Cutting straight to the point

Sunday night linkage

Posted on December 11th, 2005 at 11:18 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Linkfests

It’s Haveil Havalim, a.k.a. Carnival of the Jews.

I can’t find the Carnival of the Cats. If I can’t find it, I can’t link it. I’m going to bed. I’ll link it tomorrow morning.

DovBear pointed out this article in the NY Times that says some “megachurches” are shutting down for Christmas because it’s on a Sunday this year. So does that mean that, say, the PC(USA) folks who are urging companies to divest from Israel can’t even be bothered with going to church on Christmas? Gee. That makes them even lamer than twice-a-year-Jews. We fill those synagogues on the High Holy Days, and don’t you forget it!

Music and lyrics

Posted on December 11th, 2005 at 11:09 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Pop Culture, Religion

Today was my religious school’s Chanukah celebrations. We sang Chanukah songs in shirah (music) and t’fila (prayer), the classes had their Chanukah parties, and Young Judea held a Hanukkah Hop for the children of the Richmond-area schools.

One of the songs we sang is Peter Yarrow’s “Light One Candle,” a song which I loved from the moment I first heard it, and which I thought all this time was a song about Chanukah, and about the Jewish fight for existence. But today, as I was singing the song with the students, I finally actually read the lyrics. And I discovered something about “Light One Candle.” It isn’t about the success of Jews over persecution and oppression. It isn’t about fighting for our existence as a people. It isn’t about keeping the light of Judaism going. It isn’t even about the Menorah.

It’s a song about social justice. It has become an anthem of such in some circles, apparently. And on Yarrow’s own website, the meaning is clear: It’s not about Judaism.

Written by Peter Yarrow, “Light One Candle” was first presented as part of the 1982 Peter, Paul and Mary Hanukkah/ Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall with the N.Y. Choral Society. Later, performances throughout theU.S., Europe and particularly Israel, brought a new and universal meaning to the song.

“Light One Candle” was written, and is sung, for Jews and non-Jews alike. The flame is an historical reminder of an ethical imperative. It burns as a burden, demanding sacrifice and struggle. But it also lights the possibility, the privilege and promise of a better world. We must not let the light go out.

Nowhere in there is a message about the struggle of the Jews to keep their religion alive under oppression and the intent to destroy it. Instead, it’s “for Jews and non-Jews alike.” Ethics. Social justice. Sacrifice and struggle, yes, but not for your religion. For your conscience.

Many issues have moved Peter Yarrow to give often of his time and talent over the years: hunger, homelessness, the nuclear threat, education, equal rights. All have tapped his skills as both a performer and organizer. Throughout, he has used his music as advocacy. One can hear that in songs like “Light One Candle,” which has become an anthem for the Jewish ethical legacy; Judaism’s commitment to a better world.

Once again, we have the ethical side of the Jewish equation, and yet, nothing regarding the religion itself–which is the reason for Jewish ethics, I might point out. Judaism’s commitment to Judaism? How quaint. This is the new era, dammit, where the only religion is social justice.

I wonder if Peter Yarrow even remembers why Jews are required to be ethical in this life, rather than simply asking for forgiveness at the end so you can jump on into the next one. (Here’s a hint: It’s in something called the Torah.)

I don’t believe I’ll be purchasing that CD after all.

The fence is working

Posted on December 11th, 2005 at 10:00 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel, Terrorism

Ynet says incidents at roadblocks are up. Why? Because the fence is preventing most suicide attacks.

A 20-year-old Palestinian arrived Saturday morning at the 300 roadblock south of Jerusalem. Border Guard police officers searched him and discovered that he was carrying two ready-to-use improvised explosive devices, a plastic gun and a knitted hat.

The devices included explosives and nails.

[…] On Thursday, 20-year-old Sergeant Nir Kahane was stabbed to death while standing at the Kalandiya roadblock north of Jerusalem. A terrorist, who arrived at the roadblock in the afternoon, pulled out a knife and stabbed Kahane while he was conducting a security check.

On Friday, an IDF soldier thwarted a stabbing attempt on Hebron’s worshippers’ route. A 17-year-old Palestinian girl arrived at the area and pulled a knife out of her coat in front of the soldiers.

She approached a soldier and tried to stab him, but he pointed his weapon at the girl and overpowered her.

[…] Also Friday, a 15-year-old Palestinian was caught at the Hawara checkpoint, south of Nablus, in possession of two pipe bombs.

[…] In another incident early Saturday, an IDF navy boat identified two Palestinians swimming from Egypt toward the Gaza Strip. The soldiers ordered the Palestinians to stop. Simultaneously, the boat was fired at from the Gaza Strip shore.

The fact that all of these attacks and attempted attacks happened indicates that the security fence is working very well, indeed.

No wonder the palestinians and the Muslim/Arab world want it down. It’s stopping them from murdering Jews.

Today’s Biased AP story

Posted on December 10th, 2005 at 11:23 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel, Media Bias

More AP bias: When Israel says it will refuse to continue trading with the palestinians because the palestinians are letting murderers cross the Rafah border, it’s a “threat.” When Hamas threatens to end the faux truce and resume large-scale murders of Israelis, it’s a “reiteration.” Observe the two stories:

Hamas Leader Reiterates No Israel Truce
Dec 9, 6:11 PM (ET)
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Hamas will not renew its truce with Israel when it expires at the end of the year, the political leader of the Palestinian militant group told a rally Friday.

The comment by Khaled Mashaal raised the threat of renewed suicide bombings in Israel. Hamas carried out dozens of such attacks, killing hundreds of people, before the informal truce came into effect earlier this year.

