Real peace activists don't carry knives

Real peace activists don’t carry knives.

Real humanitarians don’t beat soldiers with metal bars.

The Islamists on the Gaza convoy that attacked the Israeli boarding party were not peace activists. They were martyrs-in-waiting. Instead of strapping on a suicide vest and walking into an Tel Aviv restaurant, they attacked Israeli soldiers knowing damn well what the response would be. The Islamists knew the Israelis were coming. Anyone and everyone who has been following the news for the past week knew that the Israelis would stop the convoy. There were children and elderly people aboard those vessels. Genuine aid workers with a shred of conscience would have done their best to ensure that there was no provocation, no violence, nothing that would set off heavily armed commandos. Instead we see video of these “humanitarians” stabbing an Israeli soldier. So it was “disproportionate” for Israeli soldiers to respond with lethal force? Try attacking an American police officer with a metal pipe and see how proportionate it is. Better yet, try it on a Hamas cop in Gaza.

Now the usual suspects – the leftists, the progressives, the British media – are leading the usual assault against Israel. They are so filled with self-righteous indignation, and yet so incapable of self-reflection that they cannot ask themselves a basic question: What kind of people would provoke a fight with armed soldiers on ships filled with innocent people? The answer is that these are people who don’t care how many die; martyrdom is glorious, especially against the Jews. These are not people who give a damn about human rights or women’s rights or the environment. The Left does itself no credit by allying with them.

Israel won’t let supplies into Gaza because it fears a flood of Iranian-supplied missiles on its southern border, just like what happened when Iranian-supplied Scuds ended up in Hezbollah’s hands on the northern border. To the Israelis, this is part of a war to destroy the Jewish state.  Sometimes they’re wrong, but not in this case. This convoy wasn’t about humanitarian aid. Those genuinely concerned with human life would have done everything they could to avoid violence. I’m sure many of the people on that convoy didn’t want violence. But some did. If the world is going to blame Israel, it needs to blame them as well.

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Posted in World | Tagged , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Now it's 'Everybody Deny the Holocaust Day'

This is how you payback the unbelievers. Some Muslims, furious at the “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day”, are retaliating with an “Everybody Draw the Holocaust Day”.

Of course, what the author of this Facebook page really means is an Everybody Deny the Holocaust Day, which will teach the infidels not to draw Muhammed in a bear suit. His semi-coherent manifesto seems to be that if people have the right to draw the Prophet Muhammed, then they have the right to question the existence of the Holocaust.

He is correct. We can’t defend the right to satire a religious figure and yet bar the right to deny the Holocaust, as some European states do (frequently the ones who directly or indirectly supported the genocide). However, what is fascinating here is the moral equivalence. Outraged at the “insult” to his religion, this fundamentalist won’t strike back by drawing a cartoon of Jesus or mocking atheists. He’s going to do it by denying the Holocaust. Since in his mind, Jews control the world, then question the Holocaust and the Elders of Zion will pull a few levers to make the cartoons stop. Because this is exactly the kind of world that a fundamentalist understands and desires. A cleric decides what is sacred and what is profane, which cartoons are permitted and which are not. There is no dissent.

So here’s what I say. Go right on ahead. Every time someone draws Muhammed, write a Facebook post that claims that 6 million Jews were never killed, and that they have really spent the last 65 years hiding in Grandma Sadie’s basement. Every time someone satires Muhammed, wave banners proclaiming that the Nazi death camps were actually vacation resorts. See if anyone threatens to kill you. But also see if this stops the cartoons or enhances respect for Islam.

I despise Holocaust denial and Holocaust deniers. But if that’s the price that I must pay for the right to free speech, the right to satire, the right to speak our minds without fear of violence, then I can endure it.

Posted in Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

This is how Muslims should protest

No bombs. No murders. No screaming fanatics shouting “Allah Akbar” as they attempt to remove someone’s head for daring to draw the Prophet Muhammed.

When the Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison decided to defend the right of free speech by drawing stick figures of the Prophet Muhammed on campus sidewalks, the campus Muslim Students Association quickly responded. They followed the atheists on their blasphemous journey, and whenever a drawing of the Prophet Muhammed appeared, the Muslim students drew boxing gloves on the figure, and changed the name to Muhammed Ali.

That’s it. No fights. No hatred. Now the atheists are sparring with the college administration over the right to draw Muhammed, but that’s a different matter. Confronted with satire, the Muslim students responded with humor (yes, you could say they desecrated the atheists’ grafitti, but grafitti artists are in no position to complain). Some of their co-religionists will denounce them for not being more zealous (as in violent) in defending their faith. But I think the students gained more respect for Islam by using chalk rather than guns.

Make cartoons, not war.

Posted in Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

Russian Marines take on Somali Pirates

[youtubevid id=”2lXNbXR8qAc”]Somali pirates hijack a Russian oil tanker. Russian marines storm tanker and capture pirates (see video). Pirates are supposedly released on to a boat that sets out on a course for Somalia. But that was 10 days ago, and no one has seen those pirates since.

Russia initially said that it would take the pirates to Moscow for trial. But Moscow now says that it placed the pirates in an inflatable boat with food and water – but no navigation aids and in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about 160 miles from the Somali coast.

Is Russia guilty of incompetence or indifference to human life? Or is this a taste of summary justice, a modern version of walking the plank, although walking the plank would probably have been more merciful than dying of exposure on a raft. You decide.

This is a case where the mind says that it’s wrong and futile to execute Somali pirates, who come from so impoverished and violent a land that more violence isn’t likely to deter them.

Yet the heart wonders whether a little rough justice is appropriate for those who hijack merchant ships for ransom. Will it serve as a deterrent for piracy? Let’s put it this way. There’s a story from Lebanon during the 1980s, when Hezbollah had a practice of kidnapping Westerners.  One day, they kidnapped four Soviet diplomats, killed one, and kept the other three as hostages. The KGB promptly went out and grabbed the son of a Hezbollah leader, castrated him, stuffed his testicles in his mouth, and sent him back to Hezbollah with a message that there would be more of the same unless the diplomats were released. They were. And while Americans and Britons languished for years in captivity, Hezbollah never bothered the Soviets again.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, War and Peace, World | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

South Africa's hanging judge is judged

He sentenced 28 black men to death. He sentenced four more to be whipped. Two more he convicted for the crime of possessing a tape of Nelson Mandela.

The judge was Richard Goldstone. He was a judge under South Africa’s apartheid regime. He was also the jurist appointed by the United Nations to investigate the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008. The Goldstone Report criticized both Israel and Hamas for breaching the laws of war, but came down much harder on Israel for its allegedly disproportionate actions.

The hate-Israel crowd had a field day – until an Israeli newspaper found that Justice Goldstone had faithfully executed the laws of apartheid South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s.

Among other things, he approved the whipping of four blacks found guilty of violence, while he acquitted four police officers who had broken into a white woman’s house on suspicions that she was conducting sexual relations with a black man – something considered then in South Africa as a serious crime.

In another incident, Goldstone sentenced two young black men merely for being in possession of a video tape showing a speech given by one of the senior officials in Nelson Mandela’s party.

Goldstone says that most of the men he sentenced to death were murderers who deserved capital punishment anyway (something that many of his liberal supporters would disagree with). But the irony is remarkable. Israel says it had no choice but to pound Gaza to stop Hamas rockets from pounding Israeli towns. Justice Goldstone says he had no choice but to carry out the law, which meant condemning blacks to death while acquitting whites.

The blogosphere has exploded over the issue. Here is basically what the shouting boils down to:

Anti-Goldstone: Commentators like Alan Dershowitz and Jeffrey Goldberg ask how a hanging judge with blood on his hands could be chosen to judge whether another nation committed war crimes. They question whether Justice Goldstone tried to draw attention from his past by doing a hatchet job on Israel.

Pro-Goldstone: Pundits like Andrew Sullivan respond that attacking Goldstone’s past is just shooting the messenger instead of responding to the substance of the report. They note that Goldstone was praised by Mandela for helping from the transition from apartheid to democracy. Besides, they point to extensive ties between Israel and South Africa’s apartheid regime, though they curiously omit to mention that the U.S. and Europe supported Pretoria as an anti-Communist bulwark almost until the end, not to mention how many people wore diamonds that of course couldn’t have come from South Africa.

One wonders why that of all the jurists that could have been chosen to investigate war crimes, a South African apartheid judge was selected? Goldstone’s defenders say this is a tale of redemption, of a man who ultimately helped to dismantle apartheid. Yet others point out that many South African lawyers refused to serve as judges enforcing racist laws. No one compelled Richard Goldstone to sit on the bench.

I believe the Israeli invasion of Gaza was justified under the circumstances; no nation could or should be expected to endure rocket attacks without responding, and “proportionality” is a meaningless term. If six rockets land in your neighborhood, the last thought in your mind will be, “hey, I’ll fire six rockets back instead of 60, because I must be proportionate.

Pro-Israel groups like CAMERA say the report was riddled with flaws and anti-Israel bias. Given that Goldstone was working at the behest of the UN Human Rights Council, which included such fair-minded nations as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, they may have a point. But in the end, Goldstone’s defenders have a point. The issue is the Goldstone Report and not Goldstone himself.

In the classic “Judgment at Nuremberg”, Burt Lancaster plays an eminent German judge who is tried for sentencing innocent Jews to death. But at the real Nuremberg trials,  Nazi war criminals were tried by Stalin’s judges, not to mention American judges who enforced Jim Crow segregation laws at home.

Who judges the judges?

Posted in Foreign Affairs, World | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Swedish cartoonist headbutted by Muslim extremists

What an ugly scene. Cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has drawn the Prophet Muhammed  as a dog, spoke at Sweden’s Uppsala University. Here’s the video of Vilks being assaulted by Muslim protesters screaming “Allahu Akbar (God is great)!”

[youtubevid id=”4oLvwMxwHFs”]

Uppsala University said Vilks had shown a “provocative film with sexual content”. One wonders what constitutes provocative sexual content in sexually liberated Sweden. One also wonders why the university seemed more concerned about “provocative” content than about guest speakers being assaulted by mobs. If a Muslim speaker had been assaulted by Jews outraged over provocative content, the UN and Human Rights Watch would have swooped in like hawks.

An Israeli diplomat speaking at a British university had to be rescued by police from demonstrators. Jewish students at California universities warn of a climate of threats and intimidation. Today it’s Israel, or daring to draw the Prophet  Muhammed as a canine. Tomorrow the provocation will be men and women in the same gym class.  And the usual apologists will blame Israeli settlements or Western colonialism or some other guilt trip.  The violence and intimidation will continue because it works.

Posted in Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, World | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why terrorist bomb-makers are like journalists

What happened to Al Qaeda?  a Trueslant colleague asked me. First it was the Underpants Bomber setting his genitals on fire, and now the Times Square bomber who displayed explosives skills worthy of Moe, Larry and Curly (if the Three Stooges had decided to commit mass murder). It’s a sign of how weary, frightened and resigned we have become to terrorism that we’re almost more disturbed when a bomb doesn’t go off than when it does.

Why are the latest terrorist bombers so inept? I think the easiest answer is that terrorist bomb-making is like journalism. Anybody can do it, but not everybody can do it well. Back in high school in the ’70s, I had friends who chortled over the Anarchist’s Cookbook and its easy-to-use recipes for making plastic explosives. They never tried them out, but if they had, I’m pretty sure the only place they would have managed to blow up was their parents’ basement.

During the onslaught of Palestinian suicide bombers around 2000, the Israelis discovered that while any jihadi schmuck could wrap a bomb around his stomach, the bombs themselves were made by a few craftsmen. So the Israelis made a point of tracking down the bombmakers, and then dispatching an Apache helicopter to fire a Hellfire missile through their window. The U.S. has adopted this model, using CSI-style forensic analysis of IED attacks. Eliminate the bomb craftsmen, and even if the attacks won’t stop, they will be less effective.

We still think of the old Al Qaeda dispatching large, highly trained terrorist teams to blow up embassies and hijack airliners in meticuously planned operations. But Al Qaeda accomplished that when it was largely under the radar and (foolishly) discounted as a threat. Whatever centralized leadership it had is dead or at least dispersed, and terrorists have learned what the Mafia knows; a 12-man conspiracy is an invitation to get caught. The new Al Qaeda is just a decentralized organization that trains eager, young fanatics in how to build bombs, and then sends them out on solo missions. I think we will discover that the Times Square bomber received some training in Pakistan, returned to the United States, and tried to apply what he learned. But Faisal Shahzad was a junior financial analyst, not an engineer. Him trying to build a bomb was like my mother trying to change the timing belt on her car.

Is this development good or bad? Well, is the transformation of journalism from paid professionals to an army of part-time bloggers good or bad? It’s just different. The good news from Times Square was that an inept bomber rigged a device that didn’t go off. If Osama Bin Laden had opted for a car bomb on 9/11, you can be sure that it would have gone off. The bad news is that any angry Muslim-American – or white militiaman, or just a motivated psycho – can build a bomb.  There’s a good chance that it won’t go off, or if it does, the only person the bombmaker will kill be himself. But we won’t see them coming. And given enough chances, they will succeed.

Posted in Homeland Security | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments