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The ICJ: The fix is in

The International Court of [sarcasm on] Justice [sarcasm off] has ruled that not only may the Arab League testify against Israel, but so can the Organization of the Islamic Conference. So, does this amount to being able to vote twice? Will their testimony be weighted double? How many members of the Arab League are also members of the OIC?

All of them.

Here's what I don't understand. Why is it that the fence, which is an internal matter that touches only Israelis and palestinians, may be testified against by Afghanis, Somalians, Sudanese, and Iranians? How can Ugandans and Ivorans presume to have a legal say on the fence? The Maldives? The effing Maldives are able to testify against Israel on this? Mali? Mauritania? (Oh. Wait. Mauritania has been voting with Israel consistently. That makes it only 55 states against.)

I used to be a multiculturalist. I used to think the United Nations would lead the way to a united world, and someday, the Star Trek universe would be a reality, minus the miniskirts and the lame skintight uniforms, but with the communicators.

I no longer believe the United Nations can be impartial in any way. The ICJ at the Hague is just an offshoot of the UN, and therefore as biased and malleable and corrupt as its parent.

"Palestine" is a member of the OIC. Astonishing, as it's not even in existence yet. Here's the OIC entry for it:

The Palestine was founded in 1993. The capital is Jerusalem. The population is almost 3 million and the land area is 6 thousand square kilometres. Palestine is situated in West Asia. The country is separated into two parts with Israel lying in between. She shares borders with Egypt on the west and Jordan on the east.

The climate is veried; in the west bank it is temperate with temperature and precipitation varying with altitude. The summers are warm to hot and the winters are cool to mild. The Gaza Strip has a more temperate climate with mild winters and dry and warm to hot summers. The terrain is mostly rugged and dissected upland. There is some vegetation in the west but the east is barren. About one third of the land area is arable and under grazing. The other one fourth is desert while the remaining portion is woodland and forest. The terrain in the Gaza Strip is flat to rolling with sand and dune-covered coastal plains.

Natural resources include minerals and marine products. The economy of Palestine is on agriculture and related industries. The country enjoys considerable transfers from abroad from both expatriates and overseas business enterprises.

Now, now. Be truthful. I'd write the description this way:

Natural resources include suicide bombers of all shapes, sizes, and genders, as well as bombmakers, missile constructors, and weapons factories. The economy of "Palestine" is of a parasitic nature, requiring hundreds of thousands of laborers to work in Israel while terrorists plot ways to kill more Jews. The country has considerable expatriates because the surrounding Arab nations refuse to allow palestinians to become citizens, and everywhere they found a community, they are expelled after turning on their host nations (see Kuwait and Iraq).

I should get a job writing PR for an Arab state. True, it would only last a day, but damn, it would be fun sending out that first press release.




I'm just exhausted, is all. I've been short on sleep all week. Stressing out on finances tends to make me lose sleep in the worst of ways: It takes hours to fall asleep, and then I wake up early. I get maybe five hours' sleep and then I can't sleep anymore no matter how tired I am. Plus there was a lot to be done this week, what with the synagogue newsletter being due and various other obligations. Well, one obligation wasn't exactly an obligation; I spent time with Sarah and the twins again. I fully intend to put up cute toddler pictures, knowing that some of you hate them and some of you love them. So I piss you off and make you smile all at the same time. That's known as weblog success.

The weekend will be a busy one, but I may get a break on Sunday. A storm is bearing down on Richmond, and if it snows and sleets on Saturday night the way they say it will, I'll probably get to sleep in on Sunday instead of teaching religious school. Of course, that will put me behind, which will add to the stress level, but then, I purchased a boatload of stress balls yesterday.

And the suckiest thing about stress: No matter how hard you try to relax, it's still there, bearing down on you, especially in your sleep. On the other hand, I seem to have gotten the hang of lucid dreaming. When I have one of those nightmares where you can't move or scream, the narrator manages to sneak in and remind me that I'm dreaming, and off I go. The narrator also seems to sneak in during flight dreams (way cool), extending them far beyond their normal duration. Or would that be the editor, since the dream is changed when I remind myself that I'm dreaming? Hm. Totally confusing, but probably because of that exhaustion thing.

