This could be very significant. You have to know something about Israeli politics to understand this, but in short, there are so many parties in the Knesset that no one has ever gotten a majority--all governments are by coalition. Sharon has a coalition with several parties which are ideologically opposed to a Palestinian state. If moves are made in that direction they may bolt the government, causing new elections. However, if Labor joins in their stead, this means Sharon will have a huge working majority which can pretty much do what it likes. This gives Sharon a lot more breathing room then he would seem to have at first glance. In other words, by one of the typical twists of Israeli politics, Labor and Sharon are now eachother's best friends. They are his leverage over the Right wing parties, he is their possible ticket back to power.
Sunday, April 27, 2003
Ahahahahahaha! George "never met a terror supporting dictatorial mass-slaughtering thug I wouldn't defend in public" Galloway gets slammed again, this time from an American paper. When is the Times going to run with this? (And that ridiculous little puff piece they ran the other day is not what I'm talking about.) This is about to be the biggest scandal to hit Britain since the Profumo affair and almost nobody in America knows about it, why?
Goddam it. I really want to hate Christopher Hitchens, and he just makes it difficult. I mean, he's still a wretched, intellectually bankrupt apologist for Communism, a bloviating Israel-hater, and the world's worst literary critic, but goddam it, he keeps getting it right on Iraq and right on the anti-war Left. Orwell he aint, much to his chagrin, but damn it if he doesn't deserve some serious credit these days.
But to some legal experts it is also part of a growing pattern of repression against protesters, demonstrators and dissenters. The American Civil Liberties Union says it has found many examples, like increased arrests and interrogations of protesters and the shunning of celebrities who have opposed the war in Iraq.
"When you connect the dots, you see very clearly a climate of chilled dissent and debate," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the civil liberties group.
Yeah, right. I'm sorry, 500,000 people march on Washington without a shot being fired, celebrities protest the war and get a higher profile then they ever could with their own meager talents (hello Jeneane Garafalo), universities crawl with neo-Nazi Leftist treason monkeys who get paid six figure salaries to lie to the youth of America, George Bush is regularly compared to a monkey, Adolf Hitler, and a retarded six year old--and this is a climate of chilled dissent and debate? There was dissent, there was a debate, you lost, get over it and stop whining you bloody Frenchmen.
Interesting. The most fascinating thing is the fact that Iraqis just assumed he had authority because he acted like he did. Consider it a lesson in the ephemeral nature of power. But don't be decieved, the Americans are clearly firmly in charge in Baghdad, a fact they have just demonstrated quite effectively. This seems to be a serious blow to the INC, this guy looked like their ticket into some real power in Iraq and he just got tossed in the slammer--although I doubt he'll stay there long--by their own erstwhile sponsors. We'll see what happens with Chalabi and company from here, but I think they just lost a round.
Shalom, gentle readers. Went away for the weekend to Rehovot (close to Tel Aviv) in order to see the incomprable David Broza in concert. For those of you who don't know who he is--go out now and buy one of his albums. You can probably get them in the World Music section of any Tower Records and definately in any Jewish or Israeli book store. (For those of you in Boston, that means go to Brookline and ask). He's a combo of Spanish flamenco and Israeli folk-rock, I was absolutely blown away. He ended with Yihiyeh Tov (It Will Be Good), which is a legendary song in Israel from the '70s, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Its kind of like seeing Bob Dylan sing Blowing in the Wind on an acoustic guitar. We were in the third row, by the way, 'nuff said. I recommend Live at Masada, probably his best album. Go. Buy it. Now.
Thursday, April 24, 2003
The guy who wrote this was killed in Iraq. Its absolutely brilliant stuff.
In the last twenty years western civilization has given the intellectual security without responsibility, and in England, in particular, it has educated him in skepticism while anchoring him almost immovably in the privileged class. He has been in the position of a young man living on an allowance from a father whom he hates. The result is a deep feeling of guilt and resentment, not combined with any genuine desire to escape. But some psychological escape, some form of self-justification there must be, and one of the most satisfactory is transferred nationalism. During the 1930s the normal transference was to Soviet Russia, but there are other alternatives, and it is noticeable that pacifism and anarchism, rather then Stalinism, are now gaining ground among the young. These creeds have the advantage that they aim at the impossible and therefore in effect demand very little. If you throw in a touch of oriental mysticism and Buchmanite raptures over Gandhi, you have everything that a disaffected intellectual needs. The life of an English gentleman and the moral attitudes of a saint can be enjoyed simultaneously.--George Orwell
I never cease to be amazed at how, with a few changes of names and dates, Orwell seems to be talking about something that occurred yesterday.
I was going to take the day off ripping George Galloway (British Member of Parliament, traitor, recent employee of Saddam) into shreds, but this is just too good. Apparently, his wife is Yasser Arafat's niece. I'm going to have fun with this one.
I believe the expression is useful idiots. I said it before, and I'll say it again: the Left has no moral basis to stand on whatsoever. They've been aiding and abetting in torture, oppression, and mass murder for well over a hundred years and they don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Catch Me If You Can
I know its long gone from American theaters, but I just saw it a few days ago, and I thought it was a really fascinating movie in a lot of ways. First of all, its very much a Spielberg film. All of his trademarks are there: the main character with the dysfunctional family, the furious pace, the rendering of totally unbelievable situations in a manner that gives them a believable veneer of realism, and, which really interested me, a violent love/hate relationship with American culture. The movie is filled to the brim with Americanisms, the cars, the '60s decor, the ethos of material success, the suburban tract housing, the televisions around every corner, and its quite clear that, on the surface at least, the film has nothing but contempt for them. One can quite easily read the whole film as an attack against America's materialistic, consumer culture. A culture so shallow and empty that a 19 year old can manipulate it seemingly at will. The ease with which the film's central character flits in and out of the most prestigious of occupations--doctor, lawyer, airline pilot--and steadily masses enormous amounts of money by playing on the vapidity of the American service industry--where a secretary naturally assumes a man is a pilot so long as he is in a pilot's uniform--is almost enough to convince you that Spielberg is ultimately attempting a broad, almost Swiftian parody of modern American middle class life.
The problem is, Spielberg is quite clearly entranced with this life, even as he recoiles from its more obviously ludicrous aspects. Spielberg was born into this very world he is deconstructing, he was brought up, personally and professionally, on television, and the truth is that his career is unimaginable without it. Can you conceive of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or AI without their obvious riffs on The Twilight Zone? The Indiana Jones series is essentially nothing more then a big-budget, two hour version of the Saturday morning adventure serials that transfixed Spielberg as a child. Even the breathless sense of being taken on a two-hour rollercoaster ride that is Spielberg's trademark comes much more from television--where people must be kept in their seats after the first commercial starts--then anything one might rather pretentiously call "cinema".
The truth is, Spielberg is in love with the world he is attempting to parody, and in the end his character's strongest desire is to find some means to return to it. Indeed, even the slippery ease with which he morphs from one identity to another is a dazzling process possible only in a place like modern America. What good are such skills in a country where everyone must carry his passport at all times? It isn't a coincidence that his long odyssey finally comes to naught in France, a country where the remaking of self so central to the American ethos simply does not exist. And Spielberg's cinematography bears this out, foregoing the brilliant lights and colors of America for a grey, metallic green hue.
In the end, most ironically of all, the main character's redemption is wrought through that most iconic of American squares: the FBI agent. A man dedicated to the defense of that mad, mad, mad, mad world Spielberg had been tearing into shreds for the previous two hours. Although a figure of fun for most of the movie, he proves in the end to be a startlingly resilient, even admirable character. By the film's anti-climactic final half-hour, one cannot escape the conclusion that, in Spielberg's eyes, he, and his slightly off-kilter America are not really so bad after all.
Bloody typical. Maybe this is the reason why I was taught in elementary school that the McCarthy era was the most disgraceful abuse of human rights in world history. Of course, I had to do my own reading to find out that at the exact same time the Hollywood Ten were lying about not being Communists their hero Stalin was in the process of slaughtering 20 million people. And they presume to preach to us about morality.
Another racist Palestinian war crime occurred today. This time in Kfar Saba, which sits on the border with the West Bank. I am awaiting the protest march in Paris condemning such wanton attacks on innocent civilians.
Good. If the last few months have proved anything, its that the EU doesn't deserve Great Britain.
"We were trained to ambush and kill American forces in Baghdad," he says. "The government wanted unmarried people like myself, and we were chosen by Abbas al-Dulami, the police chief. They told us not to talk about the course with anyone. When the war started, we were taken to the camps with these Arab fighters, but they had been told not to talk to us. Some of them were being trained for operations outside Iraq."
The young officer, curious as to whom he had been sent to work with, asked a more senior Iraqi intelligence officer present at the time, who the strangers were. He was told that they were members of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization, he says, though his report could not be confirmed.
I think it was still all about oil.
Interesting piece on Vaclav Havel, ex-dissident/president of the Czech Republic. Much comparison to my favorite writer, the one and only G. Orwell. I've heard mixed things about Havel for years, but anyone Noam Chomsky hates this much has got to be worth reading about. Enjoy.
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
A very interesting piece on air pollution getting better while most Americans think its getting worse. I think one of the reasons for this is the lack of conservative writing on environmental issues. One of the reasons why so much Liberal lying gets accepted as truth is that there is simply no conservative intellectual presence on certain issues. They basically consist of the Left talking to itself. This is hugely important to change.
