28 February 2017

No, Jonathan Freedland, anti-Zionism is not perfectly fine with us

It is, probably, a sad necessity, to repeat from time to time the old position statements. Not that the positions change too much, but people sometimes do veer from a position to position, tending to forget the last held one. As it usually goes.

This post is inspired by a stumble upon discussion between a staunchly anti-Zionist lady, Noura Erakat*, a vaguely pro-Israeli Jonathan Freedland and other minor characters. The discussion was staged by Al Jazeera. Jonathan Freedland has already appeared on these pages, the other protagonist is more of interest. Ms Erakat is a lawyer, so one should be careful describing her... er... anything, but at least she doesn't hide her anti-Zionism and her desire to see the proverbial Palestine "from the river to the sea", if you understand what it means. If not, check out this short paragraph.

So why do I consider Jonathan Freedland to be vaguely pro-Israeli? If you scroll the recording below to about 9:55, you shall hear a response by Mr Freedland to the proud self-declaration by Ms Erakat as an anti-Zionist:

I think it is absolutely fine, and more than fine, of course it's completely legitimate to hold the position she has...
Fine and legitimate? Maybe from the Guardian offices in London it is. Not from where I bother my keyboard. Because, and apologies for repeating the obvious:
Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel.
While the mission of Zionism in this definition is by and large completed, the anti-Zionism comes as a simple negation of Zionism and has a quite busy program in mind:
The term is broadly defined in the modern era as the opposition to the ethnonationalist and political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the establishment of a Jewish state as a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel.
In other, simpler words, Jonathan (are you listening? I guess not) the so called "anti-Zionists", whose legitimacy you so warmly confirm, are these same guys we all used to call "Jew-haters" or "anti-Semites", to be historically authentic. These guys who desire to disperse and/or kill us all here again.

Still fine and legitimate, Jonathan?

While I hate to repeat position statements, from where I am, the so called "anti-Zionism" is the same old murderous and hateful beast, albeit with a new PC name.

So there.

(*) As a sample of Ms Erakat's professional creativity, here is her article:

No, Israel Does Not Have the Right to Self-Defense In International Law Against Occupied Palestinian Territory

It was published in 2014, 9 years(!) after disengagement from Gaza strip, which is meant as "Occupied Palestinian Territory" in that headline. While the headline offers enough information as it is, there are some fine examples of word juggling that show a fine, albeit totally unsuccessful legal mind behind the article.

22 February 2017

Professor Robert Reich and dream-lining

In this case I am reprocessing my own Facebook post, since the subject is quite important. It shows how our brains are being washed by people of influence who don't care for hard facts that might stand in the way. Slight changes in and additions to the text were made.

Thanks to a Facebook friend, I have read a post* by professor Robert Reich** on the benefits of the international manufacturing, in which Mr Reich disputes the "America first" buzzword: "In other words, contrary to Trump, the Boeing Dreamliner is made all over the world and will be sold all over the world. His "America First" economics is total demagoguery."

I shall not argue with the conclusion, just wanted to make a purely technical point here. Being a fan of Boeing and preferring to travel in its planes over other means of transportation, I was kinda keeping an eye on the Dreamliner project. I find it strange that Prof Reich is unaware of the problems that plagued the project, causing a timetable and a financial overruns and lots of technical issues that were discovered during the first years of the plane's construction and use.

Well, one of the main problems with that project was exactly the unfortunate decision by the Boeing management to outsource a lot of work on different parts of the plane abroad, as anyone who followed the project will be ready to tell. Here is (one of too many) quotes:

A global network of suppliers would develop, and then build, most of the parts in locations as far away as Germany, Japan and Sweden. Boeing's own employees would manufacture just 35 percent of the plane before assembling the final aircraft at its plant outside Seattle.

The decision haunts Boeing to this day.
Poor show, prof. Reich.

P.S. Another strange point in the post: Prof Reich relates to the Dreamliner as something that "will be sold", when it flies for quite a few years already and is being sold, obviously. New model, possibly? Or lack of attention?

But read the whole article, if you please. And there are a lot more where this one came from.