I have enough energy to do a cat blog. No, wait. Not even that. I'm off to bed. It's nearly 11 p.m., and the apartment is finally warm enough. I could not get warm today, no matter how many layers I put on, until recently. Probably part of the whole being tired thing.

I owe a bunch of people emails. If I don't get to them tomorrow, I'll get to them during the snow break.

That's one way to get rid of the carpeting

Last night I found out that my old apartment in Montclair (NJ—I'm in Richmond now) burned down earlier this week. Nobody was home, and nobody was hurt, but a fire evidently started in what used to be my spare room and was the new tenants' baby room, burned by itself for an hour, and finally blew out the windows and drew attention to itself. My old apartment, the one above it, and part of the second floor next door are totalled. My neighbor Brenda's apartment is fine, as is the neighbor on the other side. The firewall between apartments held out. The reason Brenda's upstairs neighbor lost his bedroom is because the fire ate through the roof and came at it that way.

The big news: Not one of the three tenants had renter's insurance. The bigger news: Not one of the smoke alarms went off. Not even the ones hard-wired in the hallways. Looks like my old slumlord is going to have some major fines on his hand, as well as three lawsuits for damages, I expect.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

I'd show you a before picture, but I have very few. No digicam at the time, and I hated the horrible green carpeting, so I didn't take many pictures of the orange cats clashing with the ugly green carpet.

Poor Brenda's traumatized. She found out about the fire when it exploded out the windows of the room next to the one she was in at the time. She felt the explosion, went out on the balcony, and saw flames shooting out the windows next door. Talk about your rude awakenings.

Makes me glad I tested my smoke alarm here last week. Scared the hell out of the cats and me, but it works.

Y is for why?

Yes, Kate has finally reached "Y" as the letter of the day. As the only blogger that I know of whose name begins with a Y, my question is: Y wasn't I first? I mean, you'd think that the only Y blogger (though not a blogger with a Y chromosome) would be first among equals. Y'know? Even Chuck Simmins is listed before me, and his name begins with an S, f'r cyrin' out loud.

I think I'm feeling a bit yurt—I mean, hurt.




U.S. to target Hizbullah?

Noah Schachtman says that Jane's reports America may send Special Forces into Lebanon to attack Hizbullah terrorist bases.

US secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld is considering plans to expand the global war on terrorism with multi-pronged attacks against suspected militant bases in countries such as Lebanon and Somalia...

Sending US troops into lawless Somalia would not be new, nor is it likely to cause serious diplomatic waves. Covert US forces have periodically infiltrated the country over the past two years in order to conduct surveillance and even snatch [Al Qaeda] suspects...

However, sending US special forces into Lebanon - and in particular an area like the Bekaa Valley (which is virtually Syrian territory) and where the bulk of Damascus' military forces in Lebanon are deployed - would be an entirely different matter. Deployment of US forces in the area would almost certainly involve a confrontation with Syrian troops.

That may well prove to be the objective, since the Bush administration is currently stepping up pressure on the Damascus regime in a bid to force it to cut off all support for radical Palestinian groups which have been targeting Israel during the three-year-old intifada. Washington also wants Syria to abandon its weapons of mass destruction and to withdraw all its forces from Lebanon, a virtual satellite since Syria moved in with tacit US support in 1990 as part of a strategy to end Lebanon's civil war.

The US administration has long considered Damascus as a prime candidate for 'regime-change' (along with Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and possibly even Saudi Arabia). Syria, once a powerhouse of Arab radicalism that could not be ignored, has been seriously weakened, both militarily and politically. Washington may feel that the time is coming to oust Bashir Al-Assad and the ruling generals. Targeting Syria via Lebanon, the only concrete political influence Damascus has to show following decades of radical diplomacy, could prove to be a means to that end...

It seems to me that this would be evidence enough to take out Hizbullah.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iran is responsible for the 1983 suicide bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 American servicemen, a U.S. District Court judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said the suicide truck bombing was carried out by the group Hezbollah with the approval and funding of Iran's senior government officials.

I say go get 'em. It's two decades overdue.



The funniest Dean parodies to date

First there's Tim Blair, who's having a contest in his comments where readers write their own YEEEAAARGH! speeches.

Then there's Jim Treacher, who has two funny, funny, funny MP3s. You simply must click on the second one. I can't stop laughing every time I hear it.

