Posted by: New Class Traitor | October 24, 2014

Will You (Also) Tolerate This?

New Class Traitor:

“This is worse than a banana republic — actual banana republics have more voter security…”

Originally posted on According To Hoyt:

As some of you know, I’m not only American, I’m Coloradan.

Mind you, the South will always be a part of me. It was where I first lived in the US and the place I was naturalized.  The voice in my head has a Southern accent, and I love going back to the South East for cons. But Colorado is where I was meant to be.  We came into Colorado the weekend before Thanksgiving 1993 (it’s been pointed out to me I had 2003 which is both a bit of wild flattery on my age, and my lacking coffee.  I’ve only had one cup),   and just ahead of the Thanksgiving Snow Storm TM which dogged our steps all the way, with the gates clanging shut just after we passed.  And then we crested a ridge above Colorado, and I saw it for the first time, and I knew it was…

View original 1,297 more words

Posted by: New Class Traitor | September 21, 2014

Linguistics, Hebrew, and Orwell’s Law

There is a widely circulating quote by George Orwell stating that “Some ideas are so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.” This appears to be a paraphrase of an actual statement by Orwell from “Notes on Nationalism”:

“One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

Poster boy of the week is some linguist who claims that modern Hebrew does not really descend from Hebrew but instead descends from Sorbian, a basically extinct language whose closest living relative appears to be Polish. (Some further digging reveals that this is part of a campaign to “prove” that today’s Ashkenazi Jews [like myself and, presumably, himself] are impostors of Central European origins and this not really Jewish, therefore have no true claim to the Land of Israel, and similar 21st-century sophisms. You can imagine which types of sites quote this ‘research’ approvingly.)

Full disclosure: I am fluent in Modern Hebrew and understand Biblical Hebrew. Leaving learned linguistic discussions aside: if you speak Modern Hebrew, then Biblical Hebrew is about as comprehensible to you as Shakepeare’s English is to an American of today. (The technical term for what Shakespeake wrote is Early Modern English, or Elizabethan English.)

I asked a native Polish speaker at work who is also fluent in Hebrew about the “Sorbian hypothesis”. He just shook his head.

Yet the Wikipedia article on Hebrew treats this crank as if his theory is worthy of serious discussion. A “compromise” theory offered is that of the controversial Ghil’ad Zuckermann, who argues modern Hebrew is a mixture of Biblical Hebrew with Germanic (via Yiddish) and Slavic elements. Zuckermann hs in fact proposed renaming the language “Israelit” (“Israelish”) rather that “Ivrit” (“Hebrew”).

I may not be a professional computational linguist like Zuckermann, but by his argumentation English should be called a mixed Romance-Germanic language: over 50% of entries in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary descend either directly from Latin, or indirectly via Old French (which accounts for almost a quarter of the vocabulary, thanks to Guillaume le Conquérant/William the Conqueror). Yet mainstream linguists universally classify English as a Germanic language — based on not just historical arguments, but grammar, and the fact that of the 1000 most commonly used words in English, 85% descend from Old English (including Old Norse, itself a Germanic tongue).

True enough, modern Hebrew is replete with borrowings or calques (literal loan translations) from other languages, not just from Latin and Greek (and from the Talmud’s language, Aramaic) but also from Yiddish, Russian, English, High German,… I hate to rain in Dr. Zuckermann’s parade, but the same is true of Dutch and especially of English. German and French are somewhat more protective of their vocabularies’ “purity”, but especially in the colloquial register, both languages are full of borrowings and loan (mis)translations from especially English (not to mention Arabic-derived words in French youth slang). My Russian-speaking colleagues complain that they can no longer understand Russian internet chats thanks to all the borrowing that slipped in.

Zuckermann will argue that in the case of Hebrew it exceeds borrowings and extends to morphology: a well-known example is the word pattern “[something]izatziya” (“-ization”), like “[something]izm”. But come on: does Zuckermann really think similar things don’t occur in, for example, Romance or Germanic languages?!

But I am willing to admit Zuckermann’s theory at least has some basis in reality, however much he resorts to special pleading. In comparison, Wexler’s crank theory does not even pass the laugh test.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | August 23, 2014

Haaretz: going into economic as well as journalistic abyss

“Nightmare on Schocken Street”? Via Israellycool’s survey of English-language Israeli news sites, a fascinating article (in Hebrew) about the ever-increasing financial woes of Haaretz (which sees itself as a Hebrew-language New York Times). A few highlights in translation:

  • Over just the last two years, the paper (which had about 70,000 subscribers in 2012) lost one-third of its readership, and dropped out of the top 3 newspapers. 
  • I once dismissed somebody as “exaggerating” when he claimed “only 2% of Israelis read Haaretz”: turns out it was only a mild exaggeration, as Haaretz readership did drop to 4.8% of the population (down from 7% in the first half of 2012)
  • Several rounds of layoffs took place, and staff were notified most recently that either a bigger wave of layoffs would take place or there would be salary cuts across the board
  • In the last month alone, the disgusting anti-IDF slanders of especially Gideon Levy have caused 2,000 of their remaining subscribers to cancel the newspaper. 
  • In order to attract more readers, the paper changed its editorial line (read: became more radical) in the last two years to reach new audiences. Not only was this strategy a complete failure, but it made things worse
  • The harshest blow came as the owners of Israel Hayom took over the printing press of the ailing Maariv, and promptly started printing Israel Hayom there rather than outsource the printing to Haaretz’s printing press

Despite all this, publisher Amos Schocken (3rd generation of the family after the founder, Zalman Schocken and his son, Gershon Schocken) continues to claim that subscriptions actually “are at an all-time high”. A page from the playbook of Baghdad Bob? Aviv Horowitz (in Hebrew) has another explanation: that Schocken counts the sum of print and online subscriptions. He also points out that the online subscriptions sell for about one-seventh of the price of a print subscription.