(*) A snapshot of the original post by prof Reich, just in case:

(**) Prof Robert Reich's bio (Facebook):
ROBERT B. REICH is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

20 February 2017

Mahmoud Al-Zahar: If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore...

Mahmoud Al-Zahar
In a somewhat surprising turn of events, our defense chief, Avigdor Liberman, offered* Gaza some significant and hitherto denied perks, such as an airport and a seaport, possibilities of employment in Israel etc. - all that in exchange for cessation of terror attacks of all kinds.
“The second that Hamas gives up on the [terror] tunnels and rockets, we will be the first to invest and build for them both a seaport and airport, as well as an industrial zone – both in Kerem Shalom and in Erez,” referring to border areas near crossing points into Israel.

“We could immediately create 40,000 jobs for Gaza residents, assuming Hamas gives up its [charter] article [calling for “the destruction of the State of Israel”, gives up on the tunnels, gives up on the rockets, and, of course – and this is the first and most important thing – returns the bodies of our soldiers and returns our civilians being held captive.”
Israeli help in possible turning Gaza into a local version of Singapore was mentioned.

The response* from Gaza came quite quickly.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar on Friday rejected Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s offer for an international airport, seaport, and industrial zone in Gaza if Hamas stops building terror tunnels into Israeli territory, stops firing rockets on southern Israel and returns the Israelis it is holding in Gaza.

He also rejected the idea of the return of the Israelis as a condition for the establishment of a seaport and airport. “This is a prisoner exchange. If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves. We do not need favors from anyone,” declared Zahar...
The most poignant part of the Hamas' bozo for me was, of course, "If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves." Indeed, hard to argue with it. Whatever Hams wants Hamas does. Instead of Mediterranean Singapore they have turned the Gaza strip in a militant hellhole with ruined infrastructure that gets flooded every single rainy day. Mentioning that for a small percentage of the money and effort that went into the network of tunnels Gaza could have had all the infrastructure they ever needed, will be useless. And that rebuilding the housing knocked off during the last war would have taken another small percentage... but they plan another war, so why bother indeed?

Of course, the non-existent infrastructure and destroyed houses could be used to Hamas' benefit and satisfaction. The former to support the water libel and the latter to impress the soft hearted (and soft brained) foreign donors by the Zionist inhumanity. And the donors' money goes into the tunnels and into the ammunition again, so no loss. And who is better as willing martyrdom recruiting material than the young unemployed Gazan males?

So why bother with building things when it is much easier to destroy, all in the name of killing these pesky Jews?

And this is the way it rolls.

P.S. Mahmoud Al-Zahar - the Godfather, so to say, of our ensign.

(*) Both Arutz 7 articles linked above checked: the Liberman's proposal against Hebrew Walla article and Mahmoud Al-Zahar's response against Arabic PalToday one.

17 February 2017

My unsolicited advice for Jen Psaki

I was somewhat surprised (not really) to see Jen Psaki, who used to be White House communications director and State Department spokesperson during the Obama's years in the White House, issue what the headline calls:

My unsolicited advice for Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway and the team

In the article Ms Psaki, from her new role as a CNN political commentator and Spring Fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics, dispenses free advice to the new WH communication team, advice preceded by a volley of barbs in the general direction of everyone in and near White House.

I was kinda flabbergasted by the whole performance from this totally unexpected direction. One would have imagined that Ms Psaki would do everything in her powers to distance herself from her previous job and to make the public forget about her more conspicuous moments there. I wasn't really keeping tabs on her job history, but here are three examples of her outstanding performance. I shall copy/paste a quote from the last one:
...a reporter asked if the State Department still agreed with President Barack Obama’s September claim that Yemen is the model for his successful counterterrorism strategy.

Spokesperson Jen Psaki answered, “Correct and we stand by that.”
Indeed, Ms Psaki?

Well, here is my totally unsolicited advice: come on, Jen, really. Let's cut the crap.

P.S. On a tangentially related subject: being a sexist pig, I can't avoid mentioning that Ms P. looks much better since she got rid of that previous job. Good.

