Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just Who Is Blinded

George Soros has an op-ed in today's Boston Globe entitled "Blinded by a Concept". I would think that he himself has a blind side.

Some excerpts:-

The failure of Israel to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One of those weaknesses is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.

In response to Hezbollah's attacks, Israel was justified in attacking Hezbollah to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and converted Hezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance for many. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.

Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel previously withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognizing this fact because it separates "us" from "them" and denies that our actions help shape their behavior.

...There are strong voices arguing that Israel must never negotiate from a position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel's position is liable to become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and egged on by Syria and Iran) may prove recalcitrant. But that is where the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The Palestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The political - as distinct from the military - wing of Hamas must be responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage and deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first step toward a better-balanced approach. Given how strong the U.S.-Israeli relationship is, it would help Israel achieve its own legitimate aims if the U.S. government were not blinded by the war-on-terror concept.

Here's the letter I submitted for publication:

George Soros asserts that a weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it "rules out political approaches". Not really in the case of Israel.

Soros' presumption is wrong. In the first instance, Israel has always followed a political course, and has even been forced to do so, including secret negotiations (the Oslo DOP), international (Madrid), open (Oslo II) and otherwise. Secondly, especially in the case of the Arab-Islamic offensive on Israel, which began with riots in 1920 even before the state was created, the issue is not one that can be solved.

No amount of territory yielded, no quality of rights awarded and no quantity of integration by Israel can satify the demands of this terror.

And one of my 'pen pals' sent me his submitted letter:-

If Arabs cared about Lebanese civilians, they would not praise Hezbollah for foisting a war on these civilians and using them as human shields. What Arabs really care about is their own dignity, which they have made synonymous with defeating the Jews. The right way to achieve dignity is by building enviable societies and creating inventions that earn worldwide respect; but that is hard and takes time. How much easier to latch onto some perceived injustice, and bingo -- your life instantly feels meaningful and dignified! Why spend years studying and working, when you can just pick up a portrait of Sheikh Nasrallah and instantly feel like you're a part of a victorious army!

George Soros needs to understand that such sentiments cannot be addressed by appeasement. They can only be addressed by publicly pointing out exactly what's going on.

And A Child Shall Lead Them

A recurrent theme of left-wing criticism of right-wing protests in Israel is the fact that many times children participate.

Sometimes these people complain that we take them out of school; other times, that we are endangering them. At other times they just make up excuses.

I found this today and I think it relevant:-

Police arrested 28 people today as demonstrators marched on Britain's biggest coal-fired power station in a bid to shut it down.

...the protesters were arrested for offences ranging from possession of offensive weapons to causing a public nuisance and criminal damage.

The demonstrators set up camp at the weekend about two miles from the plant, which they have described as "Drax the destroyer". The power station, which dominates the skyline with its 12 cooling towers, is close to the village of Barlow, between Selby and Goole. It produces 20.8m tonnes of carbon emissions each year.

Just after 9am today, hundreds of demonstrators left the site led by a group of small children and parents with pushchairs. As they made their way up the small lane to the main road, they were joined by another large group of demonstrators, dressed in white overalls and with their faces covered.

The Brits and Their Foreign Worker Influx

Permit scheme to cut flow of east Europeans

Ministers want specific skills test for Bulgarian and Romanian workers

Ministers are planning to introduce a work permit system for Bulgarians and Romanians that will require them to prove they can fill specific skill shortages, a senior government figure has told the Guardian. Relatively few potential job applicants from the two countries are likely to meet the expected criteria in a move designed to take pressure off the government over immigration.

"We have a strong record on accepting migrants from Europe, but sometimes politics has to override the economics and that is what is going to happen in this case," said one cabinet minister closely involved in the talks.

Politcs, eh?

Sounds Like a Great Book

A new book is out, Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII, By Sarah Helm, Illustrated. 493 pages. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday

In 1941, with its back against the wall, Britain was ready to try just about anything to avoid defeat at the hands of Nazi Germany. And so it happened that, to her surprise, a 33-year-old woman named Vera Atkins was recruited by a top-secret agency, the Special Operations Executive, where she ended up overseeing a network of British spies operating in France. Like many of the people around her, Miss Atkins was an amateur. Unlike them, she hid a past so mysterious that it took decades to unravel. Her extraordinary life, pieced together in a stupendous job of reporting by the British journalist Sarah Helm, is the subject of “A Life in Secrets.”

Of the 400 agents sent to France by F Section, the French division of the Special Operations Executive, more than a hundred were still missing three months after D-Day, and Miss Atkins, who had personally seen many of them off from airfields in Britain, was determined to learn their fate.

Ms. Helm describes the workings of F Section in fascinating detail, including the fact that in 1943 it was betrayed by a French pilot, who flew agents from Britain to France. As a result, many of its operatives walked directly into the waiting arms of the Nazis, who took their radios and began requesting more agents, money and arms, which F Section duly sent.

The history of F Section, and the Special Operations Executive, blends heroism and ineptitude, with top honors for incompetence going to Miss Atkins’s superior, Maurice Buckmaster. A genial bumbler, Buckmaster refused to believe that his operations had gone awry until the Germans, on orders from Hitler, sent taunting messages thanking F Section for the cash and the guns.

Miss Atkins, despite her posh English accent and her adoration of all things upper class and British, was a Romanian Jew with the family name Rosenberg. The family, with roots in Germany, South Africa and Britain, ran a successful timber business. Vera grew up speaking multiple languages and attended finishing school in Switzerland.

Ms. Helms discovered that Miss Atkins probably began supplying information to British intelligence while working as a secretary for an oil company in Bucharest. After making her way to Britain in 1937, she was recruited for F Section, an ideal candidate considering her fluent French and German.

In other ways, she was less than ideal. As a Jew, she encountered prejudice from the sort of upper-class Englishmen she so admired. More seriously, and unknown to anyone until Ms. Helm unearthed the facts, she had secretly traveled to Antwerp in 1940 to pay $150,000 to a Nazi intelligence agent to secure a passport for a family member, who agreed in return to supply intelligence to the Nazis.

The search for the missing agents provides Ms. Helm with her most gripping pages, as Miss Atkins, racing against time, tracks down and interrogates Nazi officers, prison-camp workers and former prisoners. Some of the missing returned. Brian Stonehouse, a Jewish agent, miraculously survived four concentration camps. Odette Sansom, a courier, survived Ravensbrück by pretending to be the wife of her spy partner, who happened to be named Churchill. This ruse earned her special consideration, although her Churchill was no relation to the prime minister.

Most of the female agents were sent on doomed missions that led them, eventually, to concentration camps and execution. Noor Khan, considered emotionally frail, turned out to be fierce and courageous when captured. She refused to cooperate with the Germans, showed them nothing but contempt, and in the instant before her death, after she had been tortured and beaten to a bloody pulp, spoke but a single French word, “liberté.”

So, Numbers Are a Matter of...Numbers

Ha'Aretz is astounded.

Two months ago, Haaretz highlighted a significant decline in the fertility rate among Muslims in Israel, following 15 years of treading water. CBS data, published this week, indicates that this is no mere decline - it is an outright nosedive.

The most important statistic used to measure fertility is the general fertility rate (GFR) - that is, the number of live births that a woman in a certain segment of the population is expected to produce during her lifetime. The average GFR of Muslim women in Israel remained 7.4 children per woman from 1985-2000. But CBS statistics published this week indicate that the rate in 2005 declined to only four children per woman, a drop of 18 percent (compared to 2.7 children per Jewish woman in Israel).

This downturn, from 4.5 to only four children per woman, mainly took place from 2003-2005: Half a child less in two years.

What made these years so significant? In June, 2003, substantial cuts in child welfare benefits provided each additional child only NIS 140 per month.

What happened since 2005? Calculations made by the American-Israel Demographic Research Group indicate that, in early 2006, the GFR among Arab-Israelis had already dropped to 3.7 - that is one whole child less than in 2000 and only one child more than the GFR in the Jewish population.

But the CBS provided Haaretz with far more startling and fascinating, geographically-segmented statistics: The GFR among Arabs in Israel's southern district, mainly Bedouin, plunged from nine children per woman in 2003 to 7.6 children, in only two years - one and a half children less. In the northern district, the GFR among Arabs stands at only three children (but this statistic includes many Christian Arabs).

Channel 4’s Thomson supports BBC’s Guerin

A senior BBC person has sent me this regarding the claim that Orla Guerin was being biased in her reporting from Lebanon:

Channel 4’s Thomson supports BBC’s Guerin over bias claim

Some excerpts:-

Channel Four's Alex Thomson has defended BBC reporter Orla Guerin after a comparison of their news reports on the bombing of a Lebanese town led her to be accused of bias. Guerin was accused of giving an inaccurate account of the destruction of Bint Jbail initially by bloggers, and later by the Israeli embassy in London, which said it looked as though "the BBC's report contains selectivity".

Thomson told Press Gazette: "Poor old BBC. As soon as they say anything about Israel they get a lot of flak.

"There is an incredibly organised Zionist lobby out to see bias in the BBC wherever they perceive it"

Speaking to Press Gazette from the Lebanon/Syria border, Thomson said that when analysing the reports, it was important to be aware of the geography of the town.
"What Orla said about the town centre is absolutely 100 per cent true. Orla is an extremely experienced and professional correspondent."

However Thomson said that "because a lot of journalists are lazy" much of the British public hold the inaccurate perception that Lebanon had been completely destroyed. He said that from the parts of Southern Lebanon he had seen, 25 to 30 per cent of the buildings had been destroyed or damaged.

He said that journalists had to genuinely say what they were seeing, which often did not fit with the cliché of "nasty, bullyboy Israel/United States smashing the downtrodden Arabs and Muslims".

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Neurotic? This Guy's Plain Crazy

Slavoj Zizek of Ljubljana is, in my opinion border-line crazy.

And why?

Read his opinion in the London Review of Books, Vol. 28 No. 16 :: 17 August 2006:-

There is, in effect, something neurotic in the Middle East conflict: everyone sees how the obstacle can be got rid of, and yet no one wants to remove it, as if there were some pathological libidinal benefit to be gained by persisting with the deadlock.

If there ever was a passionate attachment to the lost object, a refusal to come to terms with its loss, it is the attachment of Israelis and many diaspora Jews to the ‘Holy Land’ and above all to Jerusalem. The present troubles are supreme proof of the consequences of such a radical fidelity, when taken literally. For almost two thousand years, when the Jews were fundamentally a nation without land, living in exile, their reference to Jerusalem was a negative one, a prohibition against ‘painting an image of home’ or indeed against feeling at home anywhere on earth. Once the return to Palestine began a century ago, the metaphysical Other Place was identified with a specific place on the map and became the object of a positive identification, the place where the wandering which characterises human existence would end. The identification, negative and positive by turns, had always involved a dream of settlement. When a two-thousand-year-old dream is finally close to realisation, such realisation has to turn into a nightmare.

Brecht’s joke a propos the East Berlin workers’ uprising in 1953 – ‘The Party is not satisfied with its people, so it will replace them with a people more supportive of its politics’ – is suggestive of the way Israelis regard the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza. That Israelis, descendants of exemplary victims, should be considering a thorough ethnic cleansing – or ‘transfer’ – of the Palestinians from the West Bank is the ultimate historical irony.

What would be a proper imaginative act in the Middle East today? For Israelis and Arabs, it would involve giving up political control of Jerusalem, agreeing that the Old Town should become a city without a state, a place of worship, neither a part of Israel nor of a putative Palestine, administered for the time being by an international force. By renouncing political control of Jerusalem, both sides would gain, because they would see Jerusalem become a genuinely extra-political, sacred site. What they would lose is only what deserves to be lost: the reduction of religion to a counter in a game of political power. Each side would have to recognise that this renunciation would constitute a liberation for itself, not merely a sacrifice made for the other.

Back to Brecht – and the Caucasian Chalk Circle, in which a biological mother and a stepmother are in dispute over a child and appeal to a judge. The judge takes a bit of chalk and draws a circle, then he places the baby in the middle and tells the two women that the first to pull the child out of the circle will get him. When the stepmother sees that the child is being hurt, she lets him go and, of course, the judge gives her custody, claiming that she has displayed true maternal love. One should imagine Jerusalem along these lines: whoever truly loves Jerusalem would let it go rather than see it torn apart.

CBS Pulls an "Adnan Hajj" for Katie Couric

You think that photoshopping a picture is a media ethic violation from which only Israel suffers?

Well, seems CBS is in on the act by trimming Katie Couric's waist.


When Chomsky was a Zionist Youth Leader

From a recent exchange:-

Do you believe Israel should exist, why and in what form?

As a Zionist youth leader in the 1940s, I was among those who called for a binational state in Mandatory Palestine. When a Jewish state was declared, I felt that it should have the rights of other states - no more, no less.

Why should the US exist, sitting on half of Mexico, including Florida, conquered in a violent racist war carried out in violation of the Constitution?

And we can ask much the same about other states. State formation has been a brutal project, with many hideous consequences. But the results exist, and their pernicious aspects should be overcome.

Anybody know what movement?

Here Is An Idea

Britain has its own problem with Islam and the treatment of women.

As reported:-

Suicide rates among young Asian women in Britain are more than three times the national average, and about 12 women every year die as a result of honour killings, the medieval revenge that awaits those who dare to stand up and say “no”.

Britain should regard all young women, regardless of their origin, as individuals and not possessions. It is not enough to do nothing, for fear of offending cultural sensitivities. It is not enough to wait for “community leaders”, many of whom tacitly approve of forced marriage, to change hearts and minds.

So, I have an idea.

Let the British and any other EU country approach the Palestinian Authority on this issue of human respect and when the problem is solved, then, and only, then, should peace be discussed between Israel and the Arabs of the Land of Israel.

Why should we be forced into situations that Britain and others cannot deal with?

You Just Can't Do It Without Yiddish

Here is an analysis of why Katie Couric could succeed as the new CBS anchorwoman, but notice that without a Yiddishism, it isn't perfect:-

Not because she’s the first woman to anchor a network newscast alone...No, the real brilliance—in this age of The Daily Show— is that she’s the first network anchor to have a quick, smart, mischievous sense of humor as a major part of her public persona. She has all the serious-news experience the job requires, but it’s her lack of old-fashioned TV-news “gravitas”—that perpetual default to careful, po-faced grown-up solemnity that any moron can fake—which makes her special.

If it’s possible to rejuvenate TV news, Couric is among the last best hopes.

...“Those days are over when you have that guy sitting behind the desk who everyone believes to the nth degree.” That’s not quite right. People still want to believe in news anchors. That nth degree of credibility, however, is achieved these days not by some quasi hottie’s stilted channeling of Chet Huntley or Walter Cronkite, but by a smart person who comes across as more or less normal on the air. Another of the early notions Moonves encouraged was making Jon Stewart an anchor—wrong person, right direction.

...First of all, it’s a truism—as well as true (or at least truthy)—that people are hungry for authenticity in their public figures. And a good sense of humor is the most reliable contemporary signifier of authenticity. Humor combined with menschiness and a degree of convincing moral engagement...

Conclusions of Melanie Phillips on the Media

Certain conclusions are now inescapable.

First, hatred of Israel and the irrationality associated with that hatred have now reached unprecedented proportions within Britain and the west.

Second, with a few honourable exceptions the mainstream media are no longer to be believed in anything they transmit, either in words or pictures, about the Middle East. It is only the blogosphere which is now performing the most elementary disciplines of journalism: to aspire to objectivity, to separate facts from prejudices, to apply basic checks to claims being made by partisans to a conflict, and to be particularly wary of those with a proven track record of lying.

Third, the mainstream media must now be regarded as active accessories to the war being waged against the free world and therefore as a fifth column in that world – an enemy within.

Fourth, the impact of the lies and distortions transmitted by the mainstream media in inflaming the already pathological hatred of the west within the Arab and Muslim world is incalculable.

Fifth, the mainstream media’s vilification, demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, based on outright fabrications and malevolent distortions, is imperilling the very existence of the country that is the front line of defence of the free world.

Sixth, that vilification is also imperilling the safety and well-being of Jewish communities around the world, subject now to the double victimisation of attack by Islamists and attack by non-Muslims for belonging to a Jewish people that refuses to submit passively to a second attempt at genocidal slaughter and instead fights to defend itself.

To date, as far as I can determine, not one mainstream editor or proprietor has acknowledged this corruption of the western media. The scale of this corruption now threatens to have a lethal impact on the course of human history. Hatred now drives not just the jihadists but their western dupes, too. Truth and freedom are indivisible. The deconstruction of the former inevitably presages the destruction of the latter. This is the way a civilisation dies.

Members in "Good Standing"

The following is a current alphabetized list of member organizations in good standing of the "US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation"

American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Washington, DC Chapter
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Wisconsin Chapter
American Friends Service Committee, Great Lakes Region
American Friends Service Committee, National
American Friends Service Committee, Southeast Region
Americans for a Palestinian State
Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights
Arab/Jewish Peace Alliance
Arab Americans of Central Ohio
Atlanta Friends Meeting
Atlanta Palestine Solidarity
Bay Area Women in Black
Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights
Boveri Workgroup
Catholic Peace Fellowship - Philadelphia
Christians for a Just Peace in the Middle East
Code Pink
Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine
Committee of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Council for the National Interest Foundation
Earth Force United
Episcopal Diocese of Olympia: Bishop's Committee for Justice
Faculty for Israeli-Palestine Peace
Fayetteville Peace With Justice
Friends for Deir Ibzi'a
Friends of Sabeel - Colorado
Friends of Sabeel - North America
General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church
Global Exchange
Grassroots International
Green Party of the United States
Huron Valley Greens
Imagine Life
Institute for Policy Studies
Interfaith Peace-Builders
International Solidarity Movement-Michigan
Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions-USA
Jerusalem Fund for Education & Community
Jewish Voice for Peace
Jewish Witnesses for Peace and Friends
Merrimack Valley People for Peace
Michigan Peace Team
Middle East Children's Alliance
Middle East Fellowship
Middle East Peace Now
Middle East Research and Information Project
Mideast: Just Peace
Monterey County Citizens for Middle East Peace
New Orleans Louisiana Palestine Solidarity
Northwest Middle East Peace Forum
Not In My Name, Inc
Olympia Friends Meeting
Olympia Rafah Sister City Project
Palestine Center
Palestine/Israel Working Group, Ann Arbor Friends Meeting
Palestine Solidarity Committee - Seattle
Partners for Peace
Pax Christi USA
Peace Action of San Mateo County
Peace and Justice Coalition - Prince George's County
Peace Education Center
People of Faith CT
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
Resource Center for Nonviolence
Students for Justice in Palestine, American University
Task Force for Peace with Justice in Palestine/Israel
The Home for Peace and Justice
Trans-Arab Research Institute
Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East
Utahns for a Just Peace in the Holy Land
Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace
WESPAC Foundation
Western New York Peace Center
Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church
Women in Black, Los Angeles

Amazing how many bamboozled people there are.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Famous "Last" Words?

Olmert emphasized that the decision to go to war had been his alone, and said he was responsible for the war's results. "I want to make one thing clear, the responsibility for the decision to go to war... is entirely mine," the prime minister said.

Yeah, now that Nasarallah isn't so sure he might the right decision, Olmert is claiming victory.

And here I thought the in a democracy, the cabinet makes a decision and the government authorizes it.

Just for the Record

P.O.Box 31603, Jerusalem 91603
October 4, 2004

Dr. Gene Sharp: Proposed Disengagement Plan Law may drive people to use violent methods

In response to a query from the Jerusalem Center for Non-violent Action, Dr. Gene Sharp, renowned strategist of nonviolent activity, author of classic literature on the subject and resident at the Albert Einstein Institute, Dr. Sharp claimed that “Such an extreme law against explicitly nonviolent opposition may well produce consequences not desired by the government. These may drive people who prefer to use nonviolent methods instead to use violent methods”.

The question that was directed to Dr. Sharp by Yisrael Medad, Director of the Center for Nonviolent Action, was based on the proposed disengagement legislation and read “Is there any comparable country which has a law on its books that is draconian as the proposed law”.

Dr. Sharp’s full response was :-
”Thank you for your inquiry. I do not know if any other country has a law in force that includes the measures that the proposed Israeli law has. However, I am sure that comparable activities of resisters have sometimes been punished in equally severe ways, without a law.

Such an extreme law against explicitly nonviolent opposition may well produce consequences not desired by the government. These may drive people who prefer to use nonviolent methods instead to use violent methods. You may be interested in my chapter "Civil Disobedience in a Democracy" in my 1980 book /Social Power and Political Freedom, /(Porter Sargent Publishers).

Best wishes, Gene Sharp


The Jerusalem Center for Non-violent Action is a registered Amuta (58-025-299-7) founded in October 1994 for the purposes of researching the chronicles of strategies of non-violent action and its needs, to arouse public debate and discussion concerning non-violent action, to encourage general consciousness regarding non-violent action in publications, workshops and dialogue.
The Center’s Chairman is Yisrael Medad and its Secretary is Eve Harow.

Stifling the Protest - Label It "Right" ("left" though is permitted)

Haaretz is trying to kill the protests.


Read on:

But the most serious problem the reservists face is the attempt to drag them to the right.

If the right wing is able to use the protest to bring down the government, it will set back settlement evacuation for years.

The reservists understand the danger of a rightist bear-hug and are trying to keep their distance.

...a close look at the small group reveals their leaders are mostly from the right. Among them is a founder of an illegal outpost in the territories and a prominent activist against the unilateral withdrawal plan.

The movement's leftists, who are put on display every time accusations are raised about the group's political inclinations, are fighting to prevent their protest from sliding into "orange" messages.

Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer says the message of the reserve soldiers can only be understood as right-wing. "They want to bring down the government, but refuse to say what their option is. It's a nationalist movement that talks only about winning the next war and not how to prevent it. If they succeed, in the end Lieberman and Netanyahu will come to power," he said.

...Baruch Itam, considered the group's "leftist," disagrees.

"If the story is told as an 'orange' protest that brought down the government, it will be very bad," he says. "The goal is to tell the story as a protest seeking to infuse the leadership with values."

Itam concedes that there is pressure from the right, which he calls dangerous "because of their motivation to bring down the government. I call on the left to join us in larger numbers to balance out the picture," he says.

Meanwhile, tensions are rising among the protesters.

One is suspected of being a Shin Bet plant; two others are believed to be Peace Now activists seeking to sabotage the demonstration. Protesters have also been distancing themselves recently from the Awakening movement, which was formed to protest last year's disenagegment from the Gaza Strip.

My Op-ed in Today's Jerusalem Post

Do Israel's media know their place?


News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.- Bill Moyers

For four weeks this summer during the second Lebanon War, Israel's media provided consumers with more publicity and spin than hard news.

True electronic media consumers did not lack for breaking news. The three main television stations - Channels 1, 2 and 10 - all provided live continuous coverage of the war.

Studios were filled with commentators, politicians and reports from the field. Reporters, many of them women, went north to face the missiles. And who can forget Yoav Limor dodging an incoming Katyusha in Safed?

Reporters Itai Engel, Mukki Hadar and Amir Bar-Chen all accompanied front-line troops into battle and returned with outstanding reports and footage.

Israel Radio (Reshet Bet) and Army Radio provided a wealth of news, opinions and updates, even as broadcasts were often interrupted by announcements from the Home Command urging citizens in the North to enter their bomb shelters,

WITH THE war over, however, recriminations are being openly voiced about media partisanship and recklessness. Letters to the editor columns are full of complaints about how the media handled itself. Oversight authorities have received hundreds of complaints from consumers about television coverage particularly.

People are mostly angry that television stations seemingly provided information that could have been helpful to the enemy, and that too much time was spent airing personal opinions cloaked as news. I share many of these concerns.

There have even been suggestions from within the media that true soul-searching demanded the appointment of a media-specific commission of inquiry.

IN TIME of war the media is not only an objective information provider; it must also not assume the role of cheerleader. The media's role is to seek the story behind the story and try to explain the "why" behind the "what."

The media is an instrument of democracy and civil society. While some in the media correctly refused to take on the role of mobilizing society for the war effort, many more took advantage of the opportunity to advance personal agendas.

It's indisputable that, both prior to and during the four weeks of battle, there was a lack of investigative reporting on the central political, diplomatic and security failures that only came out afterwards.

Why should we, ex post facto, be demanding a commission of inquiry? Where was the press for the past six years while events were allowed to deteriorate?

Could it be that they were smitten by the mirage of a quiet northern border? Did they adopt Amnon Abramovitz's "etrog" paradigm of swathing favored politicians with fawning protection? Or did the press sound the alarm only to be ignored by politicos and the public?

Why did IDF Spokeswoman Miri Regev take advice from Reuven Adler, Eyal Arad and Leor Chorev, the triumvirate spinmasters who guided Ariel Sharon and Kadima? Was there a partisan agenda afoot? Did the IDF allow itself to become the agency of a political party?

JUST A week before the war Haaretz reporter Aluf Benn wrote that Hassan Nasrallah had been behaving responsibly, and that a balance of deterrence had been created on both sides of the Lebanon border. "Hizbullah is preserving quiet in the Galilee better than did the pro-Israeli South Lebanese Army," he had written.

Only on July 20 did Benn admit that "the mistake in my assessment stemmed, as always, from the idee fixe that what was is what will be."

There certainly was a recurring theme, but it was rooted in the ideological mind-set of Israel's liberal/progressive media elite. It hadn't stopped applauding Ehud Barak's run-in-the-night withdrawal from Lebanon, and was not about to admit the error in his move - certainly not in advance of Sharon's trade of land-for-nothing.

Asked, in a Ynet interview, if he felt frustrated that his prewar calls about the rocket threat facing Israel had been ignored, former Likud MK Uzi Landau responded, "I was made to look delusional, because part and parcel of the [media's] campaign against the disengagement opposition was a nonsensical discourse. They said I was a warmonger."

WHEN THE war began, elements in the media spent the first fortnight warning the government and the IDF not to send ground troops into Lebanon. The media also let Hizbullah know, in real time, exactly where the rockets were falling, and even the unit numbers of the battalions and divisions crossing the northern border.

Many in the media also covered up for the lapses of Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, whose declarations during the fighting were mostly bluster.

There were exceptions, such as Haaretz's Ari Shavit, who was devastating: "Political correctness and the illusion-of-normalcy spread first and foremost among the Israeli elites... the media… have blinded Israel and deprived it of its spirit... Instead of being constructive elites [they] have become dismantling elites."

Yediot columnist Yair Lapid admitted the media was irresponsible, unrestrained, unfair and confused opinions with fact. In a Globes op-ed, Prof. Gabriel Ben-Simchon of Tel Aviv University's Cinema Department accused Haaretz of being a "newspaper in Hizbullah's service."

Israel's media has much to make up for. One step that should be taken is editors and media stars distancing themselves from relationships with the politicians and generals they cover.

One of the many lessons of the war is that the public needs a "free press," in every sense.

A Mixed Marriage

Here's the story:-

Ms. Harris, who was for six years of living in Jerusalem a director of program and resource development with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and led the World Union of Jewish Students, met a Mr. Sabir over early morning coffee at a hotel bar in Oujda, Morocco.

Mr. Sabir, a human- and legal-rights advocate in Morocco, had organized a series of workshops on pending reforms to the country’s criminal procedure code. Ms. Harris, an international human rights lawyer, was a guest speaker.

During a late night stroll through the town square in Marrakesh, surrounded by snake charmers, fortunetellers and musicians, their professional bond turned personal.

“She stood looking at me, I put my hand in her hand, and that was it,” said Mr. Sabir, who is now the executive director of Partners for Human Rights, a newly formed Morocco-based organization, and also a project director with the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a research institute in Washington.

The match was not without its troubles. Ms. Harris was not the type of Jewish girl who spent her youth fantasizing about her wedding. She was too focused on changing the world, a “Muslim Moroccan guy wasn’t on the list of possibilities,” Ms. Harris said.

Hadar Harris, though in love, remained wary. She ended the relationship twice — the first time in London, because she was hung up over their religious and cultural differences, the second time in Washington, because she was hung up over the idea of marriage. After the second breakup, in 2004, Mr. Sabir, who described himself as “culturally Muslim, but not adherent to the type of Islam some people see and embrace today,” was chosen to be a United Nations monitor of the genocide in Sudan.

The couple exchanged vows on Aug. 13 at the Audubon Naturalist Society Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Md., in a traditional Jewish ceremony with Moroccan flourishes. The wedding canopy was made of woven silk that the couple bought at a Moroccan bazaar. The ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, included translations in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Instead of scullcaps, men wore colorful embroidered Moroccan hats.

The couple read — in Arabic and English — a poem by Ibn Arabi, the mystic Muslim philosopher who was born in the 12th century. “My creed is love” they recited. “Wherever its caravan turns along the way, love is my belief and is my faith.”

You just know what I think but I figured I'd give this story a twist.

Take a look at what's attached to the back of the woman in the blue dress.

What no modern Jewish marriage can do without under the Chuppah:

What A "Closed" Cabinet Meeting Looks Like in Israel

No comment necessary.

Clockwise from upper left:

Haim Ramon
Moshe katzav
Ehud Olmert
Tzachi Hanegbi

Footfalls of Messiah? (*)

In an unusual instance of self-criticism, a well-known Hamas official has deplored the collapse of Gazan life into chaos and has said that much of the blame belongs to Palestinians themselves reports Steve Erlanger of the NYTimes.

Could the footfalls of the Messiah be echoing? (*)

“Gaza is suffering under the yoke of anarchy and the swords of thugs,” Ghazi Hamad, a former Hamas newspaper editor and the spokesman for the current Hamas government, wrote in an article published Sunday in Al Ayyam, the Palestinian newspaper.

After so much optimism when Israelis pulled out of Gaza a year ago, he wrote, “life became a nightmare and an intolerable burden.”

He urged Palestinians to look to themselves, not to Israel, for the causes. But he appeared not to be placing the blame on Hamas or the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas. He said various armed groups in the Gaza Strip — most affiliated with Fatah, Hamas’s rival — were responsible for the chaos.

“We’ve all been attacked by the bacteria of stupidity,” Mr. Hamad wrote. “We have lost our sense of direction.” He addressed the armed groups: “Please have mercy on Gaza. Have mercy on us from your demagogy, chaos, guns, thugs, infighting. Let Gaza breathe a bit. Let it live.”

He also questioned the utility of firing rockets into Israel that cause few casualties but result in many Palestinian deaths when the Israelis retaliate. He seemed to be arguing for other armed groups to follow the Hamas decision to halt rocket fire into Israel. His article was first described in English on Monday in The Jerusalem Post.

...Mr. Hamad said that his article, in a newspaper normally associated with Fatah, was a personal comment. Despite the taunt at Fatah, it was important for its criticism of the penchant to blame Israel and its occupation of Palestinian lands for every ill — even after Israeli troops and settlers had left Gaza.

“I’m not interested in discussing the ugliness and brutality of the occupation because it is not a secret,” he wrote. “I prefer self-criticism and self-evaluation. We’re used to blaming our mistakes on others.”

Palestinian joy after the Israeli departure “made us forget the most important question — what is our next step?” he wrote.

“When you walk in the streets of Gaza City,” he continued, “you cannot but close your eyes because of what you see there: unimaginable chaos, careless policemen, young men carrying guns and strutting with pride and families receiving condolences for their dead in the middle of the street.”

Mr. Hamad said those who saw themselves as fighting Israel were working at cross-purposes. “It is strange that when a big effort is taken to reopen Rafah crossing to ease the suffering of the people, you see others who go to shell rockets toward the crossing, or when someone talks about cease-fire and its importance, you find those who go and shell more rockets,” he wrote. “Of course I do not deny that the occupation committed massacres that cannot be justified, but I support negotiations over what can be fixed.”

Some Palestinians will agree or disagree with him, he wrote, “but running away from self-confrontation will only cause us more pain.”


Tractate Sotah, Babylonian Talmud 49b:


1 Just before his advent.
2 Jast. renders; the nobility shall be oppressed. In Sanh. 97a there is a variant: honour will be perverted; or, according to Jast. the nobility will pervert (justice).
3 Through the spread of drunkenness.
4 These words are omitted in the Talmud ed. of the Mishnah. The meaning is: The Roman Empire will go over to Christianity. V. Herford, op. cit., p. 207.
5 Perhaps Gebal of Ps. LXXXIII, 8, i.e., the Northern part of Mount Seir. [Others: Gaulan, E. of the Sea of Galilee and the Upper Jordan.]
6 Lit., 'scribes'.
7 V. Micah VII, 6.
8 Impervious to shame. [In some editions the whole of this passage beginning 'R. Phineas b. Jair' is introduced with 'Our Rabbis taught', and not as part of the Mishnah.]

Ari Shavit Just Can't Let Go

Even though the campaign against the Hezbollah and the ongoing Kassam firings from Gaza have uprooted the unilateral, land-for-nothing disnegagement-cum-convergence-cum-realignment policies, Shavit, while right on the mark with his scathing criticism of the immoral political echelon, cannot give up his 'security blanket' of the "occupation".

Read these excerpts:-

What do we need to do these days? Not much. To prevent the renewal of war in Lebanon and to win the war should it begin anew. To avoid the outbreak of war with Syria and to win a war against it should one break out. To prevent Iran from developing its nuclear capability and to deter the country should it become a nuclear power. To build the Israel Defense Forces from the foundations up, as fast as possible. To rehabilitate the political system immediately. To come up with a leadership from thin air. To formulate, overnight, a national strategy. To carry out a regime change. To initiate a revolution in values. To reestablish the Israeli republic.

In the fall of 1973, Israel was perceived by its neighbors as a wounded but powerful bully. At the end of summer 2006, it is viewed by its neighbors as a scarred, impotent wimp. In the fall of 1973, the American superpower regarded Israel as a bleeding lion. In 2006, the U.S. sees Israel as a fat hound dog that has lost its nerve and its value.

In 1973, the IDF emerged from the war with chief of staff David Elazar and Major Generals Yitzhak Hofi, Yisrael Tal and Arik Sharon threatening both Cairo and Damascus. In the end of the summer of 2006, the IDF is emerging from the fighting with the head of Northern Command Udi Adam, Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz not even posing a threat to the Al-Khiam ridge.

In the fall of 1973, the Israeli leadership consisted of Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Yigal Allon, Abba Eban, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. At the end of the summer of 2006, in Israel's leadership are Tal Zilberstein and Shula Zaken. In the fall of 1973, Israel was a powerful state that erred, was battered and got back on its feet. At the end of the summer of 2006, Israel is a country whose vital organs are rotting, afflicted by a corrupting virus.

Today's agenda must concern one thing: Israel's power. There will be no peace and there will be no end to the occupation without restoring Israel's power. There will be no enlightenment and no free society without renewing Israel's power. Without renewing Israel's power there will be no start-ups here and no clubs. There won't even be a bubble.

However, renewal of Israel's power cannot take place without ethics and without truth. Without modesty and without substance. Without restoring faith and a sense of responsibility. Therefore, the Prime Minister and Chief of Staff of Arrogance must both go. Not only because they have been wrong all the way. Not only because they have been wrong, have been deceptive and have cooked up a disaster. But because getting rid of both will distance us from the distorted values that both of them represent. Separation from both of them will detach us from the evil spirit that tricked us for years.

Monday, August 28, 2006

From Dror Vanunu's Letter

Excerpts from Dror Vanunu's letter on the state of the Gush Katif evacuees:-

The difficult situations the soldiers describe regarding lack of food, water and military equipment raise many questions especially as we remember the 57,000 trained soldiers and police, wearing uniforms specially made for the event (Disengagement) and equipped from head to toe. In summer 2005 there was no lack of water, food, nor of any equipment. "The logistics killed the settlers" gloated the logistics force headed by General Udi Adam (currently commander of the north) during Disengagement. The current leadership and heads of the army showed an impressive determination last summer to "win" in the important battle against the settlers. General Benny Gantz described the settlers as a more dangerous enemy than the Hezbollah. Even in the midst of the fighting Olmert chose to say that we have to finish the campaign in the north in order to insure that the Convergence Plan will be carried out.

The events of the last few days merely increase the feeling that the last thirteen years in which we: signed the Oslo accords, brought the chief murderer Arafat and tens of thousands of terrorists with him, restrained ourselves towards the murderous Arab attacks against us, ran away from Lebanon and uprooted 10,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif - have been foggy years in which the way wasn't clear and we wandered far from the ideas of Zionism and Judaism. Only a return to our roots and a real understanding of the huge Islamic threat against us will bring hope to the Jewish people and an ability to defeat our enemies.

Major-General Gershon, commander of the Disengagement, visited last Thursday 24.8 at the house of the Moreno family whose son Lieutenant-Colonel Emanuel Moreno Hy"d (35), a senior commander in the elite Sayeret Matcal unit, was killed last week in a heroic action in Ba'al Beck. During the consolation visit the Major-General told the mourning family that: "The Disengagement was a crime and I am a partner to the crime against the Jewish nation." Furthermore he said that "What happened lately in Lebanon in a punishment following the crime that was committed". The IDF spokesperson denies these claims.

Not True

Betjeman declared that

“one is only interesting when young and struggling”.

Ahem. I think some of us can disprove that. ;>)

Is This Clear Enough?

(Kippah tip: Sam Konigsberg)

From the Sunday London Times

Excerpt from The Sunday Times article of August 27, 2006 that is making waves.

Humbling of the supertroops shatters Israeli army morale

Over the Mediterranean, west of Beirut, the elite F-15I squadron made its final preparations to strike with precision guided weapons against Hezbollah’s Iranian-made long-range Zelzal rockets, aimed at Tel Aviv. Just before midnight, the order “Fire!” — given by the squadron leader — could be heard in the Tel Aviv bunker. Within moments the first Hezbollah missile and launcher were blown up. Thirty-nine tense minutes later the squadron leader’s voice was heard again:
“Fifty-four launchers have been destroyed. Returning to base.”

Halutz smiled with relief and called Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, who was enjoying a cigar as he waited by a secure red phone at his residence in Jerusalem.

“All the long-range rockets have been destroyed,” Halutz announced proudly. After a short pause, he added four words that have since haunted him: “We’ve won the war.”

Even as Halutz was declaring victory, 12 Israeli soldiers from the Maglan reconnaissance unit were already running into an ambush just over the border inside Lebanon near the village of Maroun a-Ras.

“We didn’t know what hit us,” said one of the soldiers, who asked to be named only as Gad. “In seconds we had two dead.”

“We expected a tent and three Kalashnikovs — that was the intelligence we were given. Instead, we found a hydraulic steel door leading to a well-equipped network of tunnels.”

The commander of the IDF’s northern sector, Lieutenant-General Udi Adam, could barely believe that some of his best soldiers had been so swiftly trapped; neither could the chief of staff.

“What’s wrong with the Maglans?” Halutz demanded to know. “They are surrounded,” Adam replied quietly. “I must send in more forces.”

As the war unfolded his optimism was brought crashing down to earth — and with it the invincible reputation of the Israeli armed forces.

In five weeks, their critics charge, they displayed tactical incompetence and strategic short-sightedness. Their much-vaunted intelligence was found wanting.

Their political leadership was shown to vacillate. Their commanders proved fractious. In many cases the training of their men was poor and their equipment inadequate. Despite many individual acts of bravery, some of the men of the IDF were pushed to the point of mutiny.

Critics of Halutz, a former air force commander, believe he should have sent in overwhelming forces on the ground to drive Hezbollah back from border areas where they remained active right up to the end of the 34-day conflict.

“The air force can only assist ground forces; it can never win a war — any war,” said one veteran Israeli officer last week.

Another critical factor under consideration was that Hezbollah seemed so much better prepared. They launched nearly 200 rockets a day at Israel. They used advanced anti-tank missiles with lethal professionalism and stunned their opponents with their coolness under pressure and their willingness to “martyr” themselves in battle.

“They monitored our secure radio communications in the most professional way,” one Israeli officer admitted. “When we lose a man, the fighting unit immediately gives the location and the number back to headquarters. What Hezbollah did was to monitor our radio and immediately send it to their Al-Manar TV, which broadcast it almost live, long before the official Israeli radio.”

Hezbollah appears to have divided a three mile-wide strip along the Israeli-Lebanese border into numerous “killing boxes”. Each box was protected in classic guerrilla fashion with booby-traps, land mines, and even CCTV cameras to watch every step of the advancing Israeli army.

“Our brass stupidly fell into the Hezbollah traps,” said Raphael, an infantry battalion reserve major. “The generals wanted us to attack as many villages as possible for no obvious reason. This was exactly what Hezbollah wanted us to do — they wanted to bog us down in as many small battles as possible and bleed us this way.”

The casualties from Russian-made anti-tank missiles have caused particular concern. An Israeli-invented radar defence shield codenamed Flying Jacket and costing £200,000 was installed on only four tanks. None of them was struck by anti-tank missiles.

While the regular army was reasonably well equipped, the reservists were not. “We arrived at our depots only to find that our combat gear had been opened and equipment given to regular soldiers,” revealed Moshe, a fighter in the Alexandroni brigade. “The equipment was, of course, never returned.”

The Alexandroni fought in the west, near the Mediterranean, and did well initially. But logistics were appalling. “We had no fresh water as it was too dangerous to ship it to us,” Moshe added. “I’m ashamed to admit we had to drink water from the canteens of dead Hezbollah, and break into local shops for food.”

“Conquer Bint Jbail,” Halutz told Adam, the northern sector commander. Adam is said to have replied: “Hold on, Halutz. Do you know what that means? Do you realise that the casbah [old quarter] of Bint Jbail alone contains more than 5,000 houses? And you want me to send in one battalion?” Adam nevertheless did as he was told and sent the 51st battalion of the Golani brigade to fight a heroic but hopeless, battle.

Brig Gen Gal Hirsch, the commander of the 91 Galilee division, announced: “We control Bint-Jbail.” The next day more Israeli soldiers died as they, too, were ensnared in Hezbollah’s trap.

Oded blamed the Palestinian intifada for his unit’s insufficient training. “For the last six years we were engaged in stupid policing missions in the West Bank,”
he said. “Checkpoints, hunting stone-throwing Palestinian children, that kind of stuff. The result was that we were not ready to confront real fighters like Hezbollah.” [this is BS]

On the day the chaos in Bint Jbail reached its peak, Amir Peretz, the new and inexperienced defence minister, flew to the northern border to meet reservists about to go into action.

Aviv Wasserman, a reserve major with the 300 brigade who is about to study for a doctorate at the London School of Economics, asked Peretz not to throw them into “unnecessary adventures”.

Lieutenant Adam Kima, of the combat engineering battalion, was in even more rebellious mood after being asked to take his men and clear the road leading to Bint Jbeil from the west. Studying the plan, Kima rejected the idea — 10 Israeli soldiers had already died there “We were foolishly told it was all right — there are no Hezbollah forces ahead of us,” said Corporal Nimrod Diskin, one of Kima’s soldiers. “We didn’t have the equipment to clear this road. We were not ready for the mission.”

When the brigade commander realised that Kima and his soldiers would not carry out their orders, he called the military police. The men were sentenced to 14 days in jail, although they were released a few days later.
The soldiers, most of them fathers of small children, believe Kima saved their lives.

“I noticed behaviour I’d never heard of in the Israeli army,” Kima said last week on Israeli television. “In my training I got used to the idea that the commander shouts ‘Advance!’ and is the first to face the enemy.
Here my battalion commander was in the back of the group and the brigade commander didn’t even cross the border into Lebanon.”

As the fighting dragged on, some veteran officers lost patience with what they saw as the inexperience of the chief of staff and defence minister. “What are you doing in Lebanon, for God’s sake?’ the former defence minister, General Shaul Mofaz, asked Olmert. “Why did you go into Bint Jbeil? It was a trap set by Hezbollah.”

Olmert appeared to lose confidence and began to issue conflicting orders. “Our mission changed twice, three times, every day,” complained one soldier.

Many Israelis can forget and forgive many things, but not the perceived defeat of an army that commanded worldwide respect but suddenly no longer strikes so much fear into its enemies.

Blogger's Block?

Found here.

(Kippah tip: Ilana)

New Triple Halutz Sticker

These are based on Bank Leumi's advertising stickers.


What About the Flight?
From the War Room to the the Business Dealings Room in One Call

(in Hebrew, the word for "flight" is the same as a specific Leumi investment plan)


Who Am I and What's My Name?
New at Leumi, Anonymous Accounts

(it is the custom to hide the faces of pilots in the media in Israel)


Breakthrough in Investments
The Best Dealings Room in All of Israel

(a take-off on the air-force slogan - The Best - To Be Pilots and that Halutz's name actually translates as "vanguard")

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Could It Be?

Israeli airstrike hits car belonging to Reuters,
destroys laptop with Photoshop installed.

(Kippah tip: Fark)

What's in a Name

Green’s Chase Revives Greenberg’s Name and Fame

BEFORE Barry Bonds reaches Henry Aaron’s career home run record, another home run milestone could fall. Shawn Green, with 314 career home runs, is only 17 from matching Hank Greenberg’s standard as the career leader among Jewish players.

“I would say the chances are outstanding; he’ll probably do it as a New York Met next year,” said Steve Greenberg, Hank’s son and the former deputy baseball commissioner. Green’s passing his father would not bother him, Greenberg added.

Hank Greenberg, who played from 1933 through 1947, missing nearly four seasons during World War II, nearly matched Babe Ruth’s single-season record in 1938 when he hit 58 home runs.

If Green does pass Greenberg for career home runs, the name of the standard-bearer won’t change all that much. In fact, Green’s grandfather shortened the family name from Greenberg.

Which reminds me of the joke about two Jews who met up after a dozen or so years and Schwartz finds out that Yankelovicz has changed his name not once, to Winston, but a second time, to Simpson-Walker but nevertheless, he hasn't lost his heavy Yiddish accent.

Why?, Simpson-Walker is asked.

Simple, is the reply, when I was asked my name and used to answer 'Winston', I was always told, 'ah, go on, with your accent you changed from an old Jewish name'. Now, when I say Simpson-Walker, and they again say 'ah, go on, with your accent you changed from your old Jewish name', I can say, 'you don't know vat you are talking about. I'm not Jewish. My name vas Winston'.

Ehud Ya'ari's Opinion

From Ehud Ya'ari's analysis:-

From the outset, there was no "victory" to be had in this war, no resounding knockout. Still, the final score, on points, should have turned out very different from this. The perception that we've ended in a draw is actually a great achievement for Hizballah, one that all terror organizations will be celebrating for many years to come.

Israel should have fought this war in a different way, at a much faster pace, and essentially, with true grit and determination. Instead, it conducted the campaign hesitantly, clumsily, in an improvised, hodgepodge fashion. Hizballah stuck to its defensive plan-rockets on the Israeli home front, anti-tank missiles on the ground-and did not change its tactics, even as it absorbed lethal blows. And indeed, it lost most of its stock of heavy rockets and the best of its fighters.

With the hysterical impatience that characterizes the internal political discourse in Israel, the search is already on for scapegoats-the more the better-and the ritual calls for a commission of inquiry are already being aired. But it is no secret where the points of weakness were, and it is clear who bears the responsibility. All this was ruthlessly exposed while the fighting was underway, and regrettably, nothing will change in the aftermath.

So here is some of our dirty laundry:

Prime Minister Olmert and most of his cabinet, including Defense Minister Amir Peretz, did not want a broad ground offensive in southern Lebanon, for fear of a high casualty rate and of getting bogged down in the notorious "Lebanese quagmire." Therefore it suited them to go along with Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the first air force man to be appointed to the top job in the military, who had suggested that a sustained air campaign, with no ground invasion, could achieve decisive results. Thus, instead of the IDF's original plan, drawn up during the term of the previous chief of staff, Moshe Yaalon, the government chose to let the General Staff conduct a "no risk battle"
from the sky.

From the moment it became apparent that this method was neither breaking Hizballah nor causing it to take flight, the government approved a plan to "clean up" the strip of Hizballah positions within 6-10 kilometers of Israel's northern border. However, instead of sending in enough ground forces to do the job, they preferred to try a superfluous experiment dubbed the "Swarm of Wasps," which involved sending small groups of elite soldiers into Hizballah strongholds.

This resulted in tough battles with heavy Israeli losses at Bint Jbail, Ayta a-Shaab and other places. Israel wasted two to three weeks in this vein without producing any curve of success on the battlefield.

Only at the very last moment, with the UN Security Council's approval of ceasefire Resolution 1701, did Olmert finally give the go-ahead for a large ground operation. It was like trying to score a goal after the referee has blown the final whistle.

Contrary to the impression created in some quarters, Israeli troops on the whole performed admirably, in the air and on the ground. Less impressive were some of the generals in the Northern Command. It seems that the Peter Principle has been running riot in the IDF as well; too many major generals and brigadier generals have been given more authority than they are able to handle.

But the mediocrity and lack of sophistication in some of the army's upper echelons was not the problem so much as the decision-making process at the highest political levels. War is not just another operation, not a large incursion, and not a pressure tactic. War is war.

Stay Tuned - I'm To Be On BBC 4 on Sept. 13

This is the programme:-

The series is called "Iconoclasts". It is being recorded in front of a live audience in conjunction with the Royal Society of Arts in London and the 45 minute programme will go out on BBC Radio 4 at 8 PM.

Iconoclasts explores the world's important issues through informative and thought-provoking discussions. These speakers challenge accepted, traditional thinking and are prepared to put their heads above the parapet - not just because they can but because they care.

In each programme, one speaker will throw down the gauntlet to the audience, explaining what they believe and why. Then a panel of experts and the audience take over the discussion. At the end, your e-mailed questions are put to the contributors.

Iconoclasts is being recorded in association with the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce). Find further information and tickets.

Progamme 2 - Wednesday 13 September
Michael Melchior, Israeli politician and rabbi
who wants a Palestianian state and thinks peace is a religious process.

Main guest:
Rabbi Melchior believes that creating peace is a religious process. "Religion has created the war; we must help it create the peace," he says. "We won't have peace unless there is justice for all sides, Jew and Muslim, Israeli and Palestinian."

He helped to initiate the Alexandria Declaration, in which the religious leaders of the Holy Land agreed to work together towards the peaceful resolution of conflict, and is a recipient of the Nobel Institute's Prize for Tolerance and Bridge-Building.

The panel

Dr Rosemary Hollis is director of research at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House.

Dame Pauline Neville-Jones was a career diplomat from 1963 to 1996, serving in Rhodesia, Singapore, Washington and Bonn. Between 1993 and 1994 she was chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Subsequently, as political director in the Foreign Office, she led the British delegation to the Dayton negotiations on the Bosnia peace settlement.

Dr Salman Sayyid is a research fellow at the School of Sociology and Social Policy at Leeds University. He is the author of A Fundamental Fear: Eurocentrism and the Emergence of Islamism (Zed Books).

and also me.

Updates forthcoming.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Useful Tool

For all you gadget-junkies out there.

There is Nothing More Whole Than a Broken Heart (*)

Yossi Klein-Halevi had in the National Post on August 18, 2006 which was syndicated, methinks, from TNR.


This is a nation whose heart has been broken: by our failure to uproot the jihadist threat, which will return for another and far more deadly round; by the economic devastation of the Galilee and of a neighboring land we didn't want to attack; by the heroism of our soldiers and the hesitations of our politicians; by the young men buried and crippled in a war we prevented ourselves from winning; by foreign journalists who can't tell the difference between good and evil; by European leaders who equate an army that tries to avoid civilian causalities with a terrorist group that revels in them; by a United Nations that questions Israel's right to defend itself; and by growing voices on the left who question Israel's right to exist at all.

None of Israel's wars was ever fought with greater micromanagement by a government, and no government was ever less qualified to manage a war as this one. Just as the post-Yom Kippur War period destroyed military and political careers and eventually led to the collapse of the Labor Party's hegemony, so will the post-Lebanon period end careers and perhaps even the short-lived Kadima Party experiment.

A long list of reckonings awaits the Israeli public. There's the scandal of the government's abandonment of tens of thousands of poor Israelis who lacked the means to escape the north and were confined for weeks in public shelters, their needs largely tended to by volunteers. There's the growing bitterness between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis, many of whom supported Hezbollah in a war most Jews saw as an existential attack on the state. And there's the emergency need to resurrect the military reserves, which have been so neglected that a majority of men over 21 don't even serve anymore and those that do tend to feel like suckers.

(*) Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotzk was reputed to have said:

"Nothing is more whole than a broken heart."

Further Reuters Scandal

The Red Cross Ambulance

(Kippah tip: My wife)

Leave it to "The Onion"

The Onion as in the most outrageous satire weekly.

War-Torn Middle East Seeks Solace In Religion
August 23, 2006 | Issue 42•34

JERUSALEM—As an uneasy truce between Israel and Hezbollah continues, millions of average men and women in the Holy Land are turning to the one simple comfort that has always seen them through the darkest days of their troubled history: the steadfast guidance of their religious faith.

"I take solace in knowing that my faith is a sanctuary, an escape from the bloodshed and turmoil," said Haifa resident Yigal Taheri, who last week lost his wife and newborn daughter when a Fajr-3 long-range rocket launched by Lebanese militants struck the synagogue where his family was attending services. "YHWH, Elohim, whatever you wish to not call Him—His love comforts all those who are willing to open their hearts to Him. Praise be to G–d."

"Religion is the one thing that has never let us down," Taheri added over the low rumble of AK-47 fire emanating from the nearby home of a radical Israeli rabbi.

Taheri is not alone. In a time of seemingly unending conflict between Israelis and Arabs, a growing number of Middle Easterners are fervently embracing the unshakeable wisdom of Judaism and Islam.

Palestinian Omar Abdel-Malik, a resident of the Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, credits his Islamic beliefs for preserving his sanity.

"The Israelis have fired missile upon missile on my neighborhood, but it has only made my trust in Allah that much stronger," Abdel-Malik said. "I cringe to think where the people of the Middle East would be right now if it weren't for our steadfast belief in one true, merciful, and loving Supreme Being."

Palestinian widow and mother of three Dareen Idriss agreed, citing the healing power of prayer as a way to cope with the relentless slaughter she and her family witness every day. "When the children cannot stop crying because of the bombs, we all gather our families in the rubble of the mosque to pray for justice," Idriss said. "During this calm meditation, we also pray for the annihilation of the Hebrew race."

West Bank settler Ari Chayat, whose neighborhood has also been ravaged by violence, echoed this profound reliance on faith. "The world is so brutal and unfair," Chayat said. "Many days, my uncompromising belief in a vengeful creator is all that gets me out of bed in the morning."

"If it wasn't for my faith that the God of Abraham has given these lands to Jews and Jews alone by divine decree, I probably wouldn't even be here today," Chayat added.

Lebanese militant Jawad Hamid, who recently lost his best friend to an Israeli helicopter attack while the two men were on their way to pick up a Katyusha rocket, said his faith in Allah was the only way he could cope with the tragedy.

"Every time I want to give up hope, I just open the Quran to my favorite passage, Surah 2:194: 'Whoever acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him,'" Hamid said. "Whenever I read those words, I am immediately filled with inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose."

Even political leaders have tapped into the public's reliance on religion and used it as a way to encourage them to never give up.

"In this time of strife, the only way to endure the unending suffering is through an unwavering, uncompromising faith in one's religious beliefs," Israeli hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah went so far as to quote from the Quran in a speech delivered to followers the same afternoon.

"It's always frightening to be reminded of your own mortality, as we all were this past Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday," Hezbollah commander Mahdi al-Zaidi said. "But rather than react irrationally, I looked deep within my faith, consulted the Quran, and by the mercy of Allah, I gained the resolve to oversee a massive airstrike against the enemy."

"We will get through this, so long as we have God on our side," he added.

Media Harrassment

Carefully read this NYTimes report on an inquiry that has been opened into the use Israel made of U.S. Bombs

The State Department is investigating whether Israel’s use of American-made cluster bombs in southern Lebanon violated secret agreements with the United States that restrict when it can employ such weapons, two officials said.

The investigation by the department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls began this week, after reports that three types of American cluster munitions, anti-personnel weapons that spray bomblets over a wide area, have been found in many areas of southern Lebanon and were responsible for civilian casualties.

Several current and former officials said that they doubted the investigation would lead to sanctions against Israel but that the decision to proceed with it might be intended to help the Bush administration ease criticism from Arab governments and commentators over its support of Israel’s military operations. The investigation has not been publicly announced; the State Department confirmed it in response to questions.

Officials were granted anonymity to discuss the investigation because it involves sensitive diplomatic issues and agreements that have been kept secret for years.

Israeli officials acknowledged soon after their offensive began last month that they were using cluster munitions against rocket sites and other military targets. While Hezbollah positions were frequently hidden in civilian areas, Israeli officials said their intention was to use cluster bombs in open terrain.

Dozen of Israelis were killed and hundreds wounded in attacks by Hezbollah rockets, some of which were loaded with ball bearings to maximize their lethality.

Officials say it is unlikely that Israel will be found to have violated a separate agreement, the Arms Export Control Act, which requires foreign governments that receive American weapons to use them for legitimate self-defense. Proving that Israel’s campaign against Hezbollah did not constitute self-defense would be difficult, especially in view of President Bush’s publicly announced support for Israel’s action after Hezbollah fighters attacked across the border, the officials said.

Even if Israel is found to have violated the classified agreement covering cluster bombs, it is not clear what actions the United States might take.

As you can tell from my highlighting of certain sentences, all this is but a form of media harrassment, whether initiated by "certain officials" or by the NYTimes.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The "Gang"

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert

Minister of Defense Amir Peretz

Chief of the General Command Brig. gen. Dan Halutz (to Olmert's right)

The Members of the IDF's General Command

And This Is An Academic?

Hannah Safran helped organize a July 29 anti-war march in Tel Aviv sponsored by women's peace groups that organizers say attracted as many as 3,000 people. Protestors began marching at Rabin Square, holding up signs that said "Stop Killing Citizens" and "Exchange Prisoners Now" while a few Israeli supporters shouted "traitors" and clashed with participants.

Her thinking?

"Without this, I don't have a life. I am scared. I am desperate," said Safran, 56, who was making anti-war signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English at a women's center in Haifa days before the July 29 protest. "This is what gives me the ability to cope, the hope that we can change, that our life has meaning."

Hannah is employed at the Haifa University.

She supports refusal to serve.

In 2002, she knew that the Israeli government may be contemplating crimes against humanity.

And you know what, let me give you the full story about Professor Safran:-

Hannah Safran served as the coordinator of Isha L¹Isha - the Haifa Feminist Center between 1987 and 1996 and was involved in creating new projects for
women such as the hot-line for battered women and the emergency shelter for battered women. She is particularly skilled in organizing and used her experience in working with different groups of women on different projects, as well as in the organizing committee of the National Feminist Conferences.

In recent years she continued to volunteer at Isha L¹Isha where she also writes a personal column in the bi-monthly newsletter published by the organization. She has also been involved in creating a new organization for economic empowerment of poor women using micro-credit as a tool for changing
women¹s economic acumen.

Between 1996 and 2001 she went back to the University for the Ph.D. studies which she has recently completed. Her dissertation focuses on the history
of feminism in Israel in the 1920s and in the 1970s and examines the influence of the American feminist movement on local movements. During this period she worked as the coordinator of the Women¹s Studies program at the University of Haifa and contributed her skills to the creation of the Israeli Association for Feminist and Gender Studies whose goal is to promote women¹s studies at the universities and in society.

In addition to her work at the University and in the community, Hannah has been active in Women in Black, a weekly vigil against the Israeli occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She has been active in creating and participating in the Coalition of Women for Just Peace, a coalition of eight women¹s peace groups working to create an atmosphere of peace and bring about a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has also represented the Coalition at UN conferences and in tours of the US.

She has two grown children. Her son joined the army against her will but promised not to serve in the occupied territories, not to kill and not to get killed. Her daughter refused to join the army and has recently completed one year of national service, teaching Hebrew to Bedouin women in the Negev.
Hannah is currently teaching at the Women¹s Studies program at the University of Haifa and lecturing widely on women in Israel. She continues
to take active part in campaigns and actions to promote peace and women's rights in Israel.

Reform Rethinking?

The thinking of a Reform Jew:-

One of the most notable victims of this new war has been the broadly based support for “HITKANSUT” – the realignment of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and a follow-up to “HITNATKUK” – the withdrawal of every single Israeli from the Gaza Strip.

The Hamas-led lobbing of missiles from the northern Gaza into Israel and then the killing of some Israeli soldiers and the kidnapping of another have given the clear signal that Hamas is totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel as a political entity. There is nothing that Israel can offer Hamas other than the dissolution of the Jewish state that seems capable of curbing this terrorist group’s lust for wanton destruction and death.

And when the missiles started dropping up north, fired off by Hezbollah which is not only a Syrian controlled and Iranian financed terror group but also a full participant in the Lebanese government, and when there were more deaths and more kidnappings – then it became clear that Israel’s total withdrawal from Lebanon and years of subsequent peace have done nothing to reduce the blood lust of its enemies to the north...

...In such an environment, it will be enormously difficult to convince the Israeli public that withdrawals from contested lands will in any way hasten the day of peace. The Palestinians and their terrorist supporters once again have proven themselves highly skilled at disdaining any roadmap to peace.

So, can we count on your support, Stan, for, at the very least, a complete rethinking of "Hitkansut"?

France Goes To Whore

From an excellent piece:

Yes, the U.S. was fooled by a slick French seduce-and-betray operation. Paris isn't having second thoughts about its troop commitments -- it probably never intended to send a robust force that would have taken on Hezbollah in the first place. On July 24, in separate interviews, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, Lebanon's pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and Hezbollah leader Nasrallah himself set forth virtually the same conditions for a political solution to the conflict: an immediate cease fire without any real pressure on Hezbollah to disarm until an endless list of alleged gripes against Israel have been solved.

Read it all.

Important, Very, Analysis of Military Performance

Ben Moores is a defence analyst with a specialisation in European defence electronics and Iranian military capability and the following is the outline of his attempt to assess the Israeli Defence Forces' performance in round 1 of the recent war, based on a variety of published sources.

IAF Performance

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has come in for considerable criticism during the conflict. UAV Applications

This conflict was the first to have both sides make use of offensive UAVs. UCAV, (specifically IAI's Herons), were seen to be repeatedly engaging targets with Spike and Hellfire missiles.

Air Defence Performance

The Rocket Campaign

Ground Operations

Naval Operations


In conclusion Hezbollah have proven themselves to be a professional, dedicated and organised force, whose prime position, equipment and personnel seems to have been squandered for two captives. The Israeli military also seems to have been misused for two of the three weeks of the conflict. The air force attracted much negative publicity for expending large amounts of ordinance for little apparent gain. The regular army forces were initially committed to attacks against superior forces that were dug in- for no apparent strategic gain.

There are a number of technical military questions that have come out of this conflict. The failure of Hezbollah in the air war asks questions about the quality of Iranian air defence capability. The Israeli army needs to sit down and examine exactly how it lost so many tanks and will presumably speed up and increase the size of the current program for armour self protection suite that is being fought between Rafael with Trophy and IMI with Iron Fist. IFF has shown itself to be of vital importance with an Israeli warship, 10 Israeli soldiers and an AH-64D all apparently lost due to poor IFF (the bill for this alone would pay for an IFF program) Another interesting question is why, with Hezbollah using Iranian Electronic Industries 1950s era analogue VHF radios why Tadiran Jammers were not able to break down Hezbollah command and control. Finally, a review of the MTHEL and ballistic missile defence programs needs to be made as none of them were able to influence the outcome of this conflict, a significant expense for no apparent gain.

Read it all here.

Arlene Peck is Getting Prepared

Arlene Peck, an outstanding journalist and political commentator, as well as a socialite, is well-known for her forthright and incisive columns. She appears regularly on the Arutz 7 website as well as being syndicated all over in important journals.

Arlene and I are sort of friends although never having met. The advantage of e- mail and the Interntet is that I can sit her in Israel, either in Jerusalem where I work or Shiloh where I live, and communicate, banter and exchange ideas with Arlene.

In fact, I can use modern technology and put up a picture of her at Pebble Beach getting ready for a spin on the race course and all the while think she's going through a training course to come over here and help us out on the security front.

Arelene, it ain't easy driving a tank!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Will "Amnesty" Be Israel's Next Target?

Amnesty: Israel committed war crimes in Lebanon campaign

In a report to be released Wednesday, Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes, saying it broke international law by deliberately destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure during its recent war with Hezbollah guerrillas.

The human rights group said initial evidence, including the pattern and scope of the Israeli attacks, high number of civilian casualties, widespread damage and statements by Israeli officials "indicate that such destruction was deliberate and part of a military strategy, rather than 'collateral damage.'"

Amnesty International said it would address Hezbollah's attacks on Israel separately.

A senior Israeli government official, in Jerusalem, said his country acted legally.
"Israel conformed to every international law. We had attorneys in every meeting, everything we did along the way we fully explored international law," said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.

How Terror Gets Funded

A bit convoluted but the money gets there all the same:-

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) gave some 5,000 members of Hamas' special "operational force" salaries this week, Palestinian sources say. The salaries came from funds the Arab League sent to Abu Mazen's office to pay the wages of 170,000 PA officials. Most members of the "operational force" belong to Hamas' military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, led by Yussef al-Zahar, the Palestinian foreign minister's brother.

Members of the force have led some of the clashes with the PA's preventive security forces in Gaza. They are being paid by Abu Mazen, rather than by the government because of the economic blockade imposed on Hamas by the international community.

According to Palestinian sources, the European Union operates a body which, together with Abu Mazen, supervises the transfer of the payments from the Arab League. On Saturday it approved $89 million for payment of salaries going back to the month of May. However some 20 special advisers to the government were not permitted to receive payments. The operational force was nevertheless allowed to receive money because it joined the Palestinian police force six weeks ago as part of Abu Mazen's agreement with Hamas.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Echoes of the Avihu Keinan Hayad Jewish Morality Campaign

As my wife detailed (here), Moshe, the father of Avihu Keinan who was killed in Gaza three years ago, led a campaign for a more sensible, a more Jewish code of battle ethics which basically was predicated on the principle that no Arab, terrorist or civilian, is worth more than the life of an Israeli soldier.

If the terrorist is using a civilian as a human shield, and all has been done to warn both him and his shield (and I won't argue about the willing complicity of these "civilans"), the life of an IDF soldier is preeminent.

Now, we have a similar opinion:-

The Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) has called on Israel to reevaluate its military rules of war in light of Hizbullah's "unconscionable use of civilians, hospitals, ambulances, mosques and the like as human shields, cannon fodder and weapons of asymmetric warfare."...

...Rabbi Basil Herring, executive vice president of the RCA, said the statement was not a halachic decision but rather "our understanding of traditional Jewish values."
Herring said that from reports and talks with injured soldiers and doctors, it appeared the IDF may have unnecessarily endangered its forces out of moral considerations.

"Like Jews everywhere, we as members of the RCA have always admired the unparalleled moral standards of Israel's armed forces in their military engagements, including sensitivity to the suffering of civilians and other innocents who find themselves caught up in the entanglements of war," said the RCA statement. "Today, however, there is at the very least a need to discuss the response to an enemy such as Hizbullah."

According to Herring, the new combat realities of fighting an enemy that uses its own civilians as human shields dictate a rethinking of IDF military ethics. "Our traditional sensibilities tell us that it is not right to risk the lives of our soldiers to minimize civilian deaths on the other side," he said...

The RCA's delicate criticism of IDF morality was echoed by Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed and Rabbi Tzefania Drori of Kiryat Shmona. But the two rabbis had none of the inhibitions felt by rabbis from the US who, as Diaspora Jews, were uncomfortable criticizing Israel's policies.

"Our corrupt military morality, which tells us that our soldiers must endanger their lives to protect enemy civilians, is the reason we lost the war," said Eliyahu.

"Anti-Semites demand that we use Christian morality while our enemies act like barbarians," said Drori, accusing the IDF of adopting "Christian morality" as its own.

Three weeks ago, Rabbi Dov Lior announced in the name of the Yesha Council of Rabbis that "when our enemies hold a baby in one hand and shoot at us with the other, or when missiles are purposely aimed at civilian populations in the Land of Israel in blatant disregard for moral criteria, we are obligated to act according to Jewish morality, which dictates that 'he who gets up to kill you, get up yourself and kill him first.'"

"There are no innocent parties in a time of war," he continued. "Rather, one must battle a bellicose city until it is captured. All types of Christian morality weaken the spirit of our army and our nation and cost us the lives of our soldiers and citizens."

Jew Yesterday, Maybe Tomorrow; Today?

Who is Perry March in Nashville whom some think is trying to manipulate the system while he awaits sentencing at the Davidson County jail?

Read on:-

March was convicted last week of murdering his wife Janet.

In the latest twist to the case, sources told NewsChannel 5 that March is now trying to convert from Christianity back to Judaism. He became a Christian only a few weeks ago. Detective Pat Postiglione said March may again be trying to manipulate the system.

“If you are able to convince the TDOC you’re are a practicing Jew it can send you to certain prisons. But, I don't think any prison is good,” Postiglione said. Certain inmates are sometimes placed in prisons separate from ones that hold anti-Semitic gangs. The jail chaplain declined to comment on March's religion.

March will be sentenced by Judge Steve Dozier on September 6. He'll then be sent to a state prison.

Jewish or Christian, you're still not supposed to murder your wife.

Here's A Failure of Ramon

Akiva Eldar informs us of Haim Ramon's failures:-

In the last government, Ramon...headed the ministerial follow-up committee on the implementation of the state comptroller's report. Officials at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday confirmed that Ramon, in this capacity, did not hold even a single discussion on the comptroller's findings concerning the defense establishment.

"He had a different agenda," they explained. are selected extracts from that report:

"The Finance Ministry's budgets division did not evaluate the economic and budgetary implications of cuts and the extent of their implementation - the IDF Planning Directorate and the Defense Ministry's budget division, which are responsible for drawing up and pricing the IDF's work plans, did not examine the economic significance of changes to the work plans due to the budget cuts...

The price of the budgetary failure, a mixture of plain old carelessness and scorn for the comptroller's grave findings, was paid by the infantry and armored corps soldiers. The comptroller examined the issue of armoring from July 2002 to February 2003 and found "large gaps between the flak-vest and helmet stocks, and the needs the IDF had defined in the case of an all-out war." According to figures he received from the IDF, the issue was primarily the hundreds of thousands of flak vests and helmets "that should be replaced because they do not completely fulfill the IDF's requirements."

When the investigation was completed in March 2003, the Ground Forces Command had not yet prepared a multi-year plan for replacing the flak vests and the helmets...

...In any case, the IDF lacked thousands of bullet-proof vests - some 50 percent of what the IDF said it needed at that time. The bodies that handle personal protective gear did not cooperate or coordinate with one another, and their vast knowledge was not put to use...