Friday, June 14, 2002

ISRAEL: THE COUNTRY IN THE MIDDLE EAST WHERE WE EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN TO ENGINEER MISSILE GUIDANCE SYSTEMS, NOT BE THEM.

According to an Israeli radio report, the Norwegians have their long johns in a knot over the discovery that the American fighter-plane they've ordered contains Israeli-made components. So let their airforce fly in balloons -- there's certainly no shortage of hot air in the Norwegian parliament.

I think they should consider Sam Levinson's boycott suggestions:

"It's a free world and you don't have to like Jews, but if you DON'T, I suggest that you boycott certain Jewish products, like:

The Wasserman Test for syphilis,
Digitalis, discovered by Doctor Nuslin,
Insulin, discovered by Doctor Minofsky,
Chloral Hydrate, discovered by Doctor Lifreich,
The Schick Test for Diphtheria,
Vitamins, discovered by Doctor Funk,
Streptomycin, discovered by Doctor Woronan,
The Polio Pill by Doctor Sabin, and the Polio Vaccine
by Doctor Jonas Salk.

Go on, boycott! Humanitarian consistency requires that my people offer all these gifts to all people of the world. Fanatic consistency requires that all bigots accept

Syphilis,
Diabetes,
Malnutrition,
Polio and Tuberculosis as a matter of principal.

You want to be mad at us? Be mad at us!
But I'm telling you, you ain't going to feel so good."

I hope the Norwegians have a speedy and complete recovery from their moral blindness and self-endangering stupidity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

This evening when I was leaving the university a colleague wished me a "safe journey home." Kind thoughts, and I appreciated them. But my "journey" is only a fifteen minute bus ride across the city, so I was a bit surprised by these parting words.

By the time I arrived home, a shahidiot bomber had fragmented himself all over a restaurant in Herzliya, mortally wounding a young girl. Earlier today three Israeli kids were injured, one severely, by a bomb placed under their school bus. There were also assorted shootings, and the army stopped a car bomb, destroyed bomb labs, seized weapons, and rounded up more suspected terrorists. In other words, a routine day.

The Herzliya bombing got relatively little play on the radio news, probably because of the comoparatively small number of injuries, the speed with which the wounded were evacuated, and the fact that, aside from the bomber, who doesn't count as a loss, there were no immediate fatalities. (The fourteen-year-old girl just died on the operating table a short while ago, and yet another family is devastated by a fool whose family is probably having a party right now to celebrate his deed.)

Not to be strongly affected by this constant terror would be insane. I can't let my children out of the house without some message of love -- it might be the last chance I get to express it. Occasionally one of the teenagers slips out in a silent huff, and that tears me up. What if, God forbid, something happens to one of us and we didn't use our last chance to say goodbye. . . "I shouted at you before you left! . . . What if You-Know-Who had got you, and the last thing I ever said to you was that you didn't get enough O.W.Ls?"

I can be plumbing the depths of these morbid thoughts while going about my housework. Then suddenly I discover that the upstairs neighbor has hung out his wash dripping wet, and the mountains of laundry I was about to bring in from the solar clothes drier are now wetter than when I put them out. Bliss. I totally forget about this war, and direct a few choice words at the garments leaking copiously all over my sagging clothesline. Thanks, jerk. You gave me a few minutes off from my preoccupation.

Last night I had a terrible nightmare. That too was a strange relief. In my dreams I was hiding from people who were trying to murder me, and I woke up literally shaking. The setting of my dream was Manhattan, and the bad guys were in the mafia. When I returned to consciousness I was so relieved that it was only a dream that the terror I'd felt in my sleep turned into the delicious kind of shivery fear you get from some movies or books, the kind where you will yourself into being afraid despite the obvious unreality of the situation. This sort of fear is fun because it is so obviously fake.

And meanwhile, the dissertation progresses. Another bundle of papers is packed up for my fearless advisor's perusal. I'm mere dozens of pages from the end of this project. (Of course there is rewriting and editing to be done, but today I feel the worst is over).

I was too wound up to sleep, so I started writing this post. Now it's after one a.m. and I'm too tired to post it. So that worked. I'll post it when I get up.

zzzzzzz






Friday, June 07, 2002

I wrote this Thurday, but Blogger was unavailable. I suppose if I tried to post more often, this would happen more often . . .

I heard about yesterday's terrorist attack as I was helping my youngest child get ready for kindergarten. I didn't need to look at a map to know that none of my family could have been caught in this blast, but the news still felt like a kick in the guts, and made it harder than usual to get on the bus to go to work. Now I know that just because everyone on the bus looks familiar doesn't mean that we won't be trapped in a blazing furnace in a few minutes time.

Usually the first reports claim that casualties are few and injuries light, and then the news gets worse and worse as details become clearer. Yesterday the first radio report was of a great many people terribly injured. Then the news got worse and worse.

My husband was already at work when he learned of the attack from an email with the "reassuring" message from a friend that he and his were safe despite the bomb attack "near here." At that hour my husband knew that four of our kids were on various buses on their way to school, and I was on a different bus heading to work. Try to imagine how long it takes to find a radio news report that is saying right this second where exactly the bombed bus is. Think about how clumsy one's fingers become on the keyboard and how slowly pages load when you're on the internet trying to find out if the attack took place anywhere near where your darlings are traveling. Think about the enormous relief in learning that your own kids and spouse are safe.

Now think about the unfortunate people who realize with dread and horror that their loved ones were in that area, and perhaps on that bus. Imagine what it's like to hear the reports about people trapped in the inferno, and to wonder if the couple seen embracing each other as they burned to death might be your neighbors, your students, your friends, your children. Think about how the hours passed for people making frantic phone calls to unanswered cell phones, terrified calls to the hospitals, hopeless calls to the morgue. No, I can't. That way lies madness.

Today the papers are full of photographs and brief bios of the victims, and the radio news repeats again and again their names and ages and details about the surviving parents and siblings. The details bring the pain closer. One victim just celebrated her 19th birthday, another planned to get engaged next month. One family recently lost a loved one in a previous terrorist attack; another family lost their son in an accident earlier this year, and now are burying their daughter. The broadcasts of tear-choked funeral orations delivered at the gravesides by bereaved parents, brothers, and sisters are almost unbearable. This is not abstract. Everyone here knows people who have been victims of terror. Everyone here knows that tomorrow the picture in the newspaper could be his. This reality is what makes the equations claiming that "x Israelis killed in terror attack is like y Americans being killed" so outrageously stupid. Most Americans don't have friends bearing scars from terrorist bombings; don't have friends whose children have been murdered by terrorists; and don't routinely pass sites where suicide bombers have killed innocent people.

As I write, the radio reports another terrorist attack, this time a shooting. We are dealing with child-sacrificing barbarians. They view mercy and love as weakness. Sooner or later, they are going to realize that they are mistaken.

In addition to the terrible pain and fear caused by these seemingly endless attacks, the attitude of the world at large makes me despair. Even the United States seems to cling to the insane idea that the terror can be stopped by talking to Arafat. He and his henchmen have made perfectly clear that they are committed to the destruction of the state of Israel and the slaughter of her citizens. They may be crazy, but they are deadly serious. We would be crazy not to take them seriously.

Update: The 18-year-old shooting victim has died of his wounds.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Quick!. Someone help Eric Alterman extricate his head from his nether orifice. He thinks that when Jewish children of American immigrants to Israel are murdered by terrorists in the West Bank, their parents are to blame.

Well, is it is certainly less physically risky for a columnist to blame Jews for living than for him to face the barbarians who shoot little children in their beds, blow themselves up in crowds of civilians, and launch mortar fire at people's living rooms. But this approach is not just morally crippling, but ultimately suicidal.

Alterman's view is breathtakingly simple: if the Jews would just agree to the Arab plan to make all of the Middle East Judenrein, the terrorists would stop murdering them there! The Palestinians have made it clear enough that they consider the entire state of Israel to be "the occupied West Bank." They have made the streets of Tel Aviv run with blood, and there is no place they consider off-limits for terror attacks, as even someone with Alterman's limited perspective must know. Anyone who gets in the way of their bombs and bullets, according to Alterman, has only himself to blame. But the danger doesn't end where the Mediterranean Sea begins.

Hello Eric, the Islamofascists have made the whole world a war zone! If you and your family stay on the planet you are making yourselves targets and putting yourselves at risk! Stupidly! Just think, according to your "logic," if people hadn't been in the WTC, they wouldn't have been hurt on 9/11!

Pull yourself together man. "There can be no defense of suicide bombings, period." Practice writing that again and again. Get your head out of the "but" thinking that stinks of moral corruption. Terrorism is unjustifiable. Terrorism is evil. Terrorism must be stopped where-ever it appears, or it will soon appear everywhere.

Some of the "people who piss me off most in the world" are fanatical killers who practice a cult of death, and sacrifice their own children in their senseless acts of murder. Second to them, Alterman, come their apologists.

(Link via Instapundit)

Sunday, May 26, 2002



A "suspicious" bus passenger is slightly injured when a soldier shoots at his legs. It turns out that he behaved strangely because he is deaf. (According to radio reports the man is mentally disabled). I don't know how the bus driver, the soldiers, and the police could have prevented this mistake. I wrote the piece below during the bloody days of Passover, before I started this blog. Unfortunately, it's become timely again.

A NIGHT AT THE MOVIES 4 April 2002

The kids have been out of school for two weeks, and Passover vacation this year has featured daily terrorist attacks and rain. The latter is welcome. The combination of bloodshed and wetness have kept us all in the house too long. So tonight we took the kids out to a movie.

Take a taxi, said the in-laws visiting from abroad. Nah, it will be hard to get one big enough to take the whole family, said those of us who are struggling to maintain a "normal" routine here in insane times. If we don't get on a bus, the terrorists will have won.