 

If you know how to “read between the lies” Haaretz can still offer some good journalism on occasion. And I would much rather have a Haaretz as a sane, critical left-wing voice (however much I disagree with them) than radicalize itself into irrelevance and bankruptcy. However, it seems that the Schocken family decided they:

“Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme

Ain’t nothing I’d rather do

Going down, party time

My friends are gonna be there too…”

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | August 11, 2014

On “proportionality” in war

Most people that throw around the accusation of “disproportionate response” refer to some vague conception of approximate parity in casualties and means. In fact, as I noted yesterday, international law has its own definition of “disproportionality”, which is both quite specific and rather different from the use in common parlance. (Just like “insanity” for legal purposes is not some vague term for crazy behavior but a term of art with a precise definition.)

Humanitarian law expert Prof. Laurie Blank, on the Volokh Conspiracy group-blog, gives a long expose on the meaning of “disproportionality”, following her earlier op-ed elsewhere. (H/t: commenter “VultureTX” at an Elder of Ziyon piece on proportionality in the Gaza War.)

[…] proportionality is more than just a principle; it is a methodology for assessing lawfulness in advance through careful consideration of both the value of the military advantage and the likelihood of civilian casualties. The principle tells us what we are trying to achieve — a balance between military needs and humanitarian concerns that minimizes civilian harm as much as possible. […] As I note in my earlier piece, “Asymmetries and Proportionalities,” assessing the legality of an attack that results in civilian casualties must be done prospectively, based on the information the commander knew or should have known at the time of the attack. The standard is “reasonableness” — whether a reasonable commander in the same position would determine, based on the information available at the time, that the expected civilian casualties would be excessive in light of the anticipated military advantage.

Key to this assessment is not whether the court, the media, or anyone else thinks the decision was right or would have actually made the very same decision. Nor is it whether any resulting casualties seemed or even were excessive afterwards. The controlling factor in assessing proportionality after an attack is whether the commander’s determination—that the likely civilian casualties in that operation would not be excessive—was reasonable. This reasonableness assessment can only be made with a full understanding of the situation and all relevant information at the time of the attack — and, just as important — an awareness of what is considered to be reasonable in light of general practice.

International tribunals have rarely undertaken this analysis. This may well be simply because they have no lack of much easier and obvious cases. Their dockets can easily be filled to overflowing with the staggering number of deliberate crimes against civilians […] The difficulty in translating the proportionality rule from the operational dynamic of the battlefield and the fog of war to the evidence-bound confines of the courtroom is certainly another factor. The few instances of adjudication, however, consistently reinforce both the prospective approach and reasonableness as the touchstones of the analysis. Responsible militaries, for their part, investigate and review every incident involving civilian casualties to determine whether further investigation or prosecution is warranted—and simply to improve training and implementation to mitigate civilian harm in future missions. Both internal and international inquiries have often explored, or attempted to explore, proportionality with respect to specific incidents.

Elder of Ziyon quotes a specific example in jurisprudence: a NATO attack on a Serbian TV station in which 16 people died. (The station was off the air for about a day.)

NATO Headquarters justified the bombing with two arguments; firstly, that it was necessary “to disrupt and degrade the command, control and communications network” of the Yugoslav Armed Forces, and secondly, that the RTS headquarters was a dual-use object which “was making an important contribution to the propaganda war which orchestrated the campaign against the population of Kosovo”. The BBC reported that the station was targeted because of its role in Belgrade’s propaganda campaign; RTS had been broadcasting Serb nationalist propaganda, which demonised ethnic minorities and legitimised Serb atrocities against them.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ruled on the question:

It first questioned whether the station was a legitimate military target, and it decided that if it was used for command and control then it was, if it was only used for propaganda it wasn’t. It then goes on:

77. Assuming the station was a legitimate objective, the civilian casualties were unfortunately high but do not appear to be clearly disproportionate.[…]

79. On the basis of the above analysis and on the information currently available to it, the committee recommends that the OTP not commence an investigation related to the bombing of the Serbian TV and Radio Station.

In short: an attack on a propaganda TV station that may have had a dual use and that takes it off the air for one lousy day in exchange for 16 people getting killed is not considered “disproportionate” under international law. You can figure out for yourself what this ruling implies (a fortiori/קל וחומר) for IDF attacks on rocket launchers, arms caches, and infiltration tunnels, or targeted assassination of senior terrorists.

Back to Prof. Blank:

[A] note about another rule of proportionality. The international law governing when states may use force in self-defense (the jus ad bellum) also has a requirement of proportionality, but it is quite distinct (and serves a different purpose) from the law of war rule of proportionality discussed above. This jus ad bellum rule of proportionality mandates that a state acting in self-defense in response to an armed attack can only use force that is proportionate to the needs and goals of repelling or deterring the attack. This is not a “tit-for-tat” requirement, however, limiting the state acting in self-defense to only what its attackers did. There is no obligation of symmetry between the original attack and the force used in self-defense; indeed, the force needed to repel an attack may well be disproportionate relative to the the original attack, in order to stop it and deter continuing attacks. What it must be, instead, is proportionate to the ends of stopping and deterring the original attack and further attacks.

Go and read the whole thing.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | August 10, 2014

An unexpected voice of common sense from Belgium on Israel-Gaza

In the past I have been witheringly critical of the hypocrisy and moral preening of most of the the Euro press and politicians when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict— of which Belgium is a poster boy.

The present round is no exception, except that the Orwellian spectacle of “progressive” (and often soi-disant “anticlerical”) pols choosing the side of an ultra-reactionary theocratic dictatorship against a liberal Western democracy makes the irony ever sweeter ;)

However, I was pleasantly surprised by an op-ed on the Belgian state TV site by Mark Geleyn, the retired director-general of Belgium’s foreign ministry (and past ambassador to Germany and to Israel). The original is in Dutch, while a machine translation can be viewed here. Some highlights translated by me (as closely to the original as possible):

Israel had no other choice

Of course the Israeli conduct of war was “not proportional”. Perhaps Israel should instead have fired rockets indiscriminately [into Gaza], or build tunnels to carry out terror attacks in Gaza, or kidnap inhabitants? A defense that remains “proportional” with the aggression is not a deterrent. Only a defense that deters and drives up the price for aggression is credible.

Note that, speaking to an audience of critics, he invokes proportionality as the common person understands the concept — which is not the same as the definition in the international law of war (which defines disproportionality by the much more restrictive standard of “clearly excessive response”) But let’s continue

Last June Hamas had hit rock bottom. In Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood had been ousted and the border with Egypt was shut again. In Syria, Assad kicked the political leader of Hamas, Khaled  Meshal, out of the country. The Saudis and Jordanians distanced themselves. The only remaining allies were Turkey, where president Erdogan is trying to curry favor with islamist voters, and Qatar, which is basically not a state at all but a family with a whole lot of money.

In Gaza itself Hamas lost support among the population. Under the circumstances, the Hamas leadership consented to forming a coalition with the Palestinian Authority of  president Abbas. A humiliating step for Hamas, in the hopen that Abbas would at least pay the salaries of 40,000 Gazan civil servants. This did not happen.

No money, no allies, little support from the people. In the Arab world that always leaves you one more option: attack Israel. This is what Saddam Hussein did in 1991 […] and now Hamas did too, with Iranian rockets aimed at Israeli population centers.

Israel deliberately set limited objectives for its operation in response. It did not aim for the destruction of Hamas, which would entail reoccupation of Gaza, but instead for the elimination of the terriër infrastructire. That however involved destruction of residential areas from which rockets were fired and where the tunnels started through which attack squads were sent into Israel. This destruction took a toll in dead and injured. In the course of the operation became clear how extensive and complex the network of attack tunnels was, what the imported cement for ‘residential construction’ had [actually] been used for, and for which purposes the Gaza leadership applied their inventiveness and creativity.

Is there no way out of this ever-repeating cycle of murderous rockets and harsh counterattacks, which has been turning in all its ruthlessness since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005?

Arab governments and Israel all know that a political way out only can consist of lifting the blockade, economic growth, and weakening Hamas.

There are already numerous scenarios, blueprints, and road maps in that direction. All demand that Hamas stops the rocket attacks on Israel, destroys the attack tunnels, and is disarmed. In return Israel and Egypt would phase out their blockade and gradually open border crossings. The international community would then lend its support to reconstruction. These blueprints have been making the rounds for years between Jerusalem, Washington, Cairo, the Palestinian Authority, Gaza and the EU countries.

The trouble is: Hamas does not think in terms of growth, prosperity, and political compromise. It is not an NGO, even though it does welfare work among the poor of Gaza. Hamas is a terror organization and its aim the destruction of Israel.

[…]

After rocket attacks on Tel Aviv, after the threat to air traffic over Israel and after a rocket impact near [the] Dimona [nuclear research center] all initiative for a partial withdrawal from the West Bank [can be expected to be] put in the fridge. The course of the Syrian civil war, the evolution [ahem] in Iraq, and possible upheavals in Jordan clamor for attention.

Israel will only be willing to consider very pragmatic measures, and for that it looks first to Egypt. [..]

The US Secretary of State Kerry humiliated Cairo and Israel, after Hamas refused the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, by going off to negotiate with Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey, for a new truce that Hamas would accept. With that, he made a move in the direction of recognition of Hamas and exacerbated the rupture between Cairo and Ankara, which had been avoided in 2009 and 2012.

[…]

As usual, there are demonstrations in many European cities in support of the Palestinian cause. [Demonstrating] is of course their right.

But most of these demonstrations, whether by Arab youth or by “native” intellectuals and “policy influencers”, turn out to degenerate over and over into selective manifestations against Israel, Zionism, and Jews. The same protestors didn’t make a peep during the fighting in Libya, where 30,000 people died in the past two years. Is there going to be a UN investigation about these atrocities? And where were the demonstrations against well over 100,000 dead in Syria?

Nor do I hear of demonstrations, not even of op-eds, against the maltreatment and expulsion of 10,000 Christians from Mosul in Iraq, after the takeover by the Islamist ISIS. […]

Is the “enemy image” [more freely: bête noire] Israel still necessary to arouse indignation against alleged injustice in the world?

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | August 9, 2014

Political tactical idiot of the day: Obama on Netanyahu

… and the winner is “duh smartest prezident evah”, Barack Hussein 0bama.

In this interview with that other sophomore [lit.: “wise fool”], Thomas Friedman, 0bama wishes aloud Netanyahu would have much weaker poll numbers (like his, presumably?) so he would be more “accommodating” concerning a “peace deal” with the “Palestinians”.

Here the “deep” (in the hole) “thinker” (of himself) reveals that not only does he have a very shallow understanding of the region, but that he is a pathetically poor political tactician.

Let’s grant, for the sake of argument, 0bama’s premise that a territorial deal between Israel and the Abbas regime were desirable and feasible.

For better or worse, Ariel Sharon z”l could bulldozer through the 2005 “Disengagement” from Gaza not because he had weak poll number, but because they were rock-solid. The people to his Left backed him from opposition, the people to his Right had nowhere realistic to go, and the controversial and (in many ways) heart-rending move was accomplished without bloodshed only because of the respect and confidence the old warrior commanded.

After the old warrior was felled by first a CVA, then a massive brain hemorrhage that left him only technically alive, he was replaced by the hapless Ehud Olmert. We all know how that ended (the recent coda involved Olmert going to the hoosegow).

Also remember, the person who successfully “disengaged” France from Algeria — Charles de Gaulle — likewise did so from a position of tremendous political strength. Even so, it nearly got him assassinated several times (which inspired one of the greatest thriller novels ever written).

If 0bama seriously thinks that lower poll numbers will make Bibi more likely to make a territorial deal, then I have known vegetable sellers in the Carmel open-air market in Tel-Aviv with more practical intelligence than 0bama has. Then again, I was never convinced he was some sort of genius, or even particularly bright.

Brian of London reports that Judi Rudoren of the NYTimes finally is onto what he and other bloggers have been saying for weeks:

The Times analysis, looking at 1,431 names, shows that the population most likely to be militants, men ages 20 to 29, is also the most overrepresented in the death toll: They are 9 percent ofGaza’s 1.7 million residents, but 34 percent of those killed whose ages were provided. At the same time, women and children under 15, the least likely to be legitimate targets, were the most underrepresented, making up 71 percent of the population and 33 percent of the known-age casualties.

Typically, this is buried in the last paragraph of the piece. Brian adds:

So basically, ignoring minor details like the fact that they’re starting their age bracket at 20 (we have a Hamas terrorist in hospital in Israel who is 16 who crawled through a tunnel to kill kids), they’ve come to the same conclusion Dave and our dedicated reader came to weeks ago.

The talk of 80% civilian casualties is complete rubbish and was easily verifiable as rubbish just from looking at Al Jazeera weeks ago. And the NYT actually had people in Gaza!

And as Israeli sources are talking about 900+ dead terrorists, something is going to collapse, just like it always does after months of the lying press repeating Hamas’s PR machine propaganda.

And as I blogged earlier, TIME magazine (!) reminds us that on a previous occasion, HamAss was forced to walk back their own mendacious statistics, at least for Arab media consumption:

We have seen this before. A similar dispute over casualty figures occurred during Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in the Gaza Strip in January 2009. The Israelis contended that the majority of the fatalities were combatants; the Palestinians claimed they were civilians. The media and international organizations tended to side with the Palestinians. The UN’s own investigatory commission headed by Richard Goldstone, which produced the Goldstone Report, cited PCHR’s figures along with other Palestinian groups providing similar figures. Over a year later, after the news media had moved on, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad enumerated Hamas fatalities at 600 to 700, a figure close to the Israeli estimate of 709 and about three times higher than the figure of 236 combatants provided by PCHR in 2009 and cited in the Goldstone Report. Initially, playing to the international audience, it was important for Hamas to reinforce the image of Israel’s military action as indiscriminate and disproportionate by emphasizing the high number of civilians and low number of Hamas combatants among the fatalities. However, later on, Hamas had to deal with the flip side of the issue: that Hamas’s own constituency, the Gazan population, felt they had been abandoned by the Hamas government, which had made no effort to shelter them.

But none are so blind as those who would not see. At any case, as sharply critical as I have been about the NYT on, basically, everything: even a half-hearted beginning of searching for the true facts must be applauded.

UPDATE: via the Times of Israel liveblog, BBC Head of Statistics Anthony Reuben is skeptical of Hamas claims  too:

So there were 216 members of armed groups killed, and another 725 men who were civilians. Among civilians, more than three times as many men were killed as women, while three times as many civilian men were killed as fighters. […I]f the Israeli attacks have been “indiscriminate”, as the UN Human Rights Council says, it is hard to work out why they have killed so many more civilian men than women.

UPDATE 2: Another report from the Times of Israel.

Israellycool (still ahead of the MSM) updated their analysis to the August 6, 2014 fatalities list, and point to an interesting additional coincidence:

Another point to consider is Gaza has a natural death rate of 3.09/1000, meaning that over a year, from every 1000 people, 3.09 die. So if you upscale that to the 1.8 million there that are 5562 dying from natural causes. Which is around 15 people/per day, or about 450 people for the entire operation. If you look the number of casualties whose age is unknown (male 252 & female 67), and the total unidentified 128, that sums up to 447 casualties. Although this proves nothing, I can’t help but feel suspicious when I see these numbers matching up so well. It would be a clever way to increase the casualty count, with even the most eagle eyed missing it. 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | August 1, 2014

The Palestinians as mascots in the Thomas Sowell sense

We are all familiar with the scapegoat (Lev. 16:10): a person or group on which all problems including the weather are blamed, and which can then be “cast into the desert”. Jews and/or Israel often find themselves cast in this role; but anybody who has ever worked in a corporate of military setting has seen this happen to some manager or other.

In many cases, the bad things the scapegoat is accused for aren’t just factually wrong, but logically incoherent and/or physically impossible. (And yes, I’ve seen this in US politics on my own side — fodder for another post.) In many cases, if the scapegoat didn’t exist somebody would have to invent it.

But the scapegoat has a mirror image: that which Thomas Sowell in his many writings terms a  “mascot”. In short, a mascot is an “oppressed” group whose cause one champions, not because one cares for the members of the group as people but because “identification” with them can be worn as a badge of moral superiority and as a moral cudgel to beat one’s rivals or opponents over the head with. [Remember: unlike competition for money/capitalism which can be a positive-sum game and often is, competition for status or influence is intrinsically a zero-sum game. This is one of the things that makes status battles so vicious.]

