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Finally Friday

I'll believe it when I see it dept.: The State Department has called (again) for the PA to disarm Hamas and other terrorist groups. And there were supposedly stern phone calls to that effect. Woo. Can they stand the pressure? I think so. Unless and until I see, "No more money for you unless you fully renounce terror," I'm not putting much stock in the sputterings of the same people who tell Israel to "show restraint" after her citizens are murdered. Ha'aretz, of course, is more optimistic than I:

WASHINGTON - Official Washington was quite open this week about its expectations for a continuation of the diplomatic process in the Middle East.

The president himself said bluntly that what "must happen now is the establishment of a working government in Gaza." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview with The New York Times that "you cannot continue to let a terror organization go on sitting forever. There is a commitment in the road map to dismantle the terror infrastructure." And Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch told correspondents at a press briefing yesterday that reform in the Palestinian Authority is "essential."

Although there is this:

Even the issue of settlement is now being mentioned by the administration in more hushed tones. "Our position is known to the Israeli government," Welsh said. Later, in a private conversation with some Arab correspondents, he added that Washington's position also has an influence on Israel. It is important for Israel to work in coordination with us, Welsh told them. I don't feel they disregard our opinions.

Therefore, one should not expect too much fuss about the building of the fence in the Ma'aleh Adumim area: The administration is not going to argue with Israel about its security needs and its right to defend itself, Welsh said. The question is the fence's route, and this must first be studied. Then if necessary, it can be discussed.

One of the things I've long suspected is that part of the reason Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza is because W. told him that the U.S. would not put up a fuss over the major Israeli West Bank settlement blocs if he'd get the hell out of Gaza and the rest of the West Bank. I have no proof, just a suspicion. And I go back and forth over whether or not I really believe it. Whatever the reason, I'll just wait and see what happens over the next year. Now is the crucial time to see if Europe and the U.S. plan to step up to the plate, or if they're going to sit back and let things go to hell.

Snarky Headlines Dept: Jesse Jackson congratulates Sharon: Stick it up your ass, Jesse. Sideways.

Letters to make you ill: Check out some of these responses to Susan Estrich calling Cindy Sheehan an anti-Semite for that quote about Israel being behind the Iraq war. And then remember, it isn't anti-Semitism. Oh, wait. Yes it is.

Ending on a good note: The Dutch intelligence service finally acknowledged what we've known all along: There's no such thing as a "political wing" and a "military wing" of a terrorist organization. It's all terror, and that's what the Dutch are declaring Hamas. It's about damned time.

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How can I kill thee? Let me count the ways

Let's see. A palestinian stabbed two Jews, killing one, in the Old City of Jerusalem. Terrorists fired a kassam rocket at Sderot (in Israel proper, let us not forget; Israelis just evacuated the settlements in Gaza). Two rockets were fired from nothern Lebanon; one hit a chicken coop in an Israeli town. The UN, ever-vigilant, urged "restraint" from both sides. I believe one side may be ignoring that call.

A Lebanese security source said two rockets were fired but only hit Israel. The second rocket misfired and landed in Lebanese territory.

No Lebanese organization immediately claimed responsibility for the shelling attack. A spokesman for Hezbollah, the Shi'ite guerrilla group, said it had no information on the attack.

A spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, Milos Struger, called on both sides to "exercise restraint." He said the forces had launched an investigation.

Ah. The UN is investigating. No doubt they'll solve the problem. By telling Israel it's all her fault.

The murderers of pregnant Tali Hatuel and her four children say they have developed a rocket capable of hitting Ashkelon. Because, y'know, all the palestinians really want is a state, then they'll stop the killing. Oh, wait. They want all of the occupied territories, which they consider to be all of Israel.

The IDF killed four terrorists in Tulkarm. Ahmed Qurei called the death of the murderers "a brutal crime." Yeah. They want peace.

The AP spin on two of the above stories? Well, first it was this:

Four Palestinians, Jew Killed in Israel photo
JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli military raid on a West Bank refugee camp left four militants dead Wednesday and an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed to death in Jerusalem - an eruption of violence a day after Israel completed its evacuation of 25 settlements. At the Tulkarem refugee camp, Israeli...

The photo is of a Hamas "militant." Then it was this:

Israeli Troops Kill Five Palestinians photo
TULKAREM, West Bank (AP) - A group of young Palestinians sat outdoors on a warm night, snacking on sunflower seeds and chatting with a well-known militant leader when a group of white-shirted men jumped out of a Mercedes and fired, a witness said. The undercover Israeli troops killed five people,...

Yes, those bastions of truth, palestinian "witnesses." Then it was this:

5 Killed in Raid on West Bank Refugee Camp photo
JERUSALEM (AP) - An Israeli military raid on a West Bank refugee camp left five militants dead Wednesday and an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed to death in Jerusalem - an eruption of violence a day after Israel completed its evacuation of 25 settlements. At the Tulkarem refugee camp, Israeli...

