Saturday, July 13, 2002

The tyranny of true!

Jonah Goldberg puts a really interesting spin on cliches. I think he underestimates the power cliches have to stifle debate and dull even the best intellects into complacency. Read his article and then please contribute to my list of favorite cliches about the Middle East:
- there is no military solution to the conflict...huh? Which conflict in History did not end up being resolved by a military solution?
- Arafat is the democratically-elected leader of the Palestinian people...huh? With no free press, public lynchings and complete control of the PA finances, I don't think that even Gandhi running against Arafat would stand a chance!
- Islam is a peace-loving religion...28 of the 31 conflict areas in the world today involve Muslims against non-Muslims (according to the State Department). I would say we have a bit of a trend here, wouldn't you?

I am sure their are lots more! Please contribute through the Comments and we will post the best ones.
Mark Steyn really nails why European diplomacy is SO irrelevant and why Bush called "puerile" by British diplomats is the only one really calling the shots. Poor Britain, poor France, poor EU all stuck in their '70's thinking.

But that’s Europe’s problem all over, isn’t it? There’s a terrible reluctance to change the script: the old jokes are the best, and so are the old policies. Obviously, a ‘senior civil servant’ would find Bush’s Middle East speech ‘puerile’, ‘absurdly ignorant’ and ‘ludicrous’. The President gets up and announces that the present Palestinian leadership is worthless and he’d like to see a new constitution, separation of powers, an autonomous legislature and independent municipal institutions. Independent municipal institutions? In the Middle East? No wonder the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland described it as a ‘fantastic speech. That’s to say, literally fantastic.’ Mr Bush’s plan was really a non-plan: all he was saying, like the sign in the McDonald’s window, was ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service’. You can have terrorism or you can have a state but you can’t have both. How ‘puerile’, how ‘absurdly ignorant’. Why, all Bush’s ‘ludicrous’ speech will do is ensure that the Palestinians vote Arafat in by an even huger majority than he would already get.
The Continentals, on the other hand, seem to be the last people on the planet who believe that Yasser really is Chairman-for-Life.

M. Chirac needs to get with the programme. Best case scenario: Arafat runs in 2003 and is elected to a Palestinian presidency stripped of all power — like President Vossname of Germany or President O’Itllcometome of Ireland. Worst case scenario: carried out by the handles. To Bush, either solution will do. Some rare Palestinian ‘moderates’ (the term is relative: I mean progressive types who think suicide-bomber classes shouldn’t start till junior high) might yet emerge. On the other hand, some toxic Arafat lieutenant or Hamas honcho might carry the day. Doesn’t matter: an unashamed terrorist would be easier to deal with than a frontman for terrorists.
But, in any case, the hypothesis is a false one: when the election comes, Chairman Arafat will not be a candidate.

For Bush, it’s a win–win situation. If the Palestinians elect the Hamas crowd, he can say, ‘Fine, I respect your choice. Call me back when you decide to put self-government before self-detonation.’ If they opt for plausible state and municipal legislators, Bush will have re-established an important principle: that when the Americans sign on to nation-building they do so only to bring into being functioning democratic, civilised states — as they did with postwar Germany and Japan. Who’s to say it couldn’t work in Palestine? Not being a colonial power, the Americans don’t have that win-a-few-lose-a-few attitude — here a Canada, there a Zimbabwe — that the British have. So the Bush plan is perfect: heads we win, tails you lose. That’s also how some of these other international questions are being framed: heads, the International Criminal Court will be modified to our satisfaction; tails, we won’t have to do any more lousy UN peacekeeping.
Mubarak: Arafat is the "Father of the Palestinians"

I wonder how Palestinians feel about being the "children" of a lying, cheating, blood-thirsty, racist, bigoted tyrant. I guess we'll soon find out during the next election. This "free and democratic" election will take place with no free press, 50,000 "security" thugs (one in 50 Palestinians, making it the most heavily policed state in the world) and institutionalized and officially sanctioned public lynching for anyone daring to come out in favor of a compromise with Israel. I'd say that the odds of Arafat not being reelected are about the same as the odds of Bush and Bin Laden appearing together on Saturday Night Live.
Israel has developed its own satellites and its own launcher. Contrast that with the latest Arab technological advancement: the homicide bomber, a cheap (about $20,000 for the family of the bomber), lightweight (carried right on your belt), stealthy (undetected under any cheap rain coat) and disposable (lots more homicide bombers being produced daily in the EU-financed Palestinian schools) weapon.

