned to help Abdulmutallab, said a mandatory life sentence was cruel and unconstitutional punishment for a crime that didn’t physically hurt anyone except Abdulmutallab.
I mean, the man is practically a walking martyr. And the term "man" is, strictly speaking, a bit of a hyperbole here.


Bob from Brockley on Israeli democracy and other things

Just because Bob from Brockley is on the blogroll doesn't mean that you necessarily get to read him. So, there's this from his site. His topic is, inter alia, an exploration of the problems that Israel's version of parliamentary democracy throws up.

Although it's not our place, as non-Israelis, to pass judgements on the electoral system that Israel's founders chose, as a Jew, I'm going to anyway. It's like responding to a question with a question, at least, it is if you're Ashkenazi. So why wouldn't I question Israel's voting system?

It is, of course, all Ben Gurion's fault. Just like the comments he never made about clearing the area set aside for Jews, in the Peel partition proposal, of Arabs (go google it and make sure you include Dina Porat of TAU in your google, if you don't already know - and yes, I can talk to you like that, because I'm among friends, aren't I?), we can blame him for Israel's crazy proportional representation system. In Bob's article, he quotes from political scientist Daniel J. Elazar as follows: "Any group that wins a touch more than a bare 1 percent of the popular vote in a Knesset election gains a seat in the Knesset and, under present conditions, a chance to enter the governing coalition and indeed the government itself under advantageous conditions. The end result of all this, however, is to frustrate both necessary dimensions of good government. The government that results must rest upon so delicately balanced a coalition that it cannot muster the energy necessary to govern effectively, while the electoral system is so party-based that the people feel unrepresented most of the time."

As I commented on the Engage site, when the (un)lovely Ran Greenstein (Associate Prof of Sociology at the Uni of Johannesburg and ex-Israeli - not that that stops him doing an "asaJew" number on us) was arguing in favour of BDS - in this case concerning the water project between Ben Gurion Uni, Al Quds Uni and the Jordanians - the Israeli electoral system throws up coalition governments that no-one voted for and no-one likes, but every Israeli has to live with. I mean, as Bob notes, did those of you not living in Israel know that there are 14 (that's FOURTEEN) political parties represented in the Knesset, as we speak? And there are only 144 seats available in that Parliament. No wonder nothing meaningful ever happens. For goodness sake, the UK Parliament has, at present, 635 MPs representing (please allow me to exclude Northern Ireland, if only because that hurts my head at this time of night) some 5 political parties and 70 million people. Which system makes more sense? Even allowing that the UK should have a better system.

There's lots of other goodies in Bob's article. I hope you read this far and the whole article, even though the link is at the beginning of the article.

By Brian Goldfarb.

Update: There are several technicalities to correct in that post:

  • First of all, the original post on Bob's place is written by TNC (The New Centrist).
  • Then, as indeed it was commented, there are 120 seats in the Knesset and not 144.
  • And finally, the threshold for getting a party into Knesset is already 2% now, which doesn't seem to help, so probably a rise is indicated, with appropriate protection for minorities built-in.

Apropos the hapless Iranian bomber from Bangkok

I mean the one that blew off his leg, only to have the other leg amputated for his troubles.

Yes, so the question is: since he could be considered only a partial martyr, with the upper part of his body remaining (for now) in this world, are his (definitely martyred) legs entitled to some quantity of virginal legs in the martyrs' paradise?

Just asking...

The Council Has Spoken!

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

16 February 2012

A few questions for a BDS supporter

The article Pennsylvania BDS conference draws controversy, attacks calls for attention not  because of its whiny title - does its author really expect a BDS gathering not to cause some waves? - but because of its multiple internal controversies. Also because the author, Uri Horesh, as many other BDS supporters, is consistently coy about his own vision of a solution for Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Some fisking and some questioning is in order, so relax and find yourself a comfortable chair. To start with, approximately a third of the article is dedicated to so called "attacks" leveled at the Pennsylvania BDS conference. Let's leave aside the fact that Mr Horesh profusely quotes various protesters and critics of the worthy venture but doesn't even try to refute their criticism. I have some down-to-earth technical questions re the conference, such as:

  • With all the controversy was the conference forbidden by the UPenn?
  • Dis somebody assault the participants? Prevent them from entering the building(s) where the conference took place? Spit on them? Insult them?
  • Were there attempts to prevent any of the speakers from giving their presentations?
  • Was any such presentation interrupted by provocateurs in the auditorium?
  • Was police or security intervention required to rescue the speaker?
After dispensing in that long an torturous way with the "controversy and attacks", Mr Horesh with obvious satisfaction reports on the diversity of the participants in that event:
I was one of a handful of Israeli participants in the conference, but the diversity amongst the audience and the presenters was so great that it was hard not to feel at home. Among us were Palestinians, Jewish-Americans, Queer activists, rabbis, imams, pastors and atheists, students, professors, laborers, senior citizens and even high school students.
I am all for diversity myself, it will be a suicide to be against the diversity nowadays. If I were a suspicious person, though, I could imagine that the organizers have selected 300 (the number of participants according to the author) men and women of 300 different kinds just to stress the diversity. Although that will be reaching, of course. But then Mr Horesh jumps to a following conclusion:
The demographic makeup of the conference attendees alone was enough to refute accusations that we were nothing but a war-mongering hate group.
Now I feel a question bubbling up from the depths... oh well:

Couldn't a group of 300 janitors, Hindus, bus drivers, rocket scientists, obstetricians, Indonesian rickshaws, Hungarian politicians, Native Americans, Satan worshipers, boatswains, hydrologists, book thieves, chess players, linguists, teenage lambada dancers and even Nepali Sherpas be united in their hate of, for instance... er... Israel?

Then Mr Horesh makes an absolutely valid observation:
A prevalent theme in the various sessions of the conference was the analogy between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and South African apartheid.
Indeed, this ubiquitous weapon of anti-Israeli discourse is one of several easily consumed and easily digestible buzzwords beloved by the anti-Zionist crowd, where all of the conference participants belong (yes, I guess even high school students). But then, after scoring such a bull's eye, Mr Horesh has to mar it by expressing his incomplete satisfaction:
This comparison is rightfully gaining ground in the global discourse, yet many in the Israeli left are still quite hesitant to take part.
And I, on the other hand, can't but ask another question:

Could the reluctance of many on the Israeli left "to take part" stem from the fact that this "Israeli apartheid" thing is a contrived, pernicious and, above all, false invention of anti-Zionist propaganda?

Between many general grievances (dontcha love that word?) Mr Horesh didn't forget a personal angle:
As a gay man and a queer activist, I have been disturbed by Israel increasingly touting itself as a gay oasis in the midst of an evil, homophobic, Middle East. In Philadelphia, where I currently reside, an annual event entitled “Equality Forum,” which celebrates LGBTQ pride from a global perspective and each year chooses a “Featured Nation” on which to focus, chose Israel in 2012.
Etc... and of course, a few more questions for Mr Horesh popped up:
  • Isn't Middle East, generally speaking, homophobic?
  • Where do the outed gay folks flee (aside of Pennsylvania BDS conference) from the Palestinian territories?
  • What does it mean "Israel increasingly touting itself"? That above mentioned Equality Forum: is it a branch of Israeli government? Or of the tourism board?
  • Could you name 3 Israeli politicians using the relative freedom enjoyed by LGBTQ community in Israel in their speeches?
  • Nah, could you name one?
Now, after dealing with all kinds of minor matters, let's try and guess/question the beliefs of the author himself. Since, as I said, he is not exactly forthcoming (in his other articles too) with his views on the best and just settlement of the I/P crisis, I offer to use as litmus paper the BDS conference keynote speaker that is obviously held in considerable respect by Uri Horesh: one Ali Abunimah, founder of Electronic Intifada and, some claim, a friend (in the past, at least) of the current POTUS. Due to abundance of material on Mr Abunimah, I have put some of it aside in the appendix to that post. If you are not familiar with life and deeds of Ali Abunimah, don't miss this appendix. Now to more questions for Mr Horesh.
  • If you are a supporter of one state solution, what do you think about that "disastrous situation" for the Jews that (according to Mr Abunimah) may arise after the said OSS is implemented?
  • Do you personally think that the "disastrous situation"  may arise or will arise?
  • Do you mind a bit of genocide as part of that OSS?
  • If you are not a supporter of one state solution, what do you make of the fact that Mr Abunimah is one of your leaders?
  • Or of the fact that many other speakers would like to see Israel eliminated?
Well, enough with questions. Let's hope for some answers. Meanwhile, I have to share with you the sentiment about this BDS conference best expressed by Rabbi Andrew Jacobs in this post:
The video featuring J.J, Goldberg, Hannah Mermelstein, Kathleen Peratis and Yonatan Shapira (http://www.cctv.org/watch-tv/programs/jewish-perspectives-boycott-divestment-sanctions-bds-campaign) disturbed me greatly not just because of the anti-Zionist sentiments that were expressed in the video but also because of the hatred of Israel that was expressed in the video and the tremendous distortion of the facts by speakers.
What the heck, I have to ask Mr Horesh another question:

Mr Horesh: why do you and your friends hate Israel?

And, since the promise to stop the questions was already broken, here is another point: one of the commentators to Mr Horeshs' article was quite open about the BDS goals:
February 9, 2012
8:36 pm

I support BDS because it is a peaceful way of replacing israel with a free Palestine from the River to teh Sea. The Middle East will not support a colonial entity, and at least with BDS, no one will call us terrorists. While Tel Aviv may be more comfortable with gays, once LGBTQ is recognized as a key ally against Israel, I expect that gays will gain credibility even in Islamist states for their part in the struggle and will gain tolerance too.
So, another question to Mr Horesh and his friends:

Why, for crying out loud, can't you all be as straightforward and truthful as zayzafouna?

Appendix: Ali Abunimah.

A polished graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, Ali Abunimah is mostly careful in his speeches, espousing, as in that BDS conference, his staunch stand "against all forms of bigotry: against racism, against Islamophobia, against anti-Semitism; ... against sexism, against homophobia, against discrimination due to physical ability..." However, his hate of Israel makes for frequent slips of the tongue, revealing his real face from time to time.

And excellent selection of such tongue slips is presented by NGO Monitor in their article on Electronic Intifada, where Mr Abunimah is a chief player. Scroll to the part titled "Ali Abunimah, co-founder and executive director of EI". Here are some excerpts:
  • Abunimah is a leading advocate of the one-state solution. To actualize this, he says “coercion is necessary,” and dismisses Jewish concerns of living under an Arab majority as “irrational, racist fears.”
  • He acknowledges that in a one-state solution “we couldn’t rule out some disastrous situation” (4:43) for Jews.
  • Labels PA President Mahmud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as “collaborators”, and PA participation in peace talks as “collaboration.” Collaboration is punishable by death in the PA and Gaza.
  • In a conference in Madrid on the one-state solution, Abunimah refers to Peace Now as a “right-wing Zionist racist group” (Arab World Geographer, Vol 10, No 1, 2007).
Are you shocked by the above? Don't be, there is more, much more.

Like Tweeting the century-old Al-Aqsa libel - obviously to promote the peace in the region.

Like using the Israel-Nazi comparison as if there is no tomorrow.

And still more...

But yes, in the battle against anti-Semitism Ali Abunimah will be in the first row of foot soldiers. Especially - after he eradicates Israel, of course. No doubt about it.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com

15 February 2012

Have You Heard the One About the Moslem Zionist?

Despite the date line on it, this is an oldish story of great importance. If you haven't already read it, I urge you to do so. 
No further comment from me is necessary.

By Brian Goldfarb.

Thai officials: Attacks in Thailand aimed at Israelis

This story, whether it is precise in its details or not, reads like a parody of a thriller Laurel and Hardy slapstick:

Two suspects have been arrested, and police were in pursuit of three additional suspects. The first arrest is an Iranian man was hospitalized Bangkok when a bomb he was carrying exploded and blew one of his legs off. The second is 42-year-old Mohammad Hazai, who was arrested at the airport just before boarding a flight to Malaysia.
Shortly before the blast that wounded the Iranian bomber there had been an explosion in a house the man was renting in the Ekamai area of central Bangkok, and shortly afterward, another blast on a nearby road.
And, as if the above wasn't enough:
A taxi driver told Thai television the suspect had thrown a bomb in front of his car when he refused to pick him up near the site of the first blast. He was wounded slightly.
The whole story comes to its climax here:
Government spokeswoman Thitima Chaisaeng said police had then tried to move in and arrest the man but he attempted to throw another bomb at them. It went off before he was able to do so, blowing one of his legs off. A doctor at Chulalongkorn Hospital told reporters the other leg had had to be amputated.
Of course, historic reminiscences are in order too:
In 1994, suspected Islamist militants tried to set off a large truck bomb outside the Israeli embassy in Bangkok but they abandoned the bid and fled after the truck was involved in a minor traffic accident as it approached the mission.
Oh well, let's hope they will continue in the same vein. One day someone in Hollywood will pick up that tune, and then - sky is the limit.

P.S. Have you counted the blown off legs? Frankly, I am somewhat confused...

Update: In spite of Thai officials reporting that the "suspects" were Iranian, CNN has chosen an original way to report the event:

Israel blames Iran for Thai bombings

Go figure...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com

Watcher’s Council Nominations – The Morning After The Night Before Edition

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday.
Council News:
Ah, transitions…this week marks the departure of our dear friend and colleague Debbie Hamilton of Right Truth,who is leaving the Council as she dials back her blogging to concentrate on other pursuits. Aside from her writing skills, Debbie has always been the quintessential good ol’ girl in the best sense of the word, loyal, sweet and steadfast to her friends and a joy to have around. We shall all miss her.
But on the other hand, look what we got here! This weeK also marks the debut of two new Council members, Dan at Gay Patriot and Sara at The Independent Sentinel, and both of them I think you’re really going to be impressed by.
This week, Crazy Bald Guy, Liberty’s Spirit and Capitalist Preservation took advantage of my generous offer of link whorage and earned honorable mention status.
You can, too! Want to see your work appear on the Watcher’s Council homepage in our weekly contest listing? Didn’t get nominated by a Council member? No worries.
Simply head over to Joshuapundit and post the title a link to the piece you want considered along with an e-mail address ( which won’t be published) in the comments section no later than Monday 6PM PST in order to be considered for our honorable mention category, and return the favor by creating a post on your site linking to the Watcher’s Council contest for the week.
It’s a great way of exposing your best work to Watcher’s Council readers and Council members. while grabbing the increased traffic and notoriety. And how good is that, eh?
So, let’s see what we have this week….

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Enjoy! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter..’cause we’re cool like that!

14 February 2012

UN: the travesty continues

The article by Anne Bayefsky has a longer title:

Syria crackdown continues as UN refuses to call for an emergency special session

Since most people don't care to click on most links, here goes the full article. It is a worthy read, I promise.

The UN General Assembly is huffing and puffing about Syria today, while crimes against humanity perpetrated against Syria’s civilian population continue unabated. The spectacle exposes the wholly undeserved status of the United Nations as an agent for the common good and the disastrous nature of the three-year love-affair that the Obama administration has carried on with the organization.

Though the Assembly meeting today is full of breast-beating avowals of care for the Syrian people, it is actually not the highest level of concern which the Assembly is empowered to express.

For starters, it is not an "Emergency Special Session."

After Russia and China vetoed a painfully weak Security Council resolution on Syria on February 4, 2012, the General Assembly was entitled to convene an emergency special session under a procedure introduced in 1950 by the United States as a response to Soviet vetoes during the Korean war.

Why hasn’t the General Assembly, therefore, called an emergency special session on Syria? Answer: because it would interfere with the UN’s treatment of its favorite whipping boy – Israel.

There have been only ten emergency sessions of the Assembly in its history.

Five have been directed at Israel alone, and the most recent – the “tenth” emergency session – began in April 1997. The “tenth” session has been “reconvened” fifteen times – that is, kept as a private weapon in the political arsenal of the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. An 11th emergency special session of the General Assembly on Syria would require ending the tenth session on Israel. And the Arab League has its priorities.

The General Assembly never had an emergency special session on genocide in Rwanda, despite 800,000 dead, or on Darfur, Sudan with more than 450,000 dead and millions displaced. So as far as the Assembly is concerned, Bashar al-Assad is just warming up.

In fact, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is not even counting. In response to a question concerning the numbers of Syrian dead at a press conference on February 10, 2012, spokesperson for the OHCHR Rupert Colville said: “numbers were climbing every day, but issuing a ballpark figure was not appropriate.” Odd, considering that the OHCHR has no problem broadcasting any number of alleged victims manufactured by Palestinians – including worrying about “hundreds of trees” in their fall 2011 “briefing notes.”

And then there’s the flagship human rights body, the UN Human Rights Council. Since April of last year the Council has been busy sponsoring and gathering reports on Syria.

Last December they hurried to create – in March 2012 – a special rapporteur who will be asked to report next fall. In the meantime, the Council is scheduled to adopt formally a “universal periodic review” (UPR) report on Syria in March.

The Obama administration’s ambassador to the Council, Eileen Donahoe, has called the UPR process “an incredible success.” More precisely, when the Syrian review took place last October, Syria rejected “recommendations” to stop the horrors, and received the following response from the Council president: “we’ve noted the commitment of Syria to abide by its [treaty] obligations…We wish you every success for the future in your country.”

The General Assembly now has before it a draft resolution on Syria which is all about promoting the Arab League and what it might (or might not) do to stop the bloodshed.

Even the UN Secretary-General has become – more overtly – the servant of the Arab League.

The draft concludes: “Requests the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of this resolution, in consultation with the League of Arab States.” And as the draft resolution makes clear – ever mindful of their members’ own transgressions – the League steers clear of major interference with Syria’s “sovereignty.”

A resolution the League itself adopted Sunday “invites” the Security Council to form an “Arab peacekeeping force” “joint” with the UN “to oversee the implementation of the cease-fire” – a ceasefire which is non-existent.

The moral bankruptcy of the world body is perhaps most evident by noticing today’s simultaneous meeting (and public webcast) of the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP) “at the ambassadorial level.”

The Committee will adopt its annual program of work and receive a report from its chairman on a Committee-sponsored “Seminar on Assistance to the Palestinian People” held in Cairo on February 6 and 7, 2012.

The Cairo seminar did not discuss assistance to Egyptian Christians or American hostages in Egypt, but did support recent “achievements” on “Palestinian state-building.” Though on February 6 Mahmoud Abbas decided to form a unity government with Hamas, a group openly committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people, state-building via the embrace of genocide wasn’t mentioned.

Instead, the UN’s CEIRPP will agree to spend the next year producing reports and publications, drafting resolutions, holding seminars and conferences around the world, building NGO networks, and developing a massive UN-Palestinian website– all dedicated in practice to fomenting anti-semitism, or as Cairo seminar participants put it, railing against “Judaizing” Arab land and Israeli “apartheid reborn.”

The contrast between today’s non-emergency session of the General Assembly and the CEIRPP meeting is instructive. Imagine how many Syrian (and other Arab) civilians might have been saved if the UN was not a gang of Israel-bashing firsters.