Archive for February, 2012

How the US enables the Iranian bomb

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012
The "Little Boy": a simple fission bomb of the type that destroyed Hiroshima. The Iranian bomb will likely be more sophisticated.

The "Little Boy": a simple fission bomb of the type that destroyed Hiroshima. The Iranian bomb will likely be more sophisticated.

Some years ago I had a job writing code for a large project. Every day my supervisor would come into my office and ask to see my progress. “Can’t you make the program display its opening screen and ‘Ready’ message?” he’d ask. No, I said, I was building data structures and writing subroutines. I was creating building blocks.

He was very unhappy. “You are not performing in this job. I need something to show management,” he said. I told him not to worry, my way of organizing a software development project was different from his.

One day he came in and I showed him that the program was almost complete. He was surprised. “How did you do all that so quickly?” he asked. He had simply assumed that I was goofing off during all those weeks that I was making the pieces. Fitting them together didn’t take long at all.

I think you know where this is going.

A useful nuclear weapon isn’t like a stone axe. It is a system made up of subsystems, which in turn have subsystems. You need the fissionable material, of course, which implies a whole set of systems to prepare it. You need to machine it, store it, handle it. You need a way to create a critical mass quickly, a non-trivial electromechanical problem. You need the appropriate control systems. You need to make it small and light enough and integrate it into a missile warhead or an aircraft system so that it can be delivered. You need to develop ways to simulate and ultimately test the weapon.

Many of the subsystems can be worked on in parallel. The building blocks can be created without assembling them into an actual deliverable weapon until the final stages of the project.

Iran is apparently taking this approach: create as much as possible of the subsystems first, and then put them together at the end.

But some say that there is a substantive difference between what they are doing and a weapons program. Juan Cole suggested in 2009 that Iran was only trying to assemble the technology and materials to build a weapon quickly if and when it decided it wanted one. This, according to Cole, doesn’t violate the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty or Islamic law which supposedly forbids random killing of civilians (both of these are doubtful, but never mind).

US officials have recently been talking like this too:

In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view at the same hearing. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances. (my emphasis)

This strategy is called ‘nuclear latency’, or the ‘Japan option’, since Japan has the technology, know-how and fissionable material to quickly build weapons if it decides to do so.

So, without the ability to read the minds of the Iranian leaders, how can we tell the difference between getting one’s ducks in a row in case one might want to shoot, and lining them up in order to shoot? Are they engaged in something less than a weapons program or is this only a question of project management methodology?

There is no doubt that Iran is developing technology that can only be used for weapons, as noted in the IAEA report of November 2011. For example, the report describes development of fast-acting detonators and a control system which can be used to fire multiple explosive charges at almost the same instant (within 1 microsecond), something for which there are few applications other than nuclear weapons. There are numerous other experiments and projects that are very highly probable to be weapons-related. Most of this activity was completed by 2005 and it would be naive to assume that there hasn’t been further development in these areas.

Combined with their progress in enrichment, this certainly appears to be a weapons program. To continue the duck metaphor, it looks, walks and quacks like one. But until a device is detonated, it is still logically consistent to say that it is only aimed at obtaining nuclear latency.

This is a perfect justification to do nothing. How is it possible to prove that the program is intended to build a bomb or to do everything except build a bomb? It seems that the administration officials quoted above would require either an official announcement of their intentions from the Iranians or an explosion to convince them the program is for real.

The administration has set a very high bar for proof — unreasonably high.

The Iranian strategy is to play for time, doing as much development as possible without putting the final pieces together. And the administration’s strategy is to play along, assuming that until the final pieces are in place, Iran does not have a weapons program.

The outcome of this cooperative enterprise is guaranteed to be an Iranian bomb, unless Israel takes action.

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Fear is better than admiration, and more achievable

Friday, February 24th, 2012
Afghans riot over accidentally burned Qurans

Afghans riot over accidentally burned Qurans

News item:

U.S. President Barack Obama has apologized to Afghans for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base, trying to assuage rising anti-American sentiment as an Afghan soldier gunned down two American troops during another day of angry protests.

The U.S.-led military coalition says the Muslim holy books were sent by mistake to a garbage burn pit at Bagram Air Field and the case is under investigation. The explanation and multiple apologies from U.S. officials have yet to calm outrage over the incident, which has also heightened tension between international troops and their Afghan partners.

On Thursday, thousands of protesters, some shouting “Long live Islam!” and “Death to America!” staged demonstrations across Afghanistan for a third day. Protesters climbed the walls of a U.S. base in the east, threw stones inside and adorned an outside wall with the Taliban’s trademark white flag.

Let’s get a grip. The President of the United States apologized to a bunch of 7th century tribesmen who are shooting our soldiers because someone accidentally burned their holy book?

Does that make you feel like we are a great power or what?

With all of the cultural sensitivity training that our officers and troops are undergoing, how did they leave out the fact that their objective is to humiliate their enemies, and that the more we grovel, the more they succeed? And the more they are encouraged?

