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6/1/02

I wish I'd said this

Catherine Seipp in American Journalism Review:

In March, The American Prospect's Natasha Berger worried about "the serious problem of quality control in the increasingly powerful blogging world," which she also complained is "editor-free." Big-government fans like The American Prospect and The Nation seem to imagine that blogs, which are by definition creatures of the free market, ought to be pre-approved by some sort of official bureaucracy. The tongue-clucking reminds me of the teacher's pet who was always raising her hand to protest, "Miss Jones! Miss Jones! Johnnie's reading ahead again! Unsupervised!"

Made me laugh out loud. Looks like John Hiler's got good company.


On the town

Going into Manhattan tonight to meet Diane E. for dinner and. That's the neat thing about NYC: You never have to finish that sentence, because the City finishes it for you.

It is entirely possible we may get into trouble tonight. If we get into any real trouble, what with our intense political leanings and our, well, big mouths--Glenn, can you practice law in New York? Okay, then would you bail us out?

Maybe we just shouldn't take any cabs. It would be far too tempting to start a loud, pro-Israel discussion and watch the cabbie burn.


A really disturbing thought

Been reading on other blogs about thefts of various explosives across the nation. We know there are three or four missing truckloads of cyanide from Mexico. I saw on a news crawl tonight that another 700 lbs. of dynamite was stolen from a construction site in California. (Update: They recovered the cyanide. But still, the theft of thousands of pounds of explosive material bothers me.)

Putting it all together, it spells "Worry". But the thing is, I don't believe the terrorists give a rat's ass about American holidays, or the American calendar. In fact, judging from their inability to apply deodorant properly (there are instructions for the would-be terrorist in Al Qaeda documents), I'd say their knowledge of American history is less than that of a typical American high school student--which ain't sayin' much.

So my guess is that they're going to choose another Islamic moment. A humiliating Islamic moment. To avenge it, you see, in their sick, twisted, minds.

Wednesday, June 5, is the 35th anniversary of the Six-Day War. It was the most humiliating modern defeat of no less than four Arab nations: Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. While President Lyndon Johnson declared an arms embargo on the region and refused to help Israel, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. The armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts. According to Israel, by Martin Gilbert, the tallies were as follows:

Egypt: 100,000 troops and 900 tanks in Sinai (140,000 troops and 300 tanks in reserve for the second wave)
Syria: 75,000 troops and 400 tanks in the Golan Heights
Jordan: 32,000 troops and 300 tanks, 150 more from Iraq
Egypt held another 700 aircraft (combined)

Israeli forces: 264,000 soldiers (counting the reserves), 800 tanks. 300 aircraft.

At 7:45 a.m. on June 5, the Israeli Air Force attacked Egypt's air fields, destroying a third of their planes on the ground and disabling communications of the Egyptian air force. The war had begun. At 11:50, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan launched their air attacks. Two hours later, Arab air power was essentially nil.

Six days later, Israel resoundingly defeated the combined wealth and arms of eight Arab nations. The UN performed as expected: Calls for a cease-fire on the first day were blocked by India, Egypt, and the Soviet Union. As soon as it became obvious the Israelis were winning, the UN cease-fire resolution went through. This had the interesting result of forcing the Israelis to rush to take over certain areas, and can be said to have contributed to wrenching the Golan Heights from the Syrians. Only the cease-fire prevented the first Israeli march on Damascus. (The second march was during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.)

The Arab armies folded like a squashed cardboard box (with minor exceptions), and Israel won in battle the Golan Heights, the Sinai, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, which, except for the Sinai, they hold to this day.

Can you think of a more humiliating defeat for Muslim nations in recent history?

I sure hope I'm dead wrong on this one. I wonder if the Home Office--er, Homeland Security--will raise the alert level over the next few days.


He's not all fun and games

I've been linking to Amish Tech Support, File13's hilarious blog, for weeks now. The guy is funny, crazy, talented, and makes you laugh out loud every time you go there.

So I went tonight and found this letter to Adam Pearl, the posthumous child of Danny Pearl, who was, of course, murdered by Islamofascists.

And the letter isn't funny. But it is superb.

So, what kind of guy was he? Don't listen to all the hype about him being a hero and that buzzword bull-pucky. You should be proud enough that he was a damned good journalist, took chances to get a good story, not as biased as some of the schmucks you'll be reading when you learn to read, and in the end a bunch of jerkoffs decided that they could get bigger headlines by holding him hostage and chopping him up into little pieces than just telling their story to him. You'll have to decide for yourself if he's a hero or not... way too many people these days get called "heroes" when they're not. I bet you'll count the word five or six times on the sports page every day. It sells papers.

If you're interested in learning about your father, may I suggest that you don't turn to the web. Sure, you might find some of his articles and a biography about him, but the odds are that you'll end up connecting to a site that shows him being beaten and abused by his captors, finishing with him getting his head cut off. Keep the computer unplugged and just watch mommy's home movies and read the scrap book if you don't want to go from full to overflowing diapers.

Well, okay, the last paragraph is funny. (Not the one shown.)

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5/31/02

SFSU Follow-Through: Going nowhere fast, or,
Why they call it Hate Jew U.

The following is a letter from Patricia Jennings, who was with her son at the SFSU pro-Israel rally that turned into an anti-Israel hatefest. As of this date, none of the hate-mongers have been punished in any way, and President Corrigan is dragging his feet on follow-through to punish the offenders. Except he's sent three students' names to the D.A.'s office for possible prosecution. His e-mail is [email protected]. Read below to see how SFSU equates a minor insult with death threats. Or more at Tish's web site.

Several weeks ago, I was subjected to the most disturbing violations of my civil rights that I have ever encountered in my life.

At the conclusion of a peace rally supporting Israel, an unruly mob of Palestinian supporters cornered us against a wall. Chanting, "Take it down!" they demanded we remove a banner hanging on the wall behind us. The banner said, "We Stand with Israel with Hope for Peace." As the anger and hatred intensified, they maliciously attacked us with threats of death and violence screaming, "Kill the Jews!" "Burn, motherfucker, burn!" "Hitler should have finished you off!" "Zionists off our campus now!"

To our astonishment, the police made no attempt to stop them. Rather, surrounding us they created both a protective shield and a confining barrier. We were trapped, afraid for our safety, even our lives, and forced to endure this ferocious assault. Individuals taunted us saying,"chicken," chastising us for hiding behind the police. I heard someone say, "If the police weren't here we'd kill you!" As I felt tears welling up in my eyes, we sang Oseh Shalom, "May he who brings peace in love, may he bring peace unto us and all of Israel. And let us say, Amen." Finally the police escorted us away. As we left, flanked by police, we sang the words of John Lennon, "All we are saying is give peace a chance."

