Friday, July 21, 2006


There are billions of websites to visit and I can't think of a new one... It's like when I go to the record, er, CD store and all of a sudden can't decide what I want to get.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Interesting if apparent observation

Israel and Egypt negotiated a peace treaty in 1979; this after fighting four bloody wars no less. Despite other subsequent battles Israel has fought with other Arab states and terrorist groups, the peace treaty with Egypt has held up for over a quarter of a century.

In 1993 Israel and Yasser Arafat’s PLO began the Oslo Peace Process. Despite Israeli withdrawals, by 2000 the agreements were in a shambles. Arafat never stopped being a terrorist, and any agreement signed by the PA wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. The result is war (and has been for some time).

In 1994 Jordan and Israel signed a peace agreement. Despite ongoing tensions and war between Israel and the PA (PLO), the peace agreement between the two has held firm.

In 2000 Israel unilaterally pulled out of its security belt in Southern Lebanon and retreated to the internationally recognized border. Hezbollah moved in, filling the void. They grew stronger and remained aggressive. Because of Hezbollah, Lebanon was unable or unwilling to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel. The result is now war.

Therefore, Israel should not make the same mistake again. Peace can’t be made with terrorist groups that are not held accountable for their actions. This should seem elementary my dear Watson, but apparently it’s not. Not for all of those international figures calling for an immediate ceasefire, which would only help Hezbollah by giving it a respite to regroup.


Mario Loyola at National Review Online puts it this way:

Terrorism as Social Contract: An Arab failure
This is a must read!


What I find so frightening and dangerous about Iranian psycho President Mahmud Ahmedinejad is not just his genocidal anti-Semitism and hate of the West (specifically America), but his obvious disconnect from reality. When leaders of powerful countries are disconnected from reality, they are likely to make a political or military miscalculation. Such miscalculations can start major wars.

Read this outrageous letter from Ahmadinjad to the German government. It’s pretty scary that a dude like Mahmud is a leader of a powerful country, innit? Or do the clergy tell him what to say? Either way, it’s some chilling stuff.

Iran leader asks Germany for help on Zionism

German government official says a letter written by Iranian President Ahmadinejad to German Chancellor Merkel asks her to help solve Palestinian problem, deal with Zionism. Official says letter ‘rather weird’

A German government official said on Thursday that letter written by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to German Chancellor Angela Merkel asks her to help solve the Palestinian problem and deal with Zionism.

“There’s nothing about the nuclear issue (in the letter),” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the extreme sensitivity of the issue for the German government.

“It’s all related to Germany and how we have to find a solution to the Palestinian problems and Zionism and so on. It’s rather weird,” The official, who has seen the letter, said.

Iranian students news agency said on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad had written to Merkel, but until Thursday officials had not spoken about the contents.

Zionism is a political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine, now the state of Israel. The fate of Palestinian Arab refugees is one of the world’s largest and most long-lasting refugee problems.

Berlin’s relations with Ahmadinejad have been complicated by his denial of the Holocaust, in which Germany’s Nazi regime killed six million Jews, and his call for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany punishable with up to five years in prison.

“It’s extremely touchy (for the German government),” said the official, adding that the government did not yet know if or how it would respond. “There are a lot of propaganda phrases about Israel and the Jews inside.”

'He is not criticizing Germany'

In May Ahmadinejad wrote US President George W. Bush an 18-page letter discussing religious values, history and international relations.

In it, he took swipes at Israel and at the United States.

He sharply criticized Bush on many fronts, implying that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, abuses of detainees in US prisons in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib—and his staunch support for Israel—were somehow inconsistent with Bush’s Christian beliefs.

But the letter to Merkel was different and was not confrontational in tone, the official said.

“It’s not negative like Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush. He is not criticizing Germany,” he said. “It’s basically about how we have to work together and solve the problems of the world together.”

In February, Merkel compared Ahmadinejad’s statements and stance to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power when he and his Nazi party began threatening to exterminate European Jewry.

“Remember that in 1933 many people said it was just rhetoric,” Merkel said.

The German official said it was interesting that the letter did not discuss Iran’s nuclear standoff with the United States, European Union and other countries.

Iran is facing possible action at the UN Security Council over suspicions that it is developing nuclear arms. Tehran denies the charge, saying it is working on nuclear fuel only to run power stations.

(07.20.06, 22:46)

Professional organization

I finally joined my first professional organization: The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).

