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The lightness of blogging

I have come down with a pretty bad stomach flu. So far today, I have had half a glass of water and a few Ritz crackers, and the fact that they haven't caused a violent reaction is greatly cheering. I haven't had a meal since six o'clock on Thursday night. I'm going to attempt to go to the store and buy some bread and/or soft pretzels, as I'm actually hungry again.

So, while I have the energy to read, I have no energy to actually think, ergo, this is it for today, folks.



Quick headlines

Armenians are collecting on life insurance policies for family members killed in the Turkish genocide. But not from Europeans.

One of the lawyers in the case, alongside his Armenian colleagues, is William Shernoff. He has battled in the courts for years to force European insurance companies, particularly Italy's Assicurazioni Generali, to pay up on policies taken out by victims and survivors of the Holocaust.

Shernoff said that the basis of the Armenian claims was a California law, passed three years ago, mainly designed to pressure European insurers to honor pre-World War II policies taken out by Jews who later perished in the Holocaust.

Another Los Angeles attorney, Barry A. Fisher, has been involved for years in Holocaust-related litigation and on behalf of other ethnic and religious groups.

"A broad process started by Jewish claimants and their lawyers has now been extended to other groups," said Fisher.

The pals are doing the IDF's work for them.

Eleven Palestinian Authority policemen were wounded on Thursday in an apparent attempt to assassinate PA Police chief Ghazi Jabali in his Gaza City office.

Eyewitnesses said Jabali was unhurt in the attack, which was carried out by agents of the Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip. They said the assailants stormed Jabali's office in the national police headquarters and opened fire in all directions.

According to a statement issued by the PA Police, Jabali escaped the scene unhurt. However, unconfirmed reports said he was severely beaten. The statement identified the 11 wounded as policemen and bodyguards of Jabali. One of them, Maj. Youssef Abu Sharar, one of Jabali's top aides, was seriously wounded.

Jabali, who arrived with the PLO in 1994, is one of the most controversial figures in the PA security establishment. Last year PA Chairman Yasser Arafat fired him following allegations that he had abused his power to accumulate a fortune and was involved in a series of "moral" scandals. But Arafat reappointed him as commander of the blue-uniformed police force several months ago, much to the dismay of many reform-minded Palestinians.

Bring on the civil war, boys.

Meantime, a "work accident" took out another terrorist. Drinks all around!

Hamas military wing commander in refugee camp near Gaza City was killed Thursday night in an explosion inside his home, Yediot Ahronot's website reported.

The terrorist was identified by Hamas officials as Abdel Naser Abu Shuka, 36, Reuters reported.

Shuka reportedly died after receiving an 'explosive package', Ynet quoted Palestinian sources as saying.

According to Reuters, witnesses spotted Israeli helicopters hovering over Bureij refugee camp on Thursday shortly after the blast killed Shuka.

An IDF military source told the news agency that the army suspected that Abu Shuka died in an accident while preparing an explosive.

Unsurprisingly, Hamas called for vengeance at the funeral.

Say, you know that old joke about the prisoners who have been in prison so long that they tell jokes by numbers? Perhaps the terrorist groups should just get together and number their calls for vengeance. Then again, if a cloud crosses the sun, Hamas calls for vengeance on Israel. If the child of a Hamas terrorist trips and falls, Hamas calls for vengeance on Israel. If a day of the week ends with a "y," Hamas calls for vengeance on Israel. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we got it. Vengeance. Israel. Check.

Israelis in France: Batten down the hatches

The president of Israel is going to France.

President Moshe Katzav will make the first visit in 17 years to France by an Israeli head of state, meeting this month with President Jacques Chirac and receiving an honorary doctorate from Paris' famed Sorbonne university, the Israeli Embassy said Friday.

The Feb. 16-20 visit will also take Katzav to the southern city of Toulouse, where he will tour the headquarters of European plane-maker Airbus, the embassy's press office said.

Aside from Chirac, Katzav will also meet with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, according to the embassy.

The weather report predicts frequent bursts of anti-Semitism followed by showers of stones, with occasional destruction of Jewish property in the President's wake. Our reporter on location will file the weather reports as they occur.

Yes, still more on the Holocaust

NZ Bear comes out of retirement to add his two cents to the Holocaust issue.

Judith Weiss has links and commentary. Excellent commentary.

Sasha, if my next door neighbor or ex-husband repeatedly threatens to kill me, I can go to the police and get a restraining order. The law recognizes that threats have to be taken seriously. If this person repeatedly slanders me to my community, that's libel. If this person's libel causes me to suffer loss of livelihood and physical danger from neighbors who buy into his lies, that is incitement. If my local courts do nothing, and I take my case to higher and higher courts outside my immediate neighborhood, and tell newspaper reporters, and everyone knows this person is repeatedly threatening to kill me but does nothing . . . well, some states have "failure to rescue" laws. If you know someone is in danger and you have the ability to help, and you do not, you are liable. If an entire community stands by and lets an innocent person be murdered because they didn't want to intervene or were secretly glad to be rid of that person, then we have the Kitty Genovese case, and lynchings.