“Palestinians” are a classic example of a Sowellian “mascot”. Consider these words he wrote about another mascot group:

These and other groups, here and abroad, are treated as mascots of the self-congratulatory elites.

These elites are able to indulge themselves in non-judgmental permissiveness toward those selected as mascots, while cracking down with heavy-handed, nanny-state control on others.

The effect of all this on the mascots themselves is not a big concern of the elites. Mascots symbolize something for others. The actual fate of the mascots themselves seldom matters much to their supposed benefactors.

So long as the elites have control of the public purse, they can subsidize self-destructive behavior on the part of the mascots.

And so long as the elites [are personally insulated from the consequences of indulging them] they needn’t worry[…].

Other people who [cannot escape the consequences] can simply be called “racists” for objecting to what the indulgence of the mascots is doing […] or what the violence of the mascots is doing to others […].

One can basically apply them verbatim to the mindless identification of certain “progressive” (regressive would be more accurate) parts of Western society with the “Palestinian cause”, even when it expresses itself in a group as cartoonishly evil and darkly reactionary as Hamas. Somehow the deeply unsympathetic character of the “oppressed” group one champions serves even better to convince people of the purity of one’s heart. (Read Tom Wolfe’s “Mau-mauing the flak catchers” for a late ’60s version of the same phenomenon.) 

If these idiot poseurs were actually interested in helping the actual people involved, they’d be cheering on those trying to remove the Hamass mafia regime that has been cynically using them as cannon fodder and human shields while funneling the international aid given them to their own pockets and to terror activities. They would be out there urging placing a completely demilitarized Gaza Strip under some competent authority other than Hamass. (“But they were democratically elected!” “So were several of the vilest dictatorships in history — one man, one vote, once.”)

Besides:  these same people claim to be moved to pity by the (well-orchestrated) terrible media imagery coming from Gaza, while a laundry list’s worth of current humanitarian catastrophes that make Gaza look like chump change are ignored or merely given lip service. 

With the Arab countries (considering the admiration for the symbolic rather than the concrete in Arab culture) “mascotry” is also at work, but mixed in here with cynical power politics. The Arab countries that in the past gave loud lip service to the cause of the “Palestinian refugees” did (with one notable exception) everything they could to prevent the absorption of said refugees in their own country. (Jordan was the exception — which lead to the attempted takeover of the country and the Black September of 1970.) For the Arab regimes the existence of the “Palestinian Problem” is politically expedient as a popular distraction from their own corruption and dysfunctionality: as the French expression goes, “if it did not exist they would have to invent it” (s’il n’existait pas il fallait l’inventer).

What all have in common is that all are using the “Palestinians” for their own ends: narcissistic supply, political distraction, bureaucratic empire building… 

Of course, mascots can outlive their political usefulness — and precisely that has happened with Hamas in a large part of the Arab world, as its ruling regimes awoke to the realization that radical Islamism is as much of a threat to their own regimes as to the West or Israel. Egypt’s strongman of course has a long-standing score to settle with the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is but a regional branch) — but the rest of the Arab world is finally realizing it has a loose cannon on its hands. (Tellingly, aside from Qatar which always tries to have it all ways, the two remaining Hamas allies are both non-Arab Muslim countries.)

Finally, the toxic agency known as the UNRWA (for a primer, see The Trouble with UNRWA and The UNRWA-Terror Connection at the Times of Israel) ostensibly exists to “help” the (4th- and 5th-generation) “refugees”, but in fact does all it can to perpetuate the problem. For them the “Palestinians” are not just mascots but a meal ticket: solve the problem and this separate agency would be out of a job.

 

Having lived in Europe for basically half my life, I’ve grown inured to reports of kid-glove and more overt judeophobia on the part of the “natives”. However, this story managed to shock even me (as it would anybody who is a doctor or ever contemplated becoming one).

Times of Israel liveblog:

 
Belgian doctor refuses treatment to Jewish woman
 
A Belgian physician who refused to treat a Jewish woman with a fractured rib suggests she visit Gaza to get rid of the pain.
 
The physician makes the remark on Wednesday while manning a medical hotline in Flanders, Belgium’s Flemish region, whose capital, Antwerp, has a sizable Orthodox Jewish population, the local Jewish monthly Joods Actueel reports Thursday.
 
The woman, Bertha Klein, had her son, who is American, call the hotline at 11 p.m.
 
“I’m not coming,” the doctor reportedly tells the son and hung up. When the son calls again, the doctor says: “Send her to Gaza for a few hours, then [her pains will be over: corrected translation, NCT]” According to Joods Actueel, the doctor confirmed the exchange, saying he had an “emotional reaction.”
 
Health ministry officials were looking into the incident, according to the monthly’s online edition. According to Joods Actueel, the doctor knew the patient was Jewish because of Klein’s son’s American accent.
 
The family calls a friend, Samuel Markowitz, who is an alderman of the Antwerp district council and a volunteer paramedic. He calls the doctor to confirm the exchange, and also records their conversation.
 
Hershy Taffel, Bertha Klein’s grandson, files a complaint with police for discrimination.
 
“It reminds me of what happened in Europe 70 years ago,” Taffel tells Joods Actueel. “I never thought those days would once again be repeated.”[…]
 
While the ToI generally do due diligence about such stories (unlike some of the Hebrew press), I read the original article (in Dutch) and can confirm the story is not as bad as reported, but worse. For one, the poor woman is 90 years old.
 
Any doctor in Belgium is supposed to have sworn the Hippocratic Oath . Denying treatment to anyone for any reason other than sound medical judgment or lack of specific expertise (the Oath specifically gives the example of surgery by a non-surgeon) is a direct violation of the Oath. 
 