Sharp Vision Jerusalem Post Editorial

The most significant things in life are often those taken most for granted. So too in Israel's life as a nation, technological achievements barely warrant a moment's notice, particularly at a time when political, security, and economic crises seem to be almost daily fare. The launch of the Ofek-5 reconnaissance satellite does not deserve to be lost in this shuffle, and points to something the Arab world may actually appreciate more than Israelis.

Though satellites in general have become commonplace, it is less widely known that the Ofek-5 is advanced enough to place Israel in a club with only three other members: the United States, Russia, and China. The actual satellite is tiny - only 2.3 meters long, 1.2 meters wide, and weighing 300 kilograms. Yet it reportedly can take pictures of almost any spot on earth to a resolution of less than one meter. This means it not only can monitor countless military facilities as it whips around the globe every 90 minutes, but could conceivably spot Saddam Hussein eating on his back porch from an altitude of 450 kilometers.

Ofek-5 was built entirely in Israel, and was launched by an Israeli rocket, the Shavit. The launching itself should not be considered a trivial achievement, as indicated by the fact that a fair number of launches (including that of the Ofek-4 in 1998) end in failure. It was also launched, contrary to almost every other satellite, to the west, in the opposite direction of the earth's rotation, so as to avoid the danger of its capture by an Arab country in the event of a malfunction.

Again, we take all this for granted. But so did Americans when Ronald Reagan announced his plan to build a global defense against ballistic missiles. The US could and should have built missile defenses long ago, but the remarkable thing is that even the prospect of their construction did much to hasten the Soviet Union's collapse. For the USSR, America's unmatchable technological prowess was the handwriting on the wall.

The same, to some extent, can be said about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab world has witnessed the opening of unbridgeable technological gap between it and Israel that renders a repetition of the onslaughts attempted in 1948, 1967, and 1973 increasingly unthinkable. This is not to say that Israel has become militarily impregnable. Arab strategy has moved on to non-conventional forms of attack - from terrorism on one end of the spectrum, to the dream of weapons of mass destruction on the other.

September 11 is sometimes taken as proof that the West is vulnerable to even relatively primitive examples of its own technology turned against it.

Suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism are hardly hi-tech. But high technology is not as impotent as it is made out to be against low technology and unconventional threats.

In Afghanistan, the United States showed how smart weapons, dumb bombs, modern communications systems, and even cavalry can be combined to great effect. The barriers contemplated between Israel and the Palestinians are combinations of measures as low-tech as a ditch with sophisticated surveillance technology. And technology could allow Israel and the United States to render ballistic missiles obsolete, if only the political constraints to building such defenses were overcome.

Technology is not a panacea, but it is a great handicap to be without it. No Arab state can dream of doing what Israel did this week until the Arab world is politically and economically transformed. This transformation, as a handful of mostly Western-based Arab intellectuals have pointed out, has been blocked by the Arab obsession with Israel. The launching of the Ofek-5 symbolizes not only Israel's technological prowess, but how badly the Arab world needs peace. (Jerusalem Post May 30)

The Israeli-Arab conflict...why it IS a conflict about religions and cultures, not territory.
Naomi Ragen (in her May 30th column) shows how this conflict clearly is about Islam fighting everything non-Islamic. And this is why this conflict will not be resolved at the negotiating table. It will only be resolved when Islamism has been defeated by the sword once and for all. It will be resolved when all fundamentalist branches of Islam (Wahhabism, Islamism, etc..) have been destroyed before they destroy us.

The Real Conflict By Naomi Ragen

Like most people in the world, for years I assumed that the conflict between Arabs and Israelis was a conflict about land. I assumed that this conflict had something to do with people losing land, wanting land, feeling disenfranchised, deprived of rights…

Recently, I began research into terrorism, Saudi Arabia, and Islam which has given me some startling evidence that everything I’ve believed in the past couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

The fact is, the conflict between Arab and Israeli is a conflict between Muslim and Jew. Moreover, it is only a tiny part of a much wider conflict between Muslim and all other religions, and those countries that treasure freedom of religion. It is the conflict between fanatical and intolerant and ignorant hordes bent on converting the world to their vision of the one and only true faith: Islam.