15 February 2017

Vitaly Milonov and boiled Christians - a purely technical correction

Some, even many, people were discombobulated by Vitaly Milonov, a Russian MP who used his deep knowledge of history and genealogy to produce a memorable soundbite.
A pro-Kremlin Russian lawmaker came under fire Monday after saying the ancestors of local Jewish opposition figures in Saint-Petersburg “boiled Christians in cauldrons,” sparking indignation from Russia’s Jewish community.Vitaly Milonov, a Duma deputy known for his anti-gay initiatives, lashed out at the weekend at two local lawmakers leading a protest against handing over St. Isaac’s basilica, a top landmark in Russia’s second largest city, to the Russian Orthodox Church.

“Christians survived despite the fact that the ancestors of Boris Vishnevsky and Maksim Reznik boiled us in cauldrons and fed us to animals,” ultra-conservative Milonov said at a rally Sunday to support the controversial handover.
Well, I have to disappoint the budding historian: he got the boiling point incorrectly. Being of nomadic persuasion, we, the Red Sea pedestrians, have never wanted anything to do with cauldrons and other heavy kitchen implements. Not to mention the scarcity of water in our corner of the woods (figuratively speaking, there is mostly sand and stones where we are).

Our standard MO is catch it, kosher butcher it (which is a separate issue to be addressed) and cook it on an improvised spit, using spears, long swords or stout enough branch if lucky and there is a tree or two nearby. Of course, in case of emergency, tartar style could be used too. But there is a caveat or two to all this:
  • First of all, the blood: any amateur Jew-baiter knows the blood is the most important part of the deal. Especially in desert conditions, I hope I don't have to expand on this.
  • The game: of course, the preference is for children, as all above mentioned Jew-baiters and their aunt know. And, again, in the field, where a child is not available, a woman would be our second preference, for shaving your game in the desert is not an easy task.
  • And the last but not the least: of course, there are some dietary restrictions. Even such a succulent and well-fed specimen as Mr Milonov will be a low priority game for us, due to his uncanny resemblance to a forbidden (if tasty) creature. If you know what I mean. If not:

So there.

P.S. As for feeding some people to the animals: well, see caveat 3. Sometimes there is no other choice, and the protein is valuable in the field.

Addendum: About Vitaly Milonov.

This priceless interview (in two parts, two and a half minutes in total), short as it is, should be a mandatory watching for a better picture of the illustrious gentleman.

A dollop of scandalous info about the gentleman:
On December 16, 2013 Fontanka.ru, a St. Petersburg website, published an article according to which a regional charitable organization "Orthodox World", which was co-foundes by Vitaly Milonov and his wife Eva Liburkina, was paid 9.64 million rubles (around 300 thousand USD at the time) from the city budget for the activities conducted by the charity in 2012. According to the report, these funds have bought 19,280 units of food packages, the distribution of which took place before the parliamentary and presidential elections in Krasnoselsky, Kirovsky and Petrograd districts of the city in the autumn of 2011 and the first half of 2012. However, the organization "Orthodox world" itself , according to the Federal Tax Service in St. Petersburg, has been registered only on June 5, 2012, thus the contract and the invoice were dated retroactively. President of the organization (and Milonov's assistant) Alexey Knyazev said that Milonov actively participates in the work of his organization and helps it.
Well, a politician...

Those who know Russian might enjoy this brief summary of our hero's life and deeds. I've decided not to translate it, due to the prevalence of Russian unparliamentary idioms that don't easily give in to translation attempts. Juicy.

14 February 2017

Get the cross back in the beak! Please...

The flag in the picture is the national flag of Moldova that undergone a surgery recently in Tehran.
There was a scandal in Moldova in connection with the distortion of the national flag, used during the Moldovan president Igor Dodon's visit to Iran.

The Moldovan leader, who is also the president of the Chess Federation of the Republic, on Friday participated in the opening ceremony of the World Chess Championship for women in Iran. Moldovan flag was presented in honor of the president. On the coat of arms, depicted on the flag, there was no image of the cross in the beak of an eagle and no scepter. Immediately after the ceremony Dodon posted pictures on his Facebook page.

Several media outfits drew attention to the distortion of the coat of arms. Journalists have accused the head of state in profanation of official symbols, recalling that Dodon won the recent presidential election under the banner of protection of Christianity and Christian values.

Pro-presidential media protested that the president has no hand in this, as the hosts are responsible for the flag.

"For reasons of political correctness Muslim countries remove from the flags of other countries crosses and other Christian symbols. It is practiced in many Islamic states and, naturally, the president doesn't have any relation to this practice."

The publication reports that a similar pattern could be observed at the opening of an official Moldovan consulate in Antalya. In the photograph, published on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, there is no cross in the beak of an eagle.
What can I say about it? Isn't it nice when a country leader is an expert in chess, of all things?


11 February 2017

One story, two headlines

The recent arrest of four Daesh-related would be terrorists in France isn't, probably, something outstanding or even surprising these terror-filled days. However, it's interesting to watch how the coverage of the story differs from place to place.

Here is a snapshot of the front page from a French source (English version of France 24):

The gist of the story is succinctly summarized in the lede of the article:
Anti-terrorism forces arrested four people Friday in southern France, including a 16-year-old girl, and uncovered a makeshift laboratory with the explosive TATP and other ingredients for fabricating a bomb.
Nothing of substance was forgotten, even the somewhat secondary in its importance fact that one of the four plotters was a 16-year-old girl. Here is the full article, if you want to know more.

And here comes the front page from CNN, the relevant item circled in red:

As you can see, the 16-year-old girl became the main feature of the story. At least if you, like 99% of the Internet surfers, skim the surface of the front pages. If you are such a busy surfer, you might be also unaware of the sad fact that 16-year-old girls (and younger) are quite able to - and frequently do - push the button of their suicide belt, stick a knife into the back of a human being, squeeze the trigger of a gun etc. Provided sufficient motivation/brainwashing and tools, of course.

But we wouldn't want y'all to become paranoid, would we? Or to start complaining incessantly about the media? Right?

08 February 2017

The outpost law, the lawmakers and the near future

The unbearable lightness of lawmaking in Jerusalem was my personal pet peeve for a long time, as the links show. The recent advent of the so called "outpost law" only confirms this worry.

To those who would like to see it as a political issue: not on this page, please. Whether this law is the death knell for the so far mythical two state solution isn't in the scope of this post.

The hardheadedness of the 60 members of Knesset who brazenly pushed forward a law, condemned even by our own attorney general, that goes against any logic (that is, aside of "this is all our land anyway"), this stubborn insistence of ignoring the basic laws of the state (and the international laws as well) - this is very much in the scope.

To make clear what we are talking about:

On Monday night, Israeli lawmakers passed into law a measure that allows Israel to compensate Palestinians whose land has been taken over by settlers, instead of removing the outposts.

The law applies to 53 outposts and homes within existing settlements recognized by Israel as having been built on Palestinian land without a permit...
Of course, the law was immediately condemned by UN (as expected), France (same) and even by the recently visited* by our illustrious PM Britain, hours after his plane took off. But it is not the issue I want to discuss, not at all.

The coalition has decided to disregard the warning of the attorney general, the man who is supposed to serve as the midwife for the newly hatching laws. The coalition, usually having its far right firebrands and its moderates, this time decided** to follow the firebrands and to present a united stand. If I had to guess the logic of the moderate coalition members, it will be something like this: "OK, we'll show ourselves to be real Zionists and let the High Court shoot this law down, since it clearly wouldn't pass the High Court in any case". To tell you the truth, I much prefer the firebrands, at least with them you have a better chance of knowing what they think.

Unfortunately, passing of the law in Knesset bodes ill for the ever strained relations between the lawmaking branch of our government and the judicial one. Many, too many of our MKs, firebrands or not, don't seem to understand or to care about the difference between the law, the justice, the politics and the lawmakers' wishful thinking. It is far from being the first time when the High Court is pushed into another confrontation that could have been avoided, had the firebrands some respect for the law and had they listened to the attorney general.

It is not for nothing that minister Levin "attacked the legitimacy of Israel’s High Court to decide on the constitutionality of laws  (sic!) Tuesday morning, ahead of an expected challenge to a controversial law legalizing West Bank outposts passed late the night before". The minister knows very well that the High Court will be very quickly hit by a load of suits regarding the outpost law and clearly he is already preparing the ammo for the next round of attacks against the court. As for the chances of the law in the High Court, here comes a man in the know:
The bill could however still be challenged, with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying last week: "The chance that it will be struck down by the Supreme Court is 100 percent."
I hope not to see our country in a situation where the future judges of the High Court will be chosen from the members of the Likud Central Committee. Is it too much to ask?

P.S. As heard on the radio: attorney general intends to present to the High Court his arguments against the outpost law, if the law is challenged in High Court (which is practically a certainty). The man who is supposed to defend parliamentary laws in court... almost never happened before.

(*) Bibi, for some strange reason, decided to let the voting on that law go ahead while he was visiting London. Be interesting to know why, although one can easily guess: this is a typical for our hero way to wash his hands of both the future success or the future demise of that law. Not that the London visit itself was a great success...

(**) With the only exception of a man who always has my respect, if sometimes I might disagree with his position: Benny Begin. He called this law "a moral travesty that legalizes theft and leaves a stain on Israel". And Begin is far from being a lefty.

05 February 2017

Trigglypuff comes to New York. A story with a twist.

(For those who have forgotten what Trigglypuff means).

Less than two months ago I have noticed certain signs of madness in the behavior of some members of American public. Since the symptoms of the malady multiplied since, it is impossible to follow every single one. The recent visit of Gavin McInnes (I had to look him up) at New York University appeared to be of a special interest to me, you shall see why if you are patient enough to get to the end of this post.

A woman who claimed she’s a “professor” — although NYU on Friday said they don’t recognize her as a faculty member — stood on a sidewalk and excoriated a large group of New York City police officers. She was outraged that police were “protecting” McInnes and his fellow “neo-Nazis” who came to hear him instead of physically assaulting them. “You should kick their ass!” the woman screamed.
Well, compared to the recent unpleasantness in Berkeley, you might consider this case to be a minor one. But wait.

The appearance of the protagonist mentioned above could be seen live in this clip (after about 10 minutes):

I have also attached the transcript of her "speech", generously offered by The Blaze, at the end* of this post. What else should be mentioned about that story? Well, Mr McInnes got a facefull of pepper spray and a roomfull of quite aggressive protesters as well for his troubles, and you can read about it in the linked above report by The Blaze. So the story could be considered over and done with? But wait.

I was interested in the mysterious professor, unrecognized by the NYU, according to Blaze. So I googled around, and the only source that has done some digging, unearthing the hero, was - believe it or not - Russian RT, the nest of conspiracy nuts, anti-Western propagandists (some of them Western, unfortunately) and other unpleasant characters and activities.

The lady's name is Rebecca Goyette, "an artist and adjunct professor at various colleges in New York" Here is one of her (more chaste, believe me) artistic appearances:

The interwebs are teeming with information about the artist, albeit not about her other occupation as "adjunct professor at various colleges". Here is her site, which can tell (and show) you quite a lot. So yes, quite a strange and wondrous phenomenon, is professor Rebecca Goyette. But here comes:

The Twist.

That same RT article went into the reasons of Ms Goyette outstanding speech. Here is what she has told the RT interviewer:
I saw some of his supporters being actively aggressive against NYU students. It turned into a big melee on his way in. Then I saw this guy, Franklin Right, wearing a red lumber jack shirt, he started a whole chant of ‘Heil Hitler’ with the Nazi salute.
While the question of who it was exactly that started the melee will be ever impossible to resolve, the point of the neo-Nazis appearance and the salute seems to be quite believable. I couldn't find any other confirmation of the mentioned Franklin Right or the salute, but there are some responses in the Youtube comments that provide some indication that this could very well be true. Just it case some zealous moderator erases it**, here is a first comment on that Youtube link:

I realize that as a confirmation of the alleged neo-Nazis appearance and the salutes, this is a very indirect one, but the general atmosphere of the place and the Nazi salutes could have made anyone to snap. So don't be too harsh on the lady, please.