This occurred on May 7 of this year at one of the most liberal state funded campuses in the country, San Francisco State University. The campus police did not protect our civil rights.

They allowed the counter-demonstrators to drown the words of rally speakers with illegal bullhorns and drums impinging on their freedom of speech. They allowed the Palestinian supporters to invade the plaza while university officials pressured rally organizers to clear the plaza before the scheduled event had concluded impinging on the Jewishstudent's right to assemble. Rather than arrest the counter-demonstrators and escort them to jail, they imprisoned us and then escorted us away. Something is horribly wrong with this picture.

In subsequent days, the administration dismissed accounts of the event equating the behaviors of both groups. The account on the university web site states, "video tapes of the incident indicate that individuals from both sides said offensive words." Although I stood near the counter-demonstrators during the rally I saw no evidence of hatefulretorts from the pro-Israel participants. I did hear people yelling at them to be quiet so they could hear. Evidently one woman, unknown to the organizers of the rally, called the counter-demonstrators "camel jockeys" and it was captured on tape. She and two pro-Palestinians are being prosecuted and their cases have been referred to the district attorney. In what universe does "camel jockey" equate "kill the Jews?" Since it is near impossible to identify the majority of the perpetrators after the fact, any action resulting from this incident is doubtful.

This confrontation arose in an insidious campus climate of anti-Semitism and hatred. For years Jewish students have complained about the daily verbal assaults and intimidations they experience on campus if they show any signs of being Jewish. After a succession of weekly pro-Palestinian rallies where Jews were publicly demonized, they had to face a widely distributed poster depicting a dead baby with the caption, "Palestinian Children Meat -- Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License." The Muslim Student Association (MSA) General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) and Associated Students (AS) were identified on the flier as sponsors.

Fighting overt anti-Semitism at SFSU has been a constant uphill battle. In 1994, members of the Pan Afrikan Student Union tried to stop riot police and university officials from removing a Malcolm X mural that depicted dollar signs over Jewish stars.

Radical Muslim leader, Hatem Bazian, as a student and AS president, refused to allow Jews to run for office by declaring them Zionists, and therefore, racists. As a student, Troy Buckner-Nkrumah publicly announced, "we believe every Zionist should have a bullet in their head." After graduation, he was hired on as a lecturer in the Department of Ethnic Studies. In 1999, Professor George Frankel sued the university, claiming he had been denied tenure in the business department because of "a pattern of [anti-Semitic] discrimination" within the department. Arbitration awarded Frankel nearly half a million dollars in lost wages and a return to his job with full tenure. Despite his current claims to the contrary, in 1997 President Robert Corrigan called SF State, "the most anti-Semitic campus in the country."

As in the past, the university administration claims to be working on a solution to this problem. I am beginning to wonder.

It took three weeks for the director of the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development to acknowledge my official complaint, despite the stated university policy requiring a review within five days. President Corrigan has invited me to join a task force to study the problem, however, I have yet to be informed of a task force meeting. Administration officials do not respond to my requests for updates on the matter.

Campus police say they have forwarded my complain to the district attorney's office, however, the DA's office has no recollection of my case, most likely because the one person I can identify cannot be found. Finally, prompted by the university public affairs office, the media continues to dismiss the importance of the incident writing it off with a "kids will be kids" attitude. Perhaps they didn't count on the presence of a "real adult" at the rally.

I am the parent of one of the Jewish student leaders. As an academic, I am familiar with campus life. I have never experienced such vile, disgusting hatred in my life. I will not allow the university to dismiss the reports of the Jewish students or to equate their behavior with that of the Palestinian supporters. To do so would be wrong.

Jewish students have a right to attend a state university without fears of violence or intimidation. They have the right to assemble under the protection of the police. They have the right to speak without fear of having their words drowned by bullhorns. They have a right to demand peace in Israel and peace on their campus. Enough is enough.

Patricia A. Jennings, M.Ed.
University of California, Davis


Growing pains

My buddy Da Bear scored one hell of a coup. He sold "Back in the Day" to Salon.

*Sniff*

My little boy has grown up.

Congratulations, Bear. You're making your old pals very proud. (I gotta email Doc. He'll love this one.)

Sure. Send an influx of readers over here when I've embarrased myself by talking about navel lint. Hey. Bear. When you coming back to town? I have something for you. [WHAP!] There you go.


Meryl Yourish Comments

You know, Joe Katzman is a great guy, and I respect and admire what he's done with the SFSU Blog Burst, but I was just checking out his site and realized that, uh, he's making me look like an idiot. When the Blog Burst first appeared, he added my post about the Forward piece's rebuttal of Tony Judt, and wrote:

Forward Magazine has an interesting and related article; so interesting and relevant that I've added it to the Blog Burst.
-- Meryl Yourish Comments

It made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but hey, it's his blog, I'm not about to tell him what to add to the Blog Burst. But tonight, when I went to see what was new on Winds of Change, Joe has sprinkled throughout

-- Meryl Yourish Comments

wherever I mentioned one of the Blog Bursters on this page. And now it just looks like, well, kinda like I'm supposed to be this great sage or something whose commentary is important. Uh--I'm not. Nuh-uh. NFW. Not sage. Writer. Difference. BIG difference.

So I was thinking, just to make sure that nobody thinks I asked Joe to create this new image for me, and just to make sure that nobody thinks I actually think of myself that way, I'm going to show you what I really think about.

Summer is a-coming in: It's the end of May and I can't remember the exact day. Is it the 23rd? 22nd? Could it be the 21st?
-- Meryl Yourish Comments

The Litterbox. Did I remember to buy cat litter? Damn, I definitely have to change the litterbox before I go to bed. I hope Tig doesn't wake me up at six o'clock again, like he did yesterday.
-- Meryl Yourish Comments

Going to the library. Now the books are three days overdue; I knew I was supposed to do something today.
-- Meryl Yourish Comments

Fact or fiction? Okay, I remember reading or hearing somewhere that someone was actually collecting navel lint to make into a sweater. I wonder if it's really true.
-- Meryl Yourish Comments

Superman vs. the Hulk. Jonah Goldberg mentioned this in a recent column, and it brings up a serious conflict for me. I grew up on DC Comics, with a few Marvels thrown in, and Supes is the pre-eminent comic character in the world. But I picked up Marvel later in life, and I love the Hulk. And the Hulk always kicked the Thing's ass--Hulk gets stronger as he gets madder, Supes stays the same. Hm. My money's on the Hulk. "Hulk smash Super-man! Not so super now, are you? Hulk smash!"
-- Meryl Yourish Comments


Disturbing

Christopher Johnson of the Midwest Conservative Journal sent me a link to an article about the aftereffects of a suicide bombing in Israel. These are the bombs that are packed with nails, shrapnel, bolts, little and big pieces of metal in order to do as much damage to as many people as possible. The terrorists even tried packing in rat poison in the hopes of causing toxic scares, but the poison was apparently blown up into useless levels.

