Emotionally satisfying, politically useless

I saw this quote (of Barney Frank‘s) at Harry’s Place and just had to repost it:

“I believe very strongly that people on the left are too prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful. I have a rule, and it’s true of Occupy, it’s true of the gay-rights movement: If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping, because you’re out there with your friends, and political work is much tougher and harder.”

Harry’s Place quotes this as the source.

Jihad in Jerusalem

“The best way to prevent another intifada is to reassure Israel that the U.S. supports its self-defense, while warning Palestinians that they will never have a homeland as long as they cultivate a society that celebrates murdering the innocent in the name of religion.”

Blue moon time, as this is from the Wall Street Journal.

[First noted at Elder of Ziyon.]

Palestinian society and the ever present poison

From Elder of Ziyon:

Arabs upset at Abbas for his “condemnation” of terror attack

More and more Palestinian Arabs are angry at Mahmoud Abbas for his supposedly pro-Israel actions, including his “condemnation” of the terror attack in the Har Nof synagogue.

A Facebook group called “Abbas does not represent me” has over 140,000 “Likes” so far. It includes this poster showing Abbas as an IDF soldier:

abbas idf

More here.

This is the reality of Palestinian society: a poisonous well of hate.

For the avoidance of doubt, let it be clearly said that there are those in Israeli society who hate Arabs. But – and it is the big but that defines a stable, compassionate society – such hate is condemned, marginalized and not seen as a fit and proper part of Israeli society.

We are working towards minimizing the hate and the hateful in our midst. We despise incitement. We are striving for peace and toward breaking down barriers.

Palestinian society is working towards maximizing the hate and hateful in their society. Palestinian society glorifies incitement. Palestinian society is striving for war and towards breaking down the barriers that protect Israelis.

That is the reality. In the end, it truly does appear to be all about one thing: Jew hatred. And as I and many others have posted countless time before, until this stops, the prospects for a meaningful peace are a big fat zero.

Five for Friday

It’s back – the weekend is here. (Even if I did turn on my work laptop for a teensy weensy bit this morning.) No time for idle chat (and definitely not for idol chat) so I will love you, leave you, and link you. Here they are:

Shabbat Shalom!

The Kill List – Frederick Forsyth

Something happened to me after I read Frederick Forsyth‘s The Day of the Jackal, then The Odessa File: I stopped reading Frederick Forsyth books.

It’s difficult to explain. I enjoyed both of these, enormously. Ordinarily, I would have looked out for more by the author of such great reads and kept going. But with Mr Forsyth, I stopped.

I don’t know the reason. Perhaps I sensed that everybody has one book in them, but Frederick Forsyth had two in him – and I had read them. (So, everything else would be lower in quality.) Perhaps I had burned myself out on thrillers at the time, and needed to get back to crime or science fiction. Perhaps I was beginning to recognize a pattern, a formula, and I didn’t want to repeat the experience. Whatever the reason, I stopped reading his books. And was never tempted to try any out until a recommendation from my brother-in-law, Martin. This was unusual for all sorts of reasons, but suffice it to say that in less time than it takes to say the ten times table, I had acquired a copy of The Kill List for my tablet. Now I have read it.

On the plus side, Martin’s recommendation was spot on. This is a cracking story with a real buzz. Whatever pedestrian moments it has are few and far between, and easily compensated for by the staggering amount of hard data and research that Mr Forsyth has at hand and has deployed here. I did spot one error – the incorrect definition of IP. But, that apart, there’s a mountain of material that gives the impression of being real. So, as the reader, you are drawn into a world of Jihad, terrorism, and clashes of cultures.

Also on the plus side, that research makes the plot all the more credible. It has it twists and it works to build up the tension nicely. As usual, there is some suspension of disbelief, but not too much.

The list of the title is, allegedly, one that the USA’s highest office updates on a weekly basis with the names of those enemies for whom death has been decided as the only approach. When individuals start committing solitary, loose cannon, acts of terror after being radicalized by an anonymous online preacher, that preacher goes on the list. The USA sends out a top guy – the Tracker – to hunt down and kill the Preacher.

The Tracker is a bit of a comic super hero. You know the type: strong, smart, quick, speaks several languiages, and can leap tall buildings at a single bound. However, in fairness, the author does spend some time building up his back story. It’s history rather than character, in the main, but it does a reasonable job.

We get something similar about the Preacher, but disclosed in a different, enticing manner. That part – being relatively fresh – came across better.

The hunt is where the author excels. The detail of the IT cat and mouse game, then the involvement of the drones, and the military options, and the politics, and the fieldcraft, and the terrorist and pirate methodologies and tactics, are all well detailed and believable. That all works.

So, in short, a rattling good adventure.

The down side? It’s very much a tell, tell, tell, style of writing. There are no blanks, no analysis for the reader to do. Instead, it is all served up. You know everything. And that, on reflection may be why I can only take such books in small doses. That may be why I stopped reading his work. I am not sorry I read this because, on its own, I enjoyed it immensely. But I won’t be rushing to devour his back catalog yet.

Good fun. Entertaining. Well worth reading.

Behind the curtain

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague (dealing with the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri) has been going on in the background, largely ignored.

The Jerusalem Post has an interim report as to evidence from Marwan Hamade in the case about Syria’s interference in Lebanon’s affairs, to the extent of barring it from making (or talking) peace with Israel.

Hamade is described as “a Lebanese parliament member, former minister, and close ally of assassinated Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri…”

To amplify the point about Syrian interference in Lebanon’s affairs, especially with Israel, Hamade had other things to say:

Related to his statements about Israel, Hamade said that while Hariri and his block wished to normalize and demilitarize Lebanon after Israel’s 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah and Syria wanted the opposite.

He said that Hezbollah did not accept Israel’s withdrawal and claimed a small portion of land called the Shebaa farms was still occupied.

He added that Syria also made some indications that the “Shebaa farms is Lebanese territory,” but that both claims were merely “to give Hezbollah an argument for keeping up armed resistance.”

However, Hamade said that when some in Lebanon asked Syria to give a formal statement to the UN that it renounced its well-known claims to the Shebaa farms as Syrian territory, Syria declined.

This, said Hamade, proved his point that Syria actually still claimed Shebaa farms for itself, but made enough indirect support for Hezbollah’s claims on the land to help Hezbollah keep its arms.

In short: the Syrians lied. You can read the whole Post piece, here.

The whole picture emerging is confirmation of what most observers thought what was going on behind the Assad curtain.

I don’t see anybody predicting surprise disclosures coming from the Special Tribunal, but I am intrigued as to what the consequences might be. It remains one of the (few) positive developments to put a brake on, or shine a light on, Syria’s nefarious activities that stretch back long before the current civil war. A war, let’s not forget, where the bloodletting and indiscriminate killing has been treated as if it is some kind of provincial bull fight that got out of control, but can be ignored. Efforts to deal with the situation are not efforts; they are tokenism on the international scale. I don’t suggest there are easy solutions lying around to pick up, but refuse to accept it is beyond the capacity of a willing world to do something better. So the conclusion I reach is that the world is not willing.