Friday, January 2, 2009

Ground Game

As I pointed out on Tuesday, Israel's airstrikes on Gaza could never last more than a few days. Israel is now out of targets for airstrikes to hit militarily, and politically airstrikes would allow Hamas to play the survivor card. Israel either has to retreat or go to ground attacks, and with "news" that Hamas has somehow "acquired" Iranian short-range Fajr-3 missiles, that conveniently could be fired from Gaza in range of Israel's Dimona nuclear facility (arguably the worst kept secret in the Middle East) Israel seemingly has no choice but to unleash a full ground assault into Gaza. What better way to report it than from the Village's London division, the Times?
Israel is poised to launch a major ground offensive into Gaza tonight after allowing hundreds of foreigners living in the devastated territory to evacuate.

After a week of air strikes that have killed at least 420 Palestinians and left scores of buildings in rubble, the Israeli army was set to fling hundreds of troops and tanks into a blitz to stamp out Hamas’s military wing, The Times understands.

Despite the looming onslaught, more Hamas rockets – which have so far killed four Israelis – were fired into southern Israel today.

The Islamist group vowed that its attacks, which have lasted for years and which finally provoked the massive Israeli campaign, would not stop.

Those dirty Palestinians have regrettably borough collective punishment upon themselves, you see. Of course, the ground offensive part of Operation Cast Lead was the plan all along. Sometime this weekend, Israel is expected to roll in and crush perhaps thousands of Palestinians in order to protect Dimona. It will be a massacre. Having experienced a failure in Lebanon 18 months ago, the Israelis are determined not to repeat their mistakes. With the Palestinians of Gaza safely roped in behind a huge concrete wall, the fish in the barrel will be not only shot, but bombed, burned, crushed, smashed, and butchered.

Our wonderful humanitarian President of course blames the Palestinians for this. It's no surprise then with the Israelis taking a page from Bush's Muslim-killing cookbook, drumming up a climate of fear that the mere threat of Palestinian rockets are infinitely more dangerous and deadly than the Israeli military machine. Israel certainly should be able to defend itself from these rockets. But the imminent slaughter of several orders of magnitude more Palestinians than have been killed by Gaza rockets isn't defending your's collective punishment.

A war crime.

But then again, Americans do that sort of thing too. Why not Israel? Honestly, who's going to stop them?

Dear America:

"Since eight years of Bush shredding and then defecating upon the Constitution of the United States of America and then repeatedly interpreting it to mean that it's okay to constantly violate the laws within didn't work out so well for conservatives, I've determined the best way for conservatives to get back into power is an amazing document called the 'Constitution of the United States of America' that, if the laws are actually applied to him (unlike Bush), can be interpreted in such a manner that it can be used to stop Barack Obama and the liberals from doing anything. I'm a genius for the annals of humanity."

--Peter Berkowitz, WSJ

Thank You For Not Flying Air Stupid

You're flying home on New Year's Day, when you overhear people in the next row saying the following:
"The conversation, as we were walking through the plane trying to find our seats, was just about where the safest place in an airplane is...[w]e were (discussing whether it was safest to sit near) the wing, or the engine or the back or the front..."
Now, probably you're looking at a mental picture of a nervous Seinfeld-like moment with a family of neurotic flyers, maybe a kind of morose-looking college student and his girlfriend, an insurance guy coming home from a conference discussing probabilities with his buddy from risk assessment, a group of extreme sports enthusiasts talking up an adrenaline rush, or maybe a couple of pro poker players doing what pro poker players always do: talking odds.

Now imagine when you turn around to look at the people holding the conversation, that they are a traditionally-dressed Muslim family. What would your reaction be? Would it result in something like this?

Atif Irfan said federal authorities removed eight members of his extended family and a friend after passengers heard them discussing the safest place to sit and misconstrued the nature of the conversation.

Irfan, a U.S. citizen and tax attorney, said he was "impressed with the professionalism" of the FBI agents who questioned him, but said he felt mistreated when the airline refused to book the family for a later flight.

AirTran Airways late Thursday said they acted properly and that the family was offered full refunds and can fly with AirTran again.

"AirTran Airways complied with all TSA, law enforcement and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the matter," the company said in a prepared statement.

Family members said FBI agents tried to work it out with the airline, but to no avail.

"The FBI agents actually cleared our names," said Inayet Sahin, Irfan's sister-in-law. "They went on our behalf and spoke to the airlines and said, 'There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation,' and they still refused."

"The airline told us that we can't fly their airline," Irfan said.

America still has a long, long way to go to recover from the damage caused over the last 8 years.
"When we were talking, when we turned around, I noticed a couple of girls kind of snapped their heads," said Sobia Ijaz, Irfan's wife. "I kind of thought to myself, 'Oh, you know, maybe they're going to say something.' It didn't occur to me that they were going to make it such a big issue."

Some time later, while the plane was still at the gate, an FBI agent boarded the plane and asked Irfan and his wife to leave the plane. The rest of the family was removed 15 or 20 minutes later, along with a family friend, Abdul Aziz, a Library of Congress attorney and family friend who was coincidentally taking the same flight and had been seen talking to the family.

A very long way to go. No doubt there are those out there who think that not only are the two girls on the plane heroes, but that Muslims have no business flying in airplanes in America in the first place, or even having any of those "civil rights" we keep talking about. We interred Japanese-Americans during WWII, after all.

Seven years later and we're still yanking Muslims off planes and telling ourselves "well, no harm done in overreacting like that!"

What if it was you and your family marched off a plane by the FBI?

Like I said...a long way to go.


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