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Happy VE-day, and here’s Anne’s weekly summary of good news from my adoptive homeland. Some really good stuff this time.
Originally posted on Anne's Opinions:
After yet another contentious and tense week, thank goodness it’s Friday and time to post another Good News Friday installment.
We’ll start with some entertainment news. Despite US singer Lauryn Hill cancelling her scheduled concert in Israel due to pressure from the BDS bigots, the equally (or more) popular Dionne Warwick has no such qualms and stated that she has no intention of giving in to BDS pressure:
After entertainer Lauryn Hill cancelled her show in Israel for political reasons, American diva Dionne Warwick said Wednesday that she has no plans to cancel her upcoming Tel Aviv performance, saying that “art has no boundaries.”
A statement released to the press read that Ms. Warwick “would never fall victim to the hard pressures of Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, or other political people who have their views on politics in Israel.”
Outspoken Israel critic…
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A pretty good summary on where CAGW skeptics (a.k.a. “climate realists”) agree with climate alarmists (more than you might think), and where they part company.
Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:
Guest essay by Richard J. Petschauer
A skeptic that believes in global warming? How can that be? We have been told that climate skeptics, sometime incorrectly called “deniers”, still believe the earth is flat and disagree with 97% of scientists. Well, first of all, most of us have seen a globe and know what it represents. Second, do you know on what these scientists agree? If not, don’t feel bad. Those making these claims, mostly politicians, probably don’t know either. Actually, a rather poor survey was done looking at a summary of many technical papers. If any one of many climate related points were made, they were put in the 97% camp. This article would probably have qualified too.
But the real question, not covered in the survey: How fast will the earth warm if we do nothing to curtail the growth of man made carbon dioxide emissions? And how…
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Reflecting on Sarah Hoyt’s long and thoughtful article on the Sad Puppies vs. “Social Justice Warrior” fracas at the Hugo Awards:
It is actually a good illustration of the difference between a positive-sum game and a zero-sum game. To the Sad Puppies camp, writing sci-fi is a positive sum game. You have more writers of varying political stripes (or of no discernible stripe at all), you have more and more diverse fiction, which will appeal to a broader range of people, which will get more people to read and buy sci-fi, and everybody is happy.
To the SJWs, however, what they truly care about is a positional good, namely intellectual and moral superior status over others. (Cf. this interesting piece on “Virtue signaling” .) Competition for any purely positional good is a zero-sum game, and the more people participate the less is there to go around. So for the SJWs, throwing up barriers to entry and ostracizing people are rational strategies (in pursuit of an irrational goal).
And as the causes and mascot group they ostensibly champion gradually gain acceptance, their response will of course be to become ever more shrill and radical — because if suddenly everybody at least pays lip service to that particular cause or mascot group (or simply accepts it as part of the landscape) then there is no longer any virtue to be gotten in doing so, except by drastically escalating demands.
The end game, in this case, will be ten people and a dog buying the latest 99.4% pure LGBTQWERTYZ-friendly SJW novel, and them congratulating themselves on being the only people sophisticated enough to understand this transgressive piece of dreck. And then another group comes along saying that 99.4% isn’t pure enough, and ostracizes the first…
There are actually virtue inflation cycles in organized religions as well, with one believer trying to outdo the other in piety. Closest to home in that regard: there were the most extreme ultra-Orthodox who during the recent Passover would not rely on the municipal water supply because somebody might have dropped some bread in the Sea of Galilee and thus contaminated the water with some ppb quantity of leaven (consumption of which is strictly forbidden during Passover). In a country where the majority of people (including yours truly) already keeps kosher to some degree and still more respect the additional stringencies during the week of Passover, simply keeping kosher for Passover may be enough for those who observe these commandments for their own sake — but it will not meet the needs of status seekers (which exist in every culture and every field of human endeavor) as they will only be ‘special’ by going to ever greater extremes precisely when more people adopt the basic strictures.
Coming back to sci-fi: the fact that Sad Puppies not only includes women and minorities (besides being politically much more diverse than the ingroup) — and that authors like Sarah Hoyt even use sympathetic homosexual characters as protagonists — actually means precisely that the SJWs have to become that much shriller to continue to be the ultra-precious moral snowflakes. So expect the more inclusive that “our” side will become, the more hysterical and outré will be the escalation in demands from the SJWs. State-financed species reassignment surgery anyone? (“I am a dinosaur trapped in a human body”)
Originally posted on According To Hoyt:
Years ago on this blog I talked about Technique of The Coup D’Etat by Giovanni Guareschi and I typed the beginning in here. I shall copy that. (Assume typos are mine.)
At ten o’clock on Tuesday evening, the village square was swept with wind and rain, but a crowd had been gathered there for three or four hours to listen to the election news coming out of a radio loudspeaker. Suddenly the lights went out and everything was plunged into darkness. Someone went to the control box but came back saying there was nothing to be done. The trouble must be up the line or at the power plant, miles away. People hung around for half an hour or so, and then, as the rain began to come down even harder than before, they scattered to their homes, leaving the village silent and deserted. Peppone shut himself up in the…
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Sarah Hoyt is back from surgery — and how! This post about “scarlet lettering” of authors (sci-fi, in her case) by SJW “gatekeepers” for having politically incorrect thoughts — and how such gatekeepers fear and loathe indie publishing because it is not “pod nash kontrol” (Russian for ‘under our control’). Long (as usual for Sarah :)) but very much worth reading all the way through.
Originally posted on According To Hoyt:
One of the most interesting things – and by interesting I mean scary – about the reaction to Sad Puppies 3 is that many people who are anti-puppy (always wanted to write that) were mad at Brad for “not telling people you were putting them on the slate.”
Okay. The accusation is not true. Brad actually told people, except for a couple he legitimately forgot to contact.
But let’s not defend Brad on that front, because when we are defending him on that front, we’re already swallowing whole a pretty bizarre assumption of the other side.
Instead, let’s step back and take a deep breath.
What are the Hugos?
They’re awards, right? They’re awards given, supposedly, for the best science fiction and fantasy of the year, right?
In theory, theoretically as it were, who is supposed to nominate: why, Lord love a duck, right? Any reader of science fiction who…
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Originally posted on 9to5Mac:
Tim Cook is scheduled to attend the opening of Apple’s latest offices in Israel early next week, according to a report from Israeli daily business newspaper Calcalist.
The report says the new offices will be located in Herzliya, Israel, and hold around 800 employees in approximately 180,000 square feet.
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Maverick climate scientist Judith Curry (who unlike most, is interested in actually finding out what is going on, rather than fattening up the funding gravy train) is getting exasperated by the politicization of CAGW by the New Class soft-dictator wannabes.
Originally posted on Liberty's Spirit:
Members of the same Islamist terror group that murdered people at Charlie Hebdo have now taken hostages at a Kosher deli in Paris. For security reasons, the police have ordered all Jewish stores, shops and restaurants closed in the Marais, the traditional French-Jewish neighborhood.
If you tweeted in support of CharlieHebdo, #JeSuisCharlie; If you tweeted to remind everyone that the policeman murdered by terrorists in that viral video was a French-Moslem, #JeSuisAhmed, then it is time you tweet in support of the Jewish community in France.
Of course this event should come as no surprise:
No one can say this is a surprise. In July window-smashing rioters stormed thru Paris chanting ‘gas the Jews’ http://t.co/krRNeIst27
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) January 9, 2015
1st they came for the Jews. Then they came for the Jews again & again… then they came for #CharlieHebdo. Then they came for the…
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“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…
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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.
“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…”
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.
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?
… 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.
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.
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).
Belgian doctor refuses treatment to Jewish womanA 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.”[…]
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.
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…
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