Sunday, December 28, 2003
By way of LGF comes the story of Chris Patten, a "viscerally anti-Israel" sanctimonious jackass who has all but barred Israel from joining the EU.
Patten, who is regarded as viscerally anti-Israel, has been a staunch champion of EU financial support for the Palestinians and claims to have "driven the process of reform in the Palestinian Authority institutions."
Good work on that, Chris. Nicely done.

Anyway, it's hardly surprising that the EU would disallow Israel entry -- after all, for all their supposed tolerance, they don't even plan to let Turkey in. What surprised me, though, is that Israel actually considered joining the EU to start with:

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told a visiting European Union delegation on Tuesday that Israel was considering applying for membership of the bloc.

"Shalom said he is not excluding that this government will ask for full membership in the EU," said Marco Pannella, an Italian member of the European Parliament and president of the Transnational Radical Party. [The what?]
That's a story from May of this year, and the statements are attributed to Silvan Shalom, a Likud FM who is unlikely to have an overly-rosy picture of the European Union. It almost seems absurd: would Israel really let their policies be dictated out of Brussels? Does Mr. Shalom seriously intend to sign the Schengen Convention, allowing all EU citizens passport-free entry into Israel (including the millions of Muslims in Europe)? By letting Israel have access to European markets and "institutions" -- whatever that word means -- Mr. Patten seems to be doing Shalom quite a favor: letting Israel have the benefits of EU membership, without the costs.

But the bigger question is, why would the Israelis want to participate in the EU? Trade is nice, sure, but there are other ways, and other partners. And after seeing the news coverage, the backstabbing from France, the boycotts by various trade unions, why would Israel want to integrate with Europe at all?

Partly, the following is true:

"In principle, the minister thinks a possibility exists for Israel to join the EU since Israel and Europe share similar economies and democratic values," he said.
I'm not so sure that European nations are all that strongly committed to democractic values, but I suppose living in a sea of Arab lunacy would make even France look like a beacon of freedom and rational thought. Economically, Israel is similar to European nations, but again, that hardly seems worth giving up sovereignty and border control to an outfit that is hostile to Israel's goals and interests. So what's the deal here?

I think what's at work here is the same thing that's been an albatross around Israel's neck since its inception: the burning desire of Israelis to be seen as a "first-world," "European" nation. For better or for worse, a lot of Israelis have European roots, and think of themselves as, well, "European" -- taking the meaning of that word historically as standing for what we in the U.S. generally prefer to call "Western Civilization." They have built a society that is "European" in many ways, from the parliamentary government, to strong socialist tendencies within the economy, to professed values of inclusion, tolerance, and pluralism -- which, as desirable end-goals, are unique to latter-day Western thought.

When talking about relations between the U.S. and Western Europe, many people are often guilty of overlooking some of the most fundamental differences in perspective between Americans (that is, people living in the United States of America) and Western Europeans. Americans believe themselves to have contributed at least a much to the history and advancement of Western Civilization as anyone else; we view ourselves and a major part of that civilization, and this causes our own worldview to be either balanced (with European history and contribution making up a sizable, possibly equal, but certainly not dominant, part of the Civilization), or downright Amero-centric (with the United States mattering more to Western Civilization than Europe). Europeans, on the other hand, view Europe as the cradle and center of Western Civilization (indeed, European Civilization); the U.S., Canada, Australia, etc., regardless of the size of their contributions, are colonial outposts populated by expat Brits, Frenchmen, Dutch, and others. Nothing in what I said is meant to be pejorative or critical; that's just how the views are formed, in the most general, broadest possible terms. Many people never even realize that this is how they view the world, but nonetheless, that is how they view it. The comical spectacle of France, Luxembourg, and Belgium issuing edicts on the propriety of American behavior can only be explained by the notion that they considered themselves in a position to make such pronouncements. (One certainly did not get this level of pomposity from Brazil, Nigeria, or Thailand, who operate under no illusions that the U.S. gives a tinker's damn as to their opinion in matters that do not concern them.) This leads to mutual outrage: from Americans at European nations who for some reason think that we must heed them, and from Europeans who can't understand why "their own" people would disregard them with such indifference.

