February 2007

Sandmonkey attends a lecture by Seymour Hersh:

What was slightly surprising was how pro-Shia the man was (the man apparently could see no harm coming from Iran, syria or hezbollah), which was later on explained to me in the context that this man is a member of the new Left, and the new left believes that any enemy of the USA is a good person and needs to be supported, because the USA is a very bad and naughty country. But the dude was stretching thing a little bit. I mean when he decribed the March 14th movement as “The US backed Sunni dominated Seniora government” I started heaving, but when he described Hezbollah as “a member of an opposition coalition with Christian catholics” I knew I was in the presence of greatness. This is a man who could distort shit so well that he could disprove gravity. And just so you know, the US is backing a “Fitnah” amongst muslims that is trying to get sunnis to fight the Shias, who apparently before the US moved into Iraq never fought before. Oh yeah, and it’s all the saudis fault. If you removed the Saudis and the americans, the region would be peacefull with rainbows, butterflies and choclate springs sprouting all over. It’s not like the Iranians are equiping shia militias in Iraq, financing Hezbollah in Lebanon, trying to detsabalize the government of Bahrain and occupies part of the UAE. Not gonna mention that, no way. The Iranians are cool after all, because they hate the US.

You know, I am willing to listen and accept his version of how the americans are to blame for everything in the middle-east if he would just mention the other asshole players and assign them blame as well….

I’ve often said that we can’t win this war unless we win the hearts and the minds of the Left. On
Real Time
with Bill Maher, Ayaan Hirsi Ali does exactly that.

..all that and Goobers too.


Judith has videos and transcripts from the Herzliyya Conference December 17-18, 2006 up at Kesher talk. She says:

…Orwellian revisions of Jewish history, demonizing Israel, fauxtography and related media manipulation, and confusion about Islamist terrorism have not abated, so unfortunately this material continues to be relevant.

Just scroll down…

Suze Orman just came out. My gaydar is terrible, but this wasn’t a big surprise.

The bigger news is that she’s right about women and money..

- trying on different templates today…please excuse the mess.

Virginia Postrel on the Transparent Society

Sandmonkey reports at Pajamas Media:

Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Soliman was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday in a Cairo court. He will sit in jail for three years for the crime of “contempt for religion” and one year for “insulting the president”.

For those of you who haven’t been following the case, welcome to the Middle East. They do indeed have crimes like that around here.

Almost as disturbing as the sentence was the public reaction. As the court hearing ended, the media moved to the street in front of the courthouse and started interviewing people about what they thought of the trial. With the exception of human rights activists and bloggers, the Egyptian public seemed satisfied with the verdict, if not disappointed it wasn’t longer.

Many people expressed the view that Abdel Kareem should be killed for what he wrote, and each of them shared their preferred way to kill him: stabbing, hanging, and of course, the classic beheading. One actually asked a lawyer if it was legal to now kill him, since this verdict clearly brands him as an apostate, and the Sharia punishment for an apostasy is death. People were talking about killing him in the most casual manner, as if he was no longer a human being to them…


Everyone loves peace, they just define it in different ways.

Pacifists define ‘peace’ as the absence of war, and for that reason they’re willing to look the other way as genocide occurs. Democratic governments define ‘peace’ as unencumbered trade between nations that don’t slaughter their people or their neighbors en masse.

Osama bin Laden defines peace as a worldwide Caliphate under Islamic law, as do his sponsors.

Hitler thought that getting rid of the Jews and oppressing/killing all non-Aryans would lead to a perfect peace.

The Left dreams that peace that will come from state-enforced equality and UN control of US actions.

Of peace in the Middle East, Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey said:

..the Israeli want peace with us because they don’t want their lives disrupted. They don’t want to have the IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza, rockets coming into their towns from Hamas or having to go to wars against Hezbollah to get their soldiers back. I think they want peace because they want their peace of mind. They view us as if we were a headache. We view them as if they are a cancer.

During the middle ages, the Catholic Church was all about peace. They thought the crusades were the best way to achieve it. Gandhi was one of our most peace-loving leaders, yet his actions led to a religious-ethnic conflict that claimed 4 million lives.

One reason why a ‘peace process’ means little and accomplishes less.

In an interview with Howard Owens, Garrett Soden, author of Falling, described the political results that emerged from our fascination with gravity.

During the 18th century, there was an explosion of gravity activity. It started with street acrobats beginning to gather at fairs, which began to occupy permanent venues. Competition caused the acrobats (mostly spring-board leapers and rope-dancers) to attempt to outdo each other. Eventually, they developed international reputations. During the same century, the circus was invented; so was the roller coaster; so was the parachute. Mountaineering was also invented around the middle of the 18th century. Before then, no one climbed mountains for recreation. After the 18th century, there was no let-up: professional high-divers appeared in the early 19th century; wirewalkers began to risk higher falls to thrill crowds; the flying trapeze was invented in mid-19th century.”

“As I explain at some length in the book, I think a fascination with challenging gravity reflects the sense of individualism that grew with the birth of Modernism at about this time. Gravity is one of the most fundamental natural forces we know — defying it is consistent with the modern individual’s freedom to defy other seemingly “natural” forces, such as the social forces that keep peasants down.”

It’s not surprising that the Israel, a tiny nation that consistently defies expectations and the anti-modern forces that surround it, would choose to show the world their point of view via helicopter.

small israel

Israel in red, surrounded by her neighbors in green

The Israel Project, an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel, which generously offers journalists these ‘bird’s eye tours’ describes their intellicopter

Through its Jerusalem office, TIP operates “Intellicopter” tours—two-and a-half-hour guided helicopter tours with expert guides that give reporters a bird’s-eye view of the situation on the ground. The TIP “Intellicopter” educates journalists about security threats and opportunities for peace. Hundreds of journalists from more than 140 media outlets have taken the “Intellicopter” tour, including top journalists from the United States, England, France,Germany, Russia, Italy, Latin, America, Australia and Asia. Millions of people around the world have seen footage shot from these strategic aerial views—views which show Israel’s tiny size and enormous security challenges.

After the Herzilya conference, Richard Landes worked with the Israel Project to arrange for few of us (including Belmont Club’s Richard F., Michael Totten) to take an Intellicopter tour. Our helpful guide was Leah Soibel, a Senior Researcher who had spoken about media issues at the conference.

richard landes

Richard Landes

The tour of Israel, a nation that is slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey, with a population of 6 million (less than the population of New York City) takes about 1 1/2 hours.

Israel borders Egypt (population 78,887,007), Jordan (population 5,906,760), Syria (pop. 18,881,361), West Bank and Lebanon (pop. 3,874,050).

Despite its small population and its size, Israel is blamed by many for most Arab/Islamist petrodollar-funded violence around the world. A French ambassador once claimed that an international security crisis had been triggered by “that shitty little country Israel” – not by the actual perpetrators of the terrorism that cause the security crisis, or by large terror-supporting nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia – no, it’s all Israel’s fault.

When it’s not Lebanon’s fault, that is. Not coincidentally, if they’re not blaming Israel for all of the world’s problems, they’re blaming the other little democracy in the Middle East. In this Asia Times article, author Kaveh L Afrasiabi puts the onus for the resolution of the Saudi/Iranian conflict on Lebanon’s shoulders, claiming that if the Lebanese give in to Hezbollah, there could be peace in the Middle East.

…proving that schoolyard politics dominate the International community. Whenever there’s a problem, blame the little guy.

The tour included a stop at the Gaza border, where we viewed the effects of the Iranian funded war against a small immigrant town in Israel.

Despite the efforts of nations like France, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel continues to defy expectations. Here’s an Israeli-eye view of their world.

rising over herzliya

Rising over Herzliya

route 101

the road from Tel Aviv to Herzliyya, a Silicon-Valley esque landscape that reminded me of 101 in California.

tel aviv

Tel Aviv



cows in a field

Cows in a field

trees_rocky ground

desert farm


Israel’s lush forests are the result of their desert afforestation project, sponsored by groups like the B’nai B’rith. Leah mentioned that Israel was sharing these afforestation techniques with Jordan.

temple mount

the Temple Mount

over jerusalem

Over Jerusalem


For the first half of the tour, Totten called shotgun, but generously let me take front seat for the second half. I got a chance to talk with the pilot, whose son (like mine) is a flight instructor. After many years of flying for a living, he still loves the job, and can’t imagine doing anything else.


A view of the infamous ‘apartheid wall’, which is mostly a small security fence. A few taller cement structures were built in areas where Palestinians would take potshots at drivers on Israeli highways

former settlers

Village built for former Gaza settlers


solar roofs

Many Israeli apartment houses and homes have solar panels on the roof, mostly to power water heaters

back at airport

back at the Herzliyya airport

I was hoping to get to one of the “End Israel Apartheid” talks in NYC this week, to ask some questions and to see if the usual suspects had added any new conspiracy theories to their repertoire. Unfortunately, work and family stuff kept me from getting into the city.

However, even at my most ambitious, I was only planning to go to one of these events. The intrepid Pamela Hall went to every single “End Israel Apartheid” event this week.

Seven nights of conspiracy mongering and bone-crushing boredom. That’s endurance.

Judith at Kesher Talk has Pamela’s reports here, including this from Thursday night:

Thursday evening we were back in Judson Church, but we were downstairs in a meeting room that had a small screen set up for a power-point presentation.. When I walked in at about 10 minutes before the scheduled start-time I was one of FIVE people and there were only about 20 folding chairs put out. This ‘happening” is getting smaller and less ‘impressive’ each night and now…I’m starting to re-think my evening. . .

Slowly people start arriving (not many) And the presenters get way too excited. They rush to put out 7 more chairs…very odd… but, okay…. Then it’s start time. (We actually go on-time.) But, we’re getting a re-cap of the who-o-le week.…retreads…fillers, I think… they’re hoping for more people to show-up. So WE have to sit through the apartheid treadmill. I drift until we get our first speaker.

Again, these accents are a challenge. He’s Lebanese, I think. Tonight we’re listening to him recount all the killings; the MURDERS that Israel is responsible for in Lebanon. This young-man’s life has been destroyed by the nefarious goings-on that Israel has perpetrated against Lebanon. (I desperately wanted to end this charade as I have Lebanese Christian friends who support Israel 100%. They are desperate to see an end to the Hezbollah terror that is destroying their country). But, it’s too early in the speech to lose it, so…I sit. Then, in comes 7 (at least) of OUR crowd: The David Project and Stand With Us. They slowly walk in and fill the REST of the chairs. Who knew the remaining chairs would be filled by our counter-pamphleteers.

Okay, Mr. Lebanon finishes and now we get a woman speaker. She is a co-speaker with the moderator. A “Charlotte (Very Marxist) Kates-type”- an Arab with a slight accent. [ 'Where is Charlotte?", BTW... We haven't seen her since Monday evening's event.] Anyway, this speaker I can understand and it’s party-line all-the-way. All the same stuff we’ve heard night after night: Israel bad; Israel apartheid-state; Palestinians good…

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