Kids and Carter

Blogged in Foreign Relations,Palestinian Authority by Gloria Salt Friday December 15, 2006

Gosh, it’s been a while. How are you, gentle readers? I’ve been away from the blog for several reasons — preoccupation with the babies (they’re starting to crawl!), back trouble that’s made sitting at the computer an impossibility, and a new reluctance to obsess about things I can’t do anything about.

But you know me. A couple of things have happened in close succession that I don’t think I can stay silent about. I’m late out of the gate on both of them, but I can’t resist getting a thought or two off my chest.

Two things are on my mind: the killing by Palestinians of the three young sons of a political rival, and the publication of Jimmy Carter’s book labeling us an apartheid state. What drives me crazy about the horrific story about the killing of the kids (aged three, six and nine), aside from the the crime itself (which must surely be a new low even for them), is the way the media have painted it a botched assassination attempt. These guys picked up their automatic weapons and went to the boys’ elementary school, where they lay in wait and then opened fire on the car in full knowledge that — indeed, because – it contained the guy’s children. Murdering your rival’s children in an attempt to psychologically destroy said rival is a thug’s technique that we might hope went out with Titus Andronicus, but that is obviously alive and well among the Palestinians. The object was to kill the kids. If their father had been in the car, that would have been a bonus. Let’s cut the crap.

The disgustingness of this particular crime was brought into even greater relief for me by the almost concurrent furore that erupted over Carter’s ridiculous book. He seems to have made a prize jackass of himself this time, which is all to the good — he plagiarized maps from Dennis Ross’s book and apparently littered his text with so many lies and errors and bald inventions that the first executive director of the Carter Center and founder of its Middle East program can no longer stand to be associated with his name. What amazes me about the book is the spectacular chutzpah Carter demonstrates by daring to lecture us, or anyone, for that matter, on how to fix the Middle East. Jimmy Carter, with his supine response to the Iranian takeover of the U.S. embassy in 1979, is directly responsible for the emboldening of Islamist fanaticism. He is directly responsible for convincing the world’s Islamists that the U.S. is a paper tiger. He is directly responsible for the steady escalation of Islamist terror against the U.S. and all Western interests. I don’t know — his views on how to solve the Palestinian-Israeli problem lack weight somehow.

We’ve all always known about Carter’s bias, but it’s exceptionally vivid in view of his complete silence about Palestinian crimes even against each other. They can do no wrong in his eyes, and we can do no right. He even goes so far as to defend the snatching of Gilad Shalit by Palestinian terrorists, which is a bridge too far even for the most established Israel-bashers. He’s filled with horror at the wall, of course, and the way it interferes with the raising of Palestinian olives, but has nothing to say about the help it’s providing in the raising of Israeli children. An untold number of Israelis are breathing today, and I may be one of them, because the wall exists. It was obvious to all of us that the building of the wall would bring mountains of remonstrations down on our heads, but when the options are to put up with the sanctimonious pontifications of armchair geopolitical scientists with thin grasps on history, facts, or even reality or to go to lots and lots of funerals, the choice is easy. Jimmy Carter’s sensibilities notwithstanding, that wall needs to stand until we can have some reasonable assurance that the people on the other side of it are civilized human beings. As things stand now, when they can’t get at our kids, they kill each other’s. As Shania Twain says, that don’t impress me much.

I’m Curious…

Blogged in Islamofascism,Palestinian Authority by Gloria Salt Sunday August 27, 2006

Hurrah! Much to my surprise and relief, the two Fox News journalists have been freed by their Palestinian captors. Michelle Malkin has a thorough roundup on the story, from which I learned that a) the culprits were known to the authorities in the Palestinian Authority almost immediately after the snatchings, and b) they are the same people who killed three Americans in a roadside bombing in 2003. They got clean away with those murders and will obviously get away with these abductions as well.

I hate to quibble — the important thing is that these guys are safe; I realize that — but I can’t help it. Two things rankle about this.

One: It made my skin crawl slightly that one of the two captives, after describing the experience of being abducted, hooded, tied up, thrown on a concrete floor, held captive for two weeks by people who are perfectly capable of murder, forced to mouth the offensive words of the “militants” onto videotape, and then forced at gunpoint to convert to Islam, still felt it necessary to sugar-coat the nightmare with a comment about what a swell religion Islam is. Yep — those terribly sensitive Muslim sensibilities are the real story here, not the kidnapping and terrorizing of two Western journalists by jihadist thugs.

And Two: Would those journalists have been given the option of converting to Islam to save their skins if they had been Jewish?

Just asking.

Now I Get It

Blogged in Blogroll,Palestinian Authority by Gloria Salt Friday August 25, 2006

The extremely interesting writer Michael Totten (c.f. Daniel’s post in praise of Totten’s Mideast blog) has mentioned a theory floating around about the abduction of the two Fox journalists: that it’s the work of Al Qaeda operating in Gaza. This is obviously extremely ominous, and it makes a number of inconsistencies fall into place; primarily, that the hostages were not released within hours or a couple of days, as has always happened in the past when garden-variety Palestinian terrorists have snatched foreign nationals, and that the demand is for the release of US-held Muslims, not Israeli-held Muslims.

We are seeing an increasingly dangerous pattern of outside influence on the already bad behavior of Palestinians in “liberated” Gaza. Another example is the Hezbollah-style abduction of still-missing Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit prior to the Lebanon war. Not only has the withdrawal from Gaza — which I supported — resulted in just the kind of unrelenting missile attacks on Israeli civilians across the border that was anticipated by opponents of the withdrawal, but it has also allowed an apparently festering, freakish jihadism to take root on our doorstep. (And I’ll just remark in passing that if I were a resident of Sderot, I would be wondering why missile attacks on my front yard are tolerable to my government but missile attacks on front yards in Nahariyya are a cassus belli.)

These are disorienting times. When the British foiled the terror plot to blow up multiple airliners last week by using a long-term, patient program of police surveillance and cross-border intelligence-sharing, I had an intensely disconcerting thought: that John Kerry might have actually had a point about something; viz, that terrorists can be effectively combatted by approaching the problem as a police matter. The cesspool of Wild-West chaos and extremist terrorism that Gaza has become since the Israeli withdrawal has made me wonder whether I wasn’t wrong on that one, too.

Welcome to the Caliphate!

Blogged in Islamofascism,Palestinian Authority by Gloria Salt Thursday August 24, 2006

Now this is an interesting editorial choice. The Jerusalem Post has a story ostensibly about the sham of a meeting the Fatah old-guard cronies are holding in Jordan at which they are pretending to discuss necessary reforms. But graf 2 begins with a truly eye-popping “meanwhile”:

Meanwhile, a radical Islamic group called Hizb al-Tahrir (Liberation Party) is planning to declare the birth of an Islamic caliphate in the Gaza Strip on Friday.

Come again?

Turns out these guys are “more extreme than Hamas” and have been substantially buoyed in popularity by the Hezbollah “victory” over Israel in south Lebanon.

When this group made similar noises in Jordan, this was the response:

Jordanian security forces recently foiled a similar attempt by the party’s followers in the kingdom and arrested most of their leaders. Ramzi Sawalhah, the leader of Hizb al-Tahrir in Jordan, was arrested shortly after he delivered a sermon in a mosque in which he called for replacing the monarchy with an Islamic caliphate.

Abbas is too impotent to do much of anything and the Hamasniks probably love the idea, so I suggest to anyone planning on visiting Gaza in the near future to start either growing a beard or shopping for a burqa, as the case may be.

By the way (I’m posting in haste as my daughter needs to nurse) the abduction of the two Fox journalists over a week ago by Palestinian thugs is boneheaded even by their own elevated standards. Nothing like terrorizing journalists out of coming to broadcast your version of the story to win the day.

Also by the way, the name of that wacky let’s-start-the-Caliphate-in-Gaza gang sounds familiar. Would any of you know whether it’s the same group as the one to which that Guardian terrorist/journalist who made headlines about six months ago belonged?

A Salute

Blogged in Hezbollah,Lebanon War,Personal by Gloria Salt Tuesday August 22, 2006

Posting has been thin of late in part because of general busy-ness but also because I’ve been too emotional about the events to write about them very well. I need a certain degree of detachment to put together a solid post, and each time I try, I find myself venting rather than analyzing. I keep coming back to the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, whose release was the whole point of taking on Hezbollah, who have now been relegated to footnote status in this mockery of “peacemaking”. I think about their families, now entering the twilight-zone hell of not knowing where their sons/husbands/brothers/fathers are, not knowing what they are suffering, knowing only that they are at the mercy of their mortal enemies. All the families know is that their beloved is utterly alone, utterly friendless, and utterly powerless, and that this unimaginably horrific state of affairs could go on for years. My feelings about the cease-fire all come down to this: our prime minister stated as a primary war aim the retrieval of those two soldiers, and he stopped the war before accomplishing that goal. Over one hundred other soldiers are now dead, their families now in their own agonies of grief, but the two kidnapped soldiers are still in the hands of the enemy — an enemy that is busy rearming, courtesy of an Iranian blank check and an impotent UN. I can’t write about the cease-fire without coming back to those two soldiers, and as the greater political picture seems to require a broader view, I haven’t been able to write anything worthwhile at all.

But I’ve been so heartened by the conversation in the comments section. I really enjoy the readership of this blog and appreciate you, gentle readers, more than I can say. So just in case today really is the beginning of the End of Days, I wanted to be sure to raise a virtual glass to you and to promise, provided the day doesn’t end with a mushroom cloud over Jerusalem, more posts in the very near future.

Why I’m Nervous

Blogged in Hezbollah,Islamofascism,Lebanon War by Gloria Salt Wednesday August 16, 2006

As has been pointed out by several commenters and emailers, there’s quite a bit of positive spin out there about the cease-fire, and it all may turn out to be well-grounded. Lots of people view the fact that a Hezbollah violation of the cease-fire will put them, not us, in the hot seat as an important step forward.

The problem is that the responsibility for evaluating non-compliance lies with Kofi Annan, who is — now here’s a surprise — already waffling. He stated to Israeli television last night that “dismantling Hizbullah is not the direct mandate of the UN,” notwithstanding that pesky UN resolution that was just passed. Just to hammer home the urgency, in Annan’s mind, of the protection of Israelis from Hezbollah, he went on to comment that the deployment of the UN-mandated international force on the border will take “weeks or months” rather than days, as was originally expected.

So we have a situation in which we are expected to rely for the implementation of the resolution on a blatantly biased UN Secretary General (as the Israeli prime minister’s office pointed out, his insistence on morally equating a genocidal aggressor who deliberately targeted our civilian population inside its own border with our defensive response clearly reveals whose side he’s on); UNIFIL, which, despite some big talk, will apparently continue to be toothless (their hoped-for use of mysterious, unspecified “strong measures” appears to exclude actual engagement of weapons-wielding Hezbollah terrorists); and the Lebanese government, which has already agreed to throw that awkward “disarm Hezbollah” clause of the cease-fire agreement into the garbage. The Lebanese Army is hopelessly ill-equipped to overcome Hezbollah resistance, and we shouldn’t be asking them to do so anyway, since Hezbollah is represented in the democratically elected Lebanese government. So much for the disarming of Hezbollah.

There are reasons why Nasrallah is loudly proclaiming the trouncing of his “militia”, the destruction of great swaths of South Lebanon and the new international focus (however short-lived that interest will be) on his own aggressions a “blessed, huge victory“. Essentially, Nasrallah seems to feel that his not being dead is enough to characterize his folly as a victory, and in the historically warped view of the Arab world toward its wars with Israel, it is (see also Nasser’s self-described “victory” over Israel in 1967). But there’s more going on than grandstanding. Nasrallah’s Hezbollah is Iran’s spearhead, and I believe that one of Iran’s objectives is the takeover by Hezbollah of Lebanon as an opening salvo in the sharia-zation of the Middle East. (Hit the democracies first; they’re a soft target.) Hezbollah will apparently continue to be armed by Iran via Syria, and no one will do anything about it — the IDF will not engage the convoys, and the Lebanese army obviously won’t go near them either. Meanwhile, Nasrallah is busy touting Hezbollah as the great humanitarian organization that will reconstruct the shattered lives of the south Lebanese. It remains to be seen whether it will occur to most Lebanese to inquire who was responsible for that devastation, but if the thinking of the Hamas-electing Palestinian majority is anything to go by, I can’t feel too optimistic.

That’s It Then

Blogged in General - Israel,Hezbollah,Iran,Lebanon War,Syria by Gloria Salt Sunday August 13, 2006

Well, we’ve lost. A cease-fire will be put in place on Monday that
a) does not get us our kidnapped soldiers back;
b) will give Hezbollah the opportunity to rearm in comfort, thus rendering the losses suffered by the IDF up to this point horribly meaningless;
c) will prevent us from defending ourselves without being heaped with condemnation;
d) formally legitimizes Hezbollah as an actor on the world stage (their responsibility for the mass murder of over 200 US Marines at their barracks in Beirut in 1983 has apparently been forgiven and forgotten); and
e) — and on this one I don’t think I can find words adequate to describe my sense of doom — assigns the responsibility for assessing compliance or noncompliance with the terms of the cease-fire to Kofi Annan. Maybe we should all just march into the sea now and get it over with.

I’m too depressed by this to write a long post at the moment, but I did happen across a wonderful piece by Claudia Rossett at the National Review that I commend to you heartily. In it she first expresses her disgust at the victory just handed to Hezbollah (and therefore to Iran and Syria) at the expense of Israel and the rest of the free world, and then she proposes a new UN resolution. The following are excerpts:

Recalling that all its previous resolutions on the situation in the Middle East have failed to evict terrorists and Syrian toadies from Lebanon, failed to stop Iran’s terror-sponsoring and nuclear-bomb-building projects, failed to protect Israel from unprovoked attack, and failed to bring peace.

Recalling also that Israel in 2000 withdrew entirely from Lebanon to the satisfaction of the U.N., and that Hezbollah deliberately provoked this war by killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers inside Israel’s borders, and — in some cases using children as human shields — has since fired into Israel with the intent of maximizing destruction and civilian deaths more than 3,300 missiles, from an arsenal at least four times that size brought illicitly into Lebanon under the gaze of U.N. peacekeepers who have been at best passive and at times have been caught actively collaborating with Hezbollah,

Urging, lest the message is not already crystal clear, that the Lebanese authorities come clean and officially acknowledge that Hezbollah is an Iranian-Syrian infestation of their country, running not “social services” but protection rackets; broadcasting terrorist propaganda both at home and abroad on its Al-Manar TV station, thus endangering other U.N. member states; and infiltrating its political fronts into the national institutions of Lebanon with the aim of taking over the country and turning it into an Islamic state fronting for Syria and Iran,

Calls for even the worst hypocrites on this same Security Council to stop huffing and puffing their way through resolutions that equate democratic states with totalitarian regimes and their terrorist shock troops, and instead recognize that Iran and Syria today have already declared war not only on Israel, but on the entire Free World…

Read the whole thing. (Via LGF.)

Meanwhile, back on the beach…

Blogged in General - Israel by Gloria Salt Thursday August 10, 2006

I just caught this on An Unsealed Room and it made me smile.

Cox & Forkum’s Take on a Cease-Fire

Blogged in General - Israel,Hezbollah,Islamofascism,Lebanon War by Gloria Salt Wednesday August 9, 2006

Cox & Forkum’s cartoon sending up the Reuters photo-doctoring scandal is making the rounds in the blogosphere. I thought I’d link to a different recent cartoon of theirs that is (as always) right on the mark:

Cox & Forkum

By the way, Scribbling Monk has suggested that the exposure of “the media’s fakery and use of stringers who favor and lie for the terrorists” is a tenth reason to be relatively optimistic about the war. I agree. For those interested in a close fisking of Reuters’ coverage of the war, have a look at Michelle Malkin and especially Charles Johnson, who first broke the story of the doctored Reuters photo of an Israeli strike in Lebanon.

Nine Reasons to be Moderately Optimistic About the War

Blogged in General - Israel,Hezbollah,Iran,Islamofascism,Lebanon War,Saudi Arabia,Syria by Gloria Salt Sunday August 6, 2006

Hello readers! I hope I still have some after this long absence. My lovely twin babies are now three months old. The quiet on the blog reflects mostly lack of time to sit, think and write, but also a reluctance to look too hard at events outside the home just now. I haven’t been able to resist, though, and so I’m popping back into blogworld to toss in my own two cents.

Things certainly look grim, but to my mind, there are also some striking signs of light. Today is a particularly bad day, and it feels a little inappropriate to be talking positive — but perhaps there’s all the more reason today to try to find reasons for hope. Here are a few.

1. The exposure of UNIFIL. A good proportion of the hundreds upon hundreds of rockets Hezbollah has been raining down on us from southern Lebanon are being shot off from relatively small launchers. There’s small and there’s small, though. You can get some of these launchers onto the back of a pickup truck, but you can’t, say, hide them in your breast pocket or under your hat. You can’t, in other words, install hundreds of rocket launchers in civilian backyards without anyone ever seeing any of them.

UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon), which has always protested that its only function is to observe (a point it demonstrated by quietly watching the abduction in 2000 of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah), has somehow managed to miss a long-term, wide-scale deploying of these weapons all over civilian areas throughout south Lebanon. Even if you absolve UNIFIL of moral bankruptcy and willful blindness here (although I’m hard pressed to imagine why we should, considering the decades of sanctimonious moral grandstanding we’ve had to put up with from the UN), they surely give new dimension to the terms “incompetent”, “inept”, and “useless”. As we have seen, the deployment of huge quantities of weaponry all over Lebanese civilian areas placed those civilians in the ultimate line of fire. We all know the UN is not on the Israeli side in any conflict, but UNIFIL has demonstrated the UN’s inability even to protect those civilian populations it does give a damn about. Israel has agreed that UNIFIL can have a role in maintaining a cease-fire, but only if it is issued a new mandate and is given the power to take action.

2. The exposure of the cracked “united Arab front”. A top-dog Saudi cleric has just issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from praying for Hezbollah or otherwise supporting them. He has labeled them “the party of the devil”, which sounds about right. Granted, this reflects the Sunni-Shiite divide rather than any sudden recognition of the soundness of Israel’s position in this conflict, but so what? (The Saudi cleric is Wahhabist Sunni; i.e., a spiritual kinsman of Osama bin-Laden; Hezbollah is Shiite.) Hezbollah, for all its big talk about representing the “Muslim nation”, has antagonized a significant portion of that nation and may ultimately receive a good kicking from its own brethren. Extremist Wahhabists are not interested in being dragged into a mess created by Shiite heretics, and moderate Muslims don’t especially want their interests hijacked by Iranian imams and their totalitarian wet dreams. This is far from a united front.

3. The restoration of an Israeli sense of unity and moral imperative. Reacting with force to so unequivocal an attack on Israeli civilians is entirely appropriate. No one seriously disputes the necessity of taking up this fight. We withdrew from Lebanon six years ago. The self-described “resisters” of Israeli “aggression” in Lebanon, flummoxed by the lack of actual Israelis in the neighborhood, got a little ahead of themselves and attacked Israel proper, thereby revealing their true agenda. Obviously Israel had to defend itself — a point that is clear even to Israelis, who are notorious for being their own worst critics.

4. Parts of the Muslim world see the folly of Nasrallah’s actions — and are saying it out loud. The rest of the Muslim world — that is, the non-extreme Muslim world — has expressed disgust and impatience with the Hezbollah “adventure”. Editorials have appeared in news organs across the Arab world, including the London-based, wide-circulation al-Hayat, criticizing Hezbollah’s unprovoked aggression against us. This astonishingly public acknowledgement of an Israeli side of the story has largely dried up, but it is refreshing and encouraging that we saw it at all.

5. Even parts of Europe get it. Notoriously biased European news organs have shown signs of recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against deadly assaults on its civilian centers. In the first few days of the war, I sat open-mouthed in front of the television while British commentators expressed sympathy with Israel. This was on the BBC, mind you; these weren’t token non-anti-Semitic Brits wheeled in for color on Fox News. They even pinioned a hapless Palestinian roundtable panelist with just the variety of lip-curling borderline contempt they usually reserve for us. The disaster at Qana dented this support, and rightly so; but I was heartened by the speed with which there was talk in Europe about the possibility that much of the carnage was staged. We’ve come a long way from the wide-eyed credulity of the Mohammad al-Dura/Jenin “massacre” age.

6. The exposure of the extent of Syria’s relationship with Iran, and the vocal resistance to the Syrian-Iranian influence over the lives of innocent Lebanese. As Dennis Ross neatly put it, “Iran will fight Israel to the last Lebanese”. The Lebanese, rightly proud of their nascent democracy, are not interested in being pawns of pathetically backward Bashar al-Assad or batshit-crazy Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. And they’re speaking up.

7. The general recognition that Iran is behind this aggression, and the consequent refocusing of attention on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

8. The exposure of the cynicism of the enemy. Israeli soldiers put children behind them in order to protect them, and Hezbollah puts children in front of them in order to protect themselves. When the IDF harms enemy civilians — even when those civilians have been deliberately placed in harm’s way by their own side — they recognize the horror of what they have done and apologize for it. Hezbollah, by contrast, would consider a Qana-sized strike in Haifa or Hadera or Netanya — a strike, in other words, that killed dozens of Israeli men, women and children, but with the critical difference that their targeting was deliberate — a great success. The resulting death and destruction suffered by those Lebanese unfortunate enough to live beside the launchers from which the rockets were lobbed would, grotesquely, add to Hezbollah’s perception of its success.

I imagine that much of the unprecedentedly public criticism of Hezbollah that we’ve seen within the Muslim world in the past few weeks stems from a reluctance to be associated with such disgusting and transparent contempt for Muslim lives.

9. The honesty of the enemy. I am always enormously reassured when Israel’s enemies call it the way they really see it. None of this Arafat-esque, forked-tongue, EU-salving bullshit for old Nasrallah. The object is to kill all of us in Israel: to aim directly at my living room and take down as many people like me, my husband and my children as possible. Ahmedinejad, too, continues to ratchet up the tough talk, aiming not only at the erasing of Israel from the face of the earth but the destruction of the United States as well. Not even the dimmest bulb at the State Department can ignore that kind of language, and only Mel Gibson would argue that in the face of a clearly expressed threat of total annihiliation we have no right to defend ourselves. Keep talking, fellas!

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