[Jewish doctors in Israel swear the similar Oath of Assaf the Physician). And no matter how heated the conflict with our neighbors, this oath is taken seriously. Arabs from all over the Middle East — even from countries technically at war with Israel — travel to Israel’s Top Four hospitals for specialist medical treatment. Not to mention countless patients from the West Bank and Gaza that are beyond the help of the local medical facilities.
Even hardened Hamas terrorists for whom a bullet would be too merciful get full and proper medical treatment in hospitals. Why? Because. That. Is. What. A. Fecking. Doctor. Does, No Ifs, No Ands, No Buts. The fact that several Arab patients of the infamous Jewish terrorist Baruch Goldstein (a medical doctor) testified after the Hebron Massacre that he had saved their lives when they were his patients speaks volumes — not in favor of his character, but about the seriousness with which the Oath is taken.]
 
I do not care how much this “dokter strontzak” will apologize or grovel to keep his/her job. Nothing less than permanent revocation of medical license is an appropriate punishment in this case. Anybody behaving like he/she did — denying treatment to a 90-year old woman for no other reason than being Jewish — is not worthy of the name “doctor”/”doctor”/”geneesheer” and only sullies the title.
 
Then again, I happen to feel the same way about any “doctor” committing involuntary euthanasia . — another practice in direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath (not to mention murder statutes)…
Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 31, 2014

Col. Richard Kemp CBE on Operation Protective Edge

The former British commander of ground forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp CBE, is in Israel. Watch this interview on Channel 1 (the interviewer is Yaakov Achimeir):

Some highlights (paraphrased from memory):

“Q: Is there any way to reduce civilian casualties?”

“A: [I have fought this kind of war for most of my career.] I cannot think of any way that the IDF isn’t already doing.”

“Q: But Cameron etc. say Israel should do more?”

“A: Yes, but they offer no suggestions how — because there aren’t any.”

“Q: Why do you support Israel?”

“A: Let’s see. On the one side you have a liberal democracy. On the other side a vile, proscribed terrorist organization. Which side should I be on?”

Here is an older Richard Kemp interview (on BBC) at the time of Operation Cast Lead.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 31, 2014

How Hamas Wields Gaza’s Casualties as Propaganda

New Class Traitor:

Very interesting, especially for where it appears. The article not only looks at the demographics of the dead (80% male, 20% under 17) which are completely different from the general population (my money is on 65±15% combatants among the dead). But the article points out that on a previous occasion Hamass itself flip-flopped on the “civilian” nature of casualties: for world consumption, it claimed 80% civilian dead. Then, one year later, faced with severe internal criticism over the total lack of any attempt to protect civilians, the HamAss regime suddenly came up with revised figures that were fundamentally what the IDF had been claiming all along. But this was a year after the conflict, and of course in Arabic for local consumption. The gullible ninnies, useful idiots, and fellow travelers in the Western media never retracted their earlier wild accusations.

Originally posted on TIME:

An informational battle of competing messages directed at international audiences parallels the military fighting between Israel and Hamas. Accompanying a barrage of wrenching images are Palestinian fatality statistics alleging disproportionate numbers of non-combatants. These figures are crucial because they form the basis of accusations that Israel uses excessive and indiscriminate force.

Hamas, the terrorist group controlling Gaza, endeavors to turn Israel’s military superiority to its own advantage by portraying the Israeli response to intense rocket and mortar fire as disproportionate and indiscriminate. In doing so, it hopes to turn public opinion against the Jewish state, as well as bolster its own standing at the expense of the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank.

Fatality figures provided by Hamas and other groups should be viewed with suspicion. Not only do Israeli figures cast doubt on claims that the vast majority of fatalities are non-combatants, but a careful review of…

View original 895 more words

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 30, 2014

The ever-growing settlements

New Class Traitor:

Petra Marquardt-Bigman explains that, contrary to popular belief, the built-up are of “the settlements” in the West Bank is only 1.4-1.7 % of the total (according to leftist sources, no less!), and that even a minimal land swap could take care of the problem. But… that would force the “Palestinians” to do something they are not prepared to do — give up the dream of destroying Israel by violence or by demographics.

Originally posted on The Warped Mirror:

Last week, James Zogby, the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), published a post entitled “The Politics of Palestine.” It’s the usual lament about the endless oppression inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel (and its US supporters), and of course, there is the inevitable reference to the “ever-growing settlements” that make the Palestinians feel “increasingly squeezed.”

The fact that Zogby can rightly assume that even people who have only the foggiest idea about the Middle East will think that these “ever-growing settlements” are a major obstacle to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict illustrates perfectly how divorced from reality much of the commentary and debate on this subject really are.

As Zogby knows full well, the “ever-growing settlements” haven’t grown for many years.

Veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat acknowledged as much publicly when he stated in an interview last November that “despite Israel’s continual policy…

View original 836 more words

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 30, 2014

Marco Rubio totally gets it about the Israel-Hamas war

Via Israellycool. I can’t add anything to this speech. Listen to the whole thing.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 20, 2014

Berlin imam calls for annihilation of the Jews in Friday sermon

A true disciple of that other imam and onetime Berlin resident, Haj Amin al-Husseini (y”sh)

Speaking of which, the last book by Barry Rubin z”l (with Wolfgang Schwanitz) was “Nazis, Islamists, and the making of the modern Middle East“. I cannot recommend it enough.

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 20, 2014

UNRWA disposes of found rockets by giving them to Hamas

UN-believable.

Or maybe they are technically speaking the truth in that they handed them to a competing terrorist gang …

Shall we call them the UN Rocket Warming Agency or the UN Racket Perpetuation Agency?

The creation of a separate refugee agency for the “Palestinians” (the UNHCR serves everybody else) basically guaranteed that the agency would have a vested interest in keeping the conflict alive forever. Of the many mistakes made by those creating the UN, this may well have been the most egregious one.

Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions. (Jurassic Park 3)

There is an amusing story (probably apocryphal) about Zvi Yechezkeli, the Channel 10 Arab Affairs correspondent, giving a lecture at Bir-Zeit University in the West Bank. He starts off with a story (he speaks Arabic fluently) about Moses (“Mussa” for them) climbing on Har Nevo, seeing the Promised Land, and bathing in the Jordan. When he comes out his clothes were missing.

“And Moses said: The Palestinians have stolen my clothes!”

Students yell out in protest: “But there were no Palestinians then!”

Yechezkeli: “OK, now that we have established that, I can start my lecture.”

[…]

The truth of the matter is, the concept of a “Palestinian” national identity is a fairly recent one in Arab politics: I know older people in Israel who remember when the word just meant: a resident of the British Mandate of Palestine. (They were never able to sell Jews on that name: British coins from the era list the Hebrew acronym for Eretz Yisrael/Land of Israel next to “Palestine” in English and “Falasteen” in Arabic.)

The only other entity called “Palestine” that ever existed in the region was of course when the Romans, after the Second Jewish Revolt/Bar-Kochba Rebellion in 132-135 CE, punitively renamed the province of Judea as “Palestina” after the Philistines/Pelishtim, a Mediterranean seafaring people that used to live in the area of Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza. (Ashkelon, or Ascalion as the Romans called it, was a major port city in Roman times: an interesting archeological park in the city is well worth visiting.) Needless to say, the Philistines no longer existed then, and today’s “Palestinians” are unrelated. During the Ottoman Empire, the whole area — sparsely populated then, as Mark Twain relates in “Innocents Abroad” — wasn’t even a separate province but just part of the sanjak (Ottoman province) of Southern Syria.

When Israel was born, pan-Arabism was king. The “Palestinian Liberation Organization” (PLO) was only founded in 1964, with a flag that is basically the Jordanian flag with the 7-pointed star removed. (A variant was also the flag of the short-lived Hejaz kingdom that preceded Saudi Arabia.)

I have always suspected that the sudden stress on a nebulous “Palestinian” national identity was a propaganda ploy for marketing purposes. Several websites, however (e.g., this one), refer to a 1977 interview by Zuhair Mohsen, then the leader of one wing of the PLO, where he basically openly says so. The quote that is circulating on the Internet appears to be a roundtrip translation, but a Dutch-speaking friend sent me a scan of the original newspaper article [Trouw, March 31, 1977, “Wij zijn alleen Palestijn om politieke redenen”], accompanied by his English translation: being fluent in Dutch, I can vouch for the translation. Here goes, starting from the 4th column, and the heading “Geen volk” (not a people):

NOT A PEOPLE

According to Mohsen there is in fact no separate Palestinian people. “Between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese there are no differences. We are part of one people, the Arab nation. Look: I have family members with Palestinian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Syrian citizenship. We are one people. Only for political reasons we carefully stress our Palestinian identity. Namely, it is of national important for the [struggle of the] Arabs against Zionism to foster the existence of the Palestinians. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity is there only for tactical reasons. The foundation of a Palestinian state is a new means for continuing the struggle against Israel and for Arab unity.”
Mohsen’s logic is actually very simple: “Because Golda Meir states that there is no [such thing as a] Palestinian people, I say that there is a Palestinian people, distinct from Jordan.”
 
STRATEGY
 
Also the strategy Mohsen wants to follow is very simple: “A separate Palestinian entity should stand up for the national rights in the then remaining occupied territories. The Jordanian government cannot speak for Palestinians in Israel, Lebanon, or Syrian. Jordan is a state with defined border. It cannot lay claim to, for example, Haifa or Jaffa, Jerusalem, or Beersheba. Jordan can only speak on behalf of Jordanians and the Palestinians on Jordan. The Palestinian state would have the right to act on behalf of all Palestinians in the Arab world and elsewhere. Once we will have acquired our rights in all Palestine, we must not delay the reunification of Jordan and Palestine for a single moment.”
 
One need not wonder why postmodern academics are often so enamored with the Palestinian cause, since they are so in love with “constructed” identities. (The acronym “conlang” for “constructed language” comes to mind ;))
Here (thanks to my daughter) is a more recent example: (Arabic TV clip, subtitles by MEMRI): a Hamas spokestool pleads with the Egyptians to donate more money, fuel, etc. and in trying to convince them, says:
We are your brothers. Half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half Saudis.
Mais bien sûr. It has never been about building a home for a constructed nation called “the Palestinians”: it has always been about delegitimizing, demonizing, and trying to destroy the only country in the region that is not under Islamic rule. Even the leftist academic, Camp David negotiator, and onetime foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami exasperatedly reached that conclusion (“End of the road”, Haaretz, September 14, 2001: English translation here):
 

But when all is said and done, after eight months of negotiations, I reach the conclusion that we are in a confrontation with a national movement in which there are serious pathological elements. It is a very sad movement, a very tragic movement, which at its core doesn’t have the ability to set itself positive goals.

“At the end of the process, it is impossible not to form the impression that the Palestinians don’t want a solution as much as they want to place Israel in the dock of the accused. More than they want a state of their own, they want to denounce our state. [Missing from translation: “In the deepest sense of the word, theirs is a negative ethos.”] That is why, contrary to the Zionist movement, they are incapable of compromising. Because they have no image of the future society that they want and for which it is worth compromising.