The first inkling that this was the case were in the books I read on Saudi Arabia. Did you know that it is a crime to own a Bible in Saudi Arabia, and that people have been jailed for it? Did you know that no one is allowed to celebrate Christmas or Easter there, and that no churches of any denomination can be built there (let’s not even talk about synagogues…)? Did you know that Jews are not allowed into Saudi Arabia, and that all things Jewish are a crime? Did you know that even those who practice Islam according to the Shia tradition are also considered criminals and are persecuted?

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has been using its American-provided oil wealth to build elaborate mosques in places all over the world which have very few Muslims. This is what Peter Theroux (certainly no friend of Israel) wrote in his book Sandstorms: “Even the least observant Muslim in Saudi Arabia measured power and influence in religious terms—why else did the kingdom spend vast fortunes on palatial mosques in places where there were almost no Muslims? It was a subtle and informal way of marking territory. When the city of Rome decided in 1984 to grant a building permit for a mosque near the Holy See, the reaction of the Riyadh press [was] jeering articles [that ] applauded this “tanazul”, relinquishing or surrender, on the part of Rome and the Vatican…Europe and all Christendom were gloatingly shown to have caved in to Islamic machismo.”

Unlike the shrines of almost all other religions who welcome visitors of other faiths, the Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina are forbidden to anyone who does not practice Islam.

The deisre of the Islamic world to take over Jerusalem has one reason and only one: Islamic intolerance. Before Israel took over the Old City in 1967, it was closed to Jewish worshippers. The outbreak of violence in Pakistan , Indonesia, and parts of Africa are also being portrayed as territorial disputes by the press. But anyone with eyes in his head can see they too are Muslims against Hindus, Muslims against Christians. Muslims against anyone who isn’t Muslim.

Of all the freedoms we hold dear in the West, none is more precious than freedom of religion. Muslim immigrants are using that freedom and Saudi petrodollars to build an Islamic empire that will threaten religious tolerance in the West. We can already see the results with the rise of antiSemitism in Europe, led by Muslims who attack Jews, burn synagogues, and target religious schools. In Israel, the turnover of Christian Bethlehem to Muslims led directly to the destruction of the Christian community and the desecration of one of its holiest shrines, the Church of the Nativity, which was defiled by Palestinian gunmen, raped of precious artifacts, and then trashed.

When the West urges Israel to allow Muslim fanatics to mark more territory, it is rewarding Muslims for their crimes against humanity. Already, Muslims have lowered the standards of decency and brought all of the civilized world to new lows, convincing so-called intelligent and moral people to accept the outrages of supermarket killings, playground bombings, school bus bombings, flying baby carriages, murdered grandmothers, blown up Seder nights as a legitimate part of some moral equation in which the Muslims are always the ones with the understandable grievance that one can accept. “The Israelis murdered my brother,” they’ll explain after killing the baby, forgetting to mention that their sibling belonged to Fatah, or Islamic Jihad, or Hamas. And that is the way the press will present it. The Israeli or settler (baby in the carriage) against the idealistic young freedom fighter willing to risk his life for…you name it…any word that falls easily on Western ears and sensibilites. By allowing this propaganda to succeed, barbarous acts become palatable with the help of their journalistic apologists, helping the West to engage in its own brand of moral suicide, preparing itself for the day when the norms of Saudi Arabia will soon be the norms of us all.

Every inch of land Israel surrenders, gives that Muslim vision a new victory, infusing new strength into its megalomania. Every compromise Israel is forced to make by the world, or its own foolish leadership, strengthens the cynical resolve of the Muslims to expand the theatre of their conquests, and to turn the world into the hateful prison that is Riyadh and Jeddah, places where women walk like black ghosts, unable to work, or drive, or go out without permission from their husbands and fathers; a place where music is outlawed, and movies, and theatres; and where the worship of Jehovah or Jesus is a jailable crime.

Should Israel cease to exist, there would be no peace. It would simply whet the Muslim appetite to gobble up the next country and the next and the next, until they achieve their vision of one God, One Prophet; that is the Muslim God, Allah, and the one Muslim prophet, Mohammad.

Those of you urging Israel to compromise, should look out your own windows and think of the morning after. ( May 30)
Relative peace in the MidEast doesn't mean the Palestinians are behaving themselves...

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli forces prevented a vehicle filled with explosives from entering Israel from the West Bank city of Qalqilya, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Saturday morning, Israeli police searched the car and found four large explosive devices, three gas canisters containing flammable materials and another three canisters filled with nails and other sharp metal objects, according to the IDF.

Friday, July 12, 2002

Can you say double standard?

Article 1: Bush Will use all means to oust Saddam
At a news conference, Bush reiterated official U.S. policy aimed at ending Saddam's rule in Iraq. "It's a stated policy of this government to have regime change. And it hasn't changed," Bush said. "And we'll use all tools at our disposal to do so."

Article 2: U.S. Signals Arafat Must Not Be Removed by Force
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should be removed only through elections, U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Friday.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Gadhafi: 'Libya is against terrorism'....too bad they sponsor it!

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has said there is no evidence to prove his country is behind any acts of terrorism.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said Libya was at the forefront of the battle against terrorists.

Yeah....him and Arafat right!?!

"We term them heretics, actually. They are non-Muslims. They are outside Islam," Gadhafi told CNN Johannesburg Bureau Chief Charlayne Hunter-Gault.

"These are terrorist peoples, and actually they are crazy and mad.

What a phenomenal grasp of the obvious you have, Mr. Gadhafi!

... They are really dangerous and they don't use law, they do not accept law, they do not allow you even to talk to them, and they should be really dealt with accordingly."

Wow....we never thought of that one.
Click here for some info about Libyan terrorism, including the '89 bombing of a French plane over the Sahara....and of course everyone's favorite Libyan attack.....LOCKERBIE!

Will the new International Court take on the PA for "crimes against humanity"?

According to a new report published by Amnesty International, homicide bombings and mass murders of Israeli civilians is a crime against humanity. So, it will be interesting to see whether the recently created International Court (which mandate is precisely to deal with crimes against humanity and genocides) will take this on and prosecute Arafat, Sheik Yassin (the Hamas "spiritual" leader), and other illustrious international criminals on this issue.
Anyone prepared to take a bet against me that the court will not even look into it? Or rather that they will start investigating Jenin against Israel instead?

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

...and the French Government is also involved in a widespread cover-up exercise.

On September 21, 2001, only eleven days after the attacks on the United States, a huge explosion rocked the southern French city of Toulouse. The Azote de France (AZF) petrochemical plant and the surrounding area were heavily damaged with a loss of 29 lives and thousands of injuries, some fatal later. France’s worst industrial accident since World War II destroyed AZF, never to reopen, and damaged 10,000 buildings including several dozen schools, a university and a hospital, and about 300 businesses employing 4,600 people.

But was it an accident, as French officials rushed to call it? The explosion centered on a warehouse that held 300 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, transformed into a 150-foot-wide crater by the explosion. It was only two tons of ammonium nitrate that brought down the Federal building in Oklahoma City. However, as Time magazine put it, "... [scientists] note that such nitrates require heating to at least 200°C and a sharp detonating charge before they'll explode. Given that stability, many were amazed when Toulouse public prosecutor Michel Bréard almost immediately assured the public it was "99% certain this was an accident."

Investigators soon had another hypothesis to work with: Hassan Jandoubi, 35, a French national born in Tunisia, was found dead at the scene. He was dressed in several layers of garments, which reports said were "in the manner of kamikaze fundamentalists." Jandoubi had been hired to work at the plant only five days before the blast. An LCI television report said Jandoubi was connected to a group of four or five men in the area belonging to the Takfir movement, a Sunni sect of Egyptian origin that preaches a radical form of Islam. Two of those men are believed to have spent time in Afghanistan, according to the LCI report.

French newspapers reported that police became interested in Jandoubi because truck drivers at the plant testified that the night before the blast Jandoubi shouted abuse at them for the small American flag they displayed to show sympathy for the United States victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

When police finally went to Jandoubi's apartment, after a procedural delay, they found it had been completely cleaned out. Jandoubi's family and friends deny any connection to radical Islam, but Toulouse police say he was known to meet people at a local mosque and have ties to Islamic fundamentalists.

