Sunday, January 25, 2009

Oh furies, be gone!

This came to me at the beginning of Nishmat, when all the earth breathes blessings. Thus the name.

                    Shabbat Va-ayra, 5769

A grate wind bloez thru the waest
     And its empteness trumpets forth in twisting tune.
A grate winding rumbelz up from eruding kanyenz
     An rivverz froth in twisten toenz.

A grate, a tarabbel, unknowabbel thunder
     Rumbelz owt ov the blou ov sky
     Intu the blu ov wotterz
     Froth and faeth and fakt and feer
     In the shaddo fasez ov a vast throng.

A wind ishewz forth
     And the flutterree wingz ov a moth,
     A faent mosketo droning,
     A krikket plaez hiz fiddel.

The wind koyelz thru forrest.
     The shudder ov waxxen leevz,
     And kreeking ov aking branchen,
     The snapping and krakking ov brittel ewkalliptus.

A great wind, peeling and pulsen
     In the furious roerz ov vellossarrapter,
     In the futile wael ov a taper in tar pit,
     The eeree whining ov a kaejd liyon.

O how reched a wind doth blo
     Kriez the master Willem and hiz fool, hiz Soel;
A terrible thunder on eternal deeps
     Echoez in Ulro thru the Proffet Blake;
O orbs, with joy ar yu enkrownd.
     And seeng yu Persee, Promeetheyus, unbownd.

Peel and appeel akross the vaelz
Frum mownten tu feeld tu replying klefs,
     Till the addem shivverz in magnetto traelz,
     And kwarks in waverree kullerz blaez,
     And the hiper dimmenshenning streengz sizzel.

O, yu wikked windz, yu waywerd gusts
     Berthing owt skwalled Sammolyen chielz,
     Wimpering with widdoez ov unholee wor,
     The drug slerd devaz ov Holleewoud.

O how the wind, it breethz and we breeth
     Thru the tite twisten koyelz ov a kool kornet,
     The reedee rumbelz ov a humming bassoon,
     The vibraddo shimmerz ov the viyolin streeng.

O awsum, o farsum, o feersum windz
     That bend and brake
     And fray and rend,
     And kerl in storm,
     And krash on owwer shor,

Play me sweetlee, play me softlee,
     Yu kno I am ezallee braken and week.
     So play me in bewtafful, intoxxing toenz,
     Yu hu play my puls, play solas and hope.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gaza war, at ceasefire

Christopher Godfree-Morrell wrote this email to me, 1/11/09:

I've written, re-written and deleted several comments to your recent posts. In the end I've decided to send you this email. This too has been edited repeatedly, so it might lose some coherence.

I understand that as a Jew your defense of Israel is more than just politics, just as a Muslim's view on Hamas would be similarly clouded, but I would urge you to see past these prejudices to what is actually happening.

This might be a position that will make no sense to you, I feel like I'm trying to covince people to not react with violence to the people that raped and killed their mother. Because this seems to be the level of emotion attached to the situation by all sides. I'm sure that you would normally see the futility of war, that peace can never be achieve by killing. But this isn't about reason is it?

In the end all I want to say to you is that, although I can understand your position can't you see it's madness?

Christopher Godfree-Morrell
god-free morals

And I responded, 1/18/09:

Thanks for all the editing you must have done, to write such a sensitive email that was not caught up in the withering tension and, as you said, madness that possessed so many people, including me. Yes it is madness and it causes me great sorrow, bitterness, exhaustion.

May I say only this: you cannot imagine what it feels like to be so profoundly hated and vilified and demonized, so falsely and hypocritically, by so many people. We are begrudged the most piss-assed little piece of largely useless property in the world. A not insubstantial percentage of Muslims deny our very right to exist, and a not insubstantial percentage of Christians would not be upset if Israel were wiped off the map. What then are we to do, to make our neighbors understand that there is no future in war? Where do you begin a conversation with someone who denies your right to exist?

This world is a nasty place, and I fear it will not get any better in the near future. My guts have been twisted up inside, and for many days I felt like my head and body were literally going to explode, as I struggled with all my might against this onslaught of world hatred that is trying to break the spirit of the Jewish people. That's how I see it and experience it.

Chris, the world is not turning its hatred towards you, demanding with cynical and ulterior motives that you turn the other cheek to those who would murder you if they could. Therefore you can't imagine our sense of precariousness in the world, that there is almost no one that we can rely on. Therefore you will not understand or accurately assess our strength, our faith, our assertion of a right, nay a necessity to exist. A future generation will look back on this period and see an appalling picture of Europe and of the Muslim world, a picture not much more attractive than what you might see looking back on the nazi era.

If the Arab world did to Israel what Israel did to the Gazans, you would see vast, Dionysian-like celebration. I urge you to watch Israel closely, and see if you see any celebration at all. Let us watch together, you and me. This I already know: we are profoundly thankful that so few of our soldiers died, but beyond that, I predict: there will be no candy thrown, no vast parades glorifying our military might, no feasts and parties all night long in the streets. We will reflect on what we've done, its cruelty and its necessity. We will debate our tactics and our use of force. We will argue about what our goals were, and whether we achieved them. And we will be profoundly disheartened by a world that appears to value neither truth nor compassion. We too lacked compassion, and we will grieve long over that. Let us see if I'm wrong.

With great thanks to you for your kindness, for your concern, for your tactfulness. With your permission, I will post your email, and my response on my blog.

He responded, 1/20/09:

I'd just say that I am not ALL of Britain and its history. If you feel such a direct connection to the lives and politics of Israel then it is this I cannot understand, not how one would fight to survive (as you see it). This I can understand.

(real) Peace

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gaza war, 3

The following post begins with the full text of an article entitled “Ceasefire in Gaza” by Dr. Denis MacEoin. The letter includes Hamas’ politics, in its own words, with transliterated and translated Arabic. It is followed by excerpts from 2 articles, giving a Palestinian and an Egyptian analysis of Hamas and the war.

Ceasefire in Gaza by Dr. Denis MacEoin
The author has lectured in Arabic and Islamic Studies and is the incoming editor of Middle East Quarterly. He apparently has been having trouble getting this article published in the “fair and honest” British press.

There are things going on here that half the world just doesn't get. All those clamouring for a ceasefire think all other parties understand the word just like they do. They'd be wrong. The secular Arabic press, such as the international newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, uses the standard Arabic term for a cessation of fire: waqf al-nar or waqf itlaq al-nar. That is a literal translation, and it means exactly what ceasefire means in English and other languages. But Hamas don't talk about a cessation of fire, because that would be to introduce a term from the Western political vocabulary into their discourse, and they can't do that.

Why not? Because Hamas is a deeply-grounded Islamist movement that follows the principle that Muslims must never do anything that resembles what the non-believers do. That's why many Muslims here will only wear Muslim clothes and refuse to join in Christmas, birthday or other celebrations with their Christian neighbours.

Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement, and, unlike Fatah, it prioritizes religious values and aims. A Hamas council has just introduced the implementation of severe punishments, such as amputations and crucifixions for breaches of Islamic law in matters like theft or adultery. Read their 1988 Covenant (al-Mithaq) and you will grasp the fact that their struggle against Israel has nothing to do with land in the sense that is understood in international law. Their gripe is that the whole of what they anachronistically term 'Palestine' (the old Southern Syria) was conquered by Islam in the 7th century and not an inch of it must pass out of Muslim hands forever.

As their Covenant makes clear, they are fighting a jihad, and the rules they observe are jihad rules, based on centuries of legislation about the waging of war against unbelievers. The problems with jihad rules is that they simply don't recognize all the elements of international law that modern states base their treaties and international conventions on. Jihad law includes rules on how and when to deceive the foe, and envisages no outcome other than the death or submission of non-Muslims. [If you want to verify that, see my link on 1/9/09: From the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at USC: A comprehensive listing of hadith (authoritative legal rulings) on Jihad. -- smb]

When Hamas announces a temporary cease-fire (a hudna or, recently, a tahdiyya or lull), it does so, not to have an opportunity to talk peace, but to regroup and re-arm. 'Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.' The only solution to the Middle East problem is war: 'There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.'