 
Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 17, 2014

The three competing brands of totalitarian collectivism

On a German site I read about an anti-Israel demonstration where neo-Nazis, islamists, and communists protested all together.

What, you say? How can three opposites agree on something?

To me this question is like: how can Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry have anything in common?

Yes, Apple, Samsung, and Blackberry engage in fierce battles with each other — hysterically competing for customers in the same market space, marketing different flavors of the same basic product (smartphones) under their respective brands.

Similarly, in politics, there are three major “brands” being marketed of the same (toxic) stew named totalitarian collectivism. All three envisage “perfect” societies that will primarily benefit a small elite/inner party/Nomenklatura at the top and be living hell for everybody else; all three want to control people’s thoughts as well as behaviors (this is the very definition of totalitarianism as distinct from authoritarianism); all three approve of political violence for their cause;… and all three, of course, either openly hate all Jews (Nazism, islamism) or hide their hatred under a thin veneer of “anti-Zionism” while accepting some biological Jews as converts to the G-dless religion called communism.

And yes, I agree there are some fundamental philosophical differences between these three nefarious worldviews — just like there are some fundamental differences between the philosophies underlying the user interface and ecosystems of iOS, Android, and Blackberry X. At the end of the day, however, what those three have in common is much greater than what sets them apart — and the same goes for the “big three” of totalitarian collectivism.

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 17, 2014

Forget “antisemitism”: call it what it is, “judeophobia”

Arab and Islamic apologists have in the past tried to claim that they cannot be anti-Semites, since they themselves are Semites. Of course, the word was originally coined by the German anti-Jewish agitator Wilheim Marr as a pseudoscientific-sounding alternative for “Judenhass” (Jew-hatred), when he founded his Antisemitenliga in 1879. Marr was only concerned with Jews and not at all with any other Semitic people, and in practice the word has never meant anything other than bigotry against Jews. 

I have always preferred the unambiguous alternative “judeophobia”. My daughter wondered if it was patterned on the word “homophobia”. In fact, the word “judeophobia” was first proposed in 1882 by the physician and proto-Zionist activist Leon Pinsker, in his pamphlet Selbstemanzipation (Auto-Emancipation):

A fear of the Jewish ghost has passed down the generations and the centuries. First a breeder of prejudice, later in conjunction with other forces we are about to discuss, it culminated in Judeophobia.[…]

Judeophobia is a psychic aberration. As a psychic aberration it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.

He goes on to explain the irrational character of judeophobia (a phobia, medically speaking, being exactly that: an irrational fear), its foundation on superstition, and the futility of any attempt to “cure” people of it by rational argument. He then goes on to make the same case as Theodor Herzl would so famously do fifteen years later.

Pinsker has been nearly forgotten outside Israel and well-read Zionist circles (as he never commanded the readership and contacts of Theodor Herzl) but he is remembered by the many Pinsker Streets in Israeli towns.

 

 

 

Posted by: New Class Traitor | July 16, 2014

A parable on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Picture this for a moment.

You have a group of men who live in a shared delusion that all women should fall at their feet and beg to be bedded by them, and that the whole world owes them tribute. Some women actually fall for them and become battered spouses, and some others are forced into concubinage. They also win over a number of men.

One woman, let’s call her Ruth, is not interested. She lives in one of 23 houses in the neighborhood, built with her own hands (and some money from friends). The men live in the other 22 houses. Despite hers being a small house, she worked very hard at it and it is now the most pleasant to live in the neighborhood.

One of the men says he just wants to live in Ruth’s house, which he claims is really his because it is built on “his stolen land” (which was passed from one large corporation to the next in a round of hostile mergers & acquisitions — but the ancient title document are Ruth’s most precious family position). She refuses, because she knows he has no intention of “just” living in her house. He breaks her windows, yells abuse and death threats into the phone at her at night, accuses her of racism,… The next time he trespasses, she slaps him across the face so hard he has to go to the infirmary. He files a complaint with the police for abuse. The police tell her she has a right to defend herself but should be more careful not to hit him so hard next time.

The self-appointed sages of the next neighborhood over claim that Ruth should just accept to live with him so the neighborhood will be quiet.

Now Culojamon, another man of the group, comes along, and tells her in so many words he wants to rape and then kill her. In fact, he even posts a manifesto on the Internet explicitly stating that is his goal. He shoots 1000 bullets at her: they miss because he cannot see well, she installed bulletproof glass and is wearing body armor — which is annoying as it weighs a ton, but does the job.

Eventually she sees him trying to dig a tunnel into her yard and pours cement down the tunnel. He sues in court claiming he is only digging the tunnel because he is hungry.

The social worker gives him money to buy food— which he promptly spends on bullets on the black market.

Then he fires special armor-piercing bullets he bought on the black market. The woman now realizes this will never stop unless she makes a stand: she walks over to him and punches him in the private parts. When he still doesn’t get it, she gives him two black eyes.

He goes to court claiming he is the victim, and that she is a criminal who should be locked up.

The sage of Coeur-Saignant agrees that what the bully is doing isn’t nice, but he’s only doing what he has to do because she is oppressing him.

Two other neighbors, Arbusto and Arpador, say Culojamon’s behavior is beyond outrageous and he should be stopped. Coeur-Saignant and his entourage scream at him for being intolerant, xenophobic, anasophobic,…

Some of the local men actually aid and abet Culojamon. Others secretly fear and loathe him and are afraid he will take over their houses (and wives) too, but loudly attack her for violating his “rights”.

IF THIS LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING YOU RECOGNIZE…

Every bleeding heart “liberal” would side with the woman in this situation. So…?

Paraphrasing Günter Walraff: any similarity to the plight of Israel (Ruth) is neither accidental nor purposeful, but simply unavoidable.

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