Have they taken the middle story off? No. The calumny continues.

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Steyn on Gaza: I'm not buying it

Several of you have linked or emailed me the latest Mark Steyn column on why Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza. He thinks it's all part of Ariel Sharon's secret plan to let the world see that the palestinians are incapable of governing their own state, and will ultimately agree with Israel that they're nothing but a bunch of terrorists and terror-enablers.

I disagree.

I think the reasons are fairly self-evident: The Gaza settlements were too difficult to defend, sparsely populated, and unpopular in Israeli and world opinion. Now that they've been dismantled, Sharon can say to the world, "See, we did what you've been asking. Now it's time for the palestinians to stop terror." Once again, Occam's Razor applies. The simplest explanation is often the right one. The minute the Gaza withdrawals were over, Sharon said he'd never give up the major Israeli blocs of the West Bank.

The fact that the Gaza Strip will collapse into chaos will also be blamed on Israel. The world keeps moving the goalposts. First it was, "Gaza cannot be a great open-air prison. Get out of the Philadelphi corridor." Now it's "Israel can't control air and sea access to Gaza. Let them have their airport and seaport, and oh yeah, the Egyptians will guard against smuggling." Except they've already stated that they can't possibly catch all the smugglers. So when the "real" missiles (as opposed to "home-made") start landing in Sderot, and Israel tries to do something about it, the world will screech "Sovereignty! Let Abbas take care of it! You can't invade Gaza again!" and, as I said, we will see a louder world outrage than we saw at the hoax of Jenin.

The world will expect Israel to suck it up as their people are murdered. Then again, they always have. This is a lose-lose situation, but at least Sharon can continue to insist that Israel took her first steps on the Roadmap, and it's the palestinians turn now.

And a quick check of the news shows an AP analysis that says all of the things I've just stated above. Well, except for the anti-Israel bias, of course. The headline says "Israel Says Onus is Now on Palestinians." The angle? What Israel must do, and how the palestinians are trying, but of course, they can't succeed unless Israel caves, bends, and leaves them alone.

Israel is starting to build the separation fence around Ma'ale Adumim, the suburb of Jerusalem that happens to have one of the largest "settlement blocs." I think Steyn is dead wrong on this one. Because no matter what happens to Gaza, if it falls, Israel will be blamed. If it succeeds, it will be "in spite of" Israel.

You simply cannot underestimate the amount of hatred and disdain the world has for the Jewish State.

I don't.

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Find a job for Lt. Smash

A year after Scott got home from Iraq, he's about to lose his job. He needs a new one. Say, San Diego-area techs: Can you help him find another?

I can personally vouch for his character. The guy made a special stop in Richmond just to visit with me, and all I did was let the world know that some guy was blogging from the Sandbox. He and Mrs. Smash and I hit it off right away. (Of course I made sure to visit with Scott and the Mrs. when I was in San Diego earlier this year. They're really good people.)

If anybody can help, let Scott know.

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Tuesday news briefs

The Gaza campaign: So now the pals are building an army. The question is, for what purpose? War, or civil war?

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) -- In a military training camp run by the ruling Fatah movement, hundreds of young Palestinians marched in formation Monday and sprinted across a sandy lot.

Nearby, hundreds of Islamic Jihad gunmen in black ski masks paraded in the streets, some riding in jeeps, raising AK-47 assault rifles and posing with rocket launchers.

Yet a third militant group, Hamas, boasted on its Web site that it has killed more Israelis in more Gaza attacks than any of its rivals -- and that it alone deserves credit for Israel's historic pullout from the Mediterranean strip.

Competition among armed Palestinian groups over control of Gaza's lawless towns intensified Monday as Israeli settlers cleared out the last of 21 Jewish settlements.

The jostling for position has raised tensions as well as concerns about armed conflict.

"This huge military presence among people in Gaza will lead to more chaos, will weaken the Palestinian Authority and will create more violence in society," said Talal Okal, a political analyst in Gaza. "Fatah is losing control and Hamas is rising up."

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas wants to see carefully orchestrated victory marches under the Palestinian national flag. However, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a few tiny Palestinian Liberation Organization factions have ignored his appeals, already parading their gunmen in a show of force and planning parades once the last Israeli soldiers leave in the coming weeks.

Civil war first, then war with Israel. That's my prediction. I sure hope Sharon has made good contingency plans, because the screaming about Jenin will seem like a kitten meowing compared to the screaming the world is going to do the minute Israel defends herself against the army building against her in Gaza.

It's okay, it's not our money: The palestinians are going to spend $2 million on a "Carnival of Victory." Yes, that's right, $2 million dollars. Because, y'know, it's not like the Gazans are impoverished and need jobs or anything like that. No. They need to dance on settlement roofs and videotape their victory march or something. Say, you think maybe the UN could use some transparency in bookkeeping?

A look into Gaza's future: Life under Islamists in Iraq. Torture, murder, the fourteenth century. Yeah, that's some great religion. I sure hope they didn't base the Iraqi constitution on Shari'a, because if they did, then our soldiers truly will have died for nothing.

MUST-READ: Michael Oren writes about serving as a soldier during the Gaza evictions. Requires free registration. Oh, register. You can use a bogus email address.

Off to work. I broke the server yesterday. I hope it's fixed by now. Okay, maybe I didn't break it, but it's awfully suspicious that it broke as I was trying to upload a piece to the intranet.

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Monday morning briefs

The upcoming terror state: Far too many bad signs of Gaza-to-be. Let's see, more planting of bombs (work accident, unfortunately, they survived). Hamas calls for their rule in Gaza. Mubarak says he can't be responsible for preventing smuggling into Gaza.

(Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 19Aug05)
Q: With the deployment of Egyptian forces along the Philadelphi Route, how do you provide assurances that terrorists won't infiltrate and there won't be smuggling of arms and military equipment?

Egyptian President Husni Mubarak: When our forces will be there, there will be smuggling? That's a strange thought."

"There isn't a country in the world that can commit itself 100% to close off a border from smuggling. Neither the U.S. nor Russia."

"The truth is we catch in Sinai much of the smuggling of weapons to Gaza....But the presence of our forces will not seal off the border hermetically."

And Hamas says the Egyptian role in Gaza will be carried out "in the interest of the palestinian cause."

So, how big will the weapons get, I wonder. Free passage between Gaza and the West Bank. Shyeah. That'll happen.

And oh, yeah. The Brits sent their intelligence agents back into Gaza to "persuade" Hamas to commit to a cease-fire. Yeah, that'll happen. Then the Brits will try to tell Israel that Hamas should be a negotiations partner. Because it's not like they're going around saying they're going to eliminate Israel or anything. Right.

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Sunday catblogging and other things

A Tig and Gracie twoferThis weekend was a major bellyrub weekend. It must be Annual Rub A Cat's Belly Day or something; Gracie and Tig got three in-bed bellyrubs each yesterday morning, and Gracie cadged another two this morning, while Tig managed to scrounge one. And four of them were simultaneous; a new record in the Yourish household. You suppose the Guinness people would be interested? Nah, me neither.

Nighttime Tig bellyOh, the simultaneous bellyrubs are an art in and of themselves. You see, Tig likes to jump onto the head of the bed, yowl his demands, then flop over just out of reach, forcing me to move or ignore him. Most times, I ignore him. Gracie, on the other hand, jumps onto my left side, and only if there is enough room, will wander back and forth until she decides that okay, she's wandered back and forth long enough, it's time for the main event, and she flops down with her hind legs facing me (which she then wraps around my wrist as I rub her belly). Yesterday morning, we all got up at seven, I said, "No way!," and the cats said, "Okay, then if you're not gonna get up, bellyrubs all around." That was reasonable. We all fell back asleep, got up a couple of hours later, and spent a lazy morning refusing to get up until our stomachs made us remember that it was breakfast time. They also got tuna, in celebration of the new job.

I have no pictures, nor will I ever have pictures, of our morning and evening bellyrub sessions. But there are plenty of pictures of Tig's belly, a few of Gracie's, and, of course, new pictures all the time.


In other news, Sarah's back from vacation, and if you want cute kid pictures bound to lower your blood pressure, check out her latest posts.

There's a new Israeli blogger in town who's asking me for links. Considering Glenn Reynolds linked her twice in three days, I'm thinking she should be linking me.

Have I mentioned lately how great Solomonia is? Well, I should be mentioning it more often.

Lair has a wicked, wicked post that must be read in its entirety. I'd cover the bottom of the screen as you read it, the punchline is worth it. If you can, find it on Lair's main page; it's got a MORE prompt there.

Haveil Havalim #33 is up. (That's the roundup of Jewish bloggers, for those who don't know.)

No, this time, I mean it. Really. I swear.

I know nobody is going to believe me, what with my having said this a zillion times, but I'm finally moving on the revamping of this website. To the readers who are still using Netscape 4.7: You will still be able to read it, but it will look really ugly. I strongly urge you to upgrade at least to NS6.

There will be RSS feeds that work and trackbacks and other nifty things that I don't have time to program in myself. Comments will go to registration-only, meaning you'll all have to wait to be approved before being able to comment at will. Haloscan has been great as far as keeping out comment spam, but they can't control the scumbuckets the way WordPress registration can. I'll explain it all when I relaunch the site, which should be done before Rosh Hashanah. Might even be done in a few weeks.

I do believe those of you who told me not to change the subject of the blog have won. I'm not finding a whole lot of interest in The Jewish View, nor am I able, apparently, to separate the content like I'd thought. Cross-posting is a pain, and, well, I like it here.

If there are those out there who want to take a slot on The Jewish View, email me. Aaron seems to be the only one really working at it these days (thanks, Aaron, and happy Blogiversary).

Well, that's it for now. I have to finish my housecleaning. Company coming on Friday.

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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 is also a good bet if you've never been here before.