Archive for December, 2009

Naveed Haq: insanity or jihad?

Monday, December 14th, 2009
Naveed Afzal Haq. He thought that what he was doing was right.

Naveed Afzal Haq. He thought that what he was doing was right.

Today’s news contained an article about the second trial of Naveed Afzal Haq, the man who shot six women at the Seattle Jewish Federation in 2006, killing Pamela Waechter. Haq was tried last year, and acquitted on one attempted murder charge. The jury was unable to decide on the other charges, including the murder of Waechter, and now his second trial on these charges has been turned over to a jury.

In both trials, Haq’s lawyers argued that he should be acquitted by reason of insanity. There is no question that Haq suffered from some serious personality disorders, but the insanity defense requires more than that.

I’m not a law professor or even a lawyer. But the jury isn’t made up of law professors either, and they will have to decide what to do with Haq.

The State of Washington employs the well-known “M’Naghten Rule“, the original form of which is this:

Every man is to be presumed to be sane, and . . . that to establish a defense on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong.

So in order for his client to be acquitted, Haq’s lawyer has to convince the jury that either he didn’t know what he was doing, or was too crazy to know that it was wrong. The lawyer, Christopher Swaby, is going for the latter. Here’s what he said:

He thinks that he did the right thing — that is, the inability to see right from wrong. and that is why he is not guilty by reason of insanity.

He thinks that he did the right thing.

If that’s good enough for insanity, then Nidal Hasan, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and Osama bin Laden are insane too. Did any of them not think that they were doing the right thing?

Haq, a Muslim, told authorities he was angered by the war in Iraq and U.S. military cooperation with Israel...

According to a statement of probable cause, Haq told a 911 dispatcher: “These are Jews and I’m tired of getting pushed around and our people getting pushed around by the situation in the Middle East.” — Washington Post

This of course is exactly what Bin Laden and other jihadists have said. Haq’s own jihad was on a smaller scale, and apparently he doesn’t belong to a recognized terrorist group, but both his motivation — a radical Islamic ideology — and the act he chose to express it — the random killing of people  somehow related to your enemy — were the same as those of more celebrated terrorists.

Both Hasan and Haq were unstable, unhappy people who perhaps sought a purpose that they were unable to find elsewhere in radical Islam. And both of them clearly knew what they were doing; indeed, each prepared carefully for his actions.  Haq bought his weapon in advance, observing the three-day federally mandated waiting period. And he carefully purchased hollow-point ammunition, in order to do the maximum damage.

But although neither of them believed that his actions were wrong, their lawyers will have to prove that they were “laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of mind” that they were unable to know this.

Haq’s lawyer referred to “the inability to see right from wrong” as if that were all there was to it, but there is a disease-caused ‘inability’  and an ideological one.

Only the former will get him acquitted. I hope the jury clearly understands this distinction.

Update [15 Dec 1215 PST]: Haq was found guilty on all counts!

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The lineup for the next war

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I’ve suggested before that Iran’s nuclear plans do not necessarily include the use of such weapons directly against Israel.

Indeed, that would be stupid, given the well-known fact that Israel has a powerful second-strike capability that could cause tens of millions of casualties in Iran.

Rather, atomic weapons will serve Iran just as they served the US and the Soviet Union, as a deterrent and a threat. Their mere existence will  further Iran’s goal of regional domination and weakening the US.

On the other hand, Iran remains committed to Israel’s destruction, which it wishes to accomplish by means of proxies:

TEHRAN (FNA) Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said the Zionist regime suffered a very big blow to its very existence by the resistance of Lebanese and Palestinian nations.

He made the remark in separate meetings with Ahmed Jibril, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], and Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shallah, Secretary General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad [PIJ].

During the meetings, the Iranian minister stressed the need for all-out support for resistance of Palestinian and Lebanese groups [Hezbollah] against the Zionist threats, the Islamic republic news agency reported.