This sudden collapse of the media giants is part of a culture-wide trend. As Victor Davis Hanson noted recently, a vast chasm of sense has been opened between teachers and taught, preachers and preached-at, people who make the films and people who see them, people who write books and people who read them, those who produce news and those who consume it. This calls into question a guiding belief of the culture: that power resides in the mouth of the bullhorn, if not in the barrels of guns. It is possible that people are not, after all, very malleable. It is possible that in the past, when "opinion leaders" tracked more closely with public opinion, that they were reflecting the public's ideas, and not leading it.
I agree completely. Thanks to the war in Iraq, all the idiots who think they know better then you have just gotten a royal kick in the ass from reality. Read the whole thing.
More on Powell's ambivelent relationship to the White House. It seems to reflect what Gingrich was saying, namely that Powell is being wielded by the beaurocracy instead of vice-versa. I think the comparison to William Rogers is simply unwarranted, its closer to William Jennings Bryan's relationship with president Woodrow Wilson. They simply didn't share the same ideology. They represented two different sides of a split party, Bryan the old, Mid-Western pacifist Christian wing, and Wilson the new progressive, internationalist faction bequethed partially by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt. Of course, Bryan eventually quit in a huff, and I don't see that happening with Powell, but I think the general situation is largely the same. Powell is much more a product of the pragmatic, liberal Republicanism that has always been in the helm at State. Bush is far closer to the newer, more agressively Conservative wing of the party, i.e. the Reaganites. Oddly, this makes Powell much closer to Bush's father then Bush is himself. This is also why the media loves Powell, the liberal "modern" Republicans have always been the "good" Republicans, for obvious reasons, in the eyes of the press, and not the "bad", "radical" Republicans who Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan brought to power. Powell, in an odd way, is a bit of a relic, despite his immense personal popularity which, as this article points out quite well, doesn't seem to have much to do with his job performance.
And the self-pity runs like water...
The wolves circle around Galloway. I can only stand here and laugh. I especially love the line about how, if he had wanted money, he just would have asked Tariq Aziz. Apparently, he's not only a corrupted traitor, but dumb as a post as well.
This is great. I'm waiting for "Noam Chomsky Announces: America OK! Cultish Followers Flummoxed"
"The Fascists cannot argue, so they kill." -- Victor Marguerite.
I'll amend this: the Left cannot persuade, so they silence.
Not only was a member of the governing Labour Party on the payroll of the enemy of Britain during wartime, but according to The Telegraph, the money was got out of Iraq and into George’s bank account via the oil for food program. We are talking here of the revenues from the UN administered program from oil that Iraq was allowed to sell in order to have the means to buy food and medicines for the Iraqis.
Oh, it just gets better and better. Read the whole article. Apparently our erstwhile baby-seal-loving-Lefty Galloway had quite a talent for good old fashioned material greed. At the expense of starving children, no less.
I think its worthy to give you an idea of how much money this guy was getting. The British papers are estimating 375,000 British pounds a year. That's nearly $600,000 a year for over ten years, or over six million dollars. And this is on one guy. It seems to me very likely that one of Iraqi intelligence's major duties was funding the pro-Iraq/anti-war/anti-sanctions movements in the West, and it sounds like they had quite a budget to do it with.
The plot thickens, and so does the treason case against British Labor MP George Galloway, who certainly seems to have been on the payroll of Saddam Hussein and for serious money. I have two thoughts on this: First, why isn't anyone else running with this? The NY Times has spent two days babbling about the looted treasures of the Baghdad Museum and can't spare two lines for the fact that the political leader of the British anti-war movement was in the pay of Saddam? What, or who, are they afraid of? Second, this is the tip of the iceberg. I, for one, am very interested about who may be filling the pockets of Noam Chomsky, Leslie Cagan, Edward Said and fifty to a hundred other people I can name. Its high time we stopped coddling these people and admitted the fact that there is at least the very real possibility that they, and the anti-war movement as a whole, may be in the pay of foreign governments.
Looks to me like the road map will likely be stillborn. Brings to minds Abba Eban's old line that the Palestinians "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity". I've felt for a long time that there isn't likely to be any progress on a two-state solution so long as the Palestinians essentially don't want one. I think its very likely there will never be a Palestinian state, for the simple reason that the Palestinians will never agree to it.
Newt Gringrich once again says what everybody thinks but wont say, and gets the crap kicked out of him for his troubles. I've felt for the last few years that Newt got a hell of a raw deal. He a made a serious tactical error in impeaching Clinton, but he deserves better then an ignoble retirement. He's too value an asset to the Conservative movement to be wasted giving lectures.
He's also absolutely right about the State Department. There's a reason they call it Foggy Bottom, its one of the most impenetrable and aggressively insubordinate beaurocracies in the Federal government. Since the Vietnam War they've waged a completely defensive foreign policy, essentially serving as an advocacy group for the various countries they deal with. The Defense Department has been left with the perogative of actually advocating and defending American interests. Powell has the prestige and political weight to change this but so far hasn't shown any inclination to do so. He seems very much a prisoner of the beaurocracy, which doesn't bode well for effective American diplomacy in the near future.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
At heart, the current Bush is a warrior for a region, a faction, a part of America. No national calamity has tempered his zeal for his factional agenda. His determination to reward the "investor class" (that is, still, the rich), to appoint socially reactionary judges, to favor his business cronies has not waned in wartime. His desire to make Americans reliant on the market, rather than social savings, has not been deterred by the worst decline in the markets since the Great Depression.
From a--well its too generous to call it an article--orgy of lies in the Bill Moyer's bankrolled American Prospect. Check this out:
In its overreliance on a small number of neo-friendly Iraqi expatriates to gauge the mood of the Iraqi people, in its belief that our forces would be greeted as liberators, the administration has made almost the identical error that the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations made at the Bay of Pigs. In each instance, ideology and hope were substituted for factual assessment; in each instance, the people have not risen to join U.S.-backed forces (in Cuba) or U.S. forces (in Iraq) to overthrow their tyrant. In Iraq the administration has underestimated the size and intensity of the forces committed to fighting for Saddam Hussein -- forgetting everything we have learned about the infrastructure of a modern totalitarian state. It has forgotten, too, the power of nationalism in human affairs, especially in postcolonial nations. And in proposing to subordinate postwar Iraq to direct Pentagon control, it has all but ensured that our liberation (in the administration's assessment) of Iraq will be viewed as a neocolonial occupation, by Iraqis and just about everybody else. In so doing, it has inflamed anti-American sentiment throughout the world, and in the Arab world particularly, for years if not decades to come. Finally, because this is explicitly a war of choice rather than necessity, and because we have chosen to fight over the popular opposition of virtually every other nation, we are naked before our enemies. As an already apprehensive Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has noted, we have likely created a hundred new Osama bin Ladens with this war.
I', bent over from gut-laughing already. Keep in mind that this is not a flaming Leftist rag, but a mainstream Liberal opinion journal. Do we need to look any further to understand why the Democrats are being crucified on the national security issue? They're quite obviously simply incompetant. Not to mention cowardly, stupid, and obviously completely divorced from reality itself. This paragraph literally gets everything wrong. Right down to using corrupted plutocrat Hosni Mubarak as its go-to guy for advice on fighting terror. Of course Hosni's apprehensive, democracy in the Middle East is what he's spent his whole life trying to prevent. Only someone utterly ignorant of history could take what he says on this subject seriously. This one, however, says it all:
The three presidents who sought to build a multilateral framework for international affairs were Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Wilson's plan was killed in its crib when Congress refused to ratify our entry into the League of Nations. Roosevelt's and Truman's contributions -- setting up a structure of international law, bringing prosperity and freedom to Western Europe, cementing alliances with other democracies, containing and eventually defeating Soviet communism -- are the enduring triumphs of U.S. foreign policy. Bush seems bent on destroying Roosevelt's and Truman's handiwork, however, and substituting a far more grandiose version of Polk's and McKinley's, in what is distinctly a postcolonial world. As with his assault on Roosevelt's New Deal order, he professes to replace an architecture that may be flawed but certainly isn't broken -- in this case, with an empire not likely to be backed up by the consent of the governed.
Are these people serious? Truman's architecture was set up fifty years ago, to deal with a conflict that has been over for a decade. We are living in a different world, that demands new ideas and new strategies. One in which the old alliances are not only entangling, but often downright dangerous. I hate to say it, because I think an viable opposition is an absolute necessity in a democracy, but all I can glean from this article is that mainstream Liberalism is teetering on the edge of the abyss. Obsessed with its past glories, utterly ignorant of the present, and depressingly unwilling even to admit that it needs to drastically realign itself to deal with a changed world. As a partisan I rejoice, as a patriot, I lament the passing of a once-great American ideology.
Its high time I spoke out about the attempts to turn Rachel Corrie into some kind of Mother Teresa martyr to the cause of fighting injustice. Firstly, the media coverage has been a monstrous and reprehensible display of blatently racist bias and favoritism. If the media lavished half this attention on just one of the victims of the last suicide bombing in Israel I might think different, but they haven't, and this speaks volumes. The truth is, the Leftists who report for the mainstream media see themselves in Rachel Corrie. Or rather, they see their other self, the self they might have been had they had the courage to follow their fanatical beliefs instead of getting a cushy job at the BBC or the NY Times. They admire her courage and the strength of her convictions and they believe she dies fighting for a noble cause out of good intentions.
The problem is, this is all a pack of lies. Corrie was a lunatic, an ideological fanatic who despised Israel with every fiber of her being. The organization to which she belonged, the ISM, absolutely and unequivocally denies Israel's right to exist. I repeat, this is not about inducing an end ot Israeli "occupation", this is about ending the existence of the state itself. In other words: genocide. All of her efforts were directed towards this end, one which by any objective definition is a racist, murderous, despicable ambition. The bulldozer that ran her over was not demolishing houses but tunnels used by terrorist groups like Hamas to smuggle weapons and explosives into Gaza for use against innocent Israeli civilians, often children. She was, by any legal definition, aiding and abetting in the terrorist murder of innocent Jews. Her fellow travelers who eulogize her name do so because, in the final analysis, they admire for doing this, and the destruction of Israel is a goal which thy too believe to be noble and worth sacrificing for.
Her image as a peace loving, at worst naive believer in justice and reconciliation is belied by the photo of her burning the American and Israeli flags. Indeed, the photo was so inflammatory many of her supporters at first claimed the Mossad fabricated it (the dastardly Jews at work again) until the Palestinian who took the photo came forward to confirm its genuineness. What struck me most, however, was not the burning flags, or the violent, hate-filled expression on Corrie's face, but the young children encircling her on the lower left and right corners. They are recoiling in fear, as if from a wild, snarling animal, as if instinctively repelled by the twisted, shrieking creature before them. In their expression, in their wide eyed repellance from such a manifestation of hatred, I see what may be the only glimmerof hope for this troubled region.
George Galloway, the Labour backbencher, received money from Saddam Hussein's regime, taking a slice of oil earnings worth at least 375,000 British pounds a year, according to Iraqi intelligence documents found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.
A confidential memorandum sent to Saddam by his spy chief said that Mr Galloway asked an agent of the Mukhabarat secret service for a greater cut of Iraq's exports under the oil for food programme.
He also said that Mr Galloway was profiting from food contracts and sought "exceptional" business deals. Mr Galloway has always denied receiving any financial assistance from Baghdad.
Asked to explain the document, he said yesterday: "Maybe it is the product of the same forgers who forged so many other things in this whole Iraq picture. Maybe The Daily Telegraph forged it. Who knows?"
Galloway was a staunch Lefty and one of the foremost opponents of the war. Were going to see a lot more of this in the weeks to come, and a lot more shameless attempts at baldfaced lying by the guilty parties. Has anyone considered auditing Chomsky's books?
What I am not satisfied with America is that the nation cannot control the government and economy. Only a handful of people have the power to control the country.
Flatulent necro-communist Michael Moore proving just how much of an idiot he is. Keep in mind that Moore is a Leftist, his self-professed solution to this problem is to place control of the economy in the hands of the state. Put simply, Moore's philosophy is this: to prevent oligarchy, we should place all economic power in the hands of a massive, centralized state. In other words, we should have a handful of people control the government and economy to prevent a handful of people from controlling the government and economy. And, for the record, economic and political power is much more diffused in America today then it was in, say, the New Deal era that Moore wants to return us to. This, of course, is thanks to the likes of Ronald Reagan and the supply-side economics Moore dispises with all his heart and tiny brain. If Moore had read his Hayek he wouldn't be making such foolish, self-contradictory, obviously ignorant statements. Not that he knows who Hayek is anyways.
Sorry about the length folks, but this really needs to be read in its entirety:
"THE INFLUENCE OF PALESTINIAN ORGANIZATIONS ON FOREIGN NEWS REPORTING"
by Dan Diker - March 27, 2003
Since the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000, Palestinian
leaders have succeeded in using the international news media to mobilize
world opinion in favor of the Palestinian narrative, depicting the
Palestinian David defending his homeland against the Israeli Goliath.
Televised images of Palestinian suffering portray a human drama that wins
the news media war. As a senior source associated with an international
news organization said recently, Television loves emotions and cares less
about facts. The Palestinians don't care about losing people, and the
Israelis can't fight that.
Most foreign correspondents, and particularly local Palestinian stringers
who report from the West Bank and Gaza for Jerusalem-based foreign news
bureaus, operate under an unspoken but firm set of rules. They avoid
reporting stories involving widespread human rights abuses, high-level
corruption and financial mismanagement, and violence between Palestinian
groups that could prove embarrassing to Arafat and senior Palestinian
According to a 2001 report by the Independent Committee for Protection of
Journalists, in the nearly seven years since the Palestinian National
Authority assumed control over parts of the West Bank and Gaza, Chairman
Yasser Arafat and his multi-layered security apparatus have muzzled local
press critics via arbitrary arrests, threats, physical abuse, and the
closure of media outlets. Over the years, the Arafat regime has managed to
frighten most Palestinian journalists into self-censorship.
The Palestinian Authority does not maintain an official press center
similar to Israel's Government Press Office. However, the Ramallah-based
Palestine Media Center (PMC) is described as an independent official
institution established and directed by Yasser Abed Rabbo, Minister of
Culture and Information of the Palestinian National Authority. The PMC
is heavily funded by the European Union; it may not be a coincidence,
therefore, that European news organizations have largely avoided reporting
stories that are critical of the Palestinian Authority.
According to an Arab-Israeli journalist who assists Jerusalem-based
foreign media outlets, Abed Rabbo views media relations as an extension of
the Palestinian cause. The PA information minister made this idea clear
to an official Foreign Press Association (FPA) delegation that met with
him in September 2001 to protest Palestinian Authority threats against
foreign and Palestinian freelance photographers who took pictures of
Palestinian street celebrations following the September 11th attacks on
the U.S. Abed Rabbo reportedly told the senior FPA representatives in no
uncertain terms, Palestinian national interests would come before freedom
of the press.
A former Arab and Palestinian affairs reporter for Israel Television noted
that Palestinians have not yet developed an appreciation for a free news
media. In Arabic, the word for news media (i'laam) is the same word that
is frequently used for public relations.
* * *
Most foreign journalists are not fluent in either Arabic or Hebrew,
rendering them dependent on a network of local Palestinian fixers, mostly
young, educated Palestinians who speak Arabic, Hebrew, and English.
Palestinian fixers, who until recently have been fully accredited by
Israel's Government Press Office, know their way around Israel, the West
Bank and Gaza, arrange interviews with Palestinian officials, and
introduce journalists to their own circle of local acquaintances. As a
rule, working with a good fixer translates into getting interviews with
top Palestinian leaders and moving safely around the territories.
An Arabic-speaking Israeli journalist who avoids using fixers noted that
most fixers trumpet the PLO narrative and terminology of the conflict,
which frequently collides with established historical facts and
international law. Moreover, Palestinian security forces watch carefully
what is said by local residents to both foreign and local journalists.
According to senior foreign news sources based in Jerusalem, the vast
majority of Palestinian fixers -- often close friends of Palestinian
employees of Jerusalem-based foreign news agencies -- are ideologically
motivated by the Palestinian cause, and actively encourage journalists to
report exclusively on the evils of the Israeli occupation, rather than on
the lack of democratic freedoms or human rights abuses in the West Bank
* * *
Numerous foreign reporters have learned that interviews with the PA
chairman are not open invitations to ask tough questions. On March 29,
2002, Arafat hung up on CNN's Christianne Amanpour during a telephone
interview from his besieged Mukata compound after Amanpour asked the PA
leader repeatedly whether he was able to rein in the violence.
In another instance, in 1999, a reporter from the German newspaper Der
Spiegel asked Arafat about widespread reports of corruption in the
Palestinian Authority. Upon hearing the question, Arafat reportedly
accused the reporter of being a member of the Israeli security services
and promptly had him removed. The German reporter's fixer, a former
Palestinian diplomat who had been based in Germany, convinced his foreign
client to write Arafat a letter of apology, but Arafat refused to allow
the reporter to return.
On January 6, 2003, Seif al-Din Shahin, a senior Gaza correspondent for
Qatar's Al Jazeera News Agency, was arrested by Arafat's Palestinian
General Intelligence on charges of inflicting damage to the interests and
reputation of the Palestinian people and their struggle, for reporting
that the Al Aksa Brigades, part of the PLO's military wing, had claimed
responsibility for the double suicide bombing in Tel Aviv the night
* * *
Palestinian camera operators, frequently residents of the West Bank, today
film the vast majority of foreign TV news coverage in the territories.
Foreign news agencies have become dependent on Palestinians, since Israeli
camera people are prohibited by the IDF from working in the Palestinian
areas. Palestinian camera operators are also far less expensive than their
Israeli or foreign news colleagues.
The result is that TV news pictures, broadcast internationally from the
territories, focus daily on Palestinian dead and wounded, massive
demonstrations and funerals, close-ups of local hospital and morgue
victims, homes of mourning Palestinian families, and destroyed Palestinian
buildings and fields. Missing is a measure of balance that might show
images of the Palestinian-initiated violence, including shootings,
bombings, and rocket attacks on Israeli troops and civilians, that prompt
Israeli military responses.
Perhaps the best example of the pitfalls of reliance on Palestinian
cameramen was the filming of the death of young Muhammad al-Dura by
Palestinian cameraman Talal Abu Rahamaworking for France 2 television.
While al-Dura, apparently killed in the crossfire between Israeli troops
and Palestinian police, became a symbol of the intifada and was used as a
blood libel against Israel, the photographer later denied claiming that
the IDF killed the boy.
Following several formal investigations, the raw footage of the shooting
revealed that Palestinian photographers were part of the event and
submitted edited footage to foreign networks. Another German inquiry went
even further by concluding that Palestinians staged the killing with the
cooperation of some foreign journalists and the United Nations.
* * *
The lynching of two Israeli reservists inside a Palestinian police station
in October 2000 would change the rules of Western news reporting on
Palestinian violence. Nasser Atta, a Palestinian producer with ABC,
recalled on Ted Koppel's Nightline how his cameraman was beaten and his
crew prevented from filming the grisly lynchings.
According to first-hand reports, Palestinian security forces also
surrounded a Polish TV crew who were beaten and relieved of their
tapes. A foreign correspondent noted that in post-Ramallah where all
good will was lost, he would be a lot more sensitive about going places in
the territories. A day after the Ramallah lynchings, an Italian
journalist, who had suffered a separate beating by a rioting Arab mob in
Jaffa, penned a letter in English to Palestinian officials promising never
to violate journalistic ethics by transmitting film to an embassy or
Following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States, an
AP photographer's life was threatened by Palestinian officials for taking
photographs of widespread Palestinian street celebrations. Arafat's
Cabinet Secretary, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, reportedly said, The Palestinian
Authority cannot guarantee the life of the cameraman if the footage was
broadcast. Despite a strongly-worded protest by the Foreign Press
Association to the Palestinian Authority, some foreign journalists made
peace with the fact that intimidation is a price of reporting the
* * *
Palestinian leaders have become well respected among the foreign press
corps for welcoming foreign journalists as honored guests during meetings
and interviews. Palestinian leaders also go to great lengths to make
themselves available to correspondents even at inconvenient times. For
example, PA official Saeb Erekat sent his personal chauffeured limousine
to pick up a Danish reporter and film crew at an IDF checkpoint for an
In contrast, some leading foreign journalists have long complained about a
general lack of cooperation by Israeli government officials toward the
foreign press. The Prime Minister's Office and IDF officials have been
known to take several hours or more before issuing responses to breaking
news in the territories, due in part to requirements of the military
censor. Israeli authorities are also often reluctant to provide
informative material to foreign news correspondents, even following terror
Danny Seaman, Director of Israel's Government Press Office, has charged
that Palestinian employees of several major international news agencies,
including the Associated Press and Reuters, regularly coordinate their
news coverage with Palestinian officials. According to the GPO, Marwan
Barghouti, leader of Fatah in the West Bank and now imprisoned in Israel,
issued early warnings to the foreign networks about impending Palestinian
shooting attacks on Gilo, so that the film crews could capture Israeli
return fire on neighboring Beit Jalla.
Although Seaman's charges were rejected by Dan Perry, chairman of the
Foreign Press Association, Seaman has refused to renew press credentials
for many Palestinian journalists and producers. Avigdor Yitzhaki, director
general of the Prime Minister's Office, and Seaman's boss, commented: "Do
you think that everywhere else, anyone can receive press credentials? I
haven't seen any Iraqi journalists covering the President of the United
* * *
 Interview with a senior international network news official, December
 Bassem Eid, Palestinian human rights activist, November 17, 2002.
Palestinian opposition to discussing intra-Palestinian strife with the
foreign press was also reported by a bureau chief of a major American
daily newspaper at a meeting in Jerusalem on November 26, 2002.
 Judy Balint, Palestinian Harassment of Journalists, Worldnetdaily.com
and Emunah magazine, February 25, 2001,
http://www.jerusalemdiaries.com/doc/20. Frequent instances of
self-censorship by Palestinian journalists were also confirmed in a
meeting with a deputy bureau chief of a leading Jerusalem-based news
agency, November 17, 2002.
 From the PMC website, http://www.palestine-pmc.com/about.asp.
 Bassem Eid, Palestinian human rights activist, November 17, 2002.
 According to a prominent fixer from eastern Jerusalem, who also
reports on Arab affairs for a major Israeli newspaper, November 29, 2002.
 Interview with a deputy bureau chief of a leading Jerusalem-based
international news agency, November 17, 2002.
 Moshe Cohen, former Arab affairs reporter, Israel Channel One News,
November 14, 2002.
 Moshe Cohen, November 17, 2002.
 According to a well-known Palestinian fixer who works with leading
European TV networks, November 29, 2002. Palestinian human rights activist
Bassem Eid also confirmed this point on November 17, 2002.
 Bassem Eid, November 17, 2002. For other instances of Palestinian
intimidation of the press, see Freedom House 2000 report,
http://www.freedomhouse.org/pfs2000/reports.html#ispa, and the 2000
Amnesty International Annual Report,
Authority: Silencing Dissent (AI Index: MDE 21/016/2000).
 See HonestReporting.com,
 According to a senior source at a Jerusalem-based international news
organization, November 17, 2002.
 Who Killed Muhammad Al Dura? Blood Libel - Model 2000, Jerusalem
Viewpoints, No. 482, July 15, 2002, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
 Judy Balint, Palestinian Harassment of Journalists,
Worldnetdaily.com, February 25, 2001.
 AP protests threats to freelance cameraman who filmed Palestinian
rally, September 12, 2001,
 Judy Balint, Palestinian Harassment of Journalists.
 According to Moshe Maoz, an Israeli free-lance cameraman who works
with Danish Television, December 8, 2002.
 Jay Bushinsky, former chairman, Foreign Press Association, in remarks
made at the Ariel Media Conference, March 3, 2002.
 Working Paper, Israel in the New International Environment: The Media
and Legal Arenas; The Balance of Israel's National Security, Herzliya
Conference, December 2002.
 Why Israel's Image Suffers, interview with Government Press Office
Director Danny Seaman, KolHair, October 13, 2002.
 Aviva Lori, The Seaman Code, Ha'aretz, December 27, 2002.
Monday, April 21, 2003
Says it all really. Negedism at its worst.
If you're interested in Kabbalah, by the way, avoid anything recommended by Madonna, she hasn't the slightest idea what she's talking about. The one and only man to go to is Gershom Scholem, he was Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University for years and basically wrote the book on the secular study of Kabbalah. His book Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism is absolutely mindblowing. It must be read by anyone who wants to understand what makes Judaism tick. He also has a fascinating biography of Shabtai Tzvi, the 17th century rabbi who most of the Jewish world thought was the Messiah. It was a moment of immense upheaval in the Jewish world, and Scholem theorizes that it had immense and far-reaching repurcussions. Its a very long book though, and tough reading if you dont know something about the subject already.
Somehow it's better, I suspect, for a president to talk to God than to talk to pollsters.
From a very interesting article on the president's faith. I'm personally fascinated by the schism in American Christianity, with the Liberal Protestant Churches wholly on the side of the negedists and sinking inexorably into anti-Americanism/anti-semitism, and the fundamentalist churches fallling all over themselves to condemn terrorism and embrace Isael. (I dissent from the idea that this is based purely on religious reasons. I've met too many Christians who support Israel for non-Apocalyptic reasons, such as the fact that they can go freely to Jerusalem under Israel, something they couldn't do when it was under Jordanian rule.) Clearly the culture war in America at large is mirrored in American Christianity and, apparently, negedism is losing its battle with reality there too.
Which gets me wondering about where I stand on this whole God issue. I generally consider myself a secular Jewish mystic, for what its worth. I'm pretty much down with one of the early forms of Kabbalism, which theorized that there was a dualistic spiritual world divided between Good and Evil. I certainly don't consider Good and Evil mere terms of reference, but rather forces at work in the world which are as real as the Earth's revolution or the act of breathing. Of course, I'm semi-agnostic about all of this, but this is the religious POV I think makes the most sense. I do think that there seems to be an underlying order to the world that's very difficult to explain as being purely the result of random occurrences, although I despise the pseudo-science of Creationism or Intelligent Design Theory. I don't think religion operates along the same rules as science, and doesn't have to prove itself according to scientific principles. Basically, all religions are mystical at heart. They aren't systemic philosophies, but much closer to works of art.
The Democratic contenders prepare to beat the living snot out of each other over who kisses more Left wing ass. Frankly, I don't understand what the point of the primary process is. Its a pointlessly long, drawn out pissing match that causes enormous dissension and infighting. Even worse, it hands control of the party over to its unrepresentative extremist wings who can turn out dedicated--i.e. ideologically fanatical--voters. In other words, its a recipie for general election suicide. There has got to be a better way, and the Democrats had better find it if they want to win an election any time in the near future.
A First Victory for the INC?
It would seem that the much derided Iraqi National Congress, in the person of this guy, has just grabbed the governorship of Baghdad. Good news for the INC if he's managed to get his hands on some actual power, but bad news for the State Department folks who don't want them running Iraq. I would think that if you run Baghdad with something resembling legitimacy, you've just gotten a massive headstart on everybody else vying for power in post-war Iraq.
I have to admit that I don't know a huge amount about the INC. Their relationship with Israel is said to be good, and that jibes with them having a tight relationship with the DOD. Rumsfeld has pretty much gotten his way all the way down the line since the war began, and I would think that if he wants them, and if they demonstrate something resembling competence, there's a good chance Achmed Chalabi will get his chance to be president after all.
The Algebra of Negedism
It is high time that we gave a name to the anti-war/anti-American movement that can describe its philosophy with something resembling appropriate accuracy. We could call them communists, but there are enough isolationist right-wingers, anarchists, and various variants of Marxism among them to allow their more intelligent members to wriggle away from the appellation through various abuses of the English language. We could call them anarchists, but there are simply too many of them--indeed, nearly all of them--dedicated to the doctrine of the supreme state--so long as they are in charge of course--to make this particularly effective. We could call them isolationists, but they are too in love with the UN for that. Anti-imperialist might do, but they have ardently defended Left-wing imperialism from the very beginning, and the theocratic imperialism of radical Islam doesn’t seem to bother them at all.
The truth is that, as Norman Mailer pointed out thirty years ago in his nearly unreadable memoir Armies of the Night, this movement’s ideology is not to have an ideology. The revolution will come first, and the revolution will teach its revolutionaries what the new order will be through the process of annihilating the old one. This ideology of pure upheaval, without any thought towards what will follow the day after, obviously entails immense freedom of action. The movement, such as it is, can be--quite literally--for anything at any time. Any number of groups, possibly all of them with contradictory ideologies, can be brought into an alliance, so long as they are all dedicated to the single principle of violent upheaval.
I propose we henceforth refer to this movement by a single, umbrella term: negedism. The word, ironically enough, considering the movement's anti-semitic predilictions, is a Hebrew one: neged. It means against, or anti. It is the root of such words as mitnagdim, opposition. It connotes an absolute and unflinching stance against something, a perfect description of this movement, which is purely opposed--in fact, considers opposition the only means by which it can formulate its ideas--its opposition, its neged, is the core, the essence of the movement itself.
Also, note the sound of the word itself, slightly hollow, like something thunking into a plank of wood. One might even say it sounds like something vaguely unintelligent and retarded. A perfect description, I would say, for a movement which traffics in intellectual bankruptcy.
Of course, coining a word based in a foreign language few people know is risky, but half the words you read in your average magazine article are usually lifted from Greek or Latin, and Hebrew is the basis for a fair number of English words, including my own name. I think its worth a shot.
This shift in the moral hierarchy is far more fundamental than party politics. For the first time since the era of civil rights and Vietnam, when racism and a dishonestly defined war undermined the authority of our institutions, the fundamental concepts of who is to be admired, and who is not, are being shaken and reshaped.
Following the earthquake of the 1960s, honor and glory in America tended to go to "victims"--racial, economic, and sexual--whose rights had been abused. Anxious to hold on to that alignment, an angry Al Sharpton speaking in the wake of 9/11 insisted that "we don't owe America anything; America owes us." Taking up Sharpton's sentiments, a majority of the Congressional Black Caucus last month either voted against or abstained on a House resolution in support not of the war, but of our troops.
Today, in a rediscovery of courage, a virtue long disdained by feminists, the most honored are the people who give of themselves--the police officers, firefighters, and soldiers, whatever their gender or race, we ask to defend us against criminals, terrorists, and thugs. The Todd Beamers and Jessica Lynchs are the ones who make us proud, and unite us, as Americans.
From a great article in The Weekly Standard. I agree 100%, the worm has turned. The culture wars are not over yet, but a new American center is being forged, one which has assimilated the freedoms that came from the upheavels of the Civil Rights Movement, but also turned its back on the vile excesses of the anti-Vietnam crusade. The US has become a nation of neo-cons. The fringes will no doubt go on, but there is that 70% in the middle which supported this war and will support others that it sees as essential to remaking the world into one in which terror and tyranny do not determine the fate of men and nations.
The most important point is about the rediscovery of courage. For years courage has been denigrated as a macho, bullying vice, without substance or value. I think and hope that we now realize it to be the most fundamental aspect of one's character. Courage means not only fighting the demons without, but also standing upon one's beliefs and faiths even in the eye of the hurricane. The American people, ever since 9/11, have shown extraordinary courage in the face of a world which preferred to go back to sleep. They have learned the most fundamental of lessons, when you are attacked, you must fight. And moreover, that we are in possession of something well worth fighting for.
I think this phenomenon is hugely interesting. There's a fairly vicious strain of anti-semitism running through the Left-wing Protestant churches as well. I had a run-in a few years ago with a Baptist minister at Boston University who insisted that Israel's targeted killings of racist terrorist war criminals was "barbaric", and proceeded to give me a lecture about how his ancestors were slaves, lynched, etc. The obvious implication being that Israel was racist. I noted that this was a bit ironic considering the fact that it was quite clear that, in his opinion, Israel was bound by morality to consent to the murder of its citizens. Could it be that this was because said citizens were Jews? Did he perhaps consider Jewish blood unworthy of justice? He didn't like that. I also told him it was a bad idea to play the persecution game with a Jew. He didn't like that either.
Incidently, I think this guy is dead right about this monolithic Leftism killing the churches themselves. Roughly the same thing has been happening in Catholic circles as well, and Reform Judaism has been shrinking steadily since the '60s--Reform is the Jewish equivilent of Universalist Protestantism, it doesn't exist in Israel, thank God.
Why, exactly, is Sen. Kerry making every mistake in the book while running for president? He's only wanted the job since he started speaking. And why, exactly, is a man who has made his military record one of the defining aspects of his campaign skipping a soldier's funeral to raise money? And who, exactly, thought this was a good idea? Exactly?
In all seriousness, folks, people in Boston have long known Kerry as a bumbling egomaniac whose personal charm has long stopped glossing over his utter incompetance as a politician. Smart he may be, but presidential material he aint.
Amazingly enough, there seems to be something like the extraordinarily irritating push-pull of the democratic process going on in the Palestinian Authority. Where this is all going to lead I don't know, but the fact that Abu Mazen hasn't been assassinated yet is certainly a good sign. (For those of you already confused, Abu Mazen and Mahmud Abbas are the same man, Arafat's Prime Minister designate). Now is the time for the peace loving states of France and Germany to really help the cause by giving their old friends in the PLO a swift kick in the ass. I'm not holding out hope for such an eventuality, but the Bush people seem to be backing Mazen with all they've got, which leads me to believe he's got a good chance of pulling this off.
Incidentally, it should be noted that if it weren't for that diplomatically illiterate cowboy in the White House, we'd all still be talking to a degenerate terrorist instead of watching the first signs of a possible Palestinian democracy. I think he deserves a little credit from the more "nuanced" Europeans, don't you?
More incidentally, Haaretz generally drives me up a wall--they are absurdly biased--but my God their sources are excellent, you really cant ignore them and know whats going on in this country. I fully recommend anyone who wants to keep abreast of events here to read them every day. But keep a critical mind, they are unabashedly Left wing. Think of them as the NY Times of Israel, with all that entails.
Sunday, April 20, 2003
His hair is cropped short. Half his teeth have been knocked out, his face is battered and the eyes sunken and haunted-looking. His chest is covered with 50 separate cuts from a knife, his back has even more marks, which he says are cigarette burns. Two of his fingers were broken and deliberately bent into a permanent, contorted position and there’s a hole in the middle of his palm where his torturers stabbed him and twisted the blade.
Today, though, Adnan was a happy man, so happy that he could barely restrain his excitement. He was finally freed from a prison in downtown Basra, after British troops entered the city and drove the remaining defenders away. And as he took a small group of American journalists on a tour of the hospital, he enthusiastically led a crowd of fellow ex-prisoners, their families, friends and passersby in the first rendition of a pro-American chant that any of us have so far heard: “Nam nam Bush , Sad-Dam No” (“Yes, yes, Bush, Saddam No”). They chanted and danced, filling one of their former cells in a spontaneous celebration.
For the five millionth time, THIS is what Ms. Cagan is so dedicated to defending.
The last post got me thinking about a book I'm reading right now, Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night. Its almost unreadable -- I think Mailer was drinking heavily when he wrote it -- but there are some very interesting things in it. Its about Mailer's participation in the march on the Pentagon in 1967 to protest the Vietnam War, and there's a really extraordinary passage where he describes the Anti-War Movement's ideology. Basically, he says, they don't have an ideology. Their revolution is not meant to establish anything, the revolution itself is the ideology. The revolution will teach its disciples what the new order will be through the process of destroying the old one. There's no question that this is as true today as it was in '67. These people believe in nothing except the absolute, unshakeable faith that what is now is evil, and must be changed no matter the human cost. This is how they can espouse human rights and defend Iraq, Iran, and Syria. This is how they can attack America as racist and embrace anti-semitism. Because in the end all these things are irrelevant. What matters is the war against the existing order and, ultimately, its downfall by apocalyptic violence.
"You have a changing dynamic," said Tom Andrews, the national director of Win Without War. "There is not the immediate threat of going to war tomorrow, but there is a sustained threat that we are going to use military intervention in any number of ways. We have to be prepared for the next Iraq."
Just one voice from the many scumbags who are still hellbent on defending the rights of mass-murdering dictators, so long as Noam Chomsky gives them the OK. Check out this NY Times puff piece, complete with a photo of necro-communist hag Leslie Cagan, for more. These people are not going to stop folks. If reality could touch them they'd have gotten real jobs a long time ago. We need to be ready for their next move.
Western economic and political habits are not simply waiting to be unleashed by a few simple legal reforms. The real barrier to modernity in the non-Western world lies in the pervasive and recalcitrant structures of everyday life -- structures few Westerners understand.
From a very fascinating article in Policy Review. I personally get the willies when I hear people talk about America setting up a "liberal empire" - although I think part of it is gleeful Left-baiting by conservatives - but there are points in this article well worth thinking about. However, I think we need to be very clear that what we are after here is security and democratization, and not empire in Iraq.
Nevermind, its all true apparently, and confirmed by the German government no less. Check it out.
During the meeting, on January 29, 2002, Lt Gen Haboosh says that the Iraqis are keen to have a relationship with Germany's intelligence agency "under diplomatic cover", adding that he hopes to develop that relationship through Mr Hoffner.
The German replies: "My organisation wants to develop its relationship with your organisation."
In return, the Iraqis offered to give lucrative contracts to German companies if the Berlin government helped prevent an American invasion of the country.
I'm not sure what to make of this. I heard rumors to this effect during the whole balagan before the war, but I always felt the issue was more an iodeological/cultural divide. It could be that the fix was in, but this really sounds more like something the French would do.
The alert level was officially lowered here the other day, since Saddam is now permanently defunct and his Scuds no longer a serious threat. The major issues facing Israel right now have returned to the security situation in general and the long term post-war diplomatic maneuvering that's going on as we speak.
PM Sharon gave an interview to the very-Left wing paper Haaretz the other day where he pretty much said outright that he's willing to dismantle some settlements. Everyone is falling all over themselves trying to figure out if this is a Nixon-goes-to-China moment or if Arik is just posing for the Americans. I personally think he's quite serious, and if not its irrelevant because he's now effectively painted himself into a corner on the issue. He's got too much riding on his relationship with Bush to jeopardize it over a couple of outposts in Gaza that nobody wants to spend lives and money defending anyways. I'm personally against most of the settlements, mainly because they are militarily useless and cause immense dissension in the Israeli public. Young reserve soldiers dont want to risk death defending three lunatics on a hill in the West Bank and I agree with them. On the other hand, the notion that the settlements are the major cause of terror and violence in this situation is ludicrous. The Palestinian leadership made a political decision to use terror against Israel, it has nothing to do with the settlers. Ideologically, they consider all the Israelis settlers anyways.
Which brings us to the Mahmud Abbas, the new almost-Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. The guy is a terrorist scumbag, but so is everyone else in the Palestinian Authority, and we have to deal with somebody. The big question is whether he's a genocidal racist like Arafat and Shiek Yassin (the leader of Hamas), or a begrudging advocate of compromise like Muhammad Dahlan. If he's the latter, then there is ample reason for optimism, especially since Sharon has already indicated his willingness to sit down with Abbas in an official capacity, something he never did with Arafat. I can see two possible outcomes here: 1) Abbas and Sharon, with a lot of American prodding, negotiate something like a cease fire and we finally get some quiet around here for awhile. In this case, what will probably happen is a gradual Israeli withdrawel matched with the byuilding of hopefully legitimate, semi-democratic - that's the best I'm hoping for - institutions. In the end, a de facto Palestinian State will exist even before its declared. In other words, the institutions of state will be built before the state even comes into existence. This strikes me as a very likely scenario, but it depends on two things, American involvement and Palestinian willigness. Which leads me to, 2) the Palestinians return to violence, in which case I think Sharon will have even more political leeway with the Bush administration, since they wont like being let down by another irredentionist Palestinian leader.
I cant say with any certainty which of these two scenarios will occur, perhaps there will be a combination of both. The important factor is whether there is a change in the Palestinian political culture. First, away from the desire the annihilate Israel in a catastrophic confrontation and second, away from their dependance on ayuthoritarian, terroristic forms of governance and leadership. So far, their track record on both these points is not good. But there is the possiblity that the devastation suffered by Palestinian society in the last few years, coupled with the shock of Saddam Hussein's fall and, particularily, his own people's joy at his fall, may have shocked the Palestinian's into at least the willingness to try another approach. Like all Zionists I, at least, live in hope.
Alongside the security issue is the economic one. Bibi Netanyahu's economic plan is the source of much consternation at the moment. The Right thinks its long overdue and the Left thinks its Armageddon. The economy is actually beginning to show signs of an upswing at thr moment, with the end of the war in Iraq and the growing success the IDF has shown in interdicting terrorists. This Pesach weekend was a particularly good sign, the stores and hotels were packed and people were out and spending money. The tourists are not coming of course, but if things stay calm here (and there is no guarantee of that) this may change in the near future as well.
Bibi's plan is a drastic reworking of the economic system in Israel, and it is long overdue. It is basically a semi-Thatcherite reduction of the public sector combined with a tax break for the investing classes. Keep in mind that Israel was founded as a Socialist state and the effects of this are still keenly felt across the economic spectrum. The beaurocratic mess that is the Israeli government is daunting to anyone trying to start a business, and taxes here are unthinkably high by American standards. Cars, for instance, are taxed at 100% of their value. In other words, you pay double.
Of course, this is a major social change in the country and dislocations are inevitable. In my opinion, however, Israel's possible economic dynamism has been stifled for decades by its beaurocracy and this is the best chance its ever had to emerge from its shell. There's no reason why what's worked in Ireland or Britain can't work here.
Saturday, April 19, 2003
This is a hugely important issue that has, quite simply, been resolutely ignored for 50 years. The truth is that the Jews of Islam had as long and as creative a history as the Jews of Christiandom, and the same long experience of discrimination, hatred, violence, and apartheid. They produced extraordinary poets, thinkers, philosophers, singers, musicians, and rabbis. In 1948, the Arab nations etnically cleansed their Jewish communities, expelling over 900,000 people, most of whom came to Israel. This atrocity, which wiped out Jewish life in places where it had long predated the coming of Islam, has been dispicably forgotton by a world community obsessed with appeasing the claims of the Palestinians and frightened of the Arab states economic and political power. Most of those who were expelled, their property stolen and lives destroyed, live in Israel, and they are not getting any younger. They deserve justice, and no peace agreement with the Arabs will be complete without due restitution for the crimes committed by the Arab states against their own Jewish citizens, who had committed no crime other then to be Jews in an Arab world gone mad with hatred for the Jewish State.
They are also, the cynic might say, landmarks in the media’s long march to dominance over the nation’s traditional republican institutions. What is undeniable is that the adherents of this mythology have based their arrogance and self-conceit very largely on the moral capital they suppose themselves or their journalistic predecessors to have acquired by performing such signal public services—to the American public, if not to the Vietnamese. Which is why the mythologization of the war continues. As I write, I notice that they’re showing a TV movie on a cable network about the heroic story of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. There may, I suppose, still be two opinions about the wisdom of American withdrawal from Vietnam, even though, as a disingenuous reporter pointed out at President Bush’s press conference on March 6, the dangers to ourselves of a Communist victory forecast by our leaders at the time have not come to pass. But what will not stand up to even a moment’s scrutiny is the assumption that what appears on television is in any sense “reality.”
From an absolutely brilliant article in The New Criterion. Read the whole thing. There's no question that the concept the press has of itself, i.e. as a fourth branch of government, is a deeply disturbing one, for the obvious reason that the press is unelected and has no checks whatsoever on its power. The media usually views itself as the primary force for rooting out dangers to liberty and democracy, without ever asking itself if it to is a danger in its own right.
This is basically a second draft, I don't know if it will come out right, but here it is:
Islam and the Left by Benjamin Kerstein
The conflation of the radical Islamic and radical Leftist movements has, in recent months, caused much bewilderment and consternation among observers both Left and Right, who seem astounded that two such seemingly contrary and incompatible social movements should find any common ground whatsoever, let alone a fruitful collaboration. It is clear, however, that opposition to the war in Iraq and by extension American foreign policy in general has brought both groups into the streets, not merely as fellow travelers but as honestly sympathetic factions of a broad coalition. How the extreme Left, a self-appointed force for progress and equality came to find its ally in a movement dedicated to a mass return to the Middle Ages may be a gold mine for social scientists but it has met with little comment on the part of anyone within the Left itself or even among Liberal thinkers who might be expected to look askance at such an alliance.
Obviously, for two such seemingly disparate groups to find themselves in a situation of mutual sympathy, there must be more then a marriage of convenience at work. Something fundamental draws them together. On the surface, the obvious answer is a nearly identical opposition to the current drift of American foreign policy. In other words: opposition to war in Iraq has created a de facto alliance that might not have existed in other, less felicitous circumstances. This is combined with a broader opposition to American Middle East policy in general, centering on a violent hatred of Israel, which serves, along with Iraq, as a violent, emotive issue around which to galvanize the mobilization of large masses of the faithful. However, this does not fully explain the love affair between this two unlikely suitors; one of which views itself as a radical source of modernization, the other as self-consciously reactionary. Obviously, they must share more then merely a handful of foreign policy issues. And in my opinion they self-evidently do.
Firstly, both movements engage in an apocalyptic critique of liberal capitalism and the Western world upon which it is based. The Left, in its current incarnation, and particularly in the environmental movement, is essentially anti-technological. Unlike in previous eras, it has become a fundamentally reactionary force. It sees human progress as inherently violating and evil, consuming the finite Earth and stomping nature into ashes underfoot, while creating an alienated, unfeeling, and ultimately inhuman society. The symptoms of society’s dysfunction can be seen every day, in poverty, in inequality, in war, and most of all, in the ugliness and emptiness of modern commercial culture. In other words, in all the ugliness that the system has been built to perpetuate and spread. Moreover, this structure is inherently unsustainable. It is doomed to total disintegration, chaos, and eventually destruction. The ice caps will melt, the poor will rise up, the rain forest will disappear, the fuel supply will run out, and the house of cards will collapse and take our decadent civilization along with it.
This collapse, of course, has not happened and is unlikely to happen. But to the true believers, the chaos is always just a few years, a few decades, or a few centuries off. All human existence is in danger of suicide and one is permitted, even required, to do almost anything to pull humanity back from the edge of the abyss.
Radical Islam views Western civilization through a lens that, though different in its minor points, is startlingly similar in its broad outlook. To Islamist eyes, Western liberalism is free, but freedom is no great good within itself. In most cases, it is a profoundly negative attribute. One of the favorite sayings of the Iranian mullahs and their defenders is that the West is free but it lacks justice. By which they mean it lacks a moral law, in other words it lacks revelation -- the Koran. Crippled by their rejection of revelation, Western societies are forced to make laws for themselves, laws that naturally result in a decadent and immoral society, since they are made by imperfect systems created by imperfect human beings. Following the path of the decadents is, in the Islamist’s eyes, the source of the weakness of the Islamic world and the genesis of its eventual collapse. The past four hundred years of nearly uninterrupted decline in the imperial fortunes of Islam are blamed, more or less, on the introduction into Islamic society of Western culture and ideas and the loss of the true, ancient, original Islam.
A great many political scientists have noted that, when societies find themselves in crisis, they often exhibit an attempted return to first principles. This is true in a great many cases, but Islamism is something quite different. It does not propose a total reversion back to the ninth century. It proposes a return to first principles within the context of a modern nation state, in other words, the building of a totalitarian society based on Islamic law. The fundamental impetus of Islamic totalitarianism, the rejection of freedom in the name of power, a rejection necessitated by the inherent injustice of a free society, is in essence indistinguishable from Left wing political theory. Put simply, it is the idea that people are simply better off in an unfree society. They are better cared for, they conduct themselves in a more upstanding manner, they are more altruistic to their fellows and they contribute more to society under despotism then if left to their own devices. Thus, in motivation if not in the final details, we find that the Left wing brand of totalitarianism and its Islamic counterpart are utterly indistinguishable.
But to explain the messianic fervor of these two movements, their missionary zeal to remake the world in their image, one must look for something beyond this. Both Islam and radical Left wing ideologies share a universalist outlook. They are ill content to stay within their own boundaries and are constantly pushing out in search of larger and larger dominions. For both movements, this trend was present from the very beginning. The Left, even in its earliest forms, was self-consciously international. It saw its concepts as applying not merely to those who had accepted them but to all human beings. Those living under its strictures were seen as free, equal, liberated, etc., and those under the rule of others were oppressed souls in need of enlightenment and ultimately revolution. Islam -- and radical Islam takes the concept to its logical extreme -- sees itself as being in perpetual war with the unbelievers, the infidels. All revelations are false except that of the prophet, all religions not based on his revelation are lies, and, in the end, the true faith will triumph. Switch Muhammad with Marx, and you have the Left wing worldview in a nutshell. Both movements are, at their very core, at the very point of their founding, universalist movements, and thus inherently imperialistic. Indeed, it is their imperialism, their fiery call to battle and revolution, which so enraptures their followers and serves as the source of their passion.
This matter of imperialism is by no means a matter of pure ideology. It is also one of historical fact. After all, Islam was not a religion that built an empire; it was an empire that built a religion. Islam emerged from the Hejaz at a very early stage of development and, in a few short decades, found itself astride the greatest empire the world has ever seen. Muhammad, its founder and prophet, was not merely an itinerant preacher of truths. He was a general of vast and mostly victorious armies, and eventually a political leader with something very much like absolute power. The greater part of Islam’s doctrine and ideology was formed while Islam held sway as an imperial master, and the Islamic empire conducted itself in a manner no different from those of other empires. The pagan faiths it encountered were subsumed, either by conversion or the sword, and most likely both. The monotheisms of Christianity and Judaism were placed on the lower rungs of an apartheid structure, and their numbers dwindled accordingly. Outgrowths of Islam, such as the Druze and Bahai, were dealt with even more summarily. As Mohammad’s revelation was declared to be the final and true revelation, all those following it were inherently heresy. Such Islamic heretical movements were usually wiped out by violence, its followers fleeing to remote and easily defensible areas, far from the reach of the imperial faith.
The Left, of course, existed in some form before it came to real power, but the galvanizing force behind the 20th century Left was the Russian Revolution of 1917, and especially in the West, the creation of the Soviet empire as a result of World War II. The Left’s relationship to power was formed while its influence was ever expanding and, simultaneously, the states which embraced Leftwing totalitarianism were becoming ever more violent and brutal in their tactics of suppression. In order to consolidate and continue this expansion, which according to doctrine was destined to engulf all of mankind, these governments espoused a Manichean attitude towards their rival (i.e. the West), and an absolute faith in the inevitability of their triumph. It was not merely their own machinations that would bring about the victory of communism, but the will of history itself. The progress of human development demanded the dominion of Leftist ideas. Any thinking person can see quite clearly that the line between the will of Allah and the inevitability of History is a very slim one indeed.
And the Left certainly had its infidels, first and foremost among them the United States, the principal military, economic, and ideological defender of traditional Liberalism. But below this were a thousand lesser evils, the bosses, the corporations, the sell-outs, the decadent bourgeoisie -- any and all obstacles to the unstoppable tide of history. These various forces were not merely to be neutralized or adjusted, but crushed, utterly destroyed. Any modern reader of Marx, in particular the canonic text of the Left, his Communist Manifesto, cannot be anything but shocked at the violence of his language, by the apparent gleefulness with which he desires to annihilate the civilization in which he lives. No one can come away from Marx’s work without being absolutely convinced that his revolution could not be accomplished by any means other than ferocious violence, and moreover that he does not wish it to be accomplished by any other means. For, as in radical Islam, the destruction of the infidels is a sacred act, putting the heathens to the sword is to do the will of God and to purge oneself of the profane, to make oneself pure and holy by the process of doing murder. An ideology of sanctified violence cannot be sustained without a doctrine of perpetual war upon the unbelievers, the eternal enemy – those who will not, or cannot, accept the Truth. At ideologies such as this, both the Left and radical Islam have proven themselves exceedingly adept.
Neither of these two radicalisms is unaware of the dangers of espousing such brutal doctrines in public. They seek instead to cloak their inherent violence behind a veneer of civilized legitimacy, even idealism, indulging in abuses of language typical of totalitarian movements. Both, for instance, profess a belief in democracy, often using the process to attain a footing from which to seize power. This use of democratic processes to install dictatorial regimes has prompted Bernard Lewis to remark that radical Islam believes in the principle of One Man, One Vote, Once. The radical Left hardly takes a breath without declaring itself the lone defender of true democracy, but on closer examination its definition of democracy is suspiciously similar to one-party rule. This conceit was played out as farce in the Communist states of the Cold War era, where elections were held on a regular basis, with a single candidate who received 100% of the vote. The explanation given for such anti-democratic practices is, in the case of both Islam and the Left, the same: the astonishing margin of victory is an indication of how satisfied the masses are with the benevolent regime.
These movements match this abuse of language with an apocalyptic exaggeration of their own weakness and an unshakeable belief in themselves as defenders of the weak and downtrodden. Radical Islam, for instance, veritably festers in the resentments of the Islamic world towards the West. Presenting themselves as champions of the underclasses against corrupted and tyrannical rulers – and most of the secular rulers in the Islamic world are tyrants by any definition – radical Islam, much as the Nazi Party did in the stricken Weimar Republic, presents itself as a kind of counter-totalitarianism, one which certainly cant be any worse then the current state of affairs, and at least has the interests of the underdog at heart. The violently assertive form of Islam proposed by radical Islamists is no doubt hugely appealing in an Islamic world that views itself as unjustly downtrodden and brutalized by the imperialistic West.
But these professions of helplessness are obviously false, for the Islamic world is hardly powerless. It sits on the world’s largest oil reserves, which bring billions of dollars into the national coffers every year and give the Islamic nations enormously disproportionate political power and influence. Nor can the Islamic world be viewed as lacking in military capability. It may well be one of the most militarized parts of the world, with the vast majority of its weaponry coming from the former imperial powers Islam blames for its downtrodden status. In fact, the Islamic world, compared to parts of Africa and Asia, cannot be considered in any way economically or politically powerless. It problems have not been the result of outside forces, but of self-governance, i.e. the dominance of the region by tyrannical forces, each one worse then the last. Radical Islam is driven by a desperate self-pity, one that would exchange self-examination for the easy comfort of a homegrown tyranny. And it is this sentiment, ubiquitous in the Islamic world, on which radical Islam has thus far so brilliantly capitalized.
The Left, in similar fashion, has justified every one of is excesses on the grounds that is fighting for the weak and the downtrodden against forces of incredible strength and power. This David vs. Goliath scenario both demands and excuses the use of tactics that would otherwise be verboten to an idealistic political movement. Terrorism, mob violence, secret police forces, the denial of basic political rights, and mass murder, all of these have been part and parcel of Left wing governance for over a hundred years. Because the cause is righteous, the means become irrelevant, or better yet are dictated by the need for righteousness to prevail. And as in radical Islam, this is largely a lie. The Left is in no way powerless. It dominates the intellectual discourse in most Western countries and all the nations of the Third World. In Europe it has been in the dominant political position for the better part of the last fifty years, and the web of Socialist legislation that characterizes most of the states of Western Europe is unlikely to be dismantled any time in the near future. Moreover, the Left’s internationalist and beaurocratic ideology is likely to be the dominant aspect of the new European Union. The use of violence against the Establishment can hardly be justified in the case of the Left, for almost everywhere it is the Establishment.
One cannot discuss the bizarre sympathy between these two movements without making mention of anti-Semitism. For both radicalisms, the Jews and the State of Israel have become a point of coagulation, a rallying point on which both sides are largely in agreement. There are reasons for this both historical and ideological. Both Islam and the Left have historically had highly ambivalent relationships to the Jews who lived under their power and an often violently hostile attitude to the Jews living beyond their borders. Islam, for its part, devised an apartheid system in which the Jews retained certain religious rights but were in every way required to remain inferior to Muslims. At certain points in Islamic civilization Jews rose to prominence and wealth, but this was a rare occurrence. For the most part, the Jews of Islam were second-class citizens, and depending on the regime under which they lived, often a great deal worse then that. At any rate, they most certainly had no political power of their own, and absolutely no capacity to determine their own collective destiny.
The Left for its part, showed a certain willingness to accept the Jews as being equal, at least in terms of not being members of an inferior race. However, the Left certainly never considered Jewish civilization to be the equal of its own. It largely considered Judaism a backward superstition, anti-modernist and economically exploitative, and therefore demanding eradication or at least violent suppression. Violent suppression was, of course, the specialty of Left wing regimes, and the outlawing of Hebrew, prohibition of Jewish holidays, seizing of synagogues, and the like became a part of daily life for the Jews of the USSR and Eastern Europe, as well as other Leftist regimes across the world.
Both Islam and the Left view the Jews, and their political manifestation in the State of Israel, as insidiously powerful and a tool in the hands of Western capitalism/colonialism. The willingness of the Jews to serve the forces of evil is explained by the attributes of the Jews themselves. The Jews are naturally greedy, therefore they serve the rich capitalists. The Jews are haters of other faiths, therefore they seek to destroy Islam. The Jews are intelligent and manipulative, influencing the rulers of the West to do their bidding. Such ideas are both ubiquitous in both movements and obviously anti-semitic. The place of the Jews in the conspiratorial worldview of both the radical Left and radical Islam is, in every way, identical. On this point, more perhaps then any other, the two movements have coalesced.
Clearly, radical Islam and radical Leftism are not nearly as foreign to each other as some of the more bewildered commentators on the subject would have us believe. They, in fact, share so many attributes that it quickly becomes obvious that they differ only in their surface adornments. They are both semi-psychotic, totalitarian movements, seemingly intellectually sound but in fact powered by a ferocious and violent religiosity whose purpose is ultimately universalist and imperialist. Both of these groups desire, ultimately, to rule the world. Each of their successive failures in doing so has thinned their ranks but left those remaining even more fanatical and determined. Neither group can ultimately renounce their most fundamental belief, the belief in a world divided between the righteous and the infidels, and the duty they feel to do battle with those not yet assimilated, not yet placed under the yoke of the Koran or the Communist Manifesto. They are, more then anything else, convinced that they are the way of the future. Sooner or later those of superior morality and righteousness will conquer the bankrupt, materialistic West. It is, they believe, only a matter of time.
Eric Alterman is a charlatan and a fool and the media is obviously left-wing. I can tell you that personally because there is nobody really that I could call at the LA Times, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and find an ideological friend. At least no one that I know. Whereas Eric Alterman could call all of them. Let me put it this way; an extremist, a supporter of every American enemy since he was potty trained like Eric Alterman could get editorial support in those venues. Every major metropolitan newspaper in America is written by Democrats in the main. To say, "What liberal media?" Only a blind person could come up with a title like that.
David Horowitz on America's dumbest self-hating Jew. I think Horowitz is living proof of Whittaker Chamber's line that only those who were in the Party could truly grasp how dangerous they really were. Its a good thing he's around.
This was one of the most extraordinary moments in Jewish history, bar none.
True, the union has underlying strengths with which to offset America's imperial might. It is much closer to Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia and has a better grasp of the sensibilities of these regions: the French, like the Russians, have a large and fast-growing Muslim population. The European social model is far more appealing to most of the rest of the world than the hard-edged "American way of life," and Europe's long experience with transnational institutions makes it a model international citizen. Globalization, which has increased international apprehension about American motives, is in some ways working to Europe's advantage. And while it is true that Europeans today abhor war, only in contemporary Washington is this widely viewed as a cultural shortcoming.
This, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the NY Times. This paragraph is dripping with contempt for the "American way of life" and the war-loving American government that just cant grasp those delicate Third World sensitivities. Maybe thats because we didn't rape their continents for two centuries straight. And this is not from an editorial, but a front page news article. Am I the only one sick and tired of this kind of shallow, cotemptuous Euro-Leftist propaganda being allowed to strut around masquerading as objective reporting? The last line especially bothers me, 1) Europeans don't "abhor war", they just want other people to fight it for them, preferably us. 2) The US doesn't consider this a "cultural shortcoming", but a serious threat to the future of democracy. The French/German preferance for appeasement is not just an annoyance, in today's world its a disaster waiting to happen. No doubt the guy who wrote this is a Harvard graduate.
Hello to any and all who may be actually reading this. I've been off doing Pesach (Passover for those of you still in the Diaspora) for the last few days, which is quite an experience in Israel. Its kind of like Christmas, all the stores close, people have two days off work, people talk about it on the TV and radio for weeks beforehand...It brings home how unique Israel is in the world. Its the one place where Jews can go and feel not only a part of Jewish life, but a part of the larger society as a whole, and not just a tiny minority group. It was quite an experience.
Sunday, April 13, 2003
I agree with a lot of this, but not all. Firstly, it vastly overrates the extent of Jewish influence in Europe in the post-Emancipation, pre-Holocaust era. Secondly, he doesn't talk about Arab anti-Semitism, which in many ways can be largely traced to the same source. Which is odd, because his thesis is a great deal more accurate in referring to the Arab world. In Iraq, for instance, the pre-1948 Jewish population was among the most productive, creative minority groups in the world. They gave an immense amount to Iraqi society and culture and their expulsion to Britain and Israel was a disaster for Iraqi society. The same holds true for Iran, and many other countries. Finally, anti-Semitism wasn't something that developed over time due to anti-modernist trends. It was present right from the beginnings of Emancipation. Theodore Herzl writes The Jewish State, in which he proclaims that Jewish life in Europe is doomed and the only answer is Jewish nationhood, in 1890. Fifty years before the Holocaust. I think the trends Bennet is talking about are much bigger and more widespread then he lets on, they are based in the heart of European culture, and I'm not sure that Europe can divest itself of anti-Semitism and continue to be Europe in its own eyes.
"Over the past 18 months, since the Sbarro massacre, my wife Frimet and I
have grown increasingly appalled at the display of poor journalistic and
ethical values of a procession of reporters, photographers, journalists
and media analysts. Some of them have misreported on events about which we
had personal knowledge. Others have come to our home or invited us to
their studios and directly interviewed us -- and then did disgraceful
things with the material they collected. CNN and the Australian
Broadcasting Corporation are at the top of a depressingly long list.
"After a disclosure as broad-reaching and shocking as Eason Jordan's, why
would we trust anything that comes from CNN? By covering up these stories,
CNN helped the evil regime of Saddam Hussein remain in power, for no other
reason than sheer cowardice. CNN believed -- wrongly and reprehensibly --
that remaining in Baghdad was more important that reporting the truth.
"CNN and Eason Jordan are certainly not alone. From personal knowledge,
some of the biggest media names regularly, consistently tell lies and deny
it. This is especially true in relation to how they report on the
Palestinian Arab war of terror against our children. This continues until
today. It will go on until ordinary people like you and me speak out and
demand that it ends. Every one of us needs to consider carefully what we
can do. But doing something constructive is imperative."
This is a guy named Arnold Roth, whose daughter was killed by Palestinian war criminals in the Sbarro massacre in Jerusalem. I think this is a pretty damning idictment, and one with which I certainly agree on all major points. However, I question how much duress was really necessary to get CNN to essentially collaborate with the Hussein regime. I think a great many of their reporters embraced anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiments enough to ensure that Saddam probably didn't have to do much arm twisting to get them to see things his way.
As for solutions, there's only one: stop watching CNN. They now have no credibility as a news source and their collaboration with a neo-Fascist dictatorship is public knowledge. No thinking person could possibly regard them as being anything other than 24 hour eye candy.