So, what's this got to do with Israelis trying to get into the EU? As I said, many Israelis hail from Europe or have close cultural ties to Europe, and a long-standing wish to be accepted as part of a larger community of nations. They wish to be viewed as "Western" -- on merits all their own, as well as in opposition to the Arab cultures that surround them -- and for better or for worse, equate "Western" with "European." America's friendship is certainly valued and appreciated; but America is far away, and really, it's ultimately a European colony, so acceptance by it doesn't quite give the cachet of Western-ism that one gets from being "European." Without such acceptance, Israelis fear they'll be viewed as just another Middle Eastern country -- a Lebanon or Egypt, only with Jews -- and the notion isn't particularly appealing.

In a way, Israel seems to suffer from a national neurosis: they are constantly worried about what other nations will think of them, constantly searching for "acceptance" and recognition of Israel as just another "normal" nation. Israel lacks precisely the type of confidence -- some might say "hubris" -- that is available in such abundance in the United States. The same Americans who treat their Constitution with such reverence show utter ignorance of and indifference towards "international law," and no argument based on that "law" would get any traction outside the dopey Left. When Americans decided to go to war in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq, they didn't really care much what the UN or France said. As the anti-American campaign revved up in the UN, driven by France, Americans responded with either indifference or outright contempt for both France and the UN. In contast, Israel continues to take insult after insult at the UN, and a non-trivial part of the Knesset and the population are constantly worried about perception of Israeli actions abroad, much more so than any other nation I'm aware of.

In the end, it is my belief that this constant search for acceptance is Israel's greatest weakness, one that Arabs and their allies and apologists have exploited for all it's worth. Not only does it lead otherwise sober Israeli officials such as Mr. Shalom to make silly pronouncements, but it also means constant second- and third-guessing of every move the government makes, and the appearance of indecisiveness and weakness that only encourages the nation's enemies. It's also why so many "human rights" organizations put pressure on Israel out of all proportion to need: as Israelis keep demonstrating, pressure on them works. Bashar Assad couldn't care less what bone the do-gooders at Amnesty International have to pick with him, but condemn an Israeli action, no matter how innocuous, and you can bet that the condemnation will make the pages of the Ha'aretz, the tools at Peace Now and a few other "progressive" organizations will make a lot of noise, and those in the population who just want to live in "a normal country" will start making noises about maybe toning it down a little.

Does this mean that the Israelis should muzzle left-wing groups, or give their military carte-blanche to shoot at will? Of course not -- but they do need to truly start thinking of their nation of being independent and sovereign, which means that they are a moral entity unto themselves, and they have the sole right to judge their motives and actions for themselves. This is how Americans view their place in this world, which is why we so steadfastly resist any UN bullshit about "international courts" and "global legitimacy," or some other such nonsense -- we decide whether our actions are legitimate, and we ask no one else. The Israelis need to do the same, to demonstrate that they will not be dictated to by anyone else, will make their own decisions as they see fit, and will pass judgement according to their own views and moral necessities. Ironically, such behavior will put them on equal footing with other nations, and on a road to acceptance that their current intense search actually keeps them from finding. In other words, if Israel wants to stop being "a Jew among nations," it's got to stop thinking of itself as such.

Update: Paolo follows up with a bit more detail about the Transnational Radical Party:

It is a libertarian party. Marco's feelings for Israel are genuine. Probably he is the most pro-Israel and pro-American italian politician and his purposes are surely good, in defense of Israel, even if the idea is criticizable.
Oh, fer Chrissakes. You wanna know why Israel's position always seems to be, like, four inches away from annihilation? Well, here's a clue:
(12-28) 12:13 PST JERUSALEM (AP) -- The shooting of an unarmed Israeli peace activist during a demonstration has set off a debate among Israelis over the military's response to protesters during the last three years of conflict with the Palestinians.

While some say Friday's shooting was legitimate, critics say it finally forced Israelis to confront the kind of treatment Palestinian demonstrators have long faced.
Yeah, like we don't hear the Arabs and their "progressive" apologists screeching about it from every "news" source from here to Botswana every freaking day.
"The fingers of (Israeli) troops have been quick, too quick on the trigger when dealing with Palestinians. It was only a matter of time until it would trickle inward and produce a similar pattern of action against Israeli demonstrators as well," dovish novelist David Grossman told the daily Yediot Ahronot newspaper.
Yes, truly those Israelis are just itching to off themselves a Palestinian, because, well, it's just such a joyful experience. Not nearly as pleasant as a self-detonation -- none of that martyr's bliss for the Yahoods -- but, well, the infidels can't have everything. But it's somewhere between that and the joy ol' Eddie Said used to get while safely tossing rocks from Lebanon. I guess those mean ol' Jew-soldiers weren't as quick-triggered then.
The incident occurred Friday afternoon, when about 100 protesters gathered at the West Bank separation barrier Israel is building.

[. . .]

On Friday, the protesters were demanding that the gate near the West Bank village of Mascha be opened so farmers could tend their fields. When it was not, they cut the fence with pliers, eventually creating a hole large enough for a person to walk through, according to an Associated Press photographer on the scene.
So these assholes were demanding something (how do they get to demand? who the hell are they?), and when they didn't get it, they cut a hole through a border fence. Oh, how I'd love to see them try something like this -- oh, I dunno -- say, on the Syrian/Turkish border. Hell, I'd like to see them start a protest or even utter a peep from inside Syria. That'd be fun to watch. Anyways, they cut a hole through a security fence.

So, what happened? Did the Israelis gun down everyone involved?

On the other side, about half a dozen Israeli soldiers, who appeared panicked and unprepared, demanded they stop, fired several bullets in the air and then shot at their legs, moderately wounding an Israeli and lightly injuring an American.
Oh! My! God! So after this mob of pin-head Arab sympathizers approached a fence that keeps Arab terrorists from exploding among Israeli grocery shoppers, were told to stay away, had warning shots fired over their heads, and continued to demolish a security barrier duly approved and supported by the Israelis, they got a couple of bullets drilled into them, and received prompt medical attention. Holy smokes, someone nominate those soldiers for sainthood. I doubt any other military force -- the U.S. included -- would have tolerated this kind of shit from anyone, especially if bombs had been going off amongst their own people for years. No, I'm pretty sure any other military force would have given these "protestors" -- apparently criminal damage and vandalism is now a form of "protest" -- their just rewards: namely, an unequivocal demonstration of whether there is life after death.
Military sources said the soldiers were not equipped with rubber bullets or tear gas, traditional means of crowd dispersal.
That's because they were not doing riot-control after a Lakers' game. They are a freaking military patrol out to keep child-murderers and other assorted "Palestinian activists" from killing people. They did the best they could with what they had -- a warning, followed by non-lethal injuries. Those protestors should be thanking the soldiers on the remaining fragments of their knees.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his Cabinet on Sunday the barrier needs to be protected, but Israel has to use the appropriate means for dispersing demonstrators.
A verbal warning, followed by shots into the air, would seem to be appropriate means of warning. Shooting the cretins if they still don't get it would be appropriate follow-up.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz felt the rules of engagement had been breached, according to a source at the weekly Cabinet meeting. According to Israeli military regulations, soldiers may open fire only in life-threatening situations.
Holy shit, 100 terror supporters who are cutting through the security fence and crazed enough to ignore warning shots, are not a danger to a half-dozen soldiers?! They had already cut a man-sized hole through the fence; what else were the soldiers to do? Isn't a breach of the fence a threat to them and Israeli security, by definition?
The army announced Sunday it had opened two investigations into the shooting.
Investigate away. Just as long as at the end, the Israelis and busy-body "internationals" who participated in this "protest" are jailed, and the soldiers get a beer and a pat on the back.
Israel has routinely used live ammunition against Palestinian demonstrators who sometimes pose a threat and sometimes do not, according to Yariv Oppenheimer of the dovish Israeli group Peace Now.

But the shooting Friday appeared to be the first time Israeli troops fired live rounds at a Jewish Israeli protester.
There's that "protester" again. Hey, if the nimrod had only been walking around with a sign and a slogan, he'd merely be an Arab stooge. But he participated in the cutting of the fence. That's a bit more than protest.
The wounded Israeli, Gil Naamati, 21, served for three years in an artillery unit before finishing his mandatory military service last month.

"We didn't want to threaten soldiers and we didn't threaten soldiers. All we hurt was the fence," said Naamati, who was shot in both legs.
The fence keeps Arab terrorists out of Israel. Damaging it makes it easier for terrorists to get into Israel and kill Israelis. What Mr. Naamati did endangered the lives of Israelis. Simply speaking out against the fence would be legitimate disagreement. But he admits cutting the fence. That makes him a traitor. And doing so after receiving warning shots makes him a full-fledged idiot. He's damned lucky to be alive at all -- and given the consequences of the action he was trying to take, he doesn't deserve to be.
"I was in the army, and I am familiar with the rules of engagement and what I did was not even close to something that I think would warrant opening fire," he told Army Radio from his hospital bed.
Well, the great thing about being this stupid is never having to say you're sorry.
The wounded American was not identified. Hospital officials said she was treated Friday and released two hours later.
Please tell me she was released to police authority. Or a bulldozer brigade.
The incident angered many Israelis, and the airwaves were clogged with debates Sunday.
Now this is an interesting line. Why were the Israelis "angered"? Was it over the shooting, or over the fact that one of their own would actively work to undermine their security?
"The tempest was created only because the severely injured individual was an Israeli," commentator Ofer Shelah wrote in Yediot. "Had he been a Palestinian, the incident probably would not have received even a single line in the newspaper."
Damn right, it wouldn't. Why should it? Palestinians acting suicidally stupid is not exactly news these days.
Like many, Shelah questioned whether the soldiers knew -- or should have known -- the demonstrators were Israeli, "as if Palestinian demonstrators can be shot at indiscriminately."
Wtf??!? What possible difference does it make, which passport was carried by the morons who cut the security fence in full view of an armed Israeli patrol? And what's this "indiscriminately" crap? Detonating yourself on a bus is killing "indiscriminately." Shooting people who are cutting through a security barrier -- after verbal warnings and warning shots -- is not in any way shooting indiscriminately. It is a text-book example of resisting enemy action. The fact that the enemy in this case had the combined IQ of a cactus plant doesn't make the actions of the soldiers any less legitimate.
Hard-line Cabinet minister Uzi Landau said the soldiers had to stop the protesters, or it would have set a bad precedent and encouraged others to break through the barrier. "Anyone who destroys the fence is assisting terrorism," he said.
Exactly. No point spending all those shekels building a fence if you're just going to sit there when people tear it down.
Commentator Hagai Huberman said the troops had a duty to shoot. "The soldiers did what was required of them. They prevented the fence from being breached," he wrote in the hawkish newspaper Hatzofeh.
Also true. It was a border patrol, stopping a border breach. Simple as that. Pat them on the back, say "good job," give them a week of R&R, and call it a day. Maybe the next bunch of nimrods who want to damage the fence will change their minds, and stick to demonstrations with puppets.
Others condemned such comments.

