Saturday, February 10, 2007

My sentiments exactly

Who's to Blame for The Killing
By Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
Friday, February 2, 2007; A15

This week the internecine warfare in Iraq, already bewildering -- Sunni vs. Shiite, Kurd vs. Arab, jihadist vs. infidel, with various Iranians, Syrians and assorted freelancers thrown into the maelstrom -- went bizarre. In one of the biggest battles of the war, Iraqi troops reinforced by Americans wiped out a heavily armed, well-entrenched millenarian Shiite sect preparing to take over Najaf, kill the moderate Shiite clergy (including Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani) and proclaim its leader the returned messiah.

The battle was a success -- 263 extremists killed, 502 captured. But the sight of the United States caught within a Shiite-Shiite fight within the larger Shiite-Sunni civil war can lead only to further discouragement of Americans, who are already deeply dismayed at the notion of being caught in the middle of endless civil strife.

There are, of course, many reasons for these schisms. Some, like the fundamental division between Sunni and Shiite, are ancient. Some of the wounds are more contemporary, most notably the social devastation and political ruin brought upon the country by 30 years of Saddamist totalitarianism and its particularly sadistic persecution of Shiites and Kurds.

America comes and liberates them from the tyrant who kept everyone living in fear, and the ancient animosities and more recent resentments begin to play themselves out to deadly effect. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, the overwhelming majority of them killed by Sunni insurgents, Baathist dead-enders and their al-Qaeda allies who carry on the Saddamist pogroms.

Much of their killing -- the murder of innocent Shiites in their mosques and markets -- is bereft of politics. It is meant to satisfy instead an atavistic hatred of the Shiite heresy. The late al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was even chided by headquarters in Afghanistan for his relish in killing Shiites for the sport of it.

Iraqis were given their freedom, and yet many have chosen civil war. Among all these religious prejudices, ancient wounds, social resentments and tribal antagonisms, who gets the blame for the rivers of blood? You can always count on some to find the blame in America. "We did not give them a republic," insists Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria. "We gave them a civil war."

Of all the accounts of the current situation, this is by far the most stupid. And the most pernicious. Did Britain "give" India the Hindu-Muslim war of 1947-48 that killed a million souls and ethnically cleansed 12 million more? The Jewish-Arab wars in Palestine? The tribal wars of post-colonial Uganda?

We gave them a civil war? Why? Because we failed to prevent it? Do the police in America have on their hands the blood of the 16,000 murders they failed to prevent last year?

Thousands of brave American soldiers have died trying to counter, put down and prevent civil strife. They fight Sunni insurgents in Fallujah, Ramadi and Baghdad, trying to keep them from sending yet one more suicide bomber into a crowded Shiite market. They hunt Shiite death squads in Baghdad to keep them from rounding up random Sunnis and torturing them to death. Just this week, we lost two helicopter pilots who were supporting the troops on the ground fighting the "Soldiers of Heaven" outside Najaf to prevent the slaughter of innocents in a Shiite-Shiite war within a war.

Our entire strategy has been to fight one side and then the other to try to prevent sectarian violence -- a policy that has been one of the leading reasons Americans are ready to quit and walk away. They can understand one-front wars, but they can't understand two-, three- and four-front wars, with Americans fighting any and all in sequence and sometimes in combination.

And at the political level, we've been doing everything we can to bring reconciliation. We got the Sunnis to participate in elections and then in parliament. Who is pushing the Shiite-Kurdish coalition for a law that would distribute oil revenue to the Sunnis? Who is pushing for a more broadly based government to exclude Moqtada al-Sadr and his sectarian Mahdi Army?

We have made a lot of mistakes in Iraq. But when Arabs kill Arabs and Shiites kill Shiites and Sunnis kill all in a spasm of violence that is blind and furious and has roots in hatreds born long before America was even a republic, to place the blame on the one player, the one country, the one military that has done more than any other to try to separate the combatants and bring conciliation is simply perverse.

It infantilizes Arabs. It demonizes Americans. It willfully overlooks the plainest of facts: Iraq is their country. We midwifed their freedom. They chose civil war.

Temple Mount riots

The job of the media is to inform. In regards to the latest riots on the Temple Mount, most of the media reports I've read have failed miserably. Instead of explaining the reality of the situation, they parrot the competing claims of both sides. The problem with this approach is one side—the Arab Muslims side, especially in this instance—is totally unhinged and irrational.