Numerous times in the past, Israel has shown itself willing to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, on conditions similar to those propounded by the Quartet, first and foremost recognition of Israel's right to exist, followed by a guarantee that there will be no further resort to violence, including terrorist attacks on civilians (and that includes firing rockets at them). As time has passed, especially since the death of Yasser Arafat, a degree of pragmatism has entered the Palestinian mind, but not the thinking of Hamas. Not only will Hamas not make peace with Israel in order to create a viable Palestinian state, they are as ready to kill Palestinian Muslims in order to gain total control of Gaza and the West Bank.

A recent Hamas pronouncement boasted that the Palestinians (for which read Hamas) have made an industry of death and that everyone plays a part: '...the women exceed at this, and so too do the mujahideen [fighters in jihad] and the children. That's why they have formed human shields of the women the children the elderly and the mujahideen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.

This is the only fighting force in history to boast that they have made human shields of their own people. There are films of 'brave' Hamas gunmen dragging screaming children along to serve as shields, and of civilians sent onto the roofs of rocket launching sites, where, ironically, they know the Israelis will not fire on them. It is a mockery of military ethics, yet it goes barely noticed in the Western media.

Israel is not alone in fighting terrorism. Even now, this country fights al-Qa'eda and its affiliates in Iraq or the Taleban in Afghanistan. If we ever gave up the fight against Islamist terror in Britain, we would reap the whirlwind in bombings on land and in the air. Why then do so many of us scorn what Israel does. A combination of Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran could one day bring Israel down and result in the deaths of millions of Jews. Is there any good reason why Israel should acquiesce in this? Is our grass roots anti-Semitism still so ferocious that we cannot bear the thought of a Jewish state in the Middle East, even if that state was brought into being by a [two-thirds] majority vote of the UN?

This war is not a pretty war, but, truth be told, no wars are pretty. If Hamas cannot be fought to a standstill or until it is a spent force, lulls in the fighting will be of absolutely no use. Beaten to a ceasefire, Hamas will return. They will return and they will fight to a standstill again, then they will regroup and attack once more. More deaths, of Israelis and Palestinians both. Ever-postponed statehood for the Palestinians, unending vituperation of Israel, which is only a democracy trying to defend its civilians from crimes this country would not bear for a week.

It's not a time for a ceasefire. When it comes, let the Palestinian Authority make it and keep to it, and let the PA police its own territories and rein in the madmen who cannot accept anything but their own right to rule everybody else, and their self-proclaimed right to kill Jews wherever they may be found. For Hamas has now announced that they will do exactly that: kill Jews, not just Israeli Jews, but Jews in any country where they may be found. And these are the people the UN and others would have Israel make a ceasefire with today.

A Fatah response to the war, 1/12:
A Fatah official in Ramallah on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Hamas and described its leaders as "criminals." Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on condition of anonymity, the Fatah official denounced Hamas as a "black and bloody militia" that was responsible for the "catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip.

The official expressed hope that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would revolt against Hamas when the IDF operation ended. He also expressed hope that Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh would be tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians. "Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."

An Egyptian response to the war:
Egyptian political analyst Magdi Khalil said he shared the view of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that Hamas was responsible for the war in the Gaza Strip. "Ever since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, they turned the area into hell," he said. "They imposed restrictions on the people there and even prevented them from performing the pilgrimage to Mecca." The analyst said that the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service was right when he recently described Hamas as a group of gangsters. "Hamas and its masters in Damascus and Teheran want to spread chaos in Egypt," he said. "They want to solve the problem of the Gaza Strip by handing the area over to Egypt. They want to create a homeland for the Palestinians in Sinai." He said that Hamas was not only jeopardizing Egypt's national security, but had also destroyed the Palestinians' dream of statehood. "By endorsing the Iranian agenda, Hamas has brought the Iranians to Egypt's eastern border," he said. "Hamas has also copied Hizbullah's policy of entering into pointless adventures."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Political hypocrisy and moral depravity

Here is a link to the article, The Jews Face a Double Standard by Marvin Hier:

Deja Vu on “proportional response”

What would be a proportional response to an armed robbery? What would be a proportional response to rape? A proportional response to an armed robbery might be scaring the hell out of the robber for a few minutes and taking some of his money. For rape: rape him back so he knows what it feels like and so he suffers some roughly equivalent amount of mental anguish. Hello, people! The justice system is not about proportional response, not in ANY society. It is about punishments that are deemed appropriate to stop or deter criminal behavior. In the case of armed robbery, a quick review of US state codes shows that more serious punishments (up to life in prison) are applied for more dangerous weapons, and/or if the criminal is masked, and/or if it is a repeat offense. As for rape, some states and some countries have the option of applying the death penalty. If the victim is a child or it is a repeat offense, the sentence will be more severe.

Israel has been dealing with terrorism, not just since the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, nor for the last 8 years of rocket attacks from Gaza. Terrorism has not stemmed from the Six Day War of 1967 when Jordan lost control of the West Bank and Egypt lost control of Gaza (remembering that Jordan had NO intention of allowing the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, but rather had annexed it, and Egypt had NO intention of creating a Palestinian state in Gaza; indeed, Gaza under Egypt was reckoned by the UN to be the poorest and most unhealthy place on earth). Anti-Jewish, anti-Israel terrorism did not even begin with the UN vote in 1947 partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab countries (a plan the Jews accepted but the Arabs rejected). There were major outbreaks of Arab rioting and terrorism from 1936-39, 1929, and 1919. And before that, Ottoman and Arab empires in the Middle East regularly subjected its Jewish residents to oppression and predatory governmental discrimination.

Arab and Palestinian terrorism is a product of deeply embedded bigotry. Numerous groups in Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and as we can see from all the news reports, Europe too, are outspokenly committed to destroying Israel, that is, committed to ethnic cleansing and genocide. What is the proportional response to the intention to commit genocide? THAT is the response that Hamas deserves! What Israel is doing today is far less than a proportional response to Hamas. Israel is administering an appropriate punishment to a criminal government that must be taught the consequences of its hatred and persistent violence.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gaza war, 2

The New York Times, which in my general view holds Israel to a double standard, and is insensitive to the hate-filled and violent environment Israel must survive in, published an article today that was remarkable. Remarkable not because it supported Israel, but simply in its chilling and detailed description of the war as experienced by combatants on both sides.

Here are 2 quotes (indicated by italics), followed by a link to the whole article:
Hamas militants are fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms. The militants emerge from tunnels to shoot automatic weapons or antitank missiles, then disappear back inside, hoping to lure the Israeli soldiers with their fire. In one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap. According to an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops, the militants placed a mannequin in a hallway off the building’s main entrance. They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.

A new Israeli weapon, meanwhile, is tailored to the Hamas tactic of asking civilians to stand on the roofs of buildings so Israeli pilots will not bomb. The Israelis are countering with a missile designed, paradoxically, not to explode. They aim the missiles at empty areas of the roofs to frighten residents into leaving the buildings, a tactic called “a knock on the roof.”

Article: A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery, 1/10/09

Friday, January 09, 2009

Gaza war links and commentary

Here are some websites with information you need to know to evaluate what’s happening in Gaza:

Video shows Palestinian gunmen using ambulances as troop carriers.