It's been a bad week for Deans. Two meltdowns in one week.


Ma'ariv has an English site available! Now we can read one of Israel's major newspapers and see something besides Ha'aretz and the Jerusalem Post, both of which are minority papers. Hell, I'd even pay a subscription price for it.

Dean, I believe the expression you're looking for is lashon hara, the evil tongue. You certainly know a lot about that.

By the way, ouch. Climbed rocks with an experienced climber last night, who made me climb routes that are for people who climb far better than I. Did you know you can knock your elbow while climbing and not even feel the bruise until you're driving home, and suddenly wonder why your elbow is killing you? Ah, the adrenaline rush of being dozens of feet in the air on a rock wall.

Okay, enough procrastination. Gotta finish my synagogue newsletter by (sigh) tomorrow.

Rain, rain, come again

The Geneva accord, the agreement that was made by unelected citizens with no power to pass the accord through the Israeli Knesset or Arafat's approval, the accord that is so incredibly important that it had to be conducted in secret, was to have a mass rally of support in Tel Aviv this coming Saturday. But it was postponed. Due to predicted rain.

Yes, it's true. Yes, I have a source.

A mass rally to promote the Geneva Accord that was scheduled for this coming Saturday night in Tel Aviv was delayed until next month due to forecasts that predicted rain, a spokeswoman for the accord said on Tuesday.

The rally had already been moved from Kikar Rabin to the Tel Aviv Sportech, because the square is being turned into a temporary ice skating rink. The rally is now being planned for February 7, back in Kikar Rabin.

Geneva architect Yasser Abed Rabbo is to be the featured speaker and several top Israeli singers will perform at the event.

So the accord is so important that a rally in support of it can be canceled due to prospective rainfall? Or would this, perhaps, be yet another fake show of support for an agreement that the majority of Israelis and palestinians want nothing to do with?

Hey, Imshin, Tel Aviv is your stomping grounds, isn't it? I'll bet you're glad traffic won't be all messed up this weekend. I'm having a good laugh at Yossi Beilin's expense.

Readers' reactions on the veil

From Russell G.:

I have to disagree with you on this point, although I can certainly see why you made it. I think it has to do with the nature of obligation and identity. I generally consider feminism as including a woman's freedom to define her own identity as she sees fit, rather than having it solely dictated to her.

So how can obligation be choice? Let's try a different issue. As an observant Jew, I consider it to be a religious obligation to keep kosher. Now under US law, I am certainly not obligated to do so - but I would become rather upset if US law placed obstacles in my path (consider those European countries in the process of banning kosher slaughter, for example). Keeping kosher is certainly an obligation, and yet I would also say that it is my choice - I choose to keep what I consider my religious obligations, even some people consider them to be foolish and outmoded.

A woman's freedom, yes. But when a woman is not free to choose whether or not she wears a veil, there is no freedom. Your comparison only works if you will be beaten or jailed by your co-religionists for not keeping kosher. This isn't about France outlawing the wearing of the veil in schools. This is about Muslim women's ability to choose to wear the veil.

From Eric R.:

You are completely misinterpreting what Daniel Pipes wrote. He is merely pointing out that the Muslim attitudes towards religious traditions have changed. He is not saying that the veil is feminist, he is saying that some Muslim women see it as being feministic.

I think you owe him and conservatives an apology.

Eric's letter sparked an email conversation with Lynn B, who first sent me the Pipes URL. Here's what she wrote:

No, no and no. I read that quote about 15 times before I sent it to you. I read it again several times yesterday before I posted my link to you, and again just now. The so-called change in viewpoint isn't an "unexpected evolution." It's a predictable propaganda tactic. There's no doubt in my mind that some Muslim women feel that way. There's equally no doubt that ultra-Orthodox women say the same thing about keeping their hair (and their arms and legs) covered or about being forced to sit like sheep in the fenced off balcony of the synagogue. We had Phyllis Schlafley saying that being kept barefoot and pregnant was beautiful and the true fulfillment of womanhood. We have (Southern Baptist) women today saying that "obedience" to their husbands is what makes them whole. This has nothing to do with an "evolution" in Muslim thinking. It's a universal sexist response to the feminist revolution (or even a whisper of it), and the fact that it takes identical form in whatever culture it pops up is proof of that. But there is one difference. Neither (most) Orthodox women, nor Phyllis, nor those Southern Baptists are in danger of losing their lives for resisting the pressure to conform. They may lose their friends and even their families, but probably not their lives.

