December 2008

Michael Totten asks: What Would a Proportionate Response Look Like?

Now that Hamas’s long war against Israel is matched with a short war in Gaza, protests are erupting everywhere from the blogosphere and Arab capitals to the United Nations, and they began on the very first day. “blogger Glenn Greenwald calls the Israeli retaliation to more than a year of rocket attacks a “massively disproportionate response.” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay “strongly condemned Israel’s disproportionate use of force.” The Israeli counterattack is, indeed, disproportionate, but it could hardly be otherwise. “At last count,” J.G. Thayer wrote, “one Israeli and two Palestinians (sisters, ages 13 and 5) died from rocket attacks. So a proportionate response, one presumes, would have required Israel to kill a single Palestinian and two of its own citizens.”..

…The “disproportionate response” crowd doesn’t seem to mind that Israel struck back at Hamas per se. They aren’t saying Israel should only be allowed to negotiate with its enemies or that any use of force whatsoever is wrong. They’re clearly saying Israel should use less force, inflict less damage, or both.

One problem here is that it’s not at all clear how they think Israelis should go about doing it. The weapons used by each side can’t be the same. No one has ever said Israel ought to put its superior weapons systems in cold storage until Hamas can develop or purchase something similar. Presumably Israel is allowed to use its superior technology as long as the casualty count on each side is proportionate.

But how would that work in practice? A single Israeli air strike is going to kill at least as many people as Hamas can kill in twelve months. Does that mean Israel should be given a “license” of one air strike per year to use in the war?…

The “proportionate response” crowd appears to be motivated by the pacifist faith, which considers it a moral victory to eliminate all violence, including self defense. Since these pacifists have no hope of eliminating terrorist violence, they focus their efforts on anyone who is unfortunate and soft-hearted enough to listen to their babble. Israel is one of those unfortunates.

The pacifist “proportionate response” ideal has helped terrorist violence increase worldwide. “Proportionate response” laws prohibiting self-defense have also been responsible for the recent crime wave in Britain.

Here are the basic rules for self-defense in Britain, via Uncommon Misconceptions:

You are permitted to protect yourself with a briefcase, a handbag, or keys. You should shout “Call the Police” rather than “Help.” Bystanders are not to help. They have been taught to leave such matters to the professionals. If you manage to knock your attacker down, you must not hit him again or you risk being charged with assault…

…How did it come to this? How were the British lulled into giving up what Americans regard as an essential right? The Cato Institute identifies these steps in the process:

* 1920: Law introduced requiring certification every 3 years of necessity of owning a gun
* 1937: “Necessity” redefined to discourage home or personal protection
* 1953: Prevention of Crime Act passed – outlaws carrying any article for an “offensive purpose.”
* 1964: “Necessity” redefined to exclude home or personal protection
* 1967: Criminal law revised to allow only “reasonable” force in self-defense. Protection of property is considered unreasonable.

British laws against self defense are based on the UN’s “human rights” legislation. Like the British people, the Israelis have slowly gotten accustomed to living with UN laws forbidding self-defense, a basic right that every being, even the lowliest amoeba, requires for its existence. Because of this, UN pacifist laws are, in reality and practice, a severe violation of human rights.

Forbidding “violence” in the form of self-defense appears to have become the primary goal of the United Nations. As promotors of the pacifist faith, the UN should be reclassified as a religious organization, not a political one.

We all know that faith and politics should not mix. The faithful of the UN only have power over those who are unfortunate enough to listen to them. If Israel or any other nation values its existence, they should not listen.


Photos from the Metropolitan Museum of Art are up on Flickr

I support Israel’s right to defend themselves, but I agree with Alan Sullivan, they should have attacked Hamas in Syria first. Israel also should have attacked Syria instead of Lebanon in the 2006 war.

Syria is, for the most part, hated and alone in the Middle East. Arab and EU propaganda is built around ’sympathy for the Palestinians’, and the international community reflexively objects to any bomb-dropping by Israel, but if a surprisingly large number of Hamas and Syrian leaders were gunned down/felled by an industrial accident/died of heatstroke/ate bad sushi on the streets of Damascus, there would be no real outcry. A lot of people would be quietly pleased.

Via YNet News: Hamas threatens Israeli leaders

Hamas figure in the northern Gaza Strip Fathi Hamad said his organization would hurt Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

“We will reach that Zionist in her house, inside the Knesset compound. We will also get to the traitors in the Muqata compound in Ramallah and to all those in the Arab world that had a hand in the scheme against us. We will hunt Barak down and reach all of them,” Hamad said.

“Today we are sending a message through the sea of blood that was spilled here and we will not surrender and we will defeat the enemy. From here, from within the proud Strip, we say to all our enemies: We will get to you, defeat you, and hunt you down one by one.

“We will reach the Zionist leaders in their homes, we will get to you, the collaborators in the Muqata in Ramallah, and we will settle the score with you one by one.”

Hamad added that “Hamas and the organizations will settle the score with anyone who was involved in the attack on Gaza, in the participation in this scheme and in supporting this attack.

“We will settle the score with you one by one”? Why has anyone ever taken these goons seriously? One commenter had it right when he said that these Islamist ‘leaders’ make Robert Mugabe look like a respectable statesman.

Hamas’ gangsta-style threats were a reaction to Israels’ recent, precisely targeted airstrikes against the organization. Hopefully, these airstrikes (and Hamas’ blundering reaction) are a sign that things are changing in the Middle East.

Hamas’ gangsta militia is just one weapon in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Syria’s long-running war against Israel. Other weapons include the Pallywood propaganda machine, the petrodollar lobby and their militias, like al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah.

As Mark Steyn said, the strength of the Arab armies combined make Belgium look butch. For decades the Arab/Islamists have been trying to compensate for their embarrassingly small armies by using every meager resource they have. All they have to show for this is a reasonably efficient propaganda machine, mobster governments and some of the most backwards social systems and economies in the world.

All Israel has to show for their pursuit of peace is a bad neighborhood filled with propagandists, mobsters and power-hungry zealots. It’s about time things changed.

For years, Israel has following the British model of dealing with terrorism – legitimizing the sonuvabitch who is “our friend” and trying to pit him against the sonuvabitch who is “our enemy”. They’ve been trying to negotiate with the supposedly moderate Abbas and the supposedly moderate Saudis in the hopes that these enemies of Hamas and Iran (respectively) will offer a working peace.

When Israel realizes that Abbas and Saudi Arabia are just as dangerous as Hamas and Iran, when Israel realizes that these enemies have been working together for years and that they give their war against Israel a higher priority than their war against each other, they can finally abandon the British model and take effective action against the enemies who hope to eliminate them. Hopefully, these targeted attacks against Hamas are a sign that Israel is changing course.

If Israel has given up all hope that the British model will work, we’ll all benefit, because we all need to abandon this failed model.

The war against terror-supporting nations is bigger than Israel vs. the Palestinians. It’s India vs. Pakistan, its the Taliban/Pakistan vs. Afghanistan, it’s Iran/Hezbollah vs. Lebanon. It’s Europe vs. Hizb-ut-Tahrir and the Muslim brotherhood and it’s Thailand vs. ’separatist militants’ funded by Saudi Arabia, trained by Libya. These wars follow the same pattern as Israel vs. the Palestinians – an established state is threatened by a weak, petrodollar-funded Islamist militia that has few real weapons, no real offensive capability and few soldiers who can shoot straight. The established state ignores the fact that it could easily wipe out the Islamist threat using decent intelligence work and the destruction of enemy infrastructure. It tries diplomacy and dumb alliances with ‘moderate’ Islamists and enemies-of-enemies. This prolongs conflicts that should have been finished years ago.

We need to stop prolonging these conflicts, for Israel and for ourselves.

..but some places are even worse….


Members of South Korea’s ruling party spray fire extinguishers at opposition members as they try to break into a committee room, in a row over new free trade laws with the US.


Recipe thanks to Judith

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp warm water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups sifted flour

Cream butter and sugar.
Beat in the honey.
Dissolve baking soda in warm water and add to mixture..
Sift spices with flour and add to mixture.
The original recipe calls for the flat serrated pattern from a cookie press. If you don’t have a cookie press, roll the dough out flat onto wax paper. Cut into long thin strips. (Final cookie shape will be thin crisp rectangles.) Place on cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 min..
Cut into rectangles while still warm. Remove from sheet with spatula. Let cool..
Store in plastic bag to stay crisp..

UPDATE: I’ve got a cookie press, but lost the flat, serrated pattern thingy, so I rolled them out.

If you want to sprinkle some confectioner’s sugar on the cookies and don’t like dealing with messy sifters, try sifting them using a tea strainer and a spoon.

I was at the Met yesterday searching for something to sketch (sketches coming soon), wandered into a new artists exhibit and found the explosion of color, enamel, kitsch, Bosch, light and conflict that is the work of Raqib Shaw.


Pesonae Online on Raqib Shaw:

Barely 33 years of age, Raqib is undoubtedly the latest sensation in Indian art. Reviewing his first New York show two and half years ago, the New York Times critic, Holland Cotter, wrote: “Labor-intensive and intensely active, Raqib Shaw’s paintings look like X-rated, subaquatic hybrids of Hieronymus Bosch, Victorian fairy painting, Persian miniatures and Bollywood films of the Ramayana. Mr. Shaw was born in Calcutta, grew up in Kashmir and now lives in London. Kashmir, with its fantastically florid beauty, is a place where cultures meet. It is said to be home to Hindu divinities. Mughal emperors spent summers there; so did British colonialists. Mr. Shaw saw evidence of all of this as a teenager.”
It is a miracle that out of the carnage in Kashmir has come such beauty. Islam, Hinduism and the West are transformed in Raqib’s art. Cotter wrote:” He went to art school in London and has lived there since, so he isn’t an ”Indian” artist, though there are elements associated with Indian art in his work. Human-shaped figures have animal heads, like Hindu gods. Nature is an all-enveloping, erotic force. In Mr. Shaw’s paintings beasts and humans copulate; phalluses crop up everywhere; ejaculation produces a constellation of butterflies.”

Wild stuff, beautiful technique. If you happen to be at the Met, take a look!


Happy Wright Brothers Day!

David T. at Harry’s Place explains it all:

There is a theory, popular with the foreign policy establishment, that the best way to defeat violent extremism, is to find people who are ideologically close to violent extremism, and do a deal with them. You find the sonuvabitch who is “our friend” and pit him against the sonuvabitch who is “our enemy”. You install him in power. Big smiles for the press, handshakes all round. Then you walk away. When the whacking and chopping and mass murder starts, you shake your head in sorrow from behind your desk in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, relieved that it is now no longer “our problem”.

That model doesn’t work, as far as domestic politics are concerned. You can’t “walk away” from the problems you create here. Britain is our home.

What made the Muslim Contact Unit’s decision to partner with Islamists respectable, was the thesis that there is a “good Muslim Brotherhood” and a “bad Muslim Brotherhood”. Robert Leiken of the Nixon Centre puts the theory well here:

It became clear that there were two main currents within the Muslim Brotherhood. Some members were reactionary and dogmatic, were probably anti-Semitic and certainly anti-Zionist, wanted Israel to vanish and made that a principle of their politics and world view. The Supreme Guide expresses such views. But we found those views to be a severe embarrassment to other leading Brothers. We talked to powerful Brotherhood leaders who took public positions extolling Jews. This trend seems to be on the ascent.

Leiken expounded his theory that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “safety valve for moderate Islam” at length in his article, The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood.

I think that Leiken is off his rocker, frankly.

Unfortunately, our foreign policy and our state department are following the same off-the-rocker policy, with the same results. We ally with “friendly” sonuvabitches like the Saudis and the Pakistanis, we legitimize these terror-supporting regimes, and terrorists slaughter people around the world on a weekly basis. Winston Churchill was right about the problems that can arise from feeding crocodiles. Look at the current mess that was the British “Empire”. Proof that this policy has never worked, and it will never work.

I’d suggest that Islamists have three main aims in engaging with the British state.

The first is validation. Those involved in Islamist politics are narcissistic fantasists. They imagine themselves – like the Blues Brothers – to be on a “mission from God”. Somebody like Azad Ali is, in reality, a middle aged civil servant. However it flatters him when senior civil servants and police officers treat him as somebody who matters, who is doing something meaningful and significant, and who should therefore be treated seriously, rather than laughed at as a crank.

Islamist groups also leverage validation by one organisation, to persuade others to treat them seriously. If the Metropolitian Police think you’re a serious person, then an MP will speak at your conference. If an MP speaks at your conference, you’re more likely to get an op ed in a mainstream newspaper. If you get your op ed, a senior judge is more likely to support you. That is the strategy. And, if somebody then points out that you’ve been calling for jihad, or support banned terrorist groups, the fact that you’ve got the backing of the Metropolitant Police, a mainstream newspaper, an MP, and a senior judge makes it easy for you to attack your opponent as a racist and Islamophobe who is trying to “smear” you.

The second aim is influence. There are prizes to be had for playing the game. As a reward for working with the Metropolitan Police, Bob Lambert’s team installed the Muslim Brotherhood – in place of Abu Hamza – in the Finsbury Park Mosque. One of the trustees they put in place, Mohammed Sawalha, had been named by the BBC as a fugitive Hamas commander. Muslim Brotherhood front groups have been working hard to get their hands on a share of the Preventing Violent Extremism pot. In Tower Hamlets, they succeeded. They promptly used the money to stage a ‘debate’ between the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Muhajiroun and Hizb ut Tahrir.

But the rewards on offer are not simply monetary. What the Muslim Brotherhood dearly would love, is to be treated by the state as the rightful intermediary for British Muslims. They would like input into policy formation. They would like to be able to bargain with the Government, in the name of all British Muslims. In particular, they want to appear on television, deploring terrorism, but explaining that because the Government hasn’t followed its sensible advice, there’s nothing it can do to stop the young hotheads from blowing themselves up.

There’s a telling phrase in Andy Hayman’s op ed piece, and it is this. He argues that there is no point is building bridges with Muslims who are “safe but … not really representative”. I very much hope that what Andy Hayman means is that Islamists are ‘representative’ of those who are involved in, or supportive of, violent jihad: and not “representative” of British Muslims generally. The former interpretation is spot on: the latter is simply untrue. The danger we face, however, is that by treating Islamists as the legitimate representatives of British Muslims, we will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. We will have made them kings of their communities. What do you think they will do with that influence?..

…If the police want to find Muslims to help them “deradicalise” potential jihadists, they should partner with those who have been jihadists, but have turned their back on that politics altogether: not individuals and groups which support terrorism in any country but ours.

This essay offers a full explanation of how Britain’s anti terrorism policies actually grow and nurture local (and worldwide) terrorist groups. Britain has been feeding the crocodile, hoping to be eaten last. Unfortunately, many countries follow the British model for ‘fighting’ (nuturing and growing) terrorism. We’re all feeding the crocodile.

So who will the crocodile eat first? That decision is up to the jihadis, not us. By following the British model we give all the power to the jihadis and none to us. Our superior intelligence is no match for their puny weapons.

If there’s anything our new administration needs to change, it’s this.


I’m joining Ron Coleman and Deb Smith of Jersey Bites in supporting The Community Food Bank in New Jersey.

I’ve seen more than a few news reports about how the economic situation in the NJ/NY area has forced a lot of families (who used to donate to Food Banks) to ask their neighbors for help. This year, contributing is very important.

From Deb Smith:

So, what can you do? It doesn’t get any easier, truly.

1. Make a monetary contribution: Visit

2. Donate food: Drop off a bag of food at your local food pantry.

3. Organize a food drive: We can help explain the logistics of starting a food drive. Just call 908-355-FOOD.

4. Help “Check Out Hunger:” Look for the “Check Out Hunger” coupons at your local supermarket and donate. No donation is too small!

I try to get into the habit of using the “Check Out Hunger” coupons whenever I see them, but during the holiday season it helps to put some extra effort into donating food or cash. Remember, it’s especially important this year.

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