“We will only choose the road of resistance, especially since we are waiting for the last moments of the truce, which has fatigued us,” Mashaal told more than 1,000 supporters in a Palestinian camp outside the Syrian capital.

“I say enough to the truce,” Mashaal said.

The word “threat” is used only in relation to the “threat of renewed suicide bombings.” You’d think that the headline would be, “Hamas threatens to renew suicide bombings,” but then, you wouldn’t be an AP editor if you thought that way.

Israel Demands Better Border Security
Dec 10, 1:15 AM (ET)
JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel threatened on Friday to restrict trade across its frontier with Gaza if the Palestinians fail to address its security concerns at the newly opened border crossing between Gaza and Egypt within two days.

The restrictions, if carried out, would further choke Gaza’s already shaky economy and damage hopes for renewed cooperation between Israel and the Palestinians following Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip in September.

The threat was made at a meeting between Israeli officials and international mediators. The Associated Press obtained notes of the session.

Early Saturday, an Israeli naval boat patrolling the Gaza coast shot and killed a Palestinian in the town of Rafah near the Egyptian border, Palestinian officials said. Israel had no immediate comment.

Palestinian medical officials identified the slain man as Nazen Farhat, 27. A second man who was with Farhat was missing, the officials said.

The Rafah terminal opened Nov. 26 under the supervision of European monitors, giving Palestinians control of a border for the first time.

Israel has complained in recent days that the Palestinians were violating a U.S.-brokered agreement by not providing instant information on people crossing from Egypt into Gaza. As a result, Israel said last week up to 15 militants, including the brother of Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, were allowed in.

The negative language is accented in boldface. Once again, the AP shows its anti-Israel bias. And, by the way, WTF is that bit about the IDF patrol shooting doing in this story? Is it part of the Rafah crossing? Did it happen at the Rafah crossing? Was it because of the Rafah crossing? No. It is there specifically to make Israel look like it’s killing palestinians indiscriminately. Notice that there is no information given as to why the palestinian was shot, but you know his name and age. Amazing, that. Because a quick check on Ynet shows that the swimmers were terrorists. Funny how the AP never manages to pick up on things like that in its updates, but other news services manage.

So what’s the American take on all this?

U.S. officials told a separate meeting of the so-called Quartet of international mediators Friday that the Palestinians were complying with the Rafah agreement and that any delay in relaying information was the result of technological problems that American experts were trying to resolve, according to notes of that meeting also obtained by the AP.

The Bush/Baker State Department analogy continues unabated. This administration is paying lip service to supporting Israel’s security concerns, while the reality is the opposite.

The awards post

Posted on December 10th, 2005 at 10:52 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Bloggers

I’m not last in my category, and I thank you for that. Sean Hackbarth isn’t last eilther, and is asking his readers to vote for him so he can beat me. I don’t care if he beats me. Just don’t let him make me last.

That’s my slogan for these awards: Vote for me so I don’t come in last!

Several blogs I have been voting for: Silent Running for Best Podcast (it’s not winning, vote for it), Chris Muir for Best Humor/Comics (he’s not winning, vote for him!), Norm Geras, who is currently leading the Best UK blog category (that one is a really tough category with, like, six blogs I’d like to vote for), and Dave of Israelly Cool for Best Middle East/Africa, even though he hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of beating the Iraqi bloggers.

I’m rather uninterested in these awards, as you may be able to tell.

I’m far more interested in Dave’s Jewish and Israeli Blogger Awards. I have to start thinking of a post to nominate for the best post category. Go over there and nominate your favorite Jewish or Israeli blogger. There are a few in my left sidebar to choose from, but I recommend going from JIBber to JIBber and reading as many blogs they link to as possible before making a choice.

And I’ll be going through my posts of the past year and looking for a nominable one. Unless you have a favorite of 2005 that you can think of off the bat.

Un-Birthday post

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 2:57 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Life

Do other bloggers do what I do? This post has been in draft limbo since November 15th. I tried to write an interesting post about my rather dull birthday, but the interesting part never seemed to come together, probably because, well, the day wasn’t very interesting.

I mean, I had a nice lunch with Sarah and the twins, and my coworker Jeannie (who is big-time OCD Girl) came by and surprised me with chocolate (always a big yay) and gifts, but it was the day I was completely–and I mean completely–alone at work, what with the entire department on a conference out of town.

Yes, everyone. The only other person in my corner of the building was an assistant. On the other side of the building.

So I tried to write a post, and it sucked, so I left it in draft, and then November became December, and now the post is utterly outdated. And it’s still boring.

So I think I’ll replace it with this one, which is far less boring. Then I can finally tell you about Jeannie, who could also be known as OCD Girl and be in the Legion of Substitute Heroes (some of whom had some awesome powers; man, those 1960s comic book writers were morons–I mean, Matter-Eater Lad makes it into the Legion, and the DC version of Iceman doesn’t? Come on). Where was I? Oh. Jeannie.

See, here’s the thing. The woman is a compulsive organizer. She doesn’t even know she’s doing it. She came by with a bag of Hershey’s miniatures, scattered them all over my desk and said, “See? I can be messy sometimes!” and while she stood there talking to me, she–without realizing she had done this–placed all of the Hershey’s miniatures on her side of the desk in neat little rows, six to a row, with four in the top row, centered.

The next day, she told me at lunch how she had proudly told her husband about messing up my desk, so I said, “Well, I don’t think you noticed you were doing this, but…” and told her. I was right. She was astonished. And disappointed.

Oh, well. Next time, I have a suggestion: Dump the chocolate and run. Then you can’t organize it. Sorta the OCD equivalent of a bag of flaming dog poop on the lawn, only without the grossness factor and, well, not mean, either.

Okay, so it’s not the equivalent of a trick that I never personally did, though I did know a few people I would have liked to have done that to.

On the other hand, I did lower a firecracker down to the exact center of my uncle’s open window on the floor below, measured the string, cut it at the mark, and then tied a lit firecracker and threw it out my window so the explosion would have maximum, optimum aural potential. Because my uncle was taking a nap.

Boy, did he yell about that one.

That wasn’t a birthday thing. That was just a minor skirmish in the war I was in as a teenager, and someday, I might actually write more about it. Let me just say that when told we were moving into a two-family house with my mother’s sister and her family, my brothers and I were horrified and begged her not to do it. She did. Thus began the five worst years of my life.

Hm. This is totally not a birthday post anymore. I shall stop it.

A self-hating Christian

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 11:34 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel

If I didn’t know better, I’d say Polly Toynbee really hates being Christian.

It’s rather obvious that she hates American Republican Christians (and probably thinks all religious Christians in America are Republican and conservative).

Go read her review of The Chronicles of Narnia and see what you think.

Over to you, Christopher. This one’s out of my purview.

Israel honors American Vets

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 11:00 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel

On Veteran’s Day, Israel honored five American veterans.

When Maynard Hanson of Aberdeen traveled to Germany, Austria and France last spring, the 79-year-old and a group of World War II veterans made quite an impression on an Israeli woman.

While there, they visited a concentration camp they passed through during the war and they attended various ceremonies the woman also attended.

“Her father was once one of the concentration camp inmates,” said Hanson, a World War II veteran from the 65th Infantry Division. “We walked through that very camp during the war. As we were walking through, we walked by a bunch of bodies. One of the guys noticed one of the corpses had movement in his eye. He pulled him off the pile and we immediately got him to the hospital.”

The hospital wouldn’t initially take the man, who had been left for dead. “They said he was too far gone,” Hanson said. But the soldiers persisted, and the man ended up pulling through.

“He was that lady’s father,” Hanson said.

The lady was Miriam Griver-Meisels, president of Hadassah Israel - a women’s Zionist volunteer organization dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life in Israel in the area of health promotion, education, absorption, the status of women and child at risk. Griver-Meisels was impressed by the soldiers, who had traveled back to the area and shown such respect.

Not to mention that if they hadn’t, she wouldn’t be alive today.

Kudos to the American soldiers. Honor to the righteous.

On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, five men - Hanson of Aberdeen, Ray Callanan of Farmington, Mo., Robert Patton of Chapel Hill, N.C., Mickey Dorsey of Johns Island, S.C. and Lynn LaBarre of Diamond Head, Miss., who is now deceased - had medals and commendations presented to them at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust in New York City, by Amir Ofek, consul for public affairs from the Israeli Consulate.

The veterans were given the awards for fighting against the Nazis in World War II and to commemorate the memory of the Jewish resistance in the war against the Nazis. The awards were commissioned and signed by the Israeli Minister of Defense, Shaul Mofaz.

In the past, an award of that caliber had only been presented to Israeli soldiers.

“Really, it’s quite an honor,” Hanson said. “We’re the only five Americans that have ever been decorated by the Israeli.”

What’s black and white and read all over?

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 10:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel

The eye charts that Israeli doctors are using to help the people of Cameroon.

A team of two medical ophthalmologists are in Cameroon since yesterday to perform eye surgeries. Each year, since the year 2000, Israel through its ambassador to Cameroon, launches the eye campaign in a given health center. The exercise, the fifth of its kind, was launched during his first and second visits to the Laquintiny Hospital in Douala. From 2003 till date, the beneficiaries have been patients at the Central Hospital in Yaounde.

Dr Eedy Metzer and Rina Leibo from the RAMBAM University Hospital Center in Israel, will be in the country for two weeks. During this period, patients suffering from eye problems will have free surgeries and check-ups. An ordinary eye surgery is carried out at FCFA 100,000.

I anxiously await the Arab and Muslim equivalent of this outreach effort.

The palestinians: Co-opt everything

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 9:45 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel, Terrorism

The palestinians are nothing if not predictable. The PA and PLO lost a lawsuit in U.S. courts filed by the relatives of victims of a terror attack. So now the pals turn around and sue the former Shin Bet head for the bombing attack that killed Salah Shehada, Hamas murderer, and 15 others.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in New York federal court, said former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter is responsible for a July 2002 airstrike that killed 14 other people in the Gaza Strip (and changed the way Israel drops bombs on terrorists) and seeks unspecified damage. The suit also seeks class-action status for survivors of the bombing and relatives of those who were killed.

Shyeah. The American lawsuits that have won in court are being filed by American citizens against organizations that contribute money to terrorist groups who then turn around and murder Americans in Israel. (This is because America has taken exactly zero steps to respond to the murder of Americans in Israel, including her own diplomats being murdered by palestinians.)

Five bucks says the case is dismissed.

Jewish elephant jokes

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 9:00 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Humor

You asked for them, you got ‘em: Here are the Jewish and Israeli elephant jokes Rahel’s been sending me.

What’s gray, wears a tallit and sways while facing east?
A religious elephant.

What’s gray, wears a tallit and stands at the door of the shul, looking down the street?
It’s the gabbai. He’s looking for a tenth elephant to make the minyan.

What’s gray and out of breath?
The tenth elephant.

You don’t have to be Israeli or Jewish to understand these. Rahel graciously provided translations.

What’s gray and shouts “Rega, rega” [Hebrew: just a moment]?
An elephant getting off an Egged bus.

