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The BBC: another kind of bias

I normally don't read BBC stories. They are virulently anti-Israel and pretend they are not; my blood pressure can only take so many media outlets calmly discussing the deaths of Jews as the result of Israeli actions. I generally reserve that outrage for Arab papers, where I fully expect it and so can read it without blowing three or four fuses.

Then I found this BBC analysis of the firing of Qassam rockets by terrorists at Israeli towns.

Qassam-2 rocket: Fearsome yet ineffective
By Tarik Kafala

Though rudimentary and ineffective, Hamas' Qassam-2 rocket is seen by Israel as a very serious threat.

The rockets that are being fired regularly into Israeli towns haven't killed anyone yet, so they shouldn't be taken as a serious threat. Sure. How about I send a couple of homemade mortars into the BBC offices on a regular basis, not hitting anyone, but making the employees run for shelter, sending shrapnel into anyone unfortunate enough to be outside when they hit, and damaging buildings and cars on a regular basis? Would that be all right?

In theory, the rocket brings Israeli population centres into the range of Hamas - just as Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon were able to target towns and villages in northern Israel.

Yet the rocket, first used in February 2002 against a target inside Israel, has caused very few casualties and very little damage. One estimate suggests that in approximately 2,000 firings of the rocket no-one has been killed.

The theory has been proven. Ashkelon is five and a half miles away from the Gaza Strip, has a population of more than 100,000, and, oh yeah—there's a large electric plant in the city.

Ynet reports that a large electric plant that can be clearly seen from Gaza is also located in the industrial zone. The rocket fell a few hundred meters from a storage facility of the Eilat-Ashkelon gas pipeline. There are hundreds of tons of gas and gasoline stored in the facility.

Back to the BBC article:

For their own reasons, Israel and Hamas seem to be playing up the danger that the rocket poses - Hamas can trumpet its military effectiveness and Israel has further arguments to justify its raids into Gaza and the West Bank and its policy of liquidating Hamas members.

This one doesn't pass the moral equivalency smell test. Once again, would the reporter please volunteer to stand in the target zone for one of these qassam rockets and tell us the results of that test? In the above paragraph, the reporter states that Hamas has sent more than 2,000 rockets into Israeli cities. 2,000 rocket attacks. What other nation would stand for 2,000 missiles falling on her cities without razing to the ground the attackers and their helpers?

Israel uses these attacks to justify incursions into the territories and the liquidations of terrorists? Hello, it is proper justification. It's an effing act of war to shoot rockets at cities.

Israeli officials say the firing of Qassam-2 rockets by Hamas is a "red line" that will solicit a severe response.

On Thursday, four Qassam-2 rockets were fired into Israel from northern Gaza. As usual it caused no casualties or damage.

Notice how cavalierly the reporter describes the fall of an explosive rocket into a populated urban area. "As usual." Like the terrorists are just kids shooting off firecrackers.

For the first time though, a Qassam-2 reached a major Israeli town, landing near an industrial estate in the costal town of Ashkelon. This was the furthest north into Israel the rocket has reached.

So because Sderot, which is only a small town, isn't a major population center, it's okay to fire rockets into it at will?

Soon after a member of Hamas' military wing was killed and three others injured by missiles fired from an Israeli Apache helicopter.

Eight Israeli tanks and two armoured personnel carriers moved into northern Gaza and levelled shrubbery the Israelis believe was used to hide the militants who fired the rocket.

Until the end of June, Israeli forces had occupied the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, officially in order to prevent Hamas from firing their rockets.

And there weren't any rockets fired from there. Are we seeing a pattern here?

Reports describe widespread destruction in the town. Dozens of homes were levelled, factories torn down and vegetation pulled up.

Palestinians say this tactic has a dual purpose. It reduces the cover available to Hamas militants firing the rockets. It also makes part of the cost of the firing of the Qassam-2 payable by ordinary Palestinians.

Does the word "duh" mean anything to you?

Strategy unchanged

Hamas' deployment of the Qassam-2 was expected to change the nature of its operations. Its ineffectiveness has meant that there has been no strategic shift and Hamas still depends on suicide bombings.

If the missile is used and deployed effectively by Hamas, Ashkelon would be in easy range of Gaza and Tel Aviv in range of the West Bank.

Do I detect a wistfulness in that last paragraph?

For groups such as Hamas, the example of Hezbollah is a very compelling one.

Which example, the one where they recently killed a boy with their rockets?

Hezbollah drove Israel out of southern Lebanon through a combination of inflicting heavy casualties on the Israeli army and Katyusha rocket attacks on Israeli towns and villages.