If shaking the fence is a crime punishable by death or injury, one can easily see why "dozens and hundreds of Palestinians are killed and injured all year long," analyst Doron Rosenblum wrote in the Haaretz daily.
Oh, for the love of Arafat's baby-wipes: this wasn't just any old "fence," but a security barrier between Israelis and Arab terrorists; the "protesters" didn't just "shake" the fence, but cut a hole in it that people could go through; and yes, indeed, absolutely, such an action merits a death or an "injury." How the hell does Mr. Rosenblum think you enforce the law, anyway -- by standing in front of the criminal and saying "pwetty pwease"? You don't want to be killed or injured, fine -- stay the hell away from the fence, dimwit. Otherwise, expect to be killed or injured; think of it as a hands-on demonstration of natural selection at work.
"Either way, it's indeed a severe mishap: For a moment we were given a glimpse of what we have become," he wrote.
Yes indeed: the Israelis have become people willing to kill to secure their nation against genocidal murderers. The horror. Bien-pensants in Europe and the UN might not approve.

Squirrel Shaheed

This is the funniest story I've read all year:
Picture a large man on a huge black and chrome cruiser, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and leather gloves puttering maybe 25mph down a quiet residential street…and in the fight of his life with a squirrel. And losing.
Read it all, and give thanks to Zeitgeist at Inoperable Terran for finding it.
The Zionist occupation of space continues:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israel launched its second commercial communications satellite Saturday.

Live television pictures broadcast on Israeli television showed the liftoff of the Russian Soyuz-Fregat launch vehicle which carried the AMOS 2 satellite into space. It took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
If current trends continue, I expect the Arab tinfoil-beanie market to explode. (Figuratively, in this case.)
Saturday, December 27, 2003
Steven Den Beste writes:
OK, let me get this straight. Seven men on an American terrorist watch list were all found to have purchased tickets on the same Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles. Our people alerted the French, who cancelled the flight, took them all into custody, and after briefly questioning them released them all. French action was big and showy and will have the effect of convincing those men and their friends to make their next attempt against us from somewhere else.

France is safe. We are not.
Charles Johnson has more details via Reuters:
One or more terror suspects may have escaped due to a premature disclosure in France of the security concerns behind the cancellation of Christmas flights to Los Angeles, U.S. officials said on Friday.

[. . .]

U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials had hoped all the suspects could be detained as they showed up for the flights, said a senior U.S. official familiar with the situation who did not want to be identified.

[. . .]

Washington believed that the longer publicity could have been avoided, "the greater the chance to catch anybody else who was suspected of being involved," he said. "The French announcement caught everyone off guard."
Is anyone else reminded of Saudi Arabia's "cooperation" when they were asked to arrest bin Laden a few years back, and instead simply denied his plane permission to land?
Monday, December 22, 2003

Arab karaoke

"Stangers in the night. . ."

Via the Footballs.

Sunday, December 14, 2003
Having established that Saddam is not Hagrid, I also feel obligated to point out that, surface resemblances notwithstanding, he is not Cheech Marin:

Here at Thinking Meat, we always try to keep the public well-informed, and dispel confusion before it can set in.

Downgraded accommodations

$750,000 and he lived here?!

Instapundit links to this little blurb at The End Zone:
CNN reports the head of Palestinian Hamas has issued a statement expressing outrage that Saddam would encourage martrydom in others, yet personally go down without a fight.
That is very unfair of Hamas. Killing yourself after so many others have committed acts of martyrdom to bring you back to power, well, that just strikes me as awfully inconsiderate.

On the other hand, no such limitation applies to Hamas's leaders, including Abdel Aziz Rantisi, whom Fox News helpfully describes as a doctor and a sometime poet. I therefore expect him to strap a bomb to himself and his family, and send them out on martyrdom operations, any day now.

. . .aaaany day now. . .

We interrupt this preposterously long silence to say...

Holy samovars! They got Rasputin!

Update: I would just like to point out that, despite any appearances to the contrary, the man pictured above is in no way related to Hagrid: