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More search requests

Apropos of the post below, apparently, this blog comes up when you put in my name and the word "nude." So, you think the person was looking for me, or the other Meryl? (I would strongly advise against clicking on the other links, unless you enjoy thousands of popup ads on your screen. No, I'm not saying that from experience. I read about other people's experiences with popup ads. I swear.)

Oh, hell, while I'm at it:

Cletus! You been surfing those naughty sites again?

Look. Muslims need love too. Or lust, anyway. This one, though, sounds more like someone's fantasy than the reality in Saudi Arabia, unless you're talking about the fifth column that escorts bombers to their targets. But boy, searches on Arab nations and sex are a substantial portion of my search requests. Wonder why that is? [repression] I don't understand it. [women completely veiled] Really, I don't get it. [no dating allowed]

Here's a stupid one: what do people do for fun in west bank & gaza? Uh, hello, don't you read the papers? They blow up Jews.

Really. Someone found my site with this one: ARE THE MEDIA OUT OF TOUCH? Gee, ya think?

Okay, this one is just plain creepy. Even creepier, they somehow found my site with that search. And yet, this one is even creepier. Here's a hint: THEY DON'T NEED MAINTENANCE. They're DEAD.

Well, unless you don't bury them, then I suppose you're talking refrigeration, makeup, etc. Ew.

Now, I'm a big Hugh Jackman fan. Really. In love with the guy since the first X-Men film, watch even his bad movies (thanks, HBO and Cinemax!), but this is simply too much information.

what nationality is derek jeter? American. Asshat.

Okay, this one is gross, but it's funny, because they were looking for it on Dogpile.

This one is more than TMI, it makes me afraid for the future of our planet.

yourish+nazis+just+die: It's actually anti-Semites of the world, just die, but we'll take nazis, too.

And last, but not least: No, please, not him. Not him, too! (Now that's sad. A comic book character. Really, really sad.)

I'm going to be a bit busy tomorrow, but there's always Billy Joe Bob and Larry and Terry and Janis to keep you interested. Just put up a sign that says "Gone South."

I'm gonna be here. I'd pass along some kind of "neener neener" to Michele, but she's probably busy still reading the Olsen Twins' autobiography in prep for her marathon Olsen Twins videofest tomorrow. Plus, she's kinda stuck on the 80s big-hair bands, so—aw, she just wouldn't appreciate the reference.

Watch what you blog, someone may be reading it

Lair and Dean pointed me to this New York Times article that discusses the pitfalls of blogging about your friends, relatives, and co-workers: They can get mad at you if you're not nice to them.

Am I the only who thinks that's a no-brainer?

I am fully aware that the rabbi and members of my congregation, which include the parents of the children I teach in religious school, are vaguely aware that I have some kind of website, and that at any given time, they may be reading what I write. It was brought home to me rather forcefully on the night of the teacher appreciation dinner, when a post that I had recently written was quoted to me that evening as I sat down to dinner. And I'm aware that if you google my full name, this website comes up. If you google "Yourish," this website comes up. If you google "Meryl," this website comes up. So I've been writing for two years with an eye to the fact that my name is attached to everything I write, and it may affect my professional life.

My father is dead. I can write anything I like about him, and he's not going to get mad at me for it. Or if he does, he's SOL on getting me to realize he's pissed. But Lair's right: You don't want to overcomplicate your life by getting your friends, family, and coworkers mad at you over something you wrote on your weblog.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that I may not get certain jobs after people have searched for background on me and discovered this site. Then again, when I was graduating from the Chubb Institute, one of my classmates thought he was being helpful to me when he suggested I not show my Star of David during a job interview, in case the interviewers were anti-Semitic. He thought it would be better to get the job and then deal with it. I told him that I was happy to find out ahead of time if I was going to be working for Jew-haters, because I wouldn't want to work there.

So basically, hey—I've got two years of posts floating around on the internet, on everything from my Fish Heads Theory to the Hulk's solution to the Arab-Israeli problem to my personal death-wish for anti-Semites to cat stories. If reading them stops people from wanting to hire me, I'm guessing I wouldn't have been happy at that job to begin with.

I am what I am.

Al Qaeda doesn't care who it kills

From the Jerusalem Post and the AP, it appears that ten of the forty killed in Morocco were suicide bombers. So the other thirty were Jews, right? Israelis?


The Moroccan Foreign Ministry has officially confirmed that no Israelis were killed or injured in Friday night's terrorist attacks in Casablanca. Sam Ben-Sheetrit, president of the Federation of Moroccan Jews, confirmed that none of Casablanca's Jews were among the casualties.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry is in contact with Jewish community leaders in the city who confirmed the report.

But—but—why? Could it be that Al Qaeda doesn't care how many infidels they kill so long as their targets are achieved?

One of the suicide bombers attacked the 'Sapir-Farah' hotel in the heart of the city, and which had about forty Israeli guests staying there at the time, according to Army Radio. A suicide bomber blew himself up in the hotel's lobby. The hotel is know to be popular with Israelis.

Also attacked were a Spanish restaurant and the Belgian consulate in Casablanca.

Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said that his country does not believe it was a target and that the consulate was "collateral damage." A Jewish restaurant in front of the Consulate was likely the real target, he said.

Spanish National Radio reported that 18 people had died in the attack on the Spanish restaurant, the Casa de Espana, making it the bloodiest of the five blasts.

[...] At least 70 people were injured in the blasts, which also targeted a hotel housing delegates to an anti-terror conference.

[...] The President of the Jewish-Moroccan immigrants association, speaking on Israel Radio, said that the terrorists targeted Jews.

Whoops, looks like they didn't achieve their targets, then. And what a fat target they missed.

Avi Avizemer, an Israeli writer and historian, was on the eighth floor of the hotel at the time of the explosion. Avizemer told Army Radio that local authorities evacuated all of the Israelis out of the hotel and that they are now in a heavily guarded hotel in Marrakech. Zemer added that among the Israelis staying at the hotel was a group of about twenty people who arrived in Morocco on Wednesday for a public celebration in memory of rabbi Amram ben-Diwan, which was scheduled to take place in northern Morocco on Monday.

Avizemer said that at least three thousand Jews from all over the world had arrived in Morocco to attend the celebration.

There are ten dead suicide bombers, which is a good thing. One of them survived and is being interrogated, which is also a good thing. But don't be thinking that if you're not Jewish or American, you have nothing to fear from Al Qaeda. Because as this incident shows once again, they don't care who, or how many others, they kill while trying to achieve their objective.

Most victims apparently were Moroccans. However, six foreigners - two Spaniards, two Italians and two French - also were killed, according to Said Ouhalia, medical chief at Azerroes Hospital.

Would it be wrong for me to hope that Al Qaeda manages to take out a royal Saudi motorcade next? Perhaps then the terror funds will dry up.

Iraqi history: It wasn't all Saddam's fault

Glenn Reynolds links to this Guardian op-ed by an Iraqi expatriate, who bemoans the Saddam years and wonders:

Many questions came to mind: Why did the world allow him to cause so much devastation and suffering in Iraq? Why was the Arab world happy to support a mass murderer? What would have Iraq looked like if we had a government like the one in Kuwait, or even Jordan? Would it not have been a sought-after destination for historians, archaeologists, believers of all world religions, as well as ordinary holidaymakers?

Wouldn't Iraqis have become the most educated and sophisticated people in the whole region? Would they not have been a force for democracy, human rights and moderation in the Middle East?

How many lives would have been saved? What would the Iraqi population have been if Iraq had not had the Saddam government? 40 million? 50 million? How many Iraqis have been deprived of their lives just because Saddam Hussein and his family wanted to enjoy absolute power?

Would it not have been a sought-after destination for believers of all world religions, he asks? Well, let's take a look at that bastion of fledgling democracy in the 1930s and 40s, shall we?

Iraq became an independent state in 1932. The 2,700-year-old Iraqi Jewish community has suffered horrible persecution since that time, particularly as the Zionist drive for a state intensified. In June 1941, the Mufti-inspired, pro-Nazi coup of Rashid Ali sparked rioting and a pogrom in Baghdad. Armed Iraqi mobs, with the complicity of the police and the army, murdered 180 Jews and wounded almost 1,000. Additional outbreaks of anti-Jewish rioting occurred between 1946-49. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime.

In 1950, Iraqi Jews were permitted to leave the country within a year provided they forfeited their citizenship. A year later, however, the property of Jews who emigrated was frozen and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who chose to remain in the country. From 1949 to 1951, 104,000 Jews were evacuated from Iraq in Operations Ezra & Nechemia; another 20,000 were smuggled out through Iran.2

In 1952, Iraq's government barred Jews from emigrating and publicly hanged two Jews after falsely charging them with hurling a bomb at the Baghdad office of the U.S. Information Agency.

Well, okay, that's not fair, maybe. Let's take a look a little later in Iraq's history, say, when the Ba'ath party was rising.

With the rise of competing Ba'ath factions in 1963, additional restrictions were placed on the remaining Iraqi Jews. The sale of property was forbidden and all Jews were forced to carry yellow identity cards. After the Six-Day War, more repressive measures were imposed: Jewish property was expropriated; Jewish bank accounts were frozen; Jews were dismissed from public posts; businesses were shut; trading permits were cancelled; telephones were disconnected. Jews were placed under house arrest for long periods of time or restricted to the cities.

Oh, come on, surely I'm still being unfair. How about 1968, the year that Saddam Hussein helped the Ba'ath party come into power?

Persecution was at its worst at the end of 1968. Scores were jailed upon the discovery of a local "spy ring" composed of Jewish businessmen. Fourteen men - eleven of them Jews - were sentenced to death in staged trials and hanged in the public squares of Baghdad; others died of torture.

Surely that had to be the worst of it. Right? Right?

On January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called upon Iraqis to "come and enjoy the feast." Some 500,000 men, women and children paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung; the mob rhythmically chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to all traitors." This display brought a world-wide public outcry that Radio Baghdad dismissed by declaring: "We hanged spies, but the Jews crucified Christ."3 Jews remained under constant surveillance by the Iraqi government.

And all of this happened before Saddam Hussein took power. (And there's even more, but you get the drift by now.)

Take the blinders off, Hamid, and tell the truth about your country: It sucked as bad as all the other Arab dictatorships even before the Ba'athists and Saddam Hussein took over. And when they did take over, you didn't fight for your country then, and you're not fighting for it now. Iraq was never a democratic bud, waiting for just the right politician to make her flower. She was ruled by ruthless murderers then, too.

Perhaps if people like you had stayed and fought for your country, there would be a network of democratically-inclined Iraqis ready to take the reins of power now, instead of the influx of terrorists and Islamists waiting in the wings. But you fled, and your compatriots fled, and all I keep hearing is why didn't someone else stop the horror that was Saddam Hussein.

I have a different question: Why didn't you?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I'm a fat, soft American who never had to experience what life was like under a brutal dictatorship. That would be because we do have a history of democracy here, and a history of fighting for it. In fact, we even send our young men (and now women) to fight and die for it in other lands.

So stop whining. And tell the truth. Believers of other religions—or at least, believers of my religion—know better than to think that Iraq would have been kind to us in the past three decades. She was thoroughly nazified, like the rest of the Arab world, and sent troops to attack Israel in 1948, and again in 1967, missiles in 1991, and funding for terror for God only knows how long.

What would Iraq have looked like? Well, to begin with, it still wouldn't have any Jews.

At one time, Baghdad was one-fifth Jewish; other communities were first established 2,500 years ago. Today, approximately 38 Jews live in Baghdad, and a handful more in the Kurdish-controlled northern parts of Iraq.



Always leave 'em smiling

James Lileks is so on today he's a supernova. Which is why I'm linking him.

The latest from Captain Steve: Farewell to Iraq

Finis Flight

Splitting headache. Tired like never before. Still I'm not willing to acknowledge that I'm sick. I go to the chow hall and while I know I should be hungry, absolutely nothing there looks edible. I down a couple grapes and drink some iced tea. I head for the room and it's about 110 degrees out. I'm walking in the direct midday sun and I have chill bumps. I'm shivering. OK, now I'll admit it. I'm not quite feeling my best.

I've got some kind of flu. I get taken off flying status and confined to quarters for 24 hours. I take medicine and sleep, surfacing only to kick off covers when I'm drenched with sweat and pull them back on when I'm shivering. Even when I'm asleep I'm aware that I am profoundly miserable. If I'd seen a single mosquito in this place I'd suspect malaria.

Yesterday at 0500 the siren goes off and I hear an announcement going out over Giant Voice - the base public address system. I know it's got to be important but I can't hear. I have earplugs in to help me sleep, and for some reason I don't believe I can reach far enough to remove them. I burrow deeper under the blanket. Hours later I wake feeling a little more human. I'm not near 100% yet, but I don't have the urge to beg the first person I see for a merciful death, so I must be on the mend. The siren and the announcement are dismissed along with all the other feverish dreams.

I dress and decide to try the chow hall again. Still not hungry, but I know I have to drink something. There's a sign on the door saying we've gone to an advanced force protection condition. I head for the day room, turn on the news and see the bombings in Riyadh. As things wound down and we pulled up stakes we began to make a serious error in judgment. We'd all begun to think we'd won the war. Al Qaeda has just reminded us we've got one campaign behind us, but the war is far from over. It's a lesson we'll bear in mind.


By afternoon I've slept several more hours and am feeling still better, although I look like death on a cracker. I wheedle myself back onto flying status, trying to be chipper with the flight surgeon. She confirms that I can equalize pressure in my ears, so that if the jet undergoes rapid decompression my noggin won't explode. I can equalize with the best of them so she clears me for flying duties again. That's important because tonight's our last sortie. Our Finis Flight. My head feels like it's loosely tethered to my body and my skin hurts as if my flight suit were made of sandpaper. I swear my hair hurts, but there's no way I I'm missing this sortie.

The Security Forces folks provide our crew bus an armed escort as we transit the host-nation-controlled part of the base. We're on a 4-lane road with a wide palm-lined median, and the escort trucks keep traffic away from us. They try to stay just behind and beside us so no one will pass us from behind, but the local drivers are no respecters of such subtleties. One little pickup nips around the escort and draws even with us and I get a kick out of the expression on the driver's face when the Security Forces truck roars up to within a millimeter of his bumper and shoves him down the road, away from us. I don't think he had any idea what was going on.

I wouldn't provoke our SF troops. I have a feeling they're a little anxious these days. Add that to the fact that they probably feel cheated having missed out on all the ground action to the north. Again I draw the observer's seat for takeoff. It's an oven in the cockpit. I sit on a box of bottled water in the galley until the flight engineer illuminates the seatbelt sign, then I assume the position. I'm waiting until the last possible minute to put on my gloves because the sweat is trickling down my forearms. I open the gasper, the little vent, on my left, and it sends a furnace blast across my face. Despite all the discomfort, I'm once again enjoying the rhythm and the synergy of the flight crew as they run their checklists, start the engines, call for permission to taxi. And call again. And again. No answer from the tower. I check my watch. Evening prayer. We wait a few minutes until the tower is once again focused on earthly matters. We taxi. We launch. I strain my eyes at the ground for the fanatic with the shoulder-launched SAM, but he does not show. We spend the next 11.3 hours keeping watch over Iraq.


When we land the last of the French jets is gone. In fact this whole ramp, which used to be crammed with aircraft, is practically deserted. It's getting to be a ghost-town around here. We head for the debriefing shack, and all the chairs are gone. It's a little uncomfortable, but it's taken as further indication that we're on our way home, so no one really minds. After we debrief and get the latest words on our redeployment we head home and I catch several hours of uninterrupted sleep. I'm now recognizably human-feeling, and even have a bite to eat.

After the chow hall I go to the BX to have a look. None of the Third Country Nationals who've been working here are allowed on base now, so the gold shops and souvenir places are all closed. The BX is having an honest-to-goodness "Everything Must Go" sale. I don't need anything more to carry home, but I go for entertainment. As I approach a bunch of Frenchmen are coming out. They hold the door for me but I use the other one. I just can't bring myself to smile and exchange pleasantries with people who a few weeks ago were actively making it easier for Iraqis to kill my brothers and sisters.

The BX is loaded with them. I've never seen so many. Where do they come from? I wonder if it's a package shopping tour from a nearby base or something. They have their arms full of Levis and Nike hats and what-not. For people that feel superior to Americans they sure do like to dress like us.


But I wanted to end this on a positive note, because I believe this'll be my last communiqué (Ha, had to use a French word for irony) from our little oasis. My wife emailed me a picture from the news the other day. A buddy of mine who just got home is being greeted by his family. His little boy is completely overcome with emotion at the sight of him. I get soggy just thinking about it.

So this is it. I'm countable hours away from my own family. How to sum up the last 120-some days? 30 Sorties and 300-plus hours in less-than-friendly skies doesn't begin to capture all I've learned, all I've missed, and all I'm hoping. My son played a whole season of soccer. My daughter learned to walk. My wife ran our home and cared for our children doing all her own back-breaking chores and mine as well.

We mounted the greatest display of armed force the world has ever seen, and tempered it with restraint and compassion for noncombatants. We wrested a nation from the grip of a merciless tyrant and are bestowing liberty where there was none. I was privileged to be part of the most effective team of professionals I've ever seen. We flew and fought and cried together. We were supported by letters and emails and prayers of millions of Americans.

And now we're going home together.

Thank you. I'll see you at home.


Saddam's victims

Pontifex visited the site of the mass graves in Iraq we've all been reading about. He says the NGOs are so far off on their demands for the gravesites as to be in the next universe.

The place smelled of death, of rot. The ground you walked on -- you could feel, in the pit of your stomach, that you were walking on somebody's grave. The faces, the wails...

Maybe it's superstition, or maybe old bones still can hold power over the earth, but I tell you, if evil has a texture, a feel to it, you could feel it there. And you could see everybody else around you feeling it, too.

Human rights activists will tell you that it's a crime, the way the site is being handled -- forensic evidence going all to shit, and so on, and so forth. The kind of folks that wear shirts that say "Making the world unsafe for dictators since 19xx" as they walk all over these graves.

Read the rest, as they say.



I've been neglecting the rabbits and the kitties

It's been weeks since I mentioned Bigwig & Co. That's because it's been a while since I got over there (sorry!). He's still talking about Beer of the Night, knowing full well that the only way he gets me to read those stories is to make sure they're about 10% beer, 90% other stuff (usually Ngnat stories).

Via Scott, a real cat burglar. Also on AMCGLTD, 33 things pregnancy has taught Scott and Ellen. I can tell you something my brother and sister-in-law learned the first week my nephew was born: Never, ever change a boy's diaper without first putting something over his penis, unless you really like getting peed on. (Oh, the searches we'll get for this post.)

The Incredible Hulk: Accept no substitutes

See, I told you. Somehow, Hulk got word that there's someone out there pretending to be him and writing a weblog. He dropped in on me again, and this time, he actually tried to come through the patio door, which is almost wide enough for him to get in without breaking. Well, except he walked through the glass door because, well, he's the Hulk. The conversation went something like this:

Oh, Hulk, dammit, that's another door I have to pay for!

Sorry. Why you put window in door, anyway? Window go in wall. Hulk thought window was open. It not. Hulk make new window for you?

Hulk, no! Wait! That's the neighbor's laundry—room. I am so billing Doc Samson for this.

Samson here? He fight Hulk? Good! Hulk not smash anyone in days and days!

No, Doc Samson isn't here. Listen, Hulk, someone's pretending to be you on a weblog

What weblog? Spider-Man in tree?

No, not Spider-Man. This guy on a computer is—

What computer?

It's a machine people use for a lot of things.

What things?

Well, like talking to one another, sort of.

Hulk use mouth to talk. Why people not use mouth to talk? Why machine? Stupid machine. Hulk not like machines. Soldiers use machines to try to hurt Hulk. Why man on machine? He want to hurt Hulk? Hulk hurt man if he try to hurt Hulk.

No, he's just pretending to be you—

Man is not Hulk. Hulk is Hulk. Man is stupid. Hulk is—

Well, yeah, but this guy is posting like he's you, and he's doing a really bad job of it.

Hulk not bad. People think Hulk bad, but Hulk only fights when soldiers try to hurt him. Or boy. Or girl. Soldiers not try to hurt you? This man a soldier?

No, he's just saying stupid things. Listen. [Read excerpt below]

[long pause]

Hulk? Hulk? Are you all right?

What do big words mean?

You mean like "scientific"? Um, well—

Why man say Hulk fall off building? Hulk never fall. And Hulk can fly. Done it many times. Hulk leap miles at a time, just like flying. No need to flap arms. That stupid. Hulk leap to top of many tall buildings. Hulk leave footprints in stone on top of buildings. People yell at Hulk when that happens. Why they yell? They should make stone stronger. Not Hulk's fault.

Yes, that's what I was trying to—

What other big words mean?

Like "vigorously" and "physics"?

Hulk not remember. Big words make Hulk's head hurt. Never mind. Hulk hungry. Hulk go get some food. [Tries to squeeze into kitchen, smashes doorway, opens refrigerator door, door comes off in his hand.]

Sigh. Hulk, just once, just once, I'd like to see you come around here as Bruce Banner.

Banner here? Where? Hulk smash Banner!

And there goes my kitchen counter. Samson!

Be warned: Hulk poseurs abound

What with the upcoming Hulk movie, and just plain really bad humor out there, it's time for a Hulk poseur alert. There's one on Blogspot (I will not link to it) that's been around for a while, but it's so lame I'm ashamed that it's even got Hulk in its name. Shanti found it recently. I found it months ago.

Be aware that the real Hulk shows up on my blog, with the occasional side trips to Mac Thomason, and probably lurks on Peter David's weblog as well.

That blogspot poseur really does suck. Not funny, not-Hulk. (You so don't want me to publish excerpts. Really, you don't. I'm telling you. Fine.

Hulk discovered something scientific.

Hulk discovered that if Hulk falls off Empire State Building while waving arms vigorously and shouting "SEE, SPIDER-MAN, HULK CAN TOO FLY!!," Hulk's tush hurts for about a week. Hulk can't violate laws of psychics or something.

Wow, that is wrong in so many ways, it's almost too difficult to count. "Tush"? "Tush"? Yeah, like Hulk would ever say that. Or discuss the laws of physics.


Google News and nazimedia, part 3

Yes, Google News spiders are crawling Indymedia sites as news sources. A search at 11:45 a.m. brought 545 results, all but one of them on the first page SF Indymedia pages.

Time to start another email campaign. Keep it polite. Point out stories like this one (I won't link to it, cut and paste, or this one, which has the entire text of the known anti-Semitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (, which they refuse to remove (

Here's a contact page for the Google public relations department that LGF commenters didn't post about. (Here's the LGF contact list.) A PR manager's job is to put out fires like the one going on right now.

Light it up. Nazimedia must go.

Update: They're gone. Hold the letters; the good guys won.

Update 2: Since Babylonian is too dense to figure this out, I'll give the Reader's Digest Condensed Version of why I included the link above, which brings you to this mailing list thread. (I'm guessing his SAT reading comprehension scores were in the shallow end of the pool.)

The Regional Director of B'nai B'rith Canada sent an email to the contact on an Indymedia page requesting that Indymedia remove the full text of the infamous forgery known as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." This was created in Czarist Russia to defame Jews, and has been used ever since by Jew-haters. Indymedia's refusal to remove this text is absolutely evidence of their anti-Semitism. The Protocols have no other use than to spread lies about Jews and foment Jew hatred. Apparently, Babylonian doesn't have a problem with that. No surprise, having glanced at his website.

Update 3: Wow, Babylonian is even dumber than I thought. Check out Bill Herbert's catch of a quote directly from one of the Indymedia idiots-in-charge, about how it would take someone the equivalent of a full-time job per week to remove anti-Semitic references from nazimedia. That's why I linked the mailing list thread. Were you just being disingenuous, Babylonian, or are you really that stupid?

What's the punishment for beating up a couple of Jews?

In California, it's probation and "tolerance counseling."

Way to send a message about being tough on anti-Semitism.

Somehow, I can't see two white guys beating up two black guys, screaming "Kill the n-----s!" while kicking them, and getting away with only probation.


Is it or isn't it? Google News and nazimedia, part 2

Charles and Only in Israel say that Google News is still crawling nazimedia sites. The comments thread is a dizzying array of "They are!" "They aren't!" "Yes, they are!" "No, they aren't!"

So I will mention the issue, but not recommend sending an email blitz—yet. I want to know for sure if the news crawlers are counting nazimedia as a news source or not.



Hoping too soon

On the one hand, it would have been wonderful if Iranian President Khatami actually was in Syria and Lebanon trying to clamp down on Hizbullah. On the other hand, reader Brian S. sent me a letter with a quote from a wire service that he basically told us to take a flying leap about stepping on his client terrorist network. So I went looking on the web, and found this on IRNA, the Iranian national news service:

Iran and Lebanon issued a joint statement Wednesday condemning any threat to them and Syria by big powers. In the communique, the two states referred to the US pressure for the three countries and vowed that they would defend the interests of the Muslim World.

[...] The communique came at the end of a three-day visit by Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who then traveled on to Syria. The statement said the two parties condemn threats made against Iran, Lebanon and Syria, and the exploitation by Israel of regional and international developments to occupy Arab territories, notably the Golan Heights.

[...] The statement also said the two countries support continued resistance until the end of the occupation of the Shebaa Farms.

While expressing opposition to all forms of terrorism, notably state terrorism, an apparent allusion to Israel, the two countries insisted in their statement that there is a necessary distinction between terrorism and resistance.

Hezbollah, which was founded in 1982, led the resistance against Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon, which ended three years ago. The group, which is under pressure by Washington, continues freedom struggles against the Israeli regime whose troops are occupying the Shebaa Farms.

The joint statement also expressed Lebanese and Iranian support for the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people in their resistance against Israeli occupation, their right to self-determination, a return of refugees to their homeland and the building of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

And there's also this:

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has vowed Iran's continued support for Hizballah, despite U.S. calls for a crackdown on the militant group. In the midst of official visits to Lebanon and Syria today, Khatami also is urging the U.S. to quickly withdraw its troops from Iraq. And he is warning against the imposition of a government in Baghdad that has been handpicked by the administration in Washington.

Meanwhile, Khatami reiterated today his country will continue its support for Hizballah guerrilla fighters. When asked about increased U.S. pressure on Iran and Syria to end support for the group, Khatami responded by asking rhetorically how Washington can deprive Hizballah of its right to exist. He said the group is a legal political entity in Lebanon that has "a natural right, even a sacred national duty" to oppose the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands occupied by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967.

Still, Khatami said Tehran has no desire to escalate tensions or create instability in the region.

In a public sign of Iran's ongoing support for Hizballah, Khatami met directly with Hizballah leader Shaykh Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut yesterday.

Nasrallah told journalists after the meeting that he and Khatami spoke about regional issues -- including U.S. pressure against Hizballah and its supporters. "As you know, Iran is also facing threats through other means, so our position is one of solidarity between Iran, Syria, Lebanon, the resistance movement and the Palestinian people, as well as the people of these nations," Nasrallah said. "We must stand united in the face of these threats, and we must stand up to these threats with responsibility and presence and not abandon our rights."

Well. I guess Khatami and Baby Assad have chosen their sides. Pity. Lair, can I get in on the Amish Tech Support Dead Pool now? I choose them.

The view from elsewhere

Ted Belman agrees with me about the Road Map, and has some convincing evidence that we're right.

There's a nationwide protest about NPR's biased view on the Middle East going on today.

Via someone who doesn't like my stance on anti-Semitism very much, I found a wonderful new weblog that deserves a look, and then another look, and then another one. Miranda is the very voice of reason where I would be—well, kinda mad on the same subjects. If Blogger's archives are hosed, scroll down to the "flame war" entry. (Miranda, I was only claiming credit for getting nazimedia booted because I wanted to get the search request from the midiots and piss them off when they found my site. I hope you don't think I was really looking for kudos for that.)

Look at these charming pictures Joshua Sharf took at a protest in Denver last week. Plenty of nazi swastikas around. What was the protest about? Well, the ADL and AIPAC were meeting with the local Jewish community members at a synagogue. So it was Jew-hating time all around. (More on the protesters later.)

Just who is Salam Pax?

Via LGF, David Warren thinks he's a Ba'athist partisan who has been playing us all for fools.

I am quite certain he exists. That isn't the scandal. He has a family and a history and even a real-life name. But without compromising sources, and thus endangering lives, including Salam's own, one may discover a great deal about him from carefully reading his blog, and following obvious leads from there.

Salam is the scion of a senior figure from Iraq's Baathist nomenclature. He was brought up at least partly in Vienna, which is the OPEC headquarters; his father was therefore an oilman, and possibly a former head of Iraq's OPEC mission. Another clue is a hint that his grandfather was an Iraqi tribal chief, from which I infer that his father was one of the Iraqi tribal chiefs that Saddam Hussein rewarded for loyalty, outside the Tikrit clan.

Salam has an easy familiarity not only with the upscale Baghdad in which he has been living, and which he selectively describes through the jaded eyes of a true insider, but also with most Western fashions and things. This is what gives him his plausibility to Western readers. He drops many hints that he is a homosexual, suggesting reckless candour. (I'm inclined to doubt these.) His English is superb and colloquial. He has those Tariq Aziz qualities. There are nightmares in his background, but the foreground is smooth, charming, self-confident, man of the world -- tending involuntarily to smugness. He can tell you anything, and seems to enjoy putting on the show.

He refers casually to pseudonymous friends, who are also children of the deposed Baathist elect. They all know their way around but, unlike their parents, have never carried the weight of responsibility. They were of a class, but not yet fully in it -- products of a very luxurious bubble. Or perhaps Salam himself or any one of them was directly employed by Mr. Saddam's very extensive, and in places quite sophisticated, network of Soviet-modelled spy and disinformation networks -- we cannot know yet.

I have no such knowledge of Iraq and its inner workings, but I've always found something a bit off about Salam. But that's just my opinion. Oh, and Charles Johnson's.

Al Bawaba: Is Iran pressuring Hizbullah to a cease-fire?

Now this is fascinating:

Analysts speaking to Al Bawaba assessed that the main reason behind the recent Lebanese visit of Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, was to pressure and curb the Lebanese Hizbullah in its struggle with Israel. The visit was also believed to have come following a deal Iran has struck with the US under which the latter will rein in the Iranian rebel group, Mujahideen Khalq, which useed Iraq as a base for its attacks against Iran.

According to analysts, Khatami was in Lebanon to deliver a message to Hizbullah using diplomacy, effectively communicating to them that the era of ‘armed struggle’ has now passed, and that they should be prepared for the anticipated and drastic changes the region will undergo.

The timing of the visit has come at a sensitive and critical stage during which Iran and its ally Syria, which has unparalleled influence in Lebanon, are facing strong US pressure to stop their backing of Hizbullah. This has come in view of the prevailing conditions in the region following the ouster of Saddam Hussein and his regime, US military occupation of Iraq and the US declaration of the ‘roadmap’.

Lebanese journalist and analyst Jubran Twaini said it was very likely that Khatami has asked Hizbullah to restrict their activities on the border with Israel, in accordance with a possible deal that might have been reached between Tehran and Washington.

“I believe Khatami has asked Hizbullah to freeze their activities on the border [with Israel] and wait till things become clearer, especially between the US, Syria and the region as a whole in the wake of the war on Iraq,” Twaini told Al Bawaba.

Love the phrase "Syria, which has unparalleled influence in Lebanon." Translation to my shorter, clearer phrase: Syria-occupied Lebanon. But I digress. When this article is taken with DEBKAfile's analysis that the Road Map is simply a cover story to dismantle the terrorist states of the Middle East, it becomes even more fascinating.

DEBKAfile’s sources in Beirut report that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah is also running around between Lebanese politicians in search of help to escape the US dictated evacuation of his armed positions along the Israeli border and his group’s total disarmament.

Tehran’s crucial role

The two targeted leaders are casting about for a lifeline. They are looking for salvation to Iranian president Muhammed Khatami, whose visits to Damascus and Beirut Monday, May 12, were suddenly announced just before Powell arrived in the Middle East. Assad needs to hear whether Tehran will support him if he stands up to the Americans or opt for a repetition of the pattern followed in Iraq - first calling on Iraqi Shiites to fight the American invaders and then caving in on the pivotal issue of who calls the shots for the country’s Shiite majority. By conceding to the Americans on this vital issue, the ayatollahs made possible the return to Iraq from 23 years in Iranian exile of Ayatollah Bakir al-Hakim, head of SCIRI, the largest Iraqi Shiite group, who reached Basra Saturday, May 10.

[...] As for Nasrallah, while the Hizballah is Tehran’s old and tried terrorist surrogate, the ayatollahs’ concerns have broadened considerably since the Iraq war ended. DEBKAfile’s military sources were not surprised to hear that Iran has just suspended its arms and ammunitions shipments to the Hizballah.

I've already mentioned that I don't believe President Bush thinks the Road Map will work. I think he threw U.S. support behind it because he had to, and because he can use it to show that the pals have no intention whatsoever of ceasing terror. But to have confirmation in an Arab newspaper that Hizbullah is being pressured to stop terrorist activities—now that is huge news. I'm starting to hear a ticking clock on the terrorist organizations, and it's not counting down to the next explosion.

A really bad search engine

This site is the number one return on "the area of the skin of an elephant" on the Alltheweb search engine, by virtue of the number of the word "an" in one of my posts. Can you say, "Learn to write new algorithms, lousy programmers?"

I knew you could.

It's Military Day

Pontifex has been pontificating—no, not really, he's just been posting—some interesting things about Iraq, the Army, and the tackiness of Saddam Hussein.

And he sent me a picture with his last email. I may have to throw over Bill Herbert for Pontifex. You know, there really is something about a man in uniform.

Ahem. This one's my favorite current quote from his site:

I'd add something about Abu Mazen and the roadmap and Palestinian/Isreali relations, but... look, you don't solve a rodent problem by holding negotiations with a midlevel rat who shows promise. Groups like Hamas are a cancer on Palestinian society; you don't solve them, you remove them.

Don't miss his post on women in combat, either. Or take a quick scroll through April's archives to see what you've been missing. Lots of posts from Kuwait mixed in with Pontifex's politics and humor.

Just when I was starting to feel unloved by the gods of misery, they obliged me with a fun little sandstorm yesterday. Visibility was never attrocious -- at least 10 feet out, for the most part -- and the yellow haze is really sort of charming, like mood lighting.

Sure, you get a little sand in your ears, but that's where ingenuity comes in. It turns out that Q-Tips are for more than just cleaning your weapon.

That one you'll have to find for yourself.

The latest from Captain Steve

Junk food and Critters

Another day sortie. It must have been 105 degrees as we boarded the bus this morning. It's so hot that our technicians wait until we're in the air before bringing up the computers on the back of the jet. They usually have this done before we board so we step onto a mission-ready aircraft, but today we enjoy a leisurely beginning to our sortie. There's nothing much to do until the techs have everything up and running.

Leisure is not as welcome as you might expect. In fact, we do everything we can these days to find ways to be busy. Time weights heavily otherwise. I'm always happy for a day or two between missions - I read or write to you or paint contentedly - but I am a minority of about one. Between flights, people experience a bit of cabin fever. It's so hot during the day that no one wants to go outside and do much of anything. Time slows to a crawl.

There's no shortage of snack food here though. When we first arrived it was impossible to find potato or tortilla chips at the exchange, so everyone wrote home asking for them. Now the packages are arriving. They may have taken a couple months to get here, but they make up in volume what they lack in punctuality. We are awash in junk food. Our dayroom tables are covered with it. During sorties every horizontal surface in the galley is covered with candy, chips, and cookies.


Last night I saw my first camel spider. I'd just climbed off the crew bus and was headed for bed when one scurried across the sidewalk in front of me. It was a windy, sand-stormy night, and I thought at first that I was just seeing a little dust cloud blowing along the ground. It gave me quite a start though, when it stopped in front of me and waved its long front legs threateningly. It seemed completely unafraid of me. I've spent enough time in West Texas to be used to tarantulas, but this spindly, sinister creature gave me the creeps. It was about 6 inches across, and heavy enough that, when I got the toe of my boot under it and flicked it off the sidewalk, I could hear it hit the ground and scramble off. I'm not a fan of camel spiders.

More to my liking are the lizards here. If you look closely enough, you see them everywhere. In between our dorm buildings are shaded pavilions where we sit on cool evenings. They're wooden decks with canvas covers . Wire-mesh fly traps are bolted to the decks, and most are occupied by the fattest little lizards I've ever seen. Like the flies, they found their way into the trap and can't get out. They are pale pinkish yellow - the color of the sand, and they appear perfectly happy to have given up their freedom for a never-ending supply of food. I think they must be democrats.

I saw a different type of lizard the other day. He was the same color but bigger; about 5 inches long. He was clinging upside down to the armory, just above the ground. I would never have noticed him had he not snatched a large black beetle off the ground just as I looked his way. It must've been a bad beetle, because with a quick shake of his head the lizard flung him about a foot. The beetle bounced once and landed on its back. It righted itself and carried on like nothing had happened. The lizard clung to the wall opening and closing its mouth as if trying to rid himself of a bad taste. I took advantage of his distraction and sneaked up and grabbed him, whereupon he grabbed me right back. I must've tasted better than the beetle because he bit down with all his strength and showed no sign of letting go. I let him go and still he clung to my finger. He goggled at me with bulging yellow eyes as he hung by his mouth. His vertical brown pupils narrowed at me as I raised him for a better look. He had broad flat round toes that looked like suction cups and his head seemed too big for his body. I gently pried his mouth open, freed my finger, and turned him loose.

And there are the big ones. The locals call these "Dub dub" and I've heard that they eat them. These guys are 2 to 3 feet long. I was walking a path where I had seen a couple before, hoping to get some photographs, when I spotted one on top of a small parched-looking shrub. He let me get quite close and I got some good pictures before he started to climb down and waddle away. Then, because he was so close and moving so slowly, I couldn't resist giving chase. We sprinted across the sand, the dub dub throwing his legs way out to the sides with every stride, and me in hot pursuit. He wasn't that quick, and I was in a good position to grab him, but I kept thinking of how the little lizard I'd caught had clamped down on my finger. I couldn't help wondering how much harder this one would bite, and noticing his long sharp claws. I didn't want to be the first to be removed from flying status due to a lizard bite. I eased off and he ran through a barrier of concertina wire to safety.

We have two cats that wander our compound freely. There are more around, but only these two, a black and white, and a tabby and white, show themselves around people. The others you only catch a glimpse of from a distance at night, but these two will follow you around and beg for food. If you sit at a pavilion one might lie next to you on a table or chair, hoping for a pat on the head. They are dirty and scabby from fights and we're not supposed to touch them but I pet them anyway. They purr loudly and will stay put as long as you're willing to give them attention. I scrounged a couple of resealable foil pouches of tuna fish from one of the care packages in our dayroom, and when I'm going to be walking around the compound I carry one with me. The cats are skinny, and they can use the protein. I hate to think about what will happen to them when we leave.

And leave we will. Our redeployment order has been published. We have to work out the details of which jets will leave on what days, but we finally have official word that our mission here is coming to an end. On one hand I'll be sad. Our crew will be permanently disbanded and I doubt I'll ever work as closely with such a great group of people as these. There won't be much time anymore for painting and writing. On the other hand, I'll be home again. I can almost hear my kids calling me and feel my arms around my wife. I can hardly wait.

I'll write again before I leave.




How effing stupid is Comcast? Let me count the ways

Okay, so besides the fact that my cable modem goes on and off at will and nobody at Comcast can figure out what the problem is, and besides the fact that the effing morons at Comcast had an infinite loop set up on the tech support number so that if you were having trouble with your cable modem service you wouldn't be able to get help unless you tried another menu option (like I did), and besides the fact that their service just plain sucks, you would think that I wouldn't be able to gripe much more without getting tiresome. But there's something so wrong that I said nothing. I thought for sure Comcast would fix it. It's simply too stupid for words, and yet—and yet—they have not fixed it.

Comcast of Richmond is playing the five minutes of local news—that incredibly boring portion of the broadcast which, in New Jersey, made me suffer through interviews with the mayors of towns that I didn't want to drive through, let alone stop long enough to get to know the mayor's name—at the top of the hour on CNN Headline News. Not at the bottom of the hour, like every other station with at least the glimmering of an understanding of TV watcher's habits, but at the top of the hour. Instead of the headlines. You know, the reason you watch CNN Headline News—for the headlines?

I first noticed it last week and thought that it was probably just a screwup from Comcast's taking over AT&T Broadband. And yet, fifteen minutes ago, at 10 p.m., when I wanted to find out what's going on with the bombing in Saudi Arabia, I got instead a woman interviewing a man about—hold onto your seats, kiddies, this one's a killer—gardening.

How effing stupid is Comcast? I think we have not yet reached the depths of their stupidity. Now that's a scary thought.

Search engine convergence

Sometimes, people frighten me.

In the last few days, I've gotten searches for a line I made up. People are actually typing, "Science dudes, watch out! He wants to use your brains for evil!" into Google's search engine, and coming up with my page. (And it's a Googlewhack, too, which makes it even funnier and more strange.)

I wonder if it's Aziz trying to find out if anyone's talking about him again. He is rather a sensitive sort.

Sorry about the whiplash

This is hilarious. Via Silent Running (where the boys are discussing soap operas. Yes, really.).

Don't miss number four. Number four is the one that should have the spit-monitor warning.

I foolishly took a sip of soda before reading number two, and let me warn you that two is even funnier than four. If it weren't for my amazing ability not to splatter a mouthful of soda on the monitor (I choked for five minutes instead), I'd be unable to post right now. It's a good thing you can't easily choke to death on liquid.

The haters: Too stupid to see the irony

Ha'aretz reports on a conference on intolerance taking place in France.

An international conference on intolerance opened yesterday with a stern warning that acts of hatred against Jews, particularly in Europe, have reached their highest level since World War II.

"A new generation of haters has been brought up and are ready to act," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Jewish rights group.

Outside the conference, protests were held. Were they protesting intolerance? No. It was a mini-Durban.

But dozens of protesters outside UNESCO's Paris headquarters accused the Wiesenthal center of mislabeling criticism of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians as anti-Semitism. They also criticized the list of conference speakers and a report on Internet hate sites.

Conference participants include Minister Natan Sharansky, U.S. Rep. Robert Beauprez and France's Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

Durban, for those of you who don't know, was the site of a UN-sponsored conference on racism that turned into a virulently anti-Semitic forum where the United States and Israel walked out in disgust as the Arab states tried once again to get UN sanction for their state-sponsored and nurtured anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism.

The protesters, of course, saw nothing ironic in their Jew-hatred disguised as "anti-Zionism" being carried out at a conference on intolerance. But then, irony only works for people with the intellect to understand the concept. And the following statistics don't seem to impress the protesters in the least.

The Wiesenthal center said it recorded 1,300 anti-Semitic acts in France since 2001 - the highest level since World War II. British government figures show that in 1998 there were 385 anti-Semitic attacks and incidents, but in 1999 that increased to 402. In 2001 there were 521 incidents.

Attacks in France and Britain on Jewish schools, synagogues and cemeteries have coincided with heightened tensions in the Middle East. Many attacks in France have been blamed on young Muslims.

But Hier dismissed the notion that Israeli-Palestinian violence was to blame, instead attributing the resurgence of anti-Semitism to a fundamental, age-old hatred of Jews.

Here's where the supreme irony comes in. First, part of the report:

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal center, presented a report detailing 4,000 international Web sites that he said promote terrorism, hatred or Holocaust denial. "We are seeing now a very sophisticated manipulation of the Internet by terrorists and their supporters," he said. "They are ahead of the curve in understanding the possibilities of the Internet."

The Weisenthal center reports on sites that promote hatred and terrorism. What do the protesters have to say about that?

But protesters outside, including many Jews and members of the Americans Against the War coalition, said Cooper had deliberately excluded radical Zionist groups from the list.

In a letter to the conference host, UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, the protesters said the Wiesenthal center, "under the deceitful cover of the struggle against anti-Semitism, is on the contrary encouraging intolerance and racism in our societies."

That's right. The Wiesenthal Center, which tracks hate sites, Jew-hatred, and Holocaust deniers, is causing the hate. In the Bizarro World of the Jew-haters, that is. I expect to see reports like this from Jew-hating sites like Mikey Rivero's and Justin Raimondo's. It's a standard David Duke/neonazi line. But claims like these are now commonplace in the protests from the left and frankly, any Jew associated with a protest like this should be deeply ashamed.

Let's look at the paragraph above one more time:

But protesters outside, including many Jews and members of the Americans Against the War coalition, said Cooper had deliberately excluded radical Zionist groups from the list.

Alas, the Adam Shapiros of the world are many. Shame on him, shame on his parents, and shame on the Jews who took part in this protest.

But they're right in one respect: The hatred is growing. I have been taught to hate those who hate me. My tolerance level for ignorance falls every time I read that because I am a Zionist, that makes me some kind of racist. Zionism is, quite simply, the belief that the Jews deserve a state of their own in Israel. And in the Middle East, where Christians cannot practice their faith in Saudi Arabia, Jews are not allowed at all, where Coptic Christians are discriminated against and murdered in Egypt in spite of the fact that they have been there for centuries, where the Muslims in the Sudan are murdering and enslaving Christians, where tribal warfare is even now threatening to bring on another Rwanda in Africa, where the Palestinians are prevented by law from becoming citizens of Jordan, it seems to me that the protesters should just shut the fuck up about Israel and find a better cause of racism to protest.

But they won't. Because it isn't about racism. It's about anti-Semitism. It's about Jew-hatred. It's about tolerance for all, except for the world's favorite scapegoats: the Jews.

Except this time, not only do we see right through it, but we won't stand for it anymore. It's a different world. In fact, to steal a commercial slogan: We're not your parents' Jews. Learn to live with that fact.



Things that aren't political

There are doves in my neighborhood. Doves, as everyone should know, are known as pigeons in New York and New Jersey (where I am from). Right now, I'm listening to an incredibly annoying dove hoo-hooing away rhythmically, refusing to stop, and frankly annoying me even more than the asshat next door who was out in his parked SUV Sunday at 3:30 a.m., listening to horrendous rap music.

To think, I used to like birds. Now, all I want is for an eagle to move into the neighborhood and take them all out for me.

By the way, Woody E. Woodpecker is alive and singing. I hear him all over the place. Except on my roof. No word yet on whether he found a mate. Here's hoping not.

Friday was the day on which I would have had to give my sixty days notice to my landlord that I was moving. I called and discovered that the management company will not be raising my rent, so I gave them my notice to renew my lease. I believe I have committed myself to Virginia.

Actually, I was only going to threaten to move so they wouldn't raise my rent. They sure called my bluff.

Andy and I have been combining the fifth and fourth grade classes as often as possible the last couple of weeks of religious school, especially since I realized that my students simply refused to settle down to studying because they knew there were only two weeks left of religious school. So we put our classes together and presented them with little talks on the various holidays and remembrances that have been going on recently (Yom HaShoah, Israel Independence Day, etc.), and let them ask questions. Astonishingly, it worked better than we'd imagined. Participation has been wonderful. There's a girl in fifth grade whom I adore, but who rarely talks, either in class or out. She raised her hand three times in Sunday's class, and spoke twice. I call that the greatest victory of the school year, and she's not even my student.

On the flip side, I finally found out a form of leverage over my toughest student—the last week of class. Damn. Well, I'll be sure to fill in his teacher next year.

Oh, sure, Marduk, nag, nag, nag. What, I have to post on a schedule? Wait for the Blogathon, that's the only way you're going to get regular posting. I believe if I don't post once every thirty minutes, Cat sends her enforcers to my door, and they glue my hands to my keyboard. I'm not sure, but I think one of last year's Blogathoners died of starvation because she couldn't get loose from the ropes tying her legs to her chair.

British anti-Semitism anti-Zionism

A commentary in the Guardian, better known in these circles as Al-Guardian, calls a Jew-hater a Jew-hater. (You can pick yourself up the floor now, yes, it's in the Guardian. Really.)

The good news is that Tam Dalyell's outburst to Vanity Fair - in which he suggested Tony Blair was unduly influenced by a Jewish cabal - has not been ignored. His remarks made all the papers, proof that anti-semitism is no longer an uncontroversial part of public conversation.

That's welcome. If there is bad news it's that Dalyell has been treated as a naughty boy - "incorrigible," said Peter Mandelson - rather than as a man who has uttered a racist slur. Bad news, too, that so far much of the condemnation has come from Jews rather than Dalyell's comrades in Labour and on the left -who one might have hoped would be queueing up to denounce such a whiskery old prejudice in their own ranks.

[...] The 19th century German socialist August Bebel called anti-semitism the socialism of fools, the belief that the world can be understood by looking for the hidden hand that makes everything happen. But the real world is not like that. It's more complex, and no amount of conspiracy theories will make it easier to understand.

Tam Dalyell would have us believe that Bush stands against Yasser Arafat because the Jews made him do it - when the reality is that Bush has his own post-9/11 reasons for seeing all terrorism as an indivisible phenomenon that the US can never again indulge.

There is a wider lesson to draw from this sorry episode. In a way Dalyell is an easy case, because he presented his views so baldly. He did not completely hide behind "Zionist" or "Likudnik" euphemisms, but spoke instead about Jews. In so doing he clearly crossed the line between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism and made himself easy to condemn.

But not all such anti-Jewish feeling expresses itself so directly. A search of the BNP's own musings shows that even they - the fascists and racists of our age - do not call themselves anti-semites. They too claim merely to be anti-Zionists. Now of course anti-semitism and anti-Zionism can be neatly distinguished, and many learned minds do so all the time.

But it's worth wondering if that distinction cuts much ice at street level - where anti-Jewish incidents in Britain have gone up by 75% compared with the equivalent period last year. If Zionists are constantly accused of having dual loyalties, of wielding untold power, of pursuing a secret agenda to reshape the world, all classic charges long hurled at the Jews, then one has to wonder whether one is hearing the same racist slur now voiced by Tam Dalyell - just expressed less openly.

Read the rest scale: Definitely. Via Gary, again.

Everybody still goes to Mike's

Allison has translated a feature (alternate route, as always, the main blog) from Yediot Aharanot, an Israeli newspaper, that details the re-opening of Mike's Place, the bar that was terror-bombed by a British Muslim last week.

After sitting shiva at the home of the club’s owner, Gal Gunzman, the team that runs the place returned to work, minus Dominique Hess, the waitress who was killed, without the security guard who was injured, and without Yanai Weiss and Ran Baron, the musicians who were killed, and without many of the places’ regulars who are still hospitalized. Generally, the workers are the ones who create the cheerful atmosphere for the crowd, applauding the musicians. Tonight its the customers who try to offer encouragement to them.

At the entrance sits a new security guard, without a uniform, another veteran worker at the place, and dances to the music, just as Avi, the injured guard used to. “The sweetest revenge is for us to keep going out," he says, "to memorialize those who were killed with our smiles. To remember and never to forget them, but to keep the musical tradition alive.”

As Gary Farber would say: Read the rest: 10 out of 5.



Indulging in a bit of childish gloating

I helped get Indymedia knocked out of the Google News source list.

Yep, that's right. I helped get Indymedia knocked out of the Google News source list.

Why? Because Indymedia is better known in most circles as nazimedia, for its overwhelming assault of anti-Semitism on any piece about Israel—or, in fact, even only about sneakers. I have the links to back it up, but I'm counting on the nazimedia morons to find my blog via a Google search all by themselves (I hear they're actually able to cross the street without Mommy's assistance these days, too).

But if you want links, check out Charles' post. It's quite funny.

Catching up

I still hate Comcast, only I think now I hate them even more. Nine out of ten months, AT&T Broadband customer, quick technical support to any cable modem problems. Comcast solved its infinite loop phone problem (which I'm betting they created purposely), but its service still bites great big pieces of horse hockeys.

I've had no cable modem service for nearly the entire day.

I am now going to call all infinite loops a Comcast.

Go read the last few posts from last week if you haven't been here in a while.

Thanks for the link, Tim. (Tim smash referrers today!)

Today was a banner day in Meryl's Home Improvement Adventures. See, I had a gas-powered hibachi in Montclair, and I gave it to my next-door neighbor when I moved last year, and I began to really miss it here. So I went to K-mart and bought a new one (twenty bucks, can't beat it!) and a can of propane, and this afternoon, even though Andy was sitting right here with me, I put it together all by myself!

Well, okay, I did need Andy to help me put the propane on the gas switch, but that was it. Okay, so maybe he suggested two bakelight washers on the screw that holds in the gas dispenser in the grill, but all the rest I did. I swear.


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.