A Caterpillar and An Anthem by Daniel Gordis, 1/4/09

From AP, 1/6/09: Analysis: In Gaza fight, Iran lurks in background

Background: war with Gaza 1/6/09

From the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at USC:
A comprehensive listing of hadith (authoritative legal rulings) on Jihad, showing the core value of war and conquest in Islam:

6 Common Fabrications about Israel and Gaza:

Hamas Terrorists in UN School - Capt. Benjamin Rutland - 6 Jan. 2009

Weapons in Gaza Mosque Struck by Israel Air Force 1 Jan. 2009

IDF message to Gazans, in Arabic with English subtitles:

And this article, reproduced here:
Assaf Wohl presents Gaza operation speech he wrote for United Nations
Members of the United Nations, Democracies, dictatorships, republics, and the honorable secretary-general:

Within a few hours, media outlets in your countries shall present horrific photos of blood, fire, and rubble from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians will be screaming, in front of the cameras, about the massacre undertaken by the State of Israel. Initially, you may show understanding for our operations in the Strip, yet once the photos of wounded civilians reach you, you shall press us, as is your custom, to stop defending ourselves.

The first signs of this phenomenon can already be seen. Calls to “end the violence” from across the world are being heard loud and clear  yet they are only being heard now, after years of violence, and after Israel finally decided to respond. The European Union already rushed to declare that it condemns Israel’s “disproportional use of force.” Several news networks have brought together panels whose members are scrutinizing the law books at this very moment in order to ascertain whether the Jewish State violated some international law.

I do not intend to deal with the question of where were these condemners and critics for the past seven years, when Hamas’ murderers set the timers of their rockets to coincidence with the end of the school day in Israel, because of a declared aim to kill as many children as possible. The question we should be discussing at this time is as follows: Why do the countries of the world and global media outlets obsessively engage in strict criticism that is only directed at Israel? After all, there is not even one country out there that is required to adhere to the moral criteria which the world demands of us  of us of all people, the ones who as opposed to the rest of the world face threats of extermination.

Our Arab neighbors are well familiar with this double standard vulnerability. On their part, they are not bound by any kind of moral code. And so, they learned to exploit the international strictness towards Israel. A long time ago, they already understood that they cannot face the State of Israel on the battlefield. Indeed, when it comes to photographs and videos, they boast uniforms and weapons, yet once the fighting gets underway, they are quick to take off their uniforms and assimilate among women and children used as human shields.

They also make sure to place their arms depots in hospital basements and to fire rockets at population centers out of schoolyards. Their great hope is to elicit an Israeli response that would unintentionally hurt a few children. Once that happens, they will wave their bodies before the cameras and cry out to the world for help. This was the case in Lebanon, and this may happen tomorrow in the Gaza Strip.

Easing Europe’s conscience
The states demanding that Israel adhere to certain moral standards do not even dream of asking the same of her enemies. After all, we are dealing with theocracies and dictatorships, where homosexuals are publicly hanged, where women are regularly stoned for undermining their “family’s honor,” and where children suspected of theft have their arms severed. What do these states have to do with the value of human life? We should therefore ask representatives of global opinion: Be honest with yourselves - Do the lives of humans being butchered daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur arouse you into similar action? Reality indicates this is not the case.

My answer to the question regarding the obsessive preoccupation with the actions of the Jews is purely sociological. Many of you, the shapers of public opinion, and mostly the Europeans amongst you, are interested in easing your conscience: If only can only show that the Israelis-Jews are not so moral or innocent, perhaps they deserve everything you did to them before they were able to establish their state? After all, here they are, occupying and butchering the poor Palestinians; they are certainly no better than us!

To that end, you are willing to help out the lowliest terrorists. Therefore, you bought into their slanderous Mohammed al-Dura tale, and therefore you will rush to buy into various blood libels in the coming days. Those who launch missiles and mortar shells into kindergartens know that they will always enjoy a protective umbrella from you. They draw their self-confidence from the intolerable ease with which they enlist your public opinion in their favor.

Therefore, you would do well to think twice before you move to stop the punishment they lawfully deserve. After all, you are the only lifesaver that can spare this radical terror group the measure of justice hovering above it.