I have been to the Western Wall plaza countless times, and I am familiar with the ramp that is being repaired (Circled in red. For a layout of the Temple Mount, click here.). The Western Wall makes up one of the walls of the Temple Mount, where the Golden Dome and al-Aksa mosques are located. The said reconstruction work is not “underneath” the Temple Mount. It is 200 feet away; it can’t possibly damage the integrity of the structure. Anybody with eyes and a brain can understand that.

It’s obvious the Palestinians are using the repair work as an excuse to rile up the Muslim world. Why don’t sane Islamic leaders condemn the violence? Surely they know these wild accusations are red herrings; that the Palestinians are manipulating world-wide religious sentiments for their own immediate and provincial political needs. Indeed, what better way to turn attention away from Palestinian civil war, corruption and general malaise than by freaking out about the nefarious Jews?

In the end this paranoid rumor mongering only makes Muslims look crazy and irrational. I’m trying to hard these days to look past the fanaticism and see the good in Islam. I know a lot of good people who are Muslim, or born Muslim. But when the so-called moderates among them remain silent on issues such as the above, it gets really hard, man, really hard.

Meanwhile, for years the Waqf has been excavating inside the Temple Mount. Tons of ancient material that some argue is rich in archeological importance has been dumped into a nearby ravine. Do Jews and Christians make threats and riot?

Israeli law requires all construction projects be excavated by trained archeologists before work is begun. The reason is simple—the country is rich in archeological treasures. The Waqf, which controls the Temple Mount, refuses to comply with this law. The Israeli authorities do nothing because they're afraid the Palestinians will go crazier than they already are (if that’s possible— although they haven’t yet used baby bombs).

Groups such as The Committee for the Prevention of Destruction of Antiquities on the Temple Mount document the Waqf's careless disregard of the Temple Mount's archeological sanctity, but despite their work, nobody seems to give a shit. Why? Because a website and indignant newspaper articles don't get as much attention as violent riots.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Baby bombs

Up to now the Palestinians have used ambulances to transport bombs. They have used infants as cover for transporting bombs. Among the cadres of suicide bombers the Palestinians have used old women, young women, countless young men, minors under the age of 18—even a mentally retarded child—to kill Jews.

Can they get any lower? Sadly, yes.

I predict that one of these days an Arab—most likely a Palestinian—will strap a bomb onto a baby in the hopes of detonating the infant and killing Jews.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Another reason why Jimmy Carter’s latest book is wrong

I’m not going to focus on the numerous errors in Carter’s book, many of which have already been pointed out. Instead, I want to focus on why his accusation of Apartheid in regards to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is a red herring.

To reiterate, Carter stated in his book and in numerous subsequent interviews that Israel is not an Apartheid state, but rather that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is a form of Apartheid, or will be, if the situation continues.

What Carter ignores is that since 1993 Israel has been prepared to grant most of the territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, the Palestinians have used all “liberated” territories as bases from which to attack Israel. Since 2000, when the Palestinians began their latest uprising, Israel has been forced to re-conquered territory; in other cases, however, it has withdrawn completely, for example in the Gaza Strip. But the salient point is that the majority of Israelis know the occupation can’t continue. They know that for any lasting final settlement to work, Israel will have to relinquish those lands. Ehud Barak offered as much at Camp David in 2000, and Ehud Olmert was elected on a platform of unilateral disengagement.

The Israelis have come to terms with this reality. The Palestinians have not. In the meantime they elected Hamas, which opposes Israel’s right to exist in any size, shape, or form. Yet, despite this sad reality, along comes Carter’s book, completely ignoring all of the above.

Carter conveniently ignores the lesson of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. The lesson: Territory relinquished to the Palestinians is immediately used as a launching pad for rocket attacks into Israel. Right now Sderot and other cities inside Israel but near Gaza are targets. If Israel withdrew from the West Bank, then Tel Aviv, Haifa, Afula, Netanya, Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion International Airport!—almost all of Israel—would be in range of Palestinian rockets.

Hamas refuses to negotiate with Israel, and the so-called Palestinian moderates are not really moderate. The Palestinians can’t make peace with themselves lately. It is highly doubtful they can do so with the Jews.

And yet, here comes Jimmy Carter to heap opprobrium and accusations of the worst kind onto Israel.

What a dick.

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