Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I find puzzling the sorts of barbarity that some people choose to overlook, versus what they choose to focus on. I do not wish to dismiss bad behavior by anyone, but too often the practice of some pundits reminds me of something Jesus said about judging others: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). Admittedly, I’d like to get rid of the sawdust from my eyes, and the eyes of all those suffering from such things. But really, wouldn’t it be better to focus on the planks first?

For instance, I read reviews of the film Apocalypto that criticized it for emphasizing the horror of human sacrifice among the Mayan, while paying almost no attention to the Mayan’s cultural achievements: monumental architecture, literature, and religion.

For some reason, I am deeply puzzled by criticism that begins, “sure, the Mayan killed people for sacrifice, but...” When we think about the fictional character from The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter, which is more important? The fact that he had good taste in wine, music, and literature—or the fact that he murdered a few people and ate them? When we study Nazi Germany, are we being unfair when we focus on the millions of Jews they slaughtered, rather than on Adolph Hitler’s love of opera, his vegetarianism, and all the buildings built, roads constructed, and technological innovations in rocketry and medicine?

When I read people criticizing Israel for building a fence, when I hear them decrying the checkpoints and careful examination by armed soldiers of all Palestinians traveling between the Palestinian territories and Israel; when I hear about how abusive this inconveniencing of the innocent is, since even women and children must submit to the indignity of being examined by armed soldiers, I’m reminded of the beginning of the movie Pearl Harbor. That movie began with how the Japanese were embittered by an embargo leveled on them by the United States, an embargo that was cutting off their supply of vital fuel oil. Poor Japan! No wonder they bombed Pearl Harbor.

Of course, the film maker failed to point out why the United States had embargoed Japan: the Japanese invasion and brutal decimation of China. Japan had invaded China in 1931 and by 1945 had slaughtered at least 20 million Chinese men, women and children. One of the more notorious atrocities, which occurred between 1937 and 1938, is known as the Rape of Nanking, when between 150,000 and 300,000 were murdered.

There is a reason that Israel has built a fence and “picks on” the Palestinians traveling into Israel: years of terrorism, years of daily barrages of rockets, years of suicide bombers. After you’ve had a few “nice Palestinians” blow themselves up in a crowded restaurant or shopping mall, loaded with shrapnel dipped in rat poison, for some reason your average Israeli starts to get paranoid and wants to check visitors from the Palestinian areas more closely. It may be nice that Hamas and Hezbollah build schools and hospitals, but their terrorism and preaching of hate seem to me the more critical issues. Likewise, I really don’t think that the Nazi youth programs, such as the Hitler Youth, that got inner-city kids out into the mountains really makes anyone want to overlook the Holocaust.

In those nice Hamas and Hezbollah-funded schools, the textbooks and teachers teach the children that Jews are an infection on the world that needs to be eradicated, parroting the same language the Nazis used in the 1930s. The daily instruction, the calls for the destruction of Israel from its politicians and religious leaders, the cry for jihad and the murder of Jews gets mostly ignored by the majority of the American media. Few who blame Israel for the lack of peace in the Middle East care to think about inconvenient little details like Mein Kampf remaining a perennial best seller in the Palestinian territories, together with the infamous forgery called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is accepted as true by most Palestinians. Or when the wide-spread anti-Semitism is mentioned, it is explained away using language remarkably similar to someone trying to blame the rape victim because of how she was dressed: they brought it on themselves.

Also ignored is the decline in the number of Christians in the Palestinian territories. Since the PLO took over, the percentage of Christians in Bethlehem, as an example, has gone from 90 per cent of the population down to 15 per cent, with the numbers continuing to drop. When I was in Bethlehem back in the summer of 1977, ten years into the Israeli occupation, it was a thriving tourist mecca. Today, it is a ghost town. What changed? The Palestinian National Authority was established in 1994 and Hamas runs that place today.

We are told that the western world must see that these people hate us because of our imperialism, our hubris, our colonialism, and any number of past real or imagined crimes. We’re supposed to think that the United States and other western democracies are the real trouble makers in the world, that their inconsistencies and evil deeds are actually far greater than those committed by anyone else. As the Iranian president argues, and many in the western intelligentsia seem to agree, the real threat to justice, peace, prosperity and freedom comes from Washington DC, not from the dictators and terrorists.

Maybe I’m just weird. But I don’t think occasionally pleasant words, good intentions, or number of schools built is how we should judge the Hannibal Lecters of the world. There should be a special place in Hell for those who look at murderous, totalitarian states and terrorists and say that they are better than the United States. There really is a difference between sawdust and planks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Mike Griffin, the NASA administrator, pointed out the following in an editorial response published in USA Today:

America is a frontier nation. Two hundred years ago, the frontier was whatever Lewis & Clark would see the next day. One hundred years ago, it was in Alaska, labeled as "Seward's Folly" when it was purchased in 1867. Today, the human frontier is space, with the Apollo missions to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s, the development of the International Space Station today, or future missions to build an outpost on the moon.

Our great-great-grandparents accepted the challenge of their frontier. Will today's generation do less? And if so, why? To save 15 cents per day? To save six-tenths of 1% of the federal budget? Because that is the cost to the average citizen of our nation's space program. Whether we wish to explore space or not, to say that we cannot afford space exploration is ridiculous.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Raymond Ibrahim writes in the LA Times:

IN THE DAYS before Pope Benedict XVI's visit last Thursday to the Hagia Sophia complex in Istanbul, Muslims and Turks expressed fear, apprehension and rage. "The risk," according to Turkey's independent newspaper Vatan, "is that Benedict will send Turkey's Muslims and much of the Islamic world into paroxysms of fury if there is any perception that the pope is trying to re-appropriate a Christian center that fell to Muslims." Apparently making the sign of the cross or any other gesture of Christian worship in Hagia Sophia constitutes such a sacrilege.

Built in the 6th century, Hagia Sophia — Greek for "Holy Wisdom" — was Christendom's greatest and most celebrated church. After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts from Arabs, Constantinople — now Istanbul — was finally sacked by Turks in 1453, and Hagia Sophia's crosses were desecrated, its icons defaced. Along with thousands of other churches in the Byzantine Empire, it was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph. Nearly 500 years later, in 1935, as part of reformer Kemal Ataturk's drive to modernize Turkey, Hagia Sophia was secularized and transformed into a museum....

Herein lies the conundrum. When Islamists wage jihad — past, present and future — conquering and consolidating non-Muslim territories and centers in the name of Islam, never once considering to cede them back to their previous owners, they ultimately demonstrate that they live by the age-old adage "might makes right." That's fine; many people agree with this Hobbesian view.

But if we live in a world where the strong rule and the weak submit, why is it that whenever Muslim regions are conquered, such as in the case of Palestine, the same Islamists who would never concede one inch of Islam's conquests resort to the United Nations and the court of public opinion, demanding justice, restitutions, rights and so forth?

Put another way, when Muslims beat infidels, it's just too bad for the latter; they must submit to their new overlords' rules with all the attendant discrimination and humiliation mandated for non-Muslims. Yet when Islam is beaten, demands for apologies and concessions are expected from the infidel world at large.

Double standards do not make for international justice. Either territorial conquests are always unjust and should therefore be ameliorated through concessions, or else they are merely a manifestation of the natural order of things — that is, survival of the fittest.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sigh. Despite the supposed truce, the Palestinians continue to attack Israel with rockets. And, if the past is any predicter of the future, when Israel finally gets fed up and tries to do something about it, it will be Israel that gets blamed for breaking the truce, and Israel will be denounced, as usual, as the warmonger and the evil one.

I am so tired of the world's anti-Semitism and all those who are the willing mouthpieces of the tired hatred in the world's media and college campuses. Why is it that the violent extremists who murder people, bomb restaurants, behead people, suicide bomb and the like are not held responsible for their actions by so many who claim intellectual acumen? Why do so many blame the victims of the extremists or believe that it is the fault of bad policy that leads murderers to murder? Why is it that people who would never imagine negotiating with the mafia think that negotiating with the likes of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas is a good idea? Do we negotiate with street gangs? Do we blame rape victims for being raped? The murdered for being murdered? What's wrong with so many people that they accept nonsense as wisdom and blame the victim for being victimized?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

UCLA beat USC today. I am very happy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I read today that the Pope visited a mosque, specifically the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Apparently he is much more of a diplomat than I would have been. Me, I would have gone to the Hagia Sophia, which, until the Moslem imperialists conquered Contantinople and renamed it Istambul, was a Christian church. It was converted to a mosque in 1453 by the Moslem invaders, and then subsequently converted into a museum in 1935. I would have walked in, looked around, and made some comment about how the "religion of peace conquered Christian regions, slaughtered the Christians or forced conversions, and then turned their churches into mosques."

The Pope is much nicer than me, apparently.

Interesting how in condemnations of the Crusades no mention is ever made of why they happened.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

World economic data demonstrates that overall, the world as a whole is doing pretty well. Optimism has data to support it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Back in October, 2001 Linda Chavez wrote:

For nearly 1,000 years, Europe was under nearly constant siege from Islamic invaders, from the first Moors who conquered Spain in 710 to the last Ottoman attack on Vienna in 1683. So long as the trend within the Moslem world today is toward a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, the West will continue to face a new threat to its survival.

In some sense, from 1683 until the rise of Islamic extremism, we in the west have been living in a time of hudna with Islam. What is hudna? A temporary truce. According to Wikipedia:

Hudna (هدنة) is an Arabic term meaning "truce" or "armistice" as well as "calm" or "quiet", coming from a verbal root meaning "calm". It is sometimes translated as "cease-fire". In the Lisan al-Arab (Ibn al-Manzur's definitive dictionary of classical Arabic, dating to the 14th century) it is defined as follows:

"hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna."
A particularly famous early hudna was the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe.

According to Umdat as-Salik, a medieval summary of Shafi'i jurisprudence, hudnas with a non-Muslim enemy should be limited to 10 years: "if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud" ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).

Given that those who are not Muslim are said to belong to "the House of War," it needs to be recognized that the fundamentalists will continue to hate us until we either die or join them in the "House of Islam." From their perspective, the Hudna that began when the Moslems were driven from the gates of Vienna has gone on way too long.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Orson Scott Card is a science fiction author, most well known for his novel, Ender's Game. An excellent novel, widely recognized as a science fiction classic. If you haven't read it, go get a copy now.

He has an interesting essay that he wrote, The Only Issue This Election Day:

There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror....

To all intents and purposes, when the Democratic Party jettisoned Joseph Lieberman over the issue of his support of this war, they kicked me out as well. The party of Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the party I joined back in the 1970s -- is dead. Of suicide.

I personally do not fear this or any election, whatever its outcome. I do not fear that somehow Islamic extremists can win. That simply isn't possible. But I do fear that there are many in positions of power that do not recognize the danger Islamic extremism still poses. One would have though that 911 would have been enough. Apparently not. One way or another we will win the conflict; the only question is how much it might cost us, how terrible it might be. For six years or more Churchill warned his compatriots of the danger the Nazis posed. Many opportunities came and went to put them in check. The Nazis ulitmately lost, but the cost of victory against them was far higher than it needed to be. I fear that our victory over Islamic extremism is likely to be very costly. Not because it needs to be, but because we will wait until it is nearly too late to actually do what needs doing.

Those who argue that the extremists hate America because of our policies, because of their poverty, because of our support of Israel are simply ignorant. The reason these evil people hate us, the reason they attack us, is simply because we are not Moslem. Until that simple reality is fully recognized by most, we are going to continue dithering and frittering and fighting amongst ourselves.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Doomsayers are amusing because we will get to laugh at them eventually. We should, in fact, laugh at them now. They are like the characters in a cartoon walking about with a signboard proclaiming that the world is going to end tomorrow. And of course, tomorrow never seems to come.

We find them in the Christian world all the time, insisting that Armegeddon is upon us and that they know the date that all the awful things are going to happen. They seem to take a perverse delight in repeating all the awful things that are happening in the world, especially if people happen to be dying in the Middle East.

But Christians are not alone in doomsaying. Malthus in the 19th century insisted that we would all starve to death by now thanks to overpopulation. Numberless movies, pundits, politicians and scientists have been predicting disasters ever since. And yet, somehow, remarkably, the disasters predicted--of the human race becoming extinct, overpopulating, overpolluting, dying of epidemics, or whatever--never seem to quite happen.

Now, on MSNBC.com, I read this headline: "Seafood could collapse by 2050, experts warn: Overfishing, pollution, warming are destroying stocks, study finds."

Uh huh. I distrust doomsayers. Historically speaking, all of these sorts of doomsayers have been wrong. Why should I believe them this time?

This time the boy who cried wolf is telling me the truth?

Uh huh.

It's like those who tell me I should panic about global warming. A one degree average increase in world-wide temperatures over the next hundred years is supposed to scare me? When the world has been far warmer in the past?

Uh huh.

I believe these gloomy reports as much as I believe the doom proclaiming sandwhich board guys in long beards in the cartoons. I think they're about as rational.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jim West found a site on the web, www.howmanyofme.com, which allows you to discover how many other people in the United States have the same name you do. According to this site, no one has my name, which is of course silly, since I know I exist. I can see myself in the mirror over there, and I do have a birth certificate around here somewhere.

I did discover some interesting statistics from the site regarding my first name (of course the accuracy is in question, since the site screwed up on my very existence):

There are 359,962 people in the U.S. with the first name Robin.

Statistically the 160th most popular first name.

86.67 percent of people with the first name Robin are female.

I aleady knew the issue with my first name, that most people with it were female. I realized that somewhere around the time I started getting tampon samples in the mail. Not really something a thirteen year old boy wants to be getting in the mail, I assure you. Once I got married, at least I could give them to my wife instead of tossing them in the trash.

This is why my books and articles always have "R.P. Nettelhorst" as my byline. I prefer to use my initials when I am not dealing with people face to face. I don't want folks to simply assume I'm not the gender I actually am due to the non-sexist nature of my first name. I am a man. I even have a beard to prove it. Just look at my picture on the back of my books or the front of my best selling story, Moon Over Aiyalon.
I dislike Daylight Savings Time. A lot. I would really prefer that we not have to change the clocks twice a year and to lose an hour's sleep in the Spring. I simply don't see the value of mucking with everyone's sleep schedules and inducing nationwide "jet lag" twice a year. I can't see how that can be good for productivity.

According to Wikipedia's article on the subject, Benjamin Franklin introduced the concept in 1784 in a letter to the editors of the Journal of Paris. However, the article says that his letter was satirical. I hope so. I rather like Ben Franklin and would prefer to think that he never came up with such a bad idea. Of course, he also stood out in the rain waiting for his kite to be struck by lightening, so he wasn't exactly a stranger to bad ideas.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moon Over Aiyalon had dropped off the best seller list last Monday. But then, for awhile, over this weekend (Saturday and Sunday), it popped back on. So I guess I sold another short story.

I have no idea how many copies sold it takes to arrive on the Amazon Shorts best seller list; I know that my story has remained on the genre specific list for science fiction short stories all week. It's only on the main list that it has come and gone and come again.

But until I see my first accounting from Amazon, I have no idea what their ranking system really means. My pessimistic nature is to imagine that I've sold but three stories so far.

My grip on reality is probably about as firm as that of the new hire who decides he's a failure since he's been working since nine, it's lunch time, and he hasn't gotten paid yet.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Today my short story Moon Over Aiyalon hit Amazon's best seller list for Amazon Shorts. It got as high as number 19 on the list, but it's dropping now. I have no idea what that means so far as the actual number of sales goes.

I guess, in some very minor way, I'm a best selling author now. Heh.


As of 8:30 PM Pacific Time, I had moved up to 18 on the best seller list. The list seems to be very volatile. Moon Over Aiyalon has been as low as 60 on the list, I noticed when I checked around noon today. I do wish I knew what this means so far as number of units sold.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

During the month of September, my pastor, Don Patterson, asked me to do a four part series of seminars on Sunday evening entitled Islam: Theology and History. The first two of those seminars are now available online on our church's website. Just click the seminar title above to go there. The video quality isn't so good. It was our first time trying to do something like this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My short story Moon Over Aiyalon is now available from Amazon.com as part of their Amazon Shorts program. It only costs 49 cents to download and read it. Amazon takes 60 per cent, I get 40 per cent.

What's the story about? Being a graduate student is always hard. Especially if your name is Yehudah and your advisor, a professor named Nahor, invents a time machine that he decides to test on you. Moon Over Aiyalon is a humorous story told in first person about an Israeli sideways time machine that proves remarkably effective in countering terrorists.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Exo-Planet Discovered

NASA has reported that there is a Jupiter mass planet around Epsilon Eridani, only 10.5 light years from Earth:

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, in collaboration with ground-based observatories, has provided definitive evidence for the existence of the nearest extrasolar planet to our solar system.

The Jupiter-sized world orbits the Sun-like star Epsilon Eridani, which is only 10.5 light-years away (approximately 63 trillion miles). The planet is so close it may be observable by Hubble and large ground-based telescopes in late 2007, when the planet makes its closest approach to Epsilon Eridani during its 6.9-year orbit.

The Hubble observations were achieved by a team led by G. Fritz Benedict and Barbara E. McArthur of the University of Texas at Austin. The observations reveal the the planet's true mass, which the team has calculated to be 1.5 times Jupiter's mass.

Hubble also found that the planet's orbit is tilted 30 degrees to our line of sight, which is the same inclination as a disk of dust and gas that also encircles Epsilon Eridani. This is a particularly exciting result because, although it has long been inferred that planets form from such disks, this is the first time that the two objects have been observed around the same star.

