May 31, 2010

Raise Your Hand if You’re Surprised

Jonathan Schanzer reports that "the convoy of ships allegedly trying to bring aid to the Gaza Strip was organized by a group belonging to an officially designated terrorist organization."

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:37 PM | Permalink | 54 Comments »

The Gaza Flotilla Was Not About Aid

Before Gaza blockade runners violently attacked unarmed Israelis and were subsequently shot by prudently armed Israeli backup, they heard the following announcement:

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:52 PM | Permalink | 31 Comments »

A Blood Libel Unfolds in Real Time

Benjamin Kerstein in The New Ledger:

You are about to witness a blood libel take shape in real time. By the time you read this, you will no doubt have been informed that the Israeli navy stormed the pro-Palestinian flotilla headed for Gaza and wantonly fired upon the peaceful activists within, killing many.

This is a lie. But it is a lie that will be repeated ad nauseum over the coming days, until it takes on all the appearance of truth. As you watch this happen, note well what it says about the people who repeat this lie, and the ease with which it is accepted by many ostensibly sensible and right thinking people. And note as well what this says about their claims to be compassionate, liberal, concerned citizens of the world.

The details are not entirely clear at the moment, and the numbers of dead and wounded may change over the coming hours. But what is clear is that those on board the flotilla were armed and prepared to use their weapons. That they attacked the Israeli commandos who attempted to board the vessels and that several of these commandos are currently languishing (dead or wounded, reports vary) in Israeli hospitals. That the weapons used were clubs and knives, both potentially lethal weapons, and that at least one firearm was taken from an Israeli soldier and turned against the boarding party. That the Israeli soldiers reacted as anyone would react when attacked by a club and knife-wielding mob. And lastly, that they and Israel are about to be internationally crucified, once again, for doing precisely this.

Moreover, it is already clear that this violence was undertaken with one purpose in mind and one purpose only--to provoke the political/media assault on Israel which is about to ensue.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:38 PM | Permalink | 8 Comments »

Middle Eastern Nukes and the Flotilla Fiasco

The United Nations passed a resolution on Friday demanding a nuclear-free Middle East and singling out Israel as the intransigent party instead of Iran. The Obama administration supports the decision, which makes about as much sense as disarming the Iraqi police right now in the name of a violence-free Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops boarded a blockade running ship headed for Gaza armed with paint guns (yes, really) and were attacked at once by assailants wielding clubs and knives. Several people were killed and more were injured. Weapons caches were found on the boat, and some of wounded treated in Jerusalem were apparently wearing camouflage.

"We landed barehanded," an Israeli soldier said, "and they lynched us." You can choose not to believe that, I suppose.

The "international community" blames Israel, of course, for the deaths and injuries on board that boat, just as it singles out Israel instead of Iran on nuclear weapons and blames Israel for the Gaza war last year that Hamas started.

None of this is surprising, exactly. Self-defense has been all but criminalized in progressive countries like Britain, and Israel's right to exist, let alone defend itself, is recognized almost nowhere in the Middle East.

I don't know where all this is headed, exactly, but I'm pretty sure neither pacifist Europeans nor violently anti-Zionist Middle Easterners will be as happy with the outcome as they expect.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:35 PM | Permalink | 38 Comments »

May 30, 2010

Quote of the Day

One November morning in 2004, Theo van Gogh got up to go to work at his film production company in Amsterdam. He took out his old black bicycle and headed down a main road. Waiting in a doorway was a Moroccan man with a handgun and two butcher knives.

As Theo cycled down the Kinnaeusstraat, Muhammad Bouyeri approached. He pulled out his gun and shot Theo several times. Theo fell off his bike and lurched across the road, then collapsed. Bouyeri followed. Theo begged, "Can't we talk about this?" but Bouyeri shot him four more times. Then he took out one of his butcher knives and sawed into Theo's throat. With the other knife, he stabbed a five-page letter onto Theo's chest.

The letter was addressed to me

From Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 4:53 PM | Permalink | 7 Comments »

Lay Off Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I hardly agree with Ayaan Hirsi Ali about everything, but each time I read a nasty take-down of a brave woman who lives under armed guard and on the hit lists of murderous death squads by a pampered cocoon-dwelling intellectual like Nicholas Kristof, it pushes her new book Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations higher on my must-read list.

UPDATE: Upon reflection, calling Kristof a "pampered cocoon-dwelling intellectual" sounds much harsher than I intended, especially considering he sometimes travels to dangerous places to gather material, so allow me to clarify. I also consider myself all pampered and safe compared with Hirsi Ali, even though I travel to places like Baghdad. She is braver than Kristof and I put together.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:58 PM | Permalink | 51 Comments »

May 28, 2010

Paul Berman in Guernica

Joel Whitney at Guernica magazine interviews Paul Berman, author of The Flight of the Intellectuals, whom I also interviewed recently.

Whitney's interview is different from mine. Whitney liked Berman's book, but there's some tension on certain points, tension that was absent in my interview because Berman and I are more in agreement. The two also spend much more time discussing Nazi Germany's foreign policy in the Arab world and how that sordid history bears on the present.

Read the whole thing and order the book .

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:44 PM | Permalink | 8 Comments »

May 27, 2010

Darkness in Damascus

Even though I'm not Jewish, reading this by an American Jew who spent eight months in Syria makes me glad I chose to study the Middle East in Beirut, in Jerusalem, and even in Baghdad.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 3:38 AM | Permalink | 104 Comments »

May 25, 2010

The Solution Is in Damascus and Tehran

Adam Brodsky at the New York Post says that if Israel wants to kneecap Iran, it should take out Hezbollah in Lebanon. That would indeed go a long way toward rolling back Tehran's imperial ambitions in the Middle East. Hezbollah moonlights as a Syrian proxy militia, but it is first and foremost Iranian "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei's army in Lebanon, effectively the Mediterranean branch of the Pasdaran.

It's also the most resilient and capable terrorist army in the world and, for that very reason, difficult to root out conventionally. The Israel Defense Forces fought Hezbollah to a standstill between 1982 and 2000 and failed to destroy it during the Second Lebanon War in July and August of 2006. Hezbollah emerged stronger than ever after the 18-year counterinsurgency in 2000 and emerged stronger still from the 2006 war. After neutralizing the Lebanese government during another short war in the spring of 2008, it is now, like Israel itself, an undefeated heavyweight of the Levant.

Effective counterinsurgency of the type General David Petraeus waged in Iraq is impossible for Israel in Lebanon for three reasons. First, it takes a long time, years when applied correctly, and time is something Israel just doesn't have. Second, the American counterinsurgency effort in Iraq would have failed if the insurgents hadn't murdered and terrorized so many Iraqis while fighting Americans — something Hezbollah is most unlikely to do in the Shia regions of Lebanon where it is embedded. Third, anti-Israel sentiment is too broad and too deep in Lebanon for the IDF to recruit sufficient local assistance — especially after the abrupt collapse of its allies in the South Lebanon Army following the withdrawal in 2000.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:45 PM | Permalink | 101 Comments »
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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