French government officials are sticking to their story that it was an accident, while investigators from many agencies have poured over the explosion site looking for a definitive explanation of the "accident". Atofina, parent company of AZF, has issued a press release regarding the safety of the plant, which was exemplary.

Does this pattern sound familiar?
Following the killings at the El Al counter in LAX, Daniel Pipes shows how many isolated violent incidents in the US clearly point to a systematic pattern of terrorist activities by Islamists. He also shows how the US government is engaged in a widespread exercise in either denial or cover up. Either way, the Bush Administration is hosing us.

My favorite quote..."Western officialdom continues to pretend terrorism away". Brilliant.

This is one of the prices to pay for the Intifada. Israel is allowing thousands of foreign workers into the country to pick up the jobs vacated by Palestinians.

I think this is just another reason for the Palestinians to turn on Arafat. By organizing, unleashing and sustaining the intifada and the mass murders, Arafat has now guaranteed that many Palestinians have lost their jobs forever. And Arafat is such an abject leader, incapable of taking any initiative which would benefit his people economically that these lost jobs cannot be recovered within the territories, leading to more desperation and more violence. Talk about an organized vicious circle. When are they going to rid all of us from this man who has been a plague to the world?

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

En francais? Yes...we have crossed over...we are going to start posting some material in French for the bezillion faithful readers in the Francophone world. Given that a very large proportion of the French-speaking press is squarely pro-Arab and pro-Palestinian, it should be relatively easy to find interesting material to critique, tear apart and destroy...he he he...ought to be fun. And if you don't understand one of the posts, I have put a link (right under the Israeli flag in the left column) which will allow you to translate the post automatically. It is not top notch in terms of translation but it will definitely give you the gist of our illustrious prose. Enjoy and Salut!
According to a US Senator (Bob Graham), training camps in Syria and Lebanon are a bigger immediate threat to the US than Iraq

Accordingly, the Bush administration has asked Lebanon and Syria to stop these camps. One has to wonder how the US proposes to deal with this, especially at the UN now that Syria is the (rotating) president of the Security Council. Now here is an interesting problem, which, I am sure, those who "invented" the UN never thought about. What do we do when the country actually heading the UN's most powerful body actually is a rogue, terrorist state. Hum...I think I know the answer. Just get all the other rogue, terrorist states and naive Europeans to gang up on a small democracy by clamoring to the whole world that this small country is the scourge of nations, the Jew of nations, that it is racist, that it practices massacres, war crimes and mass slaughter of innocent homicide-bombers and that it needs to open its borders to all, especially those who have declared officially that they want to destroy it. Good plan!
Ex-loyalist says that wherever Arafat goes, he brings corruption. You're kidding! How can that be? He is a Nobel Terrorism Prize Winner, after all.

Looks like some Palestinian are starting to realize that the emperor has no clothes. There are more and more signs of open rebellion against Arafat from within several areas of Palestinian society. Now, one of his ex-lieutenant is finally calling a spade a spade. Palestinian are starting to blame Arafat openly for their suffering, according to the report. "Eight years ago, he came to Gaza and Jericho and said, 'I'll make it into Hong Kong.' Instead, he turned it into Somalia," says a Bethlehem schoolteacher whose gunman brother was forced into exile last month. Yasser buddy, your gig is up. I hear that they have a really nice place waiting for you at Guantanamo Bay.
Issue of land ownership in Israel

There have been many reports that Israel was about to pass "racist laws" preventing non-Jews from buying land in Israel. In actual fact, most land in Israel cannot be sold to either Jews or non-Jews. But even if Israel were to pass such a law, are there extenuating circumstances? Let's think about it. Would the US allow a non-US citizen with possible links to Al Q'aida to purchase land directly in front of the White House? Don't think so. How about near Strategic Weapons silos (such as Long Range Nuclear Missile silos)? Don't think so. How about large infrastructure projects such as key bridges, dams, nuclear power plants, etc...? Nah...don't think so either. I am pretty sure that there would be some minimum perimeter within which no one would be allowed to buy land around all such sites. Well, carry the same perimeter into a country the size of Israel and I would bet there is very little land left for a free for all. Add to this the fact that Israel is 20 kms wide at its narrowest point and you get the picture as to why land is such a strategic resource is Israel and why it needs to be tightly controlled for security reasons. Is this racism? No way, it is simply survival and security, no more, no less.

Just a quote from the document linked above:

Of the total land in Israel in 1997, the Israel Government Press Office statistics say 79.5% is owned by the government, 14% is privately owned by the JNF (Jewish National Fund), and the rest, around 6.5%, is evenly divided between private Arab and Jewish owners. Thus, the ILA administers 93.5% of the land in Israel.
Just thought you should know what the US is protecting themselves against today....SMALLPOX!

Smallpox.....yes, that's right. This is what the US government believes could be the next type of attack on US soil. And given that the Israeli government is also looking into vaccinating the entire population of Israel , one can only assume that there is some intelligence or information somewhere which points to the possibility of such a bio-terrorist attack. One has to wonder whether Palestinians will expect the Israelis to include them in this vaccination campaign...wouldn't that be interesting?

Monday, July 08, 2002

According to the Debka Files, Hadayat (the assassin who shot 2 people at the LAX El Al counter) belonged to Egyptian Jihad, al Qaeda’s Operational Arm

If this turns out to be true, this would make him the first suicide-bomber or suicide-shooter on American soil. Turns out, this guy had been under surveillance for almost 10 years by El Al and that the US Authorities were notified. The guy was a known security risk. And the FBI knew nothing about it of course.

It is critical label the attack on El Al in LA as what it is: a clear terrorist act, not a hate crime, as the FBI would have us believe.

Here's a murderer who has a history of open hatred for Israel and who openly complained about his neighbor putting up a large US flag after 9/11. And this is not compelling enough to classify his act as terrorism? Why not? Because we haven't yet received any claim of responsibility from any mainstream terrorist organization? Or is it because political correctness is running amok once again? Are we about to start being fed the usual pabulum about Islam being a peace-loving religion, when once more, a middle-aged Muslim male has perpetrated a horrendous crime against people whose only crime was that they were Jewish? Think about the family of the beautiful ticket agent, think about the 8 children of the poor guy who was just dropping someone off at the counter, think about the murderer's own children who now have no father and the prospect of a life of shame. Think of the man's motivation, modus operandi and tell me this was not terrorism. Yep, this was terrorism plain and simple. This was not the industrial strength Al-Q'aida version of terrorism, but rather the start of a low-level campaign of harassment against the US to try and destabilize the mood of the average American.

And why is it important to label this act for what it really was? Read on, that's why.
Two academics are fired in the UK simply because they are Israelis. Yep, you read right.

Prof. Gideon Toury of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Miriam Schlesinger of Bar-Ilan University were fired from the academic boards of two language journals owned and run by Prof. Mona Baker of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST).

Can we be very far from the day when academics will start being fired because they are Jewish and therefore implicitly support Israel? Can we be very far from the day when Jewish academics will be asked to wear some clearly distinguishable sign so people will know that they unconditionally support Israel and therefore cannot be trusted? How about a yellow Star of David? Do you think this is farfetched? I don't think so. If anyone had told us that we would see the day where academics could be fired simply because they were the citizens of a particular country, would you have believed it? Didn't think so. If we accept this, then we have crossed a line. All Israelis will be fair game, then all Jews will be fair game, then other minorities will be fair game and Adolf will have won. This definitely puts the last nail in the coffin of my belief that England, the country which gave us Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta, remains truly a defender of human rights. That has gone out of the window. True England is now exemplified by the Robert Fisk, Cherie Blair and Mona Baker's of this world. It is a sad sad day to see that England has fallen so low so fast. And I believe that the rest of Europe is not that far behind. Thank G-d for the US.

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Looks like Colin Powell may have his back to the ropes right now and he seems to have suffered a few setbacks recently.

We sincerely hope that Colin's departure is imminent. We are not holding our breath.
A very disturbing and troubling article about the current resurgence of anti-semitism in France and on the future of the French Jewish Community.

Given that most of my family lives in France, this is REALLY scary. Effectively, it says that the Muslim population in France is now 10 times larger than the Jewish population, and that most of the children of Muslim immigrants are easy recruits for Islamo-fascism. It also says that the wave of Islamism in France is starting to affect the very fabric and ethnical makeup of France. Pity.

For once Thomas Friedman, usually a liberal apologist for Palestinian atrocities, hits one out of the ballpark when commenting on the endemic shortcomings of all Arab countries, as per the recent report from the UN, written by Arab intellectuals. Essentially, the report says that Arab countries do one thing well...make babies and turn them into illiterate adults!

Arabs at the Crossroads By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

President Bush was right to declare that the Palestinians need to produce decent governance before they can get a state. Too bad, however, that he didn't say that it's not only the Palestinians who need radical reform of their governance — it's most of the Arab world.

By coincidence, though, some other important folks had the courage to say that just this week: The U.N. Development Program, which published, along with the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, a brutally honest Arab Human Development Report yesterday analyzing the three main reasons the Arab world is falling off the globe. (The G.D.P. of Spain is greater than that of all 22 Arab states combined.) In brief, it's due to a shortage of freedom to speak, innovate and affect political life, a shortage of women's rights and a shortage of quality education. If you want to understand the milieu that produced bin Ladenism, and will reproduce it if nothing changes,
read this report.

While the 22 Arab states currently have 280 million people, soaring birthrates indicate that by 2020 they will have 410 to 459 million. If this
new generation is not to grow up angry and impoverished, in already overcrowded cities, the Arab world will have to overcome its poverty — which is not a poverty of resources but a "poverty of capabilities and poverty of opportunities," the report argues.

Though the report pays homage to the argument that the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli occupation have been both a cause and an excuse for lagging Arab development, it refuses to stop with that explanation.

To begin with, it notes that "the wave of democracy that transformed governance in most of Latin America and East Asia in the 1980's and early 1990's has barely reached the Arab states. This freedom deficit undermines human development." Using a standard freedom index, the report notes that out of seven key regions of the world the Arab region has the lowest freedom score — which includes civil liberties, political rights, a voice for the people, independence of the media and government accountability. In too many Arab states women can't vote, hold office or get access to capital for starting businesses. "Sadly, the Arab world is largely depriving itself of
the creativity and productivity of half its citizens," the report says of Arab women.

On education, the report reveals that the whole Arab world translates about 300 books annually — one-fifth the number that Greece alone translates; investment in research is less than one-seventh the world average; and Internet connectivity is lower than in sub-Saharan Africa. In spite of progress in school enrollment, 65 million Arab adults are still illiterate, almost two-thirds of them women. No wonder half the Arab youths polled said they wanted to emigrate.

The report concludes that "What the region needs to ensure a bright future for coming generations is the political will to invest in Arab capabilities and knowledge, particularly those of Arab women, in good governance, and in strong cooperation between Arab nations. . . . The Arab world is at a crossroads. The fundamental choice is whether its trajectory will remain marked by inertia . . . and by ineffective policies that have produced the substantial development challenges facing the region; or whether prospects for an Arab renaissance, anchored in human development, will be actively pursued."

Well said — and here's the best part: The report was written by a "group of distinguished Arab intellectuals" who believed that only an "unbiased, objective analysis" could help the "Arab peoples and policy-makers in search of a brighter future." There is a message in this bottle for America: For too many years we've treated the Arab world as just a big dumb gas station, and as long as the top leader kept the oil flowing, or was nice to Israel, we didn't really care what was happening to the women and children out back — where bad
governance, rising unemployment and a stifled intellectual life were killing the Arab future.

It's time to stop kidding ourselves. Getting rid of the Osamas, Saddams and Arafats is necessary to change this situation, but it's hardly sufficient. We also need to roll up our sleeves and help the Arabs address all the problems out back. The bad news is that they've dug themselves a mighty deep hole there. The good news, as this report shows, is that we have liberal Arab partners for change. It's time we teamed up with them, and not just with the bums who got them into this mess.

A very interesting presentation on the events in the Middle East since right after WWI. It's a little slow moving but well worth the time. Remember to click the green arrow in the top right hand corner to advance to the next slide.

If you need to cut and paste the url, here it is: