Monday, 29 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

At first blush you would wonder what legitimate purpose there is for Israel to hit a university.  Isn't Gaza University where the most intellectually gifted Gazans would go to become educated?  Isn't that where they would have more of a chance to think outside the box than Gazans whose learning is from the street?

Well, you might think that; but you would be dead 100% wrong if you did.  Here is a healthy dollop of reality, from the Jerusalem Post, and Scott Johnson of

Higher education, Hamas-style

In today's newspapers one can read via Reuters, for example, that "Israeli warplanes bombed the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, a significant Hamas cultural symbol[.]" The targeting of the university sounds like an error, or an example of Israel's allegedly disproportionate response to the rocket attacks against which it is seeking to defend itself. Why bomb a university?

Turning to the Jerusalem Post, one discovers:

Two laboratories in the university, which served as research and development centers for Hamas's military wing, were targeted. The development of explosives was done under the auspices of university professors.

University buildings were also used for meetings of senior Hamas officials.

The IDF said rockets and explosives were stored in the buildings.

Islamic University, in other words, represents how thoroughly the institutions of the Gaza Strip, such as they are, from mosque to school to state, have been turned into instruments of terror with extermination as their object. It is the commonality of aims that places Hamas in service to Iran, a point which David Horovitz urges observers to keep in mind.

This reminds us again that, in Gaza (and Judea & Samaria/the west bank) indoctrination is all-inclusive.  It really doesn't matter if your learning takes place on the street or in the university, the focus of that learning will be the same.  Israel is to be destroyed through violence - specifically killing Jews, and the more the merrier. 

If a university's laboratories and/or meeting facilities can be used to that end, they most assuredly will be.

Now you know why Gaza University was hit.  And you also know why I hope they hit it every time those laboratories attempt to function again.


Ken Berwitz

The "magic Negro"is a literary device in which a Black person, usually of very modest background and education, exhibits amazing powers and insights which help White people to overcome a problem they have.  The title character in Robert Redford's movie "The Legend of Bagger Vance" is a perfect example.

Personally, I have a major problem with this expression because of the way some people use it -- the same problem I have with the word "niggardly", which derives from the word "niggard" and means stingy/miserly. 

"Niggard" is of Norse derivation and can be traced back to the middle ages.  Obviously, therefore, it has nothing at all to do with the word "nigger".

But my experience is that "niggardly" is almost always used for one of two reasons:

1) The user mistakenly thinks it derives from "nigger" and intends to be offensive toward Black people;

2) The user knows there is no connection between the two words, but hopes the person he/she is talking to thinks there is and will react negatively to it.  Then the user can indulgently explain the difference and maybe come across as sounding intellectually superior.

All too often, "magic Negro" is being used for reasons very similar to 2) above.  The idea is to evoke a surprised, angry reaction, so the user can then effect an air of erudition while pointing out that it is perfectly acceptable and not offensive at all (wink, wink). 

Last year, David Ehrenstein wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times in which he applied the "magic Negro" term to Barack Obama.  Ehrenstein's motives were not insidious at all; he explained why the term fits Mr. Obama very well. 

But, in doing so, Ehrenstein also provided an opportunity for race baiters to use the term to get the hoped-for negative reaction, and then feign shock and outrage while referencing his column to prove there was no offense intended.

This, interestingly enough, leads us to Chip Saltsman

Mr. Saltsman was Mike Huckabee's national campaign director and, currently, is a candidate to head the Republican National Committee.  

Earlier this month, Saltsman sent out a "seasons greetings" CD to key Republicans which contained a number of humorous parodies.  One of them was "Barack the Magic Negro", done to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon.  It was written by the talented Paul Shanklin, and has aired many times on the Rush Limbaugh show. 

Mr. Saltsman is now under siege for including Shanklin's parody.  He has been condemned by people on both the left and right side of the political aisle.  As he should be!  What an amazingly obtuse, stupid thing to do.

But there is another angle to this issue:  hypocrisy.

Michelle Malkin, a formidable conservative writer/commentator, is very angry about the reactions to Saltsman.  She feels that many of the people complaining about the "magic Negro" CD had no problem with far worse being said about President Bush throughout his 8 years in the White House. 

