Friday, October 19, 2007

Immense Israeli restraint in the face of vast Arab incompetence

Two years ago, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon led his country in a fateful decision to "disengage" from Gaza, uprooting 8,500 Jewish residents, many born in Gaza and some domiciled there for nearly four decades. Sharon did this because, as he put it to 1.3 million Palestinian Gazans,

" is not in our interest to govern you... we would like you to govern yourselves in your own country, a democratic Palestinian state."

Sharon held out hope that if things worked out in Gaza, he would move to withdraw from the West Bank as well. That this hope has turned to literal ashes is now well known.

Not only has a viable Palestinian government willing to live in peace and security with Israel failed to materialize, Hamas, a terrorist group whose charter explicitly calls for the destruction of Israel, won legislative elections and forcibly drove Fatah rivals out of Gaza. Gaza has become the locus for blatant acts of war against Israel, including repeated Qassam rocket barrages against Israeli residential areas and recurring efforts to infiltrate suicide bombers. Twelve Israeli civilians have died and countless thousands have been dislocated by these missiles. In the early hours of September 11, one rocket launched from Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza hit an Israeli basic training camp in Zikim, wounding fifty military recruits. Israeli Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped inside Israel and is being held prisoner inside Gaza. Hamas has smuggled in large quantities of weapons through the porous Egyptian border. Twenty tons of materiel entered Gaza in July 2007 alone, and the IDF now believes that Hamas possesses anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank rockets, most likely Sagger guided missiles.

On September 18, the Israeli cabinet voted unanimously to juridically recognize these facts: it declared that a terrorist organization has turned Gaza into "hostile territory." This declaration opens the way for Israeli authorities, at a time and in a measure of their choosing, to reduce the amount of electricity, water, and fuel they have continued to supply to Gaza since Israel's departure two years ago. [Egypt, during its entire occupation of the territory from 1948-67, never developed Gaza's energy infrastructure, leaving the strip destitute and primitive. Israel's integration of Gaza into its supply grid has allowed Gazans to develop their industry and agriculture.]

Despite the deliberative tone of the cabinet's decision -- it noted that "sanctions will be enacted following a legal examination, while taking into account both the humanitarian aspects relevant to the Gaza Strip and the intention to avoid a humanitarian crisis" -- critics hastened to denounce the move. One United Nations official interviewed on Israeli Army Radio termed the decision "collective punishment," and "a violation of international law," while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared that any interruption in the utilities would be "contrary to Israel's obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law."

The UN statements were, typically, hysterical in tone and dead wrong on the law. If Gaza is territory under the control of the enemy -- as it manifestly is under Hamas -- then the Israeli government is both within its rights and arguably obliged by its responsibilities to its citizens to treat the strip as "hostile territory." Siege and blockade of a hostile territory is a legitimate tactic of war, used in declared and undeclared (e.g., Cuban) conflicts and explicitly recognized by the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The Conventions' sole limitation is that there be "free passage of all consignments of food-stuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers, and maternity cases" (Fourth Convention, art. 23) -- and even this exception was conditioned on there being "no reasons for fearing... [t]hat a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy" (for example, if resources destined for humanitarian aid will be commandeered by the enemy). Israel has carefully respected this requirement.....

To the joy of Hamas, Gaza is now Judenrein. But it is a miserable place. Its residents, having voted for a regime that is waging war on Israel, must now suffer the consequences of their electoral (and military) support of the terrorist group. Of course, a cut-off of electricity, water, and fuel, might strengthen the extremists among them, so Israeli authorities are wise to weigh their actions carefully. But if they choose to reduce supplies to their enemy -- a measure far less aggressive than a military takeover -- they are absolutely legally entitled to do so. If Palestinians wish to claim equality among the nations of the world, they should expend energies building a state at peace with its neighbor and supplying its citizens with basic services, rather than devoting themselves to destroying their neighbor and then carping about the standard of living that Israelis allegedly owe them.




TSA still hopeless -- after 6 years : "The Department of Homeland Security has made some progress in making air travel more secure but has yet to implement recommended improvements in screening passengers and air cargo, a Senate panel was told Tuesday. Although it has made progress in inspecting checked baggage and securing some mass transit systems, the Transportation Security Administration has not implemented a government-run program to match passenger information against terrorist watch lists, leaving some airlines to rely on foreign contractors to carry out the vetting, said Cathleen A. Berrick, director of homeland security at the Government Accountability Office. TSA also currently lacks the technology to detect explosives on passengers, carry-on baggage and foreign cargo traveling on passenger planes, she said."

Britain. Revolt against atheist bishops: "The Church of England is facing a rift similar to that in the US Church after hundreds of leading evangelical clergy were told to invite bishops from outside their dioceses to carry out ordinations. Members of the 1,700-strong Reform group were told at their conference that they must not be afraid to ignore the wishes of their diocesan bishop if he refused to ordain conservative evangelical clergy. The advice mirrors the situation in the US, where conservatives have even had their own bishops ordained by evangelical Archbishops from Global South provinces such as Uganda. The Rev Rod Thomas, the group's new chairman, urged his members to resist the Church of England's "increasingly liberal agenda".

Attack on British drinkers: "According to the report, men who drink between 22 and 50 units of alcohol per week, and women who drink between 15 and 35 are most likely to reside in middle-class suburbs such as Harrogate and Runnymede. The news has been followed by the predictable clamouring of society's new high priests – the interventionist scientists – calling for the government to raise alcohol taxes in order to discourage consumption. Fears that the health service will come under unmanageable pressure as a result have been used as arguments for new government intervention to stop this social 'crisis'. It would be refreshing if these scientific puritans would finally realise that the NHS does not exist for their own intellectual titillation, but to serve its customers – the British people. We are not there to make its life easier, but vice versa. To constantly try and mould individuals into a convenient model for a failing health system is both misguided and draconian public policy."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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