How much study of the Pashtun (and a great deal of other Muslim) culture does it take for us to understand that weakness invites attack, and apologies, offers of compromise, payoffs, etc. are signs of weakness?

They may be primitive, but they aren’t stupid and they are good tacticians. They understand that our idiotic need to be sensitive to their culture is a weak spot, and they are concentrating their forces there, as good tacticians do.

What we need to do is explain to them in words and deeds that our culture is superior to theirs, because we can kill them much more effectively if we want to than they can kill us. And because we have a superior (that is, more deadly and terrifying) nature than they do, we can bloody well burn any books that we want.

I am not saying that this is my definition of a superior culture. Our culture is superior in many other, more subtle, ways, but they don’t care about these.

They don’t appreciate Christian magnanimity or Jewish compromises. These breed contempt, not admiration. The bottom line for most of the Middle East is power, and the ruthless application thereof.

President Obama seems to want the US to be liked, particularly by Muslims. This is not achievable, and the result of his attempts to bring it about make him a fool that is easily manipulated. Compare Obama’s reputation to that of, say, Vladimir Putin.

This same mistake is being made on different levels in our relations with Iran, Turkey, Egypt and probably other places.

In the Middle East, it’s not just more effective to be feared than to be liked — it’s essential.

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Photographers are accessories to attempted murder

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
An Arab teenager smashes the window of Zahava Weiss' car

An Arab teenager smashes the window of Zahava Weiss' car

I recently wrote about the continuing (for about 100 years) Palestinian Arab pogrom against Jews in the land of Israel. They are still doing it:

A teacher was on her way home to the West Bank settlement of Karmei Tzur on Tuesday when she found herself the target of a rock salvo that smashed her windshield.

Zehava Weiss, the driver, came out unscathed from an incident that has become a daily experience for residents in the region. An AFP photographer who was standing nearby captured the instance when a Palestinian boy hurled a boulder at her car.

To me it looks more like a brick. The item continues,

According to the police, which collaborates with the IDF on the issue, 368 Palestinians were arrested in 2011 for throwing stones, and 38 were arrested for hurling Molotov cocktails. Over 100 suspects in similar cases were arrested in January and February of this year.

And these were the ones that got arrested! How many incidents like this one were there when no one was arrested?

Here, courtesy of Yisrael Medad, is a little bit of Weiss’s testimony about the incident. Pay attention to her comments about the photographers:

When I came close to the gas station at Bet-Omar (a location that usually requires a driver’s attention due to wrongly parked taxis, bypassing and pulling out into the highway in a careless manner), I observed a man running across the road from right to left.  I first thought that this was a soldier with a rifle and I slowed down to grasp what was happening.  I then noticed dozens of people, old, young and teenagers, congregating on my right.  It then became apparent that the “soldier with a rifle” was actually a photographer with a camera.  He was seeking a better picture angle to snap away at what was about to happen.  On my left were at least two other photographers, waiting for the action.  I should emphasize that I was not the first victim and other cars had already been stoned and so these press photographers were well aware what was happening and was about to happen to me.  None of them, it seems, thought to call for assistance from the police or IDF none of whom were present.

Knowing I had no choice but to continue and surely not stop for otherwise, if I had slowed down, I would have been trapped and blocked off, the only thing in my mind was to proceed home and not get caught at that crossing.  It was difficult to pass through as the rocks came from a distance of just a few feet from the car, ‘zero-range’ as we say.  The rioters clearly could see that the car contained two young females, defenseless.  We were struck by many rocks, my view was blocked by the cracked glass and I simply concentrated on getting out of there as quickly as I could.  At the time, as well as at this moment of writing, I did not fully grasp the danger of our situation.

It was only when I arrived home that I realized the entire front of the car was covered with shattered glass particles including me, the infant seat, the back seat, everything.  There was also damage caused to the sides of the car.  At least eight large rocks and blocks had hit my car.  I learned the rock-throwing continued for a good few minutes afterwards with the resulting damage to other vehicles as well as psychological damage to the drivers and passengers.

There is a name for the crime that these ‘children’ perpetrated, and it is ‘attempted murder’. Sometimes it is not just an attempt and the damage is not just psychological.

And there is also a name for the photographers, who participate as accessories in these ambushes, encourage them, and profit from them: scumbags.

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The “Israel is expected to…” syndrome

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

One country after another has recently pressed Israel not to attack the Iranian nuclear facilities. Russia is the latest:

“Of course any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said at a news conference.

“Therefore I hope Israel understands all these consequences … and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves,” Gatilov said.

There must be something in the Russian character that requires statements like this to be delivered in a bullying tone.

Everyone knows that the Iranian threat to Israel is existential. Everyone also knows that Israel’s leaders can predict Iran’s reaction to an Israeli attack, and would not bring this down on their country unless they were convinced that there was no other way to neutralize the more serious nuclear threat.

These warnings, therefore, are remarkably hypocritical and insulting, especially from countries whose immediate danger from Iranian bombs is far less than that of Israel. Telling Israel that it should not defend itself is like saying “just die, but don’t make a mess.”

It’s become a cliché, but I’ll say it anyway: when have Jews heard this before? The difference is that then they had no choice because they had no power to defend themselves. Today there is a Jewish state, which should not be expected to act as though it is as powerless as the European Jews of WWII.

All this is part of the “Israel is expected to…” syndrome.

Israel’s small size means that it cannot absorb too much disruption: a couple of atomic bombs, a few million Arab ‘refugees’, another expulsion of Jews from their homes, even a million economic refugees from Africa might be too much. Poof, there would be no Jewish state.

But Israel is expected to be ‘responsible’ and not strike Iran. Israel is expected to use restraint toward the vicious Hamas and Hizballah terrorists who are trying to murder its citizens day in and day out. Israel is expected to expel its own people and cede territory to its enemies, who have shown by their actions and declared in their words that they want to destroy her.

Israel is expected to be more democratic than any other nation, although it is already too democratic — does the US, for example, have members of Congress who openly support her enemies and call for overthrowing the Constitution? The Israeli Knesset has Haneen Zouabi and others who want to end the Jewish state.

Israel is expected to turn the other cheek in Christian fashion, although few Christian nations would do so in similar circumstances.

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Traffic jams and lives on hold

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012
A "p'cock," a daily occurrence in central Israel

A "p'cock," a daily occurrence in central Israel

Every year I spend a couple of weeks in Israel visiting my children and grandchildren, seeing old friends, and watching my wife buy large quantities of popular music. As the cassettes have been replaced by CDs, my perception of everyday life here has been like a time-lapse film, where the slow changes that the permanent residents barely notice become strikingly visible.

This year as usual I notice a remarkable increase in the number of cars on the road. On major thoroughfares there is always a “p’cock” (cork), a traffic jam, and not just during rush hour. There is construction everywhere, gleaming new neighborhoods rising in places that were formerly empty. The economy is apparently strong. Everyone has a big flat-screen TV although it is still impossible for me to understand how average people afford things like apartments and cars on their wages.

Stuck in a p’cock at 10:30 am I mention to a taxi driver that it looks like things are booming. “Look at all of these cars,” he says. “When do these people go to work? Do they all do business on their cellphones while driving?” “Maybe they start later,” suggests my wife helpfully. The driver, who obviously works long hours, doesn’t believe it. The mall is full of shoppers, though, 99% of whom got there in their cars.

Driving through South Tel Aviv, my son points out the large number of African migrants. He doesn’t need to — it’s impossible not to notice them. Some are waiting for work in pickup zones reminiscent of those in California where illegals from Mexico do the same; others just hang out in the neighborhood, waiting for who knows what. Some are refugees from the fighting in the Sudan, others are simply economic refugees. Israel is a very small country, and surely the next generation of many of these refugees will become Israelis.

People are still nice. Several times when I was looking confused and talking to my wife in English, a passerby came up to me and asked if we needed help. I asked a bus driver how many stops there were before the one that I wanted, and when the bus slowed for my stop, another passenger that had overheard helpfully let me know.

Almost all of my friends wanted to know what I thought the US would do about Iran. The subject almost always came up, although I did not bring it up. They did not understand US policy and where the Obama administration stands. “Doesn’t he see that if Iran gets even one bomb, [the US] will be screwed?” said one. “Everything will change.” I couldn’t explain it to them.

Nobody, but nobody, mentioned the ‘peace process’ that so interests the US and European media. Of course, none of my friends works for the Ha’aretz newspaper.

Everyone seems to be aware that there will be some kind of confrontation between Israel and Iran and its proxies, and this knowledge lies below the surface of their daily life. My son was lucky enough to buy an apartment before the recent astronomical rise in prices and now wants to sell it and get a larger one for his growing family. But “the market is frozen,” he said. No one is buying. When I went on a walk the other day I passed numerous real estate brokerages; the offices were all empty of customers.

Things are on hold. People understand that there will be a war, that reserve soldiers will be activated, and that there will be some damage on the home front. Nobody has any idea of how bad it will be. The center of the country has not been hit since the Iraqi Scuds of the 1990-91 Gulf war, which perhaps miraculously only killed two people.

My son has picked up gas masks for his family. My daughter hasn’t yet. “So why haven’t you? They are running out,” I say, annoyed. “Don’t worry, I know someone,” she responded.

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CSU Fresno morally emulates Harvard

Monday, February 20th, 2012

For not only one has risen up against us, but in every generation they rise up to annihilate us… — Passover Haggadah

It’s impossible for me to be indignant or outraged any more by the behavior of our great universities. Whatever else they may be, they are running sewers of Jew-hatred, reminiscent of Hitler’s academies. I am not exaggerating.

The University of Pennsylvania has just completed a 2-day conference on Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions, a nonviolent, progressive approach to dismantling the Jewish state and making possible its very violent end at the hands of its primitive and bloodthirsty enemies.

And next week the great Harvard University, not to be outdone, will be the venue for a conference on the ‘one state solution’ (for anyone who doesn’t follow these things, that’s a single Arab-majority state from the river to the sea, and a guaranteed bloodbath).

All this is coordinated with Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), the annual festival of false analogies, made-up ‘history’, and post-colonialist moral relativism in which the group that is least advanced culturally gets a pass to be as murderous as it wants, because it’s always hunting season on ‘European colonialists’. In this drama, the Jews, beaten and spit out by Europe and the Arab countries in the 1940s and 1950s, can be given the role of colonials because — unlike the Arabs — they have been successful.

These universities are supposedly the best of our best, the super-selective Ivy League schools where our future presidents and corporate leaders are educated.

California State University Fresno is not one of the best of the best. Thanks to a bankrupt state, a greedy Board of Regents and administration, and an emphasis on big-time sports to the detriment of academics, it’s a mediocre campus in a mediocre state college system.

But Dr. Vida Samiian and her Middle East Studies program — although, for them, Israel is not in the ‘Middle East’ — won’t let Apartheid Week go by without getting their licks in. They have invited the renegade Israeli academic and professional liar Ilan Pappé to speak. You can read about Pappé here, but it’s enough to say that his scholarship is a fraud, his smooth exterior a mechanism to hide a pathological hatred of the Jewish state.

The President of the University, Dr. John Welty, received several letters from concerned community members. One of them, from the local Jewish Community Relations Council, dealt in particular with Pappé’s dishonesty, academic transgressions and role as a propagandist rather than a scholar. Another, from the AMCHA initiative, also referred to the fact that Dr. Samiian refused to allow a panel discussion to provide balance, and pointed to a policy established by the trustees that speakers must “contribute to educational values…and not be brought in for propagandizing purposes.”

Dr. Welty responded as expected, hiding his and his university’s moral bankruptcy behind platitudes about academic freedom, free speech, etc. He did not respond to any of the specific concerns in either letter.

Pappé will not present “unpopular opinions” (actually, his opinions are quite popular in the academic world)  or make statements that some of us “don’t agree with” as Dr. Welty says in his letter. What he will do precisely is to tell lies and incite hatred of the Jewish state in his audience. The ultimate objective of Pappé is to end the state of Israel, which today probably also implies putting a final end to the Jewish people.

Pappé himself is of Jewish extraction, of course, which in part has made it possible for him to create a lucrative career as liar, slanderer and hatemonger.

There are certainly speakers to whom these universities would not give their platforms. I can’t imagine, for example, that someone would be invited to say that women are inherently intellectually inferior to men. In fact, Lawrence Summers was fired as President of Harvard for making the far milder and probably true statement that women in general have less aptitude for mathematics and engineering than men. If he were on tour presenting even this thesis, how many universities would invite him?

Dr. Welty has now done his duty for his mediocre university. Instead of seizing the opportunity to take a courageous stand by denouncing the execrable Pappé, he has brought CSU Fresno down to the moral level of Harvard or Penn.

And he didn’t even get $20 million from the Saudis in return.

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The conflict is a result of Jew-hatred, not its cause

Sunday, February 19th, 2012
2-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, son of murdered Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and wife Rivka, at a memorial service for his parents in Mumbai, India

2-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, son of murdered Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and wife Rivka, at a memorial service for his parents in Mumbai, India

From a recent report from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center:

For the past half year (May 2011-February 2012) Iran and Hezbollah have organized and carried out a terrorist campaign against Israeli targets abroad. So far six attacks have been attempted in five Asian countries, four in sequence (Turkey, Azerbaijan, twice in Thailand) and two simultaneously (India and Georgia).

Most were attacks on Israeli institutions or officials, like the one last week in which the wife of a representative of Israel’s Defense Ministry was injured. But

On January 24, 2012, a three-man Azeri terrorist cell was exposed, run by Iran. They planned to attack both the Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan as well as two Chabad emissaries, the director and head rabbi of the local Jewish school. The cell was handled by an Azeri living in the city of Ardabil in northwestern Iran, and wanted by the authorities in Azerbaijan for kidnapping, murder and arms smuggling. The Azeri, handled by the Iranians, promised the cell $150,000 and in October 2011 smuggled weapons to them (including a sniper rifle with a silencer, three hand guns with suppressors and plastic explosives).

Keep in mind that Chabad has no connection with the Israeli government, and in fact its headquarters is in the US. Its theology is not considered mainstream Orthodox Judaism. Its emissaries are generally not involved in politics and not interested in converting non-Jews to Judaism. They are primarily concerned with the spiritual and physical well-being of Jews wherever they are found.

When my son was taken ill in a remote location in India, he shortly found himself in a local Chabad house. Later he was evacuated to a hospital in Delhi, where a Chabad rabbi brought him candles, wine and bread for kabalat Shabbat.

Chabad has a massive international presence, claiming 4,000 emissaries worldwide, in at least 75 countries. It is the world’s largest single Jewish organization.

In the 2008 Islamic terror attack on targets in Mumbai, India, the Chabad house was singled out. Terrorists invaded the building and ultimately killed Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka along with four others. There is no doubt that the Chabad house attack was not an afterthought, but was on the list of targets given to the Pakistani terrorists.

Chabad institutions are attacked because they represent a form of Jewish power, albeit power exercised within the Jewish community. They are visibly Jewish, in their black coats and characteristic fedoras.

There are other examples of the specifically anti-Jewish nature of Muslim terrorism. When Ahlam Tamimi planned the bombing of the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem, she told an interviewer, she specifically chose it because it was frequented by religious Jews. And there was the attack on the Mercaz haRav yeshiva in which seven teenage students and a teacher were murdered.

Jews are murdered, as they have been for centuries, because they are Jews. There have always been ‘reasons’ — Jewish ‘stiff-necked’ refusal to accept other religions, blood libels, fantastic stories of international conspiracies, etc.

What’s new today is the excuse that it has something to do with an international conflict. In fact, the conflict is a result of Jew-hatred, not its cause.

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Security must be a consideration

Sunday, February 19th, 2012
Jerusalem light rail system

Jerusalem light rail system

Yesterday I complained — yes, I’ve been accused of being negative from time to time — about what seems to be a tendency to ignore the ‘little terrorism’ of Palestinian Arabs, and sometimes even Arab citizens of Israel.

I talked about the stone-throwing that sometimes turns into murder, the use of crime and vandalism as weapons.

There are psychological reasons that Israelis don’t want to deal with these issues, in addition to the practical problems, which I must admit are not simple.

It’s natural to ignore complicated issues that you don’t want to deal with, even if this is irrational and dangerous. Security is expensive, and — perhaps more important — requires focus and attention. It’s easier to just ignore the threats.

There is also a political reason. At the time of the Oslo accords, Israelis were told that peace was just around the corner. They began to relax. Since 2000 it has been obvious to most of them, with the exception of some of the media elite, that this is not the case. But it’s wrenching to go back to the need for constant vigilance.

Here is an example. For obvious reasons I can’t go into detail, but believe me, the details are shocking.

Recently a team of outside security experts inspected the new light rail system in Jerusalem, which runs next to Arab neighborhoods that are known locations of Palestinian nationalist activity. A friend of mine was part of the team. What they found was that the system, bought as a package from a European company, was massively insecure. The design is such that making it secure will be difficult and very expensive. The security people informed the Transportation Ministry and the Prime Minister’s office. Nothing has been done.

The decision to implement a ‘package’ designed for Europe, a package in which the primary consideration was the efficient movement of people and for which security apparently was simply not a consideration, was a serious mistake. The fact that, at least so far, changes to make the system suitable for the Israeli environment have not been made is potentially disastrous.

Ehud Olmert famously said

We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies…

To give this the most generous possible interpretation, what it could mean is that it is frustrating to have to devote so much energy to simple survival. Of course, the solution is not to allow oneself, and the nation, to give in to wishful, fantastic, delusional thinking about how our enemies want peace just like we do. That was Olmert’s answer, and it is not an answer.

Israel is not a ‘normal’ country. Peace is not on offer from its neighbors, and will not be for the foreseeable future. Israelis will have to pay attention to security, to send their children to army service, and to do reserve duty themselves.

And they will have to fix the Jerusalem light rail system, or close it.

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Conquering the land piecemeal

Friday, February 17th, 2012
Vandalism at Jerusalem's Mt. of Olives Cemetery

Vandalism at Jerusalem's Mt. of Olives Cemetery

Recently, a car occupied by two Israeli Jews was attacked by rock-throwing Arabs in a Jerusalem neighborhood. Luckily, they escaped, one with minor injuries. Sometimes the victims are not so lucky, as in the case of Asher and Yonatan Palmer, murdered last year when a huge rock came through the windshield, striking the driver in the face and causing their car to veer off the road. Here is what I wrote then:

Every single day, hundreds of rocks, blocks, stones, etc. are thrown at Jewish vehicles in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Arab towns or neighborhoods inside the Green Line. Sometime photographers are informed in advance that there will be exciting opportunities to view the heroic resistance to occupation. Throwing ‘stones’ (sometimes as big as a person’s head) is what Palestinian Arab adolescents do for entertainment. Even the great Columbia University ‘scholar’ Edward Said symbolically threw a stone across the Lebanese border at Israeli soldiers.

In the recent case, the driver was also struck in the face, but managed to control the car and get away from a crowd of ‘youths’ who would certainly have torn the two apart if they had been able to. Last October, a woman in labor on her way to Hadassah Hospital and her husband were attacked in a similar fashion; they also managed to escape.

Sometimes the Arabs throw gasoline bombs at cars, and sometimes people are dragged out of them and beaten.

Although the initial stone-throwing is often done by pre-teens or young teenagers, a crowd of older and more dangerous youths quickly gathers. In some cases, the lives of the victims have been saved by older Arabs who have not had the full ‘benefit’ of a Palestinian education.

The fact is that there are places in the Jewish state, in its capital and on both sides of the Green Line, where a Jew may not go for fear of losing his life.

This is not what Herzl intended when he called for a Jewish state as the answer to antisemitism.

Apologists for Arab violence will tell you that they are just reacting to the theft of their land, etc., and that we simply have to give them ‘justice’ and the problems will go away. With all due respect, this is rubbish.

The so-called ‘theft’ did not happen, and the righteous indignation of the Palestinian Arabs at their treatment has been manufactured and carefully nurtured over the years, to create ‘reasons’ to justify and promote the primitive racism that animates the young terrorists to commit murder.

There is no ‘justice’ that can satisfy the Arab leadership short of the removal of the Jews from the Middle East, killing them if need be. Just ask them (in Arabic). It’s not a secret. What is happening increasingly is that every Palestinian Arab is being asked to do his own part in the ethnic cleansing that is their heart’s desire.

Am I exaggerating? If you think so, read this 2005 Palestinian Media Watch report:

…the [Palestinian Authority (PA)] teaches an ideology of virulent hatred of Jews and Israel that mandates the killing of Jews solely because they are Jews. The murder of Jews is presented not only as beneficial to Muslims and Arabs, but as necessary for all humankind. These findings are based on a thorough study and analysis of eight years of official PA television and PA-controlled daily newspapers. This report documents how this hate ideology has been taught for years, well before the war started in September 2000, and continues even after the death of Yasser Arafat…

Incitement has gotten worse since then, not better. Official Israel — the government, the police, even the army — often seems to ignore the violence. But when it is ignored, it is in fact condoned, and Arabs are becoming more and more bold in acting out their racist beliefs.

Unfortunately there is no ‘liberal’ solution. The answer is not to protect the rights of Arabs in the PA areas, or reduce discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel. It is not to withdraw from the territories or provide more aid to the racist and terrorist PA leaders. It is not to provide funds for organizations working to weaken or ‘de-Zionize’ the Jewish state, as the New Israel Fund and the European Union are doing.

The real answer is that the Jews of Israel have to push back, to take over the neighborhoods in Jerusalem where they can’t go, or at least to police them so that they will be safe. Roads must be patrolled, and the response to violence and vandalism must be swift and effective. The police, poorly paid, poorly trained, underfunded and under-equipped, need a total overhaul.

I am in Israel right now and the contrast between the opulence displayed on TV and the lack of public resources devoted to ensuring the security of the Jewish population is shocking. But there also seems to be a lack of will, an attitude that “nothing can be done, so why try?” in so many problem areas. For example, consider the Mt. of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem:

Mourners are still stoned frequently near the cemetery and headstones are regularly defaced and smashed. This on the mountain slopes where Jews have been interring their dead for over 3,000 years. Its proximity to the Temple Mount, as well as the traditional proscription against burials within Jerusalem’s walls, made the Mount of Olives hallowed as far back as First Temple days…

The preferred target of the vandals, who recurrently raid after sundown, is enigmatically the Gerrer Rebbe’s grave, but Begin’s has also been damaged. Vandals have smeared human feces on tombs and deluged them with household rubbish and construction debris. Markers have been daubed in tar and paint. Hate-graffiti has been scrawled and gravestones have been hammered and shattered.

This is not accidental. It is well-understood by the Arabs that crime and vandalism can be a form of warfare. They are pushing as hard as they can to conquer the land piecemeal. Every Jewish cemetery vandalized, every Jewish driver who is afraid to venture on the roads, every no-go neighborhood or road is a victory for them.

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A world without Jews

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

Thought experiment time:

Perhaps one day, the Jews of the world will finally become fed up. Maybe they will build an enormous spaceship and take their arguments to another planet (we know Jews are smart, so they could do this).

What would happen on that planet might be interesting, but I won’t speculate, although it’s tempting to wonder what a Jewish planet would be like. Like Israel without the foreign workers,  terrorism and reserve duty?

I’m more interested in what the Earth would be like. Imagine a Middle East without Jews (the Iranian regime does this all the time). Pity the ‘Palestinians’, whose culture would suddenly lose its raison d’être. After a few days of enjoying the nice cars and buildings the Jews left behind, they would have to create a real identity for themselves.

Suddenly there would be very little interest in supporting the ‘refugees’. Who would care about them? Not the Arab countries, who treat them like garbage now. I expect there would be fighting between various factions, some Islamist and some secular. Hizballah would take control of the North, Hamas the South, and Fatah the East. The UN would feed them, at least for a while. Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. would each supply its favored faction with weapons, and they would fight until most of the land was swallowed up by its neighbors or under control of various militias.

The former Israeli Arabs, used to a degree of civilization and lacking the pent-up viciousness of the militias, would be out of luck. Their property would soon be stolen or requisitioned by the militias. The US President would make a speech about promoting democracy in the region, and would pick a faction to support, one that could talk the talk, but real power would come from the barrels of guns. It would soon look a lot like Libya, but worse.

The disaster would be blamed on the Jews, but there would be little satisfaction from this, since there would be no way to punish them. Mearsheimer and Walt would have to get real jobs. Many academics would have to find new causes, but none would be as emotionally fulfilling. Certain industries and cities in the US would be decimated; it would be an immediate disaster for the US economy, although it would recover. Europe, where there were fewer Jews, would continue to commit cultural suicide as before.

Without Israel, the Muslim states, sects and militias would concentrate on expanding their power at each others’ expense. Ultimately a few groups would achieve dominance and viciously suppress the others.

In 50 years, the Middle East, parts of what is now Russia, and most of Europe would be divided into Turkish, Pakistani and Iranian spheres of influence, perhaps even empires. All would be Islamist.

The US, still independent, would little by little develop a different culture without the Jewish influence (and under pressure of endemic terrorism). Many Americans would find order more important than preservation of individual rights. The particularly Jewish strains of non-coercive liberalism on the one hand and libertarianism on the other would die out, being replaced on the Left by an oppressive Soviet-style communism and on the Right by Fascism.

There would still be Nobel prizes, but they would all be awarded to Muslims. Criticism of Islam would be forbidden in Europe, of course, and Shari’a would be the law of the land in many countries. The number of Christians would decline sharply everywhere. In Europe  Christians would live as dhimmis. In the US, many would convert to Islam, but there would remain a strong Christian presence, including militant groups hostile to Muslims.

Scientific progress in many areas would have been interrupted by the loss of so many scientists. Medical science, in particular, would suffer a severe blow. Epidemics of new illnesses caused by drug-resistant pathogens and biological agents released in the Mideast wars would ravage the world; the Jewish doctors and scientists who would have developed answers to them would be busy somewhere else.

Literature, art and science that was seen as challenging to Islam would be suppressed in much of the world. In the US, it would be ‘controversial’. Books and works of art created by Jews would be destroyed where radical Islam was ascendent.

In the immortal words of Thomas Hobbes, life on earth would again be “nasty, brutish and short.”

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Why we talk past each other

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Yesterday I described some of my experiences at one of our community’s recurrent anti-Israel events. It got me thinking about the reasons that we seem to divide into groups according to political criteria, groups that talk past one another.

I mentioned that I went to an event sponsored by the local “Center for Nonviolence.” I would very much like to explain to them why I think that the policies that they advocate, these basically honest people who would like to improve the world, would result more violence, not less. But conversations like this are almost impossible. Why is this?

When I think back to my days as a philosophy student, one of the philosophers that made the most sense to me was Kant. Kant took very seriously the arguments of Hume and others that the ideas of space, time, causality, etc. — things that allow us to organize and understand our experience –  could not be found in our experience itself. But if this is so, how do we know that our systems of knowledge, including science, are reliable?

Kant’s answer (very oversimplified) is that these “modes of perception” — space and time — and “categories of the understanding” — including causality — are built into humans, who then impose them on their otherwise chaotic perception of outside reality.

Something like this happens at a higher level, the level at which we assign political significance to events. So a person makes otherwise chaotic human behavior understandable by applying a priori categories and principles to it.

The classical Marxist, for example, uses the class struggle as a unifying principle. It enables him to understand and predict, he thinks, the behavior of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Today much of the Left holds a postcolonialist worldview, in which the behavior of nations and politicians is explained by relationships of colonial exploitation, present and future.

Such conceptual schemes have their utility, but they do not necessarily serve the truth, and can even invert reality when applied inappropriately. My readers are probably tired of hearing me talk ad nauseum about how  postcolonial theory inverts reality when applied to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The first reason that I have trouble talking to the people from the Center for Nonviolence (much as I would like to see a reduction of violence in the world) is that we apply different explanatory principles to the same events.

This is bad enough, but there’s more. When we read history and today’s news, we not only organize our experience according to a conceptual scheme, we fill in gaps. Things like the motivations of political actors are not always transparent, but they are of great importance in allowing us to predict their future behavior (and isn’t that what knowledge is all about?). So when we process information, we not only organize it, we add to it.

What comes out of this is a historical narrative. And narratives about the same events can diverge to the point of being complete opposites. The obvious example of this is the difference between the so-called Israeli and Arab narratives of the events of 1948, in which a real event — the displacement of some number of Arabs from what is now Israel — is interpreted in entirely different ways by emphasizing some facts and deemphasizing, even ignoring, others, by imputing motivations to the actors, etc.

Should we include the parallel displacement of Jews from the Arab world in our understanding? What were the motivations of the Arabs that fled? What did the Zionist leadership intend? What did the Arab leaders want? Which accounts are reliable and which not? The answers to these questions determine a historical narrative.