Is Ms. Malkin on solid ground?  Well, here is her write-up; you decide:

Gag-worthy: Bipartisan indignance over Barack the Magic Negro parody

By Michelle Malkin    December 29, 2008 01:16 PM

Oh, give me a super-sized break.

Leftie 60s leftover/songwriter Peter Yarrow at the Huffington Post fumes over the Barack the Magic Negro parody that has RNC candidate Chip Saltsman in hot water.

All of sudden after eight years of F**k Bush bumper stickers and Kill Bush assassination chic and Bush-or-Chimp parodies the left is concerned about insulting the office of the Presidency?

Now, they are concerned with protecting the dignity of the office and with forging commong ground and mutual respect?:

The sending of a Christmas greeting by Chip Saltsman to the members of the Republican National Committee that includes a recording of the so-called parody, Barack the Magic Negro is not only offensive, it is shocking and saddening in the extreme. It flies in the face of Americas deeply held hope for a new era in which common ground and mutual respect characterize the exchanges between our national leaders.

I and my co-writer of Puff, Lenny Lipton, have been eagerly awaiting an end to the mean-spiritedness, outright disrespect and bigotry that was commonplace prior to this last presidential election. What might have been wearily accepted as the way it was in the campaign, is now unacceptable. Obama is not a candidate. He is the President-Elect, and this song insults the office of the Presidency, the people who voted for him, as well as those who did not and taking a childrens song and twisting it in such vulgar, mean-spirited way, is a slur to our entire country and our common agreement to move beyond racism.

If the song insults the office of the Presidency, what about the 2007 Los Angeles Times op-ed by David Ehrenstein that inspired the parody in the first place?

AS EVERY CARBON-BASED life form on this planet surely knows, Barack Obama, the junior Democratic senator from Illinois, is running for president. Since making his announcement, there has been no end of commentary about him in all quarters musing over his charisma and the prospect he offers of being the first African American to be elected to the White House.

But its clear that Obama also is running for an equally important unelected office, in the province of the popular imagination the Magic Negro.

The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist, reads the description on Wikipedia .

Hes there to assuage white guilt (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest

Obamas fame right now has little to do with his political record or what hes written in his two (count em) books, or even what hes actually said in those stem-winders. Its the way hes said it that counts the most. Its his manner, which, as presidential hopeful Sen. Joe Biden ham-fistedly reminded us, is articulate. His tone is always genial, his voice warm and unthreatening, and he hasnt called his opponents names (despite being baited by the media).

Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldnt project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.

The hysterical rush to protect magical Obama from ridicule only proves Ehrensteins point. And the parody is as much, if not more, a satire of race-mongering demagogue Al Sharpton than it is of Obama:

As much as I am nauseated by the lefts reaction, the overreaction of some on the right is even more gag-worthy. Current RNC chair Mike Duncan professes to be shocked and appalled. Others are assailing Saltsmans lack of sensitivity and tone-deafness in sending out a joke CD by his good friend Paul Shanklin. Still others argue that even though the parody is not racist and is totally defensible, its just too much work to defend it.

If thats the kind of GOP leadership were in for the next four years, its going to a long, long four years.

Stacy McCain shakes his head at the ritual denunciation.

JWF: Child Molester Reacts in Horror to Barack the Magic Negro

Quick reminder of how liberals respected the dignity of the office of the presidency over the last eight years:


Ms. Malkin has a point, doesn't she? 

Where was the outcry when President Bush was being addressed in the most despicably insulting terms the hard-left could think of? 

Did Peter Yarrow or Lennie Lipton protest the excoriation of Mr. Bush?  If so, maybe they can show us a few examples of what they said over these past 8 years.

Don't hold your breath waiting for it, though.  Not unless you have magic lungs.


Ken Berwitz

P. David Hornik, writing for, has just put out a column about the Israelli attack on Gaza, which I think is excellent.

I have to think it's excellent because, as readers of this blog will quickly realize, it parallels what I've been saying.  Take a look and see for yourself:

Israel Strikes Back
By P. David Hornik | Monday, December 29, 2008

For months now, the Palestinian terror group Hamas has been shelling Israeli cities with little in the way of an assertive response. But this weekend, which capped a week when at least 300 Hamas-fired rockets and mortars pounded southern Israel, the Israeli government has at last decided to retaliate.

Operation Cast Iron opened on Saturday with a carefully planned, perfectly coordinated, and devastating air strike against Hamas targets in Gaza. The strike, which involved more than 100 aircraft and occurred in two waves, destroyed dozens of military and police headquarters, training camps, and above-ground and underground weapons facilities. If Hamas estimates are to be believed, approximately 200 Palestinians have been killed. Of these, a great majority appear to have been terrorist combatants. Israel has also bombed the Islamic University in Gaza, and is now threatening a full-scale invasion.

The weekend offensive marks the third time in less than a decade that Israel has opened a war whose proximate cause is terrorist aggression but which was actually fostered by Israels own self-delusive policies. For instance, the second intifada, which broke out in September 2000, was made possible by Israels Oslo-era policy of inviting terrorist armies, including Hamas, to entrench itself in the West Bank and Gaza. By allowing Hamas to build up its political power base and military capabilities, Israel virtually guaranteed that it would be drawn into a future conflict in Gaza. A similar cycle of cause-and-effect underpinned the second Lebanon War, which broke out in July 2006. That conflict was made possible in large part by Israels May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

Likewise, Israels latest military campaign is the inevitable result of Israels ill-conceived disengagement from Gaza in August 2005. The flaw of the earlier withdrawal was starkly revealed this Sunday, when sorties against Hamas targets destroyed no fewer than 40 smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai. These tunnels were a testament to the terrorist activity that Israels withdrawal had made possible.

Seen against the background of Hamass resurgence, this weekend's successful strikes are long overdue. So, too, is the chastening that they signal within Israels political leadership the triumvirate of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister and Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, and Foreign Minister and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni which appears finally to have grasped that Hamas cannot be stopped with economic pressure and temporary ceasefires. As Barak told Fox News this weekend, For us to be asked to have a ceasefire with Hamas is like asking you to have a ceasefire with al-Qaeda. It's something we cannot really accept. Meanwhile, Livni reportedly said that Islamists must be drummed out of Gazas leadership.

This newfound resoluteness is to be welcomed. But the fact that Israels leaders have come to realize the urgency of confronting terrorism does not compensate for the dismal failures of their past performance. Reports indicate that Saturdays strike relied on lengthy planning and intelligence gathering, but they dont settle the question of how the government could have waited so long to act particularly when 250,000 Israeli citizens had been living so long under a relentless barrage of rockets and mortar fire. The new Israeli offensive must also be considered in the context of the Olmert governments bungled war against Hezbollah in 2006, when the limited success of an initial aerial bombardment was succeeded by a less successful ground offensive and, ultimately, a tenuous ceasefire.

Early evidence suggests that the government has recognized its past mistakes, and is intent on avoiding them. Thus Olmert, Barak, and Livni have defined Operation Cast Irons goals narrowly, eschewing the bombastic statements that the Olmert government made when the second Lebanon War erupted. Operation Cast Iron is designed to put an end to Hamas's rocket fire, terrorist activity, and arms smuggling.

However, questions abound. Will Barack and Livni follow through with their rhetoric about toppling Hamas, or will they be content to leave it in power after a temporary show of strength? If the latter, who will stop the weapons smuggling or prevent Hamas from recuperating militarily and preparing to drag Israel into its next confrontation?

Just as pressingly, who will take over if Israel does depose Hamas in a ground invasion? On the one hand, Olmert, Barak, and Livni remain allergic to the idea of Israels long-term reoccupation of parts or all of Gaza. But the possible alternatives are troubling. For instance, the experience of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon in southern Lebanon, which shields instead of thwarts Hezbollahs ongoing empowerment, argues against the idea of NATO or other international forces taking over Gaza. Similarly, Israel should avoid replacing Hamas with Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah-run Palestinian Authority. Gazas transfer from anti-Israeli Hamas to anti-Israeli Fatah is in fact no solution, because even if Fatah presently lacks Hamas's energy and discipline, it can nevertheless be relied on to instill hatred of Israel in future generations of Palestinians, just as it currently does in the West Bank.

Still another troubling possibility is that, with Israeli elections tentatively scheduled for February 10, a perceived successful outcome to the war would help the current government defeat the Likud party, most of whose current lineup opposed the disengagement that created the current crisis in the first place. Given the Likud leaderships foresight in this regard, it would be unfortunate if the next government did not share its grasp of the threats to Israeli security especially at a time when, however grave the Gaza threat, the incomparably greater Iranian threat could require critical decision-making by the spring of 2009.

It is hard to trust the very people who got Israel into its mess in Gaza to get the country out of it. A viable solution to Gaza may involve Israel reoccupying its most strategic partsthe Gaza-Sinai border and the northern Strip from which most of the rockets are launchedwhile putting any Gaza regime on notice that continued aggression will result in further Israeli conquests. While such a solution may seem uncompromising, it is in fact greatly preferable to the successive retreats and empty ceasefires that have defined Israeli policy in Gaza to date. Unfortunately, it is a solution that requires the kind of political courage that has not been the hallmark of Israels current leadership.


When you are dealing with terrorists who understand nothing but strength, you are forced to engage them in a way they understand.  If you don't, it will be you rather than they who are being bombed and killed - a fact borne out by the nonstop attacks on Israel during the "truce" period.

Has Olmert finally come to his senses?  Or is this a one-time-only wakeup that will last until the elections, followed by a reversion to the imbecilic "proportional" responses that put Israel into this mess?

We'll see.....



Ken Berwitz

I have never liked Rush Limbaugh's characterization of hard left women's groups as "Feminazis".  I dislike naziism being trivialized that way.

But are these groups sometimes nutty?  You bet they are.  And one facet of their nuttyness is self-contradiction.

Here, from Karen Agness writing for, is a good example of what I'm talking about:

Sex Parity v. Policy Representation in Obamas Cabinet
by Karin Agness

Feminists were devastated by Senator Barack Obamas final Cabinet selections. Although Obama has not reversed any of his policy positions, he has committed a major crime in their eyes. He selected five women for his twenty Cabinet positions. This is not enough for them. That he chose one-fourth of his Cabinet positions to be filled by women instead of one-half is the problem.

Kim Gandy, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW), is not happy. In a December 22nd CNN article she said, When you are looking at a Cabinet and you have such a small number of women in the room when the big decisions are being made, there need to be a lot more women's voices in this administration.

Amy Siskind, who recently co-founded the feminist group New Agenda, claims in the same article that Obama is taking shocking steps backward in not selecting more women and that this constituency does not matter to the president-elect.

The number of women Obama chose is similar to the number selected by his most recent predecessors, so claims that this is some revolutionary step in any direction are exaggerated. President George W. Bush started with four women in his Cabinet. Currently, five women serve in President Bushs Cabinet, Elaine Chao is the Secretary of Labor, Mary E. Peters is the Secretary of Transportation, Condoleezza Rice is the Secretary of State, Susan Schwab is the United States Trade Representative and Margaret Spellings is the Secretary of Education. President Bill Clinton started with five women in his Cabinet. Also, like President Bush, Obama has filled one of the four most important posts (head of the department of State, Justice, Defense and Treasury) with a woman, Senator Hillary Clinton.

Since women compose over half of the electorate and the U.S. population, the claim that women should make up half of the Cabinet does not seem so far-fetched. Yet, it does seem ridiculous when compared with earlier positions feminists have taken in this election. Regardless of the arguments for and against women making up half of Obamas Cabinet, this feminist complaint reveals a deep tension within feminism today by raising a question: Does American feminism seek to achieve sex parity or policy representation?

The same day Senator John McCain announced his selection of Governor Sarah Palin for Vice President, NOW issued a press release entitled, Not Every Woman Supports Womens Rights. The press release announced that NOW opposed Palin, The fact that Palin is a mother of five who has a 4-month-old baby, a woman who is juggling work and family responsibilities, will speak to many women. But will Palin speak FOR women? Based on her record and her stated positions, the answer is clearly No.

NOW publicly opposed Palin because her positions supposedly did not speak for women, and endorsed Senator Joe Biden because he is the VP candidate who appeals to women, with his authorship and championing of landmark domestic violence legislation, support for pay equity, and advocacy for women around the world. The press release flatly denied that NOW supports women candidates solely because they are women.

NOWs position on Palins nomination implies that NOW supports candidates based on whether they speak for women and represent feminist policy positions, regardless of sex. Yet, the feminist critique of Obamas Cabinet based totally on the sex of his nominees contradicts this position and advances sex parity. As Obama announced his final Cabinet picks, feminist groups quickly dropped the rhetoric of wanting candidates who speak for women in support of sex quotas. They want ten women in Obamas Cabinet. With the exception of the selection of Lawrence Summers, these liberal womens groups criticize Obamas nominees just because they are men, not because of their policy positions. Policy agreement is not enough.

Having lost the Cabinet battle, NOW and the Feminist Majority wrote a letter to Obama asking him to create a Cabinet-level White House Office on Women, and twenty other womens organizations have signed a petition calling on Obama to create a Presidential Commission on Women.

Which is it? Either feminists support sex parity in higher office in which case they should have backed Palin or they support candidates who represent their policy preferences in which case they should evaluate the policy positions of Obamas Cabinet selections. It would benefit the integrity of their movement to take a consistent position.

I think my favorite part is Ms. Agness noting that Barack Obama appointed the exact same number of women to cabinet posts as President Bush currently has.

Bush gave us the most diverse group of cabinet members in United States history - and got zero credit for it from our wonderful "neutral" media. 

Now let the Feminutties stew over Obama for a while -- remembering that they unwaveringly supported him in the election.


Ken Berwitz

I write a lot about media bias in the US.  But as bad as it is domestically, international media leave us in the dust.

The reporting of Israel's attack on Gaza is as classic an example as you will ever see. 

How bad is it?  Here is an excerpted report by John Hinderaker of, which shows Agence France Presse's coverage of the attack, and just how amazingly far from reality it is:

The Middle East According to AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is one of the world's most biased news agencies, especially where the Middle East is concerned. Today AFP published this helpful guide to the "key events in 2008" relating to Gaza, Hamas and Israel:

Updated graphic showing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, plus ...

In AFP's narrative, the story begins with Israel imposing a blockade of Gaza in January. No mention of the rocket attacks launched by Hamas from Gaza that prompted the blockade.

The next event that the AFP finds noteworthy is Israel's five-day "offensive" of February and March 2008, which "kills over 120 Palestinians." No mention of the 257 rockets and 228 mortars that were fired into Israel from Gaza during the month of February alone, no mention of Hamas' resumption of suicide bombing in February, and no acknowledgement that many of those killed were Hamas terrorists.

In June, AFP reminds us, Israel and Hamas agreed to a six-month truce. Again, context is absent, but the significance of the truce lay in Hamas' agreement to stop launching attacks on Israel from Gaza. And for a while, it almost did..... the mortar and rocket attacks never quite stopped, but resumed in earnest last month, when they averaged around three a day.

AFP helpfully explains what happened: "Israeli assault sparks resumption of Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza." What "Israeli assault" was that? The IDF sent special forces 200 yards across the border to destroy a tunnel that had been built to facilitate the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Intelligence indicated that such a kidnapping was imminent:

The IDF accused Hamas of jeopardizing the truce by digging the tunnel and plotting to abduct more Israeli soldiers in the immediate future.

"The tunnel we uncovered was ready for imminent use, forcing us to act immediately," the military source said. "We did not know where the other end of the tunnel surfaced. In light of the intelligence we received about its immediate use, plans for special forces to enter Gaza this evening after sundown were approved," he added.

Hamas gunmen opened fire on IDF forces and Hamas fired 45 rockets into Israel the same night. AFP uncritically parrots Hamas' pretext that Israel's destruction of the kidnapping tunnel was the reason for its resumption of rocket and mortar attacks.

That's it, as far as AFP is concerned, until December 19, when Hamas "ends [the] truce." Of course...there was no truce to end by December.

The AFP says that on December 27, Israeli planes "blitz Hamas targets." Give them credit for acknowledging the nature of the targets, but isn't "blitz" a somewhat fraught term to describe Israel's carefully aimed attacks?

While AFP's summary of "key events in 2008" is useless as a guide to what has happened in Gaza and Israel over the past year, it does accurately reflect AFP's woefully biased coverage of that part of the world: the Middle East according to AFP.

And if you think this is bad, try reading a paper in almost any Muslim or Asian country.

With "news" reportage like this, there is little wonder that Israel finds it nearly impossible to make its case to the world

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