21 August 2014

Watcher’s Council Nominations – Drunk And Out Of Line Edition

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

20 August 2014

Qatar: the best friend of... yeah, you got it

Somebody told me this morning that Qatar intends to get rid of Hamas presence on its territory. Wow, says I to myself, Hamas is getting even on their best friend's nerves, it looks like. Then I got to the intertubes.

A senior Fatah official claimed in a conversation with the Al-Hayat newspaper that Qatar recently threatened Hamas' political bureau chief Khaled Mashal that it would expel him if Hamas accepts the Egyptian ceasefire truce deal in its current format.
Now I see it. Now you can see the ugly truth too.

As they keep telling us, in the recent Israel vs Hamas dust-up the outside participants aligned in two distinct camps: Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan in one camp, against Hamas, and Qatar, Iran and Turkey (a NATO member, by the way) - on Hamas' side.

So they keep telling us, but they also keep forgetting one player with considerable, but somewhat waning influence in our parts - I mean the US of A.

Let me see, where should US be in that layout?

Oh.

Oh.

Oh.

Go figure...

19 August 2014

Boycotting Israeli circumcision rings? No worries.

I wasn't aware of the story, what with being busy with other kinds of mayhem. Apparently:

The Israeli made, PrePex male circumcision ring is designed to assist in the removal of foreskin by stopping the blood flow to the region, subsequently killing off the skin cells on the tip of the member. The dead foreskin can later be easily removed. Circumcision has been shown to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV by nearly 60%, according to PrePex.
And, also apparently:
The circumcision ring was set to be introduced at clinics and hospitals in South Africa next year as part of a Department of Health program to administrate 4.3 million male circumcisions by 2016. The launch of the program, however, was delayed since, according to a report in the Global Post, the “male circumcision ring is one of many products in South Africa being targeted by growing calls to boycott Israeli-made goods.”
So here we are: no rings and no solution in view. All this because the Elders' Signals dept is asleep on duty. Because an easy solution is just within reach:
We'll gladly take the humidors off your hands, so you can go with the cheaper option. We need all the humidors we can get out mitts on for.... doesn't matter.

So there, leave these rings alone. DIY is the way to go.

P.S. And, if the above proposal is still too expensive, there always is this:

Interrupting regular programming

To announce that wiser words than these were not uttered yet:

18 August 2014

Andrew Sullivan / Sam Harris debate: making sense of thereof

Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan decided to convene a phone conversation as a sequel to a blog post from the former followed by a rebuttal from the latter. The purported aim of the conversation is to compare notes in a civilized discussion, which may lead to better mutual understanding.

The notable thing about the dialog is that it is indeed largely polite and that Sullivan, whose hate of Israel is normally so all consuming as to deprave him of elementary logic and common sense, behaved himself in a (comparatively) benign manner.

It is quite a long transcript, but I persevered and read it through. While Mr Harris presents and defends a pro-Israeli position, he has quite frequently let Mr Sullivan's statements slide without serious opposition. There are several examples of such lenience, possibly for another post. I shall restrain myself to one example:

Sullivan: In this current Gaza war, on the other hand, Israelis are all but protected by the Iron Dome, by Israel’s massive superiority in technology, overwhelming military dominance, huge economic superiority, and by being the most powerful country in the entire region backed by the global superpower. And even though the Israelis are protected from any sort of civilian casualties of any significance, they nonetheless have killed an astonishing number of Palestinian civilians in the past few weeks, including roughly 300 children.
This old and tired trope, easily met by any debater rookie, was passed over by Mr Harris, to my surprise. Possibly having in mind the generally conciliatory tone of the meeting of minds, I don't know. But as I went along reading the whole megillah, something in Mr Harris stance bothered me more and more. Andrew Sullivan, after all, is a known entity and, aside of unusual politeness, nothing was surprising in his position(s). His opponent, on the other hand, was somewhat more elusive (for me).

