Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gilad Shalit: 900 days in a Gaza Prison

A series of boats, stocked with reporters and (on second thought) presumed medical and food supplies have plied the waters of the Gaza coast, hoping to provoke a strong Israeli reaction. The ongoing blockade by Israel’s small but efficient navy prevents shipments of TNT, rockets, bombs, guns, ammunition and assorted other war/terrorism materials from reaching Hamas and their full time Jihadists. Israel’s detractors call Gaza a “jail” in turn.

Whether these boats are stopped or allowed through, their wake of publicity churns through the world’s media at such a rate that coverage of the ongoing tragedies in Congo and Darfur, among others, appear as mere oversights, as footnotes to the real story: namely, the Palestinian victims of Israel’s brutish hand.

Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on June 25, 2006 by Hamas gunmen inside Israel. He has been a pawn ever since: Hamas demands the release of over 1,400 murderers, terrorists and the like for Shalit’s return, a price that is clearly too dear for (even) Israel to pragmatically consider.

Shalit’s family should take a page from Hamas’ propaganda machine, which—along with those of Hezbollah and the PLO under the deceased Yasir Arafat—have been the world’s most effective propaganda worldwide since the end of the KGB (indeed, the KGB taught Arafat his most effective propaganda tools). The Shalits should charter a boat and sail into Gaza, with a similar horde of journalists and videographers, to demand the release of Gilad. They should call loudly to meet with Hamas, with the UN representatives in Gaza, as well as with all the various Gaza clan leaders. Whether ignored or imprisoned, they would inspire the world’s sympathy—no jail could long hold the pleading parents of young Gilad Shalit. Either way, a propaganda coup.

Well worthy of consideration, no?


Hamas parades mock Gilad Shalit before crowd of thousands in Gaza:

'Gaza-bound Iranian ship has hidden agenda' (Jerusalem Post)


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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Green Christmas Gifts

What if President Bush had the opportunity to grant the free world a final Christmas gift: 10 cruise missiles for the world’s 10 worst dictators, terrorists and/or murderers?

I would imagine Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea’s maniacal Kim Jong-il, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (currently ensconced in Damascus), Sudan’s Omar Hasan al-Bashir, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah and even Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, along with assorted others, would all fit the bill snuggly.

Not that I’m suggesting he do so – G-d forbid, that would be oh so politically incorrect. Imagine the embarrassment! How our State Department would squirm under reprimand by Putin and Hu Jintao, et al.

The appalling impossibility of ethical preemption: Bush would never get credit for all the murder and tyranny that would not arise due to his generous gift. Only the blame, and he certainly has enough of that – a little more won’t hurt, I’m sure.

Indeed, the opportunity is precious. By cleaning up some toxic waste the world would not miss, Bush would take all the blame; we’ll call it misguided Texan chivalry or na├»ve impetuousness. President-elect Obama could then thoroughly denounce such dastardly actions: a new president and government in January could credibly relinquish responsibility for these modest indiscretions and refresh our pledges to keep every genocidal dictator and murdering terrorist leader safe and warm in bed at night. Don’t worry: the demands of our new UN-style multicultural morality and our ACLU-inspired legal equalities will still be met!

Good cop, bad cop: it may just work, and what perfect timing to have a go at it. No one would (or could) blame Barack Hussein Obama, the vote and hope of the Third World. With the above tumors excised, 2009 would be a very good year, as Sinatra sings.

Not that I’m recommending such an outrageous course of action, an overdue bit of quid pro quo. With O.J. behind bars and my need for a rebalancing of the scales of justice temporarily abated, I can pass off my satisfaction with this plan as fantasy, as I’m sure much of the thinking world would as well.

Still, imagine if Bush would indulge us a little more – one last time.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

10 Rules for the Future: An Obama Suggestive

  1. Cap tax-deductible CEO remuneration at a maximum of 30 times the salary of that public company’s lowest paid worker. Thereabove, salaries will not be tax deductible as an operating expense for an employer. In addition, no bonuses (in cash or shares) for top management of a public company will be tax deductible if the company suffered losses by the end of the relevant year.

  2. Limit the amount of airtime (on both public television and radio) eligible for advertiser tax deductions, to about 90 percent of the current level. Any advertising time above this level will not be tax deductible, reducing the cost-effectiveness of additional advertisements and helping to stem our country’s advertising epidemic.

    By way of both suggestions 1 and 2, companies can allocate resources exactly as they wish. However, the government will cease to incentivize obviously counterproductive decisions.

