Friday, September 27, 2013
EU: What’s Fine for Spain Is Unacceptable for Israel
Recent news reports from Spain beautifully illustrate why nobody should take the European Union’s pretensions to moral superiority seriously–and especially not when it comes to Israel. Spain is now committing virtually every “abuse” the EU sanctimoniously accuses Israel of, without a peep of protest from its European peers.
For instance, Spain recently erected checkpoints along its border with Gibraltar that are creating real hardship. The checkpoints have lengthened travel times from 45 minutes to two hours for cross-border commuters and also increased costs, since people who used to drive now combine foot travel and taxis to reach work on time. These are precisely the complaints Europeans routinely level at Israeli checkpoints: that they undermine the Palestinian economy by increasing the time and expense of commuting to work or moving cargo.
But unlike the Spanish checkpoints–which blatantly violate the EU’s open-border rules–Israeli checkpoints are perfectly legal under international law, even if you accept the EU’s definition of the West Bank as “occupied territory” (which Israel doesn’t; it considers the area disputed territory). Under the laws of belligerent occupation, an occupying army is entitled to take reasonable military measures within the occupied territory to ensure its country’s security; it isn’t restricted to operating along the border. And Israel’s checkpoints were established to stop Palestinian suicide bombers.
Spain’s checkpoints, in contrast, are officially there to stop cigarette smuggling, though Gibraltar claims they are pure retaliation for its efforts to curb Spanish overfishing in its waters. By any standard, stopping suicide bombers is a stronger justification. Yet the same European officials who vociferously condemn Israel’s checkpoints have nothing to say about the Spanish ones.
Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Catalonians who formed a 250-mile human chain this month to demand independence from Spain. Catalonians also gave an absolute majority to pro-independence parties in last year’s provincial elections. Yet Spain adamantly refuses to let the province hold a referendum on secession.
By any standard, Israel has more justification for caution about Palestinian statehood than Spain does about Catalonian statehood. Catalonia has never threatened Spain in any way, nor is there any Catalonian terrorism. In contrast, large swathes of Palestinian society still call for Israel’s destruction, and every previous Israeli cession of land to the Palestinians has produced a security nightmare: nonstop rocket fire from Gaza, and endless suicide bombings and shooting attacks from the West Bank (until Israel reoccupied it). Indeed, of the roughly 1,800 Israelis killed by terrorists since Israel’s founding in 1948, fully two-thirds–about 1,200–were killed after Israel began ceding land to the Palestinians under the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Yet the European officials who repeatedly demand Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the West Bank haven’t said a word to support Catalonia. Apparently, Catalonians have no right to self-determination.
Then there are the Basques, whose oft-proclaimed desire for independence can’t be tested in a vote because Spain repeatedly bars pro-independence parties from running on the grounds of alleged ties to the Basque terror group ETA. That also doesn’t bother anyone in Europe, even though Europe objects vociferously when Israel refuses to talk to Palestinian parties that actively support terror, like Yasser Arafat’s PLO during the second intifada. Nor was Europe troubled when Spain severed peace talks with ETA at the very first terror attack, which killed exactly two people, though it condemned Israel viciously for halting talks with Arafat over repeated terror attacks that killed more than 1,000 people.
In short, Europe denounces Israeli actions as unacceptable even as it deems the exact same actions by Spain unexceptionable. There’s a name for such double standards, and it isn’t “human rights.” It’s known as hypocrisy.
Syria’s Refugee Problem and the West
Refugees from Syria should be hosted by Middle Eastern countries
By Daniel Pipes
The lull in the chemical-weapon crisis offers a chance to divert attention to the huge flow of refugees leaving Syria and to rethink some misguided assumptions about their future.
About one-tenth of Syria’s 22 million residents have fled across an international border, mostly to neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey. Unable to cope with the numbers of refugees, the governments of these countries are restricting entry, prompting international concern about the Syrians’ plight. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, suggests that his agency (as the Guardian paraphrases him) “look[s] to resettle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in countries better able to afford to host them,” recalling the post-2003 Iraqi resettlement program, when 100,000 Iraqis resettled in the West. Others also look instinctively to the West for a solution; the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, has called on Western states “to do more” for Syrian refugees.
The appeal has been heard: Canada has offered to take 1,300 Syrian refugees and the United States 2,000. Italy has received 4,600 Syrian refugees by sea. Germany has offered to take (and has begun receiving) 5,000. Sweden has offered asylum to the 15,000 Syrians already in that country. Local groups are preparing for a substantial influx throughout the West.
But these numbers pale beside a population numbering in the millions, meaning that the West alone cannot solve the Syrian-refugee problem. Further, many in Western countries (especially European ones such as the Netherlands and Switzerland) have wearied of taking in Muslim peoples who do not assimilate but instead seek to replace Western mores with the sharia. Both German chancellor Angela Merkel and British prime minister David Cameron have deemed multiculturalism, with its insistence on the equal value of all civilizations, a failure. Worse, fascist movements such as the Golden Dawn in Greece are growing.
And many more Muslim refugees are likely on their way. In addition to Syrians, these include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, Somalis, and Algerians. Other nationals (e.g., Yemenis and Tunisians) might soon join their ranks.
Happily, a solution lies at hand.
To place Syrians in “countries better able to afford to host them,” as Guterres delicately puts it, one need simply divert attention from the Christian-majority West toward the vast, empty expanses of the fabulously wealthy Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the smaller but in some cases even richer states of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. For starters, these countries (which I will call Arabia) are much more convenient to repatriate to Syria from than, say, New Zealand. Living there also means not enduring frozen climes (as in Sweden) or learning difficult languages spoken by few (such as Danish).