And I don't even mean this, coming from Mr Harris (the first post in the sequence):
I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state. I think it is obscene, irrational and unjustifiable to have a state organized around a religion. So I don’t celebrate the idea that there’s a Jewish homeland in the Middle East. I certainly don’t support any Jewish claims to real estate based on the Bible.
I wouldn't argue whether/why the existence of specifically Jewish state is more offensive to Mr Harris than, to take one example, that of Great Britain or many many other states wholly or partially defined by prevailing religion. I could ask why state of Israel is chosen (or mentioned at all) as a prime example of that obscenity, irrationality etc? But Mr Harris himself mentions later, in a disarming manner, that "Israel is actually less religious than the U.S., and it guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens", so I'll let it slide. The two following quotes are more difficult to ignore:
I think my being Jewish is irrelevant. I’ve told you that if the Jews decided to assimilate perfectly and cease to be Jews, I would celebrate this decision. And this is how I live my own life. I’m Jewish only in the sense that when it came time to have children, I needed to get screened for the Tay-Sachs gene.
And:
If all the Jews in Israel woke up tomorrow and said “This sucks. We’re sick of being attacked by religious lunatics. Let’s just move to America and forget about this godforsaken desert,” I would fully support it. In fact, it reflects how I live my own life. I’m a Jew who sees no point at all in fighting for land that an imaginary Abraham sanctified with his imaginary footsteps, in thrall to an imaginary God. And I’m more than happy to assimilate and to forget about my Jewishness. I’m just trying to be a rational human being living on the third planet from the sun. And I think all Jews would be well served to do likewise.
These statements even succeeded to mollify (somewhat) Sullivan, who echoed the sentiment:
Sullivan: Let’s try this non-Zionist counter-factual. Any Jew in the world is free to come to America. American Jews are among the most accomplished, integrated, successful, vibrant contributors to American society and culture. And they are among the most popular religious and ethnic groups in the country. They mercifully have peace, security—far away from this kind of Middle Eastern awfulness. So why wouldn’t that have been a credible alternative, rather than actually going in and seizing land from people who—
Dear Sam,

Your atheism is shared by me too. However, your call to assimilation caused me the strongest "someone is walking over my grave" feeling for many years. This is one deja vu case I can certainly do without. From Soviet Jewry declaring their allegiance to Soviet Russia and hailing their successful assimilation with Russians in the late forties of the last century, when Stalin was already planning the cattle carriages transfer to the East. Through German Jews celebrating their assimilation with the great German culture and German people in the twenties and thirties. Through too many other bloody and painful examples, surely going back hundreds of years. Thousands, if we remember the (popular at the time with Jewish elite) assimilation with Hellenic culture way back.

What is it with us Jews that makes us so blind to reality? Yes, American Jews today are all that Andrew Sullivan says. Today. Only about forty years after the (formal) end of the tradition to reject Jews applying to some private clubs (I wonder how many of those are still practicing it on the sly?). Today, when the muddy waves of Internet carry uncounted examples of the worst Jew-hate ever, a good part of it coming from American sources. Henry Ford is more alive today for a certain category of Americans than he was way back, when still wasting oxygen. And who can tell what would happen if (or rather when) a serious economic upheaval hits the blessed United States? Who will be presented then as a guilty party for all to hate and serve as scapegoats? Make an educated guess...

There is religion and there is nationality. I don't actually recall any Jew-hater checking whether the targeted Jew is an atheist, no sir. And from a long (and sometimes educational) experience I can tell that no Jew-hater was ever hindered in his Jew-identification by the fact that the Jew in question feels totally assimilated. And the only thing that sticking our heads in the sand ever brought is the convenience to our enemies when applying a stick to our collective arses.

Well, but after all I can see the truth of this (last quote, I swear):
Well, I’m still a Jew in the sense that I know a good pastrami sandwich when I see one.
Me too, me too, Sam. Do you like your pastrami with garlic? Lots of garlic?

(Yeah, it is another tricky test of Jewishness, to be sure).

Response to "The Gaza Bombardment" - The Lies You've Been Told

More debunking - quite good. And don't miss the closing statement!

17 August 2014

Spying: get used to it and get over it

What else do you need to make peace with the knowledge that in this here world everyone spies after everyone?

German weekly Der Spiegel reports that the country's foreign intelligence agency eavesdropped on calls made by US Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hillary Clinton.
Switch to Yiddish, be my advise - cause no one really knows it...

Rule 5 corollary: be ever vigilant


Al-Qassam Brigades on their goals and their wishes

Remember that fancy dresser from the other day's post?


Apparently the decision of their Hamas chiefs to reject the latest Egyptian ceasefire proposal inspired the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades warriors, who came out with this tweet:

I really don't see a good reason why their goal (to meet Allah) and their wish (to die for him) couldn't be accommodated.

The order of the requests, though, should be reviewed, I suggest...

16 August 2014

Do you still claim it's because of Gaza?

Check this out (but click to enlarge first):


If you still claim it's all about Gaza - oh well, here you are then - you are either a dupe or something much, much worse.

The Council Has Spoken!

Full text of the Council week's summary here.

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

15 August 2014

Lisa Goldman or: How I learned to stop being a journalist and love propaganda

Now this is what I would call jaw dropping. Or eye-popping. Or outright mind-boggling.

But to the details. Since some of you may be unable to see the Facebook post in the above link, here was a snapshot of it. Unfortunately, the snapshot was removed due to Lisa's insistence that it is her private domain. Here is her position:

Hi there -- You do not have my permission to take a screenshot of my Facebook page. As per my privacy controls, it is meant to be viewable only by friends. Please delete the image right away. Lisa
Be it as it may - the text remains indefensible. But, since I can't use the original text for the reasons of above mentioned lawfare (or lowfare, whatever), the only way I can go is to give the reader a hint: the ideas for reporting on Gaza, as provided by Lisa are nicely overlapping with the guidance dispensed by Hamas Interior Ministry. As for the difference between the two: I shall leave here an empty space, which, if Lisa so desires, will be used for the text she demanded to be omitted. Of course, if she is willing to prove the difference. Update 8/20/2014: apparently she is, her behavior lately precludes any coherent thought, so here it is back where it belongs:
Did Hamas prevent journalists from reporting accurately or not? I think the FPA has muddied the waters here, partly because none of the people who claimed they were intimidated spoke for attribution. I don't doubt their claims at all. But for the port to carry weight, it needs to be solidly sourced. The main takeaway should be, as every journalist who's worked on the ground knows, that soldiers and authorities in Israel and in Gaza *both* try to control the message. They do not succeed, although they do often anger the reporters they try to intimidate. But the *most important* point is this: the claims that foreign journalists were intimidated by Hamas into presenting a sympathetic message in exchange for the dubious privilege of reporting from a war zone, MUST STOP. This claim speaks to the desire to ignore and deny what happened in Gaza.
The tirade as a whole could be considered a lesson in illogical thinking: “FPA has muddied the waters” but “I don’t doubt their claims at all” but “it needs to be solidly sourced” but “soldiers and authorities in Israel [do same]” etc. Who muddies the waters indeed?

But, but, but – but of course that is not the jaw-dropping point. This is: “…the claims that foreign journalists were intimidated by Hamas into presenting a sympathetic message in exchange for the dubious privilege of reporting from a war zone, MUST STOP. This claim speaks to the desire to ignore and deny what happened in Gaza.” [Emphasis mine].

The jaw-dropping part is not the complete perversion of the claims about Hamas intimidation (they don’t intimidate journos to get “a sympathetic message”, rather focusing on cutting off the stream of unsympathetic ones, of course). It is the call, made by a person who was a journalist and – as I stated several times – a good one, to other journalists – to STOP (in capitals, too) publishing truth harmful to Hamas.

I don't know whether journalists have some kind of a secret oath, pledging to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. Also - I don't know whether they are taught that half of the truth is most probably a lie. But I am sure someone at some stage must have mentioned that point of "the whole truth" - otherwise what is the point of journalism?

And here we have a journalist (or ex-journalist?) demanding that her colleagues quit telling the whole truth, leaving out parts that may damage the otherwise lily-white reputation of the murderous outfit, Hamas. Because it may interfere with the pictures of dead children (frequently copied from other places far from Gaza) and destroyed buildings.

Because in their all-consuming righteous fervor to blame the barbarous Zionists, the progressive "journalists" are ready to make us forget the force of darkness that thrives on these pictures, that practically begs for more of that - willingly supplied by the legion of the immensely stupid fellow travelers. 

Shame...

And even the material of the Haaretz article that Lisa Goldman is using as a reference, was used by her selectively, while she completely ignored some damning information. Like this:
Some reporters received death threats. Sometimes, cameras were smashed. Reporters were prevented from filming anti-Hamas demonstrations where more than 20 Palestinians were shot dead by Hamas gunmen.

In perhaps the most serious incidents considered by the FPA, Hamas began firing mortars right next to the location of foreign reporters, in what may have been an effort to draw Israeli retaliatory fire.

Several foreign correspondents said the FPA had been right to issue the statement. One European reporter told Haaretz how Hamas officials prevented photographs being taken of any wounded or dead fighters at Al-Shifa hospital, even though their presence there was common knowledge. Only images of wounded or dead civilians were permitted.
The whole truth, indeed...

And here are some excellent questions Alan Johnson is asking. Don't look to Lisa for answers, though.

Obama administration's attitude to Israel: make it "operation" for now, OK?

I have stumbled on that piece by John Podhoretz in Commentary:

Obama Administration Makes War on Israel

What on earth? In the middle of a war this country’s president publicly says is justified owing to the relentlessness of the rocket fire against civilian populations, U.S. officials proudly tell the Wall Street Journal, they are holding up weapons transfers to Israel:

They decided to require White House and State Department approval for even routine munitions requests by Israel, officials say.

Instead of being handled as a military-to-military matter, each case is now subject to review—slowing the approval process and signaling to Israel that military assistance once taken for granted is now under closer scrutiny.
I really don't know what to say about the contents, besides the story is being a) confirmed and b) denied by various sources every half an hour or so, so let's wait for a while. Besides, delaying some specific weapons for a while is not yet a war. But then, stopping the flights to Israeli for a day or two is not a war. And stopping USPS delivering mail to Israel is not a war. And calling poor Bibi names (which I thought is my personal prerogative only!) is not a war as well.


I would propose to follow the lead of our maverick minister of finance, one Yair Lapid, who, while not being exactly schooled in finances (or any other science or trade or craft for that matter), learned how to say "NO" to all those who wish to stick their grubby hands in the nation's treasury. Proof:

State asks High Court to not declare Operation Protective Edge a war
The state asked the High Court of Justice on Tuesday to reject a petition seeking to force it to declare Operation Protective Edge a war.
And all that why? Cause our darling Yair aims to save a few shekels in compensations for various losses, which will be lost to the treasury if Protective Edge is declared a war.

I hope you see where I am leading. Yes, in both cases declaring whatever is going on as a war will have a deleterious effect - on that same treasury Yair Lapid is sworn to protect. So let's tone it down a bit, why don't we? Cal it operation.

There, there...

14 August 2014

Robin Williams - murdered by Mossad for playing a gay Jew. Or something.

My conspiracy generating mate Aangirfan is a busy bee, I suspect he never sleeps. And keeps giving.

So here is the story. Enjoy (or not, as the case may be).

The "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did it" syndrome. Ain't enough enough?


I am reading the WaPo Article Paying for Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq with a sense of growing wonder. The author, Eugene Robinson, starts the article with a sentence so transparent you might as well confine your reading of the whole to this quote:
As President Obama struggles to deal with the crisis in Iraq, it’s useful to remember who gave the world this cauldron of woe in the first place: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
The rest is obvious: litany of mistakes made by Bush and his administration in 2003 and afterward. I bet you all have read it about a thousand times.

Should I state at this point that I was against the whole deal in 2003, for simple reasons that proved to be true in the end? Probably, but this is not the point.

The point is that today is August 13, 2014. We are 11 years removed from 2003. We are in the middle of the second term of the current POTUS. 6 years on the job, that is.

And instead of asking what the heck the said POTUS was doing for the last 6 years to resolve the issues created, between other things (but not solely by all means), by the mistakes of that insidious pair (Bush/Cheney), Mr Robinson still peddles the tired old crapola?

WTF, Mr Robinson? Nothing worthy your pen anymore in the whole big universe? Possibly a trip to the Mount Sinjar, to take a peek at how Yazidis are doing? Or visit the Kurds, who do their best to save the Yazidis?

Instead of carping about the Bush/Cheney mistakes, that is...