Additionally, the release stated:

Although Hubble and other telescopes cannot image the gas giant planet now, they may be able to snap pictures of it in 2007, when its orbit is closest to Epsilon Eridani. The planet may be bright enough in reflected starlight to be imaged by Hubble, other space-based cameras, and large ground-based telescopes.

For Star Trek fans, Epsilon Eridani is interesting because that star was at one time proposed as the the one around which orbits the homeworld of Mr. Spock: Vulcan. Now, however, it is generally thought that in the fictional universe of Star Trek, Eridani 40, 16 light years from Earth, is the actual homeworld of the Vulcans.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Freedom of Action in Space

A new U.S. national space policy has been issued. The unclassified version is available in PDF.

MSNBC.com reports:

The new policy supports not only an exploration agenda for the moon, Mars and beyond, but also responds to the post-9/11 world of terrorist actions, such as the need for intelligence-gathering internal and external to the United States.

U.S. assets must be unhindered in carrying out their space duties, the Bush space policy says, stressing that “freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.” ....

The White House document spells out U.S. space policy goals, including the implementation of a sustained “innovative human and robotic exploration program” geared to extending human presence across the solar system.

As a civil space guideline, the policy calls upon NASA to “execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe.”

The Bush space policy supports use of space nuclear power systems to “enable or significantly enhance space exploration or operational capabilities.” The document adds that utilization of nuclear power systems “shall be consistent with U.S. national and homeland security, and foreign policy interests, and take into account the potential risks.”

Thursday, October 05, 2006

White & Nerdy

Music video by "Weird Al" Yankovic from the album "Straight Outta Lynwood"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Brussels Journal has an interesting article that begins:

“The Jihad, the Islamic so-called Holy War, has been a fact of life in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East for more than 1300 years, but this is the first history of the Muslim wars in Europe ever to be published. Hundreds of books, however, have appeared on its Christian counterpart, the Crusades, to which the Jihad is often compared, although they lasted less than two hundred years and unlike the Jihad, which is universal, were largely but not completely confined to the Holy Land. Moreover, the Crusades have been over for more than 700 years, while a Jihad is still going on in the world. The Jihad has been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history. It has, in fact, been largely ignored. For instance, the Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the Crusades eighty times more space than the Jihad.”

The quote is from Paul Fregosi’s book Jihad in the West from 1998. Mr. Fregosi found that his book about the history of Islamic Holy War in Europe from the 7th to the 20th centuries was difficult to get published in the mid-1990s, when publishers had the Salman Rushdie case in fresh memory.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My science fiction publisher has finalized the title and cover for my next book; it will be called Inheritance.

This is my publisher's description of it:

Paul Wilcox is 83 years old. When his friend invites him to visit an unusual archaeological site in Lebanon, he never suspects that it will change his life. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of an advanced human civilization wiped out over a hundred thousand years ago in a biological war when the first virus was created from scratch and unleashed on the world. All the viruses known to humanity have their origins in an ancient weapon of war gone haywire.

But that is not the only wonder uncovered; an advanced computer from that ancient time still exists and gives Paul a secret that will change his life — and the lives of everyone else in the world — more than any other secret from the past: the secret to eternal youth.

The ebook is currently available; the paperback should be out in time for the Christmas buying season. Just click on the title above to take a look.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Israel gets blamed for a lot of nasty things. One common accusation and criticism is that they have acted genocidally against Moslems. And it is true, that since their War of Independence in 1948, about 60,000 Moslems have died in the various Israeli-Arab conflicts, including the two Intafadas and the War in Lebanon. However, in the same time period, France has been responsible for killing about half a million Moslems, while the Russians have killed about a million. And Moslem countries, while they've criticized and fought against Israel, have killed about 8.5 million Muslims all by themselves. But somehow, for some reason, the world only criticizes the Jews. I wonder why?

A quote from an article in Ma'ariv:

The tragedy is that in Arab and Muslim countries a massacre is happening. A genocide protected by the silence of the world. A genocide protected by a deception that is perhaps unparalleled in the history of mankind. A genocide that has no connection to Israel, to Zionism or to Jews. A genocide of mainly Arabs and Muslims, by Arabs and Muslims.

This is not a matter of opinion or viewpoint. This is the result of factual examination, as precise as possible, of the numbers of victims of various wars and conflicts that have taken place since the establishment of the State of Israel up till this time, in which the massacre continues. It is, indeed, death on a massive scale. A massacre. It is the wiping out of villages and cities and whole populations. And the world is silent. The Muslims are indeed abandoned. They are murdered and the world is silent. And if it bothers to open its mouth, it doesn’t complain about the murderers. It doesn’t complain about the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. It complains about Israel.

Take a look at this rather lengthy article published originally in Hebrew and translated by the blogger at Not A Fish.

Oh, and keep in mind an important point: Israel has a free press. Ma'ariv is one of dozens of daily papers in the Jewish state. Not something one can say about most of the Moslem countries who might want to criticize.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I do get the feeling that many people in the West do not understand the problem. Clifford D. May states the uncomfortable situation for the West well:

Many commentators have noted the apparent irony: The pope suggests Islam encourages violence — and Muslims riot in protest.

Many commentators have pointed out the apparent hypocrisy: Muslims are outraged by cartoons satirizing Islamic extremism while in Muslim countries Christianity and Judaism are attacked viciously and routinely.

Many commentators are missing the point: These protesters — and those who incite them — are not asking for mutual respect and equality. They are not saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of a religion.” They are saying: “It’s wrong to speak ill of our religion.” They are not standing up for a principle. They are laying down the law. They are making it as clear as they can that they will not tolerate “infidels” criticizing Muslims. They also are making it clear that infidels should expect criticism — and much worse — from Muslims.

They are attempting nothing less than the establishment of a new world order in which the supremacy of what they call the Nation of Islam is acknowledged, and “unbelievers” submit — or die. Call it an offer you can’t refuse....

....Imad Hamto, a Palestinian religious leader, said: “We want to use the words of the Prophet Muhammad and tell the pope: ‘Aslim Taslam’” The Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh explained: “Aslim Taslam is a phrase that was taken from the letters sent by the Prophet Muhammad to the chiefs of tribes in his times in which he reportedly urged them to convert to Islam to spare their lives.”

It is not only those readily identified as extremists who voice such views. The prime minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, seemed to strike a conciliatory note, saying that the Pope’s expression of regret for his remarks was “acceptable.” But he added: “[W]e hope there are no more statements that can anger the Muslims.”

Similarly, on National Public Radio, a George Washington University professor, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, argued that statements such as those quoted by the pope — expressing sentiments some Muslims may find offensive — must be viewed as a form of violence.

Is the Western ideal of freedom of speech and of the press threatened? Of course but that’s only part of what is at work here. More significantly, Americans and Europeans are being relegated to the status of a dhimmi — the Arabic word applied to those conquered by Muslim armies between the 7th and 17th centuries. Based on shari’a law, dhimmis are meant to “feel themselves subdued,” to acknowledge their inferiority compared to Muslims.

In some ways, we already have done so. For example, Muslims are welcome in the Vatican, even as Christians are banned from setting foot in Mecca. We do not object to Saudis building mosques in America and Europe, even as they prohibit churches and synagogues on Arabian soil.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Getting back to science fiction, something that I enjoy a great deal. I've been engrossed in a series of books begun by Eric Flint, the first of which is entitled 1632. You can easily get it at Amazon.com.Flint posits a temporal accident set in motion by aliens winds up sending a small chunk of West Virginia back to 17th century Germany in the middle of the 30 Years War. The chunk happens to encompass an entire town made up of good old boys and girls who set out to bring American ideals of liberty and justice to the Middle Ages. Fun ensues. It is a good story and a great series of books, still in the process of being written and published. I highly recommend them.
From a column in the Washington Post:

Today's Islamists seem to have not even a sense of irony. They fail to see the richness of the following sequence. The pope makes a reference to a 14th-century Byzantine emperor's remark about Islam imposing itself by the sword, and to protest this linking of Islam and violence:

· In the West Bank and Gaza, Muslims attack seven churches.

· In London, the ever-dependable radical Anjem Choudary tells demonstrators at Westminster Cathedral that the pope is now condemned to death.

· In Mogadishu, Somali religious leader Abubukar Hassan Malin calls on Muslims to "hunt down" the pope. The pope not being quite at hand, they do the next best thing: shoot dead, execution-style, an Italian nun who worked in a children's hospital.

"How dare you say Islam is a violent religion? I'll kill you for it" is not exactly the best way to go about refuting the charge. But of course, refuting is not the point here. The point is intimidation.

The whole article is well worth reading.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Besides doing my customary rewriting today, I also busied myself with things relating to the new server that the Quartz Hill School of Theology website has been moved to (thanks to Rick Curtis). We are in the process of adding various bells and whistles. For instance, the Aeropagus, our bulletin board/discussion forum is being completely redone. At the moment, it is still being put together and the look of it is not quite what we'd like, but it does function just fine. Eventually we'll link it to the home page of the site, and in a more obvious manner than it's former incarnation. If you'd like a preview, take a look now at the new Areopagus

I set the new DNS for our new server yesterday with Educause, the organization in charge of handling the .edu domain on the web. But not all ISPs had updated their DNS list yet, as of the time I was writing this--for instance, MY ISP hasn't updated yet (grumble) and it has been more than 24 hours. I've read it can take 3 to 4 days for the change to a new server to propagate through the internet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe writes about Islam:

This time it was a 14th-century quote from a Byzantine ruler that set off -- or rather, was exploited by Islamist firebrands to ignite -- the international demonstrations, death threats, and violence. Earlier this year it was cartoons about Mohammed in a Danish newspaper. Last year it was a Newsweek report, later debunked, that a Koran had been descecrated by a US interrogator in Guantanamo. Before that it was Jerry Falwell's comment on ``60 Minutes" that Mohammed was a ``terrorist." Back in 1989 it was the publication of Salman Rushdie's satirical novel, ``The Satanic Verses."

In every case, the pretext for the Muslim rage was the claim that Islam had been insulted. Freedom of speech was irrelevant: While the rioters and those inciting them routinely insult Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, they demand that no one be allowed to denigrate Islam or its prophet. It is a staggering double standard, and too many in the West seem willing to go along with it. Witness the editorials in US newspapers this week scolding the pope for his speech. Recall the State Department's condemnation of the Danish cartoons last winter.

Of course nobody's faith should be gratuitously affronted. But the real insult to Islam is not a line from a papal speech or a cartoon about Mohammed. It is the violence, terror, and bloodshed that Islamist fanatics unleash in the name of their religion -- and the unwillingness of most of the world's Muslims to say or do anything to stop them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

And, as of about 5:30 PM, the website and mailserver seem to be back up and running. Thank you Rick!

The new server is up, but at the moment www.theology.edu will still take you to the old sever until we change the DNS; the site has been uploaded onto the new server and all seems to be functioning fine, except for the Google ads, which have the old formatting problem. Doubtless we'll get that fixed soon. So the new server should go live within a day or so I think. Users should notice nothing different, at least at first. But there will be some enhancements coming...
Once again the Quartz Hill School of Theology has suffered a spam attack, taking the website and our email server down around 6 AM this morning. On the bright side, Rick Curtis is even now busy transferring the site to a new machine that should have better security and keep this from happening to us again. So the site should be back soon, better than ever.
Interesting. Some complained about cutting taxes, and yet an interesting tidbit:

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The U.S. government recorded record-high overall and corporate tax receipts on Sept. 15, which was a quarterly deadline for tax payments, the Treasury said Monday.
Total tax receipts were $85.8 billion on Friday, compared with the previous one-day record of $71 billion on Sept. 15 of last year, the Treasury said.
Within the overall figure, corporate tax receipts Friday were $71.8 billion, up from $63 billion in September of last year.
Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Randal Quarles said Friday's numbers provided a "continuing demonstration of the strength of the U.S. economy."
"In fact, Friday's gross receipts were the largest in a single day in the nation's history - 20% higher than receipts on the same quarterly tax payment date last year," Quarles said in a statement.
-By Benton Ives-Halperin, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9255; Benton.Ives-Halperin@dowjones.com

Do you suppose that Laffer fellow knew what he was talking about after all?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Moslem leaders routinely refer to Jews as the offspring of apes and pigs. They say similarly unpleasant things about Christians. They have a history of spreading their faith by the sword. Recently two newsmen taken hostage in Gaza were forced to convert to Islam on pain of death. But oddly, if anyone says anything Moslems don't like, they start rioting, burning stuff down, and demand apologies or beheadings.

Jerry Pournelle comments on his website:

What strikes me is this: all these imams get up and call for the destruction of Western civilization and death to Jews, we're supposed to - and do - accept that with equanimity.
But when the Pope quotes a beleaguered Byzantine emperor who was under military assault by Moslems, there are demonstrations in the Middle East. And the Pope is "upset" that Moslems would be offended.

No negative comments on Moslems to be allowed? At all?

Of course not. And to show how peaceful and civilized they all were, they went out and burned down four Christian churches. If the people of the US burned a mosque we would have years of sensitivity training, our children would have one and only one subject in school, guilt, advanced guilt, more guilt. We are no good. They are all good. What is it you do not understand about that? You need sensitivity training.

Do you not know that Western Civilization is the source of all the ills of the world, and anyone who would defend a horror like that is a monster who needs to be punished until he understands? Sensitivity training. That will do the trick.

I can't find anything in there to disagree with. I want to hope that most Moslems are not violent extremists. I suspect those that are not, however many of them there are, are generally too afraid to speak out, however, given the nature of the extremists and their likely reaction.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Once again spammers hit our server and took down both the Quartz Hill School of Theology website and our email server. Certain imprecatory psalms come to mind as I contemplate spammers.

Thanks to the efforts of Rick Curtis, who donates our server space, and Patrick at Quantum, the problem is now fixed and we're back. The site was down from about 6:00 PM Pacific Time on Thursday, September 14 until about noon Pacific Time Friday, September 15.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The mini-world formerly known as 2003 UB313, nicknamed "Xena," has received an official name from the International Astronomical Union: Eris. Its moon has been named Dysnomia. Eris is slightly larger than Pluto, and like Pluto, is classified as a Kuiper Belt Object and a "dwarf planet."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I sold a science fiction short story yesterday to the Amazon.com Amazon Shorts program. It's entitled Moon Over Aiyalon. Ray Bradbury read it many years ago and wrote me a nice letter telling me he liked it; however, in the years since I had written it, I had been unsuccessful in finding any publishers that agreed with Mr. Bradbury's assessment. Until now. In a few weeks the story will appear on Amazon.com, where anyone will be able to download it for only 49 cents.

It's a humorous story told in first person about an Israeli sideways time machine that proves unusually useful in countering terrorists.

Given the subject of the short story, it's ironic that the email from Amazon came on the fifth anniversary of 911.

The contract and author questionnaire that Amazon sent me is almost longer than the story; I'm still trying to fill it all out. On the bright side, they'll be promoting the story and conducting an advertizing campaign for it, and they will link it with my novel, so the two should drive sales for each other.

Monday, September 11, 2006

As a reminder on this day.

Remember, the people who blew up buildings and killed 2996 of us are the bad guys.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The first episode of Star Trek was broadcast 40 years ago today, on September 8, 1966. Live long, and prosper.
In case you are still on the fence about fighting the Islamic extremists, since their treatment of women, their beheadings, their blowing up of buses and restaurants hasn't convinced you that they might, really and truly, be bad guys: they are mean to dogs:

If a race of super-intelligent dogs were to land their spaceships on Earth, we would not have a hard time convincing them to join the U.S. in the "War on Terror." They wouldn't even need to see that infamous al-Qaeda tape of the dog being gassed to realize that the enemies of America are the enemies of all dogkind. Indeed, as it turns out, our Axis of Evil and theirs are not all that different.

"I call on the judiciary to arrest all long-legged, medium-legged, and short-legged dogs along with their long-legged owners," Gholamreza Hassani told worshippers last month, according to an Iranian newspaper, "otherwise I'll do it myself." This Iranian cleric is hardly a maverick; he is merely one of the more outspoken members of perhaps the most anti-canine regime in the world. Iranian officials regularly confiscate dogs and execute them unless the owners can provide adequate paperwork; even then the animals are often beaten and abused, and sometimes put to death anyway. In June, the sale of dogs was banned.

The rationale behind the periodic crackdowns is twofold. First, Islam is, quite simply, anti-dog. While the Koran makes few references to dogs, the Hadith — the collection of sayings of Muhammad's contemporaries and closest followers that forms the spine of Islamic law — contains over 400 references to dogs, almost all of them derogatory. Dogs are simply "unclean"; according to one widely cited hadith, angels cannot, or will not, enter a home that contains a dog. Dogs used for hunting or guarding are marginally okay, but even they are seen as spiritually dirty — the equivalent of useful pigs. (One hadith holds that if your guard dog licks a utensil in your home, you must wash it seven times and — inconveniently, it would seem, wash it an eighth time with dirt.) It is illegal to bring a dog into Saudi Arabia unless it has been certified as a seeing-eye, hunting, or guard dog. Even in secular Iraq, Saddam Hussein first made a name for himself as a boy by torturing and killing dogs with a white-hot steel bar.

From Jonah Goldberg.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

You’ve heard that the Bible has been perverted and changed by nefarious and hidden forces.

You’ve heard that aliens built the pyramids and the government is hiding flying saucers in Area 51.

You’ve heard that the moon landing never happened and it was all a giant hoax.

You need stop listening to crap, then. Aren’t you smarter than that?

The Bible has been copied and recopied for thousands of years by thousands of people. Unsurprisingly, the thousands of copies we have from these thousands of years look pretty similar to each other. Some spelling differences, a few changes in word order—think about what happened when you copied your buddy’s paper in school—but overall, there’s too many copies made by too many people in too many scattered places for any nefarious group to have ever hidden or controlled anything.

Think about it: how good are you at getting your children to clean their rooms? Or getting your teenagers to behave? You think anyone could get everyone to obey the hidden nefarious ones that these theories suppose had to have existed? Fiction is fun, but only preschool children think it’s describing real life.

If aliens have landed, then why do you have so much trouble getting your computer to boot up? And why’s NASA spending so much money struggling just to get into orbit if we’ve reverse engineered flying saucers that can move like the Star Ship Enterprise? And if they knew there was life out there, don’t you think NASA would tell everyone? How much easier would it be then for them to get more money out of the federal budget? You know, they get less than one percent of it now. The feds spend more than twice as much just on the food stamp program than they do on getting astronauts into space.

If the moon landing was a hoax, how’d we convince the Russians to go along? Let alone the French? And have you looked at the cheesy special effects they had in the 60’s? Like that would fool anyone!

We all like conspiracies and secrets, but remember, real life isn’t like in the movies. It just doesn’t work that way. No one’s really in control. The good guys don’t always win. Neither do the bad guys. And sometimes things just go wrong, or sometimes things just go right. Napoleon is quoted as saying, after one of his generals was accused of treason for losing a battle: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

And humans are pretty smart all by themselves. We don’t need no stinking aliens to build piles of rocks like the pyramids. We can pile up rocks pretty damn well all by ourselves if we have good enough motivation. And really: aliens have nothing better to do with themselves than mutilate cattle and make intricate designs in cornfields? Is that what you’d do as a member of a technologically advanced civilization after traveling a thousand light years? Why? Me, I’d be looking for a good burger.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet."

--From Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

As we contemplate the fact that Pluto is now to be classified as a "dwarf planet," becoming one of a class of similar objects beyond Neptune, some people may feel a bit sad. The reality, of course, is that Pluto has not gone anywhere, and nothing has changed in the shape of our solar system. The astronomers are simply changing and clarifying how we classify the objects that make it up. Back in the 1800's Ceres was initially classified as a planet. Eventually, as other objects were discovered between Mars and Jupiter, it was reclassified as one of the asteroids that fill that region of space. Ceres did not suddenly vanish in a puff of pink smoke. Neither has Pluto. But it is a reasonable reclassification which helps us understand the structure of our solar system a bit better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A depressing article by Richard Cohen. A taste:

This inability of Europe to get its act together is what suggests 1938. Back then, Churchill was hardly the only one who thought Hitler was intent on war. After all, the German leader was an ideological zealot -- and a murderer to boot. Still, England did little. Similarly, you don't have to have Churchillian prescience to see that what happened once in Lebanon can happen again. Hezbollah's avowed aim is to eradicate Israel. Listen to what it says. Pay attention. It will renew its attacks the first chance it gets. This is why it exists.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

As I watch events unfold, I increasingly get a feeling of deja vu, as if the 1930s are happening all over again. I want to hope that there will actually be peace, but frankly, it strikes me as being all too like the sort of peace that a certain British Prime Minster famously brought back from meeting with a certain Jew-hating totalitarian. "Peace in our time" too often becomes simply a pause before far worse trouble comes. Confronting evil now is usually better than confronting it later. False peace is worse than what it seeks to solve; it is like giving morphine to a man with appendicitus. "There, don't you feel better now?" And surely he does, until his appendix bursts.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Michael Medved writes an interesting article on the question of "why anti-Semitism."

An excerpt:

The establishment of the modern Jewish state wasn’t a cause of Jew hatred, but a response to Jew hatred—not only in Europe, but throughout the Islamic world where some 800,000 Middle Eastern and North African Jews were driven from their ancient communities and found new homes in Israel. None of Israel’s eight major wars has been about a Jewish lust for new territory. All of them have been about a beleaguered nation’s ceaseless attempts to make its citizens secure from murderous attack in the distinctly limited area of their ancestral homeland. Every Arab child in Lebanon, in Gaza, and in the West Bank could sleep sweet, undisturbed slumber as soon as tomorrow night if the adults once-and-for-all gave up their long-standing project of driving the Jews out of the Middle East.

Contrary to anti-Semitic presumptions, Israel has never demanded special privileges of any kind, but yearns (and bleeds) only for the same rights other nations enjoy: to live undisturbed beside its neighbors without unceasing attack by terrorists, militias and, occasionally, major armies. Montenegro, the newest member of the family of nations after a referendum this year, won independence and worldwide recognition despite the fact that more than 45% of the electorate opposed bringing the nation into existence, and only a bare majority claims Montenegran (as opposed to Serbian) nationality. More than 80% of the residents of Israel are Jewish, and they have fought tenaciously for their nationhood for nearly sixty years. The desire for peaceful borders and acceptance from fanatical neighbors hardly amounts to an Israeli demand of privileged status, but the refusal to grant that recognition reflects the classical attitude of the anti-Semite: that Jews indeed deserve different treatment from all other nations on earth but in a negative, hostile and, ultimately murderous sense.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I got a nice call from my science fiction editor late this afternoon. He has decided to publish another of my books, entitled Fades the Flower. He's planning on using the same artist that they used to do the cover of Somewhen Obscurely, Steve Chavez.

Additionally, I learned that my publisher will have my books on display and available at the World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim, August 23-27. This is where and when the Hugo Awards are awarded, too (the science fiction equivalent of Emmys and Oscars). Thousands attend this convention each year, including writers, editors, agents, directors, producers, and the like. This isn't just books, it's also TV and movies. It will have added attraction this year since it's the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Trek.
Michelle Malkin on HotAir in a video presentation of the faked Reuters' photographs.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I have only a very limited amount of experience in the news business: working as a volunteer with media relations during the two X-prize launches of SpaceShipOne, doing press releases for non-profits like the church and the School of Theology, having letters to the editor appear in both small and major newspapers, and doing a weekly column for a small newspaper.

However, from this limited experience, I have found that newspapers will publish your press releases verbatim if you write them in proper style, and then they will appear with some reporter's byline over them; they never call or email questions; they never verify the information. They just print it as is. Half the time, they even leave the typos.

I know that many reporters did not read the press packets we gave them at the X-prize launches, and I wonder if they paid attention to what they were told in the briefings, or if they paid attention to the launches themselves. Why do I say that? It's based on some of the questions they asked, most of which were already answered in the packets.

The reality is, that editors and reporters simply take what you tell them and run with it, unless you say something that is at odds with their perceptions of how things should be. Otherwise, they don't check; they don't question; they simply regurgitate. The only time they begin to do their supposed job is when you state something that is at odds with their world view.

When we look at how Reuters handled photos from those who sent them to them, when we see how they repeat the press releases of Hezbollah, it is obvious that they are not providing any oversight at all and have no clue how to research or to actually question anything. Reuters' behavior is consistent with my limited experience in dealing with news purveyors. Most reporters are simply all too human: rushed, harried, overtired--and living on deadline. They're just ordinary people with a very demanding and tough job that gets beyond them far too often.
This is annoying. CNN reports that Reuters has withdrawn 960 photographs taken by a Lebanese photographer because it's been proven that at least two of the photos were altered by his use of photoshop to make things look worse than they were.

Of course, then there are the captions that they've put on the photos to make things seem worse than they are too, or simply claiming the same person on two different days a week apart is fleeing from the same house that was just destroyed during a night time bombing raid--a photo clearly taken during the daytime. See Michelle Malkin, among others who have talked about this. Or repeating without comment claims by Hezbollah that are later shown to be false, as the report of 40 killed in a "massacre" that later turns out to be but one death. Tragic, but not quite the same as a "massacre." See the Jerusalem Post, among others.

If the news wishes to become the offical progandists for Hezbollah, then it would be nice if they'd admit it rather than continuing to claim that they are "unbiased." It seems obvious after a repeated pattern of "mistakes" and "this is contrary our policy" that all oddly seem to come out to favor the same side, that perhaps they really are rooting for Hezbollah.

I have been skeptical of much reporting lately anyhow, so now it has simply moved up a notch. So is anyone telling the truth? Do news people do any fact checking, do any research at all? I'd rather have biased news that tells me it's biased, rather than arogant reporters claiming objectivity who are just lying to me.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Today around 3:00 PM I finished the first draft of the book I was asked to write for that London publisher. I'm going to let it sit over the weekend before I begin the rewriting process. It's too long at the moment and so I'll have to do some cutting, on top of the other corrections and alterations that will no doubt be necessary.
Interesting interview with Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel, reported by the London Times. This excerpt is useful, since these are details that often seem to be omitted in a lot of the reporting about the war:

Q: But there is a sense in the world, and you must be aware of it, of lack of "proportionality". Many people question how after two soldiers kidnapped and eight killed by Hezbollah we are now seeing upwards of 400 dead and rising in Lebanon. How can such an initial incident justify such a huge response from Israel?

A: I think that you are missing a major part. The war started not only by killing eight Israeli soldiers and abducting two but by shooting Katyusha and other rockets on the northern cities of Israel on that same morning. Indiscriminately.

Now we know that for years Hezbollah - assisted by Iran - built an infrastructure of a very significant volume in the south part of Lebanon to be used against Israeli people. The most obvious, simple, way to describe it to the average British person is: can you imagine seven million British citizens sitting for 22 days in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham in Newcastle, in Brighton and in other cities? Twenty two days in shelters because a terrorist organisation was shooting rockets and missiles on their heads? What would have been the British reaction to that? Do you know of a country that would have responded to such a brutal attack on its citizens softer than Israel did? Based on my knowledge of history no country in Europe would have responded in such a restrained manner as Israel did.

I don’t want now to draw comparisons [but] one could ask the question what precisely did the European forces [do] in Kosovo 10 years ago. How many innocent civilians were killed in Kosovo 10 years ago? We can draw on and on these comparisons.

What are we talking about? More than a million Israelis are sitting 22 days in shelters because of the fear of terrorists. In every single case...that we kill an uninvolved civilian in Lebanon, we consider it as a failure for Israel. And you know how many Israelis raise their voices as a result of this? And they don’t have to because we feel that we failed when we killed uninvolved people.

The difference between us and Hezbollah is that when we kill innocent people we consider it a failure, when they kill innocent people they consider it a success.

Tell me, who are they aiming at when they shoot already 2800 rockets on Haifa, Hanariya, Akko, Sefat, Afula and the rest of the places, if not to kill innocent people? So I’m sorry for every individual that was killed that was not involved.

And by the way, how do you really know that 400 innocent civilians were killed? How do you know who is innocent and who is not? Why? This is not an army. They don’t wear uniforms that distinguish them from other civilians. We didn’t attack any of the Christian quarters of Beirut. We didn’t attack any of the Christian residential areas in any part of Lebanon. We attacked only those areas where they had the Katyusha launchers, where they had the missile launchers, where they had the command positions of Hezbollah, where they had the storage houses, the logistic centres and so on and so forth.

So the fact that people were killed there who were not dressed in uniforms doesn’t mean that they were innocent civilians. There were Hezbollah people, they are the terrorists. Did you ever see terrorists dressed with military uniforms like we have in our army? No.

Monday, July 31, 2006

You know, all those who think the Israelis are so awful and evil warmongers fail to notice a very simple fact: Israel has never bombed a country that hasn't bombed or invaded it first. You want peace with Israel? Just leave them alone, stop shooting at them, don't kidnap or murder their citizens, don't send suicide bombers at them, don't invade them, don't shoot rockets at random into their farms and villages. If you leave them alone, they won't bother you. Peace really isn't all that hard to achieve. Israel would really love to be at peace with everyone, but until those who attack them decide to stop attacking, peace simply isn't going to happen. Surprisingly, the nation of Israel is not willing to accept the peace of the grave.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

A depressing video about the nature of Islamic Extremism. It's long, over an hour.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Interesting article and pictures from NASA about Xanadu, a region on Titan. There's also a cool Quicktime movie about Xanadu.

Keep in mind that the rivers and lakes would not be filled with water, but perhaps with liquid methane. Titan is a very cold place.
There is an interesting summary and overview of the history of Islam's relationship with non Muslims at The Brussels Journal; I found out about it from Jerry Pournelle's website. It is a reminder of history that I already knew. A taste of the article:

“The conversion of the entire population to Islam and the extinction of every form of dissent is the ideal of the Muslim State. If any infidel is suffered to exist in the community, it is as a necessary evil, and for a transitional period only. Political and social disabilities must be imposed on him, and bribes offered to him from the public funds, to hasten the day of his spiritual enlightenment and the addition of his name to the roll of true believers.” “A non-Muslim therefore cannot be a citizen of the State; he is a member of a depressed class; his status is a modified form of slavery. He lives under a contract (zimma, or ‘dhimma’) with the State: for the life and property grudgingly spared to him by the commander of the faithful he must undergo political and social disabilities, and pay a commutation money. In short, his continued existence in the State after the conquest of his country by the Muslims is conditional upon his person and property made subservient to the cause of Islam.”

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oddly, I've noticed some criticism of Israel for hitting power plants, bridges, and the Beirut airport. It's called war. Israel is trying to isolate Hezbolah and keep Iran and Syria from doing anything to supply them. They're also trying to keep Hezbolah from being able to get away. Duh. Same reason Israel targeted such things in Gaza. They're trying to destroy the terrorists. What's so hard to figure out about this? They've even announced their intention.

Does no one in the news media read history? Or talk to military people? Or know any soldiers? Or even watch the History channel or maybe read a war novel or watch a war movie on occasion?

Friday, July 14, 2006

My wife is visiting in Europe at the moment. Tonight, she told me that someone there wondered if maybe things would be better if there simply were no Israel. "Then no one would be mad at the Jews."

Um, yeah. We'll just ignore the last 2000 years of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust--you know, stuff that happened when there was no Israel.

Are there really people out there that are that incredibly stupid? Obviously. And it makes me furious.

Let's see, Israel pulled out of Lebanon back in 2000. They gave Egypt back the Sinai around 1980, returning to Egypt the only oil wells they had. Then Israel pulled out of the Gaza entirely. And how is Israel treated as a consequence? Hezbollah shells them from the north, Hamas shells them from the south. On a daily basis. But Israel is just supposed to take it. I'm sure that Italy, for instance, would just quietly sit back if Switzerland started shooting rockets at farmers and townspeople along the border, then snuck across that border and kidnapped a few Italian soldiers and killed a few others. And they wouldn't mind at all if terrorists snuck in and started blowing themselves up in public places. Right? And the world would condemn Italy for being even the least annoyed about it.

Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, when they talk about "occupied territory" they mean all of Israel: Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, the kibbutz I worked on. The PLO was founded in 1964, three years before Israel took the West Bank and Gaza and Sinai and Golan Heights in the 6 day war. Jordan and Egypt occupied the West Bank and Gaza up til then. No terrorists ever attacked the Jordanians and Egyptians. Only Israel is attacked.

And does the Vatican or the Europeans or the other jerks of the world ever issue condemnations of the anti-Semitism preached daily on the TV, radios, newspapers and mosques of the totalitarian Moslem world? Do they ever condemn the targeting of Israelis and Jews in their shopping centers and restaurants and homes? How often have those who so quickly condemn Israel, condemned Hamas or Hezbollah or anyone else for killing Jews? I don't recall hearing much. The UN seems to want to condemn Israel every chance it gets--in fact, Israel has been condemned by the UN more than anyone else--disproportionately so. But those who kill Jews, those who repress women, those who restrict the press and religious freedoms of millions, there's rarely a word spoken against them. The Europeans prefer to trade the Jews for oil. Peace at any price, especially if that price is only the Jews they hate anyhow.

It's all anti-Semitism in the UN and the capitals of the world, nothing more. And it's nothing new. For 2000 years the world has been condemning the Jews. It's not a surprise that they're still at it. They have lots of practice.

Hezbollah, Hamas, PLO, the jihadists, they are the bad guys. Not Israel. How many women do the Muslim extremists have to keep in burkas, how many wives do they have to beat, how many heads do they have to chop off, how much more do they have to restrict freedom of press, speach and religion before these morons figure out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are?

It's insane. I'd like to see some of the critics of Israel try opening a Bible in a Moslem country. See how far they get. And if the critic is a woman, let's see her try to drive a car in a Moslem country, or walk around unescorted there, or try wearing something comfortable and reasonable for hot summer weather.

How hard is this to understand? There are always two sides to every story. In this case, there's the bad side and the good side. Now pick. It's not so hard.
An interesting article at RealClear Politics begins this way:

WASHINGTON -- Next June will mark the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War. For four decades we have been told that the cause of the anger, violence and terror against Israel is its occupation of the territories seized in that war. End the occupation and the "cycle of violence'' ceases.

The problem with this claim was that before Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six Day War, every Arab state had rejected Israel's right to exist and declared Israel's pre-1967 borders -- now deemed sacred -- to be nothing more than the armistice lines suspending, and not ending, the 1948-49 war to exterminate Israel.

But you don't have to be a historian to understand the intention of Israel's enemies. You only have to read today's newspapers.

Read the whole thing. Some imagine that there is moral equivalency between Israel and those who are at war with them now. That there is a "cycle of violence." I believe that those who think that simply don't understand what's actually going on. Those who are at war with Israel are the bad guys. Sometimes there really is a right side and a wrong side to a conflict. This is one of those times. You'd think the fact that those who are at war with Israel are anti-Semitic, purposely target civilians, think all Jews should die, believe the Holocaust never happened, and danced with glee on 911 would be enough of a clue that they are the bad guys. (Or maybe if we think about what these folks do to women, freedom of speach, freedom of the press and freedom of religion, that would help?) If it walks like a Nazi and talks like a Nazi...

Or maybe some people think that Israel should just continue accepting getting rockets shot into them on a daily basis from Gaza and Lebanon? Not to mention the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers. But then, I'm not a pacifist and I believe that sometimes war is the answer.

Lincoln said that the best way to destroy our enemies is by turning them into our friends. I agree with that. Unfortunately, all too often, the best way is not possible in this sad world.

The current Dry Bones cartoon is also interesting as one thinks about these things.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bigelow's test module, the Genesis 1 is safely in orbit and functioning well. It was launched by the Russians with a Dnepr, which during the Cold War, was known as the SS-18 Intercontinental Balistic missle called Satan, designed to nuke us. Amazing how the world has changed. Now instead of wanting to nuke us, they are happy to sell us stuff.

For more details, visit the blog on Space.com or Bigelow Aerospace.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

MEMRI.org sent out an email today:

Special Dispatch-Iran
July 13, 2006
No. 1204

Iran and the Recent Escalation on Israel's Borders

To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit: http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD120406 .

In statements published over the last few weeks, senior Iranian officials advocated an escalation of the violent activity against Israel and against "Zionists" around the world.

Additionally, in mid-June 2006, Syria and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement. The Syrian defense minister stated on that occasion that the two countries "are establishing a joint front against Israel... [since] Iran regards Syria's security as its own."

For the last few weeks, Iran has been constantly delaying its response to the ultimatum presented to it by 5+1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany) regarding its nuclear program, since it has no intention of accepting the international community's terms and of suspending its uranium enrichment activities. Iran was required to respond to the ultimatum by July 12 (before the G8 summit in Saint Petersburg). So far, the international community has not yielded to Iran's attempts to evade the ultimatum, and has denied Iran's request to postpone the deadline to August 22, 2006.

Iranian National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani, who is in charge of Iran's nuclear dossier, made a surprise visit to Damascus after meeting with E.U. Council Secretary-General Javier Solana on July 11, 2006. Syrian Vice President Farouq Al-Shar' stated after the meeting that the resistance [movements] in Lebanon and in Palestine [i.e. Hizbullah and Hamas] would make their own decisions regarding their affairs.

It is possible that the escalation on Israel's borders, set off by elements supported by Iran - Hamas, Hizbullah and Syria - is meant to take the pressure off Iran by triggering a major military clash in the Middle East, which will divert international attention from Iran's nuclear program.

The following are excerpts from statements by top Iranian figures and details about the Syrian-Iranian military agreement:

Military Cooperation Agreement Between Iran and Syria

On June 16, 2006, the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported:(1) "Well-informed sources in Tehran have told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the talks held in Tehran between Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani and his Iranian counterpart Mustafa Mohammad Najjar did not only deal with military and security aspects of the strategic cooperation between the two countries, but also with the situation in Lebanon... [The talks also] dealt with the situation in Palestine, and with the ways of assisting the Hamas and the [Islamic] Jihad in their conflict with Fatah...

"In a meeting with reporters after the signing of the military cooperation agreement, the Syrian defense minister stated that 'the American threats against Iran and Syria are nothing new... We are examining ways of countering these threats, and are establishing a joint front against Israel's threats... [since] Iran regards Syria's security as its own.'"

The daily reported that the Syrian defense minister had visited Tehran at the head of a large delegation escorted by army and intelligence officers, and met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iranian Chief of Staff Hassan Fayrouz and Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Yahya Rahim Safavi.

It further reported that "Iran has agreed to finance Syrian military deals with Russia, China and Ukraine, to equip the Syrian army with cannon, warheads, army vehicles, and missiles manufactured by the Iranian Defense Industries, and to enable Syrian navy drills.

"Syria, on its part, has renewed its previous agreements with Iran which allow Iranian ammunition trucks to pass [through Syria] into Lebanon..."

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat added that the Syrian and Iranian defense ministers "had agreed to establish a 'consultation room' and maintain open communication channels between the two countries in security and military matters."

Threats by Iranian President Ahmadinejad

In a television program aired on July 11, 2006, Iranian President Ahmadinejad warned Western countries not to support Israel, because "the rage of the Muslim peoples will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region... The waves of the explosion... will reach the corrupt forces [i.e. the Western countries] which support this fake regime." The following is an excerpt from Ahmadinejad's statement on the program: (2)

"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Today, it has been proven that the Zionists are not opposed only to Islam and the Muslims. They are opposed to humanity as a whole. They want to dominate the entire world. They would even sacrifice the Western regimes for their own sake. I have said in Tehran, and I say it again here - I say to the leaders of some Western countries: Stop supporting these corrupt people. Behold, the rage of the Muslim peoples is accumulating. The rage of the Muslim peoples may soon reach the point of explosion. If that day comes, they must know that the waves of this explosion will not be restricted to the boundaries of our region. They will definitely reach the corrupt forces that support this fake regime."

Editor of Iranian Daily Kayhan: No Zionist Should Feel Secure Anywhere in the World

On July 3, 2006, editor of the conservative Iranian daily Kayhan Hossein Shariatamadari, who is close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, wrote, "The reaction to Israel's crimes in Gaza should not be confined to the occupied territories. Why should the Zionists [feel] secure when there is no security for the Muslims?"

In an interview with the conservative Iranian news agency Mehr, Shariatamadari reiterated that the Muslim world should not limit its responses to the Zionist attacks only to the Gaza Strip, but should see to it that "no Zionist feels secure anywhere in the world." He added that the Zionist attack in Gaza does not reveal the Zionists' power, but [only] their fear.

According to Shariatamadari, the U.N. is useless since "all its rules are interpreted [in a way that] favors [the aggressors], and the Israeli attack in Gaza elicits a mere expression of sorrow on the part of the U.N."

Shariatamadari called on the Muslim countries that maintain economic ties with Israel to sever these ties, and also to minimize their ties with countries that support Israel and to recall their ambassadors to these countries.(3)

Threats by Hassan Nassrallah in Conservative Iranian Daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami

On the morning of July 12, concurrently with the Hizbullah attack on Israel's northern border, the conservative Iranian daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, which is affiliated with the religious seminaries of Qom, published a speech given by Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nassrallah on May 23, 2006 at a conference on "The Culture of Resistance." The following are excerpts from the speech:

"We can hit Israel's entire northern region with thousands of rockets... All of Israel is now within the range of our missiles. Its seaports, [military] bases, industrial plants and everything else are all within our range... I repeat and say that our stockpile of weapons is significant, both in quantity and in quality... Another advantage that I wish to mention is the geography of Lebanon and Palestine. Most of Israel's vital areas are concentrated in the northern [half] of occupied Palestine, while the south is uninhabited and desolate. More than two million Jews live in the north of occupied Palestine, which contains the recreation centers and [tourist] resorts, the industrial plants, the agricultural [areas] and the important military airports and bases. This is an advantage for us... Our presence in South Lebanon, in proximity to the north of occupied Palestine, is our greatest advantage..."(4)

Emphasis on Hizbullah's Importance to Iran

According to a May 11, 2006 Al-Sharq Al-Awsat report, a high-level Iranian official who held a closed meeting with a small group of Western diplomats in London emphasized Hizbullah's importance to Iran: "Hizbullah is one of the pillars of our security strategy, and forms Iran's first line of defense against Israel. We reject [the claim] that it must be disarmed..."(5)

(1) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 16, 2006.
(2) To view this clip at MEMRI TV, see http://www.memritv.org/search.asp?ACT=S9&P1=1187 .
(3) Kayhan (Iran), July 3, 2006.
(4) Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), July 12, 2006, http://jomhourieslami.com/1385/13850421/index.html .
(5) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 11, 2006.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.

MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
E-Mail: memri@memri.org
Search previous MEMRI publications at www.memri.org

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Florida Today, a newspaper with an online presence, has a very cool video of the launch of Discovery taken from one of the solid rocket boosters; it is set to music and is a selection of clips from launch through the splashdown of the solid rocket booster into the Atlantic ocean, where it was recovered for reuse on a future flight.

Click Here for the video.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Time Magazine has a good article that puts the current war between Hamas and Israel in perspective:

The logic for those continued attacks is to be found in the so-called phase plan adopted in 1974 by the Palestine National Council in Cairo. Realizing that they would never be able to destroy Israel in one fell swoop, the Palestinians adopted a graduated plan to wipe out Israel. First, accept any territory given to them in any part of historic Palestine. Then, use that sanctuary to wage war until Israel is destroyed.

So in 2005 the Palestinians are given Gaza, free of any Jews. Do they begin building the state they say they want, constructing schools and roads and hospitals? No. They launch rockets at civilians and dig a 300-yard tunnel under the border to attack Israeli soldiers and bring back a hostage.

And this time the terrorism is carried out not by some shadowy group that the Palestinian leader can disavow, however disingenuously. This is Hamas in action--the group that was recently elected to lead the Palestinians. At least there is now truth in advertising: a Palestinian government openly committed to terrorism and to the destruction of a member state of the U.N. openly uses terrorism to carry on its war.

That is no cycle. That is an arrow. That is action with a purpose. The action began 59 years ago when the U.N. voted to solve the Palestine conundrum then ruled by Britain by creating a Jewish state and a Palestinian state side by side. The Jews accepted the compromise; the Palestinians rejected it and joined five outside Arab countries in a war to destroy the Jewish state and take all the territory for themselves.

Incidentally, the rocket attacks against Israel have been a nearly daily occurance since Israel left Gaza in 2005, something that continued throughout the so-called "truce." For some reason, it was a truce that only Israel was expected to keep.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Somewhen Obscurely is now available from Amazon.com. Just click the link to go look at it. Last time I checked, a picture of the book cover, as yet, was not up, but at least when people type in my name or the title into the search box, the info on the book is there and it can be ordered.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pluto's recently discovered moons have been given names: Nix and Hydra, after the Greek goddess of night and the nine-headed monster slain by Hercules, respectively. MSNBC.com has the details.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I was contacted this week by a publisher in London to write a book with the working title, 100 Characters from the Bible. Something to keep me busy.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Israel has taken a lot of negative publicity over the rocket shelling incident where 8 Palestinian civilians were killed. Of course, the context, that the Palestinians had been shooting rockets at the Israelis for the last several days before goes unmentioned. And then there are questions about whether the Palestinian civilians were actually killed by the Israelis at all:

An Israel Defense Forces intelligence officer has confirmed that the explosion that killed eight Palestinians on Friday, was caused by a stockpile of Hamas explosives.

"Shortly after we stopped defensive firing at Hamas rocket launch pads which were deployed behind Palestinian human shields, members of Hamas scrambled to fire more rockets at our positions," said Col. M. "We have eyes on every meter of Gaza, from the sky, from the ground and from the sea. One of their rocket tripods collapsed inadvertently setting off an explosion of a stockpile of Qassam rockets. The Palestinians killed their own children. And this was not the first time."

Hamas terrorists fired rockets and mortar bombs from a crowded Gaza beach at southern Israel. Some of the rockets fell near the Israel city of Ashkelon. Some 17 rockets were fired between Saturday and Sunday morning. A man at a school in the Israel town of Sderot was wounded, Israel officials said.

Israel Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant said today that the Israel Defense Forces has additional evidence that it wasn't Israel artillery that hit the beach in Gaza. Galant, who commands Israel's southern command, said Israel stopped firing 15 minutes before the explosion. It's all on secure videotape from both sides of the conflict. Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was sorry about the deaths, which included three children.

The full report is available from Israel News Agency.

Of course, one should be suspect of information that matches what one wants to be true. One should be as skeptical of it as one is of information that is disagreeable. It is entirely possible that this report is bogus. Time will tell. On the other hand, given that the Palestinians have lied in the past (remember the Jenin massacre that never was?) it would not surprise me if we eventually discover that this report from the Israel News Agency is correct.

Odd thing. There is a tendency lately for the news to uncritically report any bit of dasterdly behavior that our enemies accuse us or our allies of committing, and a willingness to believe the absolute worst about American troops and American government behavior, and to assume anything that Israel or the US does must be evil and done for bad reasons. Odd really.

Explain to me again who it is that saws off people's heads, oppresses women, tosses dissidents into jail, restricts freedom of press and speach, and riots over cartoons? And we're going to believe them when they criticize US troops and Israel? And give them a respectful hearing? How come?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

My books are now listed on my publishers website: Antediluvian and Somewhen Obscurely. The paperback version of Somewhen Obscurely is listed as "coming soon."
I teach a Sunday school class. One person this morning asked whether it was wrong to feel happy about Zarqawi being dead as a consequence of the US Military dropping two 500 pound bombs on his head. We had a good discussion. And I have continued to contemplate the issue.

There are, in the Bible, what are termed the "imprecatory Psalms." These are Psalms which call for the destruction of enemies. Many who read such poems come away very disturbed by what they say. Consider, for instance, Psalm 137, which ends by commenting "O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us--he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."

The emotions reflected in the Psalm seem at odds with our picture of a loving God and the central biblical command to "love others." And yet, for anyone who has suffered injustice or evil, the emotions reflected in Psalm 137, if we're honest with ourselves, resonate with us and give vent to our own feelings.

And yet, Proverbs 22:17-18 says this: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.”

Jesus tell us repeatedly to “love our neighbors" and to "love our enemies." So there is a natural tendency for some Christians, perhaps most, to feel guilty if they feel any joy over the death of even a terrorist like Al-Zarqawi, who was responsible for personally murdering many people.

But there is more to the biblical picture that needs to be considered in dealing with this question. We must consider the story of Purim, which is a time of celebration for the death of the evil Haman and his monstrous plans (see Esther 8-9). We might want to consider, too, the sense of the book of Revelation, whose aim is to provide comfort for the persecuted in the face of their persecution, with the promise that those who have tormented them will be destroyed. Consider the words of Revelation 18:20, regarding the destruction of Babylon (i.e., the City of Rome): “Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you.' And of course we find the Song of Moses in Exodus 15, where the people rejoice over their deliverance from the Egyptians, and their great pleasure that the army that pursued them perished by drowning in the Red Sea.

So how to reconcile the two ideas of love for the enemy, with joy over his destruction? Can it be done? Or should we consider that the law of love trumps anything else that might seem in conflict?

Perhaps it's akin to the biblical prohibition on murder. If I kill my neighbor for letting dandelions grow in his lawn, then I’m a murderer. But if I’m a soldier who kills the enemy, or a police officer who kills a bad guy, or I kill someone in self-defense or to protect someone else, then I’m a hero. If I take money from your wallet, I'm a theif, but if the government does it, it's taxation and perfectly legitimate.

It is a complex issue biblically, related I think to the question of whether war is ever appropriate. Those who accept pacificism will view it as never being legitimate. Personally, I think that's hard to justify biblically, let alone realistically, as much as I like the sentiment and wish it could be true, and in fact as much as I would prefer it to be true.

The nature of love, what it feels like from God, seems to depend on our relationship to him. Consider another Psalm, Psalm 136, which tells us repeatedly that God's love endures forever. the Psalm lists a variety of things that the Psalmist thinks illustrates how great God's love is:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.

who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.

who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.

And so it goes, with the poet talking about a variety of blessings that illustrate how God's "love endures forever." But then the Psalmist writes:

to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.

And then:

who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.

and killed mighty kings-- His love endures forever.

Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.

and Og king of Bashan-- His love endures forever.

I suspect that the first born of Egypt, Sihon, and Og might not have "felt the love" as they died. But for the Israelites, gaining deliverance from their enemies, the deaths of the first born and these kings seemed quite loving. How we feel about God's love seems to depend on which side we're on; kind of like fire. If we're cold and sitting next to it, it feels good. If we've stuck our finger into it, it feels bad. If I kill the murderer attempting to kill my friend, my friend will "feel the love" from me. The murderer's opinion might be different. But who cares?

In the final analysis, I, personally, cannot feel guilty for being happy that an evil, murderous, depraved thug can no longer kill people. Zarqawi was depraved and the world is a better place without him.
From AP, as reported in several places (emphasis added):

Hamas' military wing on Friday said it would no longer honor a truce with Israel following a deadly Israeli artillery strike that killed seven civilians.

"The earthquake in the Zionist towns will start again," said a leaflet distributed by the militants at a Hamas rally Friday night. "The resistance groups ... will choose the proper place and time for the tough, strong and unique response."

Israel and the Palestinians declared the truce in February 2005. Hamas, which has killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombings, has largely abided by the cease-fire.

"Largely" abided. Kind of like being only a little bit pregnant, eh? So Israel is the one who bears the guilt of violating this truce, not the Palestinians. Those rocket attacks from Gaza that preceded the Israeli strike, and the suicide bomber in Tel Aviv in April, just for example (there have been a lot of attacks) well, those didn't violate the truce. Palestinians can never violate a truce. Only Jews can violate truces, according to the AP. Only if Israel decides to try to defend itself is it then a violation of the truce and so the Palestinians are acting appropriately in ending it. They've been provoked, poor babies.

And yet the AP and those who repeat their report that Israel is the bad guy would be horribly offended if anyone were to suggest that they might be even the slightest bit anti-Semitic. Well, if it quacks like a duck and has feathers like a duck...