30 November 2011

Shock, horror: Arab spring revolutionaries admire Israeli democracy: then bash Israel.

Okay, I notice that one website I went to find out who Anshel Pfeffer is turned out to be "Palestine: Information with Provenance (PIWP database)" and illustrated with the Palestinian flag (and apparently run by PSC, Ireland). Still, nobody's perfect and he might be there through no fault of his own. Might be, I said, because Snoopy let slip that there are Israelis who have issues with Mr Pfeffer. Ah well, that doesn't make what he has to say necessarily any less relevant or important.

So, this is from the online English language version of Haaretz, so it may or not have been in the Hebrew printed or online version. Anyway, what does he have to say for himself? Actually, some quite interesting things. For example, ""We want a democracy like in Israel." I heard this sentence twice in January, once in a shopping center in Tunis and a second time on a street near Tahrir Square in Cairo." Before you get too excited at this demonstration of fraternal love for democracy breaking out all over in the wake of the Arab spring, note that he goes on to say that "the young Tunisian man, an Islamist in the local laid-back fashion, after extolling Israeli democracy, immediately launched into a tirade against the Jewish state's treatment of the Palestinians." So, business as usual after the compliments. Go figure!

Here's the link for the rest of the article.

By Brian Goldfarb.

Al Jazeera? Wow...

Not the news by itself, but the provider this time. Wow...

Paulina Gretzky nude pictures

Must be something to behold, if you are a connoisseur. However, not here. Instead, here comes a calming shot of a mockingbird.

Now relax and consider the fact that there is a 50% chance that this bird is a female one.

29 November 2011

Anders Behring Brevik - insane?

Or so they say:

A psychiatric evaluation has found that the Norwegian gunman who killed 77 people in a July rampage was insane when he carried out the attacks, prosecutors said Tuesday.
So convenient for so many...

A short history of another bullshit scoop

It started on November 23 with a not very exciting news about another explosion in a Hezbollah-linked location in South Lebanon. This is how a Lebanese source reported the story:

A mysterious explosion occurred overnight near the town of Siddiqin in southern Lebanon. The explosion reportedly took place in a large Hezbollah arms depot .

Hezbollah personnel reportedly prevented Lebanese security forces from arriving at the scene of the blast.

The explosion took place in an area which is controlled by United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and where Hezbollah is not allowed to have weapons under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

UNIFIL said that blast would be investigated.

Last year, there were a number of large explosions at weapons depots in southern Lebanese villages.

A well informed security source told MTV that the explosion could be either the result of a technical error or sabotage related to the recent capture of CIA operatives.
Notice the date on the article: November 23, 2011. Notice also the reference to other similar events from the last year. Whatever the cause of the explosion, it isn't a singular unique mishap.

It is also worth your attention that the blast happened in the area where Hezbollah isn't supposed to warehouse weapons and ammunition - but who is going to argue with the thugs? This "Hezbollah personnel reportedly prevented Lebanese security forces from arriving at the scene of the blast." says it all... in Lebanon might makes right indeed.

Another Lebanese source (The Daily Star) published an article on the subject even earlier on the same day. It is full of guesswork and, of course, mentions Hezbollah's denial of the claim that the explosion happened in that arms depot: "What has been circulating in the media regarding the explosion in Sidiqqin and that it is related to storage center for Hezbollah is utterly false,” the party said in the statement.

The day after the above mentioned article, the same Daily Star publishes another one, this time meant to dampen the excitement:
The Lebanese Army Wednesday attributed a mysterious explosion in southern woodland to a mine or cluster bomb, after speculation the blast had occurred at a Hezbollah arms storage facility.

A statement by the army said that an explosion close to the southern village of Siddiqin late Tuesday had been investigated and was the result of a combusting land mine or cluster bomb left over from Israel’s 2006 assault.
Surely the Lebanese Army should be considered an objective and independent observer, and we all must bow to its expertize. On the other hand, some people could find in the story a source for celebration:
Simultaneously, in the past two years, some of these arms depots started to explode under mysterious circumstances, like a knife in Hezbollah’s heart.
A flowery image that. I would personally go for some gastric disorder as a better metaphor, but it's a matter of style, of course. Anyway, whatever happens, we can safely conclude that the last blast wasn't one of a kind, but rather one of a chain of similar events* and should be appreciated as such.

However, all of the above was too boring and too pedestrian for a person that aspires to greatness and doesn't stop before a bit of malarkey when his thirst for scoops takes over. I mean the insidious Dickie Silverstein, of course. The explosion still reverberated in the Lebanese hills (remember it happened "overnight" on November 23, 2011), but Dickie was immediately ready with his revelation: Exclusive: Israeli Military Intelligence Caused Massive Explosion in Hezbollah South Lebanon Arms Cache! Notice the date on Dickie's post: same November 23, 2011. There is no time stamp on that opus, but the first comment on it is timed November 23, 2011 at 2:13 AM, meaning that barely several hours have passed from the explosion (taking the appropriate time zones into account). This is important to notice in the light of the "scoop" contents.

The gist of Dickie's "exclusive" is:
Now comes an exclusive report from an authoritative Israeli source with considerable military experience, that IDF military intelligence (Aman) has out foxed Hezbollah by deliberately crash-landing a booby-trapped Trojan Horse drone in southern Lebanon.
Let's try to ignore the convoluted process allegedly invoked by Aman to blow up an ammo warehouse (do they waste a perfectly good drone each time? After all, it isn't a first explosion of the kind). What really jaw-dropping amazes me in this manner of delivering military/intelligence scoops, is the speed of communication between Dickie and his "authoritative Israeli source". Either Dickie has a cell phone number for the source with permission to wake him/her up at any time of the night (yup, it was night in Israel) or the source him/herself sleeplessly awaits for the outcome of the next Aman's (alleged) mischief to report it breathlessly to his best friend from Seattle... imagine that.

Well, I hope the picture is clear by now. There are only two possible explanations of this phenomenon:

a) Dickie, as is appropriate for a moronic scoop seeker is inventing the implausible bullshit by himself. After inexplicably receiving a free "get out of jail" card from US authorities after his last shenanigan, Dickie is craving more publicity, so why not invent a scoop or two?

b) Somebody in Israel (and I wouldn't even try to guess who) is planting bullshit on purpose. And who is better to plant disinformation with than a moronic scoop seeker? After all, his ability to distinguish skinny from a totally implausible fairy tale is nil.

I wouldn't be able to say which of the two above options will be my preference for Dickie. We may learn sometime and have a good laugh on account of this shlemazl. Or we may not, and I wouldn't lose any sleep because of not knowing, believe you me.

Anyway, don't lose no temper because of Dickie. Our life isn't an unending variety show and usually isn't that rich with entertaining clowns of Dickie's kind. Or any other kind, for that matter. So we should be sort of grateful to Dickie for that occasional, albeit unintentional, bit of free laughs.

Well, to round up this long story, I can't do better than wholeheartedly agree with Aussie Dave aka IsraellyCool who, in the post Ynet’s Douche Fixation wonders:
For the second time in a few weeks, Ynet has quoted The DouchebloggerTM as if a legitimate, trustworthy source of information.
I am not sure if this propensity to quote Silverstein as a trustworthy source is a general problem at Ynet, or has afflicted only Dudi Cohen, who wrote the previous piece and contributed to this latest one. Either way, it makes me want to ignore Ynet altogether.
Yup. Ynet surely could do much better than using this diploma-ed dork.

(*) One (alleged) detail, however, is fairly interesting. On November 27 an Israeli Internet tabloid published a sequel to the blast story. According to it, three senior (?) Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers expired during the blast, accompanied by two Hezballoons. I start to wonder whether distinguished service in the IRG develops some excessive volatility in the bodies of its senior officers? And whether these previous blasts at various Hezbollah's (officially non-existing, of course) ammunition warehouses coincided with a visit by a senior Iranian or two?

Update: There was another one in Iran this time:
A mysterioius explosion Monday rocked an Iranian city housing a sensitive uranium conversion facility.

The government of Isfahan denied reports that the explosion was linked to the nuclear site, saying it was part of a military drill north of the city.
Let's wait and see what kind of story Dickie will concoct this time.

On the other hand, let's not wait. Let's take a look. Yes, it's already there, and pathetic to the utmost:
I really don’t know what to make of it all. But one thing is for sure, my well-connected source was told by likely Israeli intelligence operatives that Israel caused this explosion. Then a few days later after Lebanese militants rained down missiles on Israel, other intelligence sources told Israeli media a different story. It’s a strange, dark and dangerous world Israelis have made for themselves.
Poor blundering Dickie...

Mufti and day of Palestine. 70 years with Hitler

Lest you forget:

November 29th is Palestine day but this year November 28th is the 70th anniversary of the meeting between the Mufti Haj Amin Al Husseine with Hitler in Berlin, the first of a series during which some historians think they discussed the extermination of the Jews.
More. And more.

28 November 2011

Peace and Reconciliation, Israeli-style

Harry's Place has a fascinating piece. It reports, after an introduction giving some facts to flesh out the piece, on a supposed "peace and reconciliation" conference, Israeli-style. Unfortunately, there were, for at least one participant, serious problems with this. As the article notes, the conference concentrated on the Holocaust and the Nakba, as though no other traumas haunt the people of the region. Given that approaching half (if not now more) of the Israeli Jewish population is of Arab/Moslem land origin, and they, too, have their issues with "peace and reconciliation", one would have thought that a serious conference on this area would have the sense to widen their remit.

And, anyway, many Ashkenazi Jews don't have issues with the Holocaust on a personal level. I'm not an Israeli, but a British Jew, and my grandparents left Eastern Europe before the First World War. Although the family genealogist assures me that we lost a lot of people in the Shoah, I'm far from traumatised about it, and I guess that many Sabras aren't any more traumatised than me. The views of any Mizrachi (by origin) Jews out there would be of great interest to me as comments on this item. Here's a sample of the item, followed by the link:

"When a mob broke into the Baghdad house of Reuben Qashqoush, a Jewish spareparts dealer, in April, 1973, the incident was just one horrific incident in a catalogue of arrests, hangings, persecution and death which the Saddam Hussein regime inflicted on the remnant of the Iraqi-Jewish community...The murder of the Qashqoush family still haunts Janet Dallal, a classmate of the late Joyce Qashqoush, who was just 16 at the time of the murder. Janet fled Iraq in 1975 and is now a Tel Aviv mother of three and yoga instructor with a keen interest in binational peace projects.

But when she attended a recent conference at the Jewish-Arab village Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, Janet was shocked that one session examining the “healing of communal wounds to achieve reconciliation” did not recognize the trauma of Iraqi Jews – nor indeed the trauma suffered by any Jews from Arab countries."

“All they wanted to talk about was the Holocaust and the Arab Nakba [catastrophe],” she complains.
And here's the link.

Surely Israel is about more than just the Holocaust and the Nakba? And that's from a European Ashkenazi Jew.

By Brian Goldfarb.

P.S. [by STG] Interesting as the above quoted article is, it's only a part of body of work by Bataween, who writes in this great blog Point of no Return.

SOPA and PIPA: not Russian curse words

Although you may get this impression if you know a bit of Russian. But no, these two are just two new bills being pushed through Congress that will curb some fairly elementary freedom of speech - related Internet functions. That under the guise of fighting copyright piracy and "online infringement", whatever it means.

Here is a response by Electronic Frontier Foundation.

And here is a statement by Andrew Ian Dodge - one of the very few politicians who understands what these two bills are really about.

And why should I worry about American legislation? Simply because it will quickly become a golden standard for other lawmakers monkeying with freedom of speech.

Man Says Ex-Girlfriend Stole His Sperm to Create Kids

The story by itself is so-so. But the key statement of the aggrieved male: "So she took matters into her own hands..." is a hoot.

Take care, you all out there.

27 November 2011

A eulogy to вытрезвитель

And other things Russian. A real tearjerker, I have to say.

Flipping a bird at POTUS

Even if you are a Russian patriot and work for Putin's friends, publicly insulting the POTUS is way above your rank, dear lady. Details.

Via Blazing Cat Fur.

26 November 2011

Ahmadinejad in an exciting new venture

According to our sources, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad aka Mahmoud the Mad, seen in above picture descending into the bowels of the new Iranian submarine, decided to lead an expedition whose purpose is to uncover the remains of Osama Bin Laden.

"We shall, Allah willing, find the glorious leader and restore him to his full glory as a super-martyr," promised Mahmoud the Mad to the Ayatollahs getting their blessing for the endeavor. "It is not impossible that during the same trip we shall find and return the 12th Imam as well," he added as an afterthought.

According to our information, Mahmoud the Mad intends to stand watches like any other submarine officer. However, it is rumored that he is excused from pedaling detail due to various childhood illnesses and traumas.

The world arrogant powers (TM IRI) have not responded yet to this initiative.

Apologies all around

This here blog was experiencing technical difficulties with its atrocious commenting system (more info to follow later) for quite some time. The useless negotiations and following conversion activities culminated in the new and shiny commenting system, however during the migration a number of comments was irretrievably lost.

Sorry about it, but it's not my fault, folks. See you all enjoying the new and... oh, I have already said that.

25 November 2011

Two from 'The Commentator': Palestine rampant or Palestine whistling in the wind?

It would appear that the Palestinian Authority is planning to hold (will have held, by the time you read this) a lobby day at the UK House of Commons (this is the subject of the first link to the commentator). That is, they will hope that lots of Brits who support their cause will get along to Parliament and try to persuade their Member of Parliament to support their cause. In some cases, this is pushing at an open door. With many M.P.s, however, I suspect they will get a warm smile and an insincere promise to "look into" the case they have presented and the literature they have provided. This will be for a variety of reasons: the MP doesn't want to upset someone who might vote for them next time (especially in a marginal constituency), and if they either don't care enough or are opposed to the issue, the last thing they are going to do is say so. The piece is more interesting for the take of the journalist on the rationale behind the drive towards Palestinian statehood without negotiation with Israel. The full article is here:

The second article from the commentator (you really should add it to your personal list of links) is explained in the title: how, whatever the appearance of things, Hamas are never going to find a home in Jordan. This arises out of a top Jordanian government visit to Ramallah after the apparent rapprochement between the PA and Hamas. There are, apparently, rumours floating around the Arab world that, in an effort to alter the realpolitik of the the region away from the Syria/Iran axis, this might be the focus of Jordanian diplomatic efforts. What, the writer believes, this is really about securing their backs, so to speak, in Jordan, given the pressures for reform there and the measures already taken. The Arab spring, it would appear, worries the Hashemites: who knows where the aftershocks from the earthquake will turn up next? Details here.

By Brian Goldfarb.

The Council Has Spoken!

Here are this week’s full results:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

24 November 2011

Another review of a book I'll never read

From here:

Before the attack, sixteen-year-old Tom Harvey was just an ordinary boy.

But now fragments of a shattered iPhone are embedded in his brain and it's having an extraordinary effect . . .

Because now Tom has powers. The ability to know and see more than he could ever imagine. And with incredible power comes knowledge – and a choice. Seek revenge on the violent gangs that rule his estate and assaulted his friend Lucy, or keep quiet?
Such incredible power that comes from mere shards of a broken iPhone... imagine what would have happened if a whole and functioning iPhone was shoved into a right place? Mebbe the author could try?

Winning a bet with SandMonkey

Isn't technology wonderful? I have my calendar and my reminders synchronized to so many different pieces of electronics that its' only by good luck and force majeure that my kettle, my* washing machine and my* iron don't clamor for my attention and don't remind me of the above.

Anyway, two out of three** of the electronic Golems didn't forget to remind me that this same day three months ago I've read a tweet from Sandmonkey aka Mahmoud Salem, a famous Egyptian blogger turned aspiring politician (let's keep out fingers crossed for his success). In this tweet, which I didn't keep, Mahmoud expressed his certainty that they will never find the (late) Moammar Gaddafi after his hasty retreat from the capital. I have sent a tweet to Mahmoud, offering a bet that he will be found inside of three months from the date of the tweet. Of course, being busy and famous, Mahmoud eschew the challenge. Frankly, I would have done the same, not being a whale for bets myself.

And here we are today...

(*) When I say "my" re these important and useful implements, I mean it in the sense of common ownership, of course. Not in the sense of actually... well, you know what I mean.
(**) Why the third one did forget is a good question I should investigate today. Bad PDA!

22 November 2011

Be careful what you wish for, Yoel

Yoel Meltzer, a freelance writer and a Jerusalemite, published an op-ed in Ynet, titled Leftist party is over. My sense of uneasiness started with this headline, after all, I said to myself, the grip that leftist parties had on the country, seems to have ended in 1977, with Menahem Begin's coalition victory in the elections. But, apparently, Yoel meant something else.

And indeed, the op-ed contains a number of statements to disagree with. To start with, Yoel is certain that worry about the democracy in Israel being attacked and that freedom of speech is being stymied is purely a left winger's construct. Thus (my reading) it is easy to be discounted.

I have news for Yoel, then: it is possible (maybe not in Yoel's book) to be worried about Israel's democracy and not to be a faithful follower of Karl Marx. When the Knesset, in its infinite wisdom, tries to pass a law* that will allow courts to sentence newspapers and other information sources to ridiculous fines, without proof of damage or intent to cause damage, should only left-wingers be worried? Take a good look at the absurdities caused by a similar libel law in Great Britain, to take one example.

Bibi-bashing mentioned by Yoel is, probably, also a distinguishing characteristic of a lefty. Should I respond to this one too? Nah... with all the Bibi-bashing I happily engage in, I would probably be classified by Yoel as a Maoist then.

The Supreme Court issue, which for years was a sore point for many governments, left and right as one, is also being presented by Yoel as a purely right vs left fight. It could be easy to forget that Supreme Court was always a supreme irritant of all Israeli governments. Its inherent independence was, is and will always be a bone stuck in the parliament's and government's throats - as it should be. Yoel, as many other left- and right-wing detractors of the Supreme Court, tends to simplify the picture, conveniently forgetting that Israel rarely had a government without one (or more) ministers ending his political career in jail. Or that Israeli corruption level, while marginally better than that of Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Italy and Greece, is hardly something to be proud of. In such conditions existence of strong independent judicial body is not only beneficial - it is vital.

The sad fact that many a legislative initiative pushed by this or other lawmaker ends up being squashed by the Supreme Court, due to this initiative being contrary to the basic laws of the state, while extremely irritating to the politicos (left and right), is a reassuring sign that somebody is watching and making sure that democracy doesn't destroy itself from within. I hope I don't have to remind Yoel about history of such sad events...

Says Yoel:

Similarly, most Israelis understand that the funding of Israeli organizations by foreign governments as a way to enable these governments to advance their agenda of delegitimizing Israel, especially in light of the current international campaign against Israel, is obviously problematic.
Yes, some NGOs are surely a thorn in the side of Israeli government, and I wouldn't go into details, the issue being bandied a lot recently. But is hasty legislation a way to deal with the problem? Don't we have enough safeguards in place to deal with subversive, anti-Israeli or anti-democratic activities? If the NGO in question is acting unlawfully, isn't there a way (indeed, a duty) of appropriate institution to deal with it? Is the obviously hasty legislation, that may and will backfire in the future, the best solution?
Thus, labeling any attempt to deal with this complex issue as a sign of a right-wing crackdown or a restriction of human rights is nonsense.
Could be, but it is just so happens that the current right-wing coalition is the source of this stupid initiative, so deal with it, Yoel.

And then Yoel says, to strengthen the link between the subversive thinking and the left:
The same voices that sanctimoniously claim that Netanyahu’s and Lieberman’s Israel is turning ugly and fascist, for years labeled all opponents of the disastrous Oslo process as enemies of peace in order to stifle any real discussion.
Leaving aside that "sanctimoniously" and mixing together Netanyahu and Lieberman**: if you claim that Lieberman is a fascist, you must be a supporter of Oslo process... how do you like them chickens? Probably, the opposite must be true as well (in Yoel's world): your agreement to the fascist idea of the so called "loyalty oath" makes you automatically an objector to Oslo. Oy vey...

I have more news for Yoel: fascism is not necessarily a right-wing creation. Our instinctive classification of fascism as a right wing phenomenon is just an (understandable) illusion, serving our convenience and mental laziness more than it serves our education.
Whether or not the Left finally internalizes this and stops attacking is irrelevant. Either way, the party is over as the leftist monopoly on being the sole decider on the direction of the country is finally coming to an end.
Be it as it may, and without further argument, I would offer Yoel two additional angles of the current wave of stupid legislative activism. First of all, take a good look at all the "laws" being pushed through and think carefully: could these same laws be used and abused by a leftist coalition against right wing activists, should such leftist coalition emerge in the future? To remind Yoel: what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

And secondly: Menahem Begin wasn't much more of a leftie than Bibi. Did Begin, instead of facing the objectors to his policy, resort to the hasty and cowardly way of passing a repressive law aimed at anything he disagreed with?

Deal with it, Yoel...

(*) Oh, and by the way, the initiator of this sad law wasn't a right wing MK. It was Meir Sheetrit from Kadima, and I am surprised that Yoel doesn't know it.
(**) While Bibi is not exactly an angel, he is (still) a far cry from the Lieberman's thuggish ways.

21 November 2011

Professor LeVine, the UCI chameleon, strikes again

In a post That little UCI chameleon, dedicated to the idiosyncrasies of a Jewish professor of history from UC Irvine, one Mark LeVine*, I have made a few inspired guesses about the motives that drive his behavior. I didn't read up much on the bio of the professor, however after some googling I've discovered that all my guesses hit the spot: see the piece Academic Marxist Rock Star that goes into some details. If you are interested, that is.

For the moment I would like to introduce another opus by our hero - a long article titled Goldstone and the futility of repentance, published in Al Jazeera (between HuffPost and Al Jazeera our professor doesn't seem to have a need for a more respectable venue for his output). Lo and behold: I agreed straight away with the first sentence in that article: "It has not been a good two years for South African Justice Richard Goldstone."! What do you know? But then... then it went downhill.

Since I am more than sure that you wouldn't read the whole article, it being too long and boring, here is the gist of it: Mark LeVine is unhappy with Judge Goldstone's about-turn that happened during the two years since his epic failure of a performance as the impartial man of law at the head of Goldstone committee. And Mr LeVine is especially unhappy with Judge Goldstone's retraction of the main, and most libelous, point of the report conclusions: the one that accuses Israel in "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate, and terrorise a civilian population". It is vital for Mr LeVine that this lie, which could be safely regarded as one of the more heinous blood libels leveled at Jews over the history, stays unchallenged. To this end he uses his considerable ability to string words together, producing a long litany of claims and blames, strewn by many "gems" of ill logic and borderline Jew-hate.

I am not going to fisk this huge pile of garbage - it will be a most thorough waste of time, so I've decided to instead to point out a few of these gems for your enjoyment and benefit**.

