Monday, June 12, 2006

Intrafadeh: Palestinian infighting spreads to West Bank

Let’s forget for a moment whether the Palestinians have a right to an independent state or not. Read this article. It seems to me the salient question is: Are they capable of even running a state?

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Hundreds of Palestinian security men loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas went on a rampage against the Hamas-led government Monday, riddling the parliament building and Cabinet offices with bullets before setting them ablaze in retaliation for an attack by Hamas gunmen in the Gaza Strip…

… In Monday's unrest, hundreds of members of the Preventive Security force shot out the windows of the parliament building before storming the two-building Cabinet complex, where they smashed furniture, destroyed computers and tore up documents. No casualties were reported.

Shooting wildly in the air, the mob then set fire to one of the Cabinet buildings, gutting the fourth floor. When a fire engine approached the scene, one gunman lay on the road, preventing it from reaching the building.

"Every time they touch one of ours in Gaza, we will get 10 of theirs in the West Bank," said one member of the Preventive Security force. Dozens of gunmen from the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a pro-Fatah militia, joined the mob.

The crowd also set fire to the parliament building and a Hamas office. Both blazes were quickly contained. Abbas' presidential guard later arrived to guard the burnt-out parliament and Cabinet buildings.

Late Monday, Fatah gunmen briefly abducted a Hamas lawmaker, Khalil Rabei, after attacking his office and setting it on fire. Rabei said he was kicked and threatened before he was released.

Abbas' personal guard granted refuge to Rabei and nine other Hamas lawmakers, and was ordered to escort the men home safely.

The rampage in Ramallah followed an earlier attack by Hamas gunmen on a Preventive Security installation in Gaza. The attack set off daylong clashes that left two people dead and 14 wounded.

Most of the Palestinian infighting in recent weeks has occurred in Gaza, Hamas' stronghold. Monday's incident signaled that Fatah is now ready to move the conflict to its West Bank power center.

Something smells fishy at the beach

When I heard about the beach bombing in Gaza that struck the Ghaliya family, killing six, I was horrified. But I was dubious that Israel was responsible. Initial reports said it was an errant artillery shell. This did not make sense to me; modern artillery is pretty accurate. The Israelis also take great care to avoid civilian casualties. From a realpolitik perspective, it doesn’t make sense for Israel to target civilians—just look at the international uproar.

Then there were reports that the shell came from an Israeli naval vessel, but the Israelis were quick to dispute this, even though they offered regret over the incident and pledged to launch an investigation. But the Palestinian authorities refused to cooperate in the investigation, and that seemed suspicious to me. After all, if Israel was the responsible party, wouldn’t the Palestinians want to “help” Israel implicate itself, so as to prove to the world that forensically-speaking the Israelis were guilty?

At first the mainstream media put the blame on Israel, but as Israel’s investigation continues, inconsistencies with the established “facts” are coming to light.

By Martin Fletcher
NBC News
Updated: 5:56 p.m. CT June 12, 2006

Shocking pictures of the beach bombing have turned Huda into a Palestinian symbol around the world. President Mahmoud Abbas called her the daughter of the Palestinian people. But there is confusion as to what really happened.

Friday afternoon, the Israeli army and Palestinian militants from Hamas had been exchanging rocket fire. Hamas immediately blamed Israel, called off a 16-month truce and swore revenge. Israel said it regretted the loss of life, and brought three of Huda's two wounded sisters and brother to an Israeli hospital for treatment.

On Monday, Israeli military sources told NBC News they have examined shrapnel taken from Huda’s sisters and confirmed that the shrapnel did not come from an Israeli artillery shell.

So was it from a Palestinian explosive?

"All options are being examined,” said Israeli Army spokesman Capt. Jacob Dalal. “Let’s not judge."

No reaction yet from the Palestinians to Israel's claim that its shell didn't kill the family. And Huda seems too stunned to care who did it. She knows that soon she will have to tell her mother the truth.

Now, watch this segment from “60 Minutes” and, as Capt. Jacob Dalal said, “Let’s not judge.”

Incidentally, in 1999 I had an internship at the Jerusalem Post's weekend "In Jerusalem" section, of which Dalal was editor at the time. My recollection of him was that he was intelligent, down-to-earth and friendly. I also could have sworn that he spelled his last name "Dallal" ... and it turns out I was correct.

Tsk-tsk Martin Fletcher; I guess even the seasoned pros make egregious journalistic errors sometimes.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The crime of falafel

I haven’t read about these falafel executions until I read this op-ed by UPI columnist Claude Salhani. I read it this morning and it’s been in my mind all day. Read the article and try to comprehend—if you can—the sort of mindset it takes to kill somebody for selling falafel.

To any Muslims who maybe reading this, I beseech you, fight the enemy within, for that is your true enemy, not Israelis or Jews or Westerners or Christians. As much as we in the West may despise Islamic extremism, at the end of the day far more Muslims are killed by the extremists than non-Muslims.


Recent news reports from the Iraqi capital indicate radical Islamists are launching a campaign to prohibit the sale of ... falafel. Yes, you heard right, falafel. While this is the sort of news you might expect to hear from a late-night stand-up comedian on television, sadly, this is not a joke, and a number of falafel vendors who failed to heed the warnings have paid with their lives.

Saten 666


Here is a link to the article about the desecration: Dolan's bottom line: Good wins out.

The big news over here in southeastern Wisconsin was the disgraceful vandalism on Holy Hill, which is a beautiful catholic church, perched atop a hill. It’s a tourist attraction as well as a house of worship.

Last week on 06/06/06 some idiots spray painted pro-Satan graffiti, except the dimwits apparently spelled Satan, “Saten.”

In a show of solidarity with Holy Hill, Milwaukee Archbishop Dolan led mass there yesterday. I had never been to a catholic mass, and it was quite an interesting experience. I even said “Amen” along with the flock when they quoted Deuteronomy about how God gave the land of Israel to Moses and his descendents forever!

But what struck me most was the constant harping on Satan. I didn’t realize how seriously the idea of Satan is taken among Christians, or at least Catholics. In all of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a mention of Satan in any synagogue. I’m not even sure if Jews believe in Satan, and if we do, certainly not in the literal sense that Christians and Muslims seem to. At the same time, Satan also seemed to be used a metaphor, but not all the time. Let's just say, there was a lot of talk of Satan. It sounded foreign to my Jewish ears.

After hearing about how Satan visited the church on that day and did his evil stuff, I couldn’t help but to think, “Well, obviously Satan can’t spell for shit.”

I interviewed people after mass. As to be expected, people were appalled at the desecration. Don’t get me wrong, I think it was terrible and I hope the little bastards that did it are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, there was a part of me that thought, “Big deal.” This must be because I’ve become so inured to the constant desecration of Jewish property and graves. I've been aware of such shit ever since the day I started reading newspapers.

What’s also clear was that this wasn’t a hate crime, as most desecrations of Jewish property are. It was more like an “idiot crime” committed by a self-described “punk” who couldn’t even coherently explain why he did it, or spell Satan properly. It wasn’t done out of malice of Catholicism, but malice of civil society and religious faith in general.

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