Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cindy Sheehan arrested On Capitol Hill


You can't wear protest shirts to the SOTU, Cindy.

It's not all about you.

Moonbats typically are offended and call it the death of liberty. Well, she could have put her jacket back on. She knew what she was doing. She wanted the attention one way or the other.

I only kinda half listened to speech, so I'll just link to Vodkapundit who liveblogged it with a drink in one hand a full plate of snark in the other.

But did anyone else besides me and Mark Levin catch Hillary's very odd laugh during the speech when Bush was speaking about the spread of liberty? Very weird and inappropriate looking.

Not to mention how unamused she looked when Bush repeated his bon mot about Clinton being his other brother.

I did notice, though, Bush's unequivocal statement on Iran - that was a good one.

Nature Walk

Rocky and I left the city and went up to Westchester yesterday for the warm weather.

The weather was in the low 60s. And I actually saw a snowdrop in bloom - in January. Amazing.

The New Look of the Blog

I had been wanting to change templates for a while, and last night I finally realized that the problems I had experienced earlier this week were nowhere near resolved in IE at all. And since the majority of the people visiting this blog use IE, I had to do something really quick. I usually use Safari myself, and everything had looked dandy there - and Firefox has one or two small anamolies, but IE was a mess. The funny thing was my IE had suddenly conked out - so I wasn't able to test it. It kept on sticking and not working everytime I opened the program in general. So discovering the extent of the mess last night was an impetus to change over completely and more imediately than I had planned.

Anyway, this is all sedate and grown up looking.

I may change again in a while to something more individual. But we're here now for at least a while.

UPDATE: Hmm. So far the one reaction I've gotten is a negative response to the new template. Anyone else?

Ideally, I'd like to make my own template, but my photoshopping skills and knowledge of code are not yet up to it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Mark Steyn on Hamas's Electoral Victory

Hamas... takes a Joel Stein view: Why the hell should we have to go tippy-toeing around some sissy phrase we don't really mean? Hamas doesn't support a two-state solution, it supports the liquidation of one state and its replacement by other, and they don't see why they should have to pretend otherwise. And in last week's elections for the Palestinian Authority they romped home. It was a landslide.

Hamas is the honest expression of the will of the Palestinian electorate, and the cold hard truth of that is something Europeans and Americans will find hard to avoid.

As with Joel Stein [of Warrior and wusses fame], you're always better off knowing what people honestly think. For decades, the Middle East's dictators justified themselves to Washington as a restraint on the baser urges of their citizens, but in the end they only incubated worse pathologies. Western subsidy of Arafatistan is merely the latest example. Democracy in the Middle East is not always pretty, but it's better than the West's sillier illusions.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Translating the Hobbit Into Hebrew


Fascinating tale of how several Israeli prisoners of war in Egypt spent their time in prison in the early 1970s translating the Hobbit as a way to give themselves something to do.

...Of the two Hebrew translations of JRR Tolkien's classic book The Hobbit, one of them was painstakingly written down in Egyptian exercise books by [Phantom pilot Rami] Harpaz and nine other Israeli prisoners-of-war languishing in a Cairo jail....

To tackle translating Tolkien's The Hobbit, the forerunner to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was the brainchild of Harpaz. On the back cover of the prisoners' Hebrew version of The Hobbit, however, no name appears for the translation - just a mention that it was a group effort by Israeli prisoners-of-war during their years of captivity in the Abaseyar prison...

Neither a Luddite Nor A Fundamentalist Be

More From The Annals of the Self-Deluded

Spielberg, on attempts to talk himself out of making Munich:
I discussed this film with all kinds of people who mean a lot to me, in the hope that they would talk me out of it, even my parents and my rabbi. But no-one would do me that favor. So my scriptwriter Tony Kushner and myself took on the project as seriously and politically unbiased, and as uncompromisingly as possible.
That's right. Spielberg thinks that Tony Kushner's approach on Israel is politically unbiased.

Heh! Now I'm forced to imagine a mental landscape in America where Tony Kushner's Zionism would be regarded as centrist.
SPIEGEL: You are celebrated enthusiastically by the critics, and you have also been slammed. But rarely has a director been attacked and vilified so personally for a film as you have now. You have been called a blind pacifist, even a traitor to the cause of Israel.

Spielberg: Fortunately, the people who write that kind of thing are a small but very loud minority. It saddens me to see how narrow-minded and dogmatic some of the right-wing fundamentalists here in the USA are. I thank God that people who are important to me see "Munich" quite differently. Liberal American Jews, for example, but also some families of the victims from that time in Israel. They have embraced the message of the film.
Those poor, deluded, narrow-minded, dogmatic right wing fundamentalists...

Now watch Spielberg entirely dodge the question:
SPIEGEL: In a long closing sequence you show the -- then still standing -- Twin Towers of Manhattan, implying that you see a link between September 5, 1972 in Munich and September 11, 2001 in New York.

Spielberg: I don't think that these acts can be compared in terms of their perpetrators. There is no connection between the Palestinian terror of that time and the al-Qaida terror of today. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jihadism have nothing to do with each other.
Which on the one hand misses entirely the point of the question. The question isn't whether Al Qaeda and the PLO are the same "in their perpetrators," an obviously absurd question. The question is whether, as so many leftists believe, Arab grievances, as symbolized in the situation of Palestine, is linked to the mood fueling jihadism. And that is the question Spielberg refuses to answer here - because he would have to answer it in the positive. Because if he didn't believe it were true, he would not have layered in the symbolism of the Twin Towers.There is absolutely no reason to hint at the future in that way as a filmmaker - on a purely iconographic level that any idiot can read - if you don't believe you are foreshadowing what you know will be the political future of the world.

That is, of course, unless you are a bad filmmaker, not in control of your medium.

That's a possibility, too, I suppose.

Elsewhere Spielberg commented:
[that] he knew the film was going to "receive a volley from the right," but he was surprised "that we received a much smaller, but no less painful, volley from the left. It made me feel a little more aware of the dogma, and the Luddite position people take any time the Middle East is up for discussion."

WMD still, in all likelihood, in Syria

The Likelihood grows
that Iraq's chemical weapons ended up in Syria:
The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed...
Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

"I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots," Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including "yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel." The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights - 56 in total, Mr. Sada said - attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

"Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Mr. Sada said. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians."

Mr. Sada said that the Iraqi official responsible for transferring the weapons was a cousin of Saddam Hussein named Ali Hussein al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali." The Syrian official responsible for receiving them was a cousin of Bashar Assad who is known variously as General Abu Ali, Abu Himma, or Zulhimawe.

Georges Sada makes these claims in his new book, Saddam's Secrets.

Mr. Sada is an unusual figure for an Iraqi general as he is a Christian and was not a member of the Baath Party. He now directs the Iraq operations of the Christian humanitarian organization, World Compassion.

Mark in Mexico has more on this here.

These claims are in line with Israeli intelligence conventional wisdom on the issue. Ariel Sharon addressed the matter publicly in 2002.
These concerns first became public when, on December 23, 2002, Ariel Sharon stated on Israeli television, "Chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria."[24] About three weeks later, Israel's foreign minister repeated the accusation. The U.S., British, and Australian governments issued similar statements.

And David Kay, the former head of the coalition's hunt for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, also made such claims in 2004.
[Kay] said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.

"We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."
In his book, Sada also claims that he was the one who talked Saddam Hussein out of a chemical attack on Israel during the first Gulf War.
The former deputy of the Iraqi air force, General Georges Sada, revealed on Saturday that that former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, ordered him during the first Gulf War to bomb Israeli population centers with chemical weapons.

The ousted dictator, said Sada in recently published book, Saddam's secret's, ordered 96 Russian fighter jets to be armed with chemical weapons and sent to bomb Israel.

According to Sada, who recently served as a national security advisor to the temporary prime minister and was in the midst of a book tour in the US, said he succeeded in convincing Hussein to reconsider his order.

Sada said he convinced Saddam to abort the mission by telling him that the Iraqi pilots could not complete the mission with the equipment at their disposal, and that the Israelis had radar that could detect them before they reached their target.
Previous posts on the WMD's in Syria here and here.

In case anyone needs reminding of the brutality of the Saddam regime, the website of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, headed by Cliff May, is hosting 4 videos showing actual torture and murder that took place under Saddam's regime and recorded by his regime.

Also in Syria, during Assad's meeting last week's with Ahmadinejad, Imad Mugniyah, one of the world's most wanted terrorist, was also spotted.
Congressional staffers familiar with America's Iran policy, however, said yesterday that while they had not received confirmation of Mr. Mugniyah's participation in the Ahmadinejad-Assad summit from American officials, they had heard from foreign "diplomatic sources" that the terrorist was at the meeting.

Mr. Mugniyah appears on the FBI's most wanted terrorists list along with Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the government has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his capture. Mr. Mugniyah, of Lebanese origin but said to be living now in Iran, is described by the FBI as the "alleged head of the security apparatus" for Lebanese Hezbollah.

As for the bomb attack in Iran last week, which some analysts suggested may have been aimed at Ahmadinejad - it occurred in a town he was due to visit, but he cancelled the trip because of inclement weather – that may have been set up by the Iranin government itself as a way to garner support for Ahmadinejad and the government.
"The Iranian regime has a long track record of fabricating bomb attacks inside Iran to advance its own political agenda," Mr. Timmerman said, citing an arson attack in August 1978 orchestrated by Ayatollah Khomeini, originally blamed on the shah but designed by Khomeini's officials to spark the revolution that brought him to power. "I would not be surprised if Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps were doing the same thing today, in a vain attempt to get Iranians to rally around the Islamic Republic," Mr. Timmerman said in an email to the Sun.

In Israel: the absence of bad news is good news

Big drop in number of foreign women working as prostitutes in Israel. Since these women had been trafficked in illegally as sex slaves forced to work in horrible conditions - this is good news indeed.
Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On, who chairs the Knesset subcommittee for the war against trade in human beings, has said that in the past few years there has been a change in the public's perception of the phenomenon of trafficking women. In the past, the prostitutes were considered to be offenders staying in Israel illegally, while today they are seen as victims whose rights are constantly being violated.

Gal-On said this changed perception was expressed in establishing a shelter and two clinics for these women. Also, the Interior Ministry has given visas and work permits to women who testified against their pimps.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Good Morning Sharrrriiaaa

So, now that Hamas has swept to victory, looks like they are planning on using their mandate to impose sharia law on the Palestinian territories.
A senior Hamas official told Canada's Globe and Mail on Friday that the new government the group will form will make sharia, or Islamic law, a source of law in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. He said the government will modify the existing Palestinian education system to and institute a more Islamic curriculum, and will separate boys and girls.
And just in case you need an extremely humorous palliative to help you with that news, check out this Islamic sing-along: It's In the Koran.

Er, not recommended for the sensitive-souled or the enormously politically correct.

Hat Tip: LGF

UPDATE: The link to the video has been changed and is now working again.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I'm dreaming of another Razzia

Just in case you were wondering, 'Where have all the car burners gone'?

The "street" appears to have migrated from suburban Paris to Ramallah.

Check out this video of Fatah protesting the Hamas victory; they also burn cars and throw stones at a building.

Where have all the car burners gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the car burners gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the car burners gone?
Lost their Government jobs every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Profiles in Terror

The BBC profiles Mahmoud Zahhar, leader of Hamas in Gaza, and one of its original founders along with Sheik Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi in 1987. He, himself, started his ideological "career" in the Gaza branch of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.


Both YNET and Debka appear to be in accord that talks are going on right now to return Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to Palestinian territories.


Palestinian sources have told Ynet that 'serious contacts' are taking place between the Hamas leadership, top PA officials, and European representatives, as part of an attempt to bring Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian sources have said that as soon as the results are confirmed, Hamas, the EU, and Egypt will examine possibilities for returning Mashaal to the Palestinian territories. Those who support the move say Mashaal's return would significantly moderate Hamas, and disconnect it from Syrian and Iranian pressures, leading to much greater cooperation between Hamas and other elements in the PA.

The sources say that Mashaal would work for a long ceasefire (hudna), which would last for approximately 10 – 15 years, and which will guarantee real calm in the area.

Well, consider the "sources."

Sounds "very reliable." That's, no doubt, why this guy has been stationed in Syria the whole time. Because of his "moderating" influence.

Debka characterizes Mashaal rather differently, as "the real power behind Hamas, the radical Khaled Mashaal."

Apparently the plan at the moment is to position non-Hamas members as prime minister and minister of finance - in order to begin to gain outside acceptance to pressure Israel.

With outside figures in the posts of Palestinian prime minister and finance minister, Israel may see the Hamas-dominated administration gaining international acceptance. Jerusalem's non-recognition posture would then come under pressure. Abbas will no doubt explain to the Americans that the Palestinian situation is no different from that of Lebanon, whose government is not blacklisted despite Hizballah’s participation.

In other cockle-warming developments, Colombia broke up a false passport ring with ties to al Qaeda and Hamas.

The gang allegedly supplied an unknown number of citizens from Pakistan, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and other countries with false passports and Colombian nationality without them ever stepping foot in the country, the attorney general's office said in a written statement.

The counterfeited passports were then used to facilitate their entry into the United States and Europe...

"We confirm that some of the arrestees are wanted for extradition for collaborating with terrorist groups al-Qaida and Hamas," Otalora told RCN television.

Four were Jordanian citizens were among those arrested, said Manuel Saenz, head of foreign immigration for the DAS secret police, on Caracol television. And eight are being sought by the United States for extradition, Otalora said.

The group apparently penetrated Colombia's federal bureaucracy and secret police. Three DAS officials and an employee of the national registry were among the arrested...

U.S. officials have long feared al-Qaida could take advantage of corrupt government officials and weak institutions to launch an attack from south of the border.

Much of the focus in South America, however, has fallen on the large Muslim community in Paraguay along the porous border with Argentina and Brazil.

Authorities believe as much as $100 million a year flows out of the region, with large portions diverted to Islamic militants linked to Hezbollah and Hamas.

A little more Who's Who in Hamas, a nicely alliterative phrase.

Uh, Yeah. That About Says It All

From Cox&Forkum

Hamas, as it turns out, may be as bemused by their victory as some in the West:

[A] Hamas leader in Nablus, a professor at An-Najah University who did not run, told the Post that many of the leaders were disappointed with the results. "We didn't want this, we didn't hope for this. We wanted to be in the opposition," he said, speaking at a green-flagged, rabble-rousing victory rally in downtown Nablus. "Now all the responsibility is on us."

Though as it stands right now, not all Palestinians are actually looking forward to the upcoming jihad.

the security forces guarding hotels where foreign election observers stayed had long faces. "This is terrible," said one named Majdi. "Maybe Hamas will tell us to go to war."

Looking over at his colleagues, he asked "You guys ready for jihad?"

The line of young men in camouflage uniforms carrying assault rifles looked up at him blankly. "No man," said one. "No way."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hamastan Before Our Eyes

Ha'aretz provides a convenient Who's Who in Hamas for its top 5 leaders.

Ehud Olmert tells the world that a Palestinian Authority led by Hamas is "not a partner" in peace.

"If a government led by Hamas or in which Hamas is a coalition partner is established, the Palestinian Authority will be turned into an authority that supports terror. Israel and the world will ignore it and make it irrelevant," Olmert said.

Whether this is his tactics or his actual stance, we'll find out in time. But it is clear enough he has to begin with absolute firmness.

Whereas Netanyahu said:
Responding to Hamas' victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that, "The state of 'Hamastan' has been created before our eyes - an Iranian satellite state in the image of the Taliban. It was created in close proximity to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion International Airport. We need to do some soul-searching, because the writing was on the wall. A policy of unilateral withdrawal rewarded Hamas terror."

Gene causes Parkinson's in Ashkenazi Jews

Sobering news for Ashkenazi Jews who have Parkinson's in their family:
Although Parkinson's disease has not generally been regarded as genetic in origin, researchers at Yeshiva University's Einstein College of Medicine and Beth Israel Medical Center in New York have discovered a single gene that is the "major cause" of Parkinson's in Ashkenazi Jews...

The mutation, called G2019S, was detected in 18.3% (22 out of 120) of the Ashkenazi Parkinson's patients, compared with only 1.3% (4 out of 317) of control patients...

The frequency of this mutation among Ashkenazi Parkinson's patients was 15-20 times higher than has been reported among patients of European ancestry in general...

It seems like Parkinson's is yet another disease that can be inherited via a single genetic defect, of which there are already more than 20."

It also shows, he said, that Ashkenazi Jewry began some 1,000 years ago with a few founders, and that their isolation as a community and marriage among themselves amplified the presence of defective genes that cause these diseases.
I have people in my family who suffer from Parkinson's, so this is particularly sobering for me. And it confirms what we have suspected informally for a while, that the link is genetic. It certainly appears to be in my family.

Israel won't talk to government including Hamas

"Israel will not conduct any negotiation with a Palestinian government, if it includes any (members of) an armed terror organization that calls for Israel's destruction," Olmert's office said in a statement.

In other news, Robert Satloff, the Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies recently spoke at the the 2006 Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel's National Security and made them some excellent points:
Do not mistake tactical flexibility for strategic change. Hamas will be perfectly happy to talk with Israel, to negotiate with Israel. It is willing to negotiate with Israel out of the deeply held belief that it can negotiate you out of existence. If the negotiations do not achieve that result today, they may do so tomorrow, and if negotiations alone do not achieve that result, then Hamas will be wise enough to retain other assets -- or the potential to acquire those other assets -- to do the job by other means. Please do not hand over the keys to the realm to this organization in the belief that it has become domesticated -- in the mistaken idea that because their politicians are not corrupt, that because they can pick up the garbage and fix the potholes, that they somehow are moderate. I believe Hamas's strategy may be to get Israelis so addicted to the tahdiye, the calm, that Israelis will not interfere with the Islamist takeover of the PA. Hamas believes you are fools, and this is profoundly dangerous. Hamas has no reason for being other than the destruction of the Jewish state; if that were not its prime motivation, it would simply revert to being the Muslim Brotherhood, from which it came.

Hat Tip: Vital Perspective on the Near East

In other news, nothing deters the honorable ex President Carter from being himself. Since the Palestinian election was "honest and fair", he calls for funding the Palestinians at this point in time.
"The Palestinian Government is destitute, and in desperate financial straits. I hope that support for the new government will be forthcoming," Carter said at a Jerusalem press conference.

He added that if international law barred donor countries from directly funding a Hamas-led government than the US and the EU should bypass the Palestinian Authority and provide the "much-needed" money to the Palestinians via non-governmental channels such as UN agencies.

"Regardless of the government, I would hope that potential donors find alternative means to be generous to the Palestinian people [even] if the donor decides to bypass the Palestinian government completely," Carter said, stressing that his main concern was to avert the "suffering" of the Palestinian people, which he said could lead to a new cycle of violence.

Ah yes, it is poverty which is going to cause a new cycle of violence, not Hamas doctrine. Which he wants us to fund.

Carter, who has long supported the participation of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, voiced the hope that the Islamic terror group would act "responsibly" now that it had won the elections....

"My hope is that as Hamas assumes a major role in the next government, whatever that might be, it will take a position on international standards of responsibility," he said at the news conference, held at an east Jerusalem hotel.

The interesting question is just what those standards will be...

Perhaps for even more violent confrontations? That's a standard, too.

So by all means, let's fund them now, before we know how they'll act.

Those Demned Exit Polls

So when I went to bed last night, Fatah had won the Palestinian election. True, their victory margin had narrowed the later at night it got, but what a shock to wake up and find Hamas has suddenly won and apparently by a substantial margin. It suggests that people told the exit pollers, not the truth, but what they thought the exit pollers wanted to hear.

I guess it's a bit like being a Democrat in 2004 - the ones who believes the Florida exit polls, or a Laborite in 1995, after the Rabin assassination, when Israelis went to bed assured of a Labor victory and woke up with Likud in charge.

So those territory concession speeches about the West Bank that Ehud Olmert has been spouting lately – and about which I've been having uncomfortable feelings - they sure are not going to go over well now. With Hamas having just won the majority in Palestine.

It looks like Benjamin Netanyahu just got a boost from the Palestinians, just like he did last time, when he came to power after the glut of bombings that followed after the "peace" of Oslo.

Belmont Club has similar thoughts and twins this win with the nuclear situation in Iran to suggest that traditional thinking and institutions are not going to solve this problem.

But in the comments to his post, he adds that the victory of Hamas is also a defeat for Fatah and their 15 years of financial and political corruption. All those billions spent to feather the nest of Arafat and his followers. Objectively speaking, it is hard to object to that from the Palestinian POV.

And like with Ahmadinejad, our political interlocuter has now become crystal clear in its intent. There is a benefit with that as well. Israelly Cool and Roger Simon agree. As does Cliff May at the Corner:
I want to suggest a somewhat contrarian view (compared to what most of the media is saying) of the apparent Hamas victory. It’s distressing, to be sure, but also clarifying.

Why it’s distressing is obvious: Palestinians have voted for a Militant Islamist terrorist organization with close ties to the mullahs of Iran. True, they may have done so out of frustration with Fatah, a hopelessly corrupt political machine--and one that also, by the way, sponsors terrorism. Nevertheless, the vote suggests that most Palestinians are not seriously interested in achieving peace with Israel.

But here’s why it’s also clarifying: In the past, when there were terrorist attacks against Israel, Yassir Arafat could denounce them in English in the morning and celebrate them in Arabic in the afternoon. Hamas will not have that luxury.

Henceforth, Israeli leaders should respond to every terrorist attack not as though it were a crime committed by a few isolated fanatics that the Palestinian Authority somehow did not manage to stop in time. Henceforth, Israeli leaders should respond to terrorist attacks as acts of war. In other words, their response should be forceful. It should make it clear that those who inflict death and destruction will pay a very steep price.

In such a circumstance, will Palestinians demand that Hamas at least seek a truce to avoid further suffering? Or will they change the government at the next opportunity? Or will Palestinians urge their Hamas leaders to continue to fight until one side or the other is soundly defeated?

It will be far harder, on the face of it, for the Europeans, say, to shirk off this rhetoric as unserious, though given time I'm sure we'll see not only that but the statement of moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas as well all too soon.

Well, we always knew that this coming Israeli election would be heavily influenced by the Palestinian one, and by whatever happened in Gaza - if it continued to implode or not. Well, Gaza has been a bit quieter since Sharon had his stroke, so, it is not surprising, perhaps, that the reverberation now would be even stronger the other way.

Apparently not only the exit polls, but Israeli Intelligence as well failed to predict Hamas victory.

Fatah and Hamas are already clashing in Ramallah, at the Palestinian parliament.

UPDATES will follow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Far Less Amusing Side of George Galloway

All expectations are that George Galloway is about to get voted out of his celebrity house later tonight in Britain.

If so, he'll return to find a video from 1999 of him fawning over Uday Hussein and joking about weight loss and cigars currently making the news. The Sun has an excerpt along with some stills from the video.

Uday Hussein, a serial murderer, rapist and torturer of the cruellest order, was diagnosed by his doctor as both brain damaged - as a result of an assasination attempt - and insane. The entire column from the summer is worth a read.

Galloway will also return to news of a serious investigation for fraud with respect to the oil for food corruption scandal, otherwise known as UNSCAM.

Harry's Place has a transcription of the Galloway/Uday video.

Captain's Quarter's has more on this situation, pointing out that Norm Coleman, Galloway's interlocuter during the Senate Inquiry into Oil for Food, will have the last laugh on their exchange. Coleman made sure to get Galloway lying on the record in simple and straightforward English. He, and the Senate in general, was laughed at at the time by Galloway supporters who assumed that Galloway had given them a rhetorical drubbing. But as wretchard at Belmont Club long ago pointed out, it turns out there was a point to what they were doing.
The tone and manner of Galloway's examination suggested that the Senators were trying to establish a specific point for the record, in the hopes of using Galloway's testimony against him later.

Please excuse the technical difficulties.

We appear to be having technical difficulties.

I don't yet know if this is a blogspot thing or just this blog. Please bear with me until the situation is remedied.

UPDATE: Well we are almost back to normal. A little more tinkering soon.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


After 4 hours of 24 last week, didn't you all feel that just one hour this week was like starvation rations?

Can someone please tell me what happened to President Palmer in Season 3, was it? Did he resign? Did the idiot who is now President succeed through resignation or election? (Clearly I didn't watch the entire season that year.) This guy really is a walking advertisement not to vote for, uh, a certain unnamed party for President.

Here's the Top Thirty Facts about Jack Bauer.

Um, they seem to have left off the fact that he is, ahem, Jewish. Oh well.

Chloe is my favourite character.

24 is a big old adrenaline rush, but it still isn't as good as Battlestar Galactica.

Sharon's True State of Health Concealed from Public

Ha'aretz reports on their investigation into Sharon's health

Sharon's general medical condition was more critical than his doctors and advisers have reported since his first stroke on December 18, 2005. In addition to the heart problem they disclosed, Sharon was suffering from cardiac and cerebral diseases that the doctors kept from the public...

Haaretz's inquiry shows that Sharon also suffered from more serious, life-threatening heart problems, including a large aneurysm in the septum. This is known to be a source of cerebral blood embolisms, and indeed led to the blood clot that caused Sharon's first stroke, senior doctors at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem believe.

However, Sharon also suffered from other heart diseases. These include a shunt that causes blood to flow spontaneously through the hole in the septum from right to left - the wrong direction - which is dangerous. Sharon also had other conditions in the cardiac septum that created further risks of blood clots that could wind up in the brain...

Medical sources said that Sharon's doctors had an ethical obligation to tell the prime minister and his family, as well as his confidants and advisers, of the risks involved in giving him the blood thinners.

They said the doctors should also have reported the early signs of hemorrhaging and warned that an emergency evacuation to Hadassah might be necessary.

Also, the catheterization should have been held earlier and Sharon should have had to stay close to Hadassah, rather than go home to Sycamore Ranch - as he had done, they said.

"Had the catheterization been performed earlier, Sharon would very likely not have suffered the second cranial hemorrhage," a source said. "If Sharon had arrived even half an hour earlier at Hadassah he would have been saved, or at least the brain damage would have been a lot less significant." ...

Another senior doctor said the doctors were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The cardiac disease created the danger of an embolism, but the medicine to prevent this increased chances of cerebral hemorrhaging.

One of Israel's leading cardiologists said yesterday that the latest discoveries about the medical condition of Sharon only strengthen the suspicion that his treatment, especially after his first stroke, was affected by nonmedical considerations.

He was referring to Sharon's hasty resumption of his work routine, designed to create the impression of "business as usual" and make the prime minister appear to be healthy.

It was wrong of Sharon to resume his work and to stay at Sycamore Ranch, far from Hadassah, he said.

"Sharon should have been resting, close to the hospital where the doctors treated him and knew his medical history. He should have been in a protected, comfortable environment. That's exactly the `medical bulletproof vest' he should have been given," the cardiologist said.

For some reason, Meretz wants to use this as an opportunity to set up a government panel to investigate the concealment. Presumably to determine that the concealment was done for "political purposes." Meretz Party leader MK Zehava Gal-On suggests this will generate "one of the largest political scandals ever in Israel."

Myself, I can't imagine that generating political scandal out of a tragedy of this magnitude will actually strike a nerve with the country. Or that it serves any purpose except to milk it. Instead, Israel should generate emergency contingency plans for dealing with the PM's health. Which is a far more useful enterprise.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Just Another Opportunity to Giggle Madly Today

AbbaGav outdoes himself.

Bukharin Food in Queens, NY

I think this looks and sounds delicious -- but then I love Central Asian food. I used to have some delicious recipes, mostly of kinds of meat dumplings. (Well I still do, I just haven't made them for a while. I don't cook the complicated stuff as much as I used to.)

It definitely merits a trip to Queens sometime soon.

The Bukharians established a thriving commercial strip along 108th Street in Rego Park, now called Bukharian Broadway, and opened several kosher restaurants that serve their traditional cooking, based on charcoal, lamb, rice, beets, potatoes, carrots and spices like cumin, paprika and chili.

Reflecting the influence of silk and spice trades, there are tastes of China and India everywhere. Every Bukharian menu offers a garlicky, chili-spiked Korean carrot salad, morkovcha koreyska, that is a legacy of Stalin's mass deportations of ethnic Koreans from the far eastern Soviet Union to its western frontiers. At Tandoori Bukharian Bakery in Rego Park, a samsa - one of Asia's many cousins of the Indian samosa - is deliciously spiked with cumin and baked against the walls of a clay-lined oven that Bukharians, like Indians, call a tandoor.

It is all a long way from bagels and lox.

Neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardi (the two major groups of Diaspora Jews), the Bukharians say that their lineage goes directly back to the Babylonian captivity, before 500 B.C. "Our people are the ones who did not return to Jerusalem afterward, but remained in Asia," said Peter Pinkhasov, a paralegal at a Manhattan law firm who immigrated with his family from Tashkent in 1993.

The Bukharians' Jewish identity was always preserved in the kitchen. "Even though we were in exile from Jerusalem, we observed kashruth," said Isak Masturov, another owner of Cheburechnaya. "We could not go to restaurants, so we had to learn to cook for our own community. My great-grandmother, Sarah Masturov, said that every woman should know how to cook for at least 500 people."

Anyone out there tried the food in this neighborhood that cares to comment?

For What It's Worth

A closer look at Yigal Amir, the murderer of Yitzhak Rabin, based on an interview with Ari Shamay, the leftist lawyer representing him in his case to be able to impregnate his wife using artificial insemination. While the lawyer is the direct subject of the interview and a bit of a flashy personality himself, what gives the article its interest is his most famous client.

A Little French Razzia

A little late with this one, but if you want to read about the underreported French train rampage on New Years, here's a coherent look at the episode. The lack of law enforcement - in fact, what I would call near law enforcement connivance at managing it - is truly shocking.

In the US, there would be law suits and outrage. In France, I guess it is barely worth a Gallic shrug.

Moreover, it turns out, there's a reason there were no riots in Marseilles late last year, while they were going on elsewhere:

"The inside story is that drug dealers and other black marketers had given strict orders: no funny business. They didn’t want the police invading their citadel."

hat tip: Fausta's Bad Hair Blog

In the comments at Kesher Talk, saxcriminal points to an interesting interview in the London Times with Steven Spielberg about his film, Munich. Saxcriminal thinks it lame; I think it is interesting, if only because it shows the extent of Spielberg's self-delusion.

It turns out now that even George Jonas, the author of the much discredited work, Vengeance, on which Munich is based, believes that Spielberg does something which his book never did, which is elide the difference between terrorism and counter-terrorism.

Ooh, the ironies just compound and compound.

Jonas himself, the originator of Avner in his book, insists that “my Avner may have questioned the utility of his mission toward the end — targeted assassinations barely slowed down terrorism, let alone stopped it — but he never questioned the morality of what his country had asked him to do. He had no pangs of guilt”...

Jonas has another charge: “Spielberg’s Munich follows the letter of my book closely enough. The spirit is almost the opposite. Vengeance holds there is a difference between terrorism and counterterrorism; Munich suggests there isn’t. The book has no trouble telling an act of war from a war crime; the film finds it difficult. Spielberg’s movie worries about the moral trap of resisting terror; my book worries about the moral trap of not resisting it.”

This is the argument of those who accuse Spielberg of the “sin of equivalency”. The director denies that he is simplistically postulating that violence begets violence.

While the interview is entitled Disagree wtih me - that's what I want, a sentiment he echoes in the interview, it turns out that, like many in Hollywood, Spielberg is absolutely unequipped emotionally to deal with the reality of people disagreeing with him.

Spielberg countered: “It is fascinating to watch people who really only want their assumptions confirmed by what they are taking into the theatre. They go into the film and they shave off everything and anything that challenges their assumptions. They sculpt this movie to be what they want it to be. They are really looking for a simple-minded thesis.

And then, of course there are filmmakers, who take history itself and shave off everything that doesn't fit their simple minded theses. But that's art, which ya know is high-minded. So that's all right then.

To continue with Spielberg:
“I think the film is effective because it does what history books really can’t do, which is to ask questions that may not have an immediate answer, and I think this frustrates people.

And it frustrates people even more when the questions asked are based on a fantasy and speciousness rather than history itself.

“I have always been taught that in democratic society discussion is the greatest good you can perform, the most valuable thing you can do. It’s part of my Jewish tradition and it’s Talmudic. I encourage people to agree or disagree with what I am doing. But not by saying it was bad to have ever made this film. That’s political censorship disguised as criticism and that’s not what I am accustomed to in the marketplace of democracy.”

And of course Spielberg loves and supports Israel, so whatever he does to tarnish her image publicly is thereby excused.

Monday Morning Belly Laugh

Respect politician George Galloway dressed up as something bizarre for a "dance routine" with transvestite dance partner Pete Burns. Possibly the devil in a red dress?

Uh, no wonder there's a fatwa issued against him now. And that was earned before this last spectacle. Which leads ones to contemplate, in a mellow spirit, what will be the reaction to this. He has rather made fools of all of his über-serious constituents by throwing his rhetoric about 'respect' for Muslim traditionalism back into their faces and showing them just how bone deep his feeling is on the matter.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Snicker Grows

Sorry for the radio silence recently. I was, uh, kidnapped by aliens. Unfortunately, they didn't allow me to liveblog the experience. No live casting from shipside. Besides, they kept me busy in my spare time.

Anyway, just thought I'd return to snicker once again at the latest tidings from Drudge – otherwise known as industry gossip – about Steven Spielberg.
Hollywood players watched Spielberg's polite reaction as Ang Lee's controversial western won award after award Sunday evening during the nationally televised GOLDEN GLOBES.

But behind the scenes, a quiet anger has developed over the handling of MUNICH during the award season run-up.

"She says she loves all of her children equally, but Stacey [Snider] and her team have given every priority to BROKEBACK," charges the MUNICH source. "Gay romance is easier to sell to the academy than a complex study of an Israeli assassin."

Either that, or Roger Simon is quite correct in his speculation that more people in the Beverly Hills-LA area have reddened up recently than is generally known or acknowledged. And no doubt some of these are *secret* academy voters.

Judith at Kesher Talk has more thoughts on boy on boy action, and why that is a demographic that appeals not only to men over here.

Piggybacking on this issue, Paradise Now, the Palestinian film on suicide bombing that won the Golden Globe for best foreign film, is essentially being ignored at home, in Palestine.

Although the film — which snared the Golden Globe in Los Angeles on Monday — has never been screened in Nablus, residents here said the clips they saw on satellite television portrayed the bombers as godless and less than heroic.

"This movie doesn't help the Palestinian cause," said an armed Palestinian militant who would not give his name because he's on the run. "People who go to carry out bombings do not hesitate so much."
But then, ironies abound. When the film was being shot, one of the cameramen was briefly kidnapped as a way to protest the fact that it was not portraying suicide bombers in a positive enough light. Where did it resume shooting? Why in an Israeli Arab city, of course.

How unshocking. That's just your quotient of normal, everyday irony.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

"Intoxicated by the exuberance of his own verbosity"

Is anyone else watching Senator Schumer bloviate at Judge Alito?

Does anyone not know from observing which has the more integrity and mental discipline?

Thank God his time his now up.

So, um, is anyone out there actually proud of his vote for Chuck?

UPDATE: At Opinion Journal, James Taranto adds: "The nastiest of the Democrats--Kennedy and Chuck Schumer†--plainly felt less inhibited about bullying Alito than they had with Roberts, with the result that the country gets to see what detestable characters they are. To put it another way, Roberts's charm helped obscure Kennedy's and Schumer's ugliness, which perhaps is one reason liberals like Lithwick are so resentful of Alito for not being "another Roberts."

Headline of the Day!

Judge: Don't Count Fetus for Carpool Quota

Kudos for coming up with a really clever - if ludicrous - excuse for getting out of a ticket!!

Columbia Still Unbecoming

Two new items today about the politics of Middle Eastern politics at Columbia:

The first is from the NYSun.
Months before a Columbia University dean was named to a special committee convened to investigate student complaints about professors' hostility to Israel, the dean took a trip to Saudi Arabia that she acknowledges was "largely" paid for by Saudi Aramco, the kingdom-owned oil company.

The dean, Lisa Anderson of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, was one of five members of the committee named in December 2004. The committee for the most part cleared the accused scholars of blame, prompting critics to describe their report as a whitewash.

The March 2004 junket to Saudi Arabia is described in glowing terms on a Web site for former Saudi Aramco employees that details the "delightful lunch" enjoyed by the Columbia delegation, as well as a "wonderful dinner" during which "guests watched the sunset over the sand dunes from the tent."

The tour, which the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations helped organize, took a total of 10 Columbia faculty members and scholars to Riyadh, Dharan, and other parts of Saudi Arabia to tour facilities and meet with officials of the oil company.

Ms. Anderson's participation drew criticism yesterday from people familiar with the developments at Columbia.

"Saudi money is borderline corruption," said a research associate at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, Martin Kramer, who has been a vocal critic of Middle Eastern studies in America.

Mr. Kramer said Western academics are constantly vying for Saudi money to fund their departments, whose message more often than not is that American support for Israel is the problem in the Middle East.

Mr. Kramer said he wonders if Ms. Anderson's trip was part of an effort to raise more funds from the Saudis.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, who recently gave $20 million gifts to Georgetown and Harvard Universities, told the New York Times Magazine earlier this month that several other Ivy League universities had applied for similar gifts, but that he had turned them down. In the interview, the prince declined to name the schools, saying: "I'd rather not embarrass them."
Generous of the Prince. Had Columbia University received a $20 million gift from Saudi Arabia only a year after the Columbia Unbecoming scandal, it indeed would have deeply embarrassed them. But only for a little while. I'm sure they would have recovered their equanimity all in very good time.

And Ha'aretz interivews Anat Malkin-Almani, who studied for a degree in Middle Eastern studies at Columbia University. She provides details about the atmosphere and the intellectual perspective that prevailed in classes:
"Every week I would get e-mails about anti-Israel demonstrations, lectures that were virtually a form of incitement. The whole atmosphere in the department was hostile, and it was orchestrated by (the late Prof.) Edward Said. In one class the lecturer cited an article about how the Israelis were raping Palestinian women in the prisons and then sending them back to the territories. I raised my hand and said that no friend of mine had raped a Palestinian, and he started to shout at me."

Was that the only case?

"There were cases like that all the time. In one class I asked the lecturer where the border between East and West Jerusalem ran. He started to shout that you Israelis are so stupid, you don't know anything. All the students in the class joined him and started shouting at me. That was the routine. Once I met with Said, who was a good friend of (violinist) Daniel Barenboim, and I told him I wanted to join the Arab-Jewish orchestra they had established. He asked me where I was born and I told him Israel. Straight off he told me that Israel had not permitted the entry of a few musicians from Syria who wanted to play with the orchestra in Bethlehem. Suddenly he started to shout at me as though I were the one who stamps the permits. After two years of studies I said enough is enough and I left the university."

Did you share your experiences with anyone on the faculty?

"I had an Israeli lecturer whom I told what happened in the classes and I gave her all the articles we were given. She said that we must not meet in the university. A month later she told me, `We checked it out, it is dangerous to act and the best thing is to be silent.'"

A Collective Snicker Arose

Spielberg's Munich was expected to be among [those films], tipped for awards both in Britain and at the Oscars.

But the preview DVD sent to the academy's members is unplayable on machines used in the UK. As a result the majority of Bafta's 5,000 voters will not have seen the film, due to be released in Britain on January 27, and can hardly be expected to recommend it for acclaim.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hey It's Not Just You Who Gained Weight During the Holidays!

Think the humans are the only family members gaining weight during the holidays? Then think again!
According to 38 percent of respondents, their pets were particularly prone to putting on weight during the Christmas holidays, very much like the owners themselves.

The pet insurance company that sponsored the survey also discovered that after gaining weight, the pets have become lazy and reluctant to go on walks or move around.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Lion of Zion

Peter Berkowitz writes a magnificent treatment of Sharon, in his column article in the Weekly Standard, Ariel Sharon's Legacy.
For 30 years, Sharon believed that Israel's security was best served by Israeli settlements criss-crossing the West Bank. As prime minister he saw that in light of changing demographic realities and the savagery of Palestinian terrorism, Israel's security was better served by disengagement...

...SHARON HAS ALWAYS BEEN A FIGHTER--cocksure, courageous, charming, defiant, quick-tempered, duplicitous, amazingly resilient, and, above all, steadfastly focused on Israel's security. The story is told that in the 1950s, when he led the "101" commando unit, Sharon would, just before an operation began, order his communications aide to keep a certain distance so that if orders from headquarters to cease and desist arrived, they could not be relayed to him. The stories of Sharon keeping the law at a convenient distance could be multiplied. Perhaps no Israeli military officer was reprimanded more or subject to more commissions of inquiry than Sharon. At the same time, Sharon commanded the loyalty of his men, was admired for his warmth and sense of humor, and for 60 years' performed deeds, in and out of uniform, essential to protecting Israel from enemies sworn to its destruction.

Sharon is the last of the 48ers--think of Yitzhak Rabin, Ezer Weizman, Moshe Dayan--to occupy the commanding heights of Israeli politics. He belonged to the generation that was born and bred in Israel, that came of age loving the land and fighting in the War of Independence, that was proud of the Zionist dream, that fought hard and lived large, and that, after heroic military careers, governed the nation well into its sixth decade. The 48ers were not always the best of democrats, especially Sharon. And yet time after time, they, and Sharon in particular, rose up to defend their small, surrounded, war-torn, beautiful country, making it possible for Jews to build a free and democratic state in their ancestral homeland.
Read the whole thing.

And from James Bennett, writing in the NYTimes:
As a leader, Mr. Sharon - his first name means "Lion of God" - was everything he seemed, and its opposite. He was blunt in speech and subtle in aim, sloppy in appearance and meticulous in preparation, grandfatherly in demeanor and ruthless in reality. In their 1973 study, "The Israeli Army," Edward Luttwak and Dan Horowitz concluded that he "concealed one of the finest tactical minds in the Army behind the carefully cultivated image of a simple fighting soldier."
Mr. Sharon was no mere blur, of course. He used ambiguity to hold the political center but he held that political center in order to shape it.

And Canadian columnist David Warren provides another tribute to Sharon here in which he explicitly answers the kind of criticisms of Sharon made by Noam Chomsky, Christopher Hitchens and Amos Oz.
In 1982, in Beirut, a decade after his official military retirement, he was again criticized for being a “results oriented” kind of guy. (The words “Sabra” and “Shatila” come to mind.) It is no time to go into all THAT again, but the reader should be assured, as ever, that the criticism requires suppressing the large picture, to accentuate the small; and in this case, holding Sharon responsible for what was done by Phalange allies, on whom he had no choice but to rely. The truth is, Sharon has always been disliked by “liberal” people, whose whole worldview requires looking through the telescope from the wrong end.

Sharon was never a murderer, and to the extent of my knowledge, never made a murderous military decision in cold blood. But characteristically, he would not wait for the enemy -- including partisan civilians -- to do their worst, before doing his. That is why he lived to old age.

Friday, January 06, 2006

An Arab Tribute to Sharon

"Courage and objectivity require us to admit that Ariel Sharon has lived all his life for his people's benefit," a commentary in Jordan's al-Dustur reads.

"If he were an Arab leader and behaved as he has done in Israel, he would have been the idol of the masses from the Atlantic to the Gulf."

The last line in an article from the BBC reporting on the reporting of Sharon's grave situation in the Arab Press.

Comments from the Egyptian Chief of Staff, Salah Halabi.


In contrast, here's what Israeli columnist Amotz Asa El has to say about Sharon:

For their part, Israelis of all walks of life did not say Thursday "Gaza," but "Arik," expressing a pervasive anxiety as the post-Sharon era dawned unannounced.

Affinity for the man whose image somehow transformed over the years from Tarzan to Santa Claus is indeed nearly universal.

I love that image: From Tarzan to Santa Claus.

Did Emotional Stress Help Destroy Sharon?


19:38 Top Haddassah hospital official: Last operation increased chances PM will live (Ch. 1)

19:00 pm (Israel time): Sharon's condition deteriorates (according to the headline in the JP)

19:00 W. House criticizes Robertson for suggesting PM`s stroke was divine punishment (AP)

18:21 Rice tells Olmert by phone: We in the U.S. are thinking of you, Israeli people (Ch. 2)

17:52 Condoleezza Rice cancels Asia trip due to concerns over PM`s condition (Reuters)

10:31am (Israel time): PM Sharon is undergoing CT scan in Hadassah Hospital (Channel 2)


Sources at Hadassah Hospital said late Thursday night that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered extensive damage to the right lobe of his brain during the hemorrhage which he underwent Wednesday night.

They noted that such an event might have been caused by personal or emotional stress, and couldn't reject the possibility that the recent reports of developments in the police investigations severely harmed his health.
After all that time, you think they could have waited just a bit longer after Sharon had his first stroke. And after he was finished with his heart repair operation. There was an ongoing unseemly haste to destroy him politically and it worked better than expected.
Omri at Mere Rhetoric makes a similar point.
Recriminations are beginning. Hospital officials have linked his conditions to his legal troubles. Not to sound bitter, but if this wave of investigations against the Sharon family implodes like the last one, they may have just murdered a Prime Minster

The doctors, however, do seem sensitive to the public criticism of the blood thinning treatment they used, since they keep replying that it was the appropriate treatment. However, until more information about the case is known, the level of criticism about Sharon's medical treatment doesn't seem likely to dissipate any time soon.

Doctors also asked why Sharon wasn't required to stay in his Jerusalem residence instead of the ranch, at least while he was being treated with Claxon and until the procedure to mend the hole in his heart had been performed. Why wasn't a senior doctor at his side at all times, one who could have administered immediate treatment when the deterioration began?

Some of the questions suggest that Sharon and his aides' desire to show that the prime minister had returned swiftly to his daily routine resulted in inadequate treatment and supervision.

The senior doctors asked why Sharon's physicians had not insisted that he take a significant rest after the first stroke, as they would have done with any other patient. They asked to what extent political and media considerations were involved. They also asked why the catheterization was not performed earlier.

Other questions refer to why it took about two hours from the time Sharon felt unwell at his ranch to the time he arrived at the hospital emergency room at about 11 P.M., and why he wasn't taken to Soroka for preliminary treatment at least.

However, several other senior doctors told Haaretz on Thursday that the treatment Sharon received in the last two weeks was correct and adequate under the circumstances.

The director of a large hospital told Haaretz that according to the media reports on Sharon's medical treatment, he fears "there was indescribable negligence."

If the worst does come to pass about Sharon's post coma state, I sincerely hope that the new euthanasia law, recently passed by the knesset, and discussed here, doesn't end up having a bearing on his case.


In other news, Pat Robertson isn't the only nutter who sees in Sharon's stroke spiritual comeuppance for his decision to give up Gaza. He's been joined by the Jewish extremists who boast that they cursed Sharon with the ancient, Talmudic pulsei denura curse - Aramaic for lashes of fire. It is what - most famously - the angels use to lash archangel Metatron. It's been considered a kabbalistic curse for centuries.
"I take full responsibility for what happened," far-right activist Baruch Ben-Yosef, one of the participants at the July pulsa denura, told The Jerusalem Post. "Our pulsa denura kicked in. Nothing could kill Sharon and he said his ancestors lived until they over 100 years old but we got him with the pulsa denura."

On Wednesday night, Ben-Yosef and additional far-right activists gathered in the Samaria settlement of Kfar Tapuah to honor Binyamin Kahane - son of Meir Kahane - and his wife Talya who were murdered by Palestinian terrorists exactly five years ago. Upon hearing the news of Sharon's stroke, Ben-Yosef said, the group broke out in song and dance and celebrated the prime minister's fall throughout the night.

On Thursday, the activists said it was not a coincidence that Sharon fell gravely ill the same day as Kahane's murder. "There is a judge in this world," Ben-Gvir said. "[Prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin was killed on the fifth anniversary of Meir Kahane's murder and Sharon fell ill on the anniversary of Binyamin Kahane's murder."

On Thursday, Ben-Gvir held a party at his Hebron home to celebrate the "annulment of evil decrees against the people of Israel."...

"This is a great day for Israel since that evil man is gone." Dayan said. "I am convinced that God heard the prayers of the children in Gush Katif. When those kids were thrown from their homes they prayed and God heard their prayers."

Amongst some evacuees from Gaza, there was a reluctance to pray for Sharon; some even consulted with their rabbis as to whether they needed to respond to the chief rabbi's call for prayers.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, Chief Rabbi of Safed and son of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, said it was forbidden to pray for something one did not really believe in.

"If you fear that Sharon will continue to cause pain to Jewish families if he recovers, don't pray for him," said Eliahu in response to a question from a settler who was evacuated from Gaza. The question and answer appeared on Moriya, a religious Zionist Internet site.

The settler asked Eliahu if he had to pray for Sharon, as requested by the Chief Rabbinate, even if the prayers would be ingenuous.

"Do I have to lie? Should I pray, God forbid, that he dies?" asked the settler.

Eliahu answered that one should not pray for Sharon's demise, but at the same time it was forbidden to be ingenuous in prayer.
"If you really want Sharon to continue to lead this country, pray for him. But if you fear that if Sharon recovers he will continue to hurt, don't pray for him. Or pray that he will recover but will remain on his ranch."

And of course on the other extreme, off in his own little pole, there is Ahmadinejad.
Iran's president said Thursday he hoped for the death of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the latest anti-Israeli comment by a leader who has already provoked international criticism for suggesting that Israel be "wiped off the map."

"Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Chatilla has joined his ancestors is final," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Iranian Students News Agency.

Ahmadinejad was referring to Sharon, who as defense minister in 1982 directed Israel's ill-fated invasion of Lebanon. An Israeli commission found him indirectly responsible for a massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps by Christian Phalangist soldiers.

Iran's official media, including state-run radio and television, did not report Ahmadinejad's remarks about Sharon.

With regard to this issue of Iran and the months ahead, Powerline asks an important question whether Sharon's successor will possess enough cojones to make a credible threat to Iran, viz. the question of nuclear weapons.

If the threat of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is a card in a larger plan to deal with the problem, how credible will that threat be absent Sharon. If an Israeli attack is the plan to deal with the problem, how likely is Sharon's successor to launch the attack? My guess is that Israel has its strategy in place and, barring a victory by the left, will carry it through.

Saul Singer, editorial-page editor of the Jerusalem Post, describes Ariel Sharon, standing astride Israeli political culture like a colossus.

Theatre of the Absurd!

With the dramatic downturn in Sharon's health, the last few days have been particularly grim. So here's a change of pace:

Which of These Stories Is Actually From Scrappleface?

Though it's an unfortunate fact that not all of these items are satire!

  • Just hours after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named Comedy Channel news anchor Jon Stewart to host this year’s Academy Awards show, the White House announced that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been tapped to deliver the GOP response.

    The Oscars Rebuttal Show, part of ABC-TV’s commitment to fairness, will attempt to refute and debunk the anti-Bush administration remarks that naturally flow from Mr. Stewart and his colleagues as they give little golden statues to people who make up stories and who pretend to be other people.

  • George Galloway: Reality TV star!

    There are few better reasons to pack up and move to Britain right now than the opportunity to watch TV there: Imagine what their new season of "Celebrity Big Brother" is like ... Never before have I wanted to watch reality TV so badly!! ... (Galloway's odds at winning the competition on Paddy Power at the time of this posting are 9-1.)

  • Palestinian terror groups condemn kidnappings. Palestinian terrorist groups issued a joint statement Friday condemning abductions of foreigners and attacks on Palestinian government buildings... In the statement read by masked, armed men, the terrorists did not acknowledge involvement in the abductions. "We condemn the kidnappings of foreigners and we consider this a violation of the Palestinian national agreement," the statement said.

  • Did Jesus exist? Italian court to decide

    An Italian court is tackling Jesus -- and whether the Roman Catholic Church may be breaking the law by teaching that he existed 2,000 years ago.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thoughts on Sharon's Health and Political Legacy


21:29pm (Israel Time) Hadassah officials: Sharon has suffered immense brain damage (Haaretz)

19:45pm (Israel Time) Sharon not in vegetative state, has retained brain and heart functions (Channel 2)

19:23 Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he wishes for Sharon`s death (Reuters)

Ah yes, President Ahmadinejad - a great and holy man. Such historical stature. No doubt the death of Sharon will prove the 12th, hidden Imam is on the way. Or something.

Sharon under deep sedation, and in induced coma for at least 24 more hours on a respirator. He continues to be in serious but stable condition, the director of Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, Jerusalem said Thursday.


From an editorial in the NYSun:

[When] Mr. Sharon was elected premier, [he] remark[ed] in his victory speech, "Since my youth, I have devoted myself entirely to the country, to consolidating and building its security."

Mr. Sharon devoted considerable time last year to marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Yitzhak Rabin, another member of Israel's founding generation who went from warrior to peacemaker and who died in office before he was able to realize his dream of peace and security. Mr. Sharon's words delivered at Rabin's grave in November are worth recalling to day as Israel prepares to choose a new leader: "the citizens of Israel assigned us - Yitzhak Rabin then and me today, the scepter of fateful responsibility, not in order to remain stagnant. On the contrary, this deposit is an asset of faith and credit from the people, to act, navigate, lead and show initiative in order to realize the Zionist vision; in order to make every possible effort to end the bloody conflict between our neighbors and ourselves; in order to sustain a Jewish and democratic State of Israel within secure borders and a united Jerusalem as its eternal capital . . ."

A prayer for the prime minister

By Bradley Burston

Say a prayer for the prime minister.

Say a prayer for the man who could not be broken.

Say a prayer for our shattered present. Say a prayer for our shuttered common future.

Pray for the man who could not be stilled. Pray for the man who could not be swayed.

Say a prayer for the future only he knew.

Say a prayer for the people he has left behind. The Jewish People, the people he loved, at times despite himself, despite them. The people who could not bring themselves to love him.

Pray for those of us who once embraced him, and came to curse him.

Pray for those of us who once cursed him, and could not bring ourselves to forgive him.

Pray for those who call themselves religious and see in this, the hand of God.

Pray for those who call themselves non-religious and need now to pray.

Pray for the leaders who, unable to replace him, will now succeed him.

Pray for a miracle. Pray for all of us. Pray that we may know to heal each other.

Pray for this land. That it may know the peace that he never will.

Hillel Halkin's thoughts in the NYSun on Sharon and the political legacy he leaves behind:

A country on which a new mood of confidence had settled following the breaking of the Palestinian intifada and the successful Gaza disengagement, both accomplishments for which Ariel Sharon deserved full credit, is now a confused and worried one.

Mr. Sharon will go down as one of the best prime ministers in Israel's history, one who won a war against terror that was deemed unwinnable and restored a sense of direction to a people that had lost it. Yet if, as has often been said, one mark of a great leader is his making sure that he has a successor, or that there is at least a clear procedure for choosing one, Mr. Sharon fell short of greatness. In impetuously leaving the Likud to found Kadima, it never occurred to him that, at the age of 77, he would not be around for at least a few more years. It should have, though. That's not the kind of oversight that a meticulous planner like him should have been guilty of.

Iris Blog - which has been aggressively pursuing the medical angle from the first - has several intelligent observations on what could have been done to prevent this tragic outcome to Sharon's situation, including developing, as the US did before President Reagan was shot, a medical emergency plan, which saved his life.

From BBC reporter James Reynolds:

While Jerusalem is shrouded in an air of uncertainty, the mood is certainly not of shock or surprise.

Ever since Mr Sharon's first stroke almost three weeks ago, people have been preparing themselves for his health worsening.

There is a feeling, if not of orphanhood, then of bereavement amongst Israelis.

They know that, even if he recovers, he is unlikely to be able to carry on with politics.

He commands the Israeli centre ground in a way that no other politician has, perhaps since the days of David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister.

Mr Sharon has attracted the support of left-wingers who do not want to rule over Palestinians and right-wingers who do not want to negotiate with them, as well as the backing of the bulk of normal Israelis who are fed up with suicide bombings and who want a tough military presence.

Not only does he provide policies, he provides personality.

As someone who for 60 years fought in all of Israel's wars, he is considered the ultimate 'Mr Security'.

If they do not have this ultimate 'Mr Security' then a lot of Israelis will feel not only bereft, but insecure.

Ha'aretz provides more backstory on why Sharon was not hospitalized earlier in the day and his condition when arriving at Hadassah hospital.

Channel One television reported Thursday morning that Sharon at first resisted efforts to take him to hospital, insisting that he felt well enough to remain at home.

Once Sharon arrived at the hospital, it became clear that the severity of his condition necessitated general anesthesia, and Maimon and Mazuz decided they had no choice but to transfer Sharon's powers to Olmert. Sharon had finished working at 3 P.M. Wednesday and traveled to his ranch. He was supposed to have begun fasting at midnight, ahead of the heart procedure.

A medical team gathered around Sharon, who was accompanied by his son Omri, as he came out of the ambulance, and witnesses said he was brought into the hospital on a stretcher.

Meanwhile, there was debate in Israeli media Thursday over Sharon's evacuation. Some commentators argued that Sharon should have been taken to hospital in Be'er Sheva, a much shorter distance from his ranch, or airlifted by helicopter rather than evacuated by ambulance.

Blowing The Whistle On the NSA

We now have a profile of a former NSA official who has identified himself as a whistle blower and wants to testify from Bill Gertz in the Washington Times.
Russ Tice, a whistleblower who was dismissed from the NSA last year, stated in letters to the House and Senate intelligence committees that he is prepared to testify about highly classified Special Access Programs, or SAPs, that were improperly carried out by both the NSA and the DIA.
"I intend to report to Congress probable unlawful and unconstitutional acts conducted while I was an intelligence officer with the National Security Agency and with the Defense Intelligence Agency," Mr. Tice stated in the Dec. 16 letters, copies of which were obtained by The Washington Times.
The letters were sent the same day that the New York Times revealed that the NSA was engaged in a clandestine eavesdropping program that bypassed the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court. The FISA court issues orders for targeted electronic and other surveillance by the government.
Well we'll see what comes of it. But as for the former NSA official, dismissed last year. Did he leak to the NYTimes before he officially blew the whistle? In which case he is not protected. Or is this his first public outing about intelligence?

We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Orin Kerr, however, appears to think at this point, with limited insight into exactly what occurred in the program, that the NSA Surveillance Program is not so much data mining as a large-scale pen regsister/trap-and-trace or wiretap, a much less problematic operation legally speaking.

Back to the Gertz article:

Mr. Tice said yesterday that he was not part of the intercept program.
In his Dec. 16 letter, Mr. Tice wrote that his testimony would be given under the provisions of the 1998 Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which makes it legal for intelligence officials to disclose wrongdoing without being punished.
The activities involved the NSA director, the NSA deputies chief of staff for air and space operations and the secretary of defense, he stated.
"These ... acts were conducted via very highly sensitive intelligence programs and operations known as Special Access Programs," Mr. Tice said.
The letters were sent to Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, and Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican. Mr. Roberts is chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Mr. Hoekstra is chairman of the House counterpart.
Spokesmen for the NSA and the Senate intelligence committee declined to comment. Spokesmen for the House intelligence committee and the DIA said they were aware of Mr. Tice's letters, but had not seen formal copies of them.
Well, the question is, if he is blowing the whistle this way, was he also the NYTimes/James Risen leaker? Or did they use someone else?


Tom Maguire also tries to parse whether the fact that Mr. Tice appeals to the 1998 Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act shows that he is not the leaker. Like usual, he provides a wealth of questions and links to provide more context to the problem, including the fact that this issue with Mr. Tice surfaced on December 21/22 in BuzzFlash and the Dem Underground.

Macranger points out that if Mr. Tice first "testified" to Mr. Risen of the NYTimes before writing a letter to the correct committee, that the provisions of the law no longer covers him. He also suggests that Mr. Tice may be just another disgruntled former Intelligence Agent, pointing out that he was fired after raising an accusation about a coworker that she was a Chinese double agent. And misusing his security access to keep track of his co-employee.

Word is that his security clearance (because he was misusing infomation and looking with unauthorized peeks into the co-worker's background), was subsequently revoked - FOR CAUSE - or for those on the left - because he violated the terms of keeping a clearance.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Sharon - hospitalized again - Running UPDATES

Police stand guard outside Hadassah hospital's emergency room, where Sharon is being operated on.


10:06am (Israel Time) Ariel Sharon emerged from hours of surgery Thursday morning with vital signs showing "functional and stable" levels, but the prime minister's condition remained grave, said Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem.

08:43am (Israel Time) Sharon initally refused to be evacuated to hospital on Wednesday night (Channel 1)

Foreign exchange rates in Israel are soaring on news of Sharon's condition.

The NYTimes gives a medical viewpoint about treating strokes with blood thinners.
The huge stroke suffered last night by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, caused by uncontrolled bleeding into the brain, is likely to be devastating and nearly impossible to treat because Mr. Sharon, 77, is taking blood thinners, neurologists say.

Although Mr. Sharon was taken to surgery to try to remove the blood pouring into his skull, it was a desperate move, neurologists said.

Hemorrhages in the brain while the patient is taking blood thinners "are usually devastating events," said Dr. Matthew E. Fink, chief of the Division of Stroke and Critical Care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. "This sounds really terrible."

Statistically, the likelihood of death is greater than 80 percent, Dr. Fink said.
So much for the myth of the excellence of Israeli medicine. So many mistakes were made in his treatment. The decision to go to Hadassah, rather than the local hospital, the decision to drive rather than take the copter. And this decision, with the bloodthinners, which appears to have led to the more serious stroke in the first place.

07:33am (Israel Time) Peretz to Olmert: I am at your disposal, I will do all I can to help (Israel Radio)

07:29 IDF arrests eight wanted militants across West Bank overnight Wednesday (Itim)

06:55 Doctor: Sharon still under anesthesia, on respirator, in very serious condition (Haaretz)

06:54 Doctor: We expect surgery to continue for a few more hours (Haaretz)

06:44 Sharon returned to surgery after undergoing CT scan (Channel 1)

06:14 Settler leader: All Israelis, Gaza evacuees too, hope for PM`s recovery (Israel Radio)

06:10 Report on Sharon`s condition to be broadcast at 6:45 A.M. Israel time (Haaretz)

05:51 PM aide: Sharon`s surgery is complete, doctors will issue further report soon (Haaretz)

05:44 PM aide: Situation very sensitive, hospital will issue update later (Haaretz)

05:31 Sharon`s physician leaves hospital, refuses to comment on PM`s condition (Haaretz)

05:19 Surgeons finish draining blood from PM`s brain, still cauterizing blood vessels (Ch. 1)

05:14 Egypt, Jordan send get-well wishes to PM Sharon (Army Radio)

04:30 Hadassah hospital: PM`s surgery has lasted five and a half hours so far (Channel 1)

02:28 (Israeli Time) Sharon personal physician: `I expect him to emerge from [surgery] safely` (AP)

02:23 (Israeli Time) Hospital sources: Bleeding in PM`s brain is extensive, but not in brain stem (Ch. 10) [-- this corrects an earlier report I heard on Fox news that the bleeding was in the brain stem. ]

Sharon`s aides: We are waiting for a miracle (Channel 10)


As Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was undergoing emergency neurosurgery after he suffered from a severe stroke and cerebral hemorrhaging late Wednesday night, the prime minister's close associates said of his condition: "Hope for a miracle."

According to a medical expert, the procedure is life threatening. Asked what are the chances of surviving this type of surgery, the doctor replied, "Let's be optimistic, some people survive it."

According to Fox News, the bleeding is into Sharon's brain stem, which, according to Dr. Charles Krauthammer is the worst news.

Doctors who have not examined Sharon but are experts in the field said his chances of a full recovery are slim.

"It's among the most dangerous of all types of strokes," with half of victims dying within a month, said Dr. Robert A. Felberg, a neurologist at Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans. "Any time they give blood thinners to prevent clots there is a risk" that too much can cause a hemorrhage, he said.

"The fact that he's on a respirator means its extremely serious," said Dr. Philip Steig, chair of neurosurgery at Weill-Cornell Medical Center in New York. However, he said that depending on the severity of the stroke, doctors may be able to sustain Sharon on a respirator for weeks.


Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said on the prime minister's condition. "I am very worried, I call on everyone listening to pray for Sharon's recovery. please recite the following Tehilim psalms: chapter vav, kaf, kuf lamed, kuf kaf alef, kuf mem bet.
[6, 20, 130, 121, 142]

ForNow at RogerLSimon's reminds us where to find this classic tribute to Sharon by Victor Davis Hanson. It's amazing, though, how much of it no longer applies.
Sophocles once wrote a magnificent play about the Greeks' greatest fighter at Troy after Achilles — Ajax, as irreplaceable in war as he proved expendable in peace. During the struggle for Troy, the Greeks were often saved by the towering, clumsy "donkey." Without the dash of a youthful, handsome Achilles or the divine dispensation of a crafty Odysseus, Ajax battered down the Trojans — fighting out of a sense of duty, personal honor, and perhaps a sheer love of combat.

This, certainly, can no longer be said of Sharon.


Sharon rushed to the hospital again after feeling unwell. There is speculation he suffered another stroke. While Debka reports he had chest pains.

He was scheduled to undergo heart repair tomorrow.

UPDATE: Looks like Debka was right. In a lengthier article, the JP is reporting chest pains and not a stroke.
The Prime Minister initially complained of feeling chest pressure and pain, and said that in general he wasn't feeling well.

Two Sharon associates said the prime minister was feeling unwell at his Negev ranch, and following a discussion with his personal doctor decided to be taken to hospital.

Looks like this was just precautionary - as far as we know at this point.

UPDATE II: Looks like it was a significant stroke. The chest pains were the warning signs, and Sharon has suffered a cerebral hemmorhage possibly as a result of anti-coagulant shots he has been receiving. He is currently undergoing surgery for intra-cranial bleeding. Sharon was fully conscious when he was brought to the hospital and was anaesthetized for treatment.

Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, the hospital's director general, said Sharon had "massive bleeding and was being transferred to an operating theater."

Dr. Shmuel Shapira of Hadassah Hospital told Channel 2 TV that Sharon suffered "a massive stroke, he was taken to an operating room to drain the blood."

It looks like whoever made the decision NOT to take him to the local hospital made a serious error. Apparently the stroke was suffered enroute to the hospital.

Ehud Olmert has taken over the duties of the Prime Minister.

Senior officials at the Prime Minister's Office said "the situation is difficult. We are praying the internal bleeding Sharon is suffering can be stopped. We're trying to maintain out optimism but the situation is not looking good."

One of the prime minister's aides told Ynet: "The situation is not good. We're tense. It isn't easy facing this situation. We're concerned."

Sharon`s aides: We are waiting for a miracle (Channel 10)

UPDATE III: Mere Rhetoric is liveblogging Hebrew radio Updates.

UPDATE IV: Rabbinate organizing prayer rally at Western Wall; prime ministerial duties handed over to Ehud Olmert. And the level of security around Olmert's house is being boosted.

Refuah Shelamah, Ariel.