The pictures are X-Rays, and pretty grim. I'd seen some X-Rays of the metal-ridden bodies of bombing victims before, but I can't remember where--if anyone else can point me to them, please send email. I'm not done with this topic yet.


Doc Weevil teaches us how to say "puke" in Latin. Honest.

I know I'm late on the gun with this, but read Jeff Goldstein in a smackdown with American nazis. Actually, he beats up a girl. But he does it so well. More recently, he deconstructs James Lileks' deconstruction of Dr. Seuss. Don't read this one standing up, it made me dizzy.

I wasn't going to link to him today, but File13 has a movie clip that's sort of disturbing, and thus fits the theme of this post. (I'm telling you, this boy scares me. I'm starting to wonder about moving even six hours closer to him.)

Ben Henick writes a disturbing tale of growing up with an alcoholic parent. (Hint: Click on "print/find/all" if you don't want to click on the "next" link; Ben's website is unique.)

This isn't really disturbing, unless you think I've fallen for a brilliant marketing ploy, but ya know, I really think it is a brilliant marketing ploy, and John, you shouldn't be ashamed of that. Right Wing News has given me honorable mention on his list of Best Political Bloggers. Hey. I'm all for a bit of ego-boosting now and then, and yes, I do believe John didn't do this just to get me to link to him. But I will anyway. Even though I'm not really a right-wing blog, and I'm not conservative. Center-right, or sometimes center-left, John. Honest.

And my cats are now disturbing me, so I'll end here and pick up in the morning. Oh, it already is morning. That's disturbing, too. (You know what's not disturbing? Watching my stomach get flatter and flatter by the week. Time to get on the exercise machine. She said, for the fiftieth time this spring.)

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5/30/02

The Blog Burst, redux

The SFSU Blog Burst is making its way up Daypop. Let's help it along some more. I'll link to it again--anyone else, feel free.

Diane E. is promising more "American Jihad" posts. I'm holding you to that, Diane.

I spent the afternoon clearing out my inbox, sent box, and, well, mailbox. 1047 messages deleted, and I'm not letting them pile up over the space of a year anymore, either. So of course, when I logged back on, there were (sigh) another dozen messages waiting for me. It's a good thing I type over 100 wpm. And that I like to talk. Er, write. Well, you get the picture. (And if there's anyone out there who hasn't heard from me in a while and I owe you a letter, whine. It makes me feel guilty, and it works.)

My brother is over here for dinner, and is annoying me terribly, as that's what brothers do the bestest, so I'd better just stop now.


The horror that is Hamas

Did you hear about this story? I didn't. Reader Judith W. sent me a link from the Jewish World Review. I had to dig around UPI to find the original (wouldn't want some people to go accusing me of using biased newspaper articles now, would I?). Be prepared to read a chilling interview with a man responsible for the mass murder of Jews.

The interview with Salah Shehadeh was published in a Jordanian weekly. Among other pearls of wisdom, we learned:

Shehadeh said that each suicide attack costs between $3,500 and $50,000 "depending on the nature of the target." He added "a lot of money gets paid to buy cars and other services from the Jews to reach the needed target."

Please note that he said "Jews." Not Israelis. Not Zionists. "Jews." Not that anyone is expected to remember this. Oh, I know--you can blame it on a mistranslation. The Arab word for "Jew" can also mean "Zionist". Yeah, that's it.

Shehadeh said the increasing prices charged for weapons by "the bloodsuckers, the arms dealers," was another obstacle, explaining that his group pays $5,000 per U.S.-made M-16 rifle and $1.50 per bullet, while the Czech-made Kalashnikov costs $2,000 and its bullet $4 a piece."

He added, however, that the brigades were "overcoming the financial problem with the contributions of those who support the process of jihad." He said that his group has also managed to manufacture its own weapons, thus "cutting down the cost" of acquiring them.

Shehadeh said that the organization had its own technicians who have developed hand grenades and missiles, adding that these "are very easy for us to make." He said that the explosives manufactured for the missiles, which he said were short and medium range," are made from very basic components that women can prepare at home."

So good to know they're mastering the learning curve. And look, it's a Muslim organization that has found a role for women: Making bombs. And if a dozen or two of them get blown up during manufacture, what difference does it make? There's plenty more where they came from. And damn those bloodsucking arms dealers, anyway! Can't they lower the price of weapons so that it's cheaper to kill Jews? Hamas isn't made out of money, you know!

The weekly showed a close-up color picture of the bearded Shehadeh, and another photograph showing him wearing a tracksuit, carrying a rifle, and embracing another young man carrying a similar rifle. The caption said the photograph was of Shehadeh bidding farewell to his nephew, Bilal, before "executing a martyr operation."

He cares so little for his own blood, but you won't see Shehadeh strapping on an explosives belt and heading for Tel Aviv. Life is so precious for those who would martyr the young.

The militant also explained the rules for recruiting or accepting suicide bombers, which he said were increasing rapidly in numbers. He said that the recruit or volunteer "should be a committed Muslim, his parents content with him and loved by his family, that he is not the only son to his parents and nor is he the breadwinner in the family."

"He has to be mature, dependable and strong, and we prefer he is not married. It is important that his martyrdom becomes a model and incentive for others to carry out martyr attacks," Shehadeh said.

He explained that the "regional military leaderships nominate the volunteers, and the general leadership makes the decision on whether to accept or deny his nomination."

Touching. Can't kill off a breadwinner. So that's how Shehadeh excuses his lack of martyrdom.

He described as a "blessing that the Jews are from every race, color and breed because it makes it easier" for bombers to blend in with Israelis in order to kill them.

If this does not affect you with horror, you are not human. This piece of filth considers it a blessing that Jews are from all over the world--because it makes it easier to kill them. And notice that he uses the word "Jews" again. It's important.

He said that as a rule, the brigades avoid targets involving children, the elderly, temples, schools or hospitals.

These comments were made despite the fact that Hamas suicide bombings regularly kill both the very young and the very old. In the Dec. 2 bombing of a bus in Haifa, for instance, nine of the 15 victims were 60 or older. The attack came just one day after eleven youngsters aged 14-21 years old were killed by a Hamas attack in Ben Yehuda Street, the pedestrian mall in the center of Jerusalem.

This paragraph is a great credit to UPI, and should be noted. Bravo to the author, Sana Abdallah.

Shehadeh said that his organization was based on "our commitment to the principles of jihad, and our slogan is 'We don't fight the Jews because they are Jews.' We don't fight them because of their ideology, but we fight them because they occupy our lands and homes."

They don't fight the Jews because they're Jews. Yet every single reference he made in the quotes of this article are to Jews--not Israelis, not Zionists, not "occupiers". In other words, their slogan is, "We tell people we don't hate the Jews, but of course we do."

And these are the people whose front organization Zayed Yasin, who will speak about "American Jihad", raised funds for. This is the organization that he says is not that bad. Right. They're just big pussycats. All they want is the destruction of Israel. That's not too much to ask, is it?

Over our dead and buried bones, bubelah. All of them.


Looking around

Bruce Hill, who is my fiancé again (I should explain that, shouldn't I? Some other time) has a superb lesson for college students in dealing with anti-Semitic loony-lefts. Take note, SFSU and Berkeley students!

Michael Kielsky has a funny story about how he and his friends dealt with Palestinian students putting up anti-Semitic posters. Again, SFSU students: Take note. And then read the story above it, a serious story about his mother, who served in Israel's army during the War of Independence. As Michael said--his mother wore Army boots.

Random Jottings heard my request, and the entire Hinckle article quoted below is available here. Thanks, John!

Iran and other Muslim states are trying to get Israel kicked out of the Olympics. On Jumping to Conclusions, via Eristic, another newly-discovered website I need to get to know better. So many weblogs, so little time!

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5/29/02

The Church of the Nativity: Spinsanity

Reader Judith W. sent me the links to several articles on the standoff at the Church. Seems the leader of the 13 terrorists is lying to reporters by insisting that they didn't plan to enter the Church--it was spontaneous, he insists.

Except that Honest Reporting has a different take on it:

This week, senior Tanzim commander Abdullah Abu-Hadid revealed to Yediot Ahranot that the Palestinian seizure of the Church of the Nativity was well planned and premeditated. He said:

"Some ran there out of panic, and there were others who had planned beforehand to enter the church... The idea was to enter the church in order to create international pressure on Israel... We knew beforehand that there was two years worth of food for 50 monks. Oil, beans, rice, olives. Good bathrooms and the largest wells in old Bethlehem. You didn't need electricity because there were candles. In the yard they planted vegetables. Everything was there."

Also, the Newsweek cover story on the Church seems to have brought out an overwhelming amount of support--for the Israelis.

There was an overwhelming unanimity of opinion by the readers who wrote to us about our May 20 cover story: they were outraged at the Muslim terrorists who seized Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, and praised the restraint of the Israeli response.

Go read the letters. I'll try to keep this smug grin off my face.

Hm. Not working. Still grinning. Like a Cheshire Cat, actually--hey, N.Z. Bear?


More gems about SFSU

Armed Liberal, a blogger that I will heretofore pay more attention to, has an excellent essay on why "both sides are wrong" is a spurious argument to follow in the case of the SFSU events:

But there is an measurable difference between heated political expression and the politics of violence and intimidation. And it is in the nature of politics in our relatively free nation that it must be free from intimidation and violence; the other side…and there is an other side…sees intimidation and violence as everyday political tools. And, frighteningly, they are extending the kind of politics that we see on the ground in Arafat-controlled Palestine and bringing a lind of “lite” version of it here.

Random Jottings discusses an article in the SF Independent. It's not online, but that didn't stop the blogger from typing up the article. The title alone is priceless:

THE SAD SORRY STORY ABOUT S.F. STATE
How can the most liberal city in the country have its largest college known as "Hate Jew U."?

Go over and read the rest; it's great. (Wish I had the whole article available. How 'bout it, R.J.?)

And there's this blog, regarding the horrid blood libel surfacing on American campuses, and links to its origin. Of course, the true origin is pure anti-Semitism, but that's being glossed over by many, including the President of SFSU.


SFSU anti-Jewish riot follow-up

Joe Katzman is heading the SFSU follow-up in the Blogosphere. He highlights a number of weblogs that have articles concerning the riot and its aftermath. I particularly like this one:

Negation Through Moral Equivalence, by Susanna Cornett of Cut on the Bias.

There is also this article about the SF newspaper bias.

And Mike Sanders has a great piece on one of the things that led to the Hillel's desire for a pro-peace rally: The blood libel poster that somehow keeps popping up at California Universities. And on Indymedia, that source of loony leftist lies.

I hadn't intended on writing a follow-up myself as yet, but a few things have come to mind. Tomorrow, probably.


In other words

Diane E. is on a tear regarding the "American Jihad" speaker at Harvard. Hoo-wee, is she mad. Go get 'em, D.

Jeff Cooper is another voice against "American Jihad" at Harvard.

There's an online petition urging Australia to bring a UN resolution declaring suicide bombing a crime against humanity. I can see the resolution getting to the General Assembly. And failing miserably. We can but try.


Via Instapundit, this article from the Forward, a review and rebuttal of Tony Judt's lead article in the New York Review of Books. I read the Judt article, and strongly recommend that you read both.

Judt, on this note, observes that, "following fifty years of vicious repression and exploitation, white South Africans handed over power to a black majority who replaced them without violence or revenge." And he asks, "Is the Middle East so different? From the Palestinian point of view, the colonial analogy fits and foreign precedents might apply. Israelis, however, insist otherwise." But are the Israelis right in their insistence? He says, "Most Israelis are still trapped in the story of their own uniqueness" — his point being, presumably, that the Israelis are wrong. But then, if Israel does in some profound way resemble apartheid South Africa, would it be right to boycott the Zionist state, just as South Africa was boycotted? One does not boycott a state merely because of some objectionable policy or other. Nobody boycotts Turkey because it mistreats the Kurds, nor Egypt because it drove out nearly its entire Jewish population.

But if a state is racist by nature, if racism is its founding principle, as was the case in apartheid South Africa, then a boycott might well be justified, with the hope of abolishing the state entirely. Now, Judt cannot possibly regard Israel as any more comparable to apartheid South Africa than he does to French Algeria, given his concern that Israel continues to exist. Still, he does note that a new movement is, in fact, afoot to boycott Israel. He writes, "The fear of seeming to show solidarity with Sharon that already inhibits many from visiting Israel, will rapidly extend to the international community at large, making of Israel a pariah state." Do the "many" who feel inhibited from visiting Israel merit applause for their moral consciences? Or should those people be seen as so many José Saramagos, smug in their retrograde bigotries? Judt refrains from comment, but his tone implies that he regards the "many" as more reasonable than not.

He does say about some future resolution of the conflict, "There will be no Arab right of return; and it is time to abandon the anachronistic Jewish one." That is a curious comment, in the context of these other remarks. The Arab "right of return" means the right of Palestinians to return to their original, pre-1948 homes in Israel, a right that, if widely exercised, would bring about the end of Israel as a Jewish state. That is why, if Israel is to survive, "there will be no Arab right of return." But what is the Jewish "right of return"? That phrase can only mean what is expressed and guaranteed by Israel's Law of Return, to wit, Israel's commitment to welcome any Jew from around the world who chooses to come.

What would it mean for Israel to abandon that commitment? It would mean abandoning the Zionist mission to build a shelter for oppressed Jews from around the world, which is to say, Zionism itself. It would mean abandoning Israel's autonomy as a state — its right to draw up its own laws on immigration. Judt cannot be in favor of Israel doing any such thing. But those throwaway remarks and his choice of comparisons and analogies make it hard to know for sure.

As I said earlier: It's stealth anti-Semitism. That is what is slowly but surely wearing down the barriers that were erected after the Holocaust. It's as if most of the world has decided that they've been tolerant of Jews long enough. We had to be nice to them after the war, but look! Now we can pick on them for the way they treat the Palestinians, they say--never aloud, of course, no. Never where they can be recorded--well, except throughout the Arab world. But for some reason, all Israeli grievances have been declared null and void. Suicide bombers? You bring it on yourselves. Three high school boys murdered in their schoolyard? Well, you shouldn't have settlements in the West Bank in the first place. No matter the offense, it all comes down to being the fault of the Jews--as if the entire world gets to turn the Dreyfus Affair around and shout, "J'accuse!" to the Israelis.

Except it isn't her fault. I concede that Israel is not blameless in all her dealings with the Palestinians. But only she is truly looking for peace. The Palestinians still do not depict Israel on any of their maps. Their textbooks teach the language of hate. There are daily calls for Israel's destruction throughout the West Bank and the Arab world. And the rest of the world ignores these facts, brushing them aside with vague promises that everything will magically change if only Israel will withdraw to pre-1967 borders.

But there's a problem with this logic. When you have taught entire generations to hate Jews; when you have taught entire generations that Israel has no right to exist; when you have taught entire generations that the presence of Israel in the midst of "Arabia" is an abomination--how do you make that hatred disappear just because your leaders sign a piece of paper ending the hostilities?

I see no way out of the difficulties at this time--and especially not as long as European and other leftists and intellectuals continue to paint the Palestinians as hopeless victims who have no choice but to countenance the mass murder of Jews. Or by making wrongheaded comparisons to mistakes that Europe made in South Africa and Algeria. Mistakes Europe made--not Israel. But then, perhaps this is how Europeans absolve themselves of any guilt about the fact that their money goes toward maintaining both the hate factories and the bomb factories of the Palestinians.

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5/28/02

"American Jihad" at Harvard

Glenn Kinen and Matt Yglesias have been trying unsuccessfully to get Harvard to change its mind about a commencement speech titled "American Jihad". From Matt's website:

"AMERICAN JIHAD"--REFLECTIONS: These are the facts: On June 7, 2002, before a large audience of graduating students and other community members Zayed Yasin will deliver a speech entitled "American Jihad." The speech will define jihad as a personal struggle for righteousness and will not condemn terrorism. Yasin is a supporter of the Holy Land Foundation. The Holy Land Foundation is a front for Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Yasin denies done of this. The speech, therefore, will be a speech advocating righteousness by a man who believes that righteousness can include the perpetrating of brutal terrorist attacks. When I first learned of these facts I was, frankly, shocked and assumed that if others on this campus could be made aware of them they would be shocked as well. This, unfortunately, has not proven to be the case.

And from Glenn:

In unnerving contrast to those who view jihad as a cute, fluffy, misunderstood concept--to be protected from post-colonial, imperialist, ignorant attacks from Yours Truly, et al.--here's something short a graduating Ph.D. recently wrote on the subject:

'I think it is a travesty and a shame that this will be the speech we have to hear at graduation. I come from a country where millions have died since 1980 in large part because the government has declared "jihad" on its non-Muslim citizens.'

There's much more on their sites. And graduation is less than a week away. Stay tuned.


Bloggers as journalists

John Hiler of Microcontent News has another excellent article on the evolution of blogs. And I'm extremely pleased with the credit he gave me for the SFSU reporting.

I've mentioned before that I write this weblog as if it were a column in a newspaper, albeit with a more personal touch. When I write about events in my life, the sky's the limit, and I sometimes exaggerate events for humor's sake--and my readers can always tell when I'm spinning yarns. But when I write about world events, my opinion comes after reading and analyzing a variety of sources, including (but not limited to) newspapers, magazines, online sites, and television and radio. I do my research.

I learned how starting as an undergraduate reporter, working my way up to editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, then adding to my knowledge with a long career in publishing. I've spent a few years in public relations as well, so I can tell you when an article is written from the press release of a major corporation--or the PR director of SFSU, which was the source of the most recent articles on the riot. (The first clue was the identical quotes and wording in all of the articles.)

So to have my work praised by John Hiler means a lot to me. I spend a lot of time making sure I don't pass along untruths. It's good to see that recognized.


His legacy lives on

I've been reading all about the latest terror attacks in Israel and realizing that they just won't stop. Bombs underneath fuel transport trucks in a fueling depot; an explosion could have killed 10,000 Israelis. Bombs buried in the ground in front of an apartment building. Bombs killing a 70-year-old woman and her 18-month-old granddaughter, standing in front of an ice cream parlor. Hamas insists no one is pressuring them to stop bombing, unlike what "unnamed sources" are saying of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

From The News, Uncensored, an example of newsflash headlines from Israeli Insider:

Mortar fire at IDF post in Gaza, no injuries 09:00 05/20
Suicide bomber kills only himself in blast near Afula 09:30 05/20
Shots fired at Israelis near Homesh, no injuries 12:45 05/20
Increased security alert in Sharon region 13:30 05/20
Palestinian stabs, lightly injures woman in Gush Etzion 16:05 05/20
Shots fired at IDF patrol in Gaza, no injuries 16:15 05/20
Explosion in trash can in Tel Aviv 09:15 05/21
Explosion, grenades near IDF forces in Gaza, no injuries 09:25 05/21
IDF imposes closure on Beit Furik after warnings of terror attack 15:00 05/21
Grenades thrown at IDF patrol near Rafiah, no injuries 16:40 05/21

Can you imagine--can you simply imagine finding or experiencing a bombing, shooting, knifing, or grenade attack not merely on a daily basis, but many times a day, every day? THAT is what Israel is experiencing. And not just the IDF. Civilians.

A few days ago, Mike Sanders forwarded me a link to an article in The New Republic. Its premise is that American Jews are exaggerating the danger to the world's Jewish population, particularly to the American Jewish population, and that today is nothing like the Nazi era. It's written by an American Jew. Hitler is dead, he tells us. It's the title of the article.

I was going to let it pass, or possibly write a well-reasoned rebuttal to Leon Wieseltier. Now, I think, all I want to say is: "You're an idiot." I actually want to say, "You're a fucking idiot," but I'm being polite. Oh, well, there I go again. But here's someone who says it is the same:

The climate in the world of 2002 is reminiscent of the 1930´s in Germany. Once again, the Jews are being demonized as satans, devils, aggressors and racists. The daily diet of hatred and incitement pouring through the Palestinian schools and media and to the world at large has greatly escalated since the Oslo Accords in 1993. Yet the emergence of the Palestinian Arab human bombs coincided with the era of Israeli conciliation and peace making, recognition of the PLO, repeated concessions of territory, establishment of a nascent Palestine Authority, acceptance of armed Palestinian policemen - culminating in the unprecedented offer of an independent Palestinian state with a capital in a shared Jerusalem. In direct contrast to this most accommodating, conciliatory, most dovish Israeli policy, the Palestinian Arab people have responded with more than 12,000 recorded terrorist attacks over the past 18 months, against Israeli citizens and soldiers. There have been 435 murders of civilians, including babies, nursing mothers and pregnant women, and thousands of wounded. There is hardly a person in Israel who has not been directly or indirectly effected by the Palestinian terror. Meanwhile, the suicide bombers dispatched by the Palestinian Authority were hailed by Arafat as holy martyrs and the Palestinian Authority controlled media sang hymns of praise for the human bombs. Their families were interviewed on PA TV and stated how proud they were of their suicide bomber offspring. Now, Israel has finally concluded that Arafat has no interest in stopping the terror that emanates from the Palestinian Authority. Instead, Arafat calls for a million martyrs to pave the way with blood to Jerusalem.

In the early days of the Oslo process, as in the early days of Nazi Germany, Jewish leaders said that these were "only words". Yet, the massive suicide bombing which killed 27 Israelis and wounded over one hundred at a communal Passover seder in Netanya this year was the straw that broke the camel´s back. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, who survived a concentration camp as a child, spent the better part of the Passover holiday in search of one Moslem cleric who would denounce the Passover Pogrom. Rabbi Lau took to the airwaves on the night after Passover to announce to the people of Israel that no Moslem would come forward to denounce the murder of Jewish families who sat down to a ritual ceremony.

It isn't that we think Hitler will rise again. It isn't that we think American Jews will suddenly be forced to wear yellow Stars of David. But the anti-Semitism is out there. It is virulent. It is unceasing. The vilification of Jews is happening throughout the Arab world and Europe. We can see, every day, that there are forces joining whose endgame is the destruction of the state of Israel. It will be absolutely no comfort to me if I am still alive, but all my cousins in Israel are not.

Iran has just tested a ballistic missile that can reach Israel. Its leading cleric has stated that once they get the nuclear bomb, Israel's days are numbered. Last week in Beirut, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and various other terrorist organizations got together to share their goals of attacking Israel and the United States. Norway boycotts Israel. Viewers in Sweden and Belgium are told not to vote for the Israeli entry in the Eurovision song contest because of the way Palestinians are treated. Muslim thugs throughout Europe are burning synagogues, beating Jews, planting bombs, throwing Molotov cocktails at Jewish buildings, stoning Jewish schoolbuses. Here in America, a near-riot occurs at San Francisco State University, where Palestinian students and their supporters surround a small group of Jews, shout death threats, and have to be held back by the police. A fourth-generation Palestinian American boy is interviewed on NPR and says he wants to go to Israel and kill Israelis; civilians, soldiers, it doesn't matter--any Israelis will do. His parents blame Israel for his hatred and his father says he'd be proud of his son if he were to go to Israel and become a suicide bomber.

What, me worry?

Here's the thing, Mr. Wieseltier: We know Hitler is dead. But his legacy lives on. It lives on all around the world. That is what we fear. And that is what we must fight.

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5/27/02

I can't make this stuff up

I received a nice letter today from Michael Kielsky letting me know that he was linking to my site, as well as complimenting my writing. I still have that thing about accepting compliments easily, so I wrote back that I was glad he didn't find my writing pedestrian--which brought us both to the realization of, "Yeah, WTF is up with that particular definition of the word, anyway, and where'd it come from?" A quick check at dictionary.com brought no real help, but at the top of the page, there was a link that stated:

"Get the Top 10 Most Popular Sites for "pedestrian"
Powered by Ask Jeeves

I could not resist. I clicked. And discovered that first off, they lied. Eighteen sites appeared on the page, as well as nine--count 'em, nine--"Direct Hit related searches" above, including (now please, don't get too excited about these categories, I know they're fascinating, but remember your blood pressure):

Direct Hit Related Searches

No Pedestrians
Pedestrian Bridges
Pedestrian Safety
Watch For Pedestrians
Pedestrian Mall
Pedestrian Counting
Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian Detector
Children Pedestrians

Calming my pounding heart and stilling my rising excitement, I checked the list of the top search results that Jeeves returned to me. By the way, Jeeves has a rating system. It's that little gif below. It's a sexist ratings system, because it's stick figures of men. What, women can't be pedestrians, too? I think we need to get iFeminists on this. Or someone. But I digress. The number one pedestrian site has a rating of only two men out of five. The ratings go down to one man for sites 5 through 10, to no men at sites 11 and lower.

1. ** Safety Programs - Pedestrian Bikes have move **
Florida Department of Tranportation Traffic Safety Department is committed to developing, implementing, and manging a data-driven comprehensive Highway Safety Program aimed at saving lives....
http://www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/ped_bike/ped_bike.htm

I don't know what "Pedestrian Bikes have move" means; I deemed it too dangerous to my heart rate to actually click on that site. If any of you out there are recovering from heart attacks, I recommend not following the above link. It sounds too thrill-inducing.

I'll just add a couple more for your reading pleasure:

2. Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Research Page
Check out the latest information on our Website! Ped/Bike logo Hot links Read up on suggested updates to the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) for the Bicycle and Pedestrian sections. Take a look at the most recent pedestrian and bicycle safety research...
http://www.tfhrc.gov/safety/pedbike/pedbike.htm

3. Pedestrian and Traffic Issues Links
Links for sites about pedestrian safety, and other pedestrian and traffic issues.
http://www.peds.org/links/index.htm

Look! Number three has links! Wow...

That's the beauty of search engines. By using a one-size-fits all routine, you can enter "shithead" into Dictionary.com's search engine, and get not only two definitions, but this:

Not for the kiddies

This is why I love this country. This is why the First Amendment is so great. Because you can type in a swear word on an internet dictionary and find the top ten websites for that word, and discover that Ask Jeeves actually gave the number one spot a one man rating.

Betcha can't do that in Saudi Arabia.


Linking and reading and linking some more

Sardonic Views has me in his "Avengers" section. That's the comic book Avengers, not the Steed/Peel Avengers, although Mrs. Peel was a way cool female role model for her time. Makes me want to put my permalinks into cool categories, but I haven't the faintest idea what I'd name them. I'll have to think about it.

Mac Thomason scares the bejeezus out of me by making me read this Times article on what-if-terrorists-get-a-nuke. That's right, he held a gun to my head and made me read it. I swear!

My sometimes-fiancé, Bruce Hill, is so flush with getting a nod from Den Beste that he's begging Glenn Reynolds for a permalink. Bruce, the man is a gentleman. A southern gentleman, no less. You don't beg, you ask politely. Glenn, may I please have a permalink?

For me, not Bruce.

There, you see? Whether or not it works, at least I'm not begging.

File13 is scaring me again. I'm wondering if we need to check him for a transmitter buried in his neck or something. Ah, what the heck, at least they're transmitting funny messages to him.


A comedy break

All right. There's a reason for it. But I just did something that made me realize that had it been filmed, people might think I'm a bit--well, weird.

I leave my front door open when it's nice out, so the cats can go in and out and leave me alone. They mostly stay in the courtyard, although Tig has been known to wander around the area.

There's a dumpster in the parking lot of the nursing home, which abuts the parking lot of my apartment complex, which is on the balcony side of my apartment. There is also, about a hundred feet away, the apartment trash area. Flies abound in both places. The big, ugly, buzzing ones. And since I leave the front door, and often the back door open, flies come into the apartment. I really hate squashing bugs if I don't have to, so when a flying insect gets in the apartment I tend to open the back door, which faces south and is brightly lit, and the fly or bee or wasp generally flies to the light, and I close the door.

Well. I was just online, reading a fascinating column in Frontpage magazine, when I heard the buzzing of a fly. Without taking my eyes off the screen, I reached over and opened the balcony door, the fly flew out, and I closed the door. Which made me realize that if you saw that scene in a movie....


Remembering 9/11

Cold Fury has a photographic tribute to 9/11 that gives you pause. It isn't only soldiers we need to remember today.

He also has a fascinating essay about Islam:

A while back, I wrote a column-length piece about whether or not the war on terror could truly be said to be a war on Islam itself. I was pretty reticent at that time about the proposition of making war on an entire religion and not just its fundamentalist crazies - the libertarian in me simply abhors the idea of denying anyone's right to worship whatever the hell they want to worship, no matter how ass-backwards and intellectually disjointed their beliefs might seem to me. I said at the time that what the world most needed to hear from Muslims everywhere was a blanket condemnation of terrorism as a means of pursuing any political goal whatsoever, a no-nonsense and unequivocal expression of outrage over the hijacking of their religion by their so-called brothers; that the intentional targeting of innocents was wrong at all times and in all circumstances.

Well, the world has waited in vain for that denunciation. What we've gotten has been flaccid apologia, always coupled with the usual rationalizations and moral-equivalency arguments, and even so discouraging a response as that has been somewhat exceptional. The silence from Muslims in the face of suicide bombings in Israel and continued threats of terrorism elsewhere actually speaks volumes, and I find myself less and less willing to make excuses for it.

I've certainly known Muslims over the years who were decent, humane, intelligent people. How they can remain silent in the face of ever-escalating horrors perpetrated in the name of their religion is beyond me. But in the end, the relative handful of reasonable and tolerant Muslims will be the ones to pay for this silence as (or maybe I should say if) the war widens. And they lose no matter who wins - any fool can see that the worst thing that could happen to a moderate Muslim would be the victory of the fundamentalists. But by withholding expression of assurance to the free people threatened by the radicals that they themselves are opposed to radicalism they make for themselves a powerful enemy. Certainly the price will be steep as the mass of people become more completely cognizant of just who the enemies of human freedom really are.

Cold Fury's just gone onto my radar screen. Thanks, Diane, for pointing him out to me.


Remembering our soldiers

There's a government website called the National Moment of Remembrance that has a list of the number of dead and wounded from each American war, skirmish, or event, updated through the attack on the Pentagon. It doesn't include those killed in Afghanistan--yet.

It's a (sigh) framed site. You'd think the government would hire web designers who actually knew what they were doing, at least for one or two sites. And for some reason, they don't have the Marine barracks attack that killed hundreds in Lebanon. There's a "Terrorism" item covering 1980-1991, but 241 soldiers were killed in the attack--in their sleep--and the total for "Terrorism" is only 28. Why they list the attack on the Cole and not the attack on the barracks is anybody's guess. I don't have an answer for it.


A couple of things--nah, a lot of things

Allan's back with another chapter in the Dizzy saga, a cat tale I've been following for months. And there's also a funny post about er, a nerd war going on that I'm simply going to have to investigate further, as his quotes had me roaring.


You folks flooded my emailbox a couple of weeks ago, and I think I've missed answering some of you. If I did, please accept my apology and send me a letter telling me you're going to give me a second chance, because you know how hard it was for me to keep up with the weblog, email, and search for an apartment all at the same time. (Mind you, I plan on using the same excuse when I go back south in a couple weeks for the second and final leg of The Apartment Search.)


Come to think of it, did I tell you that I got lost in just about every neighborhood of Richmond? Best way in the world to learn your way around. I took a wrong turn my last day there, when I was driving to the apartment I may be renting, and discovered that all I had to do was head towards VCU, find Broad Street, and I knew exactly where I was and where I was going. I know how to get to the Richmond Braves' stadium, and I've passed Extra Billy's and Alcoa enough times that I'll never forget where they are. (I interviewed with Alcoa the day my father died. I did not get the job. And I ate at Extra Billy's that same night. Great barbecue.)


Eric the CounterRevolutionary (and I always want to say "Eric the Red" when I see the words "Eric" and "the" together, and that's American school indoctrination for you)--uh, sorry, Eric. Let's start again.

Eric the CR got a letter from the New York Times regarding the boycott. He posted it here.


Now for some good New York Times news: They ran a phenomenal article on what happened on the inside of the WTC during the last two hours, using interviews with survivors and relatives of the victims, as well as phone records and messages. Your choice, multi-page format or single page. (I am so good to you. Remember that the next time I get on a Jewish mother kick and complain you never write, you never call, I just sit here in the dark...) Oh--via Little Green Footballs.


It's Memorial Day. Remember them.

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5/26/02

Sunday on the web with the Arab News

Glenn Reynolds seems so happy when he finds someone actually blogging this weekend. I think, though, he means the serious stuff--not my exposé of European Welfare Starlings below. So I traveled into that pit of crap also known as The Arab News, and found today's editorial--quite the howler--just to make Glenn happy.

It's about justice, you see. They talk about finding Chandra Levy's body, and how the police screwed up the case then and now. (And we're supposed to believe they care about a dead Jew. Look at how they refer to Jews in the last paragraph--as "US ZIonists".) They talk about the conviction of the Birmingham church bomber, who killed four black girls in 1963. Seems they're offended that it took all this time to prosecute the guy. And here's where they throw down the fightin' words:

The final conviction last week of the man who pepetrated this evil crime, way back in 1963 is therefore long overdue. Defenders of the US legal system and indeed of the law enforcement agencies that serve it will of course seek to depict this deplorable incident as triumph. But it is not.

The bigotry that underpinned the long failure to find the Birmingham bomber and the inefficiency that left the body of Chandra Levy undiscovered in a Washington park for a year, demonstrate that America is still not a society that has earned the right to preach to the rest of the world. America’s reaction to its own terrible bombing wounds was an hysterical and bigoted attack upon anyone in the country of Arab origin. America’s onslaught against international terrorism, continues to focus exclusively upon the Muslim world, while ignoring the terrorism visited on the Palestinians by the Israelis.

In 1963, it was four little black girls who perished by a white bigot’s bomb. Had they been Arab children and the bomber a US Zionist, would their killer have been brought to justice, even by now, or indeed ever ?

Liar, liar, pants on fire! Like this quote? "America’s reaction to its own terrible bombing wounds was an hysterical and bigoted attack upon anyone in the country of Arab origin." Yeah, that's why Christian and Jewish women in cities and suburbs with large Muslim populations donned headscarves and escorted their neighbors to the supermarkets. Because we were perpetuating hysterical and bigoted attacks on them, forcing them to buy food for their families. The horror! That's why George Bush said on national television not to blame American Muslims for the attacks on the World Trade Center. The bastard! How dare he speak such inflammatory words?

You like this line? "America is still not a society that has earned the right to preach to the rest of the world." Uh, yeah, we have. While we were fighting Nazis in WWII, the Arabs were allying with them. The Muslim world is full of examples of mob violence against non-Muslims, and has, in fact, brought two nations to the brink of nuclear war even as I write this. The Arabs were client states of the Soviet Union after the fall of Nazi Germany, and have learned and practiced only violence since then. Need we point out yet again that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East? And that even Arabs get to vote in Israel? They don't get to vote in Saudi Arabia. Or Iraq.

How's this for a compliment from Saudi Arabia's Dictator-sponsored (it ain't a government if you didn't vote for it) daily newspaper? "In 1963, it was four little black girls who perished by a white bigot’s bomb. Had they been Arab children and the bomber a US Zionist, would their killer have been brought to justice, even by now, or indeed ever?"

Let's be honest, here. Even in 1963, it would have been Jewish children and an Arab bomber, but hey, why quibble? It would also have been Jewish children and an Arab bomber in 1973, 1983, 1993, and 2002. But if it had been the reverse, yeah, asshole. They would have been brought to justice. American justice--you know, that thing with the evidence and the juries and the ability to confront witnesses against you--unlike that Muslim justice known as shari'a that is practiced throughout the Arab world. Stoned any adulterers lately? Cut off the hands of any thieves? Shot any "collaborators" in the West Bank lately and dragged their bodies through the streets?

Uh-huh.

Arab justice is a contradiction in terms. And we bring you this, our latest message, from Saudi Arabia--our partners in peace.


Birds of a feather

Just as I was beginning to think there would be absolutely nothing to write about (I'm ignoring current events today), a horrid shrieking of the bird variety arose from outside my balcony. One of my neighbors threw a generous amount of bread down this morning; birds have been at it all day. But this particularly raucous chorus got me interested, so out I went, and saw a group of starlings, some sparrows, and some largeish brown birds that for some reason were hanging with the starlings. As I watched, the brown birds--which seemed larger than the starlings, but are probably about the same size--all stood still with their bills open and shrieked in that awful, raspy noise that gives the lie to the notion that all birds sound delightful. (Said notion which should have been put to bed the first time you ever heard, say, a bluejay.)

So I dug out my bird book, and went to the starling page, and discovered that those brown birds are juvenile starlings. And I kept watching, fascinated, as the juveniles, who were perfectly capable of both flying and feeding themselves, stood in the parking lot with their bills open, shrieking, while Mom and Dad Starling actually fed them, although once or twice I did see a juvenile pick up a piece of bread--only to drop it as Mom or Dad pushed another piece down its throat.

The interesting thing about all of this? The starlings were imported from Europe. Kinda makes you laugh at the symbolism of perfectly capable creatures refusing to lift a finger--er, wing--to feed themselves. The European welfare state in my own back yard, so to speak.

Oh, stop. Like you thought there wasn't going to be a punchline, and that it wasn't going to be insulting. You know me better than that.


I think I should be worried

Yesterday afternoon, I heard the telltale sound of police officers' walkie-talkies. I looked outside and saw four policemen in the parking lot behind my building. One of them had a bloodhound. I had been working in the kitchen for the previous hour and hadn't heard anything since, oh, the sirens and the crash about two hours before. While I did look vainly out the window at the time and wonder if I wanted to rubberneck, I ultimately realized that there might be blood and screaming, and so I shrugged and returned to catching up on a week's worth of blogs and mail.

But I must admit, the bloodhound really threw me. Especially since I saw him get excited near the corner of the fence and watched an overweight cop jump a chain-link fence and nearly break it (they really aren't meant to be climbed by fat men). Let me tell you, I was glad that I had cornered the cats earlier and made them come inside and then drugged them to keep them from annoying me (catnip, people, get a grip!). Because I locked the door after getting the cats in. And the doors--including the balcony door--have been locked ever since.

The police left shortly thereafter, but the bloodhound is still bothering me. This is Montclair. This is urban/suburban New Jersey. This ain't Little Nameless Town, Alabama, where they still have guys working on the chain gang. (Okay, I know, I'm exaggerating, but bear with me, it fits the tone of the blog.) I didn't even know we had bloodhounds here.

Who were they looking for, and what did he do? That's what's bothering me. But even more worrisome--where is he now?


Lee Ann at Spinsters links to an absolutely hilarious column in NRO about book reviews and reviewers. Even if you're not literary, you'll love it. If you're a fan of The New York Times Book Review, you're going to be on the floor.

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Last week's blogs are archived. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary is also a good bet if you've never been here before.

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