More important, Muslims of Arabia share deep religious ties with their Syrian brothers and sisters, so their settling there avoids the strains of life in the West. Consider some of the haram (forbidden) elements of life in the West that Muslim refugees avoid by living in Arabia:
Pet dogs (of which there are 61 million in the United States alone)
A pork-infused cuisine and an alcohol-soaked social life
State-sponsored lotteries and Las Vegas–style gambling emporia
Immodestly dressed women, ballet, swimsuit beauty contests, single women living alone, mixed bathing, dating, and lawful prostitution
Lesbian bars, pride parades, and gay marriage
A lax attitude toward hallucinogens, with some drugs legal in certain jurisdictions
Blasphemous novels, anti-Koran politicians, organizations of apostate Muslims, and a pastor who repeatedly and publicly burns Korans
Instead, Muslims living in Saudi Arabia can rejoice in a law code that (unlike Ireland’s) permits polygamy and (unlike Britain’s) allows child marriages. Unlike France, Arabia allows wife-beating and goes easy on female genital mutilation. Unlike in the United States, slaveholding does not entail imprisonment and male relatives can kill their womenfolk for the sake of family honor without fear of the death penalty.
The example of Syrians and Arabia suggests a far broader point: Regardless of the affluence of the host countries, refugees should be allowed and encouraged to remain within their own cultural zone, where they most readily fit in, can best stay true to their traditions, least disrupt the host society, and from whence they might most easily return home. Thus, East Asians should generally resettle in East Asia, Middle Easterners in the Middle East, Africans in Africa, and Westerners in the West.
U.N. take note: Focus less on the West, more on the rest.
Shot Down, Twice
Shot down over Laos in 1969, the bodies of two MIA Vietnam era Air Force aviators were recovered and returned home for burial at Arlington National Cemetery this week. Major James Sizemore and his navigator Major Howard Andre were buried at Arlington National Cemetery, laid to rest side by side, just the way they flew.
However, the Air Force refused the traditional ceremonial flyover to honor these men. Captain Rose Richardson noted, “The Air Force is unable to support the flyover request for Major Sizemore due to limited flying hours and budget constraints.” In other words, this is the latest entry in Obama's “blame the Republican sequester” charade. However, volunteer pilots with the Warrior Flight Team stepped into the gap and provided a flyover, including a Douglas A26 Invader of the type Sizemore and Andre were flying when they were shot down 44 years ago. The Invader was joined by P51 Mustangs off its wings.
The Patriot Post has now written about Obama's moratorium on honor flights several times since his sequestration cuts began, and each time we have noted that, while these flights have been denied, Barack Obama continues to use Air Force One and its entire contingent of additional Air Force aircraft and support crews to commute to political fundraisers, stump speeches and vacations. It's not that we think Obama should book his flights on Expedia, but the fact that the commander in chief continues to use this most costly Air Force asset for purely political or pleasure trips while denying honor flights. And he should be called out by the national media. Even the conservative Beltway media have not seen fit to mention this unmitigated hypocrisy once.
Sliding Farther Down the Freedom Scale
It's becoming an annual lament: Once the United States was among the most economically free nations on the planet, but now we barely crack the top 20. According to the 2013 Economic Freedom of the World report, now co-published by the Cato and Fraser Institutes, we rank not only behind the usual leaders Hong Kong and Singapore, but Jordan and the United Kingdom as well. Jordan? Are you kidding us?
Apparently they're serious, and a key reason for the decline is the ever-growing role of our government in shaping the economy. At the turn of the century, the United States was generally just behind Hong Kong and Singapore atop the rankings, but that was before the size and scope of government grew thanks to the 9/11 terrorist attack and its resulting “enhanced” security measures, new and exploding entitlement programs, and – particularly in the last five years – a new regulatory state in response to economic crisis. “I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system,” said George W. Bush in 2008, and with that our economic freedom continued its plunge.
One piece of good news, if any can be found, is that the U.S. has stabilized its ranking at 19th after plunging eight spots from 10th to 18th between 2009 and 2010 – the current edition of Economic Freedom of the World is based on 2011 data, which is the latest available. The value assigned by the study showed we actually improved our lot from a 7.70 score (out of a possible 10) in last year's report to 7.74 this time. But that's a long way from the 8.65 rating we attained in the year 2000, and it may be at least a half-decade before we claw our way back over the 8-point barrier.
French socialists vow “unprecedented” spending cuts: "France vowed 'unprecedented' cuts in public spending to rein in its deficit without compromising much-needed growth, as it unveiled its draft 2014 budget on Wednesday. The pledge came as new figures showed the number of registered job seekers in France fell for the first time in more than two years. But critics on either side of the political spectrum remained sceptical that the cost-cutting would alleviate hardship in the Eurozone’s second largest economy, which is grappling with record-high unemployment, limited investment and low consumer spending."
Equality and the American public< /a>: "One of the reasons why our nation has prospered is that we have been able to capitalize on our individual abilities, abilities that are diverse and unequal. It’s the differences and 'disparities' between people that allows for innovation, invention, new technology, growth, prosperity and progress. To enforce equality upon the populous is not only unnatural (equality does not exist in nature), but it prevents the very prosperity we all desire, resulting in class warfare."
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in). GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
Posted by JR at 12:59 AM