Oh, that example. So here the BBC points out that Hamas is trying to drive the Israelis out of—Israel. And yet, there are many European nations who refuse to acknowledge that this goal makes them terrorists.

The Qassam-2 has, according to the Israeli army, a range of 10 to 12 kilometres (six to seven miles).

The rocket is launched from a pipe roughly a metre (yard) long and 120 millimetres wide using an explosive charge of four to six kilograms.

By most standards the Qassam-2 is a very primitive weapon. However, the rocket's ease of assembly and low cost are part of its appeal.

A rock is a primitive weapon, too. And it's low-cost. But a rock can kill.

It is believed that the Qassam-2 can be launched by a timer, allowing Hamas militants to avoid being hit by the Israeli response to the launching of the rocket.

Yet another example of the cowardice of terrorists. And yet another example of a one-sided, biased piece of trash by an anti-Israel media source.

No other nation would stand for 2,000 rockets fired into her towns. Yet Israel is expected to withstand attacks both by terrorists and by Syrian-occupied Lebanon. (Note that after the IAF buzzed Baby Assad's summer retreat, the Hezbullah shelling stopped. Funny, that, after being told they have no control over Hezbullah in Lebanon.)

I have one question: Why?

Why is Israel expected to allow terrorists to send rocket-based bombs into her cities without any retaliation? Why? Please, explain to me how this is considered an acceptable behavior for Israel's enemies, but an act of war when done to any other nation on earth?

Just imagine some crazy, nationalistic group in Mexico shelling Texas border towns because the United States "stole" Texas from Mexico and they want it back. Just imagine the reaction, even if they "caused very few casualties and very little damage." You'd have the U.S. Army responding so fast the world wouldn't have a chance to catch its breath.

But Israel is supposed to sit and take missiles fired into her towns and cities.


The world simply cannot stand it when Jews defend themselves, instead of lying down meekly and letting the pogroms commence. The words "Never again" mean exactly that.



The marriage requirements have changed

Icky, disgusting cricket that used to be in my kitchenI am really, really, really, really tired of having to deal with disgusting-looking bugs. I'm nowhere near as squeamish as some women, but damn, I am so tired of finding creatures like this in my kitchen, or the dining room, or pieces of them all over the living room (my cats purely love to chase crickets, and I see cricket legs all over before finally finding the body lying dead somewhere).

So I've changed my requirements for a husband. Forget about a decent job, forget about the brains, forget the gentle temperament, forget about being Jewish, never mind the hairy chest (okay, that one was always preferred but not a requirement). I am going to marry the next man who says he'll get rid of the goddamned bugs in my home on a regular basis. Always. Any time of the day or night, immediately, and without fuss or complaint.

Because I am effing sick of having to do it myself with things like these.

Somebody help me. And no, don't suggest Tom DeLay. I don't care if he used to be an exterminator. I still have some standards.

Keystone Kops Kassam Kaper

Only yesterday, the PA insisted its policemen chased the terrorists who sent a qassam rocket five and a half miles into a large Israeli city.

Palestinian police said they had chased the men who fired the missiles from the northern Gaza Strip and opened fire on them, but could not apprehend them.

Today, the report on what the IDF found when they leveled the trees from which the rocket came (by the way, expect more ISM whining on how Israel deliberately destroys palestinian olive trees while neglecting to point out that terrorists launch attacks from olive groves):

Early Friday, a military engineering corps drove four bulldozers into the edge of northern Gaza, and, under the protection of five battle tanks, cleared brush and orchards that the military says is used as cover for militants firing homemade rockets into Israel.

The military said that the force found the abandoned launcher that was used to fire Thursday's rocket just 15 meters away from a Palestinian police post.

Fifteen meters from a police station. Fifteen meters. A little more than 15 yards from the police station.

So, you figure the shooter was a palestinian "police" officer, or you figure they were all hanging out the windows cheering him on?

Perhaps the IDF should check the police station for more rockets.

Feminists are born, not made

Bigwig's daughter is a feminist. At the age of three.

I have not yet determined whether she is resentful.

Why priests make lousy judges

This is a sign on a local church reflecting, I assume, the parishioners' (or at least the priest's) opinion on the Alabama Ten Commandments brouhaha:

The church misses the point

They have completely missed the point of the ruling. Nobody was attempting to overrule God, unless the Bethlehem Baptist Church is under the impression that Roy Moore is God (which may be what Judge Moore thinks, but definitely not the rest of us).

Anyway, Case Number 14,571 on why we need to keep the Church separate from the State. Priests make lousy judges. And their signmaking capabilities are arguable.

Update: Mary C. points out to me that it's mostly ministers and preachers making the fuss over the removal of the Ten Commandments statue, not Catholic priests. The reason I used the word "priest" is because I tend to think of ministers and preachers as priests. Er, hopefully not in a stereotypical "they all preach alike to me" way, rather, because, well, it's generally the first word that comes to mind when I think of Christian religious leaders. I know there are major distinctions between the three, but y'know, a rabbi is a rabbi is a rabbi, and one tends to think the way one was brought up.



Cute kids and crypts

Today was probably the last day I'll have the chance to go to the Farmer's Market with Sarah and the twins, which may be why we detoured to Hollywood Cemetery on the way home. We drove around and marveled at the various tombstones and monuments (found proof of the Zionist conspiracy, but those pictures will have to wait for another time), then found a crypt overlooking the James, where we assumed people with a lot of money were buried. It's a beautiful structure, tall, light, airy, with stained glass windows, and the kids loved it. I have pictures of Rebecca being too cute for words, and Max matching her. The two of them were fascinated with the windows.

Rebecca at the window Max at the window

Not nearly as fascinated, however, with the train filled with coal that rested on the tracks below, next to the James. I don't believe I took a picture of that, as I'm rather less fascinated with trains than is Max. And that part of the James wasn't all that scenic. Low river, lots of rocks, move along, nothing to see.

If I get some more time later, I'll put up a full image of the crypt. It's quite lovely. And I'll also put up the images of Jeff Davis' memorials, so someone tell Tom Paine to make sure he takes his blood pressure medication before coming here. (If you think the monument was bad, Tom, wait 'til you read the words on the memorial.)

Tonight, it's off to the Chesterfield County Fair with still more children, albeit of the older variety. We're going on a search-and-destroy mission for Funnel Cakes, among other things. Last year, we declined to sample the deep-fried Snickers bars. (Ew.)

More results of the shudna

The pals sent a rocket into Ashkelon. Ashkelon is part of Israel proper. It is five and a half miles north of the Gaza Strip. As predicted, the terrorists spent their time during the "cease-fire" improving their weaponry.

An Israeli military source said the missile that landed in Ashkelon had a range of 9km.

"We have seen a very alarming escalation in the last six days, with the firing of over 55 mortars and 14 Kassam rockets," he said.

They've been busy little terrorists.

Also Thursday, Border Police sappers defused two large bombs with a combined 120 kg of explosives near the Ganei Tal settlement in Gaza, Israel Radio reported. There were no injuries.

The usual Qassam target is Sderot, which lies across from the Gaza Strip. But the IDF believes that Hamas took advantage of the Palestinian cease-fire, which was called off last week, to work on increasing the range of its rockets by conducting trial launches aimed at the Mediterranean.

Two Qassam rockets landed near Ashkelon earlier this week, but did not hit the city.

The rocket attack is an act of war. No other nation would tolerate missiles landing in its cities. Ashkelon is not a "settlement." It is part of Israel. So far, Israel has sent IDF bulldozers to level the trees from which the Kassam rockets were fired, which, no doubt, will bring protests from the ISM creeps soon enough.

An Israel Defense Forces tank and two armored bulldozers entered the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday after a Qassam rocket fired by militants there landed inside the southern city of Ashkelon for the first time, witnesses said.

They said the bulldozers began felling trees in the Beit Hanun area, from where the rockets were fired.

"We are leveling shrubbery, bushes and trees used as shelter for the [militants] who fired the Qassam rocket," a security source said.

Four rockets were fired from Beit Hanun, one of which landed in Ashkelon's southern industrial zone, the first time that they have reached as far north from the Strip as the coastal city. No injuries were reported in the incident.

The rocket landed next to the Carlsberg beer factory in the city, but caused no injuries. The landing sites of the other three rockets have not yet been located.

The PA says they shot at and chased the terrorists. Yeah, sure. They also want to know if anyone wants to buy a bridge in Brooklyn that their uncle bought on his last trip to New York.

Israel isn't planning to let this attack pass.

"The Palestinian Authority and all of the terror organizations who were involved with the attack on Ashkelon today, have no understanding as to the extent of how the IDF will respond," a senior military source told The Jerusalem Post.

"No democratic country in the world would ignore a terror missile attack on one of its major cities. We will respond and when we do we expect to have the support of all countries who are engaged in a war against global terrorism which threatens innocent civilians," the source said.

The Prime Minister's Office echoed the reaction of the IDF.

"Israel will not ignore a rocket attack on one if its major cities," said former UN ambassador and advisor to the Prime Minister's office Dore Gold.

"The Palestinians have clearly upped the ante in this situation," said Gold.

This shows how they have exploited their self-declared truce" to increase the range of their weaponry, Gold added.

Why can't the world see that the terrorists' aim is the total destruction of Israel? Oh, wait, I know the answer to that question. It's just another bunch of dead Jews. Never mind.

It's a brand-new baby blog

I found this one in my referrers. I don't know who the author is, or the author's gender (or what "spathic" means, for that matter), but if his/her work is as good later as it is now, this one goes on my must-read list.

This post on religion is effing hilarious. Judge Roy Moore and his followers are skewered in this one.

And best of all, the author quotes The Great Philosopher himself, Mr. B. Bunny. Hey, this one's a keeper even if it turns out the author's a cat-hater.



Hot enough to fry a cat

How hot was it today?

This hot:

Gracie plays dead cat

Gracie didn't stay out very long after doing her dead cat impression. Tig, he of the Maine Coon cat long hair, had given up long before his sister.

Meryl vs. Mother Nature: Round two

I won again.

I've had the top down on the Jeep since Sunday. Actually, I put the top up when I park the car for the night, but only to keep bird crap and other trash from landing in the car. The windows have been in the case since Sunday as well.

Until about 7 p.m. tonight, anyway. Chance of thunderstorms this evening, so as the sun was setting, I took a look at the sky and decided to take a few minutes to put the windows in. They're not watertight; there may be some leakage—but I won't have to pull the plug in the floor in the front.

Yeah, there's a plug in the floor of a Jeep Wrangler in case your car gets flooded. I expect its a multipurpose plug. You can use it after you've traveled through a river, or flushed the mud out of your Jeep with a hose, or if the car has been poured on.

The thunder is getting closer. I probably shouldn't stay online while this goes down, because I hear Mother Nature gets really mad when you fool her.

Well, at least I won't have to drain the car tomorrow. I can say and fully mean it: Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Over there

Happy birthday, Dark King of the Puppy Drinks. I think I'll take this opportunity to join in the Axis of Naughty. Sorry, Frank, but I know where the real power lies, and it isn't with you. And anyway, I'm a cat person, so who cares if Glenn puts puppies in blenders?

I haven't sent you over to Suburban Blight yet, have I? Kelley has this neat thing she does called the cul-de-sac, where she does a blog roundup so you don't have to. (Good Lord, the last one was, like, seventy gazillion screens long; I think she blogged every single blog on the ecosystem.)

Kate's got a funny story on why her three-year-old will be heading for preschool soon. Something to do with "Does not work and play well with others." Heh.

The Carnival of the Vanities is over this way. In three weeks, it will be back home from where it was launched. Bigwig, you should start asking people for submissions now, because it's going to take you that long to read them all and comment. I'll start thinking of a really, really long post that I'll submit, just in honor of your anniversary. No, no, no need to thank me.

Mac Thomason has been on the Ten Commandments thing since before any of you ever heard of it. Say, Mac, how about sending Captain Euro into the fray? I'm sure he and Judge Moore would get along splendidly.

Now this is my kind of quiz

I took second place in the spelling bee in eighth grade, but was disqualified early in the regionals, alas. I thought "quorum" had an "a" in it somewhere.

Now, however: Ten out of ten, people. How many can you get?

Thanks, for the link, bro.

Magen David Adom ambulance drive

If you look at the instructions on this page from the Blogathon, you'll notice that I ask you to direct all of your checks to the attention of Gary Kenzer. Due to one of those nifty sets of coincidences, Magen David Adom was dedicating an ambulance from the people of Columbus—all of the people, not just the Jewish community—at CAJE, the conference where I spent most of last week. Gary Kenzer was at the conference, so he and I got a lot of face-to-face time, and I got an $11,000 coffee mug.

That's about how much our pledge drive has raised to date. That's pretty good; two thirds of the pledges and donations are in. If any of you have forgotten, you can just click this link and get the instructions to fulfill your pledge and bring our total up to what you see at the very top entry in this page: $15,128.

When everyone sends in their money, we'll have 25% of an ambulance exactly like this.

MDA ambulance arrives in Columbus

But I'd like to go for the full ambulance. I'm pretty sure the head of the Columbus fund drive got a few hundred MDA buttons to give out to the kids in schools and synagogues who helped raise the funds. My rabbi and I are discussing a walk for MDA in a couple of months. November is very kind in Richmond, and a 5k walk is easy enough that my fourth-graders could do it. I want to give them the buttons.

In the meantime, I'd love it if only as many of you as donated to the Blogathon join the fund drive now. There were 90 sponsors who donated $6,213 (my total differs from theirs because they never counted my last pledge, and I do). 90. Again, I get over 1,000 visitors to this site per day. So more than 90% of you didn't pony up. If the rest of you donated ten bucks apiece, we'd be closer to half an ambulance. (Average visitor rate is between 1,400 and 1,600 a day, but Wind Rider says it's probably closer to 2k because even Webtrends misses hundreds of hits per day.) So if there are about 1,900 of you who ponied up ten bucks, we'd be at 30k. If there were 1,900 of you who contributed $20 each, we'd be $11,000 shy of an ambulance, and I'm betting the kids at the religious schools of Richmond could raise the rest in a walkathon.

How about it? Can you spare a few more dollars, write BLOGATHON on your check or in the comments line of the online credit form, and help Lair, Michele and me buy that ambulance?

I'm not giving up until I reach $60k. I want to be the proud owner of a $60,000 coffee mug. It's one of those mugs that changes when you heat stuff in it. I mean, how cool is that?

Oh, and fellow bloggers: if you could link this post, it'd be much appreciated.

Like Lair says: Give until it doesn't hurt anymore.



So much for punditing

Ze'ev Schiff, who has far more background and experience with this than I, is under the impression that the IDF did not give orders to make sure only to get clean hits on terrorist targets. What with his analysis and today's failed attempt that unfortunately killed a passerby and wounded dozens, I'm gonna go with what he says:

The character of targets chosen by Israel in anti-terror operations has changed. IDF forces strike against terror operatives, and also against leaders from the militant Islamic organizations. This mixture of targets is meant to deter the terrorist organizations at all levels.

In terms of this deterrence objective, it is not crucially important to Israel whether or not a missile fired from a helicopter is entirely accurate, or whether the target, and his bodyguards, escape. Ideally, the missile should hit these targets; but the overall purpose is to let Hamas know that the IDF is on the trail of terrorist group leaders. In addition, Israel would notch a success should Hamas men follow their organization's orders and walk only in narrow alleys disguised as women, or ride alone in cars and refrain from telephone calls.

Disguised as women. Yeah, those big, strong, scary mujahadeen. I thought martyrdom is what they strive for. Effing lying, cowardly, disgusting hypocrites. May you all meet first-hand a Hellfire missile.

Still more links

First, from my old boss at Lucent, Gerard, who sent me a link revealing that the satellite image of the blackout that's making the rounds is a hoax. The place to debunk junk mail. Thanks, Gerard!

Next from Sardonic Views: The Rutgers Hatefest is moving. Can't take the heat, Charlotte? Aw. I'm glad you're getting out of my old home state's kitchen, but over at Sardonic Views, we are less than pleased.

Great. Just great. More waste from New Jersey ends up in Ohio.

Hey. Was that a remark about my spending last week in Columbus? Hey! Hey!

Actually, while I was there, I had some classes in the engineering school. On the doorways of several of the buildings were written the words "free palestine." I got the feeling there's a large palestinian population or palsymp population there, too. But there are also many Jews in Columbus. Not as many as can access the place from New Jersey, of course. I'd say yes, they're feeling the heat. Sorry for you, Chas, but as for Charlotte Hates, I mean Kates, buh-bye!

And last, from Chuck Simmins, who responds to my views on blogging and ranting. (I'll get back to you on this one; it's a busy day for me.)



Around the world of blogs

LT Smash is home. I have but one thing to say: Oooh! Oooh! Can I tell 'em who you are now? Can I? Huh? Can I?

Okay, two things. Glad you're home, LT.

Happy Anniversary, Michele. Happy Birthday, Michele. Since the kids aren't home and you've got your twentysomething studly husband all to yourself, happy you-know-what, too.

Ya know, I think I want one of those for myself. Know where I can find one?

Bigwig has really gross pictures of bugs at his place. Okay, maybe it's just one picture, but still. He even has a follow-up post on the damned cicada. Well, at least this time he isn't obsessing over whether or not my bug was a dragonfly or a damselfly. (He sent me an email later.)

There is also a hysterical report on the tinfoil hat brigade member who has discovered Bigwig's secret. I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

On a completely separate note, how did I ever get along without a kitchen timer? At last, no more overcooking the potatoes!


According to the Jerusalem Post, the Hamas leadership, all of whom said they would gladly martyr themselves for their cause, are on the run, hiding in terror from the IDF missiles.

Top leaders of Hamas were nowhere to be found Monday amid the Green Hamas flags and gunmen marching in black baklavas to commemorate the funeral of the group's military wing leader Ahmed Aishtawi.

Hamas leaders — including Abdel Aziz Rantisi, Mahmud Al Zahar, and Ismail Hania — were not however ducking the Palestinian Authority's much-anticipated crackdown on terrorist organizations, but the far more terrifying hellfire missiles of Israel's Apache helicopters.

The PA reported on Sunday that it was launching a series of crackdowns on militant activity in the Gaza Strip, that it intended to shutter several Hamas-linked institutions, prevent arms smuggling, and arrest a limited number of militants. But there was little evidence of such anti-terror activity on the ground Monday aside from Sunday's photo-op in which PA police blocked three smugglers tunnels.

Funny, it was only a day or two ago that Rantisi himself said it didn't matter if Israel decapitated the Hamas leadership, as others were ready to spring into action in their place.

Despite declarations to the contrary, PA security chiefs in Gaza on Monday said they had no orders to arrest, subdue or fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders who threaten the PA's own authority.

Well, that's a shock. Hands, anyone who really believed the PA was going to "crack down on terrorists"? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

In an effort to deflect criticism that the PA is doing nothing to clamp down on groups like Hamas, one officer in the Preventive Security Apparatus recounted that his forces have worked lately to arrest "several drug dealers, who harm the Palestinian economy."

You may all be excused for a laugh break.

[...] Hamas leaders, who, like Rantisi, are almost ubiquitous on Arabic Satellite channels, have fled into hiding — all save for the group's spiritual leader Shiekh Ahmed Yassin, an ailing paraplegic. With the knowledge that the IDF tracks them through their cellphone use, most have change their numbers. When asked at the rally by a Palestinian journalist for Ismail Hania's new phone number, the Hamas leader's son simply shrugged, replying, "even I don't know it."

But... but... he said it didn't matter if the leadership was all killed. He said they all wanted to be charbroiled.

Speaking at the funeral of Mr. Abu Shanab, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who survived an Israeli rocket attack on his car in June, said that if the Israelis kill top militants, a secret leadership is ready to take over.

"They think that targeting leaders will stop [holy war]. They are mistaken," the AP quoted Mr. Aziz Rantisi as saying. "All of us in Hamas from top to bottom are looking to become like Abu Shanab."

You don't suppose he was just being theatrical, do you? About as theatrical as Yasser Arafat's call for thousands of martyrs to rescue him in Ramallah? (Say, Yasser, how's the view from your HQ these days?)

The Israelis are doing exactly the right thing. They have the terrorists on the run, which means they have that much less time to plan the murder of babies. I expect the reason we haven't heard of more assassinations is twofold: The rats are scurrying for cover, and the IDF has been given explicit orders not to cause collateral damage. For once, they seem to be doing this the right way. If only terrorists are targeted and killed, there's no PR bonus for the PA. And no concurrent world sympathy from the EU and various other schmucks worldwide.

The sound of Israeli helicopters over Gaza is causing terrorists to, well, flee in terror. If only the helicopters were also carrying videocameras. We could make a new game out of it: WhackATerrorist.

The end of the shudna: an overview

Since the horrific bombing last week, the Israeli defense establishment have made a number of moves, and leaders have said a number of things, that make me believe the current action is the most intensive assault on terrorists since the IDF invested the West Bank and Gaza Strip last spring.

The last six weeks showed the world that there is no "cycle of violence." Even the Europeans can no longer deny that the terrorists have no other goal but to murder innocents, though a few holdouts, of course, repeat the mantra that the violence from "both sides" must end. (And may I say: Screw France.)

Perhaps it was the picture of two paramedics working desperately to save the life of a toddler that finally pushed into in the world's consciousness the realization that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, Tanzim, and Al-Aqsa want nothing less than the destruction of Israel.

Take a look at the operations of the last several days: One superbly executed assassination that killed four Hamas terrorists. Numerous bomb labs found and destroyed. Suicide attacks successfully prevented. Today, an assassination that killed one of Hamas' biggest murderers:

Security sources said that the assassination was carried out in order to thwart a double suicide bombing planned by Hamas's military wing in the near future.

Israeli sources said that the main target of the strike was Ahmed Aishtawi, a senior member of Hamas's military wing who was in charge of coordinating activities between the organization's leadership in the Gaza Strip and militants in the West Bank.

Aishtawi, 24, was on top of the Israel Defense Forces' most wanted list, and is credited with transferring funds to Hamas terror cells in the West Bank, and planning many terror attacks against Israeli citizens, Israel Radio reported.

A Hamas spokesperson said Aishtawi was the head of a cell that fired home-made missiles, and specialized in attacks on IDF tanks.

Two of the other militants killed were apparently meeting with Aishtawi in order to receive explosives belts for carrying out suicide bombings. The fourth man killed was Valid Alhumes, a member of Hamas's military wing and head of the students' association at Gaza's Islamic University.

Hamas, of course, is threatening retaliation. Rivers of blood, yeah, yeah, we know the drill. The PA is falling all over itself to prove that it is stopping terrorism. Yesterday the PA shut down—hold onto your hats here—four whole tunnels that were being used to smuggle arms from Egypt to Gaza. The Israelis are unimpressed. We've seen this act before. In fact, each time there's been a horrific bombing, and Israel sends in a tough response, the PA makes highly public efforts to arrest terrorists, confiscate weapons, and close tunnels. This time, nobody's buying what they're selling.

According to Ya'alon, "All Hamas militants are potential targets, and from our perspective all members of the organization are part of the radical core." Ya'alon noted that the radical terror core lies in the Gaza Strip. "If we see that the Palestinian Authority does not deal with this core, we will be forced to do so," he said.

Ya'alon said that there is no doubt that an escalation of tensions is taking place. "The terror organizations are currently trying to carry out deadly terror attacks, and we are taking action to thwart them. The question is whether this is a short-term escalation, or a deterioration that will force us to take massive action."

Channel One quoted a senior government source as saying that the action taken by the Palestinian Authority was "too little, too late."

There is even a threat that Israel will act on Hamas terrorists based in Syria:

Ayalon: We'll target Hamas leadership in Gaza and Syria
Responsibility for the dead in the latest terror attack in Jerusalem lies with the Hamas leadership, Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon told Channel One TV on Sunday, and the organization's leaders will not go unpunished. The Chief of Staff pointedly referred to Hamas leaders in Syria as well as in Gaza.

Last week, when Hezbullah refused to stop shelling Israeli towns, Israeli Air Force jets buzzed Baby Assad's summer palace. The message was received, and the shelling was stopped. If anyone thinks Ya'alon is bluffing, well, the Gaza assassinations have begun. Syrian assassinations will take place as well, if need be. In fact, Israeli officials are warning terrorists in other nations that any attacks on Jews or Israelis will be not be tolerated. There will be quite an uproar at the UN, I suppose, but then, there was quite an uproar in the 1980s when Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear plant and was condemned by the world. Right now, PR is not uppermost on the Israeli leadership's minds.

What I believe is happening is that the Israeli offensive to destroy Hamas is underway. Hamas is mostly Gaza-based. If you remember back to last year, the IDF did not push as hard to destroy its infrastructure, partly for strategic reasons, partly because the terrorists were setting up traps to create as much collateral damage as possible. And Israel truly does not wish to harm innocents.

In the meantime, as predicted, the terrorists used the shudna time free from IDF patrols into their territory by improving the range of their home-made Kassam rockets, smuggling more weapons through tunnels, and building more bombs in their bomb factories. The PA is not really cracking down. Yasser Arafat is in the middle of another struggle for control of the security services (which are already nearly all under his demesne), and seems to have won this round:

Yasser Arafat has appointed a new national security adviser in his latest move in a power struggle with his U.S.-backed prime minister over control of security forces.

[...] Rajoub said he and Dahlan would be equal members of the national security council and would share authority, as would other members. Asked if he will start cracking down on militants in his new role, Rajoub told The Associated Press: "Lets wait and see. We're still starting up."

On the other hand, there's this statement:

"Every member of Hamas is a potential target for liquidation," Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said Sunday in the first public comment by a senior defense official on Israel's new policy, adopted after the bus bombing.

A new front in the war against palestinian terrorists has been opened. The IDF is one of the most effective, deadly forces in the world. Expect to see more pinpoint attacks on the murderers of children. This time, it appears that the PA publicity stunts are going unheeded, and that President Bush isn't going to apply any pressure for Israel to stop killing the terrorists.

It's about damned time.



Tig Mighty Sparrow Hunter

So I'm getting ready for this morning's staff meeting for the new religious school year, and Tig is outside, because I was up and showered early enough to afford myself a leisurely breakfast. I hear a thump on the door again, and I think he's been frightened by an early morning dog walker. So I check the front door, nothing. I call him. Nothing. I check the back door, ditto. I go out and walk around the side of the building, nothing. I come in the front door, Tig is at the patio door, meowing frantically. As I near the door, I realize there is something in his mouth. It was this:

Tig Mighty Sparrow Hunter!

I made him drop it. I would not let him bring it indoors. It was dead, poor thing. That makes two sparrows Tig has caught in his six years of life, both of which he tried to bring inside.

I don't believe I'll be letting Tig out early in the morning any more. I like sparrows. It's not like they peck on the metal vent hoods or anything.

'bout that Times-Dispatch quote...

This one:

Too many people out there think that a Web log is a platform to rant about something that bothers them, or they get into a debate without any citations of fact whatsoever. That turns me off immediately. Anybody can rant. It takes a heck of lot more effort to bring up facts.

(Say, if you're quoting yourself, do you have to use quote marks or can you skip them because it's you?)

That's actually a huge pet peeve of mine. I cannot count how many emails I've received with links to weblogs disagreeing with something I've written, only to find that no facts at all are cited. It's simply the author's opinion. Well, fine. Everyone has an opinion. I'm not going to link to it. If you can't back it up with factual citations, I frankly don't care what you have to say. If you can't spend a little time researching your opinion, I am uninterested in hearing it.

I am far more likely to link to a fact-based essay than to a simple rant. After a while, all rants are exactly like all other rants. The formula gets boring. "Subject X pisses me off, Person Y is a jerk for believing in this, and while I'm at it, all liberals suck." Yawn, yawn, yawn. Substitute "conservative" in that last phrase, and you've got the left side of the blogosphere as well. Repeat yawns.

Yeah, I know some of the biggest webloggers make regular ranting their stock in trade. That's what floats their boats. It doesn't float mine. I am far more fascinated when Bigwig or Blackavar come up with a fact-based essay on a current event, or on something I never thought about, than when the Ranter Du Jour posts the Rant Du Jour. Really, how many times can you fisk Michael Moore, anyway?

Now if you're talking juvenile scorn, you've got my interest. Perhaps that's why I like Lair Simon and Marduk so much. Those guys sure know how to pile on the scorn. (Okay, it's really sarcasm dripping with venom, but juvenile scorn is a much more fun title.)

On the other hand, I am the only fully designated Master of Juvenile Scorn™ in the blogosphere. So I may be slightly biased. Like, totally, dude.

Some things that have occurred to me lately

Every time I see the name of the new virus, SoBig, all I can think of is a mother saying to her child, "How big is Johnny? SO big!"

Perhaps they should change the name to "SoAnnoying" instead, because it's a far more descriptive title. Then we can say, "How annoying is SoAnnoying? SO annoying!" and smile.

Or perhaps not.

I haven't gotten any SoBigs in a couple of days, but I did get a brand new virus this evening, which I assume is the latest in the Annoying Programming Olympics. The Russian judge is busy writing the next virus, so someone else will have to give out his number. (That's an obscure reference that means many of the viruses originate from the former Soviet Union, as does much of the spam. I am simply full of obscure references, and though some will tell you I am full of other things, pay no attention. They're just jealous of my wide variety of useless and useful information. For instance, I know what Morton's Foot is. And I know that my mentioning it some months ago has brought dozens of searches for pictures of it. ((It's when your second toe is larger than your middle toe, and here come the searches again. Dang.)) I forget. Am I still in that parenthetical statement? Oh, yes, I am.) There, that's better.

By the way, folks, if you haven't learned this yet, here's a fact that should not be obscure: Do not click on attachments in your emails unless you have a virus scanner checking them first. And don't do that unless your virus files are up to date. And if you do, don't have me in your email address book, if you don't mind. Much appreciated.

At Friday night services, just as they were starting, I tapped a fellow congregant on the shoulder and whispered, "Five bucks says the rabbi picks on me today." I'd spent four days at the CAJE conference, as had the rabbi and his wife.

He picked on me to read the second Psalm. Ryan didn't take the bet. He knew better.

I keep finding cricket parts scattered throughout the apartment. Mostly legs. It makes me wonder what the cats have done with the rest of the cricket, but not for too long. There are some things that you'd rather not know.

I dropped by a friend's workplace today for lunch. I brought mine, but had forgotten a soda. So I bought a soda at the McDonald's there. All I did was ask for a small Coke. The young man behind the counter was unable to do it without assistance.

It was a Coke. One Coke. An effing Coke. The guy was too dim to find the button on the register that says "small drink" and press it.

I fear for our future.

I was interviewed by a reporter from the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The article will be linked as soon as I find it online. Well, unless I look like a moron. Then I'll just pretend it never happened. Or that it quoted some other Meryl Yourish who lives in Richmond and blogs about politics, anti-Semitism, terrorism, and my cats. Er, her cats.

Whoops. Busted.

(And here's the link. Phew, I don't look like an idiot.)


Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. 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 and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.