Archive for December, 2008


More from Gaza

December 29, 2008

More IAF precision strikes.

Impressive. This kind of footage gives the lie to The Guardian’s Comment Is Free line about the IAF indiscriminately slaughtering innocent civilians. All the indications I’ve seen – and admitted by Hamas itself – are that the overwhelming majority of the casualties are Hamas operatives. Furthermore, Israel did its now customary trick of sending SMS messages out on the cell network warning civilians to keep clear of the targets of impending air strikes. In The Guardian’s case, it’s clear that ‘Is Free’ means ‘Worth Nothing.’

Meanwhile, here are some blogs-on-the-ground to watch (as opposed, and in preference, to the MSM):

Israel Matzav, Aliyah!, IsraellyCool, Life Must Go On in Gaza and Sderot, SabbahBlog, Good Neighbours.

The Gaza sites opposed to Hamas that I used to visit have closed down or gone dormant in the past year. There could be a reason for that.

Further afield: Augean Stables, Contentions, Power Line, Mere Rhetoric, Gateway Pundit.

The Ozblogos doesn’t seem to be paying much attention.

UPDATE: Actually, I was wrong on that last point.  There’s a lively debate going on at Larvatus Prodeo.


Salman Rushdie on the Mumbai Bombay terror attacks

December 28, 2008

Salman Rushdie, with a panel of distinguished others, discussed the November terrorist attacks on the city of Bombay in New York a few days ago.

Among other things, he had this to say about the re-naming of Bombay, the city in which he was born:

And by the way, I think we have all agreed before hand that we are going to call the city by its proper name, which is Bombay. It is Bombay that was attacked and not Mumbai. And, by the way, I cannot say, and this is the only time I will say it, the words “Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus”. This railway station is and always will be VT. And so, because these are the names of love, the others are the artificial names imposed by the politicians. But these are the names of the city that we love.

Here it is:


