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Your humble narrator is...
...a research analyst at a think tank in the Washington DC area. Born in Israel, raised in Kentucky, movie fanatic and sports nut.
My first-hand account of the Palestinian divestment conference at the U. of Michigan

:: Saturday, October 05, 2002 ::

The Yankees lose! The-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e Yankees lose!
Ding dong, the witch is dead. Many thanks to the Angels for toppling one of the few teams in sports that I truly love to hate.

11:59 PM
:: Friday, October 04, 2002 ::
My first Fisking
Having just started this blog, I haven't yet had the chance to rip apart some stupid article full of half-truths and outright lies. So what better place to find something that needs "fisking" than the Arab media? This article by former (thank goodness for that) US Congressman Paul Findley cries out for a thorough takedown:

Nine-eleven would not have occurred if the US government had refused to help Israel humiliate and destroy Palestinian society. Few express this conclusion publicly, but many believe it is the truth. I believe the catastrophe could have been prevented if any US president during the past 35 years had had the courage and wisdom to suspend all US aid until Israel withdrew from the Arab land seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

That's right, the only thing Arabs worry about is Israel. The normally docile, peace-loving Arab becomes a suicidal mass murderer solely because he's mad about Israel, which of course would collapse as a country without the large amount of American aid that it started getting 12 years AFTER the 1967 War. Thus 9/11 is Israel's fault, and by extension America's fault as well.

The US lobby for Israel is powerful and intimidating, but any determined president -- even President Bush this very day -- could prevail and win overwhelming public support for the suspension of aid by laying these facts before the American people:

US support for Israel is of course controlled by the almighty Zionist lobby, which prevents every American President from doing what he simply lacks the determination to do. It has nothing to do with the wider swath of American public opinion that supports a fellow democracy defending itself from terrorists who want do destroy it.

Israel's present government, like its predecessors, is determined to annex the West Bank -- biblical Judea and Samaria -- so Israel will become Greater Israel.

Israel's present government, like its predecessors, has not annexed one square centimeter of the West Bank. This inconvenient fact does not prevent Findley from claiming that the above assertion is a fact. Say what you will about settlements, but none of them have been annexed.

In its violent assaults on Palestinians, Israel uses the pretext of eradicating terrorism, but its forces are actually engaged in advancing the territorial expansion just cited.

So Israel's forces aren't actually eradicating terrorism, they're merely doing what they do as a pretext for something else.

Under the guise of anti- terrorism, Israeli forces treat Palestinians worse than cattle. With due process nowhere to be found, hundreds are detained for long periods and most are tortured.

Again, there's no guise here, anti-terrorism is a widely practiced Israeli policy. Treating people "worse than cattle" is, at best, a matter of opinion. No sources are cited on the very dubious "most are tortured" claim, but Findley still accepts it and the other above distortions as facts.

Some are assassinated. Homes, orchards, and business places are destroyed. Entire cities are kept under intermittent curfew, some confinements lasting for weeks. Injured or ill Palestinians needing emergency medical care are routinely held at checkpoints for an hour or more. Many children are undernourished.

Actually, much of this is true, but none of it happened in the almost totally peaceful year that preceded the intifada. So who's responsible? The terrorists? The regime that harbors them? Not at all--remember that Israel isn't REALLY fighting terrorism, it's just pretending that it is.

The West Bank and Gaza have become giant concentration camps.

If Palestinians were being forced to do manual labor and/or slaughtered by the millions in gas chambers, this would be true. But they aren't, so it isn't.

None of this could have occurred without US support. Perhaps Israeli officials believe life will become so unbearable that most Palestinians will eventually leave their ancestral homes.

Or perhaps not. Perhaps Israeli officials want to defend their citizens from being murdered.

Once beloved worldwide, the US government finds itself reviled in most countries because it provides unconditional support of Israeli violations of the United Nations Charter, international law, and the precepts of all major religious faiths.

When was the last time the US government was beloved worldwide? Never mind, the fact that it isn't now is entirely Israel's fault. And since when has US support of Israel been unconditional? When it pressured Israel not to retaliate against the Scud attacks during the Gulf War? When it criticizes settlement building (going so far as to withhold billions in loans in 1991) and calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state?

How did the American people get into this fix? Nine-eleven had its principal origin 35 years ago when Israel's US lobby began its unbroken success in stifling debate about the proper US role in the Arab- Israeli conflict and effectively concealed from public awareness the fact that the US government gives massive uncritical support to Israel.

Again, 9/11 is the Jews' fault, and the American public is just too dumb to understand that its government supports Israel. Or maybe the public is clueless about its own government's Middle East policy because the Zionist lobby controls the media. Either way, the explanation is that the Jews are to blame.

Thanks to the suffocating influence of Israel's US lobby, open discussion of the Arab- Israeli conflict has been non- existent in our government all these years. I have first-hand knowledge, because I was a member of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in June 1967 when Israeli military forces took control of the Golan Heights, a part of Syria, as well as the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. I continued as a member for 16 years and to this day maintain a close watch on Congress.

Open discussion has been non-existent all these years, even when Findley was in Congress. Did he not take part in a discussion then? Considering his positions, wouldn't that have made any discussion he participated in an open one? Maybe the Zionist lobby suffocatingly influenced him.

For 35 years, not a word has been expressed in that committee or in either chamber of Congress that deserves to be called debate on Middle East policy. No restrictive or limiting amendments on aid to Israel have been offered for 20 years, and none of the few offered in previous years received more than a handful of votes.

Findley obviously believes that anything short of restricting aid to Israel doesn't deserve to be called debate. If it's not his position, it isn't debate.

On Capitol Hill, criticism of Israel, even in private conversation, is all but forbidden, treated as downright unpatriotic, if not anti-Semitic. The continued absence of free speech was assured when those few who spoke out -- Senators Adlai Stevenson and Charles Percy, and Reps. Paul "Pete" McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, and myself -- were defeated at the polls by candidates heavily financed by pro-Israel forces.

The Zionist lobby shows its power once again. Never mind that McKinney, to give but one example, accused the President of allowing 9/11 to happen. That couldn't have had anything to do with her defeat, which must have been because of the J-E-W-S, as her father put it in spelling out the people he blamed for her loss.

As a result, legislation dealing with the Middle East has been heavily biased in favour of Israel and against Palestinians and other Arabs year after year. Home constituencies, misled by news coverage equally lop-sided in Israel's favour, remain largely unaware that Congress behaves as if it were a subcommittee of the Israeli Parliament.

See above for the stupidity of the American public and the almighty media-controlling power of the Zionist lobby.

However, the bias is widely noted beyond America, where most news media candidly cover Israel's conquest and generally excoriate America's complicity and complacency.

Many of them also uncandidly join Findley in blaming Israel and America for 9/11 and Palestinian suicide bombing.

When President Bush welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sometimes called the Butcher of Beirut, as "my dear friend" and "a man of peace" after Israeli forces, using US-donated arms, completed their devastation of the West Bank last spring, worldwide anger against American policy reached the boiling point.

Sometimes called the Butcher of Beirut by people who ignore the vastly more deadly devastation wreaked upon Lebanon by PLO terrorists, armed Lebanese factions, and Syrian occupying forces. And by the Findley logic that America caused 9/11 through its policies, wasn't 9/11 ITSELF the boiling point of worldwide anger against it? Or have I missed some significantly larger terror attacks in America since Bush made those comments about Sharon?

The fury should surprise no one who reads foreign newspapers or listens to BBC.

Considering how biased foreign papers and the Beeb tend to be when dealing with Israel, that's actually true.

In several televised statements long before 11 September, Osama Bin Laden, believed by US authorities to have masterminded 11 September...

Of course the US authorities are the only ones who believe that Bin Laden masterminded 9/11, which means that maybe someone else masterminded them. Who could it be? Findley doesn't say.

..cited US complicity in Israel's destruction of Palestinian society as a principal complaint. Prominent foreigners, in and out of government, express their opposition to US policies with unprecedented frequency and severity, especially since Bush announced his determination to make war against Iraq.

Of course Bin Laden has no other complaints about the US, the Arab states, non-Muslims, women, the modern world, and many other people who are not affected by the US's Israeli/Palestinian policy. And since "prominent foreigners" express their opposition to US policies, they must be correct to do so. There is no chance that the US is right about anything, including Iraq.

The lobby's intimidation remains pervasive. It seems to reach every government centre and even houses of worship and revered institutions of higher learning. It is highly effective in silencing the many US Jews who object to the lobby's tactics and Israel's brutality.

Back to the Zionist lobby. Now it also controls institutions of higher learning, which of course have no sympathy at all for the Palestinians. Oh, and Findley sympathizes with the many US Jews who object to the lobby's tactics, just in case you thought he might have something against Jews in general or held Israel to a different standard from all other non-Jewish states.

Nothing can justify 11 September.

But American policies, and by extension anyone who had anything to do with formulating or implementing them, caused it.

Those guilty...

Whoever they are, maybe Bin Laden and al Qaeda, maybe not.

...deserve maximum punishment, but it makes sense for America to examine motivations promptly and as carefully as possible. Terrorism almost always arises from deeply-felt grievances. If they can be eradicated or eased, terrorist passions are certain to subside.

When your very existence constitutes a deeply-felt grievance for someone, there's not much you can do to address that grievance, and those terrorist passions won't subside until they kill you (that's what makes them terrorists). Actually, there is something you can do to someone like that---you can use force to stop him from doing it and to deter others from helping him and his colleagues.

Today, a year after 11 September, President Bush has made no attempt to redress grievances, or even to identify them. In fact, he has made the scene far worse by supporting Israel's religious war against Palestinians, an alliance that has intensified anti-American anger. He seems oblivious to the fact that nearly two billion people worldwide regard the plight of Palestinians as today's most important foreign-policy challenge.

A challenge that he chose to deal with by calling for "a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born." But if you don't do what Findley wants you to do, you're not dealing with the challenge, just like you're not debating an issue unless you agree with him.

No one in authority will admit a calamitous reality that is skillfully shielded from the American people but clearly recognised by most of the world: America suffered 11 September and its aftermath and may soon be at war with Iraq, mainly because US policy in the Middle East is made in Israel, not in Washington.

Israel is a scofflaw nation and should be treated as such. Instead of helping Sharon intensify Palestinian misery, our president should suspend all aid until Israel ends its occupation of Arab land Israel seized in 1967. The suspension would force Sharon's compliance or lead to his removal from office, as the Israeli electorate will not tolerate a prime minister who is at odds with the White House.

So US policy is made in Israel, but the US can determine whom the Israeli electorate votes for, which puts Israeli policy under the complete control of the US. Which one is it? Both, of course. In fact, the Israeli electorate will not tolerate a prime minister who capitulates to terror, much like most sensible people who live in democracies.

If Bush needs an additional reason for doing the right thing, he can justify the suspension as a matter of military necessity, an essential step in winning international support for his war on terrorism. He can cite a worthy precedent. When President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation that freed only the slaves in states that were then in rebellion, he made the restriction because of "military necessity".

The war on terrorism, as the President himself had said, isn't just a military campaign, it's also about values. Withdrawing support for a democracy besieged by terror would obviously encourage more terror. And what's with citing Lincoln and the slaves? I guess the Palestinians are the slaves and Israel is the Confederacy.

If Bush suspends US aid, he will liberate all Americans from long years of bondage to Israel's misdeeds.

But can anything liberate Findley from his long years of bondage to anti-Israel lies and propaganda?

Whew! That felt pretty good.
7:10 PM
Some war humor
I recently heard, or maybe read, a couple of funny WWII anecdotes. As the Allies moved through Europe after D-Day, a common complaint about American soldiers among the British was that the Americans were "overpaid, oversexed, and over here." Some Americans responded that the British were upset about being "underpaid, undersexed and under Eisenhower."

Another one had to do with the confusion that resulted from the scattering of the paratroopers who dropped behind the German lines on D-Day. When Maxwell Taylor, one of the most famous American generals of the war, parachuted in he found lots of officers but barely any enlisted men to take orders from them. He observed that "never have so few been commanded by so many."
6:17 PM
:: Thursday, October 03, 2002 ::
In the Land of the Rococo Marxists
One of my favorite writers, Tom Wolfe, wrote a piece with the above title in his most recent book, Hooking Up. He explained that when the Soviet Union collapsed, the far left was thrown for a loop:
It made it damned hard to express your skepticism, your cynicism, your contempt, in Marxist terms. "Capitalism," "proletariat," "the masses," "the means of production," "infantile leftism," "the dark night of fascism," or even "anti-fascism"--all these things suddenly sounded, well, not so much wrong...as old..."Vulgar Marxism" it came to be called, vulgar in the sense of... unsophisticated.
But they had to press on, and they certainly couldn't admit to being wrong about anything. Instead, they just shifted the debate to other subjects:
Marxism may be dead, and the proletariat has proved to be hopeless. They're all at sea with their third wives. But we can find new proletariats whose ideological benefactors we can be--women, non-whites, put-upon white ethnics, homosexuals, transsexuals, the polymorphously perverse, pornographers, prostitutes (sex workers), hardwood trees--which we can use to express our indignation toward the powers that be and our aloofness to their bourgeois stooges, to keep the flame of skepticism, cynicism, irony, and contempt burning. This will not be Vulgar Marxism; it will be...Rococo Marxism, elegant as a Fragonard, sly as a Watteau.

7:20 PM
The Knights who say things a lot dumber than "Ni!"
Some people have been wondering what to call those far-left losers who blame American "imperalism" for all the world's troubles, including 9/11. Tim Blair recently asked for suggestions and got some good responses, settling on the terse New York term mook. Others prefer idiotarian, while the Shark christens them bleeding brain leftists. My preference comes from this interview with former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami. He refers here to the small camp in the Israeli left who blamed the Israeli negotiators for the failure of the Camp David peace conference, but his term also applies nicely to the Chomsky/Fisk/Sontag brigade: "Camp David collapsed over the fact that [the Palestinians] refused to get into the game. They refused to make a counterproposal. No one demanded that they give a positive response to that particular proposal of Clinton's. Contrary to all the nonsense spouted by the knights of the left, there was no ultimatum." So there you have it: the knights of the left.
6:49 PM
Our little baby's all growns up!
Having watched some of the great new Swingers DVD, I remembered this quote about Vince Vaughan that I had saved somewhere:
Vince lying about Elvis Presley in a Details interview - "When I was a small, small child, Elvis was passing through Evanston, getting a hamburger. And he bought me one. And he said, 'Son, you've got a twinkle in your eye, don't let anybody tell you that you can't do this.' And that was the last time I cried."
Maybe no one else finds that entertaining, but I do.

6:08 PM
:: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 ::
Great, now comments are down altogether.
That unfortunately jam-packed yak farm in Mongolia is looking better all the time.
9:56 PM
Give that man an Oscar!
The Economist warns the international community not to let Saddam Hussein follow in the footsteps of Rufus T. Firefly. The article is only available to subscribers, so here's the best part:
The dream must be that one day soon he will join Slobodan Milosevic, another brutal dictator, in the dock for crimes against humanity. The worst fear, though, should be that he would succeed again in emulating a much more humorous man with a moustache, Groucho Marx, who said that sincerity was the most important asset in life: if you can fake that, you've got it made. Don't let him.

9:48 PM
If England slept, then what did America do?
In his book that was published right around 9/11, War in a Time of Peace, David Halberstam deals with American foreign policy during the '90s and how most American voters and politicians didn't seem to care much for it, preferring scandals and OJ and Monica to dealing with tough questions about the country's role in the world after the Cold War. In the afterword to the paperback edition, Halberstam discusses the war on terrorism in light of the events of the previous decade, and he concludes that since JFK's book about England before WWII was called Why England Slept, an appropriate subtitle to his own book would be Why America Napped.

5:03 PM
Subtle innuendoes follow...
The Times of London reports that Adam Ant has been put under supervision for a year, for waving a fake pistol around in a bar. I didn't know that his real name was Stuart Goddard (yes, I knew it wasn't Adam Ant). The Times has a good editorial page under the stuffy heading "Comment." They occasionally have some off-the-wall stuff that can be really entertaining, like this analysis of the cultural significance of Scooby Doo on a metaphorical level, and this piece about the naming of Romeo Beckham, the newborn son of Britain's most famous couple, soccer superstar David Beckham and the "singer" formerly known as Posh Spice.
12:54 PM
Not my first choice for comments
I'm using enetation, which seems ok but not great. My e-mail address shows up incorrectly. It's too bad there aren't any more yaks available on the farm, since that seems to work well for the people who use it.
1:05 AM
The Second Annual Gathering to Re-Write History and De-Legitimize Israel's Right to Exist in the Never-Ending Quest for Eternal Victimization
Otherwise known as the divestment conference, coming soon to the campus near me, where Palestinian activists attempt to convince universities to divest from Israel. Since it's the second such gathering and no one has yet divested or shown even the slightest signs of doing so at any point in the future, one might think the organizers would try to spend their energies elsewhere. But, as always, the Palestinians and their supporters don't seem to care about anything except convincing the world that it would be a much better place without the existence of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East. I'll post updates about anything interesting that happens here in Ann Arbor on this issue.
12:47 AM
An interesting cross-partisan connection
I saw a story on Financial Times recently (you have to be a subscriber, which I'm not, to get to it now) which said that one of Condoleeza Rice's college professors for international relations was Josef Korbel, the father of Madeleine Albright.
12:35 AM
:: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 ::
Nope, no terrorism here
A recent editorial in the college paper here in Michigan supports divesting from Israel. These Palestinian sympathizers usually mention terrorism in some passing way, like "yes, suicide bombing is bad, but occupation is the problem, the Israelis are the real terrorists, etc." But not this guy, who doesn't mention terrorism at all! Who in the their right mind would actually talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without breathing a single word about terrorism? Oh, yeah...99% of all UN Resolutions ever passed about the conflict. Meryl has some details.
7:28 PM
Dousing the Torch
The very ethically challenged Senator Bob Torricelli finally withdrew from his doomed re-election campaign. The New Republic is really letting him have it. Here's the money passage from their first link about it:
Tonight, Torricelli intoned, women's lives will be saved by his Bergen County mammography clinics; abused children will find safe harbor in his clinics. But today, Torricelli declared, despite the wise counsel of Bill Clinton, Tom Daschle, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, and junior Senator Jon Corzine, that he could not stand in the way of the Democratic effort to hold on to its Senate majority. The most ignoble of senators attempted to ooze nobility. As they say in Jersey: This f**kin' guy.

6:22 PM

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