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!

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