Sad? You bet.

(*) Transcript of the rant by Rebecca Goyette.
Who’s protecting NYU from this bulls**t? Why are you here? You’re not here to protect these students from Nazis. No, you’re not! This is completely f***ed up. And these students had to f***ing face them on their own. You should be ashamed of yourselves! You should be standing up to those Nazis! You should be protecting students from hate! This is hate! These are f***ing assholes … you are a joke. You’re grown boys! You’re grown boys … and I’m disgusted! I’m a professor! How dare you! How dare you f***ing assholes protect neo-Nazis? F*** you! F*** you! F*** you! These are kids who are trying to learn about humanity! They’re trying to learn about human rights and against racism and xenophobia and LGBTQ rights, and you’re letting these f***ing neo-Nazis near here! You should kick their ass! You should! You should be ashamed of yourselves! You should! F*** that s**t. F*** that s**t. It’s not up to these students to kick the ass of a neo-Nazi! They don’t have to raise their fist! They were taught to be peaceful! F*** you! F*** you. I’m a professor. God f***ing damn it … you’re here to protect neo-Nazis! So f*** you! God f***ing damn it! Those kids should not have to take fists up to neo-Nazis, and you’re putting them in that situation! Go to hell. F*** you NYPD!
(**) The Youtube moderator has done his/her job indeed, the salvaged page is so far the only, and very small, part of quite a few Nazi remarks of the kind that appeared there in droves.

03 February 2017

The new brave photoshopped world

This story started with an e-mail I got from a good and well meaning friend. Here is a snapshot of the e-mail contents (click to enlarge):

The text says:
It is the anniversary of Stepan Bandera. Kyiv, January 2, 2017.
And, after this New Year procession in the capital's center, Ukraine is dreaming of help from America?
I do not even want to comment on, it's all out there ...
The mind of anyone even briefly familiar with the pro-Nazi sympathies of many Ukrainians during the WW II, with their cooperation with the Nazis and with the name of Stepan Bandera, will be easily triggered. The rightful wrath will follow inevitably, as it happened in my case, of course.

Something bothered me in the picture, though. Was it just too much to be easily believed? Or was it a feeling of proportions that were somehow wrong, if you consider the size of the depicted crowds when compared to the Christmas tree and to the size of the building in the background? I am not sure, but I have decided to do some googling with that photograph as a search item. And here are the results:
  1. It is not Kyiv (the Ukrainian capital). It is Mariupol (map at the end of the post), a city in the Donetsk Oblast, one of the targets of the Russian expansion westward and the Russian/Ukrainian strife.
  2. The date in question is not January 2, 2017 but January 16, 2015.
  3. The occasion for the gathering is not the anniversary of Stepan Bandera. It is a final gathering at the end of the procession in memory of 12 or so Ukrainians, killed in a small town near Volnovakha, on January 13, 2015, during an attack on an passenger bus at a checkpoint. Killed, needless to add, by either Russian soldiers or their allies among the Ukrainian secessionists.
And here is a video recording of the gathering in Mariupol:

You can judge by yourself the real size of the crowd, the size of the place and other proportions.
Notice that the unknown Russian Photoshop fiend used a snapshot from this same recording.

The fake picture spread like bush fire on Twitter and on various Russian and other social networks. Here is a snapshot of a single page from Google, there are many more pages with this same doctored photograph, all in all hundreds if not thousands copies.

What else can I add to the story? Well, it should be said that Ukrainian media frequently does the same to the other side, so it has become literally impossible to believe either, without having a solid confirmation from a third party. Oh, and of course, Stepan Bandera is indeed a sort of a saint for many Ukrainians to this day, and no worries on that account...

Map of Ukraine, with Mariupol accented (and Kyiv present, quite far away, too).