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August 2006

ISSUE #131 - 6th August 2006


ISSUE #132 - 13th August 2006


ISSUE #133 - 27th August 2006


* * *  * * *
 Time in Ireland 


ISSUE #133 - 20th August 2006 [151]


Arab Crimes Against Palestinians Overlooked


UNIFIL's Choice of Katyusha or Smart Bomb


Six Rules for America to Win its Wars


Free-loading Quaker Pacifists


Whinging Kiwis


Week 133's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 133

Arab Crimes Against Palestinians Overlooked
This hard-hitting Ireland-oriented article, which appeared earlier this month in the (subscription-only) Irish Times, is reproduced by kind permission of the authors.  The links and emphases have been inserted by me. 

Conflicts in the Middle East frequently pose awkward questions. Rory Miller and Alan Shatter ask some more ...

Now that a ceasefire in Lebanon has been agreed there will, no doubt, be numerous inquests and questions asked about the month-long Lebanon war. So here's some we would like to ask.

Which country invaded its neighbour in mid-2006 in order to, as they put it, crushIslamists threatening regional stability?

Which country killed an estimated 500 people in a week when its artillery began bombarding its long-time guerrilla enemy in late July 2006, causing mass displacement and suffering?

If you think the answer is Israel, you guessed wrong.


On 19th July Ethiopia sent 5,000 troops into Somalia to suppress Islamists who had not even fired one rocket at it, or kidnapped or killed any of its soldiers.


The artillery barrage came from the Sri Lankan army, which continues to pound civilian areas held by the Tamil Tigers. Just a couple of weeks ago, an estimated 50 children were killed when their orphanage was bombed by Sri Lankan warplanes.

So how come our politicians completely ignore these crises and instead choose to focus solely on Israel's campaign in Lebanon?

Why have the same politicians hardly let out a whisper of criticism of those responsible for other such tragedies in Darfur, with its estimated 300,000 dead and at least 2.5 million refugees; or Chechnya, where an estimated 150,000-160,000 have died, where a third of the population has been displaced and the country has been left in rubble by the Russian army; or the war in the Congo, with over four million dead or driven from their homes?

Why has the Lord Mayor of Dublin, for example, described the Israeli action as probably one of the greatest scandals of the new millennium but not seen it necessary to comment on any of these other conflicts?

Why have supposedly apolitical cultural bodies - such as the Irish Film Institute and the Festival of World Cultures in Dún Laoghaire - decided to cancel sponsorship from the Israeli embassy because of Israel's actions in Lebanon, but never seen the need to act similarly regarding countries involved in other conflicts around the world?

The truth is that Israel's use of military force, combined over the 60 years since its birth, has caused far fewer casualties and damage than war, conflict and oppression in Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Chechnya, China, Colombia, El Salvador, Eritrea and Ethiopia (and that's only the beginning of the alphabet; if we go to countries beginning with "I", there's India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq).

So why is it that people have taken to the streets of Dublin, Cork, Galway and Dundalk to protest at the Israeli campaign in Lebanon but have never felt the need to do the same to express anger over any of these more bloody conflicts?

Why is it that, over the last few decades, successive governments have made numerous statements condemning Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, while TDs (members of parliament) and Senators have called for the economic boycott of Israel, but have felt no need to do the same in response to the mistreatment of Palestinians across the Arab world from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, a country which was condemned in a June 2006 Amnesty International report for its long-standing discrimination and abuses of fundamental economic and social rights of Palestinian refugees?

Or, for that matter, why has there never been any Irish outcry when Arab countries have killed Palestinians on a grand scale?

In 1970, King Hussein of Jordan ordered the indiscriminate bombing of Palestinian refugee camps in the course of putting down the Palestinian uprising during Black September. This left between 3,000 and 5,000 Palestinian refugees dead. Why was the fact that King Hussein killed more Palestinians in the course of a single month than Israel managed to do in decades never held against him, or even raised, on his visits to this country?

Again, more than two decades ago, Abu Iyad, the number two man in the PLO, publicly stated that the crimes of the Syrian government against the Palestinian people surpassed those of the Israeli enemy. Much of this took place in Lebanon, where Syria was responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths and for the flight of up to half a million civilians from their homes, as well as for mass executions, as occurred, according to one 1986 Amnesty International report, when Syrian troops entered the town of Tripoli and executed hundreds of civilians, including numerous women and children.

How come in the 25 years that this was going on there was not one Dáil (parliamentary) debate or public statement by a politician on these Syrian atrocities in Lebanon?

Where were the calls for boycotts, or the condemnations of Kuwait, when in the wake of its liberation in 1991, it embarked on the widespread slaughter of Palestinians living in the kingdom?

This revenge against innocent Palestinian workers was so severe that Yasser Arafat himself acknowledged: What Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Lastly, why, 60 years after its establishment, is Israel the only state in the world whose politicians are presented in Oireachtas (parliamentary) debates as war criminals, whose economy faces relentless calls for sanctions and boycotts, and whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged in the letters pages of our newspapers?

Maybe one of those who has felt the need to write such letters, or to call for a boycott, or to take to the streets against Israel, or to speak out in the Seanad (Senate), but has not seen the need to do the same in regard to any other country or conflict, could let us know why - because we just can't figure it out.


Dr Rory Miller is a senior lecturer in Mediterranean Studies at King's College, London.


Alan Shatter is a former Fine Gael TD and a former head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Irish parliament.


This post has been referenced by Indymediawatch, a new (to me) site that claims to keep a watch on Indymedia, just as Indymedia claims to keep a watch on the corporate media. 

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UNIFIL's Choice of Katyusha or Smart Bomb

Shrapnel removed from flesh and bones of Israeli victims of Hezbollah's Katyusha rocketsHow would you prefer to be killed?  By an Israeli smart bomb or a Katyusha rocket courtesy of Hezbollah?

If you go for the Katyusha, the contents of what looks somebody's toolbox are the kind of things that will end up embedded in your flesh and bones. 

An Israeli bomb does its workBut if your preference is smart bombs, you could end up like the charred victim on the left. 

That is the choice that troops of UNIFIL will face in its currently-being-reconstituted form. 

Half-time was declared in Lebanon on 14th August in the war between Israel and Hezbollah.  Yes, I know the term cease-fire has been used, but in the absence of a clear victory by either side, hostilities will inevitably resume.  Hezbollah will not go away or abandon their annihilate-Israel raison d'être, so Israel will not be able to ignore them when they go back to their customary hostile activities. 

Last week Italy, France and a number of other EU countries agreed to contribute some nine thousand troops to a beefed up UNIFIL force in Lebanon, designed to give effect to the UN's cease-fire resolution 1701, adopted unanimously on 11th August.  

1701 is merely the eighth in a series of resolutions stretching back nearly three decades demanding that Lebanon be governed by the government of Lebanon, and not - as at present - have a big chunk hijacked by a bunch of terrorists accountable to foreign dictatorships.  Up to now, not one of them has been enforced (much as successive Iraq disarmament resolutions went ignored for twelve years until America took 1441's serious consequences seriously). 

Resolution 1701 mandates UNIFIL to


assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the ... establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL; 


take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilised for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and ... to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;


to assist the government of Lebanon at its request ... [in] prevent[ing] the entry in Lebanon ... of arms or related materiel. 

In simple language, UNIFIL is supposed to disarm Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon, prevent it from fighting and keep it from being re-supplied with weapons.  To this end it is to use all necessary action” which presumably includes shooting, if that is necessary.   

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predictably describes 1701 as a Zionist document.  And in case of any doubt, Prof Bruce Thornton points out that the French, the Lebanese, and other potential enforcers of the resolution 1701 have [already] stated explicitly that they will not disarm Hezbollah, which has made it clear it has no intentions of abiding by those terms of the resolution.  Turkey, another potential contributor, is also emphatic about not shooting fellow Muslims. 

Nevertheless, the mandate puts UNIFIL in an unenviable situation, because it has no choice but to take one side or the other, the consequence of which is to attract either Katyushas or smart bombs.   


If it does seriously try to disarm and constrain Hezbollah as mandated and to disrupt resupply from Syria and Iran, in effect doing Israel's dirty work for it, Hezbollah will undoubtedly resist and UNIFIL troops will die. 


But if UNIFIL fails to disarm Hezbollah - and to prevent re-armament - it will in effect be allying itself with Hezbollah (as indeed it has long done).  Used as shields by Hezbollah, UNIFIL will be caught in the crossfire, if not actually targeted, when in due course Israel feels obliged to resume the war, only with even greater ferocity than last time.  Again, UNIFIL troops will be killed.   

The last time the UN got into a shooting war specifically authorised as such was in Korea back in 1953.  One way or another, it's clearly not going to get into one in Lebanon.  So when the bullets, smart bombs and Katyusha rockets do start flying again, and the first blue helmets fall, you can be sure UNIFIL will be among the refugees fleeing for cover. 

Israel will have to do its own dirty work - as it has always had to. 

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Six Rules for America to Win its Wars

According to the inimitable Victor Davis Hansen, there are six rules that America must follow if it is to win its wars in the current age of Western relativism coupled with media exposure and bias.

  1. American soldiers must not die or kill. 
    ..... Westerners can stomach neither.

  2. There must be no news of the wars. 
    ..... No news means no bad news, something else Westerners can't stomach. 

  3. A liberal Democrat must wage them. 
    ..... Republicans are nothing but bloodthirsty neocon warmongers intent only on stealing oil, killing civilians, garnering business for their capitalist buddies and imposing American imperialism. 

  4. America must win over the Europeans by ensuring they can always earn a profit. 
    ..... Only then will they stop trying to thwart America from winning its wars. 

  5. Americans must outsource the job to those who can fight them with impunity. 
    ..... Westerners don't care if brown/black people kill other brown/black people in far away places (Darfur, anyone?). 

  6. The wars should be over in 24 hours — but at all cost in no more than eight weeks. 
    ..... Otherwise those delicate Western stomachs revolt again

You gotta read the whole article to appreciate how he arrives at these extraordinary - but rational - conclusions.  (The italics are my own interpretation.) 

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Free-loading Quaker Pacifists

Most modern-day so-called anti-war types in the West are in fact pro-war pro the other side (eg “we are all Hezbollah now).  They don't want wars like the one in Lebanon to stop.  They want Hezbollah (and any other militant Islamists whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or London) to fight and win them.  

They are quite unlike The Religious Society of Friends, founded in the 1650s and more commonly known as Quakers, a Christian sect that is truly pacifist.  Quakers believe that war and the preparation for war are inconsistent with the spirit of Christ, and so devote effort toward mediation and reconciliation whilst resolutely refusing to bear arms or join the military, even when conscripted. 

However, like many other equally genuine pacifists - Ghandi springs to mind - the Quakers completely rely, unwittingly or not, on the morality and protection of the very non-pacifists they abhor. 

They live and thrive overwhelmingly in Western countries.  There, their pacificism is accepted by everybody.  Historically, refusal to bow to conscription has been punished with imprisonment, and indeed many Quakers have bravely paid this price, but very few were ever executed.  Today the penalty for refusing conscription in the handful of Western countries that still practice it is more likely to be some form of community service rather than going to jail. 

Even in rough places like today's Russia, refusal to obey the call-up results in incarceration not death. 

Thus Quakers can continue with their way of life, doing good wherever and whenever they can, and practicing their religion. 

But this is not so, and would not be so, under a totalitarian or Sharia regime.  Pacificism such as Ghandi's non-violent resistance to British imperial rule in India would have simply been met with death. 


Nothing like  machine-gunning a mob of peaceful protestors to put manners on them.  Just ask the 3,000 Uzbek demonstrators in Andijan last year, or at least those not among the 600 whom the Uzbek army gunned down for impertinence.  Not a squeak out of them since, and no more of those irritating street demos.   

But seventy years ago, Europe was threatened by a totalitarian atheistic ideology that looked set to swamp it.  Had it not been resisted by the British, and then defeated by the Americans and Russians, Nazism would have reigned supreme across Europe.  Wherever Quakerism thrives today, its pacifism would not have been tolerated for one minute under Hitler's followers.  Nazism was defeated by guns not dialogue. 

The same goes for the termination of the Japanese totalitarian model of imperialistic militarism, which by 1941 had effectively strangled the Quaker movement.  The Japanese Quakers have never recovered, but after the effect of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no-one would have prevented them from doing their stuff in Tokyo should they have wished.   

Sixty years ago, once Nazism was vanquished, another totalitarian atheistic ideology threatened to engulf Europe and indeed did so in much of the eastern and central parts, to the misery of their inhabitants.  This time it was Soviet Communism. 


The only thing that stopped it from moving west of Germany's River Elbe was 125,000 American troops, their guns and their Trident nuclear missiles aimed at Moscow, under the MAD détente of mutual assured destruction. 


And the only thing that then destroyed Sovietism and thus liberated central and eastern Europe, and Russia itself, from malign oppression, was Ronald Reagan's massive arms build-up in the 1980s that fatally crippled the Soviet economy which tried to match it. 

Who can doubt that without American arms Quakers would not today be permitted to live their pacifist lifestyle?  Once again, it was guns not dialogue that removed a malign totalitarian ideology from (most of) the world. 

And to this day, 37,000 American troops are deterring the million-man  army of the totalitarian (and Quaker-free) North Korean tyranny from overrunning democratic South Korea. 

In modern times, you would also be hard-put to find Quakers active in places like Iran or Saudi Arabia, because these too are totalitarian regimes and while not atheistic are virulently anti-Christian.  Yet were radical Islam to have its way, and an Islamic caliphate rule the world along the lines of Iran or the Taliban, there would be very few places indeed for Quakers to wave their flag. 

Yet who are doing most to prevent precisely such an outcome?  Why, those annoying Cowboys again, with their damnable guns and their brave soldiers.   

So whilst Quakers are to be respected for their heartfelt anti-militarism (unlike the more vociferous, publicity-hungry anti-war crowd), they should recognize that they are, and have always been, effectively free-loading on the guns, blood and goodwill of others. 

Though they are not alone in this. 

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Whinging Kiwis

Before I went to live and work for a few years in Australia during the 1990s, I was familiar with the one-word epithet whingingpoms that the natives routinely employ to describe their former colonial masters.  It was therefore with some surprise to find out how many whingers there actually were among the Ozzies themselves; in fact the whinge level (about everything and anything) was a lot more than I ever witnessed in England.  I perpetually whinged about this. 

Australia's Lote Tuqiri spear-tackles New Zealand’s Richie McCaw, nbr 7. Ouch.But if Australians have a reputation, if unwarranted, for whinge-free toughness, it is as nothing to that of the New Zealanders and their terrifying All Blacks rugby team.   Even Ozzies would hesitate to call these guys whingers. 

But enough of my own whinging.  Graham, my spy in Australia, alerted me to what happened on 19th August in Auckland.

Australia and New Zealand played a crucial game in Auckland, in which the All Blacks eventually secured the coveted Tri-Nations trophy by defeating the Wallabies 34-27 in an especially rough-and-tumble fixture. 

In the course of this, Australia's Lote Tuqiri inflicted on New Zealand's iconic new captain Richie McCaw a highly dangerous spear tackle, lifting him up and dumping him heavily on his head, as this sequence of video-grabs shows.  Fortunately no injury resulted. 

However, the assault, perpetrated in open-field play, went unpunished because, amazingly, the referee and two touch judges all failed to spot it.  

Nevertheless, as you can see the cameras had caught it, so sometime after the match, New Zealand were able to lodge an official whinge complaint.  As a result Mr Tuqiri was sentenced to a five-match, eleven-week suspension, which is pretty severe.    The All Blacks are still whinging. 

Then New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark pitched in with one of her own.  During a radio interview, she said -

One hesitates, as just someone in the stand to voice an opinion, but certainly I felt someone should have been sent off.  I thought it was absolutely appalling. We witnessed several acts of assault against the All Blacks captain and it was very, very ugly to see.


Would this team be the same All Blacks, whose then captain Tana Umaga plus hooker Keven Mealamu jointly and pre-meditatedly put the captain of the British & Irish Lions Brian O'Driscoll - without even the ball - into hospital last summer, with a two-man spear tackle, from which he underwent surgery and six painful months of physiotherapy before recovering from his dislocated shoulder? 


And got away with nary a penalty, a yellow card, a sending-off or a suspension?


And refused to apologise. 


And ridiculed Mr O'Driscoll, the Irish and the British as whingers for complaining. 


And whose two prime ministers, Messrs Ahern and Blair, remained aloof and dignified, refusing to demean their office by piling in?

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw exchanges pleasantries with an Australian blondWell, New Zealand, who's doing the whinging now?

When the no-nonsense Wallabies coach John Connolly, nicknamed Knuckles, heard Ms Clark's erudite remarks, he struggled to contain his laughter, saying She has to be kidding, this is a wind-up, this is a wind-up.

No, just another Kiwi whinge!

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Week 133's Letters to the Press

Five letters since the last issue; I've got to try to break this habit.  Only the one on Cuban health care was published; it exposes (on my second attempt) Castro's record of having killed 73,000 people, over which I am still engaged in a dispute


Free-loading Quakers
There is no doubting the heartfelt sincerity of Quakers in their pacifism, which as Gillian Armstrong points out in her letter of August 25th has, over the centuries, sometimes resulted in their being imprisoned for their rejection of arms and conscription.  But they should recognize ...


Religion and the Roots of Terror
Paul Carroll attempts to show that the wickedness of radical Islam, as evidenced by the behaviour of people such as suicide bombers, is matched by the wickedness of Judaism and Christianity because Israel and America drop bombs which kill civilians.  He misses two central points ...


Jaw-Jaw vs War-War
So, History has shown that, in the end, conflicts can only be solved on a deep and lasting basis when dialogue recommences and mutual respect is manifest according to David Marlborough.  Perhaps he should study some recent (and ancient) history ...


Luas and Israel
It's good to hear that Veolia Transport Ireland, the Luas operator, confirm that co-operation with Israeli technicians involved in setting up the Jerusalem light rail system has been halted only for operational reasons ...  


Cuban Health Care P!
In defending Fidel Castro's Cuba, and its health care, from Newton Emerson's satire, Suzie Murray tells us that, s
everal aspects of the Cuban state leave room for improvement”.  Would that include the 73,000 people killed by the State ... ?

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Quotes of Week 133

- - - - - - - - - - L E B A N O N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The beauty of this war was that a force of just 6,000 or so members with light weapons superseded an organised army that all the Arab countries are scared of ... The point about Nasrallah is that he says something and then does it. And that is very unusual among leaders in the Arab world. Hezbollah doesn't just threaten, it achieves.” 

Mohammed Sharak and Saeed Nimur,
Palestinian taxi-drivers
in Ramallah,
exult in what most Arabs view as a victory for Hezbollah

- - - - - -

Quote: “[We call on you our] troops to stand alongside your resistance and your people who astonished the world with its steadfastness and destroyed the prestige of the so-called invincible army after it was defeated.

A Lebanese army circular makes plain that it is allied to Hezbollah

This is the force that has been sent south of the Litani river
for the first time in forty years,
in order to disarm Hezbollah and keep the peace,
alongside yet-to-be-deployed UN forces

When this war resumes - as it surely will before long -
Israel will not again make the mistake of leaving it unfinished

- - - - - -

Quote: Do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another word war [I think he means worLd war!]

Poll question put by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's
on his new blog, (which contains only one post)
(For the English version, click on the tiny US/England flag at the top right of his blog)

The answer when I voted was 30% Yes, 70% No,
out of well over half a million voters

Warning: According to Give Israel Your Support
the site contains a virus which attacks surfers from Israel

- - - - - - - - - - M U L T I C U L T U R I S M - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Multiculturalism makes a nation no more than a holding pen, its whole merely the sum of its parts. And so in the absence of cultural confidence, demography will decide. Or in the superb summation of the American writer James C. Bennett, ‘democracy, immigration multiculturalism … pick any two’.

Mark Steyn, lecturing in Sydney on It's not Them, It's Us:
The Need to Regain Confidence in Western Culture

Think carefully about Mr Bennett's three words. 

- - - - - - - - - - I R E L A N D - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The tribunal has been staggered by the amount of indiscipline and insubordination it has found in the Garda [Irish police] force ...There is a small but disproportionately influential core of mischief-making members who will not obey orders, who will not follow procedures, who will not tell the truth and who have no respect for their officers ... It is wrong to suggest that the people of Ireland are getting value from every Garda employed by them

A damning report by a tribunal into
misbehaviour by police in Co Donegal
finds that the problems are spread across the whole national force

- - - - - -

Quote: What [I am looking] for in a Rose [is] someone a bit like myself, someone who is direct and not afraid to express an opinion ... the old days are gone.

Weird remarks from Royston Brady,
one-time mayor of Dublin and failed parliamentary candidate,
who was one of the judges at the annual Rose of Tralee competition,
won this year by the lovely Aussie, Kathryn Feeney from Queensland

- - - - - - - - - - F O R M U L A   O N E - - - - - - - - - -

Quote (via Graham in Perth):

 How is the cold [Hungarian weather] affecting you?

Blonde young ITV interviewer Louise Goodman interviews David Coulthard after he qualifies for the Hungarian Grand Prix

 It makes it more pleasant to look at you in your thin T-shirt.

Mr Coulthard answers

 We’ll discuss that off air …

 A startled Ms Goodman replies

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See the Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience

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ISSUE #132 - 13th August 2006 [240+93=333]


Jews and Tibetans


Qana: Massacre or Propaganda?


How Not to Woo


Dodge This


Week 132's Letter to the Press


Quotes of Week 132

Jews and Tibetans

I recently read down (and eventually chipped in to) a long discussion thread that followed a post, Israel-Lebanon, on the blog of Sunday Times columnist Sarah Carey, which she drew attention to in her weekly Sunday Times column.  Though it was lively, and a few valid points were made, its contributors largely lacked knowledge of history, logic or indeed grammar, though there was no shortage of emotion. 

Needless to say, a large proportion of contributors criticised Israel for its effrontery in resisting and retaliating against Hezbollah's unprovoked attacks. 

Well-meaning people throughout history and across the world have always had genuine sympathy for the plight of Jews, the globe's eternal downtrodden, from pre-Christian times when they were enslaved by the Egyptians to post-Christian Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to the early twentieth century when six million of them in Europe were murdered by the Nazis. 

Of course among Christians they lost tremendous empathy for urging the Roman conquerors in Jerusalem to crucify Jesus, though it has always struck me as odd that even greater odium was/is not directed against the Italians since it was the Romans who made the actual decision and then carried it out.  It's largely explained by Saint Paul, who left a huge corpus of inspirational writings, but who included in his first letter to the Thessalonians that awful calumny, the Jews ... killed ... the Lord Jesus” (2:14-15).  He surely knew better, or else there was a mistranslation.  

Then in 1948 the United Nations, in a fit of post-Holocaust guilt, agreed to establish as a homeland for the remaining Jews the state of Israel, in a small piece of the landmass they used to occupy during the time of Christ.  Most of this land had been vacant for centuries because it was nothing but arid and empty earth and scrub.  The absentee Turkish and Arab landlords from whom the Jews had during the early years of the twentieth century bought most of it couldn't believe their luck in getting hard cash for worthless real estate. 

But then, having got their country, those pesky Jews stopped reading the script, and started mouthing cheeky phrases like, Never again.  It seems they didn't intend to become victims any more.  Not ever. 

They not only created a thriving economy out of that desert, in the process attracting thousands of hitherto unemployed Arabs to take up the jobs that were suddenly created.  This show of independence was bad enough.  But when their neighbours started - and continued - to attack them, from the very day the state was formed, they for the first time in their millennia of history fought back - and won - instead of becoming punchbags yet again.  In so doing, they created and honed the first Jewish army in 2,000 years. 

So suddenly, simply because they refuse to be on the losing team any more, everyone hates Jews again.  Well, lots of people do and by no means only Muslims.  The whiff of anti-Semitism within polite society and across the media is as overpowering as the stench from an open latrine in the summer.  With such Jew-hatred alive and well within developed Western economies, Hitler can rest happy in his grave; his work has not, it seems, been in vain.   

But there was humour within Sarah Carey's discussion thread.  One particular contributor, a Billy Waters, between sneers at Israel's recklessself-defence against an enemy sworn to annihilate it, remarked. You don’t see the Dalai Lama bunker-busting Beijing do you?, which appears to be his advice to Israel.

There is of course one answer to this: Tibet.

Tibet is a country brutally invaded by the illegitimate Communist regime that runs China, which for the past five decades has been single-mindedly focused on eradicating all vestiges of Tibetan identity, culture and language. It does this through military force, the chasing away of unco-operative religious leaders (hint: the Dalai Lama), the imprisonment or execution of any other awkward Tibetans, the wanton destruction of Tibetan holy and historic places, and massive immigration of ethnic Han Chinese.

The latest step on this road is the opening of a hugely uneconomic direct train service from Beijing to Lhasa, covering some thousand kilometres, climbing higher than five thousand metres and costing well over four billion dollars.  Outstanding engineering feat that it is, its primary purpose is to make further colonisation by the Han and other non-Tibetans even easier.  It has nothing to do with tourism or trade, though no doubt the money these bring in will be welcome offsets to the enormous capital and operating costs. 

Tibetans are now a besieged, discriminated-against minority in their own country, much as the Koran demands that in Sharia-ruled lands infidels become dhimmis (if not dead).  Indeed, thanks to Tibet's new demography, the Chinese thugs who run it might even at some stage feel brave enough to allow a little bit of democracy to creep in, and everyone will cheer.

Oh, and by the way, the world has looked on at the rape of Tibet, virtually applauding, for the past 55 years.  You see Tibet is not like the Middle East.  It is not important in the material sense, so it can be safely ignored.  No oil, no minerals, little fertile soil, no coastline, no vital trade-routes, no pipelines, no influential or rich friends.  Only the Dalai Lama keeps us feeling faintly guilty. 

Tibet's fate is the logical result of not resisting (with bunker busters if needed) aggression aimed at your annihilation.  You can be sure if, as Billy Waters speculated, the Dalai Lama had possessed bunker-busters, along with both the aircraft and the desire to deliver them to Beijing, Mao Tse Tung would have thought much more carefully before marching in roughshod.  The world's greatest-ever mass-murderer would not have enjoyed one of them landing on Tiananmen Square.  

Yet not using its bunker-busters or whatever else in its arsenal it might need, is precisely what many Western anti-Semites seem to advocate for Israel. Because they would love to see those Jews turned if not into cinders, then Tibetans.  Eternal victims again, for whom we can all feel sympathetic once more, and quietly go Tut-tut

And why does anyone imagine that, once the Jews are all disposed of, the remaining infidels are not next on the shopping list?

What is happening in Lebanon is part of an existential battle not only for Israel, but for all us infidels.  We better hope they win. 

Do you support Israel or Hezbollah in the current conflict?
  Flag of Hezbollah Hezbollah
  Flag of Israel Israel
Free polls from

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Qana: Massacre or Propaganda?

Last week I alluded to the dreadful Qana incident, where an errant Israeli bomb (or as others would have it a carefully directed Israeli bomb) struck a building  containing only women and children, killing up to 54 of them. But I also pointed out that later reports gave a figure of only 28 dead.  It seems there is more to this story than just an inability to count dead bodies, and an Israeli attack on a town from the area of which Hezbollah had launched some 130 rockets into Israel.   

That the count had actually reduced should have immediately raised suspicions: typically in a disaster (think of the tsunami), people record the bodies as and when they are recovered.  With time more bodies are recovered so the tragic number goes up.  It never goes down, at least not appreciably so, because you can't easily overcount corpses.    And you certainly can't count 54 if there are only 28. 

Some have dug deeper and the story gets curiouser. 


In photos that reverberated around the world, the same rescue workeris shown, over a period of hours, displaying for the photographers the same dead little boy again and again.  For instance, the image appeared print-edition of the Sunday Times of 6th August (“... Israel’s disastrous and widely condemned airstrike on the Lebanese village of Qana ...).  Whilst the child is covered with dust - commensurate with having been pulled from a collapsed building - the worker and all his colleagues are not. 


Another sequence, the previous day and in a different town, Tyre, involves a little girl, who at 0721 hours is lying in an ambulance, three hours later she is being removed, another couple of hours after that the tragic little corpse is still being held aloft for the cameras.  And the rescue worker”?  Same guy. 

Spectacles, beard, orange tabard, green helmetAre these photos being staged, with the bespectacled, bearded rescue workerin the orange tabard and green helmet playing the starring rôle? Who is this man, anyway?   Salam Daher, apparently, a movie director

Moreover, in none of the images, do you see any of the rescue workers” covered in dust, like the little boy is, even though they have apparently been scrabbling about in the rubble using their bare hands to unearth victims. 

Then there is the matter of the corpses themselves as photographed.   


None of them seem to have any blood marks, or signs of broken bones.  Is this compatible with death by collapsed building?


Moreover, many of them show clear signs of advanced rigor mortis, even though they were supposedly pulled from wrecked buildings only a short time before.  For example, this unfortunate person has his two arms sticking out rigidly in

Corpse with rigor mortis 

          front of him.  How come?  Wikipedia tells us that full rigor mortis takes twelve
          hours to set in.


There are reports that a refrigerated truck of human corpses drove into Qana the day before the Israeli air strike and that a mass grave for 32 bodies was pre-dug. 


The Israelis, as well as dropping their customary warning leaflets, had already struck Qana in preceding days.  So the question that this provokes is why were vulnerable women and children still in such an obviously dangerous town, and anyway where were all the menfolk?

All the above doesn't prove much, other than the cynical use of innocent children's bodies to obtain dramatic photographs.  But it does raise the question:


did a massacre in Qana actually occur,


or was it all a - rather skilfully - stage-managed propaganda exercise, which was successful in portraying an Israeli atrocityand pathetic victims?

You be the judge. 

Do you think Qana was an Israeli massacre or Hezbollah propaganda?
An Israeli massacre
Hezbollah propaganda
Free polls from

Perhaps Qana will in due course be added to the pantheon of non-Israeli massacres and Israeli non-massacres, to join Sabra, Shatila, Rafah and Jenin

Late Note: For an incredibly detailed account of
photography fraud (or fauxtography) at Qana, go to EU Referendum

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How Not to Woo

When a young man wants to woo a young woman, what kind of things does he do?  Says nice things to her.  Tells her she's beautiful.  Buys her flowers.  Takes to the theatre, to restaurants.  Brings her for drives to the countryside.  Presents her with jewellery.  Maybe even offers to walk her down the aisle.  With any luck she falls for it all and eventually succumbs to his endearments. 

And then, perhaps years later, they are a couple, but things start going a bit wrong.  Misunderstandings arise, rows erupt, crockery gets broken.  If things aren't put right, the relationship is going to blow apart.  Or indeed it does, and the woman walks out, or else throws the man out. 

A period of reflection follows, and remorse, and let us say that the man wants to reinstate the relationship that had been so special. 

So he contacts the woman again, expresses his regrets, and attempts another round of wooing, not unlike the original one, only probably more expensive!

Maybe he succeeds, maybe he doesn't.  And if he doesn't he might get angry, start shouting, even get violent. 

But at this point, he knows in his heart that his chances of winning over the woman are over.  It's now all about revenge, nothing more.  So he has nothing to lose by being nasty. 

All this is pretty much common sense to anyone who's ever read a Mills & Boon novel (I haven't). 

So why, when men move from the business of trying to get close to a woman on a personal level, to trying to get close to another group of people, do they take such an utterly opposite approach?  Why do they think that the best way to woo that group is to get angry, start shouting, even get violent?

Examples?  Everywhere. 


Spain wants Gibraltar to unify with it. 


Irish republicans want Northern Ireland


Argentina wants the Falkland/Malvinas Islands


Nigeria was determined to stop Biafra becoming independent


Yugoslavia broke up despite vicious wars to prevent this.


Serbia wants to stop Kosovo breaking away


Russia wants Georgia back in its ursine embrace


Russia wants to keep Chechnya

In every case, the first party thinks/thought the best way to get or keep its hands on the second party is/was to be thoroughly nasty and hostile, up to and including launching a war. 

In no case does anyone seem to think that the way to woo the other is through old-fashioned seduction.

Why does Spain think the way to win back Gibraltar is to impose trade and travel restrictions and to issue dire warnings to those uppity Gibraltarians who keep voting to remain with the UK?  (Why would they want it anyway?)

When did Irish republicans, though they passionately desire a united Ireland and it is only Northern Ireland's Protestants who stand in their way, last declare their undying love for Ian Paisley?  Last February, republicans organised a riot which prevented Ulster Protestants from staging a (now laughably named) love Ulster” march down the main street of Dublin. 

Argentina launched an invasion of the Falklands/Malvinas, were ejected, and continue to be thoroughly unpleasant towards the inhabitants.  Yet it somehow thinks this behaviour will entice them to fall into its blue and white arms. 

Nigeria fought a dreadful (three million dead) civil war in the late 1960s to prevent Biafra from declaring independence, but at least it had a reason.  All its oil was located within Biafra.  Bitterness of course remains to this day. 

Czechoslovakia with its 1993 “velvet divorce” was the admirable exception to national break-ups.  More typical was Yugoslavia and the bitter wars of succession which killed 115,000, and without preventing the break-up. 

A bit of this lingers on.  Serbians make up only 10% of Kosovo, yet believed the way to prevent divorce was to wage war on the Muslim 90%.  And it still makes no effort at all to persuade the hearts and minds of those Muslims to remain with the motherland; it is all tough and bitter denunciation.

Russia is furious with its former vassal Georgia (Stalin was a Georgian) and its Rose Revolution, because its democratically elected new leader Mikhail Saakashvili is leaning firmly westward and now wants to join NATO.  Mother Russia thinks the way to persuade Georgians to change their minds is such measures as trade embargos, border closures and shutting shut off energy supplies

However, Georgia is almost as bad and unpleasant in relation to its own breakaway enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as is Moldova towards its secessionist Transniestria (with Russia supporting all three rebels).

And we all know Russia's methods of showing its love of Chechens:  200,000 of them killed by the Russian army in two brutal wars, and the capital city Grozny levelled to the ground, along with much of the rest of the republic. 

There is an Aesop fable about a battle between the Wind and the Sun.  To settle which of them was stronger, they agreed to see who could remove the cloak of a passing man.  The Wind had first go, and it blew and it howled and it roared, and the stronger the Wind, the tighter the man pulled the cloak around him.  But when it was the Sun's turn, it simply cleared the sky of clouds and shone and glistened and burned, and of course the man simply removed his cloak.  And his shirt. 

Moral of the story: persuasion is more powerful than force.  Or put another way, woo with charm not aggression. 

Since charm clearly works in matters of the human heart, why do so many leaders think the aggression is the solution when it comes to a nation's heart?  For what is a nation's heart but a collection of human hearts?

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Dodge This

How long can you survive this test?  My personal best is 10.625 seconds.  

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Week 132's Letter to the Press

Only one letter this week, and it wasn't published.  It flogs the long-dead horse of anti-Israel propaganda and misinformation, and draws on last week's post, Belligerent Disproportionality .


Israel and the Geneva Conventions
Israel is getting a lot of criticism, not least in your Letters and Opinion pages, for its
war crimes of killing civilians in disregard of the Geneva Conventions. This is misdirected ... 

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Quotes of Week 132

- - - - - - - - - - B R I T A I N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Go now.”

The intercepted message from Pakistan to British suicide bombers,
which apparently prompted the British security services to thwart an attack
by arresting 24 British Muslims, all but one of Pakistani origin

This was intended to be mass murder on an unimaginable scale.

Paul Stephenson, London's Metropolitan police deputy commissioner,
on the foiled plot to blow up a dozen passenger aircraft over five US cities,
in flights that would have originated in the UK

Quote: Well, [Mr Blairs' is] the same kind of relationship [with Mr Bush] that Ms Lewinsky had with the former US president  ...

Two of the Arab world's beautiful daughters, Jerusalem and Baghdad, are in the hands of these foreigners, these occupiers, and nothing can be done by the Arab rulers, because they are in bed, fornicating with the foreigners, who are occupying and using these beautiful Arab daughters as they will.

The intrepid George Galloway, with illicit sex on his mind,
in an interview with al Jazeera.
Watch it on WMV video here

- - - - - - - - - - L E B A N O N - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: The most immoral of solutions would be to accept the current situation and give up on an immediate ceasefire.

French president Jacques Chirac lectures Washington on morality.
(Yes, really!)

- - - - - - - - - - R W A N D A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: If some outfit wanted to wipe out the 320 mountain gorillas in Rwanda, we would see far, far more international reaction than if they wanted to slaughter thousands of human beings.

General Romeo Dallaire, 60,
Canadian commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda, which was unable to halt the genocide in 1994, when 800,000 people were slaughtered.
Despite his warnings and appeals,
the UN, Kofi Annan (then head of
- ha!) and President Clinton
refused to help. 

The incident is now being filmed as Shake Hands with the Devil,
based on Gen Dallaire's memoir. 

- - - - - - - - - - C U B A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: It is true that we [Cubans] were beaten, tortured, imprisoned, impoverished, censored, patronised, shot at, lied to, denied the vote, denied our religion and prevented from leaving for 50 years.  But whenever it made us sick, there was always a doctor.

Quoting a Havana resident, satirist Newton Emerson
extols the virtues of Fidel Castro's health care system 

- - - - - - - - - - B U S H E S - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: As I have said over and over again, I support the policies of the President without question.  But, whenever I try to say that publicly, reporters look for even the hint of a nuance, for a way to drive a wedge between myself and the President. So I have decided, for now, it is better for me not to talk about it.

George Bush Senior backs his son.  What a surprise.

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Late Note: Thanks Sarah Carey for providing this priceless link

See the Archive and Blogroll at top left and right, for your convenience

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ISSUE #131 - 6th August 2006 [166]


Belligerent Disproportionality


More Scandalous Politics from Trócaire


Perils of a Big Deck, Brogues and PDF


Week 131's Letters to the Press


Quotes of Week 131

Belligerent Disproportionality

A terrorist organization devoted to the eradication of a sovereign UN member state, invades and attacks it, damages its military equipment, kidnaps its wounded soldiers and kills several more. 

Sound familiar?  That is of course


what Hamas did on 24th June, from within the confines of Gaza, now wholly occupied and administered by Palestinians after Israel evacuated it a year ago, and


what Hezbollah did 18 days later from within sovereign Lebanon, where it had entrenched and armed itself after Israel withdrew from there six years ago. 

Israel has been waging a vicious war against both organizations ever since, and they in turn have continued to rain down rockets on Israel.  Out of its stock of 13,000 rockets, Hezbollah has fired some 1,800 into Israel killing over forty civilians.   

Meanwhile, Israel, up to early August, had mounted perhaps 8,000 air sorties into Lebanon, dropped countless bombs, wrecked acres of infrastructure and killed maybe 500 militants plus a further 500 civilians (reliable numbers are hard to come by), at a cost of over fifty of its own soldiers.  If Israel is deliberately targeting Lebanese civilians, as many claim, it is astonishingly bad at it, since it seems to take sixteen sorties just to kill one of them.

Actually, since Hezbollah always wear civvies you cannot easily tell in death whether they are fighters or civilians.  So you can be sure that of those five hundred dead civilians a significant percentage of the young males will have been fighters not civilians.  Indeed, it is a clever part of Hezbollah's battle-and-propaganda plan to convert dead fighters to civilians so as to lessen its losses whilst increasing Israel's atrocities.  

Nevertheless, the more this barbarous war continues, the more people all over the world are looking at numbers like these - particularly the Lebanese civilian casualties - and the more they are declaring that Israel's response in this belligerency is  disproportionate.  From the UN's Kofi Annan, to senior   EUrocrats to respected American columnists to Arab governments to France & Russia

Yet what is remarkable about the learned gentlemen who speak for these outfits, is that not one of them ever ever comes up with an alternative response for Israel that he would term proportionate”.  And if you look at their own record, you might actually wonder whether they have even the faintest idea of what the word means. 

UN and Hizbollah flags fly happily side by side in south LebanonFor example, the appalling genocide in Rwanda and the massacre at Srebrenica drew brisk inaction on the part of the United Nations.  800,000 dead for the first, over 8,000 for the second, and the UN didn't care.  As we speak, it's a similar story of UN neglect in Darfur, where the current score is 400,000 dead and rising.  How proportionate is a response that is absolutely no response at all? 

Almost as bad, for the last six years Hezbollah has been merrily digging in and getting armed in southern Lebanon, despite the presence of the UN's armed force, UNIFIL, whose sole purpose is to keep the peace in the area.  In fact, here is UNIFIL in early 2004 proudly fluttering the UN flag alongside Hezbollah's flag near Metullah on the Lebanese-Israeli border (photo from Inside the Asylum by Jed Babbin).  Proportionate” flag-flying perhaps. 

The European Union was hardly proportionate in the 1990s when it failed to do anything effective about the wars of the Yugoslav succession, right in its own back yard, until, 115,000 corpses later, the Americans strong-armed their way in.  With the help of some vigorous bombing, they then imposed the peace that endures to this day.  To no thanks from the spoilt EUropeans of course. 

Arab governments (all dictatorships except for Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon) routinely imprison, torture and/or kill their own citizens who disagree with them, or oppose them, or support Israel, or are openly gay or renounce Islam or are otherwise a nuisance.  This is all a necessary part of any dictators' arsenal to remain in power when he has no legitimacy to do so whatsoever, and apparently the world deems such behaviour entirely appropriate to the threat (of being deposed).   Two examples: 

  1. Egypt currently hosts 17,000 political prisoners, ie people who for one reason or another think president Hosni Mubarak has no right to sit on the pharaoh's throne - and they are of course correct.  But 17,000 in jail?  Proportionate?

  2. The Algerian army unleashed a civil war that killed 100,000 citizens merely because the incumbent military stooge, Col Chadli Bendjedid, lost an election in 1991.  Proportionate?

France takes no nonsense when it senses that its interests are threatened, even if thousands of miles away from the homeland.  In 2004, when the beleaguered government of Ivory Coast tried to re-take the city of Bouake from rebels, nine French peacekeepers were killed collaterally, plus an American.  Jacques Chirac's proportionateresponse to this accident was to ignore the apology and to mount a raid that destroyed the Ivory Coast's entire airforce.  An anti-French mob then went on the rampage so French troops opened fire and killed 62 of them. 

As for Russia and proportionality, only one word springs to mind: Chechnya.  Over 200,000 citizens killed by the Russian army in two brutal wars, and the capital city Grozny levelled to the ground, along with much of the rest of the republic, plus some 11,000 Russian soldiers dead.  And all because Chechens are tired of being a despised second-class corner of Russia, thanks to imperial conquest by the Tsars in the 19th century, and want a bit of independence or at least a high degree of autonomy that would reflect their different ethnic, language and religious essence.  

So these are the organizations which arrogate to themselves the right to lecture the Israelis about disproportionalityin Lebanon, without providing the slightest suggestion of an alternative response that from their own ivory towers they would deem to be “proportionate

But frankly, I don't blame them because it's awfully hard to think of one. 

Maybe a “proportionateresponse would be for Israel to turn the other cheek to the unprovoked attacks of Hamas and Hezbollah, proffering non-violence, much as Ghandi behaved toward rough British imperialism in India.  Only thing is, that this civilised approach depends upon a civilised opponent who will not simply recognise weakness and increase the ferocity of his attacks, which is why it worked for Ghandi.  Does this observance of the gentlemanly rules of cricket sound like something two Hs would cheerfully sign up to? 


Of course you could say that the Ghandi approach is disproportionatein the other direction, ie too small.  So Perhaps Bill Clinton could serve as the model.  For when Al Qaeda bombed a couple of his embassies in Africa in 1998, killing 235 innocents, he proportionatelylobbed just a few desultory missiles in retaliation (some of whose targets turned out to be dubious) and killed a further few civilians.  No-one criticised this resolute, yet proportionate response, and it so frightened Al Qaeda that they abandoned all plans of ever attacking America again ... oh wait, that's the wrong storyline.  I forgot about the USS Cole in 2000 and the Twin Towers on 9/11


What about a little bit of mild invasion-lite, then, just a couple of tanks or so, a few rounds, a handful of guided bombs, raze just three or four villages to the ground, twenty dead or so, and then return to base in time for tea (like the Irish Navy in the Dubliners' witty ditty).  For sure, something this proportionatewould put the Hiz-Ham bad guys back in their box, so chastened that they wouldn't dare start any more monkey business with those firm-but-fair Jews again. 

Or maybe what is needed is a response that is proportionate” not to the aggression suffered but to the threat of being annihilated, when this is the openly stated purpose of the aggressors, their backers and of nearly all the neighbourhood countries.  This would logically involve the attempted annihilation of the enemy, the two Hs.  But these are people who disguise themselves as civilians, and hide themselves and their arms among civilians, and fire their Hizbollah & Hamas with their human shieldsweapons from amongst civilians.  So such a response would doubtless entail annihilating much of the civilian population along with the two Hs, flattening all of south Lebanon and Gaza, à la Dresden.  And by the way, this would not be a war crime, since the Geneva Conventions permit action against a military enemy even when, as this cartoon from a recent Economist bitterly illustrates, civilians are being used as shields. 

Protocol I of 1979, Article 48 of the Conventions states that

In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.

So Hiz-Ham violate this by not wearing distinctive uniforms and by hiding among civilians.  To cater for this “cowardly blending among women and children” (to use the words of UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland), Article 51-7 adds that

The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

In other words, the Geneva Conventions entitle Israel to attack the two Hs even when they are shielded among civilians.  It's almost a carte blanche for flattening. 

So is Israel's response in Lebanon and Gaza disproportionate”? 

It provides advance warnings of attack through leaflets, text messages, phone calls and radio - even though it knows this allows Hezbollah and Hamas to escape along with civilians. 


It uses guided weapons to try to ensure its bombs and missiles go precisely where they are meant to. 


It targets only military objectives or civilian infrastructure that might be used for resupply or escape by Hiz-Ham, despite its mistakes and mis-hits (such as the airstrikes in Khiam that killed four UN soldiers, and in Qana  where either 54 women and children were killed or 28 depending on whether you believe the BBC or Human Rights Watch),


It apologises for and investigates its most egregious mistakes/mis-hits. 


Its military wear easily identifiable uniforms and its vehicles are equally distinctive. 


Back in Israel it keeps its barracks and arsenals well away from the civilian population areas, which are the targets of choice for the two Hs' rockets. 

Can you see Hiz-Ham behaving in any such similar fashion?  It's probably the one thing that would have them rolling in their bunkers with laughter. 

Compared to the level of intensity to which the rules of war entitle it, Israel's belligerence is most decidedly not disproportionate

Though this is cold comfort for its civilian victims. 

See Mark Steyn's views on proportionality, issued the same day as mine.

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More Scandalous Politics from Trócaire

When I attended Sunday Mass a couple of weeks ago, I was outraged and scandalised when the priest read out an appeal, sponsored by the Irish charity Trócaire and endorsed by the Irish Catholic bishops, which called for an unconditional ceasefire in Lebanon.  It urged worshippers to send a letter to that effect to Javier Solana in the EU, to the Irish foreign minister, to the US missions in Dublin and Belfast and to the UK foreign secretary.  The letter, we were told from the pulpit, was to be found on Trócaire's website. 

This was, in my view, a blatant misuse of a religious ceremony to promote a pro-Hezbollah anti-Israel political viewpoint.  I don't blame the priest - he was just following orders from Head Office. 

Naturally, however, when I got home I downloaded the letter, which infuriated me further. 

So, making a guess at his e-mail address, I wrote to Justin Kilcullen, Trócaire's director. 


(I have  criticised him and Trócaire in the past - as have others - concerning the subversion of Catholicism to support left-wing, anti-American positions and sometimes to issue dishonest statements, all in the name of a charity.  One of my recent unpublished letters criticises Bishop John Kirby, the charity's president.) 

Mr Kilcullen quickly replied, accusing me of being an à la carte Catholic”, and providing me a copy of an even more incendiary missive from a body called the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs, a document that apparently had just been approved by the Irish Catholic bishops. His letter also contained a subtle threat that I was risking Ecclesiastical wrath. 

Needless to say I Fisked the appalling ICJSA document and sent it back to him.  I found it especially odd that at no time did the Catholic Bishops urge Catholics to actually pray for a just and lasting peace, which you would expect from spiritual leaders. 

I have recorded the whole exchange with Mr Kilcullen, which I will add to as and when it develops. 

Meantime, if you still have lingering doubts about the anti-Israel bias of Mr Kilcullen and others of Ireland's depraved Left, look at Trócaire's proud report of a demonstration it organized last week outside the US Embassy in Dublin.  This called for an immediate ceasefire (no mention of conditions) and talked about Palestinian territory (hint: until the Palestinians accept their own state, it remains disputed territory).  Note that the demo never went near the Iranian or Syrian embassies, as if they are playing no part in sponsoring Hezbollah.    This behaviour is not anti-war; it is pro-war pro-Hezbollah, ie it is seeking a Hezbollah victory.

And remember, Trócaire is supposed to be charity, devoted to good works.  Its political behaviour is scandalous.  See also Atlantic Blog's similar irritation, Bishops (sigh), on 2nd August. 

If you want to support an international Irish charity with principles and integrity, be glad that GOAL exists. 

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Perils of a Big Deck, Brogues and PDF

Oh dear.  My friend Allen seems to be contemplating adding a deck to his house.  He is hoping for a big one.  So he sought out this 5 Mb of video advice from four gentlemen in America.  (Play it in Windows Media Player, not RealPlayer.)


And then there's this ...

Bertie and Mary, Ireland's prime minister and deputy prime minister,


having vented their best brogues in a lively final cabinet meeting,


show off their best brogues at their other extremity,

as they head off on their summer holidays in the most elegant outfits they can muster. 

Bertie Ahern and Mary Harney in all their sartorial elegance


And finally ...


 PDF File? PDoFile? Is there a difference?


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Week 131's Letters to the Press

Four letters this time, one of which was published [P!].  The first and last I also sent to the individuals whose writing I was disparaging.  Bishop Kirby is the chairman of  the Irish charity Trócaire and Mr Higgins is the president of Ireland's Labour party and its foreign policy spokesman.  No response from either of them yet. 


Irish Computer Systems for Weapons
Republican Des Long calls on
the 26-county administration (perhaps he means the democratic government of Ireland) to ban the export of computer systems by Irish firms which assist American arms companies.  These systems are what help guide Israel's bombs ...


Stateless Palestinians
Bishop John Kirby believes the world should do more to create a state for the Palestinians.  He would do well to direct this advice to the Palestinian leadership, which has consistently refused a Palestinian state whenever it has been offered ...


Israel's Disproportionate Response  P!
In all the cries that Israel's response to Hezbollah's terrorist invasion and rocket attacks has been d
isproportionate, no one has come up with a formula that is proportionate, including this newspaper's editorial of August 1st.  It seems to me that Israel's proportionate response would be either ...


War Against Hezbollah and Hamas
It’s hard to know where to begin to address the disgraceful opinion piece by Michael D Higgins TD on 27th July (
Is this the beginning of the end of international law?).  He starts with pious platitudes about the welfare of civilians, whether Arab or Israeli, and even condemns Hezbollah’s recent action – though not because it’s wrong but only because it might draw an unlawful  reaction from the powerful and disaster for Lebanese civilians.  He reminds us ... 

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Quotes of Week 131

- - - - - - - - - - I S R A E L / H E Z B O L L A H - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending . . . among women and children ... I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men.

Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian chief accuses Hezbollah,
through its cowardly blending
of causing the deaths of hundreds during the violence with Israel

Hezbollah has built bunkers and tunnels
near the Israeli border to shelter weapons and fighters,
which it also hides in civilian homes and businesses,
and its ununiformed members easily blend in among civilians.

Quote: No sentient human being could fail to be moved by the suffering and death. It's terrible.”

Tony Blair commenting on the Israel/Hezbollah war 

Quote: “If you bomb our capital Beirut, we will bomb the capital of your usurping entity. We will bomb Tel Aviv.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nassan Nasrallah delivers an ultimatum to Israel. 
But he also offered to halt Hezbollah's missile barrage into Israel
if it stopped bombing Lebanon.

This all sounds like weakness.  Why doesn't he bomb Tel Aviv anyway?

Quote: Israel must be wiped out the world.A revealing Billboard in Tehran, Iran, which features Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah

A billboard in Tehran featuring Hassan Nasrallah. 

Surely Iran cannot really be  behind Hezbollah?



Quote (via Mark Humphrys): The Cedars Revolution is not going to allow Terrorists to use the blood and flesh of Lebanese citizens to shield their organization from disarmament. It won't accept that an entire Lebanese community is taken into hostage by a Pro-Iranian, pro-Syrian organization which aim is to obstruct democracy in Lebanon and reverse the Cedars Revolution ... Let M. Nasrallah and his supporters chose another land to wage their personal wars with whomever they want. Lebanon is not their private property to use and abuse.

The World Council of the Cedars Revolution, a Lebanese organization,
blames Hezbollah for the deaths of women and children in Qana

Quote: Editors, journalists, and readers are urged to use the word Hizbullah, which  is written this way to reflect a standard Arabic pronunciation. The widely used word of Hezbollah reflects a slang pronunciation. 

They are also urged to use the official reference to Hizbullah as the Lebanese Islamic Resistance [sic] Movement, not the other derogatory Israeli conflict terminology as guerilla group, terrorist group, militant group, etc.

The Editor of Al-Jazeerah pleads for a bit of journalistic discipline,
as well as respect and whitewashing for Hezbollah. 

In so doing he convinces most of us
to use the derogatory slang term,
and to refer to it as a guerrilla terrorist militant group 

- - - - - - - - - - I R A Q - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: It is an advantage that Iraq is near Palestine ... Muslims should support its holy warriors until an Islamic emirate dedicated to jihad is established there, which could then transfer the jihad to the borders of Palestine.”

Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy leader of Al-Qaeda,
clearly loves what Hezbollah is doing
as he helpfully explains that the mayhem in Iraq is but a stepping stone
towards Al Qaeda's and Hezbollah's shared objective of eliminating Israel

Quote: I ask you, being an Iraqi person, that if you reach a verdict of death, execution, remember that I am a military man and should be killed by firing squad and not by hanging as a common criminal ... This case is not worth the urine of an Iraqi child.” 

Saddam Hussein, on trial in Baghdad, asks for a soldier's death
(though he was in fact never a soldier).

If he is indeed sentenced to death,
his request will hopefully be met with execution by hanging,
followed by cremation and secret disposal of the ashes.

- - - - - - - - - - V E N E Z U E L A - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: It gives our soldiers a special spirit of firmness when we hand them Kalashnikov rifles that replace old 1940s guns.

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela,
who has struck a $3 billion arms purchase deal with Russia,
including 77 aircraft and 100,000 Kalashnikovs.

This has predictably enraged the US which has an arms embargo on Venezuela,
and given President Putin another reason to smirk.

- - - - - - - - - - S H O W B I Z - - - - - - - - - -

Quote: “F*****g Jews ... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.  Are you a Jew?

Mel Gibson upbraids the police officer who apprehended him for drink-driving. 
But when he sobered up he apologised (to everyone in the Jewish community”)
- hardly the act of a true bigot

Quote: Who?  ... Oh yeah... he's, like, your president? ... I don't know what he looks like.”

American heiress and renowned geopolitical pundit Paris Hilton,
when asked by Britain's GQ magazine if she fancied Tony Blair

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 What I've recently
been reading

The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tol, 2006
“The Lemon Tree”, by Sandy Tol (2006),
is a delightful novel-style history of modern Israel and Palestine told through the eyes of a thoughtful protagonist from either side, with a household lemon tree as their unifying theme.

But it's not entirely honest in its subtle pro-Palestinian bias, and therefore needs to be read in conjunction with an antidote, such as
The Case for Israel, Alan Dershowitz, 2004

See detailed review


Drowning in Oil - Macondo Blowout
examines events which led to BP's 2010 Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. 

BP's ambitious CEO John Browne expanded it through adventurous acquisitions, aggressive offshore exploration, and relentless cost-reduction that trumped everything else, even safety and long-term technical sustainability.  

Thus mistakes accumulated, leading to terrifying and deadly accidents in refineries, pipelines and offshore operations, and business disaster in Russia.  

The Macondo blowout was but an inevitable outcome of a BP culture that had become poisonous and incompetent. 

However the book is gravely compromised by a litany of over 40 technical and stupid errors that display the author's ignorance and carelessness. 

It would be better to wait for the second (properly edited) edition before buying. 

As for BP, only a wholesale rebuilding of a new, professional, ethical culture will prevent further such tragedies and the eventual destruction of a once mighty corporation with a long and generally honourable history.

Note: I wrote my own reports on Macondo
May, June, and July 2010


Published in April 2010; banned in Singapore

A horrific account of:


how the death penalty is administered and, er, executed in Singapore,


the corruption of Singapore's legal system, and


Singapore's enthusiastic embrace of Burma's drug-fuelled military dictatorship

More details on my blog here.


Product Details
This is nonagenarian Alistair Urquhart’s incredible story of survival in the Far East during World War II.

After recounting a childhood of convention and simple pleasures in working-class Aberdeen, Mr Urquhart is conscripted within days of Chamberlain declaring war on Germany in 1939.

From then until the Japanese are deservedly nuked into surrendering six years later, Mr Urquhart’s tale is one of first discomfort but then following the fall of Singapore of ever-increasing, unmitigated horror. 

After a wretched journey Eastward, he finds himself part of Singapore’s big but useless garrison.

Taken prisoner when Singapore falls in 1941, he is, successively,


part of a death march to Thailand,


a slave labourer on the Siam/Burma railway (one man died for every sleeper laid),


regularly beaten and tortured,


racked by starvation, gaping ulcers and disease including cholera,


a slave labourer stevedoring at Singapore’s docks,


shipped to Japan in a stinking, closed, airless hold with 900 other sick and dying men,


torpedoed by the Americans and left drifting alone for five days before being picked up,


a slave-labourer in Nagasaki until blessed liberation thanks to the Americans’ “Fat Boy” atomic bomb.

Chronically ill, distraught and traumatised on return to Aberdeen yet disdained by the British Army, he slowly reconstructs a life.  Only in his late 80s is he able finally to recount his dreadful experiences in this unputdownable book.

There are very few first-person eye-witness accounts of the the horrors of Japanese brutality during WW2. As such this book is an invaluable historical document.


Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies
Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies

This is a rattling good tale of the web of corruption within which the American president and his cronies operate. It's written by blogger Michele Malkin who, because she's both a woman and half-Asian, is curiously immune to the charges of racism and sexism this book would provoke if written by a typical Republican WASP.

With 75 page of notes to back up - in best blogger tradition - every shocking and in most cases money-grubbing allegation, she excoriates one Obama crony after another, starting with the incumbent himself and his equally tricky wife. 

Joe Biden, Rahm Emmanuel, Valerie Jarett, Tim Geithner, Lawrence Summers, Steven Rattner, both Clintons, Chris Dodd: they all star as crooks in this venomous but credible book. 

ACORN, Mr Obama's favourite community organising outfit, is also exposed for the crooked vote-rigging machine it is.


This much trumpeted sequel to Freakonomics is a bit of disappointment. 

It is really just a collation of amusing little tales about surprising human (and occasionally animal) behaviour and situations.  For example:


Drunk walking kills more people per kilometer than drunk driving.


People aren't really altruistic - they always expect a return of some sort for good deeds.


Child seats are a waste of money as they are no safer for children than adult seatbelts.


Though doctors have known for centuries they must wash their hands to avoid spreading infection, they still often fail to do so. 


Monkeys can be taught to use washers as cash to buy tit-bits - and even sex.

The book has no real message other than don't be surprised how humans sometimes behave and try to look for simple rather than complex solutions.

And with a final anecdote (monkeys, cash and sex), the book suddenly just stops dead in its tracks.  Weird.


False Economy: A Surprising Economic History of the World
A remarkable, coherent attempt by Financial Times economist Alan Beattie to understand and explain world history through the prism of economics. 

It's chapters are organised around provocative questions such as


Why does asparagus come from Peru?


Why are pandas so useless?


Why are oil and diamonds more trouble than they are worth?


Why doesn't Africa grow cocaine?

It's central thesis is that economic development continues to be impeded in different countries for different historical reasons, even when the original rationale for those impediments no longer obtains.  For instance:


Argentina protects its now largely foreign landowners (eg George Soros)


Russia its military-owned businesses, such as counterfeit DVDs


The US its cotton industry comprising only 1% of GDP and 2% of its workforce

The author writes in a very chatty, light-hearted matter which makes the book easy to digest. 

However it would benefit from a few charts to illustrate some of the many quantitative points put forward, as well as sub-chaptering every few pages to provide natural break-points for the reader. 


Burmese Outpost, by Anthony Irwin
This is a thrilling book of derring-do behind enemy lines in the jungles of north-east Burma in 1942-44 during the Japanese occupation.

The author was a member of Britain's V Force, a forerunner of the SAS. Its remit was to harass Japanese lines of command, patrol their occupied territory, carryout sabotage and provide intelligence, with the overall objective of keeping the enemy out of India.   

Irwin is admirably yet brutally frank, in his descriptions of deathly battles with the Japs, his execution of a prisoner, dodging falling bags of rice dropped by the RAF, or collapsing in floods of tears through accumulated stress, fear and loneliness. 

He also provides some fascinating insights into the mentality of Japanese soldiery and why it failed against the flexibility and devolved authority of the British. 

The book amounts to a  very human and exhilarating tale.

Oh, and Irwin describes the death in 1943 of his colleague my uncle, Major PF Brennan.


Other books here

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