Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Assault on Freedom of Speech in Israel, and More Court Kibitzing

1. There has long been misunderstanding over a critically central idea in
the Israeli war against barbarism. It is the incorrect impression that
there exists a set of anti-terror tactics that never involve risks to
civilians or "collateral damages." Nice clean surgical tactics over
which armchair compassion postureurs never need wring their hands in
exhibitionist anguish.

This misunderstanding extends to the Israeli Supreme Court. The matter is
more serious because of the determination by so many judges on the Supreme
Court bench to convert the Court into a de facto executive branch, all in
the name of "judicial activism," which is a synonym for judicial tyranny.

In December of 2006, the Israeli Supreme Court decided to micro-manage
Israel's anti-terror tactics by decreeing that terrorist leaders may not
be assassinated by Israel if there is any chance of arresting them in one
piece, and also that they may not be targeted if there is any chance that
civilians nearby might be hurt. They demanded that the use of force
always be "proportional." No, they did not mean that nuking Gaza would
be the appropriate proportional response to the firing of hundreds of
Qassams at Sderot.

Now the real problem with all this is that the demand that no force be
used whenever there is any chance that civilians will get hurt is
equivalent to the demand that no force be used at all. There is ALWAYS a
chance that civilians will be hurt in any war and in any military
operation. This is especially true when the terrorists are hiding among
civilians, and are aware of the orders not to target them when they are so
hiding among civilians. A demand that Allied forces never bomb Germany or
Japan in World War II whenever there would have been any chance of
civilians getting killed would have been equivalent to a demand that the
Allies surrender to the Axis.

That of course is why the world is demanding that Israel stop all military
operations whenever Arab civilians might be at risk. The world wants
Israel to capitulate. So does the Israeli Left.

Haaretz has a "scoop" today that some Israeli generals decided to ignore
the kibitzing of the Supreme Court in the military and carry out
anti-terror operations anyhow. See . These men deserve medals
for bravery. They should be backed by a Knesset bill that prohibits the
Supreme Court from engaging in such kibitzing, orders the Court to
restrict its rulings to judicial matters and not to micro-manage decisions
by the military or the executive branch.

2. Don't take this the wrong way. I realize that my readers on this
list are much to smart to believe any of the trash coming from the "911
Truth" conspiracist cult, the nuts who proclaim they have "proof" that the
downing of the WTC on 911 was an "inside job" and was ordered by the
neo-cons and the Republicans. Anyone stupid enough to believe any of that
would not be interested in what I write.

Nevertheless, I wanted to recommend strongly that, if you get the chance,
you should watch the program on the History Channel about 911 conspiracy
"theories." It is extraordinarily well done.

Most of us have a tendency to dismiss the conspiracy nuts as idiots with
whom it is a waste of time to argue over facts or to gather the
counter-evidence needed to prove they are wrong. But that is exactly what
the program does and it does so really well. It is based in part of the
special issue of Popular Mechanics that examined and debunked the
"scientific" claims of the conspiracists: things like "doubts" about the
collapse of WTC Building Seven, "doubts" about whether the heat was enough
to bring down the twin towers, "doubts" about the crash of Flight 93,
"doubts" about the plane hitting the Pentagon, the "evidence" of other
explosions in the WTC as it collapsed, etc etc etc. Few people have the
patience to wade through all that and collect the engineering
counter-evidence that disproves the claims of the conspiracists. But the
History Channel did so and did so in spades. Its program demolishes every
bit of "evidence" of any "theory" that challenges the official explanation
of al-Qaeda hijacking the planes and knocking down the towers as a terror

Even more important, it exposes at length the conspiracist mindset, the
need to invent convoluted "explanations" for dramatic events that go
beyond the obvious and the simple, the outright lies, the attempts to take
anything that looks curious at first glance and attribute it to fictional
grand conspiracies, and so on. The conspiracists also refuse to look at
the obvious gaping holes in their own theory, holes a million times larger
than any "holes" in the official theory. How did the Republican
conspirators inside the WTC know on which floor the planes would hit so
that they could plant the bombs to go off together with the planes hitting
the building at exactly those floors?

Now I mention all this because if you watch this show you will immediately
see ALL the same mental contortions and mindset to be found among the
conspiracy nuts and conspiracy believers in Israel and the Jewish world
when it comes to the Rabin "conspiracy theory." The Rabin conspiracists
use all the same methods of "detection" as the "911 Truth" cult, although
not as thoroughly and imaginatively. They operate with the same modus
operandi, with the same willingness to lie, the same disregard for all
real evidence, the same gaping holes in their OWN "theory." (How come
Yigal Amir insists he is guilty and insists that he fired real bullets if
he did not?)

And like the Rabin conspiracist "theory," the "911 Truth" idiocy continues
to enjoy a certain popularity among the less intelligent segments of the
populations. It does not matter how many times the "outstanding
questions" get put to rest and answered, nor how many times the conspiracy
"evidence" is totally disproved.

3. New Assault on Freedom of speech in Israel (from the sultan knish

The following appears on the Sultan Knish blog and is worth reading:
A Poet Goes on Trial in Israel for Verses Offensive to Arabs
Free speech is a rare quantity and many Americans are all too unaware of
how rare it really is. Israel, like Europe or Canada, does not have actual
free speech, instead it has free speech subject to government discretion
and the politically correct sensitivity of "oppressed minorities".

While mockery, contempt and even outright hatred for Judaism and Jews can
be found on TV shows, political commercials, editorial cartoons and
throughout the Israeli left wing media, when directed at Arabs quickly
becomes a criminal offense. And that is no joking matter. Tatiana Soskin,
a young Jewish immigrant who drew a cartoon of Mohammed as a pig and
pinned it to a door, served time in jail for it.

Today however in Israel it is a poet going on trial. Gershon (Gregory)
Trastman is a moderately well known Jewish Russian poet living in Israel
who wrote a series of satirical verses about a rival political party for
Vesti, a Conservative Russian Jewish language newspaper. The verses
included references to Arab demographics as a weapon against Israel, a
premise first put forward by Arafat himself. The key offensive lines ran
something like these, accounting for translation errors.

A Nightmare, the number of Arabs passes a Million
And increases without weakness or respite
Look upon them and your vision grows dark
I will tell the Jews without offense
At night they farm and form is filled
By the eclipse of the moonlight's beam,
The breath of death, what way is found?
The hare, the cat, the locust cannot match
And whether through Ill Luck or Prophecy
We already pave the way to the Tomb of Night
The Tomb of Night, an Arab woman's womb

It is a matter of interpretation whether the lines are straightforward or
a satirical jab aimed at Avigdor Lieberman, an Israeli right wing
politician. The translation here is rendered seriously, but it does not
have to be. More to the point though, whatever the intention, Gershon
(Gregory) Trastman, should have been able to write whatever he saw fit
subject to the willingness of newspapers to print it and of the public to
buy the newspapers.

But of course that is only how things work when there is free speech.
While left wing parties such as Shinui are free to run cartoons and
articles that mimic Der Sturmer's evocation of religious Jews as rats
cockroaches, Arabs are protected from similar criticism.

Since Vesti is a conservative newspaper, it has left wingers regularly
monitoring it for material they can use for a court case. David Eidelman,
the Russian spokesman for the left wing Kadima party, and an all around
scumbag, on seeing the verses prepared his own skewed Hebrew translation
of them and distributed them around, looking to incite a court case.
David Eidelman's mistranslation found its way to the Mossawa Advocacy
Center, an Arab organization funded by the EU and Oxfam, which wrote a
letter to Attorney General Mazuz demanding action and warning that if such
poems were tolerated it could lead to more Arab riots such as in Acco.
Mazuz, ever eager to crush political opponents of the left, jumped in with
both feet and ordered an investigation.

The identity of the poet, Gershon (Gregory) Trastman, who had been writing
under a pseudonym was exposed and he along with Sergei Podrazhansky, the
Vesti op ed page editor, are now headed to court. This is not the first
time that Vesti editors and writers have been dragged through the court
system. That became a feature of the Barak era, one of whose goals was to
destroy conservative Jewish media in Israel. But the timing adjacent to an
election is not accidental either. A regular feature of the Israeli left
wing's election strategy is to advertise their fight against "right wing

Gershon (Gregory) Trastman and Sergei Podrazhansky would appear to be the
latest targets of this fight. Aside from a smear article in the radical
left wing publication Haaretz and the always reliably repulsive Lily
Galili, no mention of the trial has appeared in any English speaking

Mention of what is going on, even on the blogsphere, could at the very
least alert the judge and prosecutor that there is outside attention being
paid to this case. Anyone who would like to email a protest can do so to
Attorney General Mazuz at . In a time when Arabs and
Muslims have succesfully proven that they can silence free speech in just
about any First World democracy in the name of not giving offense, it is
important to continue fighting for that fundamental right without which no
political opposition or legal dissent is possible.

4. Mikey Lerner, the Rabbi-Impersonator and LSD touting editor of
Tikkun Magazine, has a new cause celebre. It seems he is determined to
increase anti-Semitism within the Catholic Church. See this:
Spiritually Progressive
By Mark D. Tooley | 11/26/2008
Former Hillary Clinton guru Michael Lerner, publisher of Tikkun magazine
and founder of the .politics of meaning,. is now slamming the Catholic
Church for threatening to excommunicate leftist priest Roy Bourgeois.
Bourgeois is the Maryknoller priest who has for nearly 2 decades waged war
on the U.S. Army.s training school for Latin military officers at Fort
Benning, Georgia. Having lead thousands of demonstrators, over 200 of
whom have been arrested, Bourgeois. School of the Americas Watch portrays
the U.S. as training Latin officers to torture and murder at the behest of
Gringo capitalism.
The Catholic Church is threatening Bourgeois with excommunication not
because of his rehash of 1970.s Marxist-inspired Liberation Theology, but
because he participated in the unauthorized ordination of a female priest.
Lerner, who professes to be a rabbi, is indignant.
.It's not just Jews who demean others or see one type of human being as
more valuable or closer to God or more appropriate to serve God than
another,. Lerner bemoaned. .The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith
(the office that was previously named The Inquisition, but now no longer
using violence to achieve its ends) has sent a letter to Father Roy
Bourgeois threatening him with ex-communication (which effectively means
an end to his income and to his teachings inside the church) for daring to
publicly support the ordination of women and to offer remarks in a
ceremony ordaining a woman as priest..
Besides running Tikkun, Lerner also co-chairs The Network of Spiritual
Progressives, along with leftist nun Joan Chittester and Princeton radical
Professor Cornel West. As Lerner described in his recent blog, The
Network .wishes to be a place in which progressives from various religious
communities (as well as "spiritual but not religious" people) can feel
safe in coming together to work for a New Bottom Line to replace the
materialism and selfishness in the world with an ethos of love, kindness,
generosity, caring for others, ethical and ecological sensitivity, and awe
and wonder at the grandeur of the universe..
So naturally Lerner.s Network will spring to action if one of its
religions of interest is complicit in .racist, sexist, homophobic,
anti-Semitic [acts] or attacking .the Stranger. (whoever the demeaned
Other of any given society happens to be at a particular historical
moment).. Evidently, the Catholic Church.s upholding its own doctrinal
standards represents one of those dreaded moments that threaten the
.Stranger.. Lerner cited Father Bourgeois as one of the .most courageous
Catholic voices for peace and non-violence. because he fights the School
of the Americas, which Lerner described, naturally without evidence, as
training Latin forces in .techniques of torture [and] repression..
For visionary progressives such as Lerner and Bourgeois, literal facts are
not so important. As deeply spiritual people, they are more concerned
with metaphors and narratives. And in their pseudo-Marxist narrative, now
defunct rightist Latin regimes of 30 and 40 years ago repressed their
people only because the U.S. taught them how. After all, can any evil
arise without orchestration by the U.S.?
According to Lerner, the Catholic Church.s .current conservative
leadership. aspires in .one fell swoop. to .rid itself of the progressive
Catholic who has created the most important spiritual progressive
demonstration taking place anywhere in the country for peace and against
torture.. In fact, the Catholic Church hierarchy has not acted against
Bourgeois. because of his intemperate politics. He has espoused leftist
causes, to the seeming exclusion of actual pastoral ministry, for over 30
Somewhat more accurately, Lerner claimed the Catholic Church also wants to
.terrify other priests into not daring to question the Church's doctrines
on women.. Of course, Bourgeois did not just editorialize against the
church.s stance on female priests. He actually participated in an
unauthorized ordination. Should religious communions be able to exact
minimal adherence to their doctrines by clergy who have supposedly pledged
to uphold them? According to Lerner, loyalty to .progressive.
spirituality should supersede all other transcendent commitments.
Lerner accused the Catholic Church of hypocrisy for not threatening
excommunication against priests who supposedly have failed to uphold .the
very progressive teachings of the Church against war and poverty. by
supporting U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or .the notion of a violent
war against terror.. Of course, the church has no doctrinal stance
against U.S. military policies in the same sense that it has one on the
meaning of the priesthood. Roman Catholicism is not pacifist. And the
public misgivings of Pope John Paul II about the Iraq War did not have the
status of doctrine. Religious leftists like to pretend that the Bible and
church traditions have very specific mandates that echo the Left.s own
temporal political ambitions.
Tikkun.s self-made rabbi knows exactly what is brewing within Roman
Catholicism. .Politically conservative forces. have captured the church,
Lerner warned, and are suppressing .progressive causes,. while protecting
.those who support authoritarian and reactionary and violent causes.. Of
course, he did not further describe these reactionary forces. Instead,
Lerner condemned the Catholic Church.s .tenth century decision to exclude
women from the clergy,. while the church ignores Jesus. teachings against
violence and for social justice, allowing priests who support .economic
oppression and wars. to run rife. He urged his Network.s supporters to
campaign against the forces of reaction within the Catholic Church. .We
are not anti-Catholic,. Lerner insisted, even as he inveighed against the
church hierarchy for bigotry and oppression.
Generously, Lerner observed that many Catholics .remain committed to peace
and social justice. but live in fear because the Inquisition may descend
upon them. Many Jesuits who are faithful to the .true teachings of Jesus.
would join Lerner.s Network but for the threat of persecution, he opined.
Courageously, Lerner is not himself afraid of the church.s vast powers.
He announced that he will himself appear at Bourgeois. annual protest
march at Ft. Benning on November 22, leading a workshop on how spiritual
progressives can best support President Obama.
.Spiritual Progressives. like Lerner commonly denounce the purported
dogmatism of traditional religion. But of course they erect in the place
of traditional faith their own, self-developed infallible doctrines, which
rest not on scriptures or tradition, but on the will to political power.
Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on
Religion and Democracy.

5. Those moderate Jordanians:

6. Man the torpedoes!

7. Yeah sure the Saudis want peace:

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