Ever have one of those days when you have absolutely no desire to post anything newsworthy?
Yeah, that’s today.
Also, everyone have a great weekend.
Ever have one of those days when you have absolutely no desire to post anything newsworthy?
Yeah, that’s today.
Also, everyone have a great weekend.
Been fighting a stomach virus all week, while also working, so the blog went by the wayside today.
On the other hand, the stomach thing seems to have really helped my writing. Chugging along nicely last night and tonight, and intend to chug along again tomorrow night.
We will return to our regularly scheduled program when things settle down. Literally.
The Eurovision song contest never disappoints. Please click that link to get the Buzzfeed highlights.
And enjoy this parody by the host country.
Prayers for Oklahoma: My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the Oklahoma tornado.
Iran ups the ante on the Golan: Why, yes, I said “Iran” and not “Syria”. Because Bashar al-Assad is now completely dependent on Iran’s help to survive, and so, Iran is calling the shots in Syria. Hezbullah is there en masse, fighting and dying for Iran, as are Iranian Guard soldiers and officers. And the shots being called are on Israel.
The al-Dura hoax hits the wires: The AP covered Israel’s release of a report completely shredding the al-Dura hoax, and makes sure to add the news that France 2 is willing to help Jamal al-Dura exhume the body. Note that France 2 refuses to give the raw footage shot during the gun battle. Why is that, again? Because it will prove that France 2 is lying? One can only wonder. And of course, the AP downplays Israel’s side. Note the headline: “Israel, Palestinians Still Arguing Over Epic Image”. Oh, it’s just a silly argument, not a picture that accuses Israel of murdering children.
But isn’t that his job? Saab Erekat libels Israel again while saying that he’d be happy to join peace negotiations (no doubt only with preconditions for the Palestinians’ entry).
“Today in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem … I can sum up the situation with one word – apartheid. Worse than that which existed in South Africa,” Erekat said. “Today Israel justifies its apartheid by the term security.”
Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor accused Erekat of spreading falsehoods and propaganda.
“One would expect a so-called ‘peace negotiator’ to be educating his own people for tolerance and coexistence,” Prosor said in a statement. “Saeb Erekat is using every microphone to incite, inflame, and demonize the State of Israel.”
I’m actually astonished the AP isn’t leading with the apartheid libel yet.
Israel has released the finding of an investigation into the widely-publicized incident where the IDF supposedly killed a little boy, Mohammed al-Dura, during a firefight with terrorists. The evidence does not support that al-Dura was killed by the IDF.
The government review of the incident and its implications found that “the France 2 report’s central claims and accusations had no basis in the material which the station had in its possession at the time… There is no evidence that the IDF was in any way responsible for causing any of the alleged injuries to Jamal or the boy.”
The committee determined that “contrary to the report’s claim that the boy is killed, the committee’s review of the raw footage showed that in the final scenes, which were not broadcast by France 2, the boy is seen to be alive” and that he “moved his arm and turned his head.”
Charles Enderlin, the journalist who insists that his film is accurate and the boy was killed, is currently fighting a libel suit in France with Philippe Karsenty, who says that Enderlin and France 2 deliberately edited the film to omit evidence that the IDF did not kill the boy. Of course he says that the Israeli report is wrong because he wasn’t interviewed. He also absolutely refuses to release the raw footage of the incident. Why is that, we wonder?
You can read the Israeli report here. But propaganda has been a huge part of the Palestinian war with Israel. Remember the lies of Jenin? The supposed massacre that never was? This BBC news article, which is the fourth in a Google search on “jenin massacre”, still carries the lies without correction–untouched since 2002.
It’s important that this report is spread far and wide. The picture of a frightened boy crouching behind his father was an icon of supposed Israeli brutality and Palestinian helplessness. That the boy was probably killed by Palestinian fire never really entered the equation in a media that is predisposed towards an anti-Israel bias.
The French courts are due to give their final decision on the Karsenty case Wednesday.
You want to settle this once and for all? Give us the raw footage, Charles. Any less, and we know you have something to hide.
The word of the day is “irrelevant”: Pay no attention to the Obama administration follies. Your questions about where Obama was on the night of the embassy siege is irrelevant. Your questions about whether or not it was illegal for the IRS to target conservative groups for extra attention and harrassment is irrelevant. That’s the new Obama spin: Whatever questions he doesn’t want to answer are irrelevant. They don’t matter. He’s outraged, you see. The Republicans are out to get him, you see.
Upping the ante: Netanyahu puts the world on alert that he will interdict arms transfers to Hezbollah. Ron Ben Yishai tells us what he thinks will happen with the advanced Russian missiles that are about to be sent to Syria. (Hint: I think he’s saying Russia isn’t going to ship them anytime soon.)
Sure, a legitimate government: The next time anyone tells you that Iran is run by a legitimate government, realize that you are talking to an idiot. Because the religious leaders won’t allow women to run for president. Say, where are the human rights activists’ outrage? Calling Code Pink….
Sure, NOW you’re interested in the Obama administration’s overreach: Now that the scandal is about Obama attacking the media, the media is all over it like flies on crap. Benghazi? Big yawner. Tea Party being targeted by the IRS? Called them liars. The DOJ seizes AP telephone records? HELP! MURDER! CALL THE POLICE! SEND IN THE MARINES! HELP!
Iran’s undeclared war against Israel is being raised several notches:
Officials in Baghdad said that Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has given Major General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force Revolutionary Guards, the responsibility of managing the struggle against Israel via Syrian territory, Lebanese newspaper Almustaqbal reported.
According to the report, Khamenei also ordered Soleimani to monitor Hezbollah and Palestinian organizations loyal to President Bashar Assad and Iran operating in Syria.
The Russians are arming Syria with ship-killing missiles and advanced missiles that can take out Israeli (or American) Air Force jets.
And they’re sending ships to patrol their base in Syria.
Russia has sent a dozen or more warships to patrol waters near its naval base in Syria, a buildup that US and European officials see as a newly aggressive stance meant partly to warn the West and Israel not to intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
On Thursday, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that five Russian warships had crossed the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean Sea. A Russian Navy spokesperson said that this was the first time in decades that Pacific Ocean Russian warships sail in the area.
Why are they doing this? To “protect their interests”. Their interests, in this case, is to make sure Bashar al-Assad’s regime doesn’t fail, and if they have to kill Israelis to do so, well, so what? Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin was a waste of time and effort. Putin doesn’t give a shit about Israeli lives. Let’s be realistic: There’s never been a Russian leader that cared about Jews. That’s why my great-grandparents came here.
So much for that “reset” with Russia the Obama administration asked for.
The official said that during a meeting between Khamenei and Nasrallah in Tehran last month, the supreme leader told the secretary general of the Lebanese Shiite group to block all supply routes to the rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian president.
According to the report, the demand surprised Nasrallah, but he treated it as a “religious edict.”
The newspaper’s source said the directive led the Shiite group to send to Syria a large number of trained fighters who succeeded in laying siege to the city of El Quseir, near Homs, while cutting off military supply routes to the rebels.
The source said Hezbollah helped bolster the Syrian army’s situation on the outskirts of Damascus.
Iran is trying to encircle Israel, and right now, it’s succeeding. Jordan is the only nation that Israel currently doesn’t have to worry about being attacked from–but that could change. I am seeing echoes of 1967 here, and I don’t like it at all. Not at all.
Gee, you think they might have been lying all along? So much for the “we had to use keywords because we were flooded with applications” excuse.
The scrutiny began, however, in March 2010, before an uptick could have been observed, according to data contained in the audit released Tuesday from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.
I’ll need a second opinion: A U.K. study says Stuxnet helped the Iranian nuclear program. Considering the source–a country filled with rabid Israel-haters–I’ll reserve judgment until I hear someone else say the same.
Covering up the truth: The Palestinians are barring Israeli reporters from the West Bank. Why? Spin control. The article is played as a tit for tat operation–Israel limits Palestinian journalists, so the PLO must do the same.
A petition endorsed by 200 Palestinian journalists and circulated in April urges officials to limit access for Israeli reporters in the West Bank, noting that the Israeli government restricts the Palestinians’ access in Israel.
“These are journalists fighting for their press freedom by denying us press freedom,” said a veteran Israeli journalist, fluent in Arabic, who has covered the West Bank daily for a decade and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
But why are Palestinian journalists stopped from entering Israel? Oh, yeah–that pesky thing where Palestinian terrorists use the “Press” markings for cover to kill Israelis.
It’s come to this: Slate magazine is giving journalists tips on how to stop the U.S. government from spying on them. But go ahead, Mr. President, tell us not to listen to warnings of government tyranny.
Out: There were so many new applications for tax exemption, the IRS had to choose keywords to sort out the riff-raff.
In: The IRS peons were incompetent, but management put a stop to that as soon as they found out. So you see, there was no conspiracy. Also, nope, no evidence it was political. Nothing to see here, move along.
Here’s Ezra Klein, the founder of JournoList, explaining the new talking points.
“Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review.”
That’s the title of the Inspector General’s report on the IRS’s treatment of tea-party related groups. It’s not a very good title. A better one might be “How a group of I.R.S. employees created a politically biased test for 501(c)(4) applicants, got smacked down, quietly created another politically biased test, and then got smacked down even harder — but in the process, created a lot of delays and trouble for the groups caught in their net.”
There’s a pie chart, too, trying to minimize the effects of a government agency using a political test to see whether or not you got tax-exempt status. But hey, if you were a liberal group? No problem. Approved.
As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups. They included:
Bus for Progress, a New Jersey non-profit that uses a red, white and blue bus to “drive the progressive change.” According to its website, its mission includes “support (for) progressive politicians with the courage to serve the people’s interests and make tough choices.” It got an IRS approval as a social welfare group in April 2011.
Kevin Drum is trying out the “Regulations are too complicated to follow, no wonder they messed up” talking point.
Did you get get that? IRS regs say that 501(c)4 groups can’t primarily be engaged in political activity. Instead, their “primary activity” has to be social welfare. To call this vague would be a disservice to mirages and chimeras everywhere. How the hell are actual human beings sitting in cubicles in Cincinnati supposed to decide whether a group is planning to spend more than 50 percent of its time engaged in something other than social welfare? For that matter, how are they supposed to decide what “social welfare” is in the first place?
Apparently, liberal groups asking for tax-exempt status could figure out what that meant.
Like the Tea Party groups, the liberal groups sought recognition as social welfare groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, based on activities like “citizen participation” or “voter education and registration.”
But don’t worry, the spin is in. Politico has determined that its much ado about nothing. Take note of the incredibly good bias skills of these reporters:
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report leaked on Tuesday evening doesn’t nail anyone for lying to Congress. It didn’t out rogue liberal IRS agents with an ax to grind against nonprofit tea party groups.
The report wouldn’t “nail anyone for lying to Congress”, because that wasn’t the investigation’s intent.
TIGTA initiated this audit based on concerns expressed by members of Congress. The overall objective of this audit was to determine whether allegations were founced that the IRS: 1) targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status, 2) delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications, and 3) requested unnecessary information from targeted groups.
The spin on the IRS scandal from the liberal media is ever-changing, but the purpose is always to minimize what happened. First, it was just one office in Cleveland. Then it was blamed on the huge increase in applications. Now the explanation is that it wasn’t political, just a few overzealous IRS agents trying to make their jobs easier. It’s almost like they don’t want Americans to notice that a powerful government agency harassed American citizens on the basis of their political beliefs.
That this government agency is about to take charge of one-sixth of the American economy when Obamacare kicks in? No problem. Maybe they’ll just make conservatives wait longer for healthcare services, and then the media can tell us how we’re imagining things. The IRS would never target conservative groups for discrimination.
1) Syria considerations
Last week former executive editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller wrote Syria is not Iraq. The gist of his argument is that he trusts President Obama but shouldn’t have trusted President Bush. It’s a silly argument. However, as Dexter Filkins reports, Keller’s thinking is mirrored in the administration.
Like Ford and Holliday, Obama is concerned above all that the United States not precipitate another Iraq—a failed state, with a radicalized population, that will take years and cost thousands of lives to rebuild. Much of the aid that the White House is supplying to the opposition is intended to provide the rudiments of civilian infrastructure in liberated areas, including electrical generators and Internet connections. But the President’s critics argue that the United States needs to become more deeply involved with rebel groups, so that it has allies in Syria. The U.S. has few friends it can call on to gather intelligence, secure chemical weapons, or even provide a welcome to American troops in the event of a military operation; after Assad falls, there is little guarantee that the new leaders will be sympathetic. McCain told me, “If you believe—that’s one the Administration and all of us agree on—that Bashar al-Assad’s departure is inevitable, then every day that goes by this conflict will get harder, and the harder it’s going to be to clean up when it’s all over.”
Still, Obama’s aides argue that nothing will prevent the war from continuing after the regime falls. Along with the shabiha, Assad has mobilized the Popular Committees, a nationwide militia made up largely of minority groups loyal to the regime. Both forces—together with Assad’s regular Army, of about seventy thousand active soldiers—appear prepared to continue fighting if the rebels take Damascus. White House officials and intelligence experts say that much of the post-regime planning is being done with the help of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah; they, too, are prepared to fight on after Assad.
Filkins attributes President Obama’s hesitance to interview on a more substantial reason than that Syria is not Iraq. But the reason is telling. President Obama fears a power vacuum in Syria, similar to what occurred in Iraq. Eventually the Bush administration changed tactics and implemented the surge that reversed the situation in Iraq. But to the Obama administration, it seems, that the mistakes of the Bush administration meant that the invasion of Iraq was wrong from the start.
Barry Rubin sums up the quandary nicely. After summarizing the recent changes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Libya, Prof. Rubin writes:
Now there come demands for an escalated U.S. intervention in Syria, as if none of these precedents need to be considered. Yes, the advocates of involvement usually don’t seek direct military action. True, they are upset at the death of 70,000 people, with the number certain to rise higher. This is not a partisan issue. The Obama government’s policy helped create this mess by helping to build up an Islamist leadership in Syria. But the Obama administration’s current apparent reluctance to escalate involvement is a good idea, though perhaps motivated by the wrong reasons.
Noble as they may be, humanitarian motives are not enough. Strategic considerations may be mistaken. President Obama’s hesitancy to act in Syria may indeed be the correct response, but is it the product of careful consideration of all relevant factors or just a reflex not to be George W. Bush?
2) Rethinking BDS
The recent controversy of Stephen Hawking’s decision to boycott Israel, is in some ways hardly remarkable.
We know that a number of anti-Israel academics, led by Noam Chomsky, pressured Hawking to withdraw from the conference. This is typical of BDS tactics.
Adam Shay, writing at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, recounts The successes and failures of the BDS campaign.
However on the basis of several interviews this writer conducted with visiting artists, such statements should usually be regarded as nothing more than lip-service. The main reasons for canceling concerts in Israel are generally not empathy for the suffering of Palestinians, ideological convictions, or a will to punish or boycott Israel.
One reason for bands canceling their scheduled concerts after being approached or targeted by BDS campaigners is in order to stop belligerent attacks from BDS operatives. In their attempts to bring about cancellations, these operatives carry out coordinated, simultaneous, and multi-dimensional attacks on the band, its individual members, its record company, its ongoing activities and scheduled concerts, as well as various fan-sites.
Such attacks vary from bombarding the band’s website, Facebook, and Twitter pages to the point that the sites often collapse, to direct threats against the artists personally.
Granted, there’s no evidence that Hawking was harassed, but he was clearly pressured. What BDS campaigners lack in persuasion they make up for in pressure.
It isn’t just that Hawking was subjected to BDS tactics; where he lives is important. In other words we can say that Hawking is only a symptom of other forces. According to the latest Pew Global Attitudes poll, of those who take one side or another in the conflict, 35% of Britons favor the Palestinians and only 19% favor Israel. Britain makes fertile ground for BDS activists.
Of course not every British or subjected to BDS tactics goes along. In 2010 Benjamin Weinthal wrote about Johnny Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols) and his refusal to given in to the pressure. Lydon was quoted in The Independent:
I really resent the presumption that I’m going there to play to right-wing Nazi jews [sic]. If Elvis-f-ing-Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he’s suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won’t understand how anyone can have a problem with how they’re treated.
Lydon deserves credit. His statement is devoid of sentimentality but he simply (if crudely) explained the idiocy of the BDS movement.
3) The boy who lived?
The Jerusalem Post recently reported about Muhammad Al-Dura: The boy who wasn’t really killed:
Not only was 12-year-old Gazan Muhammad al-Dura not killed by IDF fire in 2000 – he was not even hurt.
That was the preliminary finding of a special committee formed several years ago by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and headed by Brig.- Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, the former head of the Research and Analysis Division of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, and the current director-general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry.
Unfortunately that conclusion is a few years too late. The lie has traveled around the world quite a few times now.
The article notes that Mohammed al-Dura would be about 25 now. Israel Matzav speculated what may have happened to him in 2007.
For the best analysis of the Al Dura film, read Who shot Mohammed al-Dura? by James Fallows.
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