  3. Tax all raw materials, particularly oil and other energy products, according to a formula that factors in all of their indirect costs, including recycling, pollution and security impacts. The tax on oil, for example, will take into account global warming, other pollution, the use of the American military to provide a protective shield in the Middle East, and so on. Use the revenues from these taxes to tackle the country’s most urgent needs: reducing alternative energy costs, improving and extending incentive-based education, and reducing our national deficit.

  4. Re-define the tax code: tax all workers at a flat 8 percent, bumping the rate to 18 percent and 28 percent for earnings over $80,000 and over $250,000, respectively (including capital gains). Create a standardized national sales tax of 8.8%. Abolish the inheritance tax, loopholes and all.

    This simplified tax code will save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars by removing unnecessary accounting, audit, and tax collection fees, as well as reducing the costs of maintaining a large tax bureaucracy. In addition, it will ensure that all Americans, irrespective of income, contribute to the country and have a stake in its well-being.

  5. Eliminate pork—and this is not a halal or kosher issue. Ban all unrelated and irrelevant earmarks in any budget vote. Establish Congressional sub-committees to vote on minor expenditures individually, ensuring that every line item is voted on and not advanced circumstantially by inclusion in larger, otherwise unrelated bills.

  6. Implement a ‘Bare Bones’ universal healthcare program, fully covering only workers’ compensation and emergency healthcare, and including sensible co-pays for all other services. Allow private insurance plans to cover these additional and premium services as well. This “Bare Bones’ program (to be named in a more euphemistic manner) must be freely transferable from job to job and from state to state.

  7. Require all penitentiaries to have two “tracks” for inmates: ‘bones only’ and ‘full service.’ All inmates are guaranteed only the minimum, ‘bones only’ services, rights, and opportunities—a basic, “one star” jail experience. If inmates want better food, recreation, education and facilities they must work in some manner to earn those rights and help re-pay the penal system for these additional luxuries. No better way exists for rehabilitation than this kind of incentive-based, pay-as-you-go system. As an added bonus, local manufacturers will be allowed to set up cost-effective, low-wage satellite factories in (or attached to) low security prisons.

  8. Implement tort reform—finally. Allow judges and juries to charge a plaintiff (i.e., the initiator of a legal action) with all costs when they deem the action to be frivolous or based on avarice. Include a ‘three strikes’ approach to lawyers’ pursuit of frivolous lawsuits, after which one’s license to practice law is put on ice for a significant period.

  9. Require naturalized citizens to pledge an unequivocal, demonstrable and written commitment to integrate into our broad society, accept the primacy of our laws and our Bill of Rights and Constitution, and agree to learn a minimum functioning quotient of the English language. Similarly, define more pragmatically the invitation to citizenship for individuals born in the USA to two non-citizen parents, and as well as those with familial relationships, to reduce abuse.

  10. Include in the definition of “tolerance” the preventing of a vociferous minority from imposing its will on the majority; do not define our universal religion as political correctness and appeasing multiculturalism. Respect those “antediluvian” citizens who prefer to remain patriotic, religious, strong, independent, conservative, heterosexual and/or free.


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Monday, December 1, 2008

Mumbai Media Machinations

Hypocrisy drips heavy from the broadcast towers of the Western media.

The tragedies in Mumbai set in stark relief the variation in media labels for those that kill Jews in Israel and those that kill innocents of other creeds in other places.

You will note that “militants” hardly exist in this horror, but “terrorists” abound. [1]

Will someone please stand up and explain to me the difference between a “militant” suicide bomber who incinerates a bus full of women and children in Jerusalem, and the Mumbai “terrorists?”

Why it is ‘militants’ who blow up schools and study centers in Israel and execute its students, while ‘terrorists’ are those who attack hotels in India? (Terrorists Paralyze India’s Business Capital)

My powers of discernment are clearly lacking—will the media please clarify for me whether Israeli victims are different, are less innocent, than the victims in India? If “terrorists” are those who intentionally seek out the murder of civilians, is there something less ‘civil’ about Israelis riding a bus to work, or studying at a school, or eating at a street-side restaurant?

Even when some of the victims are Jews, whether in Israel or Mumbai, the distinction emerges. Why are terrorists called terrorists in India, Beslan, Madrid, London and Bali — and not in Israel?

Perhaps the difference has nothing to do with the victims, but concerns the perpetrators instead. Are the ‘terrorists’ less sincere or less passionate than the ‘militants’— or vice versa? And yet, strikingly, all of these perpetrators are extremist Muslim Jihadists.

Interestingly, now that the rampage in Mumbai is receding from the media’s spotlight, attributions of blame are emerging. The “terrorists” are no longer amorphous, anonymous murderers; shocking no-one, they are now being identified as Pakistani and/or Muslim militants.

I have not yet seen a cogent differentiation between what constitutes a “militant” and what constitutes a “terrorist.” Is it only I who remains confused? Or is it possible that this double standard thrives on sympathies, not fact; arises out of prejudice, not truth; that it is the product of agenda driven politics and less than honest journalism?

Hide the Jews

“Americans, Britons and Israelis are being targeted by the terrorists according to a proliferation of news reports (see also The Hunted)

You may (sadly) note that Jews are not anywhere noted as specifically “being targeted” in the news headlines. Yet it was the Jewish Chabad House — a religious center and community group set-up for all varieties of Jewish visitors — that was targeted. There are in fact more than 3300 such Chabad-Lubavitch institutions around the world. The center is apolitical with no formal association with Israel.

Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Bahai and Buddhist centers were not targeted.

The victims executed at the Chabad House were Jews, including Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. What did their Jewish-ness have to do with Kashmir, with India-Pakistan relations, or with Muslim separatist ambitions? Or even, for that matter, with the “liberation of Palestine?” Jews were the target, not the Israeli Consulate. [2]





The answer remains chilling: nothing. The fact is that the Jews are the only ethnic or religious group that is consistently targeted by terrorists worldwide, irrespective of where they live, how religious or irreligious they are, or how patriotic or apolitical they may be. Whether they are children or elderly, Jews remain the world’s most sought-after terrorist trophies because they happen to share the same invisible genetic source, the same historical inheritance.

Yet the media chooses to ignore what these brainwashed terrorists are making clear and evident in their every action — that it is the Jews who are the preferred target.[3] The Mumbai terrorists’ separation of Jews (or Americans or Britons, for that matter) from the rest of the hostages for execution is a grim reminder of the Holocaust, of the Entebbe hijacking, and the Munich Olympic massacre. And such reminders are not to be ignored.

The Importance of Getting It Right

The media’s coverage of these horrors need not be suffused with appeasement. Victims should not be confused with perpetrators: all the murders are all needless tragedies. All those who did the killing are equally indefensible. Only when the media (and Western societies in general) see—starkly—that difference, will we be able to successfully protect our freedom and our liberty.[4]

Obfuscating the truth may be politically correct or simply incompetent reporting, but it does little to explain the mindset of these killers or the intentions of their handlers. And until we understand this, the immovable intentions of these Islamic radicals, our answer to their challenge will remain tenuous and out of reach.

Footnotes:

1. A particularly telling example comes from the UK’s Independent, perhaps the most anti-Israel major newspaper in the West.

2. In 2007, the FBI released its annual 2007 hate crime reports. Of the total 1,628 victims of anti-religious hate crimes, 69.2% were Jewish and 8.7% were Muslim. There were at least 40 times more stories last year about Islamophobia than about anti-Semitism. Investigative Project on Terrorism "They're Winning" by Steve Emerson:

3. Indian Doctors Shocked at Hostages' Torture:

4."It's all very well for us to say Islam has nothing to do with extremism and terrorism. We can go on deluding ourselves these psychopaths do not represent us...""The great religion that preaches and celebrates universal brotherhood, equality of men and peace and justice for all has been hijacked by a demented, miniscule minority. And, as my friend says, only Muslims can solve this problem. Only Muslims can confront these anarchists in their midst...""Only they can get their faith freed from the clutches of extremism. This is no time to hide. It's time to stand up and speak out. For the terrorists will continue to speak on our behalf" unless we do speak up. "This is no time for silence. Enough is enough!" "No Time to Hide for Muslims" by Aijaz Zaka Syed:

Links to Related Articles:
"Mumbai and the Chabad Movement" by Lucette Lagnado (WSJ, Dec. 4, 2008)
"If this isn't terrorism, what is?" by Tom Gross (WSJ, Dec. 2, 2008)
"For most of the Mumbai siege, the BBC went out of its way to avoid reporting that the Jewish community center was one of the seven targets. At one point viewers were told that "an office building" had been targeted (referring to the Jewish center as such). Meanwhile - perhaps even more disgracefully - a New York Times report on the last day of the siege stated: "It is not known if the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene."
Background: A Rich history now stained with blood" by Shalva Weil (The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 30, 2008)

Breath of the Beast

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"The Jihadi as Nazi, from 9/11 to Mumbai" by Bradley Burston (Ha'aretz, Dec. 3, 2008)

Targeting Jews - Again by David A. Harris (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 8, 2008)