So we have different conceptual schemes and different historical narratives. And even that isn’t all: we live in parallel but different media universes. We visit different websites, watch different TV networks, read different newspapers and magazines, listen to different radio stations. Naturally, we choose the universe that best fits our conception of the way things are.

These three reasons are at least part of the explanation for the failures of communication between, for example, a Zionist like me and a member of the Center for Nonviolence.

Keep in mind that these differences do not imply that “everyone is equally right” or something similar. Kant thought that despite the fact that humans imposed categories on empirical reality, there was an empirical reality. Propositions can be true or false in a way which may not be entirely objective, but is nevertheless universal. Things are more complicated than they may look, but truth and falsehood, right and wrong, are meaningful concepts.

I’ve found that entering the media universe of my political opponents gives me a certain amount of power. I recommend it. But one needs to understand their conceptual schemes as well in order to communicate.

Unfortunately, only a few people have the patience to listen to the other side long enough to understand them.

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Ideas are one level, emotions another

Monday, February 13th, 2012
Terje Carlsson films on the Gaza beach

Terje Carlsson films on the Gaza beach

Did you know that it’s almost Israel Apartheid Week? It’s happening all around the world on slightly different dates in February and March. Although Fresno will not have an official event, we will be entertained by Historian of the Imagination (I invented the title) Ilan Pappé on February 23, thanks to our local university’s Middle East Studies program.

Here in this conservative, agricultural region, we are treated to anti-Israel events on a regular basis, sometimes almost every week. Last week I attended a showing of the film “Israel vs. Israel,” presented at a local church by the Fresno Center for Nonviolence. The Swedish director, Terje Carlsson, was there to answer questions.

There was nothing exceptional about the film, which was about Israeli Jews who oppose the Jewish presence in the territories. I found one scene instructive, in which Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR), one of the film’s heroes, was talking to an Arab who was describing vandalism allegedly committed by “settlers.” To everything the Arab said, in a mixture of Arabic and Hebrew, Ascherman responded “aiwa” (yes). “Aiwa. Aiwa. Aiwa.” Everything he said was simply taken as given, which is the way the foreign-funded anti-state NGOs like RHR respond to all Arab accusations.

What struck me was the way Carlsson (in the film and in person) simply took certain things for granted, and expected his audience to do so also. For example, he said several times “…settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.”

He was clearly impatient when this was questioned, as though nothing could be more obvious. Nevertheless, he was unable to answer when I asked him why the 1929 pogrom and the 1948-67 Jordanian occupation of Hevron somehow rendered the Jewish presence there ‘illegal’. Although he said he had been in Israel for 10 years on and off, making this and other propaganda films — because this is what it was, without even a pretense of ‘balance’ — and was aware that Jews had lived in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem prior to 1948, this question had not occurred to him, nor did he seem to think that the question of international law in this respect was in the slightest bit controversial.

Like many people who share his beliefs, Carlsson was not being dishonest and did not seem cynical. His absorption of the Arab narrative was total, and he considered what he was doing ‘journalism’, not propaganda.

The individuals responsible for the stream of anti-Israel events in town are also not necessarily dishonest or cynical. The folks at the Center for Nonviolence — who would never, ever allow themselves to support terrorism — believe that they are helping one people achieve self-determination, rather than contributing to campaign to put an end to the self-determination of another.

The function of Apartheid Week and similar events is to create the impression that Israel is not only violating “international law” — which often seems to be whatever the speaker wants it to be — but is doing so out of evil intent, viciously exploiting “the natives” as Pappé and others like to say, in every way, stealing their land and murdering them out of sheer colonialist arrogance. In the process, various crimes are simply invented, war crimes, murders, rapes, etc. Once you believe any of this, it’s possible and even satisfying to believe the rest of it.

Which, I think, is what is behind the campaign that goes on week in and week out, and not just during Apartheid Week. It is a process of accretion, and what is being accreted is a layer of hatred and disgust for the Jewish state and the Jewish people. The false propositions about international law, historical fact, etc. that underlie it and provide a handle for ordinary, decent people like the members of the Center for Nonviolence, to join the campaign.

The objective of this campaign is to drive the Jews out of the Middle East, by any means necessary, including (especially) murder. It had been going on, somewhat unsuccessfully, since the beginning of the 20th century, but it received an boost after 1967 when it adopted the strategy of presenting the struggle against the Jews as a national liberation movement of an oppressed people, the ‘Palestinians’.

This struggle received more impetus later, when it was cast in terms of racism, particularly by the 2001 Durban Conference on Racism. So the members of the Center for Nonviolence, for example, can be enlisted in a profoundly racist cause — the removal of the Jews from their homeland — while they believe that they are fighting against racism! This, of course, is the theme of Apartheid Week.

Ideas are one level, emotions are another. Both are part of the campaign. When I attend an event like Carlsson’s film, I always listen carefully to the small talk beforehand. The deeply felt repugnance for Israeli Jews is evident, as anecdotes (invariably false) about Israeli crimes are shared. This may be part of the reason that it’s so hard to refute propaganda by presenting factual arguments.

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