Sunday, 28 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

Michael Paulson writes about religion for the Boston Globe.  His latest column is about Israel's attack on Gaza, and it is excellent.  So I'm posting it here.  The bold print is mine:

Boston Jewish leaders defend Gaza strike

Michael Paulson December 27, 2008 02:32 PM

Two leading Jewish organizations in Boston --
Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Jewish Community Relations Council -- today issued a statement defending Israel's decision to launch airstrikes against Hamas in Gaza. The attacks have reportedly killed more than 200 people, and are Israel's answer to rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli communities. The statement appears to be the first public example of CJP's response to its new strategic plan, which calls for more robust Israel advocacy by the organization. Here is the statement:

"Confronted by rocket and mortar attacks against its citizens that have escalated in intensity and lethality, Israel was left with no option other than to exercise its sovereign right of self-defense against Hamas military targets in Gaza.

As you know, over the past year alone, Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union, Canada and the United States, has fired some 3,000 rockets and mortar bombs into Israeli towns and cities in southern Israel. Israeli families have been subjected to daily bombardment, whose purpose has been to kill or maim Israeli civilians as well as to terrify Israeli families.

Over the last week or so, Hamas, which calls for the "obliteration" of Israel, has intensified its attacks on Israeli civilians, firing some 200 rockets and mortar bombs in the last several days alone. Sderot, the long-suffering working class community where innocent Israelis have been wantonly attacked with rockets for more than three years, came under renewed fire. The attacks then spread to Ashdod and to Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people.

President-elect Barak Obama said earlier this year about the more than 6,300 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza that have rained down on Israel since 2005: "If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing."

In this Christmas season, while Israeli and Palestinian Authority security forces were successfully working together to ensure a peaceful celebration in Bethlehem, Hamas fired more than 100 rockets and mortars at Israel's cities and towns. Moreover, as The New York Times reported, the terrorists "increased the range and intensity" of their assault. As a result, more Israeli citizens are faced with a serious lethal threat than ever before.

Israeli author Amos Oz, a prominent dove whose call for peace with the Palestinians is shared by a majority of Israelis, wrote in a recent piece entitled "Israel Must Defend Its Citizens" that "The systematic bombing of the citizens in Israel's towns and cities is a war crime and a crime against humanity."

No country can tolerate such deliberate assaults indefinitely - and Israel has shown extraordinary restraint, publicly calling upon Hamas to stop the attacks and seeking to extend the fragile lull in hostilities that had been in effect for the last six months.

Hamas's disregard for Israeli life is matched by its disregard for the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza. Using innocent Palestinians as human shields, Hamas purposely fires its missiles from homes, schools and community centers, confident in the knowledge that when Israel finally acts to stop the killing of its own civilians, Palestinians will also inevitably be harmed. The use of Palestinian civilians as human shields is not merely unspeakably cruel. It is also a fundamental violation of Palestinian human rights by the Hamas leadership.

Israel cares deeply about protecting the lives of civilians, both in Israel and in the Gaza Strip. Its efforts this weekend to stop the Hamas attacks represent classic self-defense, undertaken reluctantly by an Israeli nation that longs for peace.

Israel is now compelled to act to defend its citizens. A loyal ally of the United States, Israel has rushed to our aid at times of crisis - rushing rescue workers to Nairobi, Kenya, in the wake of the bombing of the U.S. embassy there and sending planeloads of relief supplies to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Now our friend needs our support - our strong backing for its right to defend itself from terrorist attack."

How necessary was it that Israel act?  Even a virtually unconditional peacenik like Amos Oz is finding a rationale for it.  In the USA that would roughly equate to cindy sheehan defending an operation in Iraq.  

Maybe this will all come to nothing more than a lot of people dying.  Sadly, it is the single most likely outcome.

But maybe the cost in blood today will cause a lot less blood to flow tomorrow, as Gazans - in their own self-interest - say enough is enough on the daily bombing of Israel. 

We can only hope.


Ken Berwitz

I've posted commentary by Christopher Booker of London's Daily Telegraph a couple of times on this blog.  He writes about global warming.  He is interesting, insightful and uses facts instead of flatulence (which isn't always the case when this subject is discussed).

Mr. Booker thinks that 2008 was the year of disproval for man-made global warming.  He has some pretty good reasons for making this claim too.  See if you agree (the bold print is mine):

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.

Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.

As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians along with those of the EU and President Obama's US were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world.

I must end this year by again paying tribute to my readers for the wonderful generosity with which they came to the aid of two causes. First their donations made it possible for the latest "metric martyr", the east London market trader Janet Devers, to fight Hackney council's vindictive decision to prosecute her on 13 criminal charges, ranging from selling in pounds and ounces to selling produce "by the bowl" (to avoid using weights her customers dislike and don't understand). The embarrassment caused by this historic battle has thrown the forced metrication policy of both our governments, in London and Brussels, into total disarray.

Since Hackney backed out of allowing four criminal charges against Janet to go before a jury next month, all that remains is for her to win her appeal in February against eight convictions which now look quite absurd (including those for selling veg by the bowl, as thousands of other London market traders do every day). The final goal, as Neil Herron of the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund insists, must then be a pardon for the late Steve Thoburn and the four other original "martyrs" who were found guilty in 2002 after a legal battle also made possible by this column's readers of breaking laws so ridiculous that the EU Commission has even denied they existed (but which are still on the statute book).

Readers were equally generous this year in rushing to the aid of Sue Smith, whose son was killed in a Snatch Land Rover in Iraq in 2005. Their contributions made it possible for her to carry on with the High Court action she has brought against the Ministry of Defence, with the sole aim of calling it to account for needlessly risking soldiers' lives by sending them into battle in hopelessly inappropriate vehicles. Thanks not least to Mrs Smith's determined fight, the Snatch Land Rover scandal, first reported here in 2006, has at last become a national cause celebre.

May I finally thank all those readers who have written to me in 2008 so many that, as usual, it has not been possible to answer all their messages. But their support and information has been hugely appreciated. May I wish them and all of you a happy (if globally not too warm) New Year.

Mr. Booker is a man ahead of his time - certainly compared to the mob-psychology-driven drones in US media who assure us that global warming is not only a fact, but it has overtaken us. 

I love it when they then  throw it over to the weatherman for that day's forecast and we find - more often than not - that temperatures are at or below normal.

Maybe someday, when media become unmesmerized enough to move away from Algoreism and back towards reality, their news desks will start paying attention to their weathermen.


Ken Berwitz

New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin has written an excellent narrative about the increasingly embarrassing quest of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg to be appointed a US Senator.

Here it is, see if you agree:

Say goodnight, Caroline: How JFK's daughter flubbed the audition to become the next Senator Kennedy

Sunday, December 28th 2008, 4:00 AM

In the beginning, just three long weeks ago, the idea of Caroline Kennedy being a United States senator had a certain ring to it. The Camelot myth still has shelf life and a merger with the historic Obama presidency provided an intriguing story line.

Kennedy would replace Hillary Clinton, one leading lady following another on a stage where name recognition often substitutes for merit. The narrative was tailor-made for the fever chambers of celebrity-obsessed media and the bandwagon quickly picked up speed.

Some top Democrats were certain Gov. Paterson, a close-to-the vest electorate of one, would find Kennedy irresistible now and as a running mate in two years. All others were chopped liver next to her sudden star power.

But a strange thing is happening on the way to the coronation. The wheels of the bandwagon are coming off. Fantasy is giving way to inescapable truth.

That truth is that Kennedy is not ready for the job and doesn't deserve it. Somebody who loves her should tell her.

Her quest is becoming a cringe-inducing experience, as painful to watch as it must be to endure. Because she is the only survivor of that dreamy time nearly 50 years ago, she remains an iconic figure. But in the last few days, her mini-campaign has proved she has little to offer New Yorkers except her name.

Her handlers and family enablers insist she feels no entitlement to the Senate job, yet there is no other possible reason to give it to her. Her name is the sole reason she even dares go for it. Camelot must be Gaelic for chutzpah.

New York can do better.

There is no denying the situation is odd. No one quite knows how to garner Paterson's approval or what his vetting process is. He hasn't even endorsed the sensible idea of public forums and debates, which would give voters a way to participate.

Kennedy apparently decided to go public to build support and scare off others, including Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, whose nasty divorce from her cousin still roils both clans. Kennedy also had to introduce herself to Democratic party leaders because, other than endorsing Obama, her politics were a mystery.

But the minute she faced the routine questions that help define a candidate for virtually any office, she had nothing to say. There was no "there" there.

"I just hope everybody understands that it is not a campaign but that I have a lifelong devotion to public service," she said during her first-ever visit to Rochester. "I've written books on the Constitution and the importance of individual participation. And I've raised my family. I think I really could help bring change to Washington."

Asked about her qualifications, she fell back on gibberish and the Kennedy name.

"As a mother, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service, I feel this commitment," she said. "This is a time when nobody can afford to sit it out, and I feel I have something to offer."

The "sit it out" part is revealing. Among those who want the job, she has done the least public service by any measure. She didn't even vote in about half the contested elections in the last 20 years.

Sensing she's not ready for prime time, her handlers, most of whom have connections to Mayor Bloomberg, suddenly insisted media questions be submitted in writing. The answers they provided, under their names, were vapid. And she will not, as is the campaign custom, release financial documents that reveal her wealth and holdings. We're expected to trust she has no conflicts of interest.

Even the one job she had in public life has come into question. Apparently on the basis of a chance meeting with New York's schools chancellor at a party on Martha's Vineyard, she signed on as a part-time fund-raiser. How much she raised and how much she worked have been challenged, but no matter. The point is that this self-described advocate for the public schools did not send her children to them.


Limousine liberals are a dime a dozen, and carpetbaggers are nothing new in New York. And with the social scene constantly churning out the old for the next new thing, there's no reason middle-aged dilettantes can't also try their hand at politics.

They just can't start in the Senate. .

Could this get any more ridiculous?

The right thing to do would be for Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg to bow out as gracefully as possible (which, let's be honest, couldn't be very graceful at all by this time).

If Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg does not, she will force Governor David Paterson to either make an incredibly idiotic appointment - knowing that just about everyone out there sees it for what it is - or to reject her, which would be even more embarrassing than bowing out in the first place.

This should be a very interesting week in New York.....

Daveigh I'm not quite sure how to say this; you made it exrtemely easy for me! (12/10/11)

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