I was told about this organization from a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter that I met when we were reporting on the same event. She suggested I join, despite the fact that I’m not Asian.

I’m considering applying for a leadership position with the organization, but first I want to check out one of their meetings.

As a member I get a lot of benefits, which is cool. I guess it was about time that I start hobnobbing and networking with others in my field.

In a nutshell

Here it is, the whole Lebanon-Hezbollah-Israel crisis and the answer to the crisis in one easy-to-read, succinct article:

July 19, 2006
The Only Exit Strategy
By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- There is crisis and there is opportunity. Amid the general wringing of hands over the seemingly endless and escalating Israel-Hezbollah fighting, everyone asks: Where will it end?

The answer, blindingly clear, begins with understanding that this crisis represents a rare, perhaps irreproducible, opportunity.

Every important party in the region and in the world, except the radical Islamists in Tehran and their clients in Damascus, wants Hezbollah disarmed and removed from south Lebanon so that it is no longer able to destabilize the peace of both Lebanon and the broader Middle East.

Which parties? Start with the great powers. In September 2004, they passed U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, demanding that Hezbollah disarm and allow the Lebanese army to take back control of south Lebanon.

The resolution enjoyed the sponsorship of the United States and, yes, France. As the former mandatory power in Lebanon, France was important in helping the Lebanese expel Syria during last year's Cedar Revolution, but it understands that Lebanon's independence and security are forfeit so long as Hezbollah -- a lawless, terrorist, private militia answering to Syria and Iran -- occupies south Lebanon as a rogue mini-state.

Then there are the Arabs, beginning with the Lebanese who want Hezbollah out. The majority of Lebanese -- Christian, Druze, Sunni Muslim and secular -- bitterly resent their country being hijacked by Hezbollah and turned into a war zone. And in the name of what Lebanese interest? Israel evacuated every square inch of Lebanon six years ago.

The other Arabs have spoken, too. In a stunning development, the 22-member Arab League criticized Hezbollah for provoking the current crisis. It is unprecedented for the Arab League to criticize any Arab party while it is actively engaged in hostilities with Israel. But the Arab states know that Hezbollah, a Shiite militia in the service of Persian Iran, is a threat not just to Lebanon but to them as well. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have openly criticized Hezbollah for starting a war on what is essentially Iran's timetable (to distract attention from Iran's pending referral to the Security Council for sanctions over its nuclear program). They are far more worried about Iran and its proxies than about Israel. They are therefore eager to see Hezbollah disarmed and defanged.

Fine. Everyone agrees it must be done. But who to do it? No one. The Lebanese are too weak. The Europeans don't invade anyone. After its bitter experience of 20 years ago, the U.S. has a Lebanon allergy. And Israel could not act out of the blue because it would immediately have been branded the aggressor and forced to retreat.

Hence the golden, unprecedented opportunity. Hezbollah makes a fatal mistake. It crosses the U.N.-delineated international frontier to attack Israel, kill soldiers and take hostages. This cross-border aggression is so naked that even Russia joins in the G-8 summit communique blaming Hezbollah for the violence and calling for the restoration of Lebanese sovereignty in the south.But only one country has the capacity to do the job. That is Israel, now recognized by the world as forced into this fight by Hezbollah's aggression.The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese.

It starts by preparing the ground with air power, just as the Gulf War began with a 40-day air campaign. But if all that happens is the air campaign, the result will be failure. Hezbollah will remain in place, Israel will remain under the gun, Lebanon will remain divided and unfree. And this war will start again at a time of Hezbollah and Iran's choosing.

Just as in Kuwait 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded -- implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty.

Only two questions remain: Israel's will and America's wisdom. Does Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have the courage to do what is so obviously necessary? And will Secretary of State Rice's upcoming peace trip to the Middle East force a premature cease-fire that spares her the humiliation of coming home empty-handed but prevents precisely the kind of decisive military outcome that would secure the interests of Israel, Lebanon, the moderate Arabs and the West?
(c) 2006, The Washington Post Writers Group

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Big Miscalculation

I can say one thing for certain about this mess: The Arabs (and Iran) miscalculated big time.

They thought that Israel’s unilateral withdrawals from the security strip in South Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza last summer were signs of Israeli weakness.

They were wrong.

Maybe they thought that Israel’s popular election of a center-left government headed by Ehud Olmert with leftist Laborite Amir Peretz as minister of defense also proved Israel was weak.


In fact, because the current government is left of center, it can expect far more public support in Israel for military action than a rightwing or right of center government would have. Whereas the Left in Israel would have turned on a Likudnick like Netanyahu or (former Likudnick) Sharon in a heartbeat for being too militant, the Israeli right will always back the Israeli left when it comes to national security and defense. Israel’s enemies didn’t take the internal dynamics of Israeli politics into account. As a result, they seriously miscalculated.

Had they paid attention to history, however, they would have noticed that when faced with a serious threat, left wing Israeli governments tend to hit back just as hard, if not harder, than right wing Israelis governments do.

What fanatical dolts. I guess it’s time for them to hide behind women and children because the IDF is taking the gloves off.

Can Israel strike Iran?

Ahmadenijad boasted that Israel can't do anything against Iran.

He may very well be wrong.

A taste of things to come

The following editorial gives an example of what Israel can expect from the international community:

The US veto came on numerous grounds, including that the resolution related only to Gaza, even though the Hizbullah-Iranian offensive had already begun.

It will be long remembered by this country that the UN could even consider such a lopsided resolution at a time when Israeli civilians were being killed over an international border that it had fully recognized. Though the US cast a lone "no" vote, it is the majority of 10 nations - including France, Russia, and China - which should be ashamed of their stance, as should the UK, which could only muster an abstention.

On Friday, a separate emergency debate began in the Security Council over the situation in Lebanon. "Many of the long-range missiles that have hit Israeli towns…were launched from private homes, with families residing inside," Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman noted. "This is yet another example of the cynical and brutal way that Hizbullah uses civilians as human shields, with complete disregard for human life."

The US veto and the opening of a new debate on Lebanon offer the opportunity of correcting some of the damage done by the disgraceful draft resolution on Gaza. There could be no more clear-cut case of international aggression than the cross-border attack on Israel from Lebanon.

It's laughable when Russia's Putin talks about an Israeli "disproportionate response." This from the leader of a country that leveled Grozny and killed well over 100,000 Chechen civilians.

The tone of this editorial is also telling. Europeans and others that rush to condemn Israel should be "ashamed." That's all the Jews will do or say. "You should be ashamed." No threats of violence, no threats of retaliation.

I've always said, It's easy to criticize the Jews, because they reply with indignant editorials. Whereas if you place your country in opposition to elements in the Islamic world, you can expect threats of violence, threats to cut off oil, and sometimes actual violent attacks on your country or interests abroad.

Much easier to lambast Israel. Plus, Israel is full of ... Jews.

What can I say?

I have decided I'll update this blog, for now, with links to articles that I think describe and explain what's happening with Israel and the Middle East. Things are changing so fast, it's sort of hard to make any grand statements.

What appears to be the case, and what I hope is the case, is that Israel will wipe out the Hezbollah threat. If all of the actions in Lebanon end with Hezbollah intact and still on Israel's border, than nothing was accomplished.

Israel can't shatter Hezbollah in days. It will probably take a ground operation. I am concerned that international pressure will try to prevent it. The truth is, the last thing anybody who supports an idenpendent and sovereign Lebanon should want right now is a cease fire, because then Hezbollah will regroup, rearm and be back to business as usual.

Iran is behind a lot of what is happening. With an operable nuclear arsenal, Iran would probably act even more belligerantly than it already acts. This is yet another reminder to those who stick their heads in the sand why Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Ahmadinejad and the ruling Mullahs are not responsible leaders. They are religious fanatics with dreams of jihad and armagedon.

The following erudite column by Barry Rubin describes how exremists in the Arab world always end up being the ones who call the shots.


THE ARABS in general are not giving credit to Teheran. After all, the whole point of this being an Arab and (Sunni) Muslim victory is ruined if the new hero is Persian and Shi'ite.

Lebanon is playing both sides at once. Christians, Druse and even Sunni Muslims are angry that Hizbullah has dragged them into the war, destroyed their tourist industry and wrecked the prospects for the country's economy for years to come. In private, Lebanese say they would like Israel to wipe out Hizbullah for them. Publicly, though, most Lebanese politicians are standing beside Hizbullah and will not lift a finger to help.

Nobody should have any illusions about the Lebanese government doing anything even if the whole country is leveled. The country's leaders simultaneously use, fear, and support Hizbullah. To cheer on the extremists protects their careers, and none of them have gotten where they are today by caring very much about the nation's interest.

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