What’s gray and shouts “Titkadem penima, bevakasha”
[Hebrew: everyone move inside, please]?
An elephant driving an Egged bus.

What’s gray and looks stunned?
An elephant riding the bus who just heard the driver say

What’s gray and cuts the Egged bus off in traffic?
An elephant driving an Israeli taxi.

What’s gray and curses a blue streak?
The elephant driving the Egged bus yelling at the elephant
driving the taxi who just cut him off.

What’s gray and sighs as she puts the book she was reading
back into her backpack?
An elephant riding the bus to work. Who can read with all
that racket?

Thank you, Rahel.

Gracie thanks you, too. Here’s a brand new picture of her peeping over the top of The Chair That Swallows You Whole.

Gracie is watching you

A media bias test

Posted on December 9th, 2005 at 7:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israeli Double Standard Time, Media Bias

Once again, we have two perfect examples of the dehumanization of Jews by major media outlets, a practice that contributes to the dislike of Israel so prevalent throughout the world.

Exhibit One: Our current favorite whipping boy, the Associated Press:

An Israeli aircraft launched missiles Thursday at a group of militants from the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades holed up in a house near the northern Gaza town of Jebaliya, Palestinian witnesses and health officials said.

The strike killed Iyad Nasser, 27, and Iyad Qaddas, 21, hospital officials said. Six others were wounded, including an 11-year-old girl, hospital officials said.

The army said Qaddas was involved in numerous attacks on Israelis, including suicide bombings.

Those are the palestinian terrorists killed by the IAF. Note that they are named, aged, and the age of a bystander is also quoted, mostly because the palestinians love to say how Israel is murdering their children. In that same article, they note the following about the murdered Israeli soldier:

In other violence, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck and killed him near the Qalandia checkpoint - a main crossing point for West Bank Palestinians entering Jerusalem.

The attacker, a Palestinian man from a village near Ramallah, was immediately arrested by soldiers and herded into a waiting vehicle. The blindfolded man, his lips trembling, was seen sitting on a bench inside the vehicle before he was taken away. Young soldiers sat nearby, consoling each other.

If you can find a name in there, I will cut you a personal check for a thousand dollars. Apparently, our soldier’s name was “Israeli soldier.” Unbelievably, the AP practically names his murderer–instead opting to tell you two things: 1) That he was afraid and blindfolded (gee, ya think? After murdering a soldier, being afraid of what was going to happen to him when captured by soldier’s unit?) and 2) The checkpoint is a main crossing point for palestinians to enter Israel. But just in case you missed it, there’s also this next paragraph:

The army indefinitely closed the checkpoint, where thousands of Palestinians cross every day, while allowing people lined up to return to their homes in the West Bank.

And just in case you missed the intent of that paragraph, there’s this:

Stepping up the pressure, Israel has suspended talks to open up a road link to ferry Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank, an Israeli official said Thursday. He spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to discuss such matters with the media.

[…] The movement of Palestinian people and goods between the two areas is considered vital to the Palestinian economy. The link was to have opened Dec. 15. A similar arrangement was in effect for a year but was canceled after violence erupted in late 2000.

We’ve just about run out of room for Exhibit B, our pal Reuters. We’ll make it quick.

The men were identified as Iyad Qadas and Iyad al-Najr, senior militants involved in cross-border rocket attacks on Israel. The air strike wounded a third militant, medics said, as well as a four-year-old girl and five other Palestinians.

[…] At a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah, a Palestinian fatally stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck, security sources said. The attacker was captured but there was no word on the motive for the stabbing.

Another thousand dollars to anyone who can find the name of the Israeli soldier in that Reuters story. And notice, too, how the age of the girl has been reduced seven years. That’s an example of palestinian spokesliars.

Once again, we have proof positive of the anti-Israel media bias of the major wire services. The Israeli victims are almost never named; the palestinian victims are always named, and often you also get their ages, quotes from relatives, number of children, and what brand of toothpaste they use. The Israeli victims? Nothing, outside of the Israeli press. Dead Jews don’t count, you see. Or if they do, it’s only as a hindrance to palestinian access to jobs in Israel, or some other need of the palestinians.

Honest Reporting is accepting nominations for the Dishonest Reporter of the Year. I nominate AP and Reuters, for consistent anti-Israel reporting throughout the year.

Art, lies, and politics: Harold Pinter speaks

Posted on December 8th, 2005 at 11:08 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Pop Culture, World

Here’s a surprising excerpt from Harold Pinter’s Nobel acceptance speech:

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place. … Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to [Saddam Hussein’s] policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to [Saddam Hussein’s] policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the [Hussein government] have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to [the Hussein regime]. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Pinter said that? Really? He accused Saddam Hussein of being a murderous dictator responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

No, not really. this is what he actually said. (Words in bold were replaced in the paragraphs above.)

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

Pinter mentioned Saddam only twice in his speech, once in such vague terms as to make you wonder if Pinter really thinks that the torture, rape, and murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis under Hussein’s rule mattered:

Let me make it quite clear that in quoting from Neruda’s poem I am in no way comparing Republican Spain to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. I quote Neruda because nowhere in contemporary poetry have I read such a powerful visceral description of the bombing of civilians.

So, he acknowledges that Saddam is Not Quite All That Good, but it doesn’t matter. The Americans are worse.

I’m not one of those that think critics of the Bush administration are all wrong, traitors, or terrorist sympathizers. I have many, many problems with the Bush administration, and frankly would not vote for Bush if he could run for re-election.

But I think that his war critics–especially the really shrill ones, like Harold Pinter–have failed to acknowledge that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was a festering swamp of repression, murder, torture, fear, and terror–and that Saddam Hussein was responsible for two “hot” wars (Iran, Kuwait) and one proxy war (Israel), and also gave terrorists safe haven and assistance.

When the Harold Pinters of the world acknowledge these facts and emphasize them in their speeches, I will listen to what they have to say. Until then, it’s pretty much, “Blahblahblah, Bush evil, Blahblahblah, America bad.”

I tune it out.

The ICRC and the lie of the cross

Posted on December 8th, 2005 at 9:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Israeli Double Standard Time

The AP and other news services have been blithely passing along information like the following to explain why Israel doesn’t get to keep the Star of David as an emblem upon finally being allowed to be a member of the ICRC:

The red cross symbol was first adopted in 1863 and it reverses the colors of the neutral Swiss flag, without any religious intent. But most Muslim countries refused to use it and the Ottoman empire used the red crescent instead to protect medical workers in the 1876 Russo-Turkish war.

It’s the phrase “without any religious intent” that the AP keeps on throwing in–which is decidedly editorial in tone–that made me want to fact-check their claim. Here’s what I found on The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ website:

The Red Cross was born in 1863 when five Geneva men, including Dunant, set up the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded, later to become the International Committee of the Red Cross. Its emblem was a red cross on a white background: the inverse of the Swiss flag. The following year, 12 governments adopted the first Geneva Convention; a milestone in the history of humanity, offering care for the wounded, and defining medical services as “neutral” on the battlefield.

Interesting. Nothing about stripping the religious meaning of the cross out there.

So I looked on the Swiss Embassy site, and found this about the Swiss flag:

The use of the red cross on a white background, which is actually the Swiss flag reversed, was granted to the International Red Cross to commemorate the organization founded by Henri Dunant, citizen of Geneva. Indeed, the plenipotentiaries of 35 nations, assembled in Geneva on July 6, 1906 to revise the “Geneva Convention,” stated as follows in the enacting clause concerning the symbol of the International Red Cross: “To do homage to Switzerland, the heraldic arms of the Red Cross on a white field, which is formed by reversal of the Swiss Federal arms, shall be maintained as a distinctive emblem of the medical services of most armies.

Still too vague. So I went to the official Switzerland website and found this:

The flag of a country is more than just an practical symbol for a country to be used in everyday life. It stands for the country and its people and is therefore of emotional importance - at least with people, for whom people and homeland represent important values.


In the 13th century, the German emperor carried with him a flag with the cross as a holy sign, understanding himself as a protector of christianity. Besides, he also carried a blood-red flag as a sign of his power over life and death. Occasionally, he granted the right to carry such flags as a special honor to single cities or regions. (The Dukes of Savoy and the City of Vienna bear a white cross on red ground on their coat of arms. The Scandinavian countries and Great Britain as well have a cross on their flags.) Often the right to bear a cross on one’s coat of arms and on a flag was granted together with other privileges, like direct immediacy [direct subordination under the emperor’s jurisdiction without jurisdiction of counts].

The region of Schwyz in central Switzerland, one of the three founding members of the Old Swiss Confederacy, and the one, whose name was later in history used to denote the confederacy as a whole, was granted immediacy in 1240 and carried a red flag from the middle of the 13th century on (yet still without the white cross). In 1289 they supported King Rudolf of Habsburg in a war against Burgundy and received as a recognition the right to represent the crucifixion of Christ and the tools used to torture him in the upper right field on their flag. Originally they painted this symbol on parchment and fastened it on the banner. Only later the cross symbol was painted directly on the banner.

Isn’t that interesting. (It’s the Swiss website that uses a small c for Christianity, not me.) The Swiss flag is simply oozing Christian symbolism, and yet, the AP insists it is a neutral little sideways X or something. And yet, on the same website:

When the International Committee of the Red Cross as a permanent, neutral institution to take care of military and civil persons wounded or imprisoned in war was founded on the initiative of Henri Dunant (a merchant from Geneva, Switzerland) and swiss general Dufour in 1864, Dufour proposed the reversal of the swiss flag (red cross on white ground) as an emblem. Also the armband traditionally used by swiss troops was reused with inverted colors so that medical personnel in wars is obliged to wear white a armband with a red cross according to the Geneva Conventions The national Red Cross organizations in non-christian countries interpreted the Red Cross as a Christian symbol, however, and replaced it by their own religious symbols (red crescent moon in islamic countries, red david star in Israel). The color red on white background was retained.

Once more, it appears that the AP is passing along misleading information. One might even say the AP is passing along untruths. Or is it the practice of the AP to report things that they want to be true, and therefore, they are true?

This leads me to the inescapable conclusion that the ICRC refuses to allow the Magen David for reasons other than neutrality. Let me see, what other reason would they not want to allow Jews to use Jewish symbols? Hm… Wait, give me a minute, I’ll get it. And gee, why is it that Israel would refuse to use that emblem, or the Muslim Crescent? Hm. Let me think hard on both of these questions and get back to you.

The ICRC: Syrian dissent is crushed

Posted on December 8th, 2005 at 7:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israeli Double Standard Time

Israel has been grudgingly accepted as a member of the ICRC, over Syria’s objections. Good to know they steamrollered over Syria, but now I can definitively say: Eff off, ICRC.

I understand that Magen David Adom wants to be part of the global organization of rescue services, for all the right reasons. But I cannot countenance Jewish symbols being given second-class status when the Cross and the Crescent are so obviously religiously-based symbols. It is patently untrue to suggest they are not when the Swiss government’s own website states otherwise.

But then, the world has known to be utterly full of crap when dealing with Jewish issues. Why should this one be any different?

I’ll still raise money for Magen David Adom. But I’ll be using only the Star of David as a symbol. Screw that stupid diamond thing.

Belated credits

Posted on December 7th, 2005 at 10:10 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Life

I’ve been looking for someone whose name I didn’t recognize for a couple of weeks now. I couldn’t remember where I knew him from, thought maybe one of Lair Simon’s readers took him up on his suggestion and bought me a birthday present. Today, I came across the Amazon receipt again, and saw what I’d missed the first time.

Dr_Funk sent me the Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack CD.

Thanks, Doc, and my apologies for the lateness of this thank-you note. I was looking for your alter ego, and couldn’t find him anywhere.

And thanks also to Rahel, who emailed me three Jewish elephant jokes, all of which I laughed at. I told you, I like elephant jokes. I wasn’t exaggerating. And Jewish elephant jokes are even better than regular ones.

Scratch one Gaza rocket scientist

Posted on December 7th, 2005 at 2:25 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism

The IDF got a terrorist in Gaza.

The Israel Air Force launched a missile strike Wednesday at a vehicle in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, killing the commander of the Popular Resistance Committees’ military wing.

Two other activists were also in the car at the time of the strike. Palestinian sources confirmed that Mahmoud al-Arkan, commander of the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Salah a-Din Brigades, was killed in the attack.

IDF sources confirmed that the targeted killing was directed at al-Arkan, as he was involved in manufacturing Qassam rockets and mortar shells.

Sources also said he was involved in a number of terror attacks along the Philadelphi route, including the death of IDF officer Avi Karutshi on July 19.

He was also instrumental in carrying out several attacks in collaboration with Islamic jihad during the disengagement.

Al-Arkan’s name was transferred to the Palestinian Authority, in a bid to assist in his arrest. However, the PA did not take any steps against him. His was a former police officer.

So much for Abbas’ policy of co-opting terrorists. Works really well, doesn’t it?

Well. Tuna for Tig and Gracie tonight.

Invasion: Hey, we’re not stupid

Posted on December 7th, 2005 at 10:45 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Television

I’ve been watching Invasion since the pilot, which was excellent. The first few episodes were also quite good. But it’s been a bit of a yawner since then, and now it’s dropping into stupid territory while trying to go all X-Files on us.

See, here’s the thing. One of the supporting characters is a cop with only one arm. We’ve been wondering why he has only one arm because, well, you don’t often see one-armed police officers in real life, what with policing being a physically demanding job and all that. Last week, we discovered why he has only one arm: So he can cut it off again.

No, seriously. This guy suddenly becomes a pain in the ass to the series villain, who happens to have been taken over by the aliens ten years ago. He Finds Out Too Much. So the sheriff decides to turn him into One Of Us. (A quick review: Aliens are these glowing, sting-ray shaped things that attach themselves to humans, kill the human host, and regrow their own human body, who then always appears naked out of the water [get it? get it? Naked, water, rebirth? Deep, mon!], often disoriented, and usually different. So we picked up on the fact that the aliens regrow via human DNA, and when one of them attacked the one-armed cop–who lost his arm while serving in the Marines–I thought, “Uh-oh. Sheriff, you don’t know your basic science. Everyone’s gonna know something’s wrong.”)

So One-Armed Cop comes back with two arms, Sheriff knows he’s screwed, so he tries this “God is testing you” line on the one-armed cop, replete with chainsaw, shed in woods, and no one around. Now the writers would have us believe that One-Armed Cop was devout enough to cut off his own arm because God wanted him to.

Hokay. He’s devout, not stupid. And neither are we.

I suspect I will not be watching this show for much longer.

And let me ask you: What was with the alien leaking acid during the autopsy? Could you be any more derivative? (See: Alien, Ridley Scott version.)

Last week’s episode also gave us the most amount of information to date: There’s something in the water in the Florida Everglades that is allowing the aliens to successfully integrate with their human hosts. Yeah, we coulda told you that. Florida is already home to hundreds of thousands of aliens.

Hm. Maybe the true subtext of the series is illegal immigrants. We’ll have to keep watching to be sure.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Posted on December 7th, 2005 at 10:10 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel, World

There’s an interesting analysis in a Canadian paper about Israel’s efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran.

The use of the submarines in the Indian Ocean, off the Iranian coast, could spare Israel the need to fly over Arab countries — as it did in 1981, when it flew over Jordan to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad.

An Israeli attack from a submarine in the Indian Ocean could spare the U.S. and the Arab countries lots of embarrassment.

Finally, the third “signal.” Although the “secret” was known to many people, Israel allowed the publication Friday of news that Israeli companies are building in Kurdistan a new military and civilian airport. The building and the modern equipment are financed by the U.S.

Needless to say, should the Bush administration or any future administration decide to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, this airport in northern-Iraq, close to the Iranian border, could serve as the launching pad for such an attack.

These three signals were accompanied by rare public warnings from Israel’s top political and military leaders.

I didn’t know that bit about a new airport in Kurdistan. But I am not nearly as confident as the author is about his conclusion:

Nevertheless, the U.S. is unlikely to change its current decision that it will not turn to the UN Security Council unless it is absolutely certain that its draft resolution will not be vetoed by Russia and China. Therefore, the U.S. is now engaged on two parallel diplomatic tracks. Relying on past Russian and Chinese assurances that Moscow and Beijing are opposed to Iran’s nuclear plans, the U.S. has joined its European allies in supporting the Russian proposal that Iran be allowed to produce nuclear fuel precursors, but these precursors will be shipped for enrichment in Russia. Should Iran reject the Russian proposal, Washington hopes Russia and China would join in having the security council impose economic sanctions on Iran.

Those “hopes” are all we’ve got right now. Russia is showing signs of retreating to its Cold War mentality (which admittedly isn’t a very big step back) and is using Iran to beat up the U.S. The new billion-dollar weapons deal with Iran makes me think there’s no way in hell Russia is going to vote sanctions over pocketbook. Let’s not forget who sold Iraq most of its weaponry. China has its own aims as well, though I cannot comprehend why they think a nuclear-armed Iran is a good thing.

To top it off, the U.S. Army is of the opinion that Israel alone cannot carry out a successful strike on Iran’s nuclear capabilities this time.

I am not encouraged by this analysis, but it’s good to know about the airbase in Kurdistan.

Easiest. Meme Tag. Ever.

Posted on December 7th, 2005 at 7:25 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Pop Culture

Soccer Dad tagged me for the latest meme:

1. Turn on your mp3 player.
2. Hit shuffle.
3. Put the first fifteen songs that come up in a post. No matter how embarassing. No cheating!

1. Okay.
2. Um, problem.
3. No cheating. No problem. I don’t own an mp3 player.

Yep. Easiest. Meme Tag. Ever.

Random AP bias post

Posted on December 6th, 2005 at 5:12 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Media Bias

Near the very end of an AP article about Israeli response to the latest terrorist attack, we have these paragraphs:

In July, British undercover officers fatally shot a Brazilian electrician in the head in the London Underground, suspecting the young man, who was wearing a bulky coat, was a suicide attacker. The shooting occurred a day after four failed attempts to bomb London’s transport system, and two weeks after four bombers killed 52 bus and subway passengers.

Israeli security forces have also mistakenly identified people as militants, with deadly results. Several years ago, an Israeli soldier shot and wounded a deaf Israeli bus passenger he suspected was a Palestinian suicide bomber.

Here’s my obligatory hair-pulling moment: SHOT AND WOUNDED IS NOT A “DEADLY RESULT.”

GodDAMN the AP anti-Israel bias.

I am going to open up a new category specifically for them, and retrofit all these posts into it.

Terrorists and the abuse of the handicapped

Posted on December 6th, 2005 at 3:43 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism

This wouldn’t be the first time that palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the mentally handicapped, but the more information I find about yesterday’s suicide bomber, the more I believe the bastards at PIJ took advantage of a retarded man.

“Those who sent him have fooled him,” said the bomber’s mother Abu Saada’s mother, Amina, weeping. “My son is a poor soul. He doesn’t know anything about this, he was never jailed and he never participated in demonstrations.”

Abu Saada, 23, lived with his 10-member family in an old two-bedroom brick house. The home was frequently visited by soldiers who would leave after checking her children’s IDs and finding that none of them was wanted, Amina said.

Next door lived Abu Saada’s cousin Nidal Abu Saada, a top Islamic Jihad terrorist wanted by Israel.

But neighbors and family said Lotfi Abu Saada, a frail man with little schooling, had no time for politics.

His uncle, Mufid Rashed, 48, employed him on his farm and in a brick factory. “This is the first time he missed work, ” Rashed said.

Outside the family house, people gathered in disbelief, screaming and wailing.

The bomber’s father, Amin, a farmer, was in a state of shock, laughing at times and crying at others.

“I am not convinced, I don’t believe this. My son can’t even get to the city alone, how can he get to Netanya? He doesn’t read or write,” he said.

Sounds to me like the pieces of garbage who go into hiding when their lives are threatened found the right sucker to do their dirty work for them. Because God forbid they should run the risk of dying themselves.

Senior members of the Islamic Jihad have gone into hiding, London-based Al Hayat newspaper has reported.

The top echelon has stopped answering its phones and gone underground, Israel Radio quoted.

Of course, the good news is that the IDF has a long-established network of undercover agents throughout the terrortories [sic] who generally manage to find the whereabouts of the cowards who scream “Shahid” at all their rallies, but who never seem to be around when the opportunity to become a shahid is offered.

I look forward to giving Tig and Gracie Tuna for Terrorists at the next PIJ-Hellfire dance. May it be a one-time-only for the PIJ members. No need to waste a perfectly good missile.

An Israeli on the Netanya bombing

Posted on December 6th, 2005 at 3:14 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism

This is a must-read: One of the most powerful pieces I have ever read about the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Israel.

Sami’s a-sweatin’ the verdict

Posted on December 6th, 2005 at 10:21 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism

The jury has reached a verdict on two of the defendants in the Sami Al-Arian (and others) terrorism trial, but we don’t know what those verdicts are. They’re deadlocked on the other two, and the judge told them to go back and try harder.

TAMPA - Jurors have reached unanimous verdicts on two defendants in the terrorism-support trial of Sami Al-Arian and three other men. The panel is deadlocked on some counts against the other two.

It isn’t known which defendants are the subject of disagreement or which counts have the jury hung up. U.S. District Judge James Moody sealed the two completed verdict forms Monday afternoon, then ordered the jury to try to work through the impasse. Reading from a standard jury charge, Moody urged those in the minority to reconsider their conclusions regardless of whether the majority is for conviction or acquittal.

“Your duty is to agree upon a verdict if you can do so,” Moody said.

I am on the edge of my seat on this one.

Tuna for Tig and Gracie if Al-Arian winds up rotting in jail.

The condemnation of Mahmoud Abbas

Posted on December 6th, 2005 at 7:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism

The AP and other news services were full of variations on this theme:

Abbas condemned the attack and promised an especially harsh response by his security forces.

Here is the actual statement:

“These operations against civilians cause the greatest damage to our committment to the peace process, and the Palestinian National Authority will not show indulgence towards anyone who is found responsible for this operation,” the statement said.

I don’t see the condemnation, and I don’t see the “harsh response” threatened. What I do see is yet another way to refuse to condemn the attacks as barbaric.

I suppose we should be grateful he actually used the word “civilians,” but as I can’t read Arabic, I’m willing to bet that the Arabic site says no such thing.

New face, same old crap.

What, again?

Posted on December 5th, 2005 at 11:55 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Bloggers

Apparently, I’ve been nominated for the 2005 Wizbang Weblog Awards in my Ecosystem category.

Last year, I got a little carried away and tried to win. I failed.

This year, I voted for myself.

It’s a popularity contest, folks. It means that the winner gets more people to vote for him/her than the others. If I were a betting person, I’d bet on Austin Bay to win the second that the LGF crowd gets ahold of his nomination.

So. Vote for me if you want to. If I win, kewl. If I don’t, what-EVER.

But I’m not flogging it this year.

If I had known I was in the running, I probably would have withdrawn my blog from the nomination. It’s too much of a distraction.

Of course you realize, I’m going to be tracking the votes from now until the polling ends.


AP whitewashes palestinian murderers

Posted on December 5th, 2005 at 12:11 pm by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism, Media Bias

On the heels of my post of a few days ago, which showed how the AP headlines become more anti-Israel as the day goes on (while whitewashing palestinian actions), look at the update to the latest Netanya suicide bombing:

The headline now:

Five Israeli Shoppers Killed Outside Mall
Dec 5, 11:55 AM (ET)

The headline this morning:

Suicide Bomber Kills Five at Israeli Mall
Dec 5, 7:36 AM (ET)

Thank you, AP editors, for deciding that the shoppers were simply killed outside a mall, instead of murdered by a suicide bomber who deliberately targeted them.

As I have said before, when Israelis kill palestinians, the verb is always in the active voice. When palestinians kill Israelis, the verb becomes passive. Here is clear evidence of the bias.

I think it’s time to start some kind of official protest about this.

Update: Look at this–The AP has put the original headline in its latest update.

Suicide Bomber Kills Five at Israeli Mall
Dec 5, 8:26 PM (ET)

Someone at AP must be reading my blog.

Keep reading, AP. You have a long way to go before you can claim the title of unbiased news outlet.

Update the last: The above followed this earlier headline, which again uses non-specific language.

Islamic Jihad Suicide Bomber Kills Five
Dec 5, 3:51 PM (ET)

Kills five what? Five whom? The headline doesn’t say. People make snap judgements based on headlines–if the headline interests them, they’ll read it. If not, the move along. The headline writers know this. Once again, the anonymous AP editor whitewashes palestinian murderers’ attacks.

Like I said: The AP has a long way to go.

Subhumans commit mass murder, again

Posted on December 5th, 2005 at 9:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Israel, Terrorism

Another suicide bomber hit Netanya. Five dead, dozens wounded. The usual AP spin, and the usual palestinian spokesliars’ feeble “condemnations”:

The Palestinian Authority strongly condemned the attack, stating that it opposes any attack on civilians. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the bombing, saying it damages Palestinian interests.

Senior Palestinian officials, including PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, called on the Palestinian factions not to “play into the hands of Israel and get drawn into its provocations.”

Murdering civilians is “playing into the hands of Israel.” Right. Die, Erekat. Now would be nice.

The AP spin, of course:

The bombing escalated already heightened tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, marked by recent airstrikes and rocket attacks. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon scheduled an emergency meeting of his Security Cabinet later Monday to discuss a response to the bombing.

[…] In Ramallah, Abbas condemned the attack and promised an especially harsh response by his security forces.

“This operation … against civilians causes the most serious harm to our commitment to the peace process, and the Palestinian Authority will not go easy on whoever is proved to be responsible for this operation,” said a statement issued by Abbas’ office.

Wow, that’s some harsh condemnation. This “operation” causes serious harm to the peace process. What about the people who were murdered, schmuck? It caused a hell of a lot more harm to them. And don’t make us laugh at your threats. The only way the PA will do anything to prevent future suicide bombings is if the bomber is a member of the opposition political party and you want to rig the election. No, wait, in that case, they’d let him do it.

Countdown to calls for restraint from the Israeli side: Started at 8:30 a.m.

Dead Al Qaeda leader: Whodunit?

Posted on December 5th, 2005 at 8:30 am by Meryl Yourish.

Filed under: Terrorism

It’s a mystery. People are accusin’, but people aren’t talkin’: Who killed da terrorist?

MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan (AP) - Shrapnel that appeared to be from an American-made missile was found Sunday at the house where Pakistan said a top al-Qaida operative was killed in an explosion, although President Bush’s national security adviser declined to confirm the death.

U.S. and Pakistani officials would not verify an NBC report, citing anonymous officials, that the attack on the house where Hamza Rabia reportedly died was launched by a U.S. drone.

But local residents found at least two pieces of shrapnel at the blast scene inscribed with the designation of the Hellfire missile, which is carried by the U.S. Air Force’s unmanned, remote-controlled Predator aircraft.

The metal pieces bore the designator “AGM-114,” the words “guided missile” and the initials “US.”

John Pike, director of the defense Web site, said the Hellfire is used almost exclusively by the U.S. military. Al-Qaida operatives would be unlikely to have Hellfire missiles, Pike said, although he said the possibility could not be completely discounted.

Please. Can you think of at least one other country that uses Hellfire missiles? Here’s a hint: Nasrallah and Yassin were killed by them.

That’s right. I’m betting it was the Joooos killed Hamza.

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