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Israeli Double Standard Time

Only last week, I wrote about how the news services write impersonally of Israelis killed by terrorists, and personalize every palestinian stubbed toe. Today's proof: This AP story on the terrorists shooting in Gaza that killed two Israelis. Let's begin at the beginning: With the headline.

Two Israelis Killed in Gaza Gun Attack

Notice how the deaths were caused by a gun attack. Not a terrorist attack, not even "Militants kill two Israelis." You will rarely see that headline; Israelis kill (active voice), but Israelis are killed (passive voice). Palestinians do not kill; their rockets or guns kill. On the other hand, Google the words "Israel soldiers kill" and see how many results you get. I got 477. Here's a screenshot.

JERUSALEM (AP) - Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an Israeli vehicle traveling on the main road connecting the Gaza Strip settlements to Israel early Sunday, killing a husband and wife and wounding four other Israelis, rescue workers and the army said.

That's all the detail you get in the entire article—a husband and wife, and four unnamed, ungendered, unage Israelis. Compare that to the following AP story:

Israeli soldiers kill West Bank militant
Nablus, , West Bank — Israeli soldiers raided the house of a British citizen in the West Bank town of Nablus early Thursday, killing a wanted Palestinian militant and arresting a second man, witnesses and the army said.

The militant who was killed, Mohammed Alassi, 28, was a local leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group and was responsible for a string of planned attacks against Israel, the army said. Others in Nablus denied he was connected to Islamic Jihad, saying he was a member of another militant group, the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades.

In the headline, you have the active voice and who is to blame for the killing: Israeli soldiers. In the first paragraph, you have the Israeli soldiers raiding and killing. In the second paragraph, the dead terrorist is identified and there is also a denial that he was a terrorist.

The demonization of Israel in all its forms, in three short paragraphs and two headlines. But they're not finished demonizing Israel yet. They have to accuse the IDF of excessive force on top of having the wrong terrorist organization (because that counts in some strange universe).

She denied that Mohammed Alassi was a member of Islamic Jihad, saying that he was actually a member of Al Aqsa, a militant group responsible for scores of previous attacks on Israelis but unconnected to the suicide bombing in Netanya. Al Aqsa confirmed that Mohammed Alassi was one of its local militant leaders, a fact that was well-known to residents.

Hannah Alassi said the raid came suddenly while she was holding a small gathering of friends at her house.

“We were just on the verandah, in the house, enjoying music and coffee and company and conversation,” Ms. Alassi said.

Suddenly, undercover forces surrounded the house and set off stun grenades.

Mr. Alassi fled out the back and tried to jump a wall when soldiers shot him in the leg and incapacitated him, she said. The soldiers continued to shoot him at close range to ensure he was dead, she said.

“They could have arrested him, he was lying on the ground,” she said.

You see, they were innocently having a cup of coffee and scintillating conversation, and the fact that they were wanted terrorists should not in any way get in the way of their pleasure. And here is the AP's attempt at balance:

Major Asman said he did not have specific information on the accusation that Mr. Alassi was killed after he was already incapacitated, but emphasized Mr. Alassi's violent history and pointed out that the soldiers did not kill the man who returned to the house.

Soldiers arrested the second man, Motassim Abdel Al, 23, whom the army said was an Islamic Jihad militant who had helped plan an unsuccessful suicide bombing along with Mr. Alassi in May. Local Al Aqsa leaders also said he was one of their members, not a member of Islamic Jihad.

Nablus, the largest city in the West Bank, is a main centre of militant activity. Israeli forces carry out frequent raids there.

Note the impersonal "the army said" and the accusatory "frequent raids." Not searches for terrorists—raids.

Now let us return to the AP story about the Israelis who died in today's terrorist attack in Gaza.

Earlier, the army said it had captured a would-be suicide bomber armed with an 11-pound explosive belt, who had infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip and planned to attack Tel Aviv.

Enter the impersonal "army" speaking. And surprisingly, no identification of the suicide bomber. Well, Ynet found his age and affiliation:

Security forces arrested an 18 year-old would-be suicide bomber on Friday. Jihad Shahada, a Fatah member, infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip, and was caught in the Negev desert.

Later, the bomber’s handler was arrested in Jaffa, where his estranged wife resides. The handler, a 25 year-old Palestinian from Gaza, was named as Salam Taavat.

Funny how that works. But the AP isn't satisfied with demonizing the Israelis for having the nerve to get themselves killed.

The violence comes as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left the region after a three-day visit aimed at shoring up its fragile truce. Israel and the Palestinians declared an end to the more-than four years of fighting in February, but violence has flared over the last two weeks.

After the shooting on the vehicle, troops in the area clashed with the gunmen, killing one of them and were carrying out searches for the others, the army said.

The "violence" includes the suicide bombing in Netanya and daily rocket and mortar attacks by palestinians, but you'd never know that from the AP. And again, we have one more impersonal "the army said" here.

As for the rest of the article, well, if you haven't got a strong stomach, stop reading now.

On Saturday, Abbas won praise from Rice for his efforts to clamp down on militant groups after Palestinian police twice clashed with militants in recent days. The clashes came as Israel massed thousands of troops on the Gaza border, threatening to invade unless the Palestinians stopped militants from firing rockets and mortars at Jewish settlements and nearby Israeli towns.

"These efforts demonstrate the Palestinian leadership's commitment to ensuring security and tracking down those that perpetrate violent attacks that only delay the achievement of a Palestinian state," Rice said after meeting with Abbas.

Yes, and to celebrate these efforts, palestinian terrorists tried to blow up many Israelis, and succeeded in murdering Israeli Gazans. (I am so tired of calling them "settlers.") That's some success for Rice. It's about as much as her predecessor ever got. If you recall, every time Colin Powell was in town, the pals tried to—and often did—blow up Israelis as a welcome gesture.

I can't decide which news service I loathe more—Reuters or the AP. They're running neck and neck.

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The Exception Clause in the Iraqi constitution: Still there, under the radar

Robert Mayer of Publius Pundit posts the good news: That the words "except for Israel" have been deleted from the latest draft of the Iraqi constitution.

One of the smallest yet significant changes is to provisions three and four of article one. As you may recall from the previous post, it excluded Israelis from candidacy for citizenship and prevented Iraqis from having dual citizenship with Israel. This was one of the most irresponsible and needless statements in the draft. You will all be happy to know that this “exception clause” has since been removed and now reads as follows:

3. a. An Iraqi may not be deprived of his nationality nor exiled or deported unless it is proven in a trial that he provided false essential information that resulted in his being granted nationality.
b. It is forbidden to try a person without citizenship; this shall be regulated by law.

4. An Iraqi is allowed to bear more than one citizenship. An Iraqi who was stripped of his citizenship after February 8, 1968 for any reason is considered Iraqi and is entitled to regain [his citizenship].

On the surface, this does appear to be a good thing. Except for one small fact that only those familiar with Iraqi Jewish history would know:

In 1950, the Iraqi parliament passed a law called Ordinance for the Cancellation of Iraqi Nationality for Jews, Law No. 1 that stripped Iraqi Jews of their citizenship. In 1951, the Iraqi parliament passed another law, confiscating all Jewish property. Within a year, most of Iraq's ancient Jewish population, my family included, fled to Israel.

Now stop and realize that Robert is an educated man with a wide knowledge of current Middle East affairs. Yet he was still fooled by this apparent bow to those who objected to the blatant anti-Semitism of the constitution. But the truth is, Jews are once more excepted from citizenship in an Arab country. The anti-Semitism of these clauses stands.

So who is this clause really aimed at?

It was not until the 1958 coup overthrowing the monarchy, followed by the Ba'th party's complete assumption of political control in 1968 that the allure of the centripetal state diminished and outright opposition to the state from the diaspora emerged. The Shi'a Muslims, the largest ethnic bloc in Iraq, blatantly defied the Ba'th government. During the 1960s and 1970s, Iraqi Shi'a tried to articulate an alternative vision of Iraqi nationhood that ran entirely contrary to the Ba'th party's pan-Arab nationalism. The Shi'i _ulama had always been wary of the Sunni-dominated government in Baghdad but in the Ba'th they faced a group which ruthlessly pursued its totalitarian vision of a secular, Arab-oriented Iraq. Under persecution, much of the Shi'i religious leadership sought refuge abroad. In the summer of 1969, the Ba'th began to deport Shi'a in large numbers. Then junior cleric Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, closely associated with the leading Shi'a Islamist party, Hizb al-Dawa, escaped to Lebanon to coordinate international protests against the regime.

A year later, Sadr returned and adopted a more conciliatory attitude. But by the early 1970s, tens of thousands of Iraqi Shi'a had been deported under suspicion of being an Iranian fifth column, even during the shah's era.

Ah. The Iraqis who moved to Iran are the citizens that can reclaim their birthright—but not the 150,000 Iraqi Jews who fled persecution after Israel was founded (a scene repeated throughout the Arab world).

No Jews will be allowed to reclaim their Iraqi heritage. The Exception Clause—adding the words, "except for Jews" to most issues—still stands.

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Hostage situation ends; all is forgiven

The crisis is over. The funds have been collected (though I think I'm going to leave that line up at the top of the page until Sunday, the end of my blog week), laundered, and will soon be used in all kinds of glorious things (think bills, and not the good kind). Thank you very, very much to all who contributed. I bought a can of tunafish for Tig and Gracie as a reward for being such good sports.

I am effing exhausted from my trip to Busch Gardens in 97-degree heat. My legs are a bit sore from all that walking, I did not get sunburned, Curse of the DarKastle is not a ride you want to wait an hour and a half for (can you say, "21st-century 3-D funhouse?" I knew you could), and we all were rather annoyed that we did, but hey, we also went on all the big roller coasters we wanted with only a fifteen-twenty minute wait (can you say, "Only fools go to Busch Gardens when there's a heat index of 110?" I knew you could).

Sorena soaked me in Dragonland in the late afternoon. So of course, I bided my time and loaded two of the water cannons on the deck near Roman Rapids. Years ago, Heidi's husband taught me how lay down a line of suppressing fire. I was tempted to get Heidi to man two more cannons, but I thought that might be overkill. Sorena made the mistake of jeering at me because on the first pass, I didn't recognize them quickly enough and only got one cannon off, mostly missing. The second time, I waited until optimum target lock, fired one (it shot left), then two (it shot right). The girls ducked, but hey, they were getting hit from both directions. Ducking is futile; you will be soaked.

The thing I don't get is that they go on Roman Rapids to get soaked, but they get annoyed when I fire the water cannons at them. It's not a heavy stream of water, so it doesn't hurt. And, well, uh, they're already wet. It must be a kid thing. Ah, well. Best fifty cents I spent all year, hearing their cries of indignation and calls for revenge.

Regular readers will remember I am afraid of heights. It's tough for me to do roller coasters. I went on Apollo's Chariot yesterday for the first time in at least a year (I think two, actually) and not only that, but on the last hill, I raised my arms. In fact, that was the first time I ever raised my arms on a roller coaster. Normally, I'm clutching the bar so hard I leave fingerprints in the plastic.

On the other hand, I did lose my voice today from yelling myself hoarse on the ride. I was operating under the theory that screaming loudly makes the roller coaster less scary, which is what everyone says. Not agreeing with that theory.

I am also exhausted from getting too little sleep and still working today. In the good news department, I did really well in a preliminary interview; there may be better news ahead. Of course, it will probably be the good news/bad news variety. Good news, new job. Bad news, blogging will stay in the current pattern, that is, none during the workday, though I will continue to put up new posts every morning and evening. Depending on company policy, I may put up a post during lunch hour. But I'm not going to have a job where I can surf the web all day and still (somehow) get my work done. I have no idea how people manage that; I figure they don't get much work done during the day, or they're type AAA people like Glenn Reynolds.

I've never had a job where I don't actually have to work. I can easily spend eight hours a day at home in front of the computer simply reading and posting, but y'know, nobody's paying me to do that.

In any case. I'm tired. And they've finally revealed the killer on OLTL; gotta finish watching my tape and giving the TV dirty looks every time the killer shows his face.

Yes, a woman of many talents: Blogger. Kidnapper. Water cannon master. And soap opera fan extraordinaire.

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Running late

I'm running late due to sleeping late because of my trip to Busch Gardens in 97-degree heat the extensive duties concerned with the pickup and laundering of the ransom for this blog, so let me say thank you to those who are contributing to the ransom fund, and I'll be back with more posts later today.

Go read this, though. It's starting to look like London is at war. I think another country we can think of can tell them what it feels like.

I'm thinking that these actions will not stay confined to Europe much longer.

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What? The pals are lying, and the media is buying again? No! Yes. Another blood libel, no less.

A Palestinian boy was stabbed to death Wednesday in what was likely a brawl between rival clans in the West Bank.

The incident took place in a Palestinian village next to the settlement of Shiloh in the northern West Bank.

Police received a report from Palestinians about the stabbing, and the youth, Yazan Mohammed Mussa, 12, was taken to a hospital in Nablus, where he died. Doctors said he had been stabbed 11 times.

The circumstances of the killing were not immediately clear and Palestinians initially claimed the boy was stabbed during a violent clash with settlers. The boy's father blamed settlers but said he was unable to identify them for certain.

Later, however, senior Palestinian figures told Israel Defense Forces figures the boy was likely murdered within the context of a clan feud.

A youth who was with Mussa at the time of the incident said the victim was attacked by two bearded strangers.

Here's the Reuters version.

Israeli settlers kill Palestinian boy -witnesses
20 Jul 2005 19:46:11 GMT
Source: Reuters
NABLUS, West Bank, July 20 (Reuters) - Jewish settlers stabbed a Palestinian boy to death in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday, witnesses said.

They said the 12-year-old was ambushed by several settlers near his home at Qaryot village outside the Palestinian-ruled city of Nablus. He was stabbed 11 times, medics said. Palestinians who seek statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have complained of frequent harrassment and attacks by settlers during 4-1/2 years of fighting.

Once again, how can you tell a palestinian is lying? His mouth is open. I should also like to point out that when a palestinian is killed, you know his age, often his name, and get personal quotes from various palestinian spokesliars. When an Israeli is killed, the references are to "an Israeli" and the quotes are from "the Israeli Army" or statements from officials.

Palestinian civil war watch: The boys are fighting again. Tsk. Not. Hey, more dead terrorists? What's not to like about that?

Right. And I'm outta here. There is no truth to the rumor that blogging will be light today because I'm going to Busch Gardens. Blogging will be light today because I am holding this website hostage until I raise more ransom money for my pledge week. Got it? Good.

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Once more, from Gaza

Ben-David concludes his series of reports from the Kfar Maimon protests.

It's very interesting that this is the reaction to my posts, which emphasized how much the organizers are preaching nonviolent protest - and how they were largely successful in keeping a largely young and restive crowd on that course.

In terms of admitting defeat... I'd take that with a grain of salt. Consider the following:

- the original plan was to set up a small camp of a few thousand at the Kisufim crossing, to disrupt the army's logistical preparations. If this had succeeded it is likely that they would have been removed - violently, perhaps - weeks before the actual expulsion. Instead, the anti-expulsion forces have demonstrated their ability to disrupt army operations without entailing any violence or arrests to their core followers.

- out of the media spotlight, this week has been an enormous success in countering the demonization of the opposition movement and winning hearts. The organizers worked hard to come up with a plan that would unite all the factions of the religious/traditional Zionist camp, and they succeeded in revitalizing their base. They also extended their base by bringing in Ta Katom - the secular organization of university students opposed to the ban - and other secular Israelis who felt comfortable participating in a non-violent course of action.

Simultaneously, they won broader respect in the general public. The government's heavy-handed, bumbling oversteps - such as confiscating bus driver's licenses to keep them from getting to the kickoff rally - have caused even indifferent secular Israelis to take note. During my morning coffee break at work (it's GREAT to be back in air conditioning!) the most left-leaning of my coworkers mentioned how the driver's license thing was simply unacceptable. The fact that all this took place not at a Gaza checkpoint, but in Israel proper, has allowed those not sympathetic to the Jewish-values-based arguments about withdrawal to see the other aspect: Sharon's sinister subversion of democracy.

Perhaps the most important "public relations" aspect has been the mutual lessons learned between the protesters and the uniformed corps. Practically, it is now clear that large numbers of motivated men, women, and children will turn out to stop the expulsion - and that violence cannot be used against them. The protesters have learned the full extent of their strength, and especially the strength of the non-violent approach.

On the level of hearts and minds... it is clear that many of the people who will be called upon to carry out the expulsion are deeply conflicted. This protest gave the uniformed corps ample opportunity to see close up just the decent, family people they will be called upon to rip from their houses - people who, unlike the ultra-Orthodox haredim, cannot be so easily demonized as "the other."

During the march around the gates yesterday, the protesters played a parody of an army-style marching chant. A voice mimicking Sharon called out "Left Right Left - onwards to expel them!" and a chorus replied "Sir, I cannot do it. Sir, I must refuse" (In Hebrew, it rhymes).

She noticed an interesting reaction: the officers looked like they had just bitten into lemons, but the soldiers themselves were laughing and waving. Many had met face-to-face with the protesters during the standoff (Lubavitch was there putting tefillin on the soldier, of course!) and had received the well-written handouts explaining the basis for conscientious objection.

The center-right has fought since Oslo to overcome demonizing local media that paints them as extremists. This protest has done a lot towards that - with a little help from ham-handed Arik himself - while revitalizing, extending, and empowering both the core protesters and the silent majority. Without any violence.

Failure? Defeat? I don't think so.

And thank you for telling us what was happening, Ben-David.

A note for commenters on this topic: If you cannot keep it civil, keep it out of my comments.

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The hostage crisis continues

Well, since we're pretty low on ransom money today, this blog is going to continue to be held hostage. I wouldn't be the least surprised if blogging gets really light, especially during the later hours of this evening and probably tomorrow day, as well.

I can see we have to work harder if we're ever going to get this blog back. Nope. No more kitty zen posts, no more Israel briefs, no more Hulk posts.

Well, maybe one more Hulk post. But that's it.

Contribute to the ransom fund. Shmandrew Shmullivan's got nothing on my fund-raising techniques.

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More on the Anti-disengagement march

Ben-David has another report in the comments; it's easier to put them out for you all to read.

Thanks for bumping my comment up to an entry! Here's a brief update:

I am back home - I have to show my face at work tomorrow, and the kids we left home were getting antsy. My wife and father have stayed on, and my sister returned from Jerusalem to join the march. This is typical - for an area "sealed off the army" there has been an unprecedented amount of coming and going... even as I made my way on foot back to my car, I passed teens and entire young families walking to Kfar Maimon, having left their cars where the police blocked the Kfar Maimon turnoff.

If any further indication is needed that the foot-soldiers are not in step with Sharon, here is the story of how my nephew-in-law got into Kfar Maimon today: his car was one of about 10 vehicles snaking their way through the fields to avoid the army roadblocks, when they were stopped by an army patrol.

The soldier says to them: "It's my task to prevent you from getting to Kfar Maimon - but if you want to get there, go this way."

Half the drivers thought it was a trap, but my nephew-in-law followed the directions - which quickly led to the village.

Told to me by my brother-in-law, who heard it directly from his son-in-law, to whom it happened.

Before I left this afternoon, the plan was announced: just before sunset Rabbi Shapira - the spiritual leader of the Religious Zionist movement - would address us, and then he and other Rabbis and leaders would head a procession out of the village.

Again and again it was stressed that there would be no violent confrontation - that was the purpose of having rabbis on the front row. Throughout this situation, teachers and Rabbis have come and gathered their students to discuss the non-violent approach with them. I saw several such "anti-pep" talks in backyards and on the streets where people sat in the shade. The kids are receptive - as I said, they are very savvy and understand that this is primarily a media battle, and that the goal is to win hearts and minds in the general public. As Religious Zionists, the army is OUR army too - many of the young demonstrators will soon be in uniform themselves, or have recently finished their duty.

My wife just called me (10:30 PM Israel time) to tell what subsequently happened: the procession made it to the back gate of the village, where it was stopped by rings of police and army. After fruitless attempts at negotiation, they conducted a march around the perimeter of the village - perhaps to dispel disinformation that there were just a handful of protesters.

It's not clear what will happen next. The Jewish Sabbath is approaching, which may cause things to break up.

It's important to note that the protesters have now proven their ability to stop the Gaza expulsion in its tracks - there are over 20,000 police and army personnel surrounding the village. This means that all preparatory work for the expulsion has been suspended. By combining an action like this with wildcat roadblocks and other civil disobedience, the anti-expulsion movement can easily bring the country - and the expulsion - to a standstill. The police and army simply haven't got the staff to cover it all. And as is increasingly evident, the lower level corps are disinclined and confused about their roles - which only stands to reason, as many of those serving in our citizen's army probably voted for Arik Sharon's original tough-on-security platform, and no doubt feel doubly betrayed that they being called upon to implement a policy they voted down.

My advice to readers is to be very careful of reports of violence - or attempts to paint violent factions as the mainstream of the anti-expulsion movement.

Just a quick clarification about numbers:

The kickoff rally in Netivot drew about 70 to 80,000 people - and I think that's a conservative estimate: I returned to the site to retrieve my car, and got a good look at the area now that it is empty. I also saw the extent of the long-term parking lots that were set up.

The number of actual marchers? It probably started out at 40-50,000 leaving Netivot. A number of those marchers returned immediately to their cars. Some went back the next morning.

So I think the core group holed up in Kfar Maimon is around 30,000.

This is not the information you're getting in the news, folks. This is the skinny from someone who was there.

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From the comments: A live report from the anti-disengagement march

The IP matches to an Israeli IP, so here is the comment, reprinted in its entirety:

Greetings from Kfar Maimon!

My wife, son, and I have been participating since Monday in the march. A brief summary of the facts - and misinformation - so far:

Lots of foot-dragging/disarray/unclear direction from police and army on the ground. During the first night’s 8 km hike from Netivot, the army arbitrarily stopped the crowd halfway to Kfar Maimon. The crowd (50,000 sounds right)moved into a nearby field and just sat down in front of the lines of soldiers. Men, women, and children. We cheered the helicopters with their spotlights as if it were a rock festival.

After 45 minutes, the army backed down - just as inexplicably as they showed up. Did they expect people to turn around after they were allowed to leave Netivot? More evidence that someone in Jerusalem was just banging on a table, making these guys jerk around without a plan.

Israeli press reported that police “agreed” to “let” us enter Kfar Maimon. Well: the protesters made camp in a field outside Kfar Maimon. Just before dawn the army and police deployed to surround the camp - probably hoping to dry up the march by keeping us out in the sun, with no services, and forcing us onto buses. Instead word was quickly passed thru the camp - and everyone quickly folded up and moved into Kfar Maimon.

This took the better part of an hour, during which the army and police did little to stop us - again, an indication that the foot soldiers are (a) dragging their feet because they are not supporting the Sharon government, and/or (b) not receiving clear orders - which confirms many charges that there has been poor-to-no preparation for the expulsion.

It’s clear that the move into the village has made life a lot easier for us - and made it impossible to nip the protest in the bud. We have food, water, other services not available in the first camp. My son went to a screening of Lilo and Stich in the village library yesterday.

About the “violence” at the gates of Kfar Maimon:

All day yesterday cars with loudspeakers announced a gathering at 4:30 PM where our next steps would be announced. At about 3:45 the police took over the village’s PR system and started announcing that the march was called of, and buses were waiting to take us back to Netivot - the same buses we didn’t get on in the morning! One or two guys were walking around urging people to make their way to the gates - but we immediately noticed that none of them had the official shirts/hats/armbands of the Yesha Council officials.

When we got near the gate, a hysterical guy was shouting an obvious BS story about how the police had beat up an old lady. That was all we and others had to hear - we immediately started shouting that this was a provocation. To their credit, most of the young people immediately stopped and listened to our explanation. The officials showed up and immediately announced that this was all false.

Of course those 5-10 minutes of video - and the handful of young guys that got whipped up into a pushing match - were what led the news.

All the speakers and printed materials given out here have stressed the nonviolent nature of the march, which was upheld last night and throughout the day. And most of the young people here came of age during the days of Oslo - when they saw their parents and teachers dragged through the media mud. They are very savvy.

The police have since taken complete control of the village’s PR system - a lovely bolshevik touch - and today’s announcement that we are pressing on tonight had to be done with jury-rigged amplifiers and megaphones.

Overnight, our ranks have swollen by several thousand as people stream down to join in. We pitched our tent for the night in an open park area that contained 4 tents. When we woke there were at least 12 tents and tens of people in sleeping bags. I have met several friends who arrived last night by driving through the fields. Again, this is an example of confusion/lack of motivation on the part of the army - they are obviously not enforcing the close-off policy strongly or consistently.

We have heard other horror stories - the army boarded buses and took the drivers’ license away, so he could not continue to drive. And a group of bus companies from the north is suing because the police called them and threatened them not to take jobs that involved driving people to the protests.

Democracy in action - NOT.

Currently the police have planted items in the Israeli media saying that the protesters had given up and were dispersing - ludicrous to us because we were simultaneously hearing the leaders of the march announce (over the remaining megaphones and amps!) that we were setting out on the 2nd leg of the march at nightfall, and welcoming new arrivals.

We still don’t know if we will continue from here - my father is not so young, and it is very hot. But be very careful what you read in the papers, folks…

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This is not an Israel briefs post

This blog is being held hostage, remember.

Think Reuters will cover this? The PA has banned journalists from covering the fighting between Hamas and Fatah. No, can't have the world know that the killers are turning on each other, can we?

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday instructed local reporters and photographers to refrain from covering the clashes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority security forces.

In a statement, the syndicate, which is controlled by members of the ruling Fatah party said that "pictures that some journalists are conveying to the international and local public opinion don't benefit the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation and independence."

It warned the journalists against continuing to cover the "unfortunate clashes for fear that that they would add fuel to the fire."

The syndicate warned that anyone who violates its instructions would have to bear the personal and legal consequences of his or her deeds.

Referring specifically to local photographers, the syndicate urged them to place the national interests of the Palestinians above all other considerations.

"Refraining from covering these sad events will end the current conflict," it pointed out.

Uh-huh. Because nothing solves conflicts like ignoring them in the press. Tell me again about that democratic state the pals want next to Israel.

The fifth column: Eleven percent of terrorist attacks are caused by palestinians who entered Israel via the family reunification program.

Eleven percent of the Palestinians involved in terror entered Israel through the process known as family unification, the head of the Shin Bet security service said yesterday during a rare appearance before the Knesset Interior Committee.

Yuval Diskin told the closed-door meeting that of the 225 Israeli Arabs involved in terror, 25 were Arabs who had come to live in Israel mainly through marriage to an Israeli woman. He added that 64 percent were Palestinians who lived mainly in Israel, while 36 percent continued to live mainly in the West Bank and Gaza.

Of the terror attacks involving Palestinians who had come to Israel through family reunification, 16 were suicide bombings. Other attacks involved the attempted kidnapping and murder of members of the security forces, and the placing of car bombs or other explosives. In these attacks, 19 Israelis were killed and 83 were wounded.

Well, then. Stop the program. Screw world opinion; take away a tool for murderers. I don't care if 89% are using it legitimately. Stop the death toll.

Red Ken, Red Ken, your Jew-hatred is showing: London Mayor Ken Livingstone says it's all the fault of the Jooooos! I was going to cover this, but Lynn got to it at the Jewish View and at her place. (She's also got plenty about the disengagement, check it out.)

Reuters Moral Equivalency Watch: Can Reuters sink any lower? Well, of course they can, but get this little bit of moral equivalency.

GAZA (Reuters) - Gunmen from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas militants exchanged fire on Wednesday just hours after an agreement to end the worst domestic violence in years.

Leaders from the groups quickly intervened to restore calm, but the clash underlined tension in Gaza ahead of Israel’s plan to withdraw from settlements in the occupied territory.

Israel’s own bitter divisions were bared open too as rightist opponents of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s pullout plan vowed to keep trying to march on the main settlement bloc in defiance of security forces.

The planned withdrawal from the Gaza settlements and four of 120 in the West Bank, starting next month, has raised the stakes on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In Gaza, Fatah and Hamas leaders had agreed overnight to end internal street fighting that erupted last week when Abbas ordered his forces to stop rocket attacks by militants who killed a woman inside Israel.

But at least five fighters were wounded in pre-dawn clashes. They came from both sides. Two teenagers died in last week’s infighting. About 13 were wounded in gunbattles on Tuesday.

Right. Israel’s “bitter division” is a large, loud protest march. The PA’s is a gunfight in which 18 of their own were shot in the last few days.

Unbelievable. Yet not unexpected. Eff off and die, Reuters. Cross-posted to The Jewish View.

And that was not a post. Hit my tipjars, because this blog is being held hostage.

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Hostage situation erupts!

You know, anyone can hold a pledge week. Anyone can conduct a begathon. Most of them are boring as all hell. I'm not going to name names here (Shmandrew Shmullivan), but at this blog, however, I'm not going to continue with either of these concepts. I have a better idea.

Tig of the patio jungleI'm holding this weblog hostage. You can't have it back until you've paid a ransom. I'd like to ask for a million dollars, but then, I'd like to win the lottery, too. Instead, I'll just ask you for contributions of five, ten or more dollars payable to my Paypal and Amazon tipjars. (The Amazon allows anonymous donations, fitting for a ransom.) If, at the end of the week, the ransom has been paid, you can have the blog back.

In the meantime, I will not be posting. I will not be posting about the situation in Israel, or kitty zen pictures (okay, well, I haven't put up one of those in a long time, maybe I should choose something else),

You can forget about cat pictures. I won't be posting shots of Tig in his jungle nest out on the patio.

I won't be posting shots of Gracie in the Chair That Swallows You Whole.

Gracie on the chair

Nope. You won't see any of those pictures here. Nuh-uh.

In fact, come to think of it, perhaps I should hold the cats hostage, too. Yes, I think I will. Ransom them if you want them back on the blog.

Yep. That's it. This blog is being held hostage. It'll cost you five or ten (or more, if you like) bucks to get it back. Per person, of course.

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The Exception Clause, and then some

Glenn Reynolds points us to Publius Pundit's analysis of the new Iraqi constitution, which has these charming paragraphs that illustrate perfectly The Exception Clause—which is, of course, the addition of "Except for Jews" (substitute Israelis; same thing) in nearly all things. Nowhere, however, is it more evident than in these excerpts from the Iraqi constitution:

3. Any individual with another nationality (except for Israel) may obtain Iraqi nationality after a period of residency inside the borders of Iraq of not less than ten years for an Arab or twenty years for any other nationality, as long as he has good character and behavior, and has no criminal judgment against him from the Iraqi authorities during the time of his residency on the territory of the Iraqi republic.

4. An Iraqi may have more than one nationality as long as the nationality is not Israeli.

The Iraqis could not be more crystal-clear in their intent: No Jews allowed, thank you, in spite of the fact that there were 150,000 Jews living in Iraq in 1948; today, fewer than 100 remain of the 2,700-year-old Jewish community.

I must admit, I expect nothing less of the Iraqis. But I'm puzzled by something that Rober Mayer wrote, and I should like to know why he feels this was a necessary part of his post:

Suspicion of Israel, as we all must know, is everywhere in the Middle East. Iraq needs to strike it from their constitution, however, if in fact this is being considered. I understand that they must be suspicious of Israelis commissioned by the government to obtain citizenship and act within Iraq’s political structure, but having this anti-Israel provision is highly symbolic and permanent. It would be better to work toward good relations, and then, with regards to the constitution, set a more general precedent for Iraq citizens not born to the country. A provision could be adopted, such as in the United States, where citizens not born in Iraq cannot run for high office (though, I can’t imagine one would win anyway). Besides, they should be concerned about foreign government meddling from organizations based in Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. They should take this into consideration moreso than long-standing Arab paranoia about Israel.

Why should the blame be laid on Iraqi fear of Mossad agents within their midst? This is problematic in several ways: First, that Mayer feels it necessary to lay the blame for Iraq's anti-Israel sentiments on phantom Israeli spies. Second, that Mayer doesn't see anything inherently wrong with that false assumption. But mostly, because the anti-Israel sentiment has nothing to do with fear of Mossad agents penetrating their government, and everything to do with anti-Semitism.

I think Mr. Mayer needs to do a little homework, and a little more analysis into his own views on Israel, because I'm seeing a huge mistake being made here. Perhaps he could lay the blame for the anti-Israel "paranoia" where it belongs: In the anti-Semitism of the Arab and Muslim world.

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Hamas claims victory: I knew they would. You knew they would. This is what unilateral withdrawal—under effing firegets you.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar rejected Palestinian Authority claims that the firing of rockets on Israel was causing damage to Palestinian interests, saying the attacks had brought about the decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

[...] "Who said that the rockets are harmful to the national interests of the Palestinians," Zahar asked. "History has proven that the rockets have been in the interests of the Palestinians. The rockets have forced Israel to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, and they will end the occupation in the future. It's the resistance, and not the negotiations, that brought about the end of the occupation."

Uh-huh. And as we have learned from the rise of the PNA, appearance is everything with these people. I don't care how many Israeli military leaders tell us they're full of hot air—their followers believe them. And the world secretly believes them, too—witness the willingness of Britain and the EU to treat with them.

Terrorism has been rewarded. The lesson isn't learned yet.

Really, we're nice guys, too! Testifying for the defense at the Sami El-Arian trial: A terrorist leader who points out that just because Islamic Jihad commits suicide bombings doesn't mean they're all bad.

Abu Amr said that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad was once a secretive organization, but its leadership was now public knowledge. He read from a paper he wrote for Al-Arian in 2000 for use in a legal proceeding involving the defendant's brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, who spent three-and-a-half years in a US jail as a security threat before being deported.

The group "engages in a wide range of nonviolent activities, including political, social support, student groups, kindergartens and cultural activities," Abu Amr read from his document.

Say, good to know you failed with El-Arian's brother. May you have the same luck this time.

Speaking of Islamic Jihad: Looks like the non-charitable wing has a few openings.

IDF forces killed two senior Islamic Jihad fugitives in the Jenin area of the West Bank.

Two other Jihad activists were arrested, Israel Radio reported.

Good for the IDF.

Palestinian civil war watch: Here's hoping.

GAZA – At least seven Palestinians sustained injuries after clashes between Palestinian Authority security forces and Hamas terrorists resumed early Tuesday.

Intra-Palestinian violence continued to escalate as al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades members delivered on an earlier pledge and joined PA forces in their battle against the Hamas.

At one point, Fatah members set a Hamas religious studies center on fire.

War crimes! War crimes! They burned down a school! UN! Help! UN!

Oh, wait. It wasn't Jews doing it. Never mind.

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Pledge week continues

Thanks again to the people who have been contributing, and if you're a regular reader here, and have never so much as uttered a comment but read every day, please stop and think of how much time I spend writing, and then think: It costs something like five bucks a week for a subscription to the newspaper, and I'm a hell of a lot more interesting than most newspapers.

I'm cuter than most newspaper reporters, too.

Surely you can shoot me five or ten bucks. I only ask for money um, let's see... maybe twice or three times since I put up the tipjars. That's about once a year (unlike some high-profile bloggers whose name I won't mention, Shmandrew Shmullivan).

And yeah, the begathon is going to keep going for the rest of the week. C'mon, my invisibles. You can remain invisible by contributing to my Amazon tipjar, which allows you to contribute anonymously

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The weekly Weekly

As promised, here are some more stories found exclusively at The Weekly World News:

Guys: How you can look like the Hulk, without exercising:

"Muscle implants are the latest thing in plastic surgery," says Dr. Eduardo Alvarez of Los Angeles. "We've been helping women achieve the curves they've wanted for years, so now it's time to give men a little boost, too."

[...] Men have been lining up at the doctor's office in record numbers for the surgery, dropping upwards of $15,000 to get the "Hulk" look, says Dr. Alvarez.

"The response to the surgery has been phenomenal, both for the patients and for my practice. They walk in looking like something from Revenge of the Nerds and walk out looking like the Terminator -- all in a matter of hours."

[...] "I don't care," says John Keller of Culver City, Calif. "I went from being a nobody to somebody that everyone wants to be around. I look how I want to look, and I don't have to sit around grunting and sweating to have this killer body.

"I love myself now."

His girlfriend agrees. "He's always looking at himself naked in the mirror. It's embarrassing.

"Sure, he looks great now," she says. "But he still can't open a jar of pickles for me."

Somebody check with Miss Manners: Yes, there is a strip club etiquette. The WWN shows you how:

4. KEEP "witty" negative comments to yourself. Wisecracks like, "That skinny blonde looks like Ann Coulter on crack," can deflate a dancer's self-esteem, causing her to mess up her routine -- or even take a nasty spill. "We hear more than you think over the music," reveals Party, a 21-year-old stripper in Dayton, Ohio.

6. NEVER spank a dancer's derriere to get her attention -- that's just as rude at a strip club as at an office. And if there's a no-touching policy, you could be unceremoniously ejected. Instead, ask the bartender to signal the lady.

Right. Never let it be said that doesn't give you the real skinny. (The WWN has a thing for Coulter, methinks.)

This one's for Harrison: Oh, no! Not the dog world, too!


NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Steroids have reared their ugly head in the unlikeliest of places: The hallowed benching areas of the dog show circuit.

The showplace of the world's toniest canines is embroiled in a steroid controversy brought to light by these exclusive photos taken by Weekly World News. The shocking series was snapped outside the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York.

The photos show Mr. Parsley, a 4-year old German shepherd, being fed dog biscuits in the shape of barbells by his owner, veterinarian Mary Jane Snow.

Weekly World News also collected crumbs from the treat and took them to our New York laboratory. Tests show that they contained corn meal, white flour, beef stock -- and sphingosine-derived lipids from pit bulls. In other words, anabolic steroids.

Well, there you have it. They have evidence. Sarah, you'd better watch out at your next dog show. Some of your competitors might be on drugs. Pit bull drugs! Gasp!

Tune in next week, when we help you get rid of your rude neighbors. (No peeking beforehand.)

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Monday briefs

Lip service to stopping terrorism: The PA is protecting the Netanya bomb planners.

The masterminds behind last week's suicide bombings in Netanya are being protected by the Palestinian Authority at a government compound in Tulkarm, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting, Army Radio reported.

Tulkarm was one of the towns recently handed over to the PA. Good to know that Israelis can count on their partners in "the peace of the brave." [spit]

First, they blew up the Jews: One of the London bombers may have helped plan the attack on Mike's Place in Tel Aviv. Yes, all terrorism is global now. As I've been saying, Al Qaeda has learned from the palestinians.

But it's a religion of peace: Two American Muslim converts caught for a string of robberies were found to have plans of various Jewish buildings, including the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles.

Although there is no evidence of a specific terrorist plot, law enforcement officials say materials recovered at the South Los Angeles apartment of one robbery suspect, Levar Haney Washington, 25, suggest that an attack might have been planned at any of nearly two dozen addresses, including National Guard recruiting facilities, two synagogues and a building believed to be the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.

The fifth column is here. Attacks on American soil are inevitable as well. Especially when the FBI refuses to call terrorism by its true name (attack on El Al in LAX, anyone?).

The rockets glare: The pals keep 'em coming. Even though Abbas says he's going to make them stop. Uh-huh. Because he's been so effective to date, what with all those dead Israelis and all.

Speaking at his Gaza City office, Abbas said, "We are determined to stop the launching of the homemade rockets, whatever the price. We are going to do our utmost to stop these rockets. I cannot promise how much time it will take me."

Once again, the PA is protecting the masterminds of last week's Netanya suicide bombing. We should believe him because...?

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But first, a message from our sponsors

Thanks to everyone who hit the tipjar last week. And if you've been reading this weblog regularly but have never contributed, please consider it. Five or ten bucks isn't a lot, but if fifty or a hundred of you sent me that much, things would be a whole lot better. Amazon's tipjar is anonymous, if that's an issue for you.

Times are tough right now. I've been temping for and trying hard to get into Large Financial Company in Richmond, but it's a slow process. In the meantime, temping doesn't exactly cover the bills.

Unlike Andrew Sullivan, I'm not asking you to cover my summer jaunts to Fire Island. Just help me keep the wolves from the door while I'm getting a full-time position. See, the Worldwide Zionist Conspiracy has to maintain its image by not making all Jews rich, and unfortunately, I've been on that list since before birth. Ergo, I have to work for a living.

How do I get off this list, anyway? Where's my piece of the pie, huh? Huh? Hello, WZC representatives, can you at least get me into Large Financial Compan?

Anyway. If you can help me out, it'd be great. Of course, I'd rather get a job, but y'know, the market hasn't quite picked up yet.

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The Harry Potter party

The line at the Harry Potter partySo a couple weeks ago, I'm at B&N with my niece, her mother, and a couple of her friends. We're looking at the hoopla for the release of the latest Harry Potter book, and I know that Heidi is working that night, and I say, "You know, I can take Sorena to the party if she wants to go." Of course, she wants to go. And so it's settled. Heidi pre-orders the book, we discuss what time I'll pick Sorena up, and the time slips away. Last Thursday, I call Heidi and settle the details. I don't see any reason to get there before 9:30 or 10:00. Sure, it'll be a madhouse, but how many people could there possibly be who have children who are such devout Harry Potter fans that they'll be crowding Barnes & Noble until midnight, waiting for their first shot at the new book?

Oh. That many. But there's something wrong with this picture.

Taylor as HermioneWait. Wait. Where are all the kids? Those aren't little kids in line. I thought Harry Potter was a kids' book! Oh, here's one. Her name is Taylor. She's eight. The two women who were with her—who seemed to be about late teens, early twenties—told me she was their cover. She's probably not even going to buy the book. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she's too young to read the book.

(In actuality, many of the teenagers have probably been reading the series since they were much younger, and as Harry's been aging a year with each book, the current book is aimed at the young adult audience. Snogging alert, little ones!)

After standing in line for an hour—during which time B&N employees came by with free ice water, Harry Potter glasses, and lightning tattoos, we finally got in. There were various activities for the kids, which of course, the teens and twentysomethings utilized as well. Check out the shell game below!

Sorena finds the magic rock

Those boys behind Sorena are not little kids. By the way, my niece wasn't fooled for a moment. She chose the right cup and won the magic rock.

We checked out the rest of the activities. Oh, phew, there were girls Sorena's age.

Sorena and kids her own age(Sorena, by the way, is dressed as Hermione in the scenes where she's not wearing robes, but jeans and a pink sweatshirt. We didn't have time to poof out her hair. Well, okay, we didn't really think of it, but hey—we still wouldn't have had time even if we had thought of it, so there you have it.)

Sorena made herself a wand and then we wandered (get it? get it? WAND-ered? AHAHAHA, sometimes I just slay myself!) around the store, as, from time to time, an annoying B&N employee would announce, "One hour until Harry Potter!") and equally annoying people in the store would cheer. I mean, hello, did nobody have a watch?

There was a costume contest for the various age groups. Here are the finalists in the under-eleven category.

Harry Potter costume contest

It was way too loud over there, what with people shrieking their approval of the kid they thought should win, so I couldn't tell you which one won. We continued WANDering (ahahaha, that's still making me laugh!) around, Sorena posing for various pictures. I like this one.

There was a painting of Harry, Ron, and Hermione that you could pose with as well, but y'know, I like this one better, and, well, it's my blog, Sorena, so there.

Finally, midnight rolls around. We had Wristband Number 172. They called people up fifty at a time, and did an outstanding job of selling the books as fast as was humanly possible. It was almost as if they used magic to help it along. Hey, ya think? Naaaaah.

Anyway, I did not pre-order my book, because I thought I'd have the whole week to do it, and then I got called in for a temp job before I could, and so, I was discussing with Sorena the various ways I could buy my copy with her. I suggested the simplest scam: Just tell the person at the counter that we'd pre-ordered two and there was a mistake made. Sorena seemed embarrassed. I guess she figured that I probably shouldn't lie to being with, and then there was the whole pre-teen embarrassment factor that there might be a fuss. So I said okay, I wouldn't try it. They called our number, we raced over to the line and found the end. Before we could get to the counter, her mom showed up. Heidi and I discussed how I could get my own copy of the book. I had no intention of waiting in the orange-wristband line; they were barely up to forty and I was number 126. I figured I could just get the book the next day, when a thought occurred to me: "Say, why don't we just ask them politely if we can buy two copies?" Good idea, we all agreed. And when we got to the counter, we asked, "Can we buy two copies?" "Sure!" said the cashier, popping a second book on the counter. Mischief managed.

On the way out, we received some more gifts: As many more Harry Potter glasses and lightning tattoos we wanted, a poster, and a green wristband with Hedwig and the date of the book's release. Sorena asked if she could take an extra one for a friend of hers. She gives these things to her friends, too. She is an honest child.

Was it all worth it? Well, you know what they say about pictures being worth.

Sorena and the book

Yes, that's a lightning tattoo on her forehead.)

As for the book itself, it's better than the last two, much darker, and quite good. I look forward to the last in the series. But not to another book party. I think for that one, I'll just drop her off and wave goodbye.

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Proof of bias

This short Reuters piece is an excellent example of the media bias against Israel.

NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - A mortar bomb fired by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip hit a house in the Neve Dekalim settlement on Sunday, causing several Israeli casualties, a rescue service said.

Notice how impersonal the report is. The casualties have no names, ages, or genders.

Compare that to this paragraph from the main Reuters story about the impending Gaza “incursion, which details the death of a terrorist responsible for the rocket attacks:

In the southern Gaza Strip, a commander of the Hamas group behind much rocket fire was killed with a single bullet fired from a nearby settlement. Saeed Seyam’s father said he had been going to water the garden. The army said it killed him as part of a revived assassination policy.

You have his name, a quote from his father about how all the poor terrorist was doing was watering his garden at home when he was struck down by a sniper’s bullet (and may I say: Good shot!).

Later in the same article, Reuters mentions the Israeli victims of Hamas terrorist attacks, once again in a completely impersonal manner:

Hamas said it fired mortars that hurt six Israelis in southern Gaza settlements in retaliation for the death of Seyam. Soon after, Palestinian witnesses said two people were injured by tank fire.

And then, to conclude the article, we have this blather:

A similar scenario of attack, retaliation and revenge — for which each side blames the other — put paid to many previous peace efforts.

"Around and around we go. A trap that no one knows how to escape from,"said Roni Shaked, commentator in Israel's best selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Once again, the media ignore the fact that Israel took constant gunfire, rocket and mortar attacks, and two sucide bombings before responding.

There was no truce. There was only Israeli restraint. Which got them nowhere.

Invade Gaza. Level the area where they're shooting rockets. The press can't get any worse.

Cross-posted to The Jewish View.

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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.