A severely injured terror chief who has (barely) survived three Israeli attempts on his life is believed by some Israeli experts to be overseeing Hamas’s strategy and tactics in the ongoing conflict.
Muhammad Deif’s oversight of a series of terrorist attacks — including suicide bombings and kidnappings — saw him rise to the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and become a prime Israeli target over the past two decades. His injuries marginalized him, but some members of the Israeli security establishment believe he regained command of the Brigades following the assassination of Ahmad Jabari in November 2012, a targeted killing that marked the start of Operation Pillar of Defense.
Let’s consider this whole thing for a moment. If, indeed, Muhammad Deif is once again commanding the Qassam Brigades, no should be surprised and everyone should understand that it’s the natural result of Israeli policy.
Deif is an extremist; he’s precisely the sort of villain to whom the Israeli government points when they say, “Hamas calls for our destruction; we cannot work with them.” And it should surprise no one that an extremist regained command of Hamas’ military wing in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s assassination of Ahmad Jabari, who had been in the process of significantly moderating his position at the time of his murder. He wasn’t a moderate; he wasn’t prepared to recognize Israel or give up on Hamas’ armed resistance. But it’s unclear what policies he might have favored in the future or how he might have continued to moderate his beliefs over time.
Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.
The goal was to move beyond the patterns of the past. For years, it has been the same story: Israeli intelligence discovers information about an impending terrorist attack from Gaza. The Israeli Army takes pre-emptive action with an airstrike against the suspected terror cells, which are often made up of fighters from groups like Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees or Salafi groups not under Hamas’s control but functioning within its territory. These cells launch rockets into Israeli towns near Gaza, and they often miss their targets. The Israeli Air Force responds swiftly. The typical result is between 10 and 25 casualties in Gaza, zero casualties in Israel and huge amounts of property damage on both sides.
Other key Hamas leaders and members of the Shura Council, its senior decision-making body, supported a new cease-fire effort because they, like Mr. Jabari, understood the futility of successive rocket attacks against Israel that left no real damage on Israel and dozens of casualties in Gaza. Mr. Jabari was not prepared to give up the strategy of “resistance,” meaning fighting Israel, but he saw the need for a new strategy and was prepared to agree to a long-term cease-fire.
To put a finer point on it, here’s the conclusion of Baskin’s article:
This was not inevitable, and cooler heads could have prevailed. Mr. Jabari’s assassination removes one of the more practical actors on the Hamas side.
Who will replace him? I am not convinced that Israel’s political and military leaders have adequately answered that question.
Rather than attempting to work with Ahmad Jabari, who might have continued to moderate his position over time and who might have led Hamas to a place where mutual recognition and negotiaton was possible, Israel assassinated him. And, in his place, an extremist, someone who can credibly say, “We tried being moderate with Israel; we negotiated deals with them. They don’t want to negotiate; they only understand violence. So we’ll give them violence.”
If Deif isn’t commanding the Qassam Brigades today, it’s almost certainly someone who shares his views.
I’ve just returned from an appointment with my orthopedist and everything is progressing as it should be. The heel that was keeping my foot flexed in the cam boot for the past six week has been removed and I’ve been given the go-ahead to start transitioning off the crutches this week. I’d already been walking around the house using one crutch and even, over short distances, no crutches, so I suspect it’ll only be a day before I’ve adjusted to the new position of my foot in the boot and can walk on it without assistance. I’ll be moving slowly, as the boot is taller than the shoe on my other foot and I don’t want to injure my hip, but I’ll be moving on my own power!
I’ve also now got a couple of tension bands to use a few times a day to do some plantar flexion strengthening exercises. Other than that, no physical therapy at this time.
I’m heading back to the doctor in four weeks — ten weeks from the injury — at which time he thinks I’ll be ready to jettison the boot. I’ll either transition to a stabilizer if my calf muscle is really weak or I’ll be able to return to walking normally. Then I’ll start seeing a physical therapist. Stretching and strengthening after ten weeks in a cam boot won’t be easy, I’m sure. But I’ll do whatever I’m told to do to make sure I get my range of motion back to where it was before the Achilles rupture.