And you're also correct that the sources he cites are hardly authoritative on "evolution" within the thinking of Muslim women. I suggest he ask the women of Afghanistan, many of whom threw off their veils before the Taliban's dust of retreat had settled, whether they need a veil to tell them they're women.

Jeremy S. sent me the link to the fashion editor's quote, so I could read the source in its entirety. (Emphasis mine)

But it's not just a statement of identity, it's a fashion statement. One friend spent weeks scouring shops offering a dizzying array of brightly coloured, lavishly printed material to find a scarf that would perfectly match the dress she was wearing to her cousin's wedding. At a trendy café in Cairo's Zamalek district, well-dressed veiled women gossip while seated on plush couches over a late lunch or huddle over lattes, their laptops open on the tabletop. This is the dawn of the "new hijab". The trend, however, is fraught with contradictions. When it hits the stands, Jumanah will bump up against magazines such as the English-language glossy, Enigma. The cover of Enigma's December "Glamour Issue" bears a lusty picture of the Romanian designer Ramona Flip wearing a lacy black dress with a deep-plunging neckline.

[..] Does the return of the veil imply a backward trend in Egyptian feminism? The question is a contentious one, but for progressive Muslim women like Ms Samara, the suggestion that the veil is somehow reactionary or oppressive is antediluvian. Putting on the veil has, in fact, become as bold a statement as taking it off once was.

Really? Putting on the veil today might get you arrested or beaten?

"When you're veiled, it's not because you're a sex symbol, or because you're sexy, so you have to cover up," she says. "It's the contrary. It's something that tells you, you're a woman. You're not a figure. You have to be treated as an independent mind, something of bigger value than just wearing a short, tight skirt and showing off your legs. I see it as a privilege that Islam tries to tell a woman that you are more than a figure."

Oh, so it won't get you arrested or beaten, then. But wearing it is a statement about Islam and womanhood. Then it's not a fashion statement?

But Ms Samara and other marketing colleagues who had taken the veil found that it could be difficult to be both fashionable and veiled. The group saw a large market virtually untapped and founded Jumanah. The credo "Veiled is beautiful" is emblazoned on the front of the Winter 2004 issue. Inside the models are all covered up, but in the new fashionable hijab.

Oh, so it is a fashion statement? But you have to be covered up? I'm confused. Very confused. So is Daniel Pipes, it seems. When he writes

Today, in the words of a British newspaper headline, "Veiled is beautiful."

does he know that he's quoting the cover of "a fashion bible for veiled women"? Anyone want to lay bets on who the major advertisers in this magazine might be?

Rasha Saad, 33, who began wearing the veil three years ago, is pleased to find a magazine dedicated to wearing the veil with style. She notes that in the past few years local fashions have been more compatible with wearing the veil. There is a difference between attracting attention and just paying attention to one's appearance she says. "If you're wearing tight clothes, that's something different. But just trying to wear something that looks good, there's no problem in that."

Yes, these are the women to whom Daniel Pipes referred as the arbiters of veil fashion in Egypt today: Women who can't form a coherent sentence. Women who think they need something else to tell them that they are a woman. This is a source to quote on the evolution of feminist thinking in the Muslim world?

I think not.

However, while Pipes is probably not an advocate of the hijab, as Solomon says here (read the comments), he passed along uncritically these opinions from a puff fashion piece. One of the charges we make regularly about biased journalists is that they pass along—uncritically—statements that are patently untrue, or easily challenged. I think better of Pipes, and am disappointed in his including this mockery of feminist thought in his article.

Oh, and Eric: While I probably should have written "most conservatives don't get feminism," instead of tarring all with a broad brush (as Moira R. wrote me), there will be no apology forthcoming. Pipes erred here. Bigtime.



No, not Count Olaf!

Via LGF, the EU is sending their fraud office over to the West Bank to try to find out where the palestinians are hiding all their money. (Just check with EU member Switzerland and those secret bank accounts, folks, you'll find what you're looking for.) But get this: The name of the fraud squad is OLAF. (Update: Julie S. and Monica L. [no, not that one] both pointed out that Switzerland is not part of the EU. Whoops.)