He believed developments in the past decades proved that the spirit of resistance has not only failed to fade in the Palestinian nation but also reached a point where it has already weakened the Zionist regime, thanks to the strength, vigilance and bravery of both the Palestinian people and its leaders…

The Iranian defense minister also underscored Tehran’s support for the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon and said Iranians will stand by the Palestinian nation till the victory of oppressed Palestinians and liberation of the holy Qods [Jerusalem].

The PFLP and PIJ are smaller groups than Hamas, but equally nasty. PFLP is a secular Marxist group and PIJ grew out of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, like Hamas, but disagrees with Hamas to some extent on tactics. Iran is now the primary benefactor of these groups, and of course Hezbollah has been called “the Foreign Legion of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps“.

But Hamas, too, which has rebuilt its military capabilities since last year’s war, is an Iranian proxy:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday reiterated his support for Hamas, during a visit by the Palestinian group’s Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal, according to Iran’s official news agency.

“The government and the people of Iran will always stand by the Palestinian resistance and the Palestinian people,” Ahmadinejad said during the meeting with Mashaal. “Today Palestine is symbol of the global front of freedom-seekers and militants.”

Mashaal was leading a Hamas delegation to Teheran, and was also set to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. — Jerusalem Post

The above are non-state proxies, highly dangerous — especially Hezbollah, which is said to have as many as 40,000 rockets of all types. But there is also another powerful Iranian ally to worry about, and this one is an actual state:

Iran and Syria signed a defense agreement on Friday, according to an Iranian Press TV report.

The document, signed by Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and his Syrian counterpart Ali Mohammad Habib Mahmoud, aimed to face “common enemies and challenges,” the report said.

Vahidi praised Syria’s great potential in the defense and military fields and said that “it is natural for a country like Syria – which has an inhumane and menacing predator like Israel in its neighborhood – to be always prepared [against possible foreign aggression].” — Jerusalem Post

Syria’s “great potential” is a large number of missiles of all kinds, some with chemical or biological warheads.

So that’s it — the lineup for the next major Mideast war. The question is not ‘if’, but rather ‘when, and exactly how’ it will start — unless of course there is an unexpected regime change in Iran. We can hope.

My advice to Israel (as a former reserve Corporal, I’m sure I will be listened to), is this:

If war is inevitable, then fight it on your terms. Preemptively.

The Iranian leadership seems to think it can sit back and ring down the curtain on Israel in perfect safety.  I don’t think so.

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More European imperialism

Friday, December 11th, 2009

The European Union (EU) has ‘softened’ the Swedish proposal which declared that East Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state. Now they are saying that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and Palestine.

However, they have not changed the most outrageous part of it, something that I haven’t seen anyone else call attention to. That is this:

The EU will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.

The literal interpretation of this is that as long as there is no comprehensive agreement the EU considers Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem still to be under Jordanian control, and Gaza Egyptian.

Of course we know they don’t mean that. What they seem to mean is that unless Israel and the Palestinians agree otherwise, Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem are ‘Palestinian’.

Israel’s position is that Judea and Samaria are disputed and all of Jerusalem belongs to Israel. The present (not so) ‘right wing’ government of PM Netanyahu has made clear that there could be changes in borders in the context of a peace agreement. But the EU is saying that the these areas are ‘Palestinian land’ by default.

According to Israel’s point of view, there should be no difference between Israeli and Palestinian building activity in Judea and Samaria. But by agreeing to the settlement freeze — even though it is supposedly ‘in the interest of bringing the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table’ — Israel has weakened its position. This is unfortunate, especially since the Palestinians won’t come to the table anyway, and there has already been conflict between Jewish residents and Israeli “building inspectors” and police as a result.

If the Palestinians carry out their on-and-off threat to unilaterally declare a state according to pre-1967 borders, the EU will recognize it regardless of what Israel does.

The EU has no legitimate authority to determine boundaries in the Middle East and they should stop trying to do it. Let them concentrate on legislating about minarets in their own countries.

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Last year’s mistakes cause today’s problems

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Here is something I wrote in January 2009 (“A mistake with long-term consequences“):

It is absolutely incredible that Israel sought a cease-fire with Hamas instead of finishing it off…

Hamas has always been open and direct about its intentions. They have never pretended that a cease-fire is anything other than a temporary pause to regain strength, never suggested that they would accept the presence of the Jewish state. Now they say that they believe they will be ready for the next round in about a year and so that’s how long the want the cease-fire to be…

Hamas will not go away on its own, Hamas cannot be ‘moderated’ and Hamas will always be hostile. There simply is no solution for Hamas short of removing it from power and disarming it. The IDF was well on the way to doing that, and doing it efficiently with minimal casualties among its soldiers and Gaza civilians, despite the huge outcry in the Israel-hating media.

The fact that this was not carried to completion will simply mean that the confrontation, with all the dangers and costs entailed will have to happen again. And again, and again until it is actually finished.  Someone mentioned the film “Groundhog Day” in this connection.

I am afraid that the premature termination of Operation Cast Lead will go down in history as another catastrophic mistake by Israel, along with the 1982 decision to allow Arafat to escape from Beirut alive, the Oslo accords and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

Well, here we are a bit less than a year away, and guess what:

Since Operation Cast Lead ended almost a year ago, Hamas has increased its weapons smuggling and today operates hundreds of tunnels along the Philadelphi Corridor. It has smuggled in dozens of long-range Iranian-made rockets that can reach Tel Aviv as well as advanced anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles.

Hamas is believed to have a significant number of shoulder-launched anti-tank missiles and 9M113 Konkurs, which have a range of four kilometers and are capable of penetrating heavy armor.

In addition, Hamas is believed to have today a few thousand rockets, including several hundred with a range of 40 kilometers and several dozen with a range of between 60 and 80 km. Intelligence assessments are that Hamas smuggled the missiles into the Gaza Strip through tunnels, possibly in several components.

Iran already supplies Hamas with 122mm Katyusha rockets that are smuggled into Gaza in several pieces and then assembled by Hamas engineers.

One of the main lessons Hamas learned from Cast Lead was the need to reinforce its defenses and as a result has invested efforts in digging additional tunnels, which connect open fields with homes belonging to key operatives as well as command centers…

Hamas has also increased its use of civilian infrastructure, particularly mosques, which the terror group already used quite extensively for storage and launching rockets during the operation. Hamas is believed to have taken control of almost 80 percent of the mosques in Gaza, using them to store weapons and set up command-and-control centers.

Hamas, is “padding” itself as well by setting up its command centers in large apartment buildings. This way, it believes, the IDF will not attack them by air, and will need to send ground forces deep into the population centers, where it will lose its technological advantage.

In addition, Hamas is hoping to increase the effectiveness of its rocket capability during a future conflict and has created large missile silos.

Hamas has also recently increased its efforts to dig what the IDF calls “offensive tunnels” close to the border with Israel, which the terror group could use to infiltrate into Israel and kidnap soldiers.  — Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post

It is possible — I think likely — that American pressure to end it before Barack Obama’s inauguration was in part responsible for Israel’s bailing out of the operation early.

But those of us who have friends, relatives or even children who serve in the IDF or reserves and will soon come face to face with the fortifications and weapons mentioned above — or Israeli civilians anywhere in the now-expanded Hamas rocket range — may find it difficult to think kindly of Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who failed to stand firm when they needed to.

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Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish People

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it shocks me every time:

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Jewish father and daughter were arrested for allegedly praying on the Temple Mount, according to reports.

An Arab policeman arrested the two visitors to the mount Wednesday morning as they were being shown around the site by a relative, who is a volunteer tour guide at the site.

David Kirschenbaum took his daughter to visit the Temple Mount on the day before her wedding, The Jerusalem Post reported. Kirschenbaum told the newspaper he was pointing out sites in Jerusalem from the site and police took his daughter’s nodding for praying.

Non-Muslims are not permitted to pray on the Temple Mount, including moving their lips in silent prayer.

How did this situation come to be? From 1948 to 1967 the Jordanian occupation forbade Jews to approach the area near the Temple Mount, or indeed to enter East Jerusalem. But in 1967, Israel recaptured East Jerusalem and, supposedly, made the holy places of all three religions accessible to all. So how can a clearly antisemitic — there’s no other word — policy be in effect on the Temple Mount?

Here is an explanation, written in 2000 when Ehud Barak offered some kind of sovereignty (the exact details are not clear) over the Temple Mount to Yasser Arafat — who, of course, rejected the offer and started the second intifada:

The roots of the current standoff, it would appear, lie in decisions made by defense minister Moshe Dayan immediately after the Six Day War. A few days after the message “the Temple Mount is in our hands” crackled through his earpiece, Dayan met with Moslem leaders at al-Aksa and promised, to the astonishment of the defeated Arabs, not to interfere in their administration of the site.

Dayan’s motives appear to have been twofold: to demonstrate the Jews’ respect for freedom of religion, and to avoid provoking the immense Moslem world, thereby immortalizing a conflict that many Jews believed would end shortly after Israel’s decisive victory on the battlefield.

Yet Dayan set two conditions. Rabble-rousing sermons against the Jews would be forbidden, he wrote in his autobiography, or “we would of course take appropriate action.”

In addition, Dayan wrote, “the one thing we would introduce was freedom of Jewish access without limitation or payment. This compound, as my hosts well knew, was our Temple Mount. Here stood our Temple during ancient times, and it would be inconceivable for Jews not to be able freely to visit this holy place now that Jerusalem was under our rule.”

Both of these conditions were quickly abandoned by Israeli authorities.

Later that summer, after IDF chaplain Rabbi Shlomo Goren led prayers on the mount during Tisha Be’av, authorities backtracked and reinstated the previous ban on Jewish worship on the mount.

“It was evident that if we did not prevent Jews from praying in what was now a mosque compound, matters would get out of hand and lead to a religious clash,” Dayan wrote.

What ensued was a tenuous modus vivendi that lasted for most of the next three decades. The Wakf was allowed to continue running affairs on top of the Temple Mount in coordination, to one extent or another, with Israeli police, while Jews prayed only at the Western Wall at the mount’s base. Jews were allowed to enter the mount like any other tourists, but “suspicious” individuals – known activists or anyone who looked like an Orthodox Jew – could enter only under Wakf and police guard, and were evicted if they appeared to be moving their lips in prayer. [my emphasis]

Here we have an absolutely perfect example, a paradigm case, of the West’s abject surrender of its vital interests to its enemies. Dayan may not have understood the consequences of his actions, but the truth is that  surrender for altruistic motives is nonetheless surrender, and it doesn’t matter if it happens after a military victory.

Dayan apparently did not understand, although he had been dealing with Arabs all of his life, that his generosity would not be repaid with respect. And apparently he didn’t think it was necessary to take a firm stand against intimidation by threats of violence. He let — invited — the camel’s nose under the tent, and today the tent is occupied by the camel.

Now it may be happening that Jewish Israelis are waking up to the fact that what their soldiers died for in 1967 can be lost forever, even without further wars.

Some secular Jews say “who cares, Jerusalem is full of anti-Zionist haredim, and the religious authorities are corrupt.” This is irrelevant. Even the most secular must understand that Jerusalem is the historical heart of the Jewish state and the Jewish people, and must not be given up in the hope of placating its truly implacable enemies.*


* Note: for what it’s worth, this writer is not Orthodox. And yes, a woman was also arrested recently for praying at the Kotel with a tallit, and I was troubled by that arrest as well.

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