In the end, this is all pretty great news. It means no crutches when Kid C makes his appearance and no boot when I return to the classroom. There’s never a good time to sustain a major leg injury, obviously, but all things considered it looks like I timed things as well as possible.
My friend David Nelson has written a thoughtful piece about his recent experience of walking with his kids in his neighborhood past someone openly carrying a gun.
His conclusion is terrific:
Open Carry Guys aren’t openly carrying because they happen to be hunting, and that’s how hunting works. They aren’t Open Carrying because they are on the job (like a security guard or armed-car driver) and their job requires they be armed. They are openly carrying in order to make a political statement about a foggy area of the law. Our job, as citizens, is to clear that fog. It gets cleared by the courts, and that means folks getting arrested, having their day, and duking it out. As responsible citizens, it’s quite arguably our *responsibility* to usher these activists into the system so that they can move their issue forward and we can all live under a clear and reasonable set of legal expectations for public behavior.
An angry mob gathered on Berlin’s famed Kurfürstendamm avenue Thursday. Draped in Palestinian flags and shaking their fists in rage, they chanted in German, “Jude, Jude feiges Schwein! Komm heraus und kämpf allein!” (“Jew, Jew, cowardly swine, come out and fight on your own!”) Earlier last week in Dortmund and Frankfurt anti-Israel protester chanted, “Hamas Hamas Juden ins gas!” (“Hamas Hamas Jews to the gas!”).
The plan calls for the international community to oversee the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip using the same system that is successfully ridding Syria of chemical weapons. In return, Arab countries and the international community would provide the Palestinian Authority with fifty billion dollars to rehabilitate refugee camps and build the Gaza Strip.
I’m really, really interested in hearing what people think about this proposal from Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz.
I think it’s a brilliant outside-the-box strategy. It bolsters Abbas and the Palestinian Authority while effectively undermining Hamas (unless some of their politicians can find a way to make themselves a real part of the PA government). And it mitigates Israel’s security concerns while also making life significantly better for Palestinians in Gaza.
Over the past few weeks, extremism and violence once again escalated and finally exploded in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Space for a moderate position on the decades-old conflict shrinks at times like this, especially on the internet where partisans of each side can lash out at one another and at anyone else who doesn’t agree wholeheartedly with the purity of their side’s cause. As someone who teaches a course on Israeli politics and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I try to adopt what I consider a balanced position and, as a result, I tend to draw a fair amount of anger from everyone. In the past few days alone, I’ve been called a bigot and Nazi by extremist supporters of the Palestinians, and a self-hating Jew and Nazi by extremist supporters of the Israelis. I tend to view their ire as evidence that my position is a relatively balanced one.
“According to longstanding UN practice in UN humanitarian operations worldwide, incidents involving unexploded ordnance that could endanger beneficiaries and staff are referred to the local authorities.”—
It’s not entirely clear to whom the rockets were given, but there’s the suggestion that it was Palestinians who are apparently under the authority of the unity government in Ramallah rather than Hamas militants.
Either way, I don’t see how this can be seen as anything but an astonishingly foolish thing for a UN agency to do.
I keep seeing conservatives and Christian Zionists, as well as some American Jews, criticizing the American government because it hasn’t done anything for Israel during the current crisis.
Honest question: Given that the Iron Dome missile defense system is largely bankrolled by the United States and that the Israeli military doesn’t seem to be asking for or need assistance for the air strikes or ground incursion against Gaza, what exactly is it that these people want the American government to do?
In an editorial in the Detroit News, entitled “There is no right to free water,” Nolan Finley sets out his case against entitlement lefties who believe that shutting off water service to someting like half of the households in Detroit:
Water is not a human right. It’s a human need.
Ever since Adam and Eve got booted out of Eden, people have devoted most of their energy and labor to meeting the basic needs of food, water, clothing and shelter. It’s the origin of work — you’re hungry, you’re thirsty, you need some decent threads and a roof over your head, you have to get up in the morning and do something constructive.
Water, food, clothing, shelter were never bestowed on us because we exist. It costs money to purify water and deliver it to homes. That’s why early on people began forming communities to share the cost of meeting that common need, and others.
Charitable minded citizens have never objected to helping care for neighbors who are unable to care for themselves. But they understandably don’t have much appetite for carrying on their backs those who choose to indulge their wants before their needs.
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
And here’s a bit more from the UN, specifically about water:
On 28 July 2010, through Resolution 64/292, the United Nations General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
In November 2002, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted General Comment No. 15 on the right to water. Article I.1 states that “The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights”. Comment No. 15 also defined the right to water as the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.
But, you see, Finley asserts that no one has a right to water because he thinks people can for it but are simply choosing not to. And he’s nominated himself the arbiter of how other people should prioritize their spending:
[I]nstead of using what resources they have to cover their needs, many water customers instead have chosen to service their wants. That’s what happens when people are conditioned to think someone else is responsible for taking care of them….
Since the cut-offs began, more customers are paying up. The overwhelming majority of households hit with a shut-off are settling their debt to get the water flowing again, suggesting they could have been paying all along.
It’s as simple as that, for Finley. These people aren’t really poor; they’re just mooching off the water company and the good people who do pay their bills while they get to enjoy all the other things they want, like cell phones and cable tv.
But Finley has a heart; he’s pleased that the really poor people, those who can’t afford anything, “are being offered a variety of assistance programs to make sure no one who truly can’t pay for water is shut off.”
So there is free water. As long as you meet all the criteria that people like Nolan Finley have set out.
Someone asked me the other day about the worst part of my recovery. I replied that, so far, it’s been the fact that I can’t do all the things I normally do around the house. That’s been my standard reply, actually, for almost six weeks now.
But the truth is that the worst part is the knowledge that, at some point soon, I’m going to need to put all my weight down on my left foot and just hope my tendon, which is still in the process of healing itself, holds.
After six weeks of not being able to use my leg, that’s really terrifying.
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, ruled on a petition by death row inmate Ernest Dewayne Jones, who was sentenced to die nearly two decades ago….
He noted that more than 900 people have been sentenced to death in California since 1978 but only 13 have been executed.
“For the rest, the dysfunctional administration of California’s death penalty system has resulted, and will continue to result, in an inordinate and unpredictable period of delay preceding their actual execution,” Carney wrote….
Carney, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said the delays have created a “system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed,” Carney said.
In overturning Jones’ death sentence, Carney noted that the inmate faced “complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether” he will be executed.
The “random few” who will be executed “will have languished for so long on Death Row that their execution will serve no retributive or deterrent purpose and will be arbitrary,” Carney said.
“No rational person,” Carney wrote, “can question that the execution of an individual carries with it the solemn obligation of the government to ensure that the punishment is not arbitrarily imposed and that it furthers the interests of society.”
Until the various legal challenges we’ll see from this ruling are resolved, no one’s going to be put to death in California (which is, of course, basically the status quo there, as the ruling points out).
Is it possible that no political scientist has yet written an academic paper about the folly of using Jedi as generals during the Clone Wars, since their Code restricts them to actions associated with peacekeeping, and how this mirrors the problems facing UN peacekeepers, who are often bound by a very limited mandate and face the difficult task of preventing hostilities between warring parties?
"Oh, no! We’re not done losing yet," proclaim militants with useless rockets. "So far, we’ve killed zero Israelis. But, if you give us another week, we promise to double that number!”
"Uh, we’re not with those guys," proclaim guys who actually want to be politicians but can’t get out from under the weight of the guys with the rockets.
"Hamas has fired 47 rockets since we suspended our strikes in Gaza (this morning). As a result, we have resumed our operation against Hamas," an Israeli military statement said.
Under a blueprint announced by Egypt - Gaza’s neighbour and whose military-backed government has been at odds with Hamas Islamists - a mutual “de-escalation” of week-old fighting was to have begun at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT), with hostilities ceasing within 12 hours.
Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire, saying its battle with Israel would “increase in ferocity and intensity”.
But Moussa Abu Marzouk, a top Hamas official who was in Cairo, had said the movement, which is seeking a deal that would ease border restrictions imposed by both Egypt and Israel, had made no final decision on the proposal.
One has to hope the Israelis will find a way to work with the people who want political power, since they likely value legitimacy and a seat at the table more than “the struggle.” But I’m not holding my breath.
Quite possibly my favorite David Foster Wallace anecdote:
“I think he had a complicated relationship with all of pop culture. He told me a great story about when he was teaching at Illinois State and he was given an audio tape of a band that he fell in love with, and he came into his graduate seminar and said, ‘I might be crazy, but I think this band is great and you all need to hear this right now.’ He then played for his students ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana. It was about seven years after the album had been released.”
Israel’s security cabinet will meet Tuesday morning to discuss the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. A senior Israeli official said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepts the Egyptian offer and will bring it to a vote in the meeting that will take place on Tuesday at 7 A.M. (Barak Ravid)
Sources in the Egyptian Foreign Ministry say Egypt has proposed a cease-fire outline to Israel and Gaza: The cease-fire will start at 9 A.M., meaning Israel will stop aerial, naval and ground operations against the Gaza Strip and promise not to engage in a ground offensive or harm civilians. At the same time, all the Palestinian factions will hold their fire.
Crossings between Gaza and Israel will be reopened, and restrictions on the passage of commodities and people will be eased, in return for a halt to hostilities.
Within 48 hours after the cease-fire, Israeli and Palestinian delegations will arrive in Cairo for continued indirect talks to discuss the details of the truce and its implementation. Egypt will receive guaranties from both sides, and promises to implement the outline. (Jack Khoury)
I realized that I haven’t written anything about my recovery since my last appointment with my doctor, which was three weeks ago tomorrow. The reason, of course, is that there isn’t a whole lot to report.
I’m scheduled to go back to see my doctor a week from tomorrow, at which point I’m hoping I’ll be able to start doing some stretching exercises and weaning myself off the crutches. I suspect — or at least I really hope — that it’ll take me another week to be able to hobble around entirely without them.
The four weeks between doctor’s appointments has stretched on seemingly forever. I’m still primarily using my knee scooter to get around because it’s much faster than my crutches, I can rest my injured leg on it and do the dishes or the laundry standing on the other leg, and it allows me to carry things and pick up kids. But, whenever I don’t need to do any of that, I try to switch to the crutches because I’m gradually increasing the amount of weight I put down on the foot when I walk with them. I’m probably somewhere just north of 25% at this point.
I’m now officially allowed to take off the boot to sleep at night and I have been for about a week … but I don’t do it. My concern is that I’ll wake up in the middle of night — because a kid is crying or because I have to go to the bathroom — and I’ll accidentally take a step on the injured foot without the boot. In balancing my fear of reinjury against the discomfort of sleeping in the boot, the choice is a simple one.
The good-natured jokes from friends continue, of course, as does the staring from random strangers. Most of the staring happens at the gym, where I’ve been lifting weights three times a week for the past three weeks, mostly to get a quick cardio workout but also just to be doing something. People there give me a wide variety of looks — including the double-take, my personal favorite — when I wheel around on my scooter between the various machines.
Lots of acquaintances remind me that we have a baby due very soon and that I should do my best to get back on my feet by then; this is, I assure them all, something that has crossed my mind. Most people have no idea how long it takes to recover from an injury like this and are astonished to discover that it will take many months before I’m back to full strength, rather than just a few weeks. A fair number of people don’t know much about human anatomy and, looking at the boot, ask if I tore my ACL.
The best comment so far came from a woman who doesn’t know me particularly well; I explained to her that I tore my Achilles tendon playing basketball and her immediate response was, “What were you thinking?”
The Times of Israel has an excellent piece about a recent Netanyahu press conference; this is the part that really stands out to me:
The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to “take care of Hamas.” But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.” Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
Not relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there. It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands. This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state. A less-than-sovereign entity? Maybe, though this will never satisfy the Palestinians or the international community. A fully sovereign Palestine? Out of the question.
He wasn’t saying that he doesn’t support a two-state solution. He was saying that it’s impossible. This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance.
There’s a stunning lack of foresight on display here. For Netanyahu, this seems to be politics as usual: The future will take care of itself as long as we take care of whatever issues present themselves right now. But this is no way to deal with a situation of conflict, so it’s important for people to see it and to really think about what it means.
Netanyahu says that Israel’s priority right now is to “take care of Hamas.” But there’s no way he actually believes that the on-going bombing of Gaza will accomplish this goal. Does anyone believe this? If so, why? We’ve seen a series of Gaza bombing campaigns over the years but none of them has taken care of Hamas. Why is this one different? It’s not.
When this bombing campaign ends — and it will end, as all the others have — a lot of Gazans will have been killed or wounded, but the Hamas organizational infrastructure will remain largely intact, as will its ability to launch rockets into Israel. What will be accomplished? Little else besides dead Gazans and international outcry against Israel.
And Netanyahu must know this … because it happens every time.
If the Israeli government really wants to “take care of Hamas,” Netanyahu will have to undermine the organization rather than strengthen it. Whether or not Netanyahu realizes it — and, really, how could he not? — the bombing campaigns against Gaza serve to strengthen Hamas; they validate all the things that Hamas says are true about Israel: That Israel is the aggressor, that it is oppressive, that it violates international law, that it terrorizes civilians, that violence is the only way to respond to it.
To undermine Hamas, by contrast, would be to do the opposite of what Hamas tells Palestinians; it would mean taking power from Hamas by proving its leaders wrong. Among other things, it would be to stop restricting Palestinians’ freedom of movement, to help improve living conditions in Gaza, to give up on the policy of collective punishment, and even to treat the political wing of Hamas as a legitimate political entity. Most importantly, to undermine Hamas would be to work with Fatah to establish an indepedent Palestinian state.
But that too is addressed by Netanyahu in his press conference.
Netanyahu argues that the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza make clear that Israel can’t ever “relinquish security control” over the West Bank. To do so, he claims, would be to invite endless insecurity for Israel. The West Bank is, of course, a far larger piece of land than Gaza and Netanyahu’s argument is that, if Israel cedes security control to the Palestinian Authority, that territory will simply become a much larger version of Gaza.
What Netanyahu doesn’t admit is that the circumstances would (or at least should) be quite different. Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and, after Hamas was elected there, refused to recognize the results of that election. Israel also blockaded Gaza for years. Presumably, relinquishing security control over the West Bank would not be done in the same manner as the Gaza disengagement. It would, instead, be negotiated as part of the creation of an indepedent Palestinian state and then Israel would not, again presumably, seek to delegitimize that state’s government.
His assumption that the security situation in the West Bank would devolve into the same situation we see in Gaza makes no sense, except as part of a belief that the Palestinians are naturally given to extremism and that a negotiated settlement of the conflict that resulted in an indepedent state would have no impact on that presumed extremism. But it’s hard to see how this belief has any basis in reality.
What Netanyahu is saying, then, is that there is no situation in which the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and the central feature of the Oslo peace process, can ever be accomplished … because he won’t allow it. He claims that the security of Israel would be permanently compromised and Israel’s security is his primary motivation in any foreign policy decision he makes. But he either doesn’t recognize or doesn’t care that Israel’s security is permanently compromised by his inability to reach a peaceful solution to the decades-old conflict with the Palestinians. Promising the permanent frustration of Palestinian national aspirations and thereby undermining the moderate leadership of Fatah does nothing but strengthen the extremists that Netanyahu says he fears.
What Netanyahu’s words mean is that there is no peace process, that the only possible peace is peace on his terms, rather peace as a result of compromise. And this, for someone with any foresight at all, means perpetual insecurity for Israel, irrespective of what Netanyahu claims he’s hoping to achieve.
Let’s leave aside the fact that the plagiarized passages are summaries from a white supremacist publication, which Žižek alleges he received from an unnamed “friend.” Because, clearly, the best part of this whole mess is that someone was alerted to it because the plagiarized passages were “uncharacteristically lucid and, well, un-Žižek-like.”
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman has what can only be described as unhinged reaction to the news that 200 immigrant children are currently residing somewhere in Nebraska:
"We will treat them humanely while they are here," the governor said during an interview on KFAB radio.
"But we want to keep track of them," he said, while they presumably are being processed for likely deportation because they entered the country illegally.
OK. That starts out reasonably enough.
But this whole thing was such a non-issue, we learn, that Heineman had to call the media to alert them of the situation:
"I’m very, very concerned," Heineman told KFAB during a telephone interview he initiated from Nashville, Tennessee, where he’s attending a National Governors Association conference.
"Very, very concerned" seems a bit much. But, ok. Then things get a little wild:
"I can’t believe the federal government is secretly transporting them to Nebraska," he said.
"Our taxpayer dollars could end up potentially paying for their education and other benefits."
"I have every reason to believe more are coming," Heineman said.
So … Heineman is terrified that Nebraska taxpayers are going to pay for the “education and other benefits” of 200 children who “presumably are being processed for their likely deportation.”
And he has “every reason to believe more are coming” because, I suppose, he’s been paying the most careful attention to the transportation of these free-loading children, who come to Nebraska for the exceptional education and benefits in our detention centers.
Except here’s the best part:
Heineman said he had “no idea what was going on” in Nebraska until Sen. Mike Johanns was informed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that about 200 of the children had been relocated in the state.
That’s right. The absolute horror that grips Dave Heineman every time he thinks about these undocumented and almost certainly dangerous moochers from down ol’ South American way (and who are really just the tip of the iceberg, as more of them are absolutely on the way here) is, well, a relatively new thing … since Gov. Heineman, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of this very terrible problem, “had ‘no idea what was going on’ in Nebraska” until someone else gave him the heads up about it.
This whole thing would be hilarious if it wasn’t all about terrifying Nebraskans about a non-existent threat by demonizing children.
I’m amazed by the people who write to me to insist that the conflict in Israel/Palestine is one-sided, that the whole thing would be resolved peacefully by now if it wasn’t for the otherside’s malevolence.
I’ve written a whole lot of words about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians lately and over the past five years of blogging here. And, of course, I’ve written about how the blame game with each new round of violence doesn’t get us anywhere.
But if everything you write unequivocally condemns Israel for its brutality and aggression and oppression without a single word about the rockets that Hamas routinely launches at Israeli citizens, and if your reaction is either silence when I ask you whether you think these rocket attacks deserve even a passing mention or, worse, you try to justify the rocket attacks, then you’re not helping.
What you’re doing is giving terrorists a free pass because their terror tactics don’t fit the one-sided narrative that appeals to you.
Not long after the news broke that three kidnapped Jewish teens, including one who held American citizenship, were found murdered, Ben Shapiro, whose hysterics never cease to amaze, decided that President Obama’s reaction to the news could best be explained by his hatred of Jews:
Presumably Frenkel did not look enough like Barack Obama’s imaginary son for him to give a damn. Or perhaps Frenkel hadn’t deserted his duty in the American military, and therefore his parents didn’t deserve a White House press conference. Maybe Michelle Obama was too busy worrying about children’s fat thighs to spend a moment tweeting out a selfie to raise awareness.
Or maybe, just maybe, the Obama administration didn’t care about Frenkel because he was a Jew.
Jewish blood is cheap to this administration.
The whole piece is, of course, the hottest of hot messes.
His wild claim isn’t based on any facts … unless you think Shapiro’s insistence that everything Obama has or hasn’t done in the Middle East happened with hatred of Jews in mind counts as a fact.
But, if you (like so many people in my Facebook news feed this week) think Ben Shapiro is on to something and that, in fact, Americans need a leader who doesn’t hate Jews since our current leader so obviously does, here’s the conclusion from an editorial in Haaretz by Eliyahu Fink, an Orthodox rabbi from California:
Jewish tradition places great emphasis on hakarat hatov - gratitude. Politics comes after religious obligation and ethics. Our sages teach us that God commanded Moses to strike the Nile in order to commence the plague of blood. Moses delegated this duty to his brother Aaron because of his gratitude to the Nile for saving his life when his mother placed him inside a floating cradle in the river. The water saved Moses’ life and so he refused to strike the water. President Obama is saving Jewish lives in Israel. Not just one life. He’s saving many lives. For that, the Jewish response is to say thank you. So on behalf of less appreciative Orthodox Jewish brethren, I say thank you Mr. President. Your support and tangible assistance are greatly appreciated.
Calling Obama anti-Israel and borderline anti-Jewish is more anti-Jewish than anything Obama has ever done. It is not just striking the Nile that saved us once. It is striking the Nile repeatedly after it saved us innumerable times. A cornerstone of Judaism is gratitude. The people of Israel and Jews all over the world should be thanking President Obama, not slandering the president with rank speculation and dismissive cynicism.
The editorial is mostly about Obama’s personal request to Congress for funding the Iron Dome missile defense system in 2010, but Rabbi Fink also notes that Shapiro’s claims about how monstrous it was for Obama to ask the Israeli government to use restraint in its response is precisely the language used by such noted non-Jew-haters as Presidents Bush and President Clinton.
In short, never listen to Ben Shapiro and if you find yourself about to put forward a position previously espoused by Ben Shapiro, even by accident, rethink that position.
I just came across the above quotation on MG Siegler’s excellent blog. And I thought it was important that we all get clear about something:
LeBron James doesn’t owe Cleveland anything and “that girl” doesn’t owe anything to a guy who buys her drinks either.
The fact that this comparison exists, that it’s printed in the New York Times, and that people nod their heads or smile or laugh about it really highlights what’s wrong with the way so many men in our society think about women.
The fact that basketball fans want to see LeBron return to Cleveland doesn’t matter one iota when it comes to what LeBron wants. You know who gets to decide what LeBron wants? LeBron does. If his decision seems like a slap in the face to you, that’s your problem; it’s not LeBron’s problem.
The fact that a “nice guy” bought drinks for a woman all night doesn’t matter one iota when it comes to whether or not that woman will sleep with him, with someone else, or with no one. The fact that the woman chooses to have sex with “the jerk” is her choice, just as it’s the “nice guy’s” choice to buy her drinks. And let’s not leave aside the fact that the “nice guy” isn’t actually all that nice if he’s thinking about what’s owed to him in this way.
Buying drinks for a woman, or even just being nice to her, doesn’t constitute a transaction wherein the woman now owes you sex. If that somehow isn’t clear — if you somehow think you buy what you want from a woman with alcohol or being nice and that she’s required to keep up her side of a transaction that exists only in your mind — you have some very serious problems that go well beyond your hurt feelings over where LeBron James is going to play basketball next year.
In a remarkable opinion piece, Ted Nugent manages to jam together his disgust for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, anyone who opposes hunting animals, people who are rude to him on his Facebook page, people who think racism and sexism are problems, and people who think a woman might be good at the job of president.
And yet, despite all of that, the most astonishing part is this:
Does racism still exist in America today? I’m guessing that is does, but in my nonstop world travels over a lifetime, being the ultra-gregarious chap that I am, enjoying the friendships of many good people, performing more than 6,500 concerts around the globe, diligently pursuing diverse peoples and places, I have never personally witnessed racism or hatred of any kind with anyone I have ever met.
The 1970 census showed that whites still made up a majority of Detroit’s population. However, by the 1980 census, whites had fled at such a large rate that the city had gone from 55 percent white to only 34 percent white in a decade. The decline was even more stark considering that when Detroit’s population reached its all-time high in 1950, the city was 83 percent white.
But Ted Nugent writes with apparent sincerity that “I have never personally witnessed racism or hatred of any kind with anyone I have ever met.” Those must have been weird, weird, unexplainable decades for the Motor City Madman.
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy blog the other day, Jonathan Adler set out what seems to me to be a fairly amazing argument about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
His argument hinges on the notion that the Court was correct to interpret the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to mean that it doesn’t much matter whether something actually constitutes a substantial burden to a person’s religious belief so long as the person believes that it does:
At this point some critics may respond that it’s one thing for a religious adherents to make spiritual claims, but quite another for them to rest a religious claim on a demonstrably false fact about the physical world. Perhaps, but that was not what was at issue here. The Hahns and Greens believe life begins at conception. This is a religious belief. Whether or not medical experts or federal law define life the same way is irrelevant, as is the fact that medical authorities define implantation of the fertilized egg as the start of a pregnancy. It is the Hahns and the Greens sincere religious belief that these four methods of contraception are capable of causing a grievous wrong, and that is not something for the courts to question.
Some critics note that current scientific evidence undermines claims that the four methods at issue prevent implantation. This is true, but also fails to substantiate the Hobby Lobby-is-anti-science claim. The best scientific evidence available suggests that these forms of contraception rarely, if ever, prevent implantation, but the evidence is not-yet-conclusive and RFRA plaintiffs are hardly required to adopt prevailing scientific views to press their claims.
The implications of this argument are astonishing. It means that it doesn’t matter if the plaintiffs in RFRA-related cases are incorrect about the facts as long as they believe deeply enough that they are right.
Because the families at the center of this lawsuit believe that a ball of cells that hasn’t implanted in the uterus is a person with the same rights as you and me, it doesn’t matter that the contraception methods they oppose aren’t actually abortifacients or that a ball of cells isn’t actually a person with the same right as you and me. Anything that happens to that ball of unimplanted cells that doesn’t result in the birth of a baby is an abortion, according to their beliefs. And thus it’s a terrible violation of their religious beliefs to provide coverage for some forms of contraception that theybelieve might have anything to do with what happens to that ball of unimplanted cells (even if those forms of contraception don’t actually do what they think they might do).
But there’s really a deeper mistake here … and that’s the issue. The Greens and the Hahns and, I think, Adler, are incorrect about what these forms of birth control are designed to do. They aren’t designed to prevent implantation of the ball of cells that might or might have a soul (something we can’t determine one way or another and, thus, which is an a-ok religious belief); they’re designed to prevent fertilization in the first place. In other words, the purpose of the IUD and Plan B is to prevent the ball of cells from coming into existence in the first place.
So, while it’s not actually the case that these forms of contraception do what the Hahns and the Greens believe they do, as a matter of law, it now doesn’t make any difference … because the Hahns and the Greens believe that they do.
The lesson in all this, kids, is that if you believe strongly enough, something that isn’t true magically becomes true!
[P]eace would also require giving up on the idea that justice is bound up with affixing blame and with retaliation, giving up on the whole ridiculous notion that everything will be sorted out properly once everyone finally understands whose fault it all really is.
There are hundreds more words where those came from, so go read!
So, this is a thing that’s happening in America in 2014 because apparently the best way to keep people safe from pedophiles is for the police and courts to act like pedophiles:
A Manassas City teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which Manassas City police and Prince William County prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis, possibly forcing the teen to become erect by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said.
The case was set for trial on July 1, where Foster said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Claiborne Richardson told her that her client must either plead guilty or police would obtain another search warrant “for pictures of his erect penis,” for comparison to the evidence from the teen’s cell phone. Foster asked how that would be accomplished and was told that “we just take him down to the hospital, give him a shot and then take the pictures that we need.”
The teen declined to plead guilty. Foster said the prosecutor then requested a continuance so police could get a search warrant, which was granted by substitute Juvenile Court Judge Jan Roltsch-Anoll. Two days later, both sides were back in court. Foster had filed a motion to allow her client to travel out of state to visit family. Richardson wanted the teen to comply with the search warrant before he left. Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Baird declined to order that, and allowed the teen to leave the area. But he has another court date on July 15.
“Hobby Lobby makes clear that all persons – human and corporate, citizen and foreigner, resident and alien – enjoy the special religious free exercise protections of the RFRA”—
That’s an argument made by lawyers for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, arguing that the recent Hobby Lobby decision should change the way American courts consider claims about the religious free exercise rights of those detainees:
The detainees’ lawyers said courts have previously concluded that Guantanamo detainees do not have “religious free exercise rights” because they are not “persons within the scope of the RFRA.”