Those of us who are readers of A Series of Unfortunate Events know full well the evil of Count Olaf, and know full well that any organization from Europe that bears the name of Count Olaf can be nothing but evil. I'm willing to bet that OLAF already knows where the money is, and has been well-paid by Arafat and his goons. And if you're not convinced by me, then listen to this song about Count Olaf, and tremble.


Daniel Pipes doesn't get feminism at all. He says Muslim women wearing the veil are expressing their feminism.

The admonishment for female modesty meant one thing to Egyptian feminists in the 1920s and another to their descendants today. Then, head coverings represented oppression and exclusion from public life. Today, in the words of a British newspaper headline, "Veiled is beautiful." Then, the head-covering signaled a woman not being a full human being; now, in the words of an editor at a fashion magazine, the head-covering "tells you, you're a woman. … You have to be treated as an independent mind."

I'd love to see the cite for that fashion editor, but having worked in magazine publishing, I can tell you with complete confidence that "fashion editor" does not necessarily equate with "intelligent." I'm rather astonished that Pipes uses a fashion editor as a source for the statement wearing a hijab makes. The hijab is anything but a fashion statement, and it is certainly not representative of feminism.

Feminism is the movement that fought, and fights for, the equal rights of women. Muslim nations are among the worst in that regard. Feminism most certainly is not about wearing a headscarf because your religion requires it.

Pipes clearly has no inkling of what feminism is all about, and frankly, I'm not surprised. Conservatives don't get feminism.

It's become such a curse-word, "feminist." Rosemary Esmay declared that although she was a feminist, she was nothing like "those feminazi c***s" in a long-ago post on her husband's weblog. That's one of the things that ended my association with the Esmays. Call them radical feminists, call them feminist extremists, call them assholes, and I'm with you. Repeat a horribly misused Nazi terminology that Rush Limbaugh made popular, and then throw in the c-word, and you have demeaned yourself along with those women, and we are done. There is clearly no discussing the subject rationally any longer.

Kim du Toit, in a widely-linked and discussed post, effectively blamed women for the "pussification" of the American man. The subtext is clear: All those damned feminists ruined us real men.

And now Daniel Pipes is claiming that wearing the veil is a feminist statement. That it tells people you are independent. I will cede Pipes the point of Koran interpretation that he makes in his article. But when your religion requires you to cover yourself, putting on a headscarf is not a choice. Hiding oneself from the eyes of men for fear of "tempting" them is in no way representative of feminism. Feminism is not about the oppression of women. The veil is about oppression. It is not a sign of freedom. And it is not, contrary to the belief of Muslim women marching in France and other nations, their "choice."

This widely-circulated AP article has two intensely revealing quotes:

Shouting "The veil is my choice," hundreds of people marched in Paris on Saturday as part of global protests against the French government's plan to ban Muslim headscarves in schools.

[...] "We're here for our liberty," said Fatiha Hossol, from the southeastern city of Lyon. "It's our religious obligation to honor our God."

Fatiha sees no cognitive dissonance in shouting "The veil is my choice" in one breath, and calling it an obligation in the next. But I do. And Pipes should. It is not a choice if you are required to wear the hijab. It is not a choice if its removal has negative consequences. The veil is not a choice in Saudi Arabia, where women are beaten for showing an ankle. It is not a choice in a nation where women are beaten for wearing lipstick or nail polish. It is not a choice in the slums of France, where Muslim women are raped—by Muslim men—if they leave their homes in Western dress.

It's not a choice, ladies. It's an obligation. You said it yourself.

When does wearing the veil become a choice? When a woman has the opportunity to remove the veil without punishment or the fear of punishment. When a woman has the chance to decide for herself whether or not she will wear that headscarf, then it becomes a choice. When Muslim women can go out in public bareheaded, and not suffer any negative consequences, then the hijab will be a choice.

But it will never be a feminist statement. It is a statement of faith. It is not a statement of equality.

Daniel Pipes is dead wrong on this one. The veil is an anti-feminist statement. A feminist statement of freedom would be a crowd of Muslim women, both bare-headed and wearing the hijab, mixing freely with Muslim and non-Muslim men.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

What you missed

If you're just getting back to work, you missed a bunch of stuff. Scroll down. Or check out the few weekend posts. I still post on the weekend, but much less than I used. I'm a bit busy these days. (Oooh, a life, what a concept.)

And that button on the left that says "Make a Donation" is a Paypal button. I added Paypal and Amazon Honor System for my tipjar. (FYI, Paypal takes 2%, and Amazon takes 5%, so if you can use either, I suggest the Paypal.)

I really have nothing to say in this paragraph, but I wanted to write another parenthetical statement. (Oooh, three times in a row, this is cool.)

The sharks smell blood

That would be British Muslim sharks. Having successfully gotten Robert Kilroy-Silk fired for speaking his opinions, they're currently trying to damage John Rhys-Davies' career as well.

Last night Mohammed Javed, chairman of the Muslim Society for Wales, said: "We want an apology. This could stir up racial hatred in society. It's ignorance, he should learn more about Islam and the religions before he makes these comments.

"They are based on his ignorance and nothing else."

Chief executive of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (Awema) Naz Malik agreed.

He said: "I do not know why he has said these things. If 50 per cent of people in Holland under 18 are Muslims in 16 years time, so what? In Britain the fastest growing race is mixed race, people of dual heritage. It is a cause for great celebration that our cultures are mixed.

"We live in a global society - we celebrate what is good in cultures and challenge what is bad in civilisations.

I think I'll let that last comment stand as is. But it's obvious that the Kilroy-Silk firing set a precedent in the U.K. Keep your eyes on this and see if it becomes a movement. In the meantime, the Finsbury Mosque is still operating, and Cap'n Hook Hamza has yet to be deported.

On the other hand, Naz Malik's AWEMA (what a great acronym, dude!) is under investigation. Seems some government folks think that the salaries are going nowhere except to make sure that AWEMA continues. Whoopsie.

"I think it is outrageous that they will not disclose to me their staff salaries, which are paid from public funds.

"It also seems that Awema's aims are very similar to those of the Commission for Racial Equality and that it is duplicating the work of that body. I know I am not the only person concerned about the amount of public money that has been pumped into Awema, but many are reluctant to criticise because they are worried they may be accused of racism. I fully support moves to make Wales a harmonious multiracial society with the full involvement of ethnic minorities, but I am not convinced that the public money spent on Awema could not be put to better use."

This could get ugly, folks.

Naz Malik, Awema's director, said, "Even though he sits on the Assembly's equality committee, David Davies seems to know very little about our work. I find it outrageous that he should accuse us of biting the hand that feeds us. It is our responsibility to state facts that the Assembly may find unpalatable, and that is what I was doing when I wrote our submission to the Richard Commission on the Assembly's powers that was reproduced in the Awema Times edition seen by David Davies. The fact is that there are no ethnic minority members of the Assembly."

Whoops, it just did. But I really don't think, overall, that this jerk will have any effect on Rhys-Davies. You just don't think Wales when you think film industry, and LOTR cast members are hot, hot, hot right now.



A couple of links

So this guy emails me last week and tells me he also wrote a fisking of Sean Penn's report of his Bagdhad trip, and I read it and thought, yeah, he's right, mine's funnier. Oh, be quiet, you know I'm always honest here and rarely modest. When I rock, I rock.

Anyway, this guy doesn't have his name on his blog, so I can't tell you who he is. But I have to say after reading a few more posts, I like the blog more and more. I really like this one on the 25 greatest athletes of the last 25 years, if only for bringing up Babe Didriksen (I'm so not qualified to judge his picks anymore, having lost most of my enthusiasm for sports). I also like this analysis of companies that refuse to understand that pop-up and pop-under ads are Satan's spawn. (My words, not his.) And the headline to this post is one of the worst. puns. ever. Dude, I have a suggestion for you: Give us a name we can call you by. And I like the tagline.

Over in this corner, we have Cardinal Cyn, a woman whose post on the female suicide bomber (written before we knew that Hamas seems to have blackmailed/forced her into it) is a must-read. I do believe we've found our newest member of the Bellicose Broad Brigade, eh, Kathy? I laughed out loud at the end of this post (just scroll down from the one above, it's easier). I'm looking forward to more.

Patricia McKillip ascendant

Have you ever stopped reading a book at the end of each chapter or two because you don't want the experience to end and you want to savor it as long as you can?

Most Patricia McKillip books can be read in one sitting. That's part of what I love about her writing. It is elegant and heart-wrenching and captivating and thought-provoking. It sparks wonder and awe and laughter and shock. And you can finish a McKillip novel in one rainy-day sitting, or better still, on a cold winter night. Her books are best read at night, when you can put it down for a moment because you're pretty certain that one of the myriad magical beings from her novels just stepped in and out of the periphery of your vision. They do that, you know.

But I don't want to finish her newest novel, In the Forests of Serre, because then it will be over, and I'll have to wait until next month to read the next one. I don't want to finish the novel, because then I'll find out if my guesses are right, or if McKillip managed to snooker me yet again.

Patricia McKillip has always been my second-favorite fantasy author, right after Tolkien on my list. Her best work was the Riddle-Master trilogy and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. I liked The Sorceress and the Cygnet, but didn't think any of her later work came up to the standard of my two favorites. Until now. And I see that I've missed one of her novels, and put it on my wishlist, hoping that the current book is the second in a trend.

If you're unfamiliar with her work, nearly all of her novels revolve around the theme of self-discovery. She writes what is called "high fantasy," the kind that involves dragons and magical creatures and enchantments. Her novels are independent of each other, but there is a common thread: It is McKillip's fantasy and writing styles. Her mind fascinates me. Every time I read a new book of hers, I wonder where and how the ideas come to her. She is truly a fantasist, one of the best, and most underrated, of our time.

And you can read her novels in one sitting. If that's what you want to do.

Israel in the news: That darned fence

Tom Friedman says that Israel should withdraw, quickly and completely, from the West Bank and Gaza. Omri shows us why Friedman is wrong:

So in the one test case we have for Friedman's example (and the one he himself cites), Israel withdrew to an internationally recognized border. But they did not gain international support for enforcing Lebanon's obligations. They did not decrease Hizbullah’s legitimacy (quite the opposite - Hizbullah became overwhelmingly popular as the only Arab army to ever defeat Israel). They did not stop the flow of weapons from Iran to Hizbullah.

In fact, the withdrawal almost certainly decreased Israel’s security and in all likelihood was a factor in encouraging Arafat to think that he could drive Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by force.

Omri fisks Friedman, so we don't have to.

Yes, I know that a team of Israelis and palestinians climbed to the summit of some mountain in Antarctica. It gives me no hope at all, not as long as I also read things like this:

The first female Hamas suicide bomber was given a hero's funeral Thursday, a day after killing four Israeli border guards, and Israel sealed the Gaza Strip to review security at border crossings.

And this:

ISRAEL must take full responsibility for a suicide attack on its border with Gaza which left the female bomber and four Israelis dead, Palestine said today.

"Israel bears sole responsibility for what has happened as it continues the occupation, construction of the wall (Israel's West Bank separation barrier), the closures and the escalation," Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's chief adviser Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

And this:

By Michael Widlanski 14 January 2004

In an unprecedented show of support for a human bomb attack, Yasser Arafat's official radio greeted with elation the news of latest suicide assault in the Gaza Strip.

"Citizen Rim al-Riyashi was heroically martyred when she carried out an explosive operation at the Beit Hanoun Junction , killing four soldiers of the Occupation," declared Voice of Palestine Radio in its 4-PM newscast, about an hour after the attack in the Gaza Strip.

And this:

On Friday the European Union on Friday called on Israel not to resume targeted killings."

"The European Union has spoken on several occasions against the so-called extra-judicial killings of suspected terrorists," EU spokesman Diego Ojeda said.

"Proceeding in such a manner against a leading figure of a Palestinian terrorist organization would be counterproductive to efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East as the European Union has expressed many times before."

They even use the word terrorist, and tell Israel that killing terrorists is counterproductive to achieving peace. No, it's counterproductive to achieving the death of Jews, asshat.

Next step by the EU: Worldwide sanctions on Israel, like the ones imposed on South Africa. The reason? They'll use the fence. That's what's going on at the ICJ behind the scenes right now. No way will Israel "win" this case. They've already allowed the Arab League to testify against it.

Arab League nations can join with the Palestinian Authority in testifying against the security fence when it comes before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague on February 23, the court ruled Thursday.

The decision further incensed Israeli officials, who fear it is symptomatic of the type of anti-Israeli sentiment that could corrupt the proceedings.

But will they let these people testify at the hearings?

The Organization of Casualties of Terror Acts in Israel, known by its Hebrew acronym Almagor, announced Friday that it plans to ask the International Court of Justice in The Hague to add the organization as a party in the discussion of the West Bank security fence. The move comes in response to the court's decision to allow the Arab League to be a party to the hearing.

A spokesman for the organization clarified that "it is not that we are overjoyed at the fence, which cheapens the lives of those living on the other side and gives us a temporary excuse not to eradicate the terror infrastructure, but we cannot allow this unbridled hypocrisy at The Hague. We will ensure that other groups, such as the Holocaust survivors' organization, attend the hearing, to remind the court what its real purpose is."

Don't hold your breath waiting.



Until tomorrow

Another exhausting weekend, though it was mostly today that exhausted me. Nevertheless, I'm still having fun at my new job. I got paid today for, among other things, blowing up helium balloons.

I got all your letters with links, and will tackle them when my mind can actually concentrate on what I'm reading. In the meantime, for the Monday crowd, while you were gone, I added Paypal and Amazon Honor System buttons. So you can finally tip the author of all these posts.

Yes, I meant me. Geez. Everybody's a comedian.

Update: Looks like this should read "Tuesday readers" this week. I forgot today was a holiday.

Love, palestinian style

Imshin wrote about it first: Rumors that the 22-year-old female suicide bomber had been forced into becoming one because she had been caught cheating on her husband.

Lynn B says that Yediot Ahranot is also reporting this.

Military sources claim that the terrorist Reem Al-Reyashi, who blew up four days ago are the Erez Crossing and killed four Israelis, was forced to carry out the suicide attack - as punishment for cheating on her husband.

A few hours after the suicide attack the Hamas published the will of the 22 year old mother who became a terrorist. With a broad smile on her face and a rifle in her hands Al-Reyashi read her shocking desire: "I always wanted to be the first woman who sacrifices her life for Allah. My joy will be complete when parts of my body fly in all directions."

But information that reached Israel regarding the situation that lead Al-Reyashi to carry out the attack raises a completely different picture. According to this information this is not a cold blooded terrorist, steeped in faith and madness, who chose out of free will to turn her two young children into orphans - but instead a woman who was forced to carry out the act.

According to military sources, the terrorist paid a cruel price for being involved in an illicit love affair and was forced to sacrifice herself in order to clear her name and the honor of her family.

IDF sources said that already at the beginning of the investigation it turned out that Al-Reyashi's husband, an activist in the Hamas organization, not only knew about his wife's plans in advance - but even encouraged her to carry out the suicide attack. This even though he knew that with his wife's death he would be left to raise their two small children alone. Another thing turned up from the investigation: the person who was chosen to recruit the 22 year old Al-Reyashi to carry out the suicide attack and equipped her with the explosive belt was none other than the lover with whom she cheated on her husband. The British Sunday Times reports in this morning's edition that the husband even drove his wife to the Erez Crossing.

How despicable can this be? The man seduces a woman, forces her into a Hobson's choice, she straps on a bomb belt, and becomes Hamas' first female suicide bomber. As for the husband knowing he would have to raise their children alone: Big deal. He can get another wife, and quickly. Or his female relatives will raise them. And he knows it.

The palestinian society is sick. The rot is deep. I don't see how you can rid it of this kind of rot.

In contrast to previous female suicide bombers, Reem Al-Reyashi had no family member who had been hurt in the course of the Intifada. She is the daughter of one of the established families in Gaza. Her father was the owner of a large factory for the production of batteries in Gaza that markets most of its production in Israel. The IDF refuses to believe reports that the family of the suicide bomber was shocked to discover what she had done.

Surely that can't be right. All suicide bombers are oppressed and desperate. The EU and the left all tell us so, loudly and often.

Of course, it could be right if there were a concerted effort to force a young woman to kill herself, or be killed by her husband, for adultery.


By the way, they're reopening the Erez crossing, but pals will no longer be allowed to bring bags with them. Which means they can't bring food with them to work, but must buy it in Israel.

Which will engender more anger against the Israelis, of course. Job well done, Hamas.


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.