On top of that, he [Goldstone] also is Jewish, with strong ties to Israel, which offered some insurance against the inevitable claims of anti-Israel bias that would surely be leveled against the mission.
How nice of Mr LeVine to confirm the penchant of modern anti-Zionists I have just addressed in that "Hey, we got us a Jew!" post.
Although the [Goldstone] report doesn't mention it, using violence to force a civilian population to change its political behaviour is in fact among the most basic definitions of terrorism.
That would mean that IDF attacks on Gaza are aimed at changing the "political behaviour" (whatever it means) of its population. Sweet...
Right-wing Islamophobe and Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin...
Islamophobe Jennifer Rubin... how nice and how familiar.
...Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for the Atlantic who is known for his uncritical and apologistic reporting on Israel...
And the two last quotes were just a warm-up to the real shot:
The cultural revolutionaries of Maoist China had nothing on these grand inquisitors of the organised Jewish community.
Frothing at the mouth is fine with me, but mixing one's metaphors in such a hideous way... I bet Jeffrey Goldberg is going to drown his sorrows in alcohol now, while Jennifer Rubin might want to jump from a highest point in Washington...
Goldstone's half-hearted but much-publicised attempt to reassess the mission's finding are the first indication that the justice was now operating outside the bounds of objectivity and rules of evidence that guided his work in the past.
That from a man whose principles of objectivity and rules of evidence are amply illustrated by this infamous case (with a bonus add-on).
More infamously for Israel and its supporters, the United Nations passed the "Zionism equals Racism" resolution in 1975, which declared that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination"...
More infamously for Israel or for the initiators of the infamous resolution? But whom am I asking?
In reality, race is a political construct, one that is intimately tied to power and territory - specifically to the power of certain groups to control territory and through it control who has the right to live and work within a given territory.
I know, I know - professor LeVine is not the one to be blamed for "race is a political construct". This pearl gains more and more foothold in the politically correct corridors of academia. I fully expect gender to be defined a political construct soon as well. Then the absence of breasts, the hair stubbornly receding from the top of my head to my chest and some other contradictory facts I wouldn't mention - all of this will go the way of some not so subtle identifiers of what used to be called "race" once. Oh well...

And now to the biggest pearl in this scintillating summit of intellectual achievement:
It's important to note here that Israel could in fact have occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and continued the military occupation to this day under the justification of protecting the security of its citizens, within the framework of international law.

It could have done so, however, only if it never established a single settlement, or bypass road or seized and/or destroyed huge swaths of Palestinian property and territory - that is, if it maintained a purely military occupation that did little to disturb the daily life and natural development of the occupied population.
It is worth repeating: "a purely military occupation that did little to disturb the daily life and natural development of the occupied population". What can I say: even after learning about our hero being a gifted musician, with all that this occupation involves nowadays, I still think that one's intake of controlled substances should be somehow... er... controlled.

Now the last - and really the least: "Former US President Jimmy Carter also suffered viscious attacks for his Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." Normally I am not a spelling Nazi, especially when English isn't my mother tongue. But, Jimmuh's "suffering" notwithstanding, "viscious attacks" from a professor in UCI? Bleh...

And this is the way it goes... but what do you expect from the little UCI chameleon?

(*) Yes, it is not Levin or Levine but LeVine - he pronounces his name nowadays as "Leh-Vee-Neigh", according to UCI source. Difficult to see how that rejection of his origins could get more ridiculous.

(**) In no way does this post defend and/or protect Judge Goldstone. What we said about the man stands.

Haveil Havalim #340 - The Krembo Edition

Is here, by Esser Agorot. And more power to him.

20 November 2011

EU going waterproof

Europe's bottled mineral water producers have been hardly hit recently. No, not by the economic crisis. After a thorough three years long investigation,The Telegraph reports, Brussels' brightest decided that there is no conclusive proof that water actually hydrates. The claim that water can prevent dehydration is now officially banned in the EU, leaving manufacturers of said mineral product without their most effective means of advertisement.

To those poor manufacturers haunted by growing fears of loosing their livelihood, I say: don't panic. Explore new possibilities. It will take Brussels' inquisitive minds another long three years - and a generous amount of euros wrestled away from Europe's disoriented economy - to get to the bottom of this:

19 November 2011

Iranian nuke and the war of words

While the hardworking IAEA continues mapping out the Iranian drive to get the nuke, Iranians continue smiling merrily, like in this picture:

They have learned by now that IAEA is just a paper tiger and that their sponsors in Beijing and Moscow will never allow a really harsh punitive measure to be passed through the UNSC.

Meanwhile, the rhetoric from Jerusalem escalates to the heights hitherto unknown.
If Iran does not halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons, it will face a choice between "keeping the bomb or surviving," Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe (Bogey) Ya'alon said on Thursday, according to Army Radio.
It certainly looks like our Strategic Threats Affairs are in good hands and that the time when a certain Mr Lieberman held this portfolio wasn't a total waste of hot air. Still, it continues to show that the wisdom of "When you have to shoot...Shoot! Don't talk." didn't seep through the well insulated skulls of our politicos. Even those carrying the lofty general's insignia from their past.

The current state of affairs is very good for newspapermen and scoop seekers (or, rather, scoop inventors). Take, for example, the typical piece of self-parodying crapola from one Eli Lake at Daily Beast.
For much of the last decade, as Iran methodically built its nuclear program, Israel has been assembling a multibillion-dollar array of high-tech weapons that would allow it to jam, blind, and deafen Tehran's defenses in the case of a pre-emptive aerial strike.
No shit, Sherlock! And before the publication of this brilliant achievement of investigative journalism, the rest of the uneducated world surely expected Israeli Air Force to bring in five or six Pipers equipped with a compass and a map of the region borrowed from the latest issue of National Geographic... right. Or take this:
The likely delivery method for the electronic elements of this attack would be an unmanned aerial vehicle the size of a jumbo jet.
Imagine that: swarms of jumbo jet sized electronic spies closing upon cowering Tehran... I have only two questions: which jumbo jet does the scribe mean: the Boeing's one or that by them other people? And does it have a first class cabin or is it all tourist? Oh well...

And, of course, there is the enjoyable business of watching Juan Cole tying himself into all kinds of impossible knots (which is the more difficult task when one's head is stuck up one's backside), trying to retreat gracefully from his initial denial stand.

But let's be positive for a change: the unconventional storm of rhetoric is certainly having its impact on Iranian generals. Their air defense exercises are surely exhausting their stocks of weaponry as well as their frayed nervous systems. So it's all to the good.

Or is it?

18 November 2011

The Guardian and Me: The End of the Affair

The heading is not meant as a reference to the Graham Greene novel, just a useful, jokey title. Anyway, Snoopy urged me to write this, so here goes!

Back in 2006, on the last day of a great holiday in Canada, I read an article in a Canadian paper. It was an article by Timothy Garton Ash, writer and commentator, entitled "The Place of Europe in the Rise of antisemitism in the 20th Century ." The article was interesting, but that's not what this is all about. Arriving back home, I found out, via the Engage online website, that The Guardian (which also printed the original article) had illustrated the letters responding to Garton Ash with a "pocket cartoon" size map of western Europe overlaid with a Star of David.

Not surprisingly, I tackled the paper about this, and before long found myself in an email exchange with the Letters Editor. Their starting position was that the letters weren't just about the actual subject matter of the original article, but widened the area to include "Europe's role in the rise of Zionism…" Given The Guardian's take on the middle east, I supposed I shouldn't have been surprised that (a) the readers wrote letters off the topic but on their favourite subject, and (b) the Letters Editor would print them. Despite this, I soldiered on, arguing that their use of the Magen David echoed the New Statesman's "A Kosher Conspiracy?" cover (a Magen David piercing a Union Flag - bet they wouldn't have dared shown a red crescent moon piercing the same flag, heading it "An Islamist Conspiracy?") and The Independent's Stars and Stripes, with the stars replaced with 50 Magen Davids, which was how I'd perceived the illustration in the first place: as, frankly, an allusion to the "Lobby". To my lack of astonishment (although I was hopeful for a different response), this line or reasoning wasn't accepted.

The focus switched to the Readers' Editor, one (at the time) Ian Mayes. Unsurprisingly, he, too, failed to take my arguments on board. He even argued that the paper's intent was benign and carried an innocent meaning, so that was alright. Then I brought out what I expected to be my heaviest weapon: logic and intellectual argument. I should have known better. I argued that, as a sociologist, I knew very well that the meaning people attached to the symbols that they used, the words that they used and the evidence they deployed in an (intellectual) argument could well have other meanings than those they intended; I suggested, quite strongly, that this was the case here, with the Magen David on the map of western Europe. I, of course, reiterated that my initial reaction had been as stated before: it was a coded reference to "The Lobby". His response was that (implicitly allowing that mine was a possible, if in his view an unlikely, one) as they (the paper) hadn't meant it like that, so that was alright.

It was at this point, after something like a month or more, I emailed back to say that we had just become ex-Guardian readers. Ian Mayes response was to regret our leaving them. I couldn't resist the obvious counter, to which he failed to reply, that far from it, The Guardian had left me. It was no longer the genuinely liberal paper I had first started reading 40 years earlier. You know something? I don't miss it one little bit, and every time I log onto CiF watch, I know why I don't miss it.

By Brian Goldfarb.

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17 November 2011

The real purpose of these humongous bunker-busting bombs

When one is facing multiple contradictory facts, to resolve the questions one faces one needs only to connect the dots in the right way. Sometimes, like in the case of these bunker busters, media helps. To start with:

Pentagon officials are speaking publicly about the military's new 30,000-pound massive ordnance penetrator, or MOP, known now as the biggest "bunker-busting bomb" in the world.
Of course, seekers of cheap sensations were sure it's all about the Aytollahs, Mahmoud the Mad and their craving for nukes. But:
But, strangely, Kirby denied these bombs are designed to target Iran, the only country known to have buried its nuclear weapons program.
Of course, same sensation seekers remain unsatisfied. When it was enough to observe another news item:

An estimated 17 tons of marijuana were seized in the discovery of a cross-border tunnel that authorities said Wednesday was one of the most significant secret drug smuggling passages ever found on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Do you see the light now?

A bunch of cowards

Yes. I am yet to see a better definition.

16 November 2011

Iran: Mossad's involvement in blast a myth

They say so themselves:

Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani addressed reports claiming that the Mossad was behind the blast at a military base near Tehran and said that they were "myths."
On the other hand:
Iranian armed forces chief of staff Hassan Firouzabadi also denied that Israel was behind the blast. Speaking to ISNA he said that the blast occurred during research on weapons that could strike Israel.
There must be a lesson somewhere in that statement...

Riding a porcelain tiger to the green future

I bet that after reading this, the good old idiom "Riding the porcelain tiger" will never sound quite right to you anymore.

The three-wheeled vehicle, developed by Japanese toilet maker Toto, features a toilet for a seat and has a giant roll of toilet paper mounted on the back that flutters in the breeze as the bike cruises along.
But of course Mr Toto didn't have a single thought about using the contraption for publicity, because:
The biogas used as fuel for the Neo is produced from a combination of household sewage and livestock waste, broken down and fermented, company spokesman Kenji Fujita said.
I guess that the good old "cut the crap" has also acquired a new meaning now...

15 November 2011

Yet another reason not to read The Guardian

I haven't read The Guardian for a number of years (if you ask me why often enough and Snoopy agrees, I'll tell you some time, but it's not pretty!), not even online. Indeed, I have told my wife on one of the rare occasions we've considered buying a newspaper in hard copy that I will not buy The Guardian. The Times (despite Murdoch and phone hacking), yes. The Guardian, no. Actually, that's not quite true: I will occasionally read a sports report online on my beloved Leicester Tigers (rugby union) matches, but that's all. Promise. After all, CiF Watch is one of my regularly visited websites.

However, as the headline says, there's now yet another reason. Peter Cannon, in The Commentator (to which I've linked before) says that The Guardian is telling us that we must just lie back and accept the fact if Iran builds itself the bomb, we will have to live with it. I'm not going to bore you with all the reasons why such an attitude should send shivers down your spines - you know all that already, otherwise you wouldn't be here in the first place - and anyway, you can read them for yourself here. Never mind the threat to Israel (and Snoopy and Gideon, et al), just the thought of Ahmanedinejad with his finger on the nuclear button is enough to give anyone an ulcer, let alone heart palpitations and angina pains. 

So read and be confirmed in your decision to continue to boycott The Guardian (at least on the news stands, so that they don't get any of that desperately need income from us).

By Brian Goldfarb.

11 November 2011

The biggest obstacle to peace

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, The New York Times, october 1, 2010:

“Our position is clear — the whole settlement activity has to stop to give direct negotiations the chance that they deserve,”

So, the PA had no choice but withdraw from direct talks, because of the dreaded settlement activity.

Haaretz, november 3, 2011:

Erekat stated furthermore that despite Israel’s continual policy of “occupation and settlement building,” an aerial photograph provided by European sources shows that settlements have been built on approximately 1.1% of the West Bank, thus legitimizing the Palestinian demand for a withdrawal to borders based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

However...once the PA walked out of direct negotiations the same dreaded activity magically became negligible. Wow.

From Abbas' UN speech:

"Thus, we agreed to establish the State of Palestine on only 22% of the territory of historical Palestine - on all the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967."

Err...that must be why they never agreed to Olmert's offer of exactly that (see the Haaretz article quoted above).

PA TV (Fatah), Nov. 1 and Sept. 5, 2011:

"The West Bank and Gaza have another section in Palestine which is the Palestinian coast that spreads along the [Mediterranean] sea, from ...Ashkelon in the south, until Haifa, in the Carmel Mountains. Haifa is a well-known Palestinian port. [Haifa] enjoyed a high status among Arabs and Palestinians especially before it fell to the occupation [Israel] in 1948. To its north, we find Acre. East of Acre, we reach a city with history and importance, the city of Tiberias, near a famous lake, the Sea of Galilee. Jaffa, an ancient coastal city, is the bride of the sea, and Palestine's gateway to the world."

22%, is it?

Just sayin'.

If the video doesn't work, watch it here.

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10 November 2011

Hey, we got us a Jew!

This phenomenon is not exactly new, but lately it seems to become a mandatory part of every new anti-Zionist (or "anti-Zionist", if you will) initiative. It looks that one of the first items on the agenda during the first meeting of such enterprise (after choosing a nice name and collecting money for coffee and buns) is finding a suitable Jew to serve as a totem and as a shield for the whole business.

For some reason, people who invest their not inconsiderable effort and somewhat limited brainpower in their AZ activities consider having such a Jew on board (sometimes literally) to be an impenetrable shield against any criticism and an argument to beat any counter-arguments. You see, we have us a Jew here, so no matter what we say and, of course, no matter what you say, we are right.

An excellent demonstration of this approach was done recently by a member of the so called "Russell Tribunal on Palestine". The dialog started with Maurice Ostroff writing an open letter to the Russel Tribunal. In this well researched and detailed letter he explains why the tribunal is hopelessly biased and dissects its inherent folly. Starting with:

...the Tribunal appears to be reinforcing preconceived opinions and avoiding inconvenient facts. How else can one explain the careful selection of a jury comprising only prominent persons who have publicly voiced strongly anti-Israel statements and preconceived opinions? And how does one explain the fact that jurists and members of the public who attend will not be allowed to question speakers?

In this climate, unlike in a democratic debate or court of law where both sides are heard, even the most misleading statements will go unchallenged and the totally unjustified anti-Israel apartheid canard will be propagated, without the benefit of honest intellectual examination.
But it's better to read the full text, of course. And what was the reply of the tribunal? Posted by Maurice Ostroff himself near the original letter, it says (full copy here for all to enjoy):
From: "Terry Crawford-Browne"
To: "'Maurice Ostroff'"

Dear Mr Ostroff

I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter to which I will reply next week.

Meanwhile, let me assure you, the Russell Tribunal is not an Israel-bashing or anti-Semitic kangaroo court, as Benjamin Pogrund, Richard Goldstone and others have so perniciously broadcast. We are nonetheless delighted to have the publicity in the New York Times and elsewhere, and hope that the Israeli citizenry will also take note of the disastrous situation to which the present Israeli government is leading not only Israel but the entire international community.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine was established in 2009 after Operation Cast Lead. It is led by Stephane Hessel, a German-born Jew who fled Nazi Germany during the 1930s, fought in the French Resistance and was imprisoned at Buchenwald. The night before his execution, his bunkmate died of typhus so he assumed his bunkmate's identify and thus escaped execution. At 94 years old, Hessel is the last surviving drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus to declare that Hessel and the other Russell Tribunal jurists are maliciously anti-Semitic and that the Tribunal is a kangaroo court, frankly only discredits the critics who have a clue what it is about and, more pertinently, who don't even want to know.

Yours sincerely

Terry Crawford-Browne
Mr Crawford-Browne, a "former international banker who during the mid 1980s became a peace activist" who spends a lot of his time to "quickly collapse the Israeli economy", doesn't mince words, as you have undoubtedly noticed.

So, to make this energetic reply even more energetic and short: look here, Mr Ostroff, and cry - no matter what you think and no matter what you say, we've already won the argument. You see, we got us a Jew!

All in all, I agree with Mr Crawford-Browne on one point: Russell Tribunal is not a kangaroo court.

Rather a monkey business.

09 November 2011

A new good guy: THES

What's interesting here is that the mainstream media (and what used to be known as The Times Higher Education Supplement - the bible of UK University academics - could hardly be more mainstream), or at least some parts of it, are becoming aware of just what the price to be paid by academics for the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) fixation on Israel and Palestine really is. The writer of the Leader column makes all the points we know are valid: the distraction from the very basic concerns of all trade unions: pay and conditions; the waste of resources on pointless campaigns: the boycott of Israel which can never be implemented for legal reasons; the distraction of refusing to take on board the European Union's Working Definition on Antisemitism: it might stop the Executive Committee members from perpetuating antisemitic tropes; the loss of genuine left-wing members, some, but by no means all of them, Jewish, because of the atmosphere generated within the union. In short, THE shows itself as one of the good guys; it knows where the best interests of university and college lecturers interests lie. It's just a pity that their trade union leaders don't know what mere journalists have managed to work out for themselves. The title of the piece is interesting:

Times Higher Education: Bread, not political poses. 

By the way, if you haven't already read Nick Cohen's condemnation of the TUC because of its serious thoughts of disaffiliating from the Histradut, then he's well worth a read here:

Post By: Brian Goldfarb

06 November 2011

One more on the "never to open" shelf

He's gotten over the betrayal he felt when he found her and his best friend together on the eve of his wedding, but it's obvious he's never given up wanting her. And now that she's back he'll show her what she's missed, how good he makes her feel, how easy it is for him to take control and bring her to the edge of sweet surrender...
Mmm... no, thanks, maybe in another life...

Russian demotivators from XIX century

"Today she wears pants. What comes next – will she begin to learn reading and writing?"

05 November 2011

Back home and stepping into some slime

It's good to be home, this is one thing that never changes.

The main good news I heard during the trip abroad was, of course, return of Gilad Shalit. And, even if I am late with it, allow me to say that: no matter what disadvantages and new problems the Shalit exchange deal created, there was one major victory rarely mentioned by the myriad of talking heads deriding the deal: IDF was waiting for that outcome. The message that the Shalit's return home sent to soldiers is a shot in the arm for people who protect Israel.

Saying this, however, I cannot deny the problems created by exchange deals of this kind (without going into much bandied details). Only it will be unfair to blame the current government - after all, it inherited the Shalit issue and most of its solution's parameters from the previous one, and the fact that Israel abandoned its own policy of never talking to terrorists many years ago couldn't be in all fairness placed at Bibi's doorstep. Whatever issues Shalit deal reopened, it is far from being the first (or last) one of the kind.

Now to the talking heads. There were many opinions on the Shalit deal - from positive to most negative. Of course, the most outrageous one was the outstandingly antisemitic piece by Deborah Orr, where she infamously said about the exchange:

All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives.
I don't have to expand on the scandal itself: Honest Reporting have done the job, not forgetting to reflect on Orr's travesty of an apology. Clearly Ms Orr doesn't even understand (or is artfully playing stupid) what she has said to provoke such fury.

Obscene indeed, but not in the sense Ms Orr intended.

The Deborah Orr affair ignited such an outburst of justified fury that even without continuous access to the Internet I was able to catch some signs of it. But let's be truthful with ourselves: the antisemitic declaration is news neither for The Guardian nor for Deborah Orr. The latter has proved it quite a lot of time ago:
"Anti-Semitism is disliking all Jews, anywhere, and anti-Zionism is just disliking the existence of Israel and opposing those who support it," explains Orr. "This may be an academic rather than a practical distinction, and one which has no connection with holding the honest view that in my experience Israel is shitty and little."
This was in 2001...

But then, close to the end of that vacation, I have stumbled on an article that, frankly, leaves Deborah Orr standing in so many dimensions that I don't know where to start. The article is titled:

Shalit deal reveals Israel's superiority complex

It appears, of all places, in an Israeli newspaper - Haaretz, about ten days after the piece by Ms Orr. It is written by an Israeli, one Alon Idan. And it is as antisemitic as the Der Stürmer editor's wet dream.

The following quote conveys the essence of the long and rambling piece (but you might as well read the whole):
The equation inherent in Gilad Shalit's release is a trivial by-product of market economics that features the price of a Jew and the price of an Arab, according to how these values are rated by the wealthy buy-side, the Israelis. This is the capitalism seen in the cottage cheese controversy, only this time it features human beings. Its racist foundations are exploited by the oppressed side to gain bargaining power.
Yep. Even Ms Orr, who doesn't hide her "anti-Israeli" sentiments, stopped short of saying what she thinks loud and clear. Not so with Alon Idan.

In Idan's case his virulent eruption of Jewish antisemitism is mitigated by his own stupidity and inconsistency. Googling for his articles reveals another "gem" on Gilad Shalit's issue, written several months before. In this piece he complains volubly about the unwillingness of the right-wing government to pay the asking price for Shalit's release:
The shame is being papered over with the gush of energy now being put into the pyrotechnics and choreography that are going into marking the event as a colossal tragedy in a spectacular way. This is done as compensation for the lack of real desire to "pay any price" and for the inability to admit it.
And who are the real "freedom fighters", the only people who care about Shalit? You got it:
...the left is in favor of releasing Shalit, the right is against it, and the center says it's in favor but acts against it. Everyone denies that the Shalit issue follows the traditional political blueprint, because Israelis feel ashamed before the Shalit family.
Enough for now. What surprised me, though, was the contrast between the outcry about Ms Orr's piece and lack of thereof re Alon Idan. Strange, that.


Update:  Apparently colleague Elder of Ziyon published two posts on the subject. And, apparently, I have mirrored the contents. Hat tip: Peter.

04 November 2011

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