Yes. A bus comes immediately. Wonderful. An armed soldier is sitting up front near the driver, another is standing beside him, and I see a soldier sitting at the back of the bus. I feel safe. They may get off before we do, but for the moment I feel secure. The kids are delighted to be standing in the middle of the bus -- they aren't allowed to stand on the school bus. This is fun.

But after a few minutes I notice a strange man sitting a few rows from us. I maneuver myself between him and the kids and try to surreptitiously watch him while continuing to laugh at my lovely children's happy silliness. I know that if he is a shehidiot, my body will merely splatter, not shield my children. But I can't fight the protective instinct.

I try to isolate what about this fellow arouses my suspicion.

He is fiddling with his bag. And he's wearing a pouch. Doesn't his jacket seem kind of bunched up in the back? He looks weird. Very peculiar smile. So closely shaven his cheeks are pink. Seems to be on drugs or something -- keeps smiling and grimacing to himself. No one else seems to notice him.

One of the soldiers has already left the bus. What good is a weapon in a situation like this anyway?

What's with that obsessive hand movement? Is he rehearsing pushing the button? Am I nuts?

Now the lady sitting next to him is giving him a funny look. Should we get off this bus at the next stop? I am getting really nervous, and working hard to disguise the fact.

If this man goes boom, that will be the end of him, but some of us may linger in terrible pain and mutilation. I can't tell you the nightmares I have about the family being fragmented, my children orphaned, left helpless and wounded. . . God protect us.

This is cold sweat time. We've been on the bus with this guy for fifteen minutes already. Are these my last minutes? Am I paranoid? Am I about to become fresh ground meat? What can I do?

Now what? The lady said something. He's answering. . . in Hebrew. They're together. It's okay.

No wait, it's sad.

We get off at the same stop and I see that there is something wrong with the young man. The lady seems to be his mother. He's obviously got some physical and mental handicaps that account for his quirkiness. And after twenty-some years of drawing strange looks because of his "differences," now he's been subjected to my suspicious, if very subtle, scrutiny. But mostly, I'm relieved to be off the bus, intact, with my family and glad that I kept my nervousness to myself.

Security at the mall is tight. Even my second-grader gets a once over with the wand. The fact that we cannot consider checking small children for bombs and weapon unnecessary brings tears to my eyes.

I ask a security guard how he feels about having to screen little kids. I get the typical Israeli replies (loosely translated): "there is no alternative" and "everything's gonna be alright."

Now, after more security checks we're waiting to see "Monsters, Inc." We want some escape from reality. We want to hear our kids giggle about fears being turned inside out. Monsters afraid of a little girl! The idea enchants them.

First we have twenty minutes of previews. Bang, bang, shoot 'em up. Some tragic love story, a watered-down Romeo and Juliet derivative is being touted. The voice over informs us (I'm paraphrasing) "it began as an argument between two families over a piece of land, and grew into a conflict that divided the region's population into two warring camps."

As one, the audience bursts into laughter.


Wednesday, May 22, 2002

An entire week has passed without a post. Hey, I always knew I could quit blogging whenever I wanted. But why should not blogging make me crave a smoke? Have they put nicotine in those pixels?

Not one of the gentlemen I invited to visit in my previous post has responded. Not that I spent the whole week staring at my inbox. One of my kids spent a couple of days acting a bit like Sgt.Stryker's Calico, but fortunately in the smallest room of the house. (Thanks for taking us along for the ride, Sarge. I know the move is a hassle for you, but for me your description is a break from my insane surroundings here. I loved the rock descriptions.)

I've also been up to my patooties with student papers to mark. I adore my students. I always get the most charming ones in the university. But when I read the products of eight years of public school English-language instruction I sometimes feel like exiting through my office window (on the 21st floor). But I slog on, determined to help my students bring their ideas into the world, alive and struggling. One of the most difficult things is trying to explain to them that they are supposed to write what they think, not what I said in class or what they think I want them to say. (See them chanting in unison, "We've got to think for ourselves.")

On a more cheerful note, many thanks to my friend Debbie, who showed me that all those years of grad school haven't totally destroyed my ability to learn. Now I know how and where to stick in extra letters and symbols to make links. Sort of. If I'm a "bloghole"
it's not an attitude thing, it's a competence thing. Have mercy and patience. I work with people who were still using typewriters five years ago, and Debbie's in a different city.

One day I may learn how to correct text errors in Blogger. (Why do the typos seem invisible until the thing is published? Don't get me started on misplaced, commas or parentheses I forgot to close.

When I was wailing about the difficulty in getting my links to work, I defended myself against self-accusation of idiocy. "Hell. I can read music. I can scan poetry. Why does this have to be such a pain?" Debbie, who also asks me gently from time to time about the progress of the diss., said, "Aha. Refusing to learn HTML is like claiming that music should be written in letters!"

Maybe. But what really bugs me is that sticking in the code reminds me of using Wordmill in the bad old days when word-processing was in its infancy. You wouldn't be able to tell until you'd printed a page that somewhere you forgot to insert the "end italics" code or something. Find it, introduce new error, repeat. Aaargh. There were days when I could have worked faster using a quill.

I am no more interested in how my soft-wear works than I am in how needles are made (to glance long-distance at Adam Smith). I want to use a reliable tool to do the job I want. Word is often a pain, but for most of the tasks I want to do, the format is "what you see is what you get."

Last week I spent ten minutes writing the text of a post. I spent another ten minutes copying and pasting urls and poking in the HTML code. I post the damn thing and see that I've got a couple of errors in the HTML, which take another twenty minutes to tidy up because it's so hard to see what I did wrong. It's hard for the same reasons Wordmill was hard; I'm referring here to the strain of squinting at the screen to pinpoint the error, not to any intellectual exertion. But I won't argue with Debbie about the religious need to learn HTML. I've seen
what they do to innocent creatures where she works.

But I do think Zeus, at least, is on my side of the argument, because her science links over there on the left don't work (I didn't touch them. I don' know how!) but the one she set up to the "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" fellow I'm writing my diss. about works. Ha.

Oy. Not again. As I type there are reports of another bombing in Rishon Lezion. Insert your own expletives. I'm out of here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Sigh. One gets so tired of the endlessly repeated canards about racist, terrorist, apartheid Israel. Let's sort this out once and for all:

Let's begin with Tom Paulin, Noam Chomsky, David Duke, Tel Rall, and Robert Fisk. Here's a personal invitation: Come visit. I mean it.

You can sleep on our couch. If you want to come as a group, that's fine, but some of you will have to settle for sleeping bags on the floor. Join us for meals. See the Israeli situation on the ground, from the perspective of regular folks. Go along with my kids to school. Come with me or my husband to work. We don't have a car, so you'll ride on buses with us. There have only been five or so suicide attacks and a couple of regular bombs in the immediate vicinity of our home and regular bus routes. Nothing to worry about, really. Or, to be honest, worry, but get on the bus anyway and hope that it won't be the last thing you ever do.

If you want to don a keffiyah, that's cool. I'll stay right by your side. You can still stroll around the Jewish parts of the country as safely as any Jew. Security guards or police may ask you to show an ID. By law all Israeli citizens carry identity cards; mine is always in my purse or pocket. Certainly you'll be asked to open your bags for inspection, and you'll be wanded before being allowed in a shop, restaurant, school, or office building. Just like me -- and my clothing and head-covering identify me as an Orthodox Jew. We can go out for pizza, and then have coffee in a cafe. The mall in our neighborhood is one of the biggest in the Middle East, so you can do some shopping. I don't go to discos or pool halls, but I can find someone to take you if you like.

Now let's try the reverse, a visit to Gaza, Jenin, or Ramallah. My husband will lend you a yarmulke so you can get the full effect of being the "other." I won't accompany you on this part of the trip. I got lost near Ramallah once, more than sixteen years ago, and I still remember the way people looked at me. It was the first time I ever felt real fear in the presence of fellow humans.

But you go ahead, please. My fear, which may be irrational after all, shouldn't limit your freedom of movement. (If things get rough, Fisk will be a very happy man). If by chance you're able to open a dialogue, please do tell my cousins that I look forward to a time when we can live together in peace. In the meantime, they can send me email.

It does worry me a bit to extend this invitation to Prof. Paulin, who has publicly expressed his desire to kill people like me. But something tells me he's a man of empty words, not actions, and I would put money on it that he doesn't know how to shoot a gun anyway.

I think you'll learn a lot on your visit, and I'm sure you can give us all a lot of pointers on how to get along with people who are different. So gentlemen, I look forward to your reply.


Tuesday, May 14, 2002

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a colloquy discussing the emergence of pro-Palestinian movements on U.S. campuses.

Most of the responses (there are 15 as I type this) recreate the sensation of falling head-first down a few flights of stairs. You struggle futilely to regain your balance, taking take blow after blow to the head until you reach the bottom (of the post, where you learn that some of the most ignorant, sanctimonious, and hateful of the writers are -- surprise, surprise --professors). Like many PC multi-cultural post-modernist texts, the postings get the adrenaline flowing, and leave you with a headache and the disoriented feeling that you now know less than you did before. Go ahead, jump into the fray. But first, read this account of how a pro-Israel demonstration at SFSU threatened to turn into a pogrom as the university authorities watched from the sidelines, and look at the kind of expression we're supposed to view as kosher "criticism of Israeli policy" and not as anti-Semitic blood libel. (For much more on the level of political discourse at Berkeley, go to The Angry Clam.

Trying to hold a rational discussion with people who insist that oversensitive Jews claim that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism is a waste of time. People who cling to this theory of hypersensitivity ignore the fact that Israel is a democracy with freedom of speech and of the press, and that most Israelis criticize some Israeli policy or other right out loud, on a daily basis. Sometimes even on-line.

Since in the Chronicle forum a post from an Israeli who doesn't ooze self-hate would be pre-judged as racist Zionist propaganda, I'll just watch here from the sidelines for now.

Monday, May 13, 2002

CNN posts hilarious Arafat interview concocted by staffers from The Onion.

Let's send coz Yasser to the "terra santa" (sic) he speaks of so lovingly. The reindeer and elves may be in some danger, but the rest of us will be safer to have this joker in the North Pole. Since he claims to like giving presents, he can help Santa with his deliveries. The guy in the red suit knows who's naughty, however, so the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades will be getting coal in their stockings from now on instead of checks, arms, and explosives.

Read the whole interview. I can't decide which is funnier, the po-faced questions or the tongue-in-cheek answers.


Sunday, May 12, 2002


Read Christina Hoff Sommers's call "For more balance on campuses". The stifling intellectual narrow-mindedness she describes is prevalent here in Israel, too. She notes that in the US: "Few conservatives make it past the gantlet of faculty hiring in political-science, history, or English departments." It is a great pity that efforts to create "diversity" on campus have focused on the color and reproductive equipment of the applicants rather than on variety of ideas and outlook. I have written a long post detailing the situation here, but I'm keeping it in storage until I have my degree safely in hand. Then I'll throw away the scabbard. . . (Link via Joanne Jacobs.





The Church of the Nativity has not suffered "formal desecration" according to Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's Jerusalem representative, who arrived to examine the state of the church following the 39 day occupation by Palestinian terrorists, who seem to have used a baptismal font as a dishpan and the basilica as a toilet.

Well, if you say so, who's an infidel like me to disagree? But I do wonder if the other clergy feel the same way you do. We're unlikely to hear about it. I have been waiting for some journalist to finally mention the time-honored antagonism inherent in the management of the church.

Mark Twain noted in the nineteenth century that: "As in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, envy and uncharitableness were apparent here. The priests and the members of the Greek and Latin churches cannot come by the same corridor to kneel in the sacred birthplace of the Redeemer, but are compelled to approach and retire by different avenues, lest they quarrel and fight on this holiest ground on earth" (The Innocents Abroad). It is heartwarming to learn that this time, at least in the presence of the media, the clergy were able to clean up the mess without coming to blows.

The traditional tension between the groups who share the church may go some distance toward explaining the Vatican's insistence there were no hostages, despite the claims by other clergy who managed to escape the church that they had in fact been held against their will and abused. One man's hostage, after all, is another man's untrustworthy schismatic.

The Vatican has proven itself deserving of the now vacationing deported terrorists. This morning's attack on the Milan subway suggests that they'd find plenty of friends in Italy. The people who worked so hard to keep these men from being tried deserve to live with them.




Friday, May 10, 2002

Not for the first time, we have foul, despicable terrorists of our own

Oy, what a day. First the ridiculous scene in Bethlehem. Terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands are handed over by the Israeli government to foreigners who will decide how to deal with them. Radio reports say that sappers had to clear the church of the booby traps the terrorists left behind. A complex international effort is made to allow these slimeballs to exit gracefully. This is obscene. And a hero's welcome for the terrorists sent to Gaza. They all should have faced trial in Israel. Shame on all those who had a hand in this transfer. Wait. Transfer. Arafat has agreed to transfer Palestinians! That precedent should make his people happy. . . Sweet dreams Yasser.

Then a terrorist attack in Be'er Sheva. Fortunately no one was murdered, but several people were wounded. I decided to put off the errands I was going to do today. I couldn't bring myself to get on a bus and head to a crowded part of the city. I'm sure I'm not the only one affected, so the attack wasn't a complete "failure." At least the two captured terrorists are enjoying the hospitality of Israeli security services. I bet they have a lot to tell the friendly agents. Sing, boys, sing.

Appeasement, more terror -- that's the regular bad news. But now Israeli radio stations are reporting that the

suspected Jewish terrorists
arrested a couple of weeks ago had a huge bomb that they were planning to detonate between a hospital and a girls' school in East Jerusalem. Arghhhh. This is no more excusable than our cousins' similar actions. Mark me down as having condemned this horrid, hateful, infamous plot. There is no justification for terror, ever.

And not all Jewish terrorists are racists. There are now death threats against an Israeli singer who has expressed opinions not to the liking of the aforementioned scum. Fah.

Believe me, I am angered, frustrated, and enraged, and often feel overwhelmed with hopelessness and despair. (Hell, I work at a medieval guild. Er, a university. I'm surrounded by people with whose opinions I passionately disagree, and I am powerless). But these intense feelings are never justifications for terrorism.

Aside from

Damien Penny's
sarcastic comments, I don't expect anyone in the world to make excuses for the repugnant actions of these people who are a disgrace to their nation. It doesn't bother me to be held to a higher moral standard; after all, we do have a whole Torah telling us how to behave. It does make me sick, however, that the rest of the world acts as it they are excused from the basic rules of right and wrong, good and evil.

Oh, and by the way, does it matter that the Israelis prevented the Jewish terrorists from carrying out their plot and have locked them up? Probably not. The existence of the plot will be enough to bring down an avalanche of condemnation on all our heads.

Soon it will be shabbat. Instead of reading the news I'll have to walk into the door to get the feeling I've had every time I turned on the radio today.
Tender loving care

Oh. The guy in the next bed may be someone who tried to murder you. The EUniks give no extra credit for this
.
this is where nature has the news in easy language
Find your masochists elsewhere

Israel, unfortunately, is not devoid of wife-beaters. From time to time women are viciously murdered by their husbands or lovers. In most of these cases, there had been a pattern of physical abuse that preceded the murder.

I'm not referring here to the murders carried out in the context of so-called "family honor" by some of our cousins. That primitive and savage behavior is worthy of a separate essay. I'm talking about the cases where the killing is the culmination of a pattern of abuse, not a pre-meditated "punishment" meted out to a woman who is suspected of forbidden sexual activity.

What I have never understood is why these women stick around to be hit a second time. Many of them were being slapped around when they were still dating. A large number of them have filed complaints with the police, gotten restraining orders, and taken the guy back into their lives anyway. Obviously the attacker is the guilty party, but one wonders about the sanity of someone who makes herself into a repeat victim.

I teach my kids that nobody, but nobody has the right to hurt them. Usually it's best to avoid conflict, but there is up with which one should not put. You cannot have a normal relationship with someone who physically abuses you. It is never tolerable. I have told them plainly that if ever a boyfriend or husband (or girlfriend or wife) would raise a hand to them, they should come home to us. The world is sometimes a cruel place, but they can always feel safe and welcome at home. They need not be dependant on anyone's mercy. They should never allow their self-respect to be devalued. Their bodies are not to be tortured.

They are still much too young to imagine being married, but I want this message to take hold. Someone who really loves and respects you and can be trusted with your life and your children's future does not hit. Ever. And if he does, there can be no future trust. Run away. Rebuild your life without him.

I suspect that George W. Bush would teach his daughters something a bit different. Forgive and forget. This is your partner, after all. Do you expect someone better to come along? What a lovely bunch of flowers he's brought. He says he didn't mean it, and promises never to do it again. The wounds will heal. Never mind the scars. There will be other children. All his friends believe that he'll reform. Take him back. Try again.

Dubya repeatedly pressures Israel to get back into bed with Arafat. Look at the lovely statement he's made. Now I expect him to reform. He didn't mean that suicide bombing just now. He sort of said so. Look, he's really trying. Give him a chance. The last bomber didn't kill anyone. He's arrested people. Everyone else is convinced that he'll try harder now. Why don't you believe him? You owe it to the world community to smooth this over. Look, this is the partner you've got. No one's perfect. You've made mistakes, too. This is not helpful. I have your best interests at heart. This is for your own good. Your stubborn behavior is embarrassing me and the rest of the family of nations.

Why are you locking the door? Ingrate.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Oh fool, I shall go mad. . . Why do my links disappear when I post???
When I was casting about for a name for this long-desired blog, my husband suggested, "How about 'What thesis?'" Ahem. Well. Yes. There is a bit of other writing that is, or was, or might be important somehow, to someone, somewhere. It's nearly done. I'm on the last chapter. Several people, including my advisor and the dean, seem to think it behooves me to finish. Already. So Husband and I made a deal: I can post as much text (guilt-free) as I write for the damned diss.
This is an agreement worthy of our cousins and neighbors or Bill C. I can (guiltily) devote as much time as I want to the blog while sticking to the letter of the law. But I'm not good with guilt -- note gap in postings.
This has been a productive academic writing week, so I'm now entitled to goof off blog.
It is always strengthening to read Lileks. Keep on dragging the UN hypocrisy out into the sunshine, friend. Let's get a close look at those who would be moral judges of Israel and shapers of our children's future.
Lileks is certainly right that Intifada II changed many Israelis' minds. We had been on the brink of making major sacrifices for peace. There were glimmers of hope in the air because so many previously unimaginable things had been happening. Meetings, hand shakes, agreements. . . By all means, let's try to settle our differences at the conference table (something we've tried to do during our whole existence as a state, and which we proved ourselves capable of doing when we made peace with Egypt and Jordan). Our troops were finally out of Lebanon. My husband spent IDF reserve duty on joint patrols of the Gaza border with Palestinian police, for crying out loud. It looked as if peace might really be possible in our lifetimes.
And now we have the horror of Lebanon without leaving home, and it's no longer just soldiers getting killed. [No, I'm not forgetting the very long history of terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.] Even the UN agrees that Israel has pulled back to its border, but we have no quiet in the north. Civilians are murdered by infiltrators who -- don't all denounce this at once, peace-lovers -- shoot at the ambulances that come to the rescue. Soldiers patrolling the border get shot at by terrorists the Lebanese allow to run amok.
Infiltration of suicide bombers and other assorted armed terrorists from Egypt is routine; the Jordanians at least try to prevent terrorists entering Israel from their territory.
In April alone there were more than 350 terrorist "incidents" in Gaza. Thank God the army has been doing wonderful work, and the Palestinians are not great shots, so there have been relatively few Israelis killed. (Small comfort to the bereaved and the wounded.) There are loads of security fences in Gaza, and loads of mortar fire going over them and terrorists going over, under, through, and around them. Most of these attacks don't get reported, or are mentioned a few times on the radio, but never make it to the papers or the web. Ho-hum, the Palestinians break the Oslo agreements. Once. Or twice. An hour. It seems that people outside of Israel have no idea of the extent of the terror.
The Israeli security forces have been foiling suicide bomber shahidiot attacks on a daily basis. Tuesday's pool-hall massacre would be happening eight days a week if it were up to the Palestinians. Yesterday an idiot went off half-cocked and only managed to wound himself. (How do the Saudis deal with a case like this? Do his parents receive a pro-rated payment?) Meanwhile he's being treated in an Israeli hospital. How evil is it of me that I hope he's not getting many pain relievers? Forward his medical bills to the PA, the UN, or the Vatican; I hate knowing that my tax shekels are healing this piece of filth.
The terrorism here is wearing me (like most Israelis) down. Yesterday, my kindergartner asked me why there are some stores in our neighborhood without guards; for him it is now normal to expect a guard in every building. Unlike in the former USSR, these watchers are working for the people, not for the state. There are armed guards everywhere you go, and lots of regular folks are armed. (Note to terrorists: you'd be amazed who's packing heat. You can't "profile" armed Israelis. Assume we're all armed.) The problem is that it doesn't do much good to say to a shahidiot suicide-bomber: "Stop, or I'll shoot!"
The Palestinians have forced this war on us. They have demonstrated repeatedly that their word is worthless and that they understand only force. They love death, we choose life. The world loves them and hates and condemns us. Eventually the world will understand, as Damien Penny points out, that "these people want to destroy . . .. anyone who is not a Muslim. Scratch that - they want to kill anyone who doesn't believe in their particular, ultra-fundamentalist brand of Islam."
In the meantime, we in Israel will keep on defending ourselves.


Friday, May 03, 2002

Intellectual Boycott of Israel

What follows is a self-explanatory letter written by Prof. Menachem Kellner to one of the signers of a petition to boycott Israeli universities, and cut off all contact with scholars here. Read the whole thing, it is brilliant. It even caused the addressee to question his "confidence in the rightness of the letter that [he] signed" and to realize his "need to learn more of the history."

Professors, college students, and medical doctors are calling for boycotts of all things Israeli. Their ignorance of the situation here is in dire need of cure. Have them read this:

Dear Colleagues and Friends:
To remind you, I wrote to a British scientist who had signed the infamous
Rose petition and posted that letter . . . . That scientist wrote
back to me and I have spent much of my spare time over the last ten days
composing a reply to him. I post that reply below. It begins with a long
introduction, followed by my point by point reply to his letter. Since I
did not ask his permission to post his letter in this public fashion, I am
removing his name. Please feel free to forward this to anyone whom you
think might find it interesting or useful.
Best wishes, Menachem
##########################################################
Dear Professor D--------:

I read your letter several times and told a few friends, colleagues, and
relatives about it. Most of them told me not to bother answering. The
reasons they offered included the following:

· signers of the Rose letter are "arrogant fools."
· signers of the Rose letter are antisemites.
· signers of the Rose letter suffer from anti-Americanism.
· signers of the Rose letter have been so thoroughly brainwashed by endless
tendentious anti-Israel news reporting in the European media that they
should be considered invincibly ignorant.
· signers of the Rose letter are racists whose disdain for Arabs in general
and Palestinians in particular is such that they condone Palestinian
behavior which they would condemn if done by persons considered more
civilized, or more mature.

I do not want to believe that any of these accusations are true of you. But
that does not mean that I am optimistic that I will be able to bring you to
a change of heart by the end of this exchange; despite endless arguments, I
do not remember ever succeeding in convincing a supporter of the Vietnam
War that the war was both unjust in principle, unjust in prosecution, and
against America's best interest. But, just as I kept trying back then, I
plan to keep trying now.

I assume that as an eminent scientist you have little sympathy with
postmodernist approaches which deny the very possibility of ever coming
close to objective truth about anything and that the best we can do is to
compare narratives. That being said, and since I think that in very many
cases of moral and legal debate context is extremely important, I ask you
to bear with me while I lay out, in the briefest possible way, my
understanding of the context of the current round of the Arab-Israel War.
Since I do not have the time or energy to write a book, and since I hardly
expect you to have the patience to read such a book, I shall express myself
in short-hand, sometimes in cliches, and often in ways which your
Palestinian friends will find offensive.

If you do not have the patience to read all this, you might want to skip
down to my detailed replies to your letter, although several of those
replies depend upon things I write in this historical introduction.

Nationalism as we understand it in the world today is largely a Nineteenth
Century development. Zionism is the movement for Jewish national liberation
and should be seen as one of many movments of that nature which grew out of
the ferment of the Nineteenth Century. For one hundred years the Zionist
dream has been to turn the desert of its ancient homeland green, while for
the same period the Arab nationalist and then Palestinian dream has been
expressed by a series of blood-thirsty leaders such as Hajj Amin
el-Husseini, the notorious "Grand Mufti" of Jerusalem. It is crucial to
remember that up until 1917 Palestine was a backwater in the Ottoman
Empire, inhabited by a mix of peoples, Jews as well as Arabs and European
Christians. It was an underpopulated land (you might want to read Mark
Twain's account of his visit there in the late 1800's - Twain can hardly be
seen as a Zionist apologist), swampy where it wasn't rocky. From 1882 on
small numbers of Jews began moving to Palestine, drawn by their nationalist
dreams, and following the trickles of Jews who, over the centuries, had
never stopped trying to return to what was both their ancestral homeland
and what many of them considered the holy land. These Jews began developing
the land, creating employment opportunities, and creating a magnet which
drew immigration from Lebanon, from Syria, and from other provinces of the
Ottoman Empire. Very many of today's Palestinians, despite what they say,
can trace their tenure in the land back only a few generations, just like
those Zionists who came from abroad. Much more important than this however,
is the fact that there were simply no "Palestinians" before the middle of
the last century. Palestinian nationalism is a reaction to Jewish
nationalism and simply did not exist until very recently. Even George
Antonius' book (written by an extremely questionable individual), THE
SECOND ARAB AWAKENING, speaks, if I remember correctly, in pan-Arab terms,
not in specifically Palestinian terms. In fact, before 1948, the term
"Palestinian" generally referred to the Jews of Palestine. I am not as
foolish as some I know who deny, therefore, that there can be any such
thing as Palestinian nationalism. It may be, in historical terms, a
brand-new identity, but that does not mean that it is any the less
fervently held by Palestinians today; nor am I as foolish as some to think
that, therefore, Palestinian nationalism in wholly illegitimate. But all
this does give the lie to those who want to see Israel as a "settler
country" like South Africa.

It is further crucial to remember that in 1948 Israel was created by a
decision of the United Nations, and that it was the Arab states which
rejected that decision, invaded the nascent state, were defeated, and thus
brought about the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. Even though
I find the historical writing of "new historians" like Avi Shlaim and Benny
Morris methodologically unsound, I am not making the argument that none or
almost none of the 1948 refugees were expelled by Israeli forces. I have
yet to be convinced that there was any general policy of forcing Arabs (not
yet Palestinians!) out of their homes, but even if there were such a
policy, the simple fact is that the war was started by the Arab states
(with the enthusiastic support of the local Arab, not yet Palestinian
populace), who rejected the UN's division of Mandatory Palestine into
Jewish and Arab (not Palestinian!) states, and who quite literally sought
to drive the Jews into the sea. Huge populations were displaced by and
after World War II. In every case but one those displaced were eventually
resettled into new homes. The one exception to this generalization is the
Arab population which fled from Israel (or, according to Palestinian dogma,
was forced from Israel). These poor miserable people were forced by the
very states (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt) which precipitated their
catastrophe, and which were legally and morally and historically
responsible for it, to fester in miserably squalid refugee camps. All this
so that their Arab brethren could manipulate them as pawns in their ongoing
war against Israel. At the same time that Arab (not yet Palestinian!)
refugees were being cruelly and cynically abused by their supposed
protectors, close to a million Jews, driven by government-inspired (Iraq)
or tolerated (much of North Africa) pogroms were being welcomed and
resettled in Israel.

It is important to remember that it was the Kingdom of Jordan which
illegally absorbed the West Bank (after 1948) and for nineteen years both
desecrated Jewish holy places and kept its Palestinian majority subjugated
to a Bedouin minority. Please remember also that in 1967 it was the
decision of Jordan's King Hussein to join Egypt and Syria in their attempt
to wipe Israel off the face of the map which led to Israel's occupation of
the West Bank. You must also not ignore the fact that it was the Arab
states meeting in Khartoum after the 1967 war who rejected all negotiations
with Israel, condemning Israel to continue its occupation and condemning
the local population (who only around this time began thinking of
themselves as Palestinians) to live under what was, despite everything
-arguably- the most benign occupation in the history of warfare. (I am well
aware of the stupidities and petty humiliations visited upon the
Palestinians by some Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza, but I ask you to
remember that had the Arab States not made war with Israel in 1948 and in
1967, had the Arab states been willing to negotiate with Israel after 1967,
there would be no Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza).

I ask you to further remember that it was the Palestinians in the 1970's
who chose the route of armed resistance aimed at civilian targets (such as
international airliners and Olympic athletes) as opposed to what would
clearly have been a more effective route, namely civil disobedience --
think of what Arafat as Gandhi could have accomplished! Armed attacks
invite armed responses and harden positions. I realize that works both
ways, and for years myself was profoundly critical of stupid Israeli
policies which mirrored the profound stupidity of the Palestinian
leadership. I never thought that their being stupid justified our being
stupid as well.

I draw your attention to the fact that there is only one country in the
Middle East in which Arabs enjoy civil rights, freedom of expression,
freedom of movement, the right to participate in free elections, and the
right to criticize the government without fear of punishment. That country
is Israel. I do not fool myself into thinking that Arab citizens of Israel
are happy in their minority status, but you might ask your Palestinian
interlocutors how many Arab citizens of Israel are likely to move to the
State of Palestine once it is created. If they are honest with you, the
answer will be "nearly none," something which should give you pause. Can
they also deny that the creation of a Palestinian State at this time
(something I used to support fervently) will assuredly lead to the creation
of a state in which Arabs enjoy no civil rights, will endanger their lives
if they speak freely, will have the right to participate in the sorts of
elections that have routinely given enlightened democrats like Assad of
Syria, Hussein of Iraq, and Mobarak of Egypt majorites in the 95-99% range,
and in which justice will be done as it was done today (April 23d) in
Bethlehem and Ramallah: the lynching of individuals thought to be
collaborators (or who were simply inconvenient for the people who
instigated the lynching?)

I ask you not to ignore the fact the Arab world in general and the
Palestinian Authority in particular has never stopped broadcasting,
publishing, and teaching in their schools the most vile and debased forms
of Jew-hatred (despite solemn and repeated promises to the contrary) and
despite Oslo has never sought to prepare the "person in the street" for
peace. I heartily dislike Binyamin Netanyahu, but in one respect regret
that his bark was worse than his bite: he never demanded that the PA
seriously prepare their people for peace, and, in consequence, Arafat and
his murderers continued printing, broadcasting, and preaching Stuermer-like
anti-semitism, all the while pretending to be pushing forward with the Oslo
accords.

I ask you not to ignore the fact that the Israeli actions which you condemn
(even if they are as bad as you have been misled to believe, and they most
assuredly are not) are all direct consequences of a series of actions taken
by the Palestinians. Speaking as a person intimately involved with the life
of that segment of the Israeli population least amenable to territorial
compromise (Orthodox Zionists), and as a person with close acquaintance
with some of the leading ideologues of the settlers in the West Bank and
Gaza, I can assure you that Israel under Ehud Barak was moving (at an
amazing tempo) towards a "two-state solution." It was Yasir Arafat who
slammed the door in Barak's face (a fact never denied by the Palestinians
till they belatedly realized the damage they were causing themselves and
began peddling their "Camp David Revisionism" to the gullible); it was
Yasir Arafat who fomented (or, if you insist on accepting Palestinian
propaganda, only encouraged once it broke out) the "second intifada"; it
was Yasir Arafat who drove Barak from power and guaranteed the election of
Ariel Sharon.

I well understand that what I have written here will be angrily rejected by
the enemies of Israel as Zionist propaganda or at the very least irrelevant
to the current situation. I cannot ask you to become an expert on middle
eastern history, but having signed the Rose letter (unprecedented as it is
in the history of the academy) I think you have the moral obligation to
familiarize yourself with perspectives on the issue other than your own.

Having laid this groundwork, I shall now being responding to your letter
point by point. I am responding to the original version of your letter,
since there are points in there which are important not to gloss over. I
plan to reply to you, point by point. To make things clearer, I have
capitalized your statements.

You wrote:
"YOUR HURT IS OBVIOUSLY SINCERE, AND OF COURSE I RESPECT THIS. I AM ALSO
MINDFUL THAT YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE IN ISRAEL WHO HAS BEEN ON THE SIDE OF
SANITY, AND RESPECT YOU FOR IT."
I am no longer on what you consider to be the side of sanity; I was driven
from my previous positions by a series of bloodthirsty attacks against
civilians (totally ignored in the letter you signed), by the growing
realization that "Oslo" was, as the late Palestinian "Minister for
Jerusalem Affairs" Husseini said, only a ruse to destroy the Jewish state,
etc. etc. It is, to put it mildly, harder and harder to believe that there
are any Palestinian leaders who are, or perhaps were ever, really willing
to live in peace next to a secure Israel. It pains me to write this - it
goes against everything I have maintained for over thirty years.

You wrote:
"MY SIGNATURE WAS RECRUITED, AND PRESUMABLY THE LETTER TO THE GUARDIAN
WRITTEN, BY STEVEN ROSE, A PROMINENT BRITISH (NON-RELIGIOUS) JEWISH
SCIENTIST, AND SOMEBODY WITH WHOM I DO NOT SEE EYE TO EYE ON EVERY ISSUE.
THE REASON FOR MY DELAY IN REPLYING TO YOU (FOR WHICH I APOLOGISE) IS THAT
I WANTED TO SEND THE DRAFT OF IT TO STEVEN ROSE. HE HAS NOW WRITTEN TO SAY
THAT HE AGREES WITH IT, AND I SEND IT TO YOU LARGELY WITHOUT ALTERATION, SO
IT MAY SEEM RATHER OUT OF DATE (I FIRST WROTE IT ON APRIL 14TH). WERE I TO
WRITE IT AGAIN, I WOULD MAKE REFERENCE TO THE ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE
ISRAELI ARMY IN JENIN."
I would like to make a number of comments about this paragraph:
a) of what possible relevance is it that Rose is Jewish? To me it sounds as
if you are trying to pre-empt the charge that the letter is anti-semitic.
If I confused criticism of Israel with anti-semitism, I would have to
condemn myself as anti-semitic. By the same token, there are plenty of
examples of Jews who hate themselves as Jews. So, I repeat, of what
possible relevance is it that Rose is Jewish?
b) I find it odd that you would want to send the draft of your letter to
Rose for his perusal and approval. One assumes that you take personal
responsibility for petitions you sign, especially when they are as extreme,
unprecedented, and one-sided as the one you signed.
c) Most troubling in this paragraph is the casual way you give credence to
press reports about atrocities in Jenin. I assume that a person as
sophisticated as yourself knows that journalists are often as easily
bamboozled as the rest of us, often "run in packs," etc. I presume that at
the time you wrote this sentence you knew that Israel denied that
atrocities were committed by her forces in Jenin, but you were casually
ready to pass judgment as if there was no possible doubt but that such
atrocities were committed. (Cynically, I must say that Saeb Erekat is going
to have murder many hundreds of his fellow Palestinians to get to the 500
he claimed were killed in Jenin.)
(For criticism of the way in which the international press reports from the
Middle East, I invite you to visit the following websites:
http://www.andrewsullivan.com
http://instapundit.blogspot.com
www.honestreporting.com
www.memri.org
for a few news reports about Jenin unlike the ones you presumably have been
reading you might want to visit:
http://www.israelinsider.com/channels/security/articles/sec_0244.htm
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50541,00.html
For an account in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram which shows how Palestinian
fighters used noncombatants to lure Israeli soldiers into a trap, see:
http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2002/582/6inv2.htm
or,
http://web1.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2002/582/6inv2.htm
--I am not really very adept at this business of citing websites and hope
that I have gotten the addresses right.)

Returning to your letter, you wrote:
"AT THE TIME WE SIGNED THE LETTER TO THE GUARDIAN, SHARON WAS PERSISTING
WITH HIS POLICY IN THE FACE OF UNIVERSAL CONDEMNATION FROM ALL AROUND THE
WORLD, INCLUDING EVEN THE UNITED STATES. SANCTIONS OF THE KIND WE PROPOSED
SEEMED A DESPERATE RECOURSE, GIVEN THAT MERE APPEALS AND OUTRAGED
CONDEMNATIONS FROM EVERY QUARTER WERE BEING CONTEMPTUOUSLY AND
HIGH-HANDEDLY IGNORED BY SHARON."
I fear that what I have to say is going to disappoint you. Speaking as a
person who has had very little use for Ariel Sharon for much of his adult
life (mine, not his), I must tell you that the Israeli attack in the West
Bank was supported, by some reluctantly, by most enthusiastically, by the
overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis - no one in his or her right mind
thinks that this will end the terror attacks, but it has certainly given us
respite. Furthermore, it may be, and I regret having to write this, since I
have angrily rejected this sort of reasoning for a lifetime, that the
Palestinians will only take us seriously if we act in the way in which they
act. Allow me to expand on this point a bit. Like a lot of Israelis who
supported the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, I have been traumatized by
the consequences of that withdrawal. It appears to many of us that the
lesson learned by the Palestinians was that if you kill enough Jews, Israel
will give in. For the sake of any hope of peace, it is crucial that
Palestinians unlearn that lesson. (I should also add that I have been
further traumatized both by the Palestinian terror attacks and even more by
the apparent equanimity with which these attacks are viewed by so many
Europeans.)
There seems to be a kind of obsession with Ariel Sharon among many
Europeans. For better or for worse he is the democratically elected leader
of Israel (in fact, the only democratically elected leader in the entire
region), and, as I wrote in my original letter to you, he was elected
entirely thanks to Yasir Arafat. Today, he enjoys the support, grudging or
warm, of broad sectors in Israel. He enjoys that support thanks to the
Palestinians.

You wrote:
"I AM NO LOVER OF YASSER ARAFAT, AND UNDOUBTEDLY GREAT WRONGS HAVE BEEN,
AND ARE BEING, COMMITTED BY BOTH SIDES. HAVING ACKNOWLEDGED THIS, THE
PALESTINIANS CLEARLY FEEL DEEPLY WRONGED BY THE IMPOSITION OF THE STATE OF
ISRAEL IN THE FIRST PLACE. THEY DO NOT SEE THEMSELVES AS TERRORISTS, THEY
SEE THEMSELVES AS FIGHTING, IN THE ONLY WAY THEY KNOW, A WELL EQUIPPED
ALIEN ARMY WHICH HAS INVADED THEIR COUNTRY."
I had to read these sentences several times before I could believe that you
actually wrote them. Don't you realize that by writing this you are
condemning the Palestinians as blood-thirsty savages? That you are adopting
the morally corrupt position that the end justifies the means? That you are
in effect saying that no behavior can be characterized in and of itself as
terrorism? I will expand on these points in a moment, but first must make
clear, and I hope that I am not being unfair to you, that in these
sentences I detect, not a report of what Palestinians feel, but a report on
what you feel. (This becomes clearer in the last paragraph of your letter.)
Back to what you wrote. According to this statement, the only way
Palestinians know how to fight is by purposefully targeting non-combatants.
According to this statement, the only way Palestinians know how to fight is
by raising up a generation of children who are taught to hate, and who are
taught that murder is martyrdom, and who are themselves turned into living
bombs (one of the Palestinian bombers was, it turns out, a sixteen year old
girl). According to this statement, the purposeful targeting of old men and
women sitting down to celebrate a religious ritual, of families eating out
in a restaurant, of young people sitting in a pub, or travelers on a bus,
all this is not terrorism. In other words, nothing is terrorism if you
believe in the cause. Only a person whose moral sense is entirely deadened
could knowingly make claims like these. Let me remind you of something I
wrote above: think of what Arafat as Ghandi could have accomplished! Think
further what the Palestinians might have accomplished had they engaged in
nation-building instead of murder after murder after murder.

You continued:
"WHEN I HAVE ASKED ZIONISTS HOW THEY REPLY TO THIS, THE ANSWERS I RECEIVE
ARE TWO, BOTH HIGHLY UNSATISFACTORY.
1. THE JEWS WERE SO APPALLINGLY TREATED BY THE NAZIS THAT THERE ARE NO
LIMITS TO WHAT THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO IN RETURN. BUT PALESTINIANS ARE
NOT GERMANS, EXCEPT FROM THE OBNOXIOUS PERSPECTIVE WHICH SEES ALL NON-JEWS
AS ONE PEOPLE -- GENTILES OR GOYIM.
2. GOD PROMISED THE LAND TO THE JEWS MORE THAN 2000 YEARS AGO. I PRESUME
YOU WILL HAVE NO TRUCK WITH THAT KIND OF NONSENSE. ANYBODY WHO TAKES THAT
LINE NEEDS TO LOOK AT ITS SCRIPTURAL FOUNDATIONS. THE BOOKS OF JOSHUA AND
JUDGES ARE AMONG THE MOST CHILLINGLY RACIST AND GENOCIDAL DOCUMENTS EVER
WRITTEN. MEIN KAMPF IS TAME BY COMPARISON. ADMITTEDLY THOSE ANCIENT
DOCUMENTS SHOULD BE JUDGED BY THE STANDARDS OF THEIR OWN TIME, AND NOT
CRITICISED BY THE MORE ENLIGHTENED STANDARDS OF OUR TIME. BUT BY THE SAME
TOKEN, THEY SHOULD ALSO NOT BE USED TO JUSTIFY TURNING PALESTINIANS IN OUR
TIME OFF THEIR LAND AND INSTALLING NEW JEWISH SETTLERS."
You must be talking to some awfully dumb Zionists, or, as I suspect, you
have been sold a bill of goods by Palestinian supporters who tell you that
this is what Zionists say. I can honestly say that I have never met a
Zionist stupid enough to think that because of the Holocaust there are no
limits on what Jews may do in return. Many Jews do believe that the
Holocaust teaches that Gentiles are never to be trusted, many Jews believe
that there is a great moral debt owed them because of the Holocaust (but
hardly by the Arabs), and many Jews are not above using the Holocaust in
all sorts of (to me) unfortunate ways, but to make the claim you impute to
us? I can hardly treat such nonsense seriously.
With respect to your second point, you (or your informants) appear to be
confusing distinct issues. Many Jews (as well as many Christians) believe
that God promised the Land of Israel to the Jewish People. Outside of the
fantasies of many Palestinians, there is no doubt that the Jews today are
descended from the ancient inhabitants of the Land, exiled by the
Babylonians and the Romans. For two millenia Jews have turned to Zion in
prayer, sought to return, or to be buried here if they could not come in
life, celebrated their holidays according to the seasons as they are here,
not in the lands of their dispersion, etc. etc. All this explains the
reason that the land is special for the Jews. Zionism, however, is the
modern movement of national liberation of the Jewish people, created and
overwhelmingly fueled by secular Jews, whose connection to the land is
historical, sentimental, but hardly theological. I suppose that you were
trying to bait me by comparing the books of Joshua and Judges with Mein
Kampf. Rather than rising to the bait, allow me just to point out that only
Christians read the Hebrew Bible as if it were the unvarnished word of God.
Jews read the Hebrew Bible through the spectacles, as it were, of the
ancient talmudic Rabbis, whose reading of Joshua and Judges is dramatically
less bloodthirsty than the text itself. Orthodox Jews sees the talmudic
readings as not only authoritative, but as expressing the original intent
of the texts. I must also note that after your implicit justification of
terrorism, I have a hard time relating seriously to your comment about the
"more enlightened standards of our time."

You wrote:
"IF WE STICK TO OUR TIME AND THE RELATIVELY RECENT PAST, I SUSPECT THAT THE
PALESTINIAN CASE IS THE STRONGER. I SUSPECT THAT THE CREATION OF THE STATE
OF ISRAEL IN 1948 WAS A TERRIBLE ERROR, THOUGH WELL-INTENDED AT THE TIME.
GIVEN THAT IT HAPPENED, ISRAEL'S BEST CLAIM TO EXIST IS SIMPLY THAT IT DOES
EXIST AS THE STATUS QUO, AND NEW GENERATIONS OF ISRAELIS HAVE GROWN UP WHO
ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WRONGS THEIR GRANDFATHERS DID TO THE
GRANDFATHERS OF THE PALESTINIANS. CONTRARY TO THE BIBLICAL DOCTRINE (AND
PROBABLY KORANIC AS WELL, THOUGH I DON'T KNOW), THE SINS OF THE FATHERS
SHOULD NOT BE VISITED UPON THE THIRD AND FOURTH GENERATION. THIS, TO ME, IS
WHY ISRAEL NOW HAS A RIGHT TO EXIST. BUT, AS RECENT INVADERS (AT LEAST AS
THE PALESTINIANS SEE IT WITH GOOD REASON) I DO NOT THINK THE ISRAELIS HAVE
THE RIGHT TO TREAT THE INDIGENOUS, ALBEIT DISPLACED, PEOPLES IN THE WAY
THAT, AS I READ IN MY NEWSPAPER, THEY REGULARLY DO."
It seems to me that the cat has jumped out of the bag. I suspect that your
expression "I suspect" is either British understatement or an attempt to
spare my feelings. In other words, from your signature on the original
petition, and from your present letter, I suspect that YOU believe that the
creation of Israel was a kind of original sin. That of course, makes the
task of defending our right to defend ourselves next to impossible, since
we should not be here in the first place, and makes defending the murderous
acts of Palestinians that much easier, since by definition, they have the
moral upper hand. I suppose that I should be grateful that you think we
have the right to exist, now that we are here. One of the profoundest of my
many disappointments over the last two years, was the realization that
there are apparently precious few Palestinians who are willing to admit
that much, pious and insincere protestations to the contrary. Much of the
point behind my long historical introduction above was to show you that
your "take" on the creation of Israel is -at the very least - debatable.
Israel is not a "settler regime," and Jews did not seek to displace an
indigenous population, as you emphatically claim. There are two other
points I must make in this connection:
a) in the aftermath of WWII literally dozens of states were created around
the world, many of them by imperialist fiat (have you ever wondered why the
borders of so many states in the middle east and in Africa are straight
lines? ask bureaucrats in Whitehall!). Among these many states, only one
was created by the the United Nations, only one was attacked by all its
neighbors at the moment it came into being, surviving nonetheless, and only
two (India is the other) managed to create and nurture a democratic polity
- and that is the one state whose right to have been created you cast into
question?
b) it seems to me that even if Israel were conceived in sin, as I "suspect"
you believe, it should not be given only the grudging acceptance you give
it ("well, it exists, so we can hardly destroy it"), but should be judged
on the basis of its accomplishments. I am the first to criticize much of
what we have done, but comparing what Israel accomplished in the first half
century of its existence with what was accomplished by all the other states
created in the wake of WWII, I think we have much to be proud of…to reduce
everything to the question of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza
(settlements which would not exist had not the Arabs precipitated and then
lost the war in 1967, and then compounded their folly by refusing to
negotiate with us) is, to my mind, hardly worthy of serious reply.

You start drawing to a conclusion:
"SO, THE SUICIDE BOMBINGS ARE WRONG, BUT SO ARE THE ATROCITIES NOW BEING
PERPETRATED BY THE ISRAELI ARMY, AND THE REFUSALS TO ALLOW THE RED CROSS
ETC ACCESS."
WRONG? They are only "wrong"? Not profoundly immoral, not horrific, not a
wholly unsupportable response to whatever they are supposed to be a
response to? The suicide bombings are "wrong" while Israeli attempts to
root out the terrorist cells flourishing in the West Bank and Gaza are
clearly "atrocities"? Did you read what you wrote here? And once again, you
take at face value only reports critical of Israel.

Your last paragraph states:
"MOREOVER, THE CLAIM THAT ISRAEL IS ONLY DOING, WITHIN ITS OWN BORDERS,
WHAT THE UNITED STATES IS DOING VIS-A-VIS THE SEPTEMBER 11TH TERRORISTS IS
DISINGENUOUS. THE PALESTINIANS HAVE, TO SAY THE LEAST, A GOOD CASE AGAINST
JEWISH SETTLEMENT OF THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. THERE IS AT LEAST AN
ARGUABLE CASE (MAYBE WRONG, BUT A STRONGLY ARGUABLE CASE) THAT THE STATE OF
ISRAEL SHOULD NOT EXIST IN THE FIRST PLACE. THE AL QAEDA TERRORISTS, BY
CONTRAST, HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CASE AT ALL TO BLOW UP BUILDINGS IN NEW YORK.
THE TWO ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. ONE MIGHT (JUST, THOUGH I WOULDN'T) MAKE
A CASE FOR INDIGENOUS NATIVE AMERICANS RESORTING TO TERRORIST TACTICS TO
REGAIN THEIR LANDS WITHIN THE UNITED STATES. BUT THE PALESTINIANS CASE IS
STRONGER, BECAUSE THEIR EVICTION WAS MUCH MORE RECENT."
I agree that the Palestinians have a good case against Jewish settlements
in the West Bank and Gaza, not because I believe, with many Arabs, that it
is right for huge areas of the world to be judenrein (do you have any idea
how many Jews are allowed to live - and in what circumstances - in Lebanon
[a few dozen], Syria [a few hundred], Jordan [none, not one, excepting the
staff of the Israeli embassy in Amman], in Saudi Arabia [none, for decades
Jews were not even tolerated there as members of foreign legations], in
Iraq [a few score], in the Maghreb [a few hundred]), but because I believe
that Israel cannot remain a state which is both democratic and Jewish if we
rule over huge numbers of Palestinians. That said, the settlements are a
red herring - had Arafat continued negotiating with Barak, there is no
doubt that he could have ended up with what he seems to eagerly to desire:
a Palestine free of Jews. This last paragraph of yours repeats your
troubling and certainly debatable conceptions about middle eastern history,
and gives fairly clear expression to your feeling that Israel ought not
have been created in the first place. You also imply that the Palestinians
"have a case" to blow up men, women, and children at religious
celebrations, in restaurants, in pubs, on busses, on street corners, etc.
If I thought that you meant what you wrote, I would have to condemn you as
one of the most immoral people I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.

I cannot possibly expect you (who has so much less at stake here than I
have) to reply to this endless letter. If I have caused you to question
some of your assumptions, I shall feel myself amply rewarded. If I have
failed, at least I tried…

Sincerely,

Menachem Kellner

PS About the Camp David and Taba negotiations, have you seen the recent
interviews with Dennis Ross? You can check them out at:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50161,00.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50737,00.html
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,50830,00.html

######################################
Professor Menachem Kellner
Wolfson Professor of Jewish Thought
University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

SAUDI PROPAGANDA

The past two decades have improved the style and standard of living in Israel dramatically. Gone are the lean days when relatives visiting from abroad would be asked to bring along such luxuries as American toothpaste, small electric appliances, jeans, and sneakers. Shopping here is still not like in America -- but it is certainly up to Western European standards. And if you can't get it here, you don't have to get along without it -- you just order it on-line.

Yet for some things, alas, we still must depend on our friends in America. For example, the new comedy spots being produced by and for the Saudis are unavailable here, and they're not likely to be imported soon. This is a shame, as we could use some laughs, and who better than the Saudis to foot the bill?

It is hilarious that these despots think that they can buy their way into American's hearts. No matter how much sand they throw in America's eyes, they won't make anyone forget who produced, educated, exported, and financed the 9/11 human guidance systems that turned Western technology into tools of destruction for primitive barbarians. Americans won't forget that in addition to financing child-sacrifice-bombs in Israel, the Saudis are still financing terrorist organizations that threaten future attacks on the US.

On the one hand, the American firm that agreed to take on the job of producing whitewashing propaganda for mass murderers of their fellow citizens should be ashamed of themselves. On the other hand, I hope they're taking the Saudis to the cleaners. Every dollar spent on letting the Saudis exploit American freedom of expression is a dollar not being spent on terrorist infrastructure. So let them buy airtime. Lots of it. Show those commercials until the amusing novelty wears off and Americans rise up to demand the overthrow of the government. The Saudi government.

But in the meantime, keep blogging those descriptions of the ads (Lileks), and the wonderful suggestions for future spots (HappyFunPundit). At least until the new Saudi government is installed and free and direct trade relations with Israel make is unnecessary for us to ask for favors from abroad.





Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Warning: blog in diapers

This baby blog is acting like a two-year-old. It refuses to eat its links. Help. . .


CHILD'S PLAY

Ha'aretz
http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=157860&contrassID=1&subContrassID=8&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y
points out that a suicide bomber game
http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/content.php?id=50323
has appeared on the internet. Foul.



UN ON ICE

It is uncharitable of the Israeli government to give the UN "investigators" such a hard time about their mission. No one doubts what they'll "find" in Jenin -- certainly their report was written weeks ago. But the delay is making their project transparently farcical.

As the UN folks are cooling their heels in Geneva, more and more journalists are digging around for scoops in Jenin and discovering that there doesn't seem to have been any massacre. The Palestinians' descriptions
http://web1.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2002/582/6inv2.htm
of the battle tally embarrassingly well with the claims of the IDF. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/119/nation/Claims_of_massacre_go_unsupported_by_Palestinian_fightersP.shtml
People are beginning to suspect that the Israelis are telling the truth.

The ever-expanding UNRWA was responsible for the well-being of the people in this wretched camp, yet quietly let it be turned into a terrorist training camp, bomb factory, and ammunition dump. It has not merely failed, but has become a part of the obstacle to peace. Reporters are discovering truths that should be terribly embarrassing to the UN. The UN had better hope that the people whose tax payments keep them in business are not paying attention.

Meanwhile, they're talking about just doing the "investigation" from Geneva. Right. They's send it to reporters with a cover note: Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?



Monday, April 29, 2002

Refuseniks and George Orwell

The English on-line edition of Ha'aretz sometimes reads like Reuters. Terrorists are referred to as "militants," "activists," or "gunmen" (which can be legitimate usage, for example when a contrast is being made to "bombers"). The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is described as a "militant" organization, which bestows undeserved soldierly connotations on cowardly baby killers. Editors should insist that those who murder innocent civilians be labeled accurately as "terrorists," but without the scare quotes, of course. The Hebrew print edition is generally more careful to avoid the linguistic slovenliness that plagues the English web site.

For example, there are a few dozen Israelis currently serving jail terms for refusing to report for military service in the disputed territories. In Hebrew they are called "sarbanim."

This story has gotten very little play lately, because it is a very little story. The big story is that well over 10,000 reserve soldiers responded immediately to emergency call-up notices. Soldiers came home from all corners of the globe to risk their lives in defense of their fellow citizens. Dozens were killed. Hundreds were wounded. All were very seriously inconvenienced by the interruption of their lives.

They reported for duty nonetheless because, whatever their personal politics, they understood that Israel's very survival is at stake. This war was thrust upon us, and we have no choice but to crush the terrorist infrastructure that has cost so many lives.

The "sarbanim" clearly think otherwise. Their right to think so, and their ability to break the laws made by a democratically elected Knesset, are being protected by soldiers who may, in fact, share many of their political opinions. The "sarbanim" know that by refusing to serve they face a jail sentence. They'll do their time and then get on with their lives. They know that their jailers would never let a mob break into the jail to lynch them as collaborators, and they know that however strongly they may disagree, their fellow Israelis are not prone to lynching people with different views. And this is how things should be in a country ruled by law. They have the right to prefer punishment to service, and I have the right to dis them for it.

Now back to the English on-line Ha'aretz, with which this tirade began. In that publication "sarbanim" are called "refuseniks." (The Hebrew word for "refusenik" is "siruvnik ." At stake here is the distinction between one who is denied permission to do something, and someone who refuses to do something, that is, one is acted upon, the other acts.) Before the Soviet Union collapsed, hundreds of thousands of Jews were trapped there, forbidden to practice their religion or use the Hebrew language. Applying for an exit visa often resulted in job loss, imprisonment, and worse. Jews who were denied the freedom to live as a free people in their own land were called "refuseniks."

To use the word "refusenik" to describe someone who prefers a jail sentence to military duty in time of war is pernicious. There is no equivalence between the captivity and terrible suffering endured by the original "refuseniks" and the illegal actions of the "sarbanim." The appropriation of the word to express a radically different meaning obscures the price we pay for our liberty. George Orwell wrote about "Politics and the English Language," but his insight applies to all times and places. We must use language carefully to illuminate, not conceal how our freedom is maintained.
In cold blood

Shabbat. No phone. No radio. No internet. No news is good news. Twenty-five hours without having a clue what's happening outside the neighborhood.

To understand what this interlude means, you have to understand that during the week I (like many Israelis) check the news constantly. Not being the sort who can concentrate on work while the radio is playing, I make a point of listening to the news every half hour or so, and I've developed the habit of turning on the radio in between the news broadcasts, just to make sure that the regular programming is on. Lugubrious Hebrew music can mean that something horrible has happened, and my Pavlovian reaction is to spin the dial, searching for news. Sometimes melancholy music is just melancholy music. Far too often it's filler between reports that make you break out in a cold sweat as you realize how close the attack was to your kids, your husband, your friends, you. . .

There are times when the news penetrates shabbat. This is a mixed neighborhood, and sometimes secular neighbors tell someone what was on the news, and the rumors spread through the synagogue. We heard garbled stories about the Tel Aviv discotheque bombing and the Passover seder attack, so on those occasions we welcomed the new week trembling, knowing that we'd be sickened by the next newscast.

This week we were in blissful ignorance until Saturday night, and the blow of the murders in Adura still has me reeling. I can't clear my mind of the thought of that poor mother playing with her three tiny children in their bedroom, on a shabbat morning, looking up to see an intruder disguised as an Israeli soldier aiming at them. He saw them for what they were, shot the helpless innocents at close range, and continued his killing spree. I wonder if his mother is proud of him. Is this what she dreamed of for him when she changed his diaper and sang to him and kissed his little hurts?

What kind of "freedom fighters" shoot people sleeping in their beds? Losers. Shame and damnation on their heads.

The Palestinian Authority, in a rare gesture of non-hypocrisy, has not condemned the premeditated, cold-blooded murder of defenseless civilians. The world seems willing to treat these moral cripples as unable to take responsibility for their own behavior. Fine. People who cannot control their deranged urge to kill should be pitied. And locked up, forever.

I have seen the word "revenge" used stupidly in many news reports about Israel's military actions. There can be no human revenge for these acts; that is God's business. The best we can do is try to prevent further attacks. We choose life, and nothing will make us change our minds.

As I was writing this an elderly neighbor knocked on the door, apologetically asking me to help her fill out some documents in English. The Austrian government may possibly grant her back wages for the forced labor she did in a Nazi slave camp. [Insert expletives of your choice.] With tears in her eyes she said, "this is what I was doing during the years I could have been studying. I will go to my grave ashamed that I never had the opportunity to get an education." I weep to know that she was too badly wounded to be able to understand now the triumph she has demonstrated by raising and educating children and grandchildren to liberty and hope in Israel.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Targets

Captured Tanzim terrorists are singing about the targets they'd planned. How about a hospital? Naw, it's easier to hit the university. . .

I suppose that, according to what passes for thinking in bomber circles, Arabs who frequent places where Jews are targets also merit the death penalty. After all, scholars who work together are called collaborators, aren't they?
Bethlehem Update

Stupid mistake in my previous post: of course the schools are closed when a town is under curfew. I don't recall ever seeing or hearing Palestinians quoted as complaining about this aspect of curfew, surely because there are many more distressing consequences of military occupation. (Memo to Palestinians: some of you should come up with a plan to establish an independent Palestinian state that can live in neighborly peace with Israel. IDF soldiers do not want to be in your villages, towns, and cities any more than you want them there).

Given the curriculum, however, missing school is a step toward peace. (Ooof. The teacher gave us so much homework: we have to write essays on "Why I hate the Jews," "Jerusalem was never a Jewish city," and "Jewish cooking: 25 uses for gentile blood." And I really hate chemistry. Anyway they give you the bombs ready made. Why do I need to learn this stuff?)

Israel Army Radio reports that terrorists holed up in the Church of the Nativity are asking to send a representative to Arafat to ask permission to surrender. That's interesting. Not surprisingly they're afraid to give up with out the chairman's explicit approval. Telephone contact could, of course, be arranged -- but it could be denied later. Arafat could turn to one of the television cameras in his headquarters and broadcast a request that these fellows release their hostages and turn themselves in. That might protect those who surrendered from the lynch mobs, but it would force the fearless leader to publicly excuse jihadists from fighting to their last breath. That would be embarrassing and might dispirit future terrorists. But if one person is allowed to go to Arafat's place, at least he'll be safe and well fed for a while. Hands up whoever want to be the delegate.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Biblical Bethlehem

Exposing their tenuous grasp of what is actually written in The Book, journalists like to preface the proper noun "Bethlehem" with the adjective "Biblical." They're pretty confident about that, probably because it's mentioned in Christmas carols and stuff. One of these days they'll discover that lots of other Israeli cities were mentioned in the Bible. Eventually they may even wonder why.

But to our story. The Vatican has been insisting that the people who have been stuck inside the Church of the Nativity with those Palestinian terrorists for over three weeks are not hostages, because they are in their own property. Okay.

Let me go on record here: if an armed terrorist ever shoots his way into my house, eats my food, wrecks my stuff, and doesn't let me out, I want the IDF to help me. Please. If I say that I want to stay in my home with such "guests," that will be because they have a gun aimed at my back when I open the door a crack to tell you this. Do not believe me. I will be chewing the bars off the windows or digging tunnels with my fingernails to get out. Your assistance will be appreciated.

Monks who have managed to leave the church seem to be under the impression that they were hostages. According to them, the armed people inside are not being respectful of other peoples' property. They are allegedly looting and desecrating the church. (That one's free, since the Israelis have already been blamed).

Those released claim that boys as young as ten years old are being held inside. (Memo to Pope: this could turn into one of those "notorious" cases. Remember to remind everyone that not all the priests inside are Catholic).

One wonders whether these kidnapped kids have parents who want them home. Why haven't they made heartfelt appeals for the release of their children? If they think it's a fine thing for junior to spend a few weeks in church, don't the schools have truant officers or guidance counselors who check up on pupils absent for so long? My kid's kindergarten teacher calls if he misses a day. Doesn't anyone who knows these kids care? Or would asking for the children's release mark those taking interest as collaborators?

The IDF used smoke grenades to obscure reporters' view of those who got out of the church today. This will undoubtedly be spun as an Israeli cover-up. Those screened are probably hoping not to appear in next week's paper, dangling inverted in front of a bill-board of Arafat's smiling face.

Ah, that wacky PA kind of justice. Ahmad, put down that broom. You're the judge. Leave it, Mohammed, someone else will make the coffee -- you be the lawyer for the defense. Here's the verdict. Oops. Right. The trial part is supposed to go first. Whatever.

And those intransigent Israelis are undiplomatic enough to snort at the PA's trial of the murderers of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi and insist upon handling the matter themselves.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002



Feeble excuses

"Nidal Tzabari Mustafa Klik, 23, who planned to participate in the Pessah night bombing at Netanya's Park Hotel that killed 29 people, backed out because he fell ill" The Jerusalem Post reports today.

I can think of a lot of good reasons for not wanting to blow myself into unsightly bits, but illness!!!
There's nothing like death for ending aches and pain, not to mention indigestion. And the bomber can be pretty sure that he won't linger in agony, unlike some of his victims.

Of course deciding not to go to a bombing appointment might mark one as a collaborator, and that is a very unhealthy stigma in Palestinian circles these days. If you're shot by your co-religionists, dragged through the streets, and strung up in the town center, Mom is not going to get a check and your picture won't be decorating schools and mosques. Furthermore, according to eyewitness reports, lynching apparently hurts. A lot.

So here's a list of excuses for terrorists who decide to stay home and watch TV instead of massacring infidel Jews:

I looked everywhere for a crowd, but the filthy Zionists seem to have all stayed at home.

I was hungry, so I decided to order a meal. On thing led to another, you know how it is, and I just forgot what I was supposed to do in that restaurant. Cute waitress. Good chummas, too.

I missed the bus

I wanted to make sure that the bomb was good, so I tested it at home first. You wouldn't believe how annoyed my parents got about how it rearranged the furniture. On both stories of the house.

The dog ate my detonator.

And especially for the ladies:

That explosive vest made me look fat.

I couldn't find a purse that matched the belt.

Wait a minute. 72 virgins? Sounds like hell to me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Put photos of Jenin in perspective. Compare and contrast

1.The IDF should publish photos of what the Jenin camp looked like before the incursion. To quote a friend, "It wasn't Manhattan."

2. The IDF should publish photos of the homes and offices of Palestinian Authority officials.

3. The IDF should publish photos of bombing damage in, say, Danzig, Hamburg, or Berlin in WWII. Those were "disaster zones."

4. The IDF should publish photos of bombing damage in say, the last dozen shahidiot bombings in Israel. The physical destruction in Israel has been scattered, but very costly. Each Egged bus costs as much as several slum apartments.


Collective punishment

In the past Israel used to destroy the houses of terrorists, the logic being that people would think twice about committing a deed that would result in Granny, Mom, Dad, and all the kids finding themselves homeless. This, of course, was cruel, and the world did not like it.

So Israel started sealing off only the terrorist's room in the house, which was a symbolic rather than punishing gesture, as the perpetrator was meanwhile getting shelter elsewhere at the expense of the Israeli taxpayers.

But now that the Saudis and the Iraqis are making it so profitable for Palestinian families to make blood offerings of their children, perhaps its time to levy some counter-tax on this source of income. Suggestions?



Set up a charity fund for that boy! Build an extension on his parents home!

A fourteen-year-old boy from Gaza returned home a couple of days ago, after deciding at the last minute not to blow himself to bits in the company of Jews. His parents were as shocked, surprised, and horrified to learn about what their son had been on the verge of doing as I would have been were he my son. The family realizes that they need psychological help, but not surprisingly they have nowhere to turn in a society that considers the problem here the fact that the boy turned back. It's not PC in Gaza to disappoint one's religious leaders and terrorist handlers that way. (They must be asking themselves, "Where, oh where did we go wrong with this boy's education?")

God grant this family strength, and may we meet in days of peace.


Do the "news" services have editors?

Look at the following two paragraphs that appeared precisely as follows in an article headlined "Amnesty says evidence of Israeli human rights abuses in Jenin" on Ha'aretz's website with an AP byline:

Israel says it worked hard to minimize civilian casualties and estimates that dozens of Palestinians, mostly fighters, were killed.

"The claim by Israel that only combatants were killed is simply not true," said Derrick Pounder, a professor of forensic medicine at Dundee University in Scotland, who conducted several autopsies on victims in Jenin as part of the Amnesty investigation.

So now we know that the investigation is being carried out by people who don't know the difference between the words "mostly" and "only." That should enhance their accuracy. We also know that the results will be reported by people who don't question authorities even when they say ridiculous things. But that's not news to bloggers.