Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Report: Arafat Did More To Build A State Than Palestinian Leaders Today

Posted: 06 Jul 2010 11:23 AM PDT

"Ironically, there was more institution building and civil society development under Yasser Arafat than there has been since the West Bank-Gaza split in 2007."

Are Palestinians Building A State

According to a report by Nathan J. Brown of the Carnegie Endowment For Peace, the Obama administration is confusing support for an individual--Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad--with the policy he is pursuing.

According to the conclusions of the report, Are Palestinians Building a State?:

  • Government circumventing democracy. The unaccountable governing process that Fayyad has had to invent is not just postponing a democratic system--it is actively denying it.

  • Isolated successes do not create rule of law. The increasing number of cases seen and submitted to the courts indicates growing efficiency and confidence, but security services continue to act outside the law under the guise of cracking down on Hamas.

  • Lack of institution building. While Fayyad's cabinet has managed to make a few existing institutions more effective and less corrupt, there has been regression in other governing bodies. Palestinian civil society is showing signs of decay as well. Ironically, there was more institution building and civil society development under Yasser Arafat than there has been since the West Bank-Gaza split in 2007.

  • Disillusionment increasing among Palestinians. Popular support for Fayyad is growing but he still has no organized base. And Palestinians are increasingly cynical about the prospects for long-term development.

  • Fatah is in disarray. The party remains bitterly divided. Party leaders recently forced Fayyad's cabinet to cancel local elections when Fatah could not organize itself on time.

Read the entire report (PDF).

The report notes:

To the extent that Fayyadism is building institutions, it is unmistakably doing so in an authoritarian context," writes Brown. "There is no reason to associate Fayyad personally with the most egregious aspects of this new authoritarianism, but there is no way his cabinet could have been created or sustained in a more democratic environment.

Palestinian authoritarianism in 2010 is different from Palestinian authoritarianism under Arafat--it is less venal and probably less capricious. But it is also more stultifying.

One thing that both the PA leadership and Obama have in common is the desire to rush to create a state in name, without regard to the readiness and infrastructure to actually make it work.

by Daled Amos

What Is Hezbollah Doing On The US-Mexican Border?

Posted: 06 Jul 2010 11:05 AM PDT

Did they take a wrong turn at Beirut?


I wrote a post last month about how the drug trafficking of both Hezbollah and Hamas has been documented in testimony before Congress, by the DEA and in the media--in South America.

Now Hezbollah has moved north:

Mexico foiled an attempt by Hezbollah to establish a network in South America, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Hezbollah operatives employed Mexicans nationals with family ties to Lebanon to set up the network, designed to target Israel and the West, the Al-Seyassah daily said.

According to the report, Mexican police mounted a surveillance operation on the group's leader, Jameel Nasr, who traveled frequently to Lebanon to receive information and instructions from Hezbollah commanders there.

Among others who have brought up Hezbollah's involvement in the drug trade:

In June, a U.S. congresswoman wrote to the Department of Homeland Security to warn that Hezbollah was increasing its presence in Central and South America.

In her letter, Congresswoman Sue Myrick called on the U.S. to work with Mexican forces, as there was intelligence that Hezbollah was working in conjunction with Mexican drug cartels on the U.S.-Mexico border.

...In February a U.S. court in Miami indicted three men for raising funds for Hezbollah, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist organization.

According to a Fox News article, there have already been clear indications of a Hezbollah presence in the area:

A 2006 House Homeland Security Committee report further noted that Hezbollah members have already been caught entering the United States via Mexico, suggesting expanded activity. The report cited as one example the case of Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, the brother of a Hezbollah chief, who in 2005 pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hezbollah after being smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border and settling in Dearborn, Mich.

Read the whole thing.

Hezbollah--which has no trouble dealing in illegal drugs, regardless of the strictures of the Koran--has a history of killing Americans:

  • In April 1983, Hizbullah exploded a truck in front of the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon--killing 63 employees, including the Middle East CIA director. 120 were wounded.
  • In October 1983, a Hizbullah suicide bomber blew up an American barracks in the Beirut airport, killing 241 U.S. Marines in their sleep and wounding another 81.
  • In December, the American embassy in Kuwait was bombed.
  • In March 1984, the CIA station chief in Lebanon, William Buckley, was kidnapped by Hizbullah and then murdered.
  • Buckley was the fourth American to be kidnapped in Beirut, and many more suffered the same fate between 1982 and 1992 (though not all died or were killed in captivity).
  • In September 1984, the U.S. embassy annex near Beirut was hit by yet another truck bomb (also traced to Hizbullah).
  • In December 1984, a Kuwaiti airliner was hijacked and two American passengers employed by the U.S. Agency for International Development were murdered.
  • The following June, Hizbullah operatives hijacked still another airliner, TWA flight 847. An American naval officer aboard the plane was shot, and his body was hurled onto the tarmac. 

    [Condensed from World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win, by Norman Podhoretz]

Regardless of how the Obama administration wants to label the war on terror, the question is what measures will it take to defend the US from the threat of Hezbollah operating right across the US border?

by Daled Amos

Wapo: president obama seeks to mend fences with israel and keep jews on board

Posted: 06 Jul 2010 04:20 AM PDT

Ahead of today's visit of Prime Minister Netanyahu to President Obama the Washington Post, In Obama, Netanyahu meet again amid questions over U.S.-Israel relations, catalogues many of the difficulties plaguing the relationship between the two allies.

The public show of unity matters for the delicate Middle East peace process and for domestic political consumption on both sides. Of immediate concern to the Democratic Party is the effect a perceived rift could have on the midterm elections, as Republicans angle to use any perceived rupture with Netanyahu to argue that Obama is insufficiently committed to Israel.

Obama was cool toward Netanyahu during their last meeting, leaving the Israeli leader and his aides in the West Wing alone for hours as a subtle rebuke over Israeli settlement policies. The two were never photographed, which in diplomatic code sent a chilly message.

That encounter followed an announcement by Israel, during a visit to the country by Vice President Biden, of a plan to construct 1,600 Jewish homes in a part of East Jerusalem that Palestinians view as their future capital.

Despite Ambassador Oren's claims that the lack of photographs at the meeting was due to scheduling, the article later cites an anonymous official who said that the lack of photographs was, indeed, a sign of the administration's disapproval. (I assume that Oren sees his job as trying to put the best face on a bad situation.)

Still a significant portion of the article is devoted to explaining the political implications of the visit.

Already, from Illinois to Florida, Republican candidates have been raising Israel as part of a broader critique of Obama's foreign policy, seeking to chip away at national-security-minded independents and Jewish voters who traditionally support Democrats. When Obama made statements of measured support for Israel after a raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid to Gaza last month, Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate in Florida's Senate race, delivered a speech sharply criticizing Obama's Israel policy. "There is the emerging sense that this long-standing relationship isn't what it used to be," Rubio said.

Robert Dold, a Republican running for an open seat in the 10th Congressional District of Illinois, has accused the administration of an "alarming pattern" in the Middle East. In Ohio's 15th District, Republican Steve Stivers questioned Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D) about her criticism of Israel's Gaza blockade, with his campaign saying, "The contrast is very sharp on this issue." And Allen West, a Republican running against Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in Florida's 22nd District, said Obama was "browbeating" Israel.

Indeed, on the whole, Democrats are less favorably disposed towards Israel than are Republicans. And it is quite possible that despite President Obama's continuing (but slightly declining) popularity among American Jews his heavy handed treatment of Israel may take a toll. The Post article reads a like a fence mending effort by the White House with American, just in case Jews are put off by President Obama's treatment of Israel. Even so, the exercise seems more like damage control than a sincere effort at reconcilliation.

In February, 2008, Candidate Obama famously said that being pro-Israel was not the same as being pro-Likud. In a sense, Netanyahu's election has made things easy for President Obama. With the exception of announcing the building of apartments in Jerusalem, it's hard to see any area where Tzipi Livni would have done things differently than Netanyahu or that Obama's behavior towards Israel would have been different. (Keep in mind also, that the administration chose not to make a diplomatic incident over the recent arrest of Russian spies operating in the United States, a much bigger "slap in the face" than the construction announcement in March while Biden was visiting Israel.) Never mind that Netanyahu's government represents a consensus of society, since he's from Likud, it insulates President Obama from criticism that he is anti-Israel.

It is thought that one of the reasons that Israel halted Operation Cast Lead when it did was so that it wouldn't run afoul of the new American administration and that government was headed by Livni.

The other day the New York Times reported:

The United States, American officials said, faced a hard choice: refusing to compromise with the Arab states on Israel would have sunk the entire review conference. Given the emphasis Mr. Obama has placed on nonproliferation, the United States could not accept such an outcome.

Would the Obama administration have followed previous administrations from both parties to protect Israel's nuclear ambiguity if Tzipi Livni had been the Prime Minister? Would the IDF have reacted differently to the flotilla if Livni had been PM?

Aided by a complicit media President Obama has been able to disguise his less than friendly attitude towards Israel as a reasonable response to an extremist Prime Minister. But the regular diplomatic flare ups between Israel and the United States suggest to many that the problem in the relationship may not be Netanyahu. His freeze on building went further than any other Israeli PM and it has not succeeded in bringing the Palestinian Authrority to the negotiating table. (Nor has Abbas taken any interest in stopping the official incitement against Israel in his government controlled media.)

It sure looks like the President, realizing the difficulties Democrats will face in November, is trying to keep one of the most loyal Democratic constituencies on board by arranging for a photo-op with the Israeli Prime Minister. Given the tendency of Jews to vote Democratic I don't know that it's necessary for him politically to mend fences (at least publicly) with Netanyahu. Regardless, today's meeting reeks of cynicism.

UPDATE: This also is the gist of this report from The Hill. (via memeorandum)

Crossposted on Yourish.

How to memorialize terrorists

Posted: 06 Jul 2010 04:11 AM PDT

The other day I complained about the sanitized histories provided by the MSM for recently deceased terrrorists. Today Michael Kraft provides lengthy histories that whitewashes neither Mohammed Oudeh nor Sheikh Fadlallah. (via memeorandum)

Both the Munich Olympics attacks and the Beirut bombings had wide ranging consequences although not necessarily those intended by the perpetrators.

In the Munich massacre, 11 Israeli Olympic team members were killed, either outright by the Palestinian Black September terrorists, or during a botched rescue operation by German security officials. In the bombings a decade later in Beirut, 241 U.S. marines were killed and 58 French paratroopers were killed by suicide bombs. In the American embassy attack in October, 60 persons were killed, including 17 Americans.

Driving downtown and back with my 17 year old son

Posted: 05 Jul 2010 11:47 PM PDT

Three years ago, it was my daughter who was learning to drive. Now I have two sons who want their licenses. Given that they are in Yeshiva high schools, I don't have too much time when I can take them driving.

Our 16 year old is away in camp right now, so I've been driving exclusively with our 17 year old. Three years ago he'd be eligible for the test as he's completed more than 40 hours of driving; but the legislature decided to increase the requirement to 60 hours. My observation is that by 20 hours, teens have most of the instincts down. By 40 hours they really don't have much else to learn. I think that 60 hours is absurd, but it's the law.

Tonight I went downtown with my son. As soon as we got off of 83 we were in front of police headquarters and there were two news crews there. That told me that there was a major crime story.

In this case it was the murder of a high school basketball star named John Crowder. One was almost certainly WJZ. Unfortunately I wasn't at an angle to catch of a picture of the reporter.

However, I was able to get a picture of this reporter, but I haven't found a corresponding clip to identify him.


Once I had my phone out I figured I'd get other pictures. I can't take pictures when I'm driving!

Though we came down 83, we went back north up Charles Street. We encountered Baltimore's Washington Monument.


Then we passed Baltimore's Penn Station.


Then I just took random pictures because it's interesting seeing "moving" lights.




At some point we saw glittering pavement. My son asked me about it. I answered that it was (I thought) "glaspalt."

In 1971, Mr. Heuisler became a supporter of then-City Council President William Donald Schaefer's plan to pave Baltimore streets with glasphalt -- a paving material made of crushed waste glass known as cullet, limestone and asphalt.

The material, which has a distinctive sheen at night and is no longer in use today, was first used in August 1971 on Charles Street between Lexington and Saratoga streets. That area of Charles became known as "Glitter Street."

"While glasphalt didn't add or subtract anything from street maintenance," said a 1978 Sun article, "it did wonders for the atmosphere, giving the area a Hollywood and Vine-type aura."

The 50 tons of crushed glass needed to pave one block with glasphalt was processed by Mr. Heuisler's firm, which was on Wicomico Street in Southwest Baltimore.

I thought we were north of Lexington and Saratoga when we saw the glittering pavement, so my answer may not have been correct.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable ride.

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