Hitler applied slander, incitement, and threats - publically, over more than a decade - to a particular group, which to him was not just a random collection of individuals, but a cohesive entity which deserved elimination. And Western civilization stood around and yawned.

Jon Ihle of Back Seat Drivers has some thoughts on the matter.

So does Damian Penny.

And Lynn B. has what I consider to be the last word on the subject:

But there is this one other thing. It wasn't only six million people that were murdered in the Holocaust. It was a way of life. It was an entire civilization. Yes, some European Jews survived. But European Jewry, their communities, their customs, their educational systems, their language, even, did not. This wasn't a byproduct, it was part of the plan, cleanly executed. What's harder to understand is that there was even a systematic effort to wipe out the very memory of these people, the fact that they had ever lived.

You won't find records of my great-grandfather in Latvia. They were destroyed. Lucky for me, he was here in America when that happened. I have no idea how much of my family there survived. As Lynn pointed out, the very memory of my family has been erased.

Credit where it's due dept.: The Pope on anti-Semitism

The Pope spoke out against anti-Semitism yesterday, specifically mentioning the Vatican documents that refute the charge of deicide that Mel Gibson is so blithely overlooking:

Pope John Paul II told a Jewish delegation Thursday that racism and anti-Semitism must be condemned.

Addressing members of the American Jewish Committee, he also reiterated one of his major concerns - that violence in the name of religion "is always a desecration to religion."

"Countering this alarming trend requires that together we stress the importance of religious education which promotes respect and love toward others," the pope said.

The pope spoke of the landmark 1965 document "Nostra Aetate," Latin for "In Our Time," in which the Vatican deplored anti-Semitism in every form and repudiated the "deicide" charge that blamed Jews as a people for Christ's crucifixion. He said the document "significantly" helped strengthen Jewish-Catholic relations.

Of course, saying this, say, on Easter, would really get the message across. But I suppose we'll take what we can get.

Several of you have written to me about this topic. I'm working on a post that I expect will bring in tons of hate mail. No matter what I say, people are going to get mad about it. But you know me. I'll say it anyway.



Tragedy, tragedy, all is tragedy

This one is worse than NZ Bear's semiretirement. It's worse than Michele coming down with mono. Hell, it's even worse than the halftime show at the Superbowl.

Shenville Farms went bankrupt. I found that out tonight at Kroger's. One of the things I was trying to get was a half-gallon (glass!) bottle of their chocolate milk. But the milk was all gone. It was gone, I tell you.

I am bereft. They made the best damned chocolate milk I have ever had.

Then again, I ruined Heidi's night. I called her and told her about it as soon as I got home. It's true. Misery loves company.

Oh, well. Sarah was right about the Turkey Hill Philadelphia Style chocolate ice cream. It was to die for.

Oh, stop reminding me about that diet thing. I climbed tonight. For an hour and a half! Forced myself to go to the top of the fifty-foot climb when I couldn't get to the top of the 47-footer half an hour earlier. You know, my acrophobia is better some days than others, and it was simply the pits today. I wasn't liking even the shortest climbs, which are only about 22 feet. Which is why I forced myself to do the 50-footer. When I got back down to the bottom, I told Carrie, "You have no idea what it took to do that." Nope, she doesn't. If you're not afraid of heights, you don't get it, either.

Well, at least it's more fun than running. Okay, so it's a lot scarier. But it's still more fun than a treadmill.

Free credit advice! and not in email!

I've always wanted to take the knowledge that I've learned over the years about credit cards, and make up a little booklet, and sell it via those little ads in the Weekly World News or some such. But for now, I think I'll give you all some advice on how not to get a late payment charged due to mistaken i-date-ity. (Yeah, I made up that word. Why do you ask?)

I have two credit cards from the same company. One of them is my everyday card, the other is a cashback card I got simply for credit transfers. The everyday card is the one that I thought was due on February 9th. As I'm about to rotate my credit to a zero percent card, I was looking at the paper statement instead of the online one and discovered that the everyday card was due January 29. The date I thought said 2/9 was actually 1/9, the date of my last statement. So here I am, a week after my due date, and suddenly faced with a late charge and perhaps an interest rate change. Can't have that. Now, if, like me, you have an excellent credit record, or at least a good credit record, you can do the following. If you have a bad credit record, you're stuck with the late fee. I am rarely late with my payments, but I have successfully talked the credit card company rep into removing the late fee every single time. Here's how:

First, call the 800 number immediately, and get in touch with a human being. Tell them that you're late with your payment, and explain why. In my case, I thought February 9th was both due dates. The conversation went something like this:

"I'm really sorry, I totally mixed up the dates and I'm now a week late with my payment. This has never happened to me before. I think I might have had a late payment a really long time ago. I've had this card since 1990."

"Your record is fine. You haven't had a late payment in the past twelve months. You won't get an interest rate change. That's only for two late payments in twelve months."

"Is there going to be a late charge?" [I knew damned well he'd say yes.]


"How much?"


"$35? Wow. Is there anything we can do about this?"

"Well, sometimes we can take away the late charge, but blahblahblah" [some b.s. about timing, computer, blah blah]

"So there's nothing we [notice the plural pronoun] can do about the charge?"

"Wait, it may not have gone through yet... no, it hasn't. I can take the late charge off."

"Thank you so much. I'm online now, and posting a payment ."

"Right, I can see the payment now. I'll make a note of it. All fixed."

"Thanks again!"

The thing to remember about credit card companies is that number one, they want your business. Number two, the person on the end of the phone has been instructed to do everything they can to keep customers happy. Number three, if the rep on the phone says he or she doesn't have the authority to do what needs to be done, you can politely ask them if their supervisor has the authority. I've had my interest rates lowered, any late fees taken off, and had my credit line raised that way. The reps don't care, and the supervisors have the authority that your average credit rep doesn't.

And yes, I know the ideal situation is not to have a balance on a credit card to begin with. But I do, and since I do, I've become an expert at playing the revolving low interest rate card game, and at making sure I don't get charged any extra fees, even if it's my fault. Late fees are a bogus way for companies to get more money out of you. They're not fixed, they're fluid. Learn to play the system. I did.

More on uniqueness

Kudos to Brant Hadaway, the author of the Strange Women Lying in Ponds for this post on Mel Gibson and Holocaust denial, for further explaining why the Holocaust was unique:

[... ] But what Stalin termed class warfare was really just a vehicle for keeping him in power.

[...] The "kulaks," the "bourgeoise"... these were all convenient enemies which allowed Stalin to keep the peacetime Soviet Union on a constant internal war footing, never letting up to give the people a moment to contemplate how they might better their political circumstances. Horrible as his crimes were, it would be a misnomer to suggest that what Stalin did was an "attempt to exterminate an entire social class." That is what he would have liked us to call it, but that isn't what it actually was.

But getting to the heart of your rhetorical question: Is it more contemptible to exterminate an entire race than it is to exterminate a social class?

Yes, it is more contemptible to exterminate a race than a class. Race is, by definition, an ascribed characteristic; i.e., you can do nothing to change it. The unique aspect of the Jewish religion is that one is actually born into it. It is the only great religion (that I can think of) in which ethnicity is inextricably bound up with religion. One can shed one's class by dispossessing oneself of property (although under Stalin this may have only had mildly mitigating effects); a Catholic can renounce his faith; a man can grab a party flag and take up slogans in worship of the supreme dictator. These people at least have a chance. The Jews had none but luck and the perseverence of the few who risked themselves to help.

What distinguishes the Holocaust from Stalin's atrocities is that the Jews were condemned by the Nazis to die because they were born as Jews. They were sent to camps that were specifically designed for extermination. Their extermination was the official policy of the Nazi regime. There was consequently little they could do to save themselves once the extermination machine had begun.

So, yes, even if you accept Stalin's version of events -- that he was attempting to liquidate a "class" of people -- the deliberate extermination of a race is morally more repugnant.

He also discusses intent in his previous post. Here's a lawyer who says that intent does have much to do with the level of crime.

Of course, many millions of people died and suffered in WWII and under Stalin's murderous dictatorship. But what made the Holocaust peculiar was Nazi Germany's intent to exterminate the Jews in Europe. Yes, the Holocaust was also prosecuted against other groups -- Gypsies, homosexuals, and the intellectual elite of Europe (who often happened to be Jewish) -- but there can be no doubt that, especially in light of the Wansee Conference where the "Final Solution" was adopted as official Nazi policy, the eradication of the Jews in Europe was a particular war aim of Hitler's regime. It is this intent of the Holocaust that distinguishes the elimination of 6 million Jews from the suffering of other people in that conflict.

Yeah, that's what I said, Brant. I'm guessing you got hammered for it, too.

As for Captain Holly: That wasn't what I said. And it wasn't what Lynn said, either. We both said that the Holocaust is unique. When you can find an atrocity that can be traced to government meetings conducted years before the event to plan what atrocities will be done to that ethnic group, that sets up specific military task forces to murder that ethnic group in the countries being conquered; indeed, that defines one of the war aims of that country, then you can tell me that the Holocaust was not unique.

The "Wannsee Conference" was not a name its participants would have given to their meeting; it is simply the most convenient description available for historians of the Holocaust. At a villa owned by the SS on the shores of a suburban Berlin lake called the Wannsee, mid­level bureaucrats from a number of Nazi agencies, all named in the introduction to the text, assembled at the request of Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Main Security Office and head of the German secret police apparatus. Heydrich and his boss, Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, were in the process of assuming leadership in the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," i.e., the murder of Europe's Jews by the Nazis. This meeting was a part of that process, as bureaucratic coordination would be required for the massive efforts to be undertaken throughout Europe to kill the 11,000,000 Jews described in the document. The Nazis ultimately succeeded in killing between five and six million of Europe's Jews, with hundreds of thousands, mainly in the Soviet Union, already dead by the time of this meeting. The minutes were taken by Heydrich's subordinate, Adolf Eichmann, but edited by Heydrich, who substituted Nazi euphemisms for references to actions planned against the Jews.

Yes, the Gypsies were targeted too—after the Jews. Two years after the Nuremberg Laws against Jews were enacted, they were amended to include the Gypsies. And while I acknowledge the tragedy of the Roma, I'm wracking my brain, and failing to find an online source, for a single line about Gypsies from one of Hitler's speeches. Feel free to email me a source if you can find one.

On the other hand, it's not difficult at all to find references to Jews in Hitler's speeches.

Let me be plain—again: I am not saying that one genocide is worse than another. I am saying that the Holocaust was unique in the history of mankind. And I'm done saying it. We have reached the echo chamber part of this discussion, and my ears are beginning to ache. As is my soul, from doing all this Holocaust research.

If you still think the Holocaust was not "terribly special," and only just another atrocity in a century of atrocities, then I pity you. Or in some cases, I despise you. But I think I won't name names there. You can figure it out yourselves.

A waste of words

Sasha Volokh has put up a response which tells me, frankly, that any more words to him from me are an utter waste of time. He says he sees no moral difference between killing six million random people and the attempt to wipe out every last Jew on the planet. Our conversation is effectively over. There is a moral disconnect here, and, well, I'll just stop with that. Sad, that he is so unable to see.

Clayton Cramer, meantime, has completely ignored the gist of my post because he is upset that I paraphrased his quote about Jewish influence on American media, and demands an apology. Here is his exact quote, which is linked in the post below:

It has received far more attention than similarly monstrous atrocities throughout history, perhaps because Jews in the U.S. have been in especially influential positions in the publishing and media business.

I find the above to be a very short leap from that to what I wrote, which was that he said Jews control the U.S. media. Apparently, I hurt Clayton's feelings. No, you didn't say that Jews control the U.S. media. Yes, I should not have said you did. Character assassination? No. Heat of the moment exaggeration. Trust me, you'd know it if I wanted to assassinate your character. Subtlety is not one of my strong points.

While we're on the subject, perhaps you should take another look at what you wrote, Clayton, because you're not making a very good impression on me, either. And this isn't helping:

But strong feelings are not a substitute for accurate paraphrasing and accurate portrayals of history.

Fine. Let's turn that one back on you: Portray history accurately. Don't say the Holocaust has been emphasized due to Jewish influence in the U.S. media.

My statement about complicity is accurate. I wasn't referring to anything you've said in the past, or I'd have linked it. I was simply pointing out another reason why the Holocaust deserved to be emphasized over other atrocities. Unless you have information about any other nations helping Stalin murder Russians, the Holocaust stands alone in infamy.

As for my saying half the world was complicit in the Holocaust, that's called "hyperbole." I tend to hit that note sometimes in my posts. But at least I admit it. Your turn, Clayton. Only one of us is the author of history books, and that is the one that said:

Some people try to see the Holocaust as special; unfortunately, there was nothing terribly special about it.

See, now that's heading down a very slippery slope. As Lynn pointed out, Holocaust denial also includes the minimization of the Holocaust, or denying its uniqueness. Yes, there was something "terribly special" about it, for the reasons I listed below, and for the reasons Lynn listed, and for the thousand reasons that neither of us listed.

And by the way, the less-than-warm fuzzies you're feeling about me? Right back atcha, pal.



The moral uniqueness of the Holocaust

Sasha Volokh said he isn't "into" the moral uniqueness of the Holocaust. Clayton Cramer says neither is he, and it's probably emphasized over other atrocities because the Jews control the U.S. media. Lynn B. takes exception, as does Solomon. Then Sasha explains what he means by "moral uniqueness".

Now, the Holocaust is special in various ways. Unlike most other atrocities, it has a specific and important anti-Jewish element, which makes it relevant to modern anti-Semitism. Obviously, it had a racial element (like some other atrocities, but not all), so it's relevant to race relations generally, and people being singled out because of an accident of birth has its own emotional impact, as does people being singled out because of the cultural or religious community they belong to. It was more systematic than some other atrocities, which gives it special importance as an illustration of what an evil government can do if it puts its mind to it (so it may have more relevance as a cautionary tale for, say, the design of political systems). It had its particularly horrific elements -- camps, ovens, and the like -- which makes it particularly spine-chilling. And it took place in a highly developed, industrialized country that didn't have much previous history along those lines, so it's a good illustration of how quickly things can go sour and therefore how important it is to guard against this sort of thing even where you don't think such vigilance is necessary.

But none of that is moral uniqueness. A serial killer may kill more grislily than someone who's in it for the money; a lynching may be more shocking, or may tell us more about deep political issues, or may be more socially harmful in some sense, than a random drive-by shooting; but all of the above are immoral because they snuff out an innocent life. The same right is violated in each case. Similarly, the reason it's immoral to kill 6 million Jews is because doing so involves 6 million acts of murder. Do I care any extra that they were killed because they were Jewish, or that their killing was systematic? Yes, in various senses, but not in the moral sense.

You can read what Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim wrote about the uniqueness of the Holocaust. But I can put it into one simple concept for you. Its uniqueness wasn't simply because of the numbers. Its uniqueness wasn't because a race of people were "singled out."

Its uniqueness was due to the fact that a nation set out to exterminate all the people in a certain ethnic group, all over the world. Hitler started with the Jews of Europe, and did an astonishingly thorough job. His goal was to continue until the entire planet was judenrein. He didn't "just" kill a lot of Jews. He created an efficient, organized death machine whose purpose was to eliminate Jews from the planet. It wasn't just mass murder. Its purpose was the extinction of the Jews. Exctinction. Let me say that one more time: The extinction of the Jews. Had he succeeded in Russia, Sasha, neither you nor your brother would be alive to blog today. Had he defeated the United States, then I wouldn't be alive to write this today.

Another aspect of the uniqueness of the Holocaust is that many of the nations which Hitler conquered were willingly complicit, helping to round up Jews and ship them off to the camps. They, too, wanted to see a world without Jews. No such thing happened in any of the other atrocities you mention. Pol Pot wasn't aided by Korea and Thailand. Stalin didn't have help from China. Hitler had his adherents in eastern Europe, even in Poland. Read the stories of Holocaust survivors. Polish Jews were massacred by the Poles while under German rule. Half the world was complicit in this, Clayton. That's why it remains emphasized. Not because Jews control the U.S. media. Because the world let it happen.

As Lynn pointed out, this isn't a question of which killing is greater than which. It's the concept of the elimination of an entire people from the face of the earth. In his attempt to eliminate world Jewry, Hitler destroyed two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. The amorality of it isn't in the killings, Sasha. The amorality of it is in the attempt to eliminate an entire people from the face of the earth. That is the Holocaust's moral uniqueness, and that is what you should "believe" in. Yes, Stalin killed more Russians. But Stalin wasn't trying to eliminate all Russians from existence. There was no "Final Solution" for him, or for Pol Pot, or for some grisly serial killer.

Only for the Jews.

That email isn't from me

For those of you who may be getting the spam worm with my return address, no, it isn't from me, and no, I didn't get infected. I don't even use Microsoft Outlook, and I never click on executables in my email without thoroughly checking them for viruses, and never on .exe, .vbs., or .pif files.

Those are forged email headers from spammers. I can't do anything about it.

This has been a public service announcement.



Climb on

There are a lot of things to write about—far more depressing things—and I think I'll leave them for tomorrow. Because this evening, after teaching religious school, I met a coworker at the gym and climbed rock walls for an hour. It was a blast. It's been a week and a half since I last climbed, and the walls got higher again. But I am pleased and proud to report that I climbed a 47-foot wall and got to the top fairly quickly and easily, with almost no fear, and that by the last climb, the walls had all gotten lower. Oh, wait, I had four and a half climbs. The last one was a pretty challenging one that requires a lot of upper-body strength (you have to hang onto the rocks on an incline with your arms and muscle your way up to the vertical part), and I might have been able to do it in the beginning of the night, but I simply didn't have the strength at the end. (Note to self: Go use the Nautilus at apartment fitness center.)

And may I suggest that if any of you teach religious school out there, and find that like me, on Tuesdays, the children are sometimes (often!) uncontrollable, and you get out of class with a headache, an hour of an adrenaline-boosting sport like rock climbing is a panacea for both your headache and your mood. I was grinning from ear to ear on the drive home.

I'm tellin' ya, I'm starting to believe that I'm going to have that flat stomach by summertime. If I can only give up potato chips for a couple of months.

Israeli news roundup

I'm quite sure you won't see this touted with a Reuters headline:

Fewer soldiers refusing to serve in territories
There has been a dramatic fall in the number of soldiers refusing to serve in the territories, the head of the Israel Defense Forces' Manpower division told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Tuesday. Major General Gil Regev said that in 2002, 100 reservists and 29 officers were jailed for refusing to serve in the territories. In comparison, in 2003, just 18 reserve soldiers and 8 officers were imprisoned.

Regev said that many of the pilots who demonstrated last year against serving in the territories and backed a group of high-ranking pilots in their public refusal to serve in the territories, do not even serve in the Israel Air Force today. He said that of the 27 pilots who refused to serve, 15 no longer have to do reserve duty, 2 or 3 have taken back their public declarations and the remainder have been dismissed from reserve duty by the air force commander.

Imagine that. Why, if I were to put a name to those who said they would refuse to serve in the territories, but were not really ever going to be asked, I'd have to call them, oh, "chickenhawks." Or is that a left-only term?

And let us compare the Israeli justice system with the pals':

The committee also heard Tuesday from the Judge Advocate General, Major General Menachem Finkelstein, who said that since the start of the second intifada in September 2000, the military police has launched 473 probes against soldiers. A total of 194 investigations involved violence against Palestinians, 171 were for alleged property crimes, 71 for unnecessarily opening fire and 38 for other alleged crimes.

Finkelstein said that a total of 65 indictments have so far been filed against soldiers, 30 for property crimes, 20 for violent crimes and 15 for shooting a Palestinian to death or causing grievous injuries. Eighteen of the cases involve soldiers' operations at roadblocks. He said that the heaviest punishments handed down so far were terms of 9-10 months imprisonment for violent abuse of Palestinians and beating detainees.

But then, there is no comparison. PA police officials are complicit in, and carry out, in terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, over in Nigeria, an Iranian diplomat (read: Hizbullah contact/agent) was taking surveillance pictures of the Israeli embassy.

An Iranian diplomat was arrested in Nigeria under suspicion that he was spying on Israel, Reuters reported.

The Shin Bet confirmed the report.

A police source in Nigeria told the news agency that the man was arrested on January 23rd after he was caught taking pictures of the Israeli embassy in the capital Abuja, with a digital camera.

"A digital camera was found in his possession, with surveillance pictures of the embassy and several other international and local official buildings in the capital," a senior Israeli security source told Reuters.

A Nigerian police spokesman said last Thursday that an Iranian was being questioned after taking photographs of strategic buildings in the capital.

Iranian "diplomats" are responsible for the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, which killed hundreds of Jews.

This one pains me so much I can barely write about it. Tell me again about the two-state solution. Tell me again how the Arabs will protect Jewish holy sites. Go ahead, because all the proof is in the video:

Video reveals neglect of Temple remains
Ancient boulders strewn among heaps of garbage on the Temple Mount along with two tractors and piles of new slabs of stone are seen in a video taken secretly at the Jerusalem holy site.

The video, which was obtained on Monday by The Jerusalem Post, was filmed in parts of the Temple Mount which remain off-limits to Jewish and Christian visitors.

When Jordan had control of East Jerusalem, Jews were not permitted to worship at the Western Wall, Christians were barred from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and tombstones from Jewish cemeteries were taken from graves and used to create latrines.

The Jordanian "occupation" of the West Bank was very abusive of the rights of Jews and Christians, or any resident of Israel. Jewish and muslim residents of Israel were not permitted to visit their Holy Places in East Jerusalem. Christians, too, were discriminated against. In 1958, Jordanian legislation required all members of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre to adopt Jordanian citizenship. In 1965, Christian institutions were forbidden to acquire any land or rights in or near Jerusalem. In 1966, Christian schools were compelled to close on Fridays instead of Sundays, customs privileges of Christian religious institutions were abolished. Jerusalem was bisected by barbed wire, concrete barriers and walls. On a number of occasions Jordanian soldiers opened fire on Jewish Jerusalem. In May 1967, the Temple Mount became a military base for the Jordanian National Guard.

Yes, they used a holy place to base their armed forces. That's why they seized the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, held the priests hostage, and trashed it before they left.

This is the famous "tolerance" Arabs claim they will show us again if Israel withdraws from Jerusalem. Tolerance such as this:

The silent 10-minute video shows piles of new stone slabs and two tractors inside the Temple Mount compound, as well as mounds of strewn ancient boulders on the ground, some of which were near and in piles of garbage materials.

In the video, a section of the ancient entranceway to Solomon's Stables looks like it is on the verge of collapse. The video was secretly filmed by Army Radio's Yossi Milshtein during a Wakf- and police-escorted visit to the site less than two weeks ago.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said Monday night there was no construction work under way on the Temple Mount, aside from standard paving and renovation works, which have received approval from the political echelon.

And this especially endearing note:

He noted that at present trucks were not permitted to enter or exit the site without police supervision so that there was no chance that any ancient remains could be taken out of the site, as was previously done by the Wakf in the late 1990s when ancient Jewish artifacts where trucked to a garbage dump outside the Old City walls.

Palestinian spokesliars insist that all will be welcome to worship under their rule. I suspect they're eliding the word "Muslims" from that statement.



Happy Blogiversary, James

Outside the Beltway celebrated its first birthday over the weekend. And I have to say that I stand by my quote: James is a wicked, wicked man. Every time he links to me, it's in some over-the-top, sexist manner. I'm still getting referrers from his Blog Chicks Pix post, and the last time I got an influx from James, he implied I was handing out sex for donations (I most certainly am not). No, he didn't imply it. He outright stated it. That "may not" was a rather obvious ass-covering tactic.

And now he's adding the InstaWife to the Blog Chicks. I hereby lodge a formal protest. While she is indeed, quite pretty, and most definitely a chick, she isn't a blogger. At the risk of the InstaHusband's wrath, I must insist that you either exclude Mrs. Instapundit from the Blog Chicks Pix, or create a separate category of Blogger Relations Chick Pix.

Listen, you may be a year old now, but you've still got a lot to learn, you young whippersnapper. I'll be celebrating my third blogiversary in April, and have been online longer than—longer than—uh, longer than some people.

Anyway. James certainly has a lot of energy. Thirteen posts a day, on average? Yeesh. He's never going to need Bliagra.

North Korea is not our problem

Reports from North Korean defectors are detailing the use of gas chambers to kill "enemies of the state."

They are headed Letter Of Transfer, marked Top Secret and dated February 2002 . They each bear the name of a male victim, his date and place of birth. The text reads: "The above person is transferred from Camp 22 for the purpose of human experimentation with liquid gas for chemical weapons."

But North Korea is not our problem.

The World Food Program cut aid to North Korea for lack of donations.

A similar evil game of elite ritz amidst mass starvation continues in east Asia, except a wag might call North Korea’s shakedown "Food For Fallout." While Kim Jong Il’s strange little Stalinist clique trumpets the development of nuclear weapons, 2.7 million of its citizens face imminent starvation. Last week the World Food Program cut food aid to North Korea because of a lack of foreign donations.

But North Korea is not our problem.

Estimates are that one million North Koreans have died from starvation and other causes over the past decade.

As the extent of starvation and general brutality becomes better known, this conflict between the government of North Korea and its people goes to the top of the list. In the last decade, over a million North Koreans have been killed by their government. This sort of thing is called democide, and North Korea is currently the most vigorous practitioner.

But North Korea is not our problem.

Experiments with poisons are taking place in the North Korean Gulag.

"An officer ordered me to select 50 healthy female prisoners," she said. "One of the guards handed me a basket full of soaked cabbage, told me not to eat it but to give it to the 50 women. I gave them out and heard a scream from those who had eaten them. They were all screaming and vomiting blood. All who ate the cabbage leaves started violently vomiting blood and screaming with pain. It was hell. In less than 20 minutes they were quite dead."

But North Korea is not our problem. America is not the world's policeman. We shouldn't act unilaterally. We have starving people here at home to feed. What's the United Nations for, anyway? The Axis of Evil, it's such a simplistic world view.

It is far more important to protest Israel's treatment of the palestinians, or the security fence, or the American occupation of Iraq, or the prisoners at Guantanamo.

After all, North Korea is not our problem.

Or maybe it is.



Some advice for Michael Medved: The Jews are not to blame for anti-Semitism

Unbelievable. I was reading the Christian Science Monitor's take on Mel Gibson "Passion" flick. Apparently they presented "both sides" of the story: They reprinted Paula Fredriksen's article refuting Gibson's claims that his film was being railroaded by various Jewish groups and falsely being labeled anti-Semitic:

Icon Productions leaked our report to the media, presented our assessment as an "attack" on Christianity, and has worked hard to keep the controversy alive until the movie's release Feb. 25. Right-wing Jewish pundits have been lined up to report that they see no problems with the movie, and that criticisms of it "lack moral legitimacy." Catholic concern has been deemphasized and Jewish concern emphasized to enhance the idea that the controversy is a Christian vs. Jews argument. Gibson's critics, say "Passion" apologists, attack his rights, and thus the rights of all citizens.

Let's be clear: This is an action flick. Gibson has taken skills honed in "Lethal Weapon," "Conspiracy," and "Payback" to construct his take on the last 12 hours of Jesus' life. If you've seen the final half-hour of "Braveheart" (a medieval action movie) you've essentially seen "Passion." This time, Caiaphas is Longshanks.

Again, so what? It's just a movie. But this movie - unlike, say, "The Last Temptation of Christ" or "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" - risks more than religious offensiveness, and does more than simply entertain with violence. "Passion" stands in the echo chamber of traditional Christian anti-Judaism. The tradition at its most benign has excused, and at its most malicious has occasioned, anti-Jewish violence for as long as Western culture has been Christian. Jews viewing "The Last Temptation" were hardly going to feel enraged at Christians. Someone overstimulated by "Massacre," if tempted to act out, would act on his own. Christians enraged at the supposed Jewish treatment of Jesus have often acted out against Jewish neighbors in their midst, and felt morally and theologically justified in doing so.

Will "Passion" have a negative effect on society? Might it promote anti-Jewish violence? I think it well might. Long cultural habits die hard. Debate around the film has already occasioned ugly anti-Semitic slurs. My university and I have received ominous threats from a furious Christian "Passion" fan. ("I am telling you now that if this woman continues to be employed as a professor, you will be putting your university at risk.") If the publicity-oriented "debate" stirs such feelings now, will the true debate stir fewer feelings once the public can actually view the movie? I doubt it.

On the other page, Michael Medved had his say, and here's mine: You should be ashamed of yourself, Medved. This kind of Jewish self-blame should have died with the six million. It's not our fault, and I call bullshit on you for saying so.

All the debate about allegedly anti-Semitic overtones misses the point: The organized Jewish community and its allies in interfaith dialogue may not welcome "Passion," but overreaction will provoke far more anti-Semitism than the movie itself.

Gibson financed the film on his own precisely due to his determination to realize his own traditionalist Catholic vision of the Gospel story without compromise to the sensitivities of profit-oriented accountants or other religious perspectives. Jewish leaders feel wounded that he never consulted them on the script or historic details, but he also left out Protestant and Eastern Orthodox traditions.

The possibility of anti-Jewish violence in response to the film has been irresponsibly emphasized and has become, self-fulfilling prophecy. In parts of Europe and the Islamic world, anti-Semitic vandalism and violence occur daily, and hardly need a film by a Hollywood superstar to encourage them. In this context, Jewish denunciations of the movie only increase the likelihood that those who hate us will seize on the movie as an excuse for more of hatred.

The problem with traditional "passion plays" was always the unmistakable association of contemporary Jews with the staged oppressive Judean religious authorities. The high priest often appeared with anachronistic European prayer shawls, skull caps, and side curls. Gibson avoids such imagery - costumes and ethnicity of the persecutors make them look far less recognizable as Jews than do the faces and practices of Jesus and his disciples. The words "Jew or "Jewish" scarcely appear in the subtitles to his movie, spoken in Aramaic and Latin. By agonizing so publicly about the purportedly anti-Semitic elements in the story, the Anti-Defamation League makes it vastly more likely that moviegoers will connect the corrupt first-century figures with today's Jewish leaders.

So you see, it's our fault. The fact that the first group to criticize the movie was an interfaith group doesn't matter. Medved has declared that since Jews are complaining about anti-Semitism, we are causing anti-Semitic events.

If that were true, then my blogs of the past two years would have been the cause of the death of thousands of Jews. Asshat. Here's your foreskin back, Medved. We don't need Jews like you.

But wait. There's one more piece of utter stupidity here. See if you can spot the contradiction in terms.

Putting the New Testament account into this perspective may make sense with Jewish audiences, but insisting on this approach with our Christian neighbors is outrageous arrogance. We may not welcome the stories told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but Christians have cherished the record for 2,000 years. The fact that anti-Semites have used these accounts as the inspiration for their depredations may prove that those stories can be dangerous, but it doesn't prove them untrue. Jewish organizations must not attempt to take responsibility for deciding what Christians can and cannot believe. If they do, they force a choice between faithfulness to scripture and amiable relations with Jews. The notion that committed Christians can't have one without spurning the other does no service to Jews - or anyone.

Give up? It's this: "The fact that anti-Semites have used these accounts as the inspiration for their depredations may prove that those stories can be dangerous, but it doesn't prove them untrue."

So, you're a Jew, and you're accepting the truth of the Christian Bible? In my book, that makes you a Christian. Here's another helpful hint for the religious-impaired Medved: The Bible is not a work of nonfiction. We aren't trying to prove the Gospels false. We are saying that their portrayal of Jews, and the labeling of Jews as Christ-killers, has caused thousands of anti-Semitic attacks over the past two millennia, and contributed greatly to the world's anti-Semitism. Let's give Fredriksen the last word here:

In recent years in Europe, violence against Jews - if those Jews are Israelis - has been explicitly excused by appeal to the tradition that "the Jews killed Christ." Horrific suicide bombings during the current intifada inspired a church in Edinburgh, over Easter 2001, to display a painting of the crucifixion with Roman centurions and officers of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) at the foot of the cross. A political cartoon in Italy's La Stampa commented on the IDF's cordon around armed Palestinian gunmen in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity with a baby Jesus, crouching in his manger at the sight of an Israeli tank, crying out, "Oh, no. They don't want to kill me again?!?"

My point is that the toxic tradition - Jews killed Jesus; all Jews everywhere are culpable; when something bad happens to them, it is no less than they deserve - is very much alive. The film, if unaltered, is inflammatory, and potentially dangerous.

Oh, yeah. It's our fault for bringing up the topic of anti-Semitism. We made that Italian cartoonist draw that cartoon, and we made La Stampa put it on page one.

No, we didn't. The Jew-hatred has been around for thousands of years. It's not our fault. It's theirs.


This is just wrong. I'm watching the Superbowl, and there are all these commercials for Levitra, but they don't tell you what it is, except that it's a prescription drug. So I go to, and it turns out it's a new Viagra drug. There is something seriously wrong with advertising a prescription-only drug as heavily as that, but hey, they did it with Viagra, too.

So. Mike Ditka can't get it up without Levitra, hm? Boy, I'd be embarrassed to admit that on a commercial receiving heavy play during the Superbowl.

By the way, I'm watching the Superbowl for the commercials. Honest. So far, I've only hit the bathroom during the game.

82 messages waiting for my in my inbox. Four were not spam. Y'know, the email protocols need to be rewritten to refuse forged email headers. Then there would be much, much less spam.

Two more came in while I was writing this post.

I am effing exhausted. They wore me ragged at the gym yesterday, and I worked fairly hard today as well. The good news was that I belayed another guy who outweighed me by more than 100 pounds, and this time, didn't lose a bit of skin or have any real trouble letting him down the wall. Damn, I'm tired today. And my hands hurt. They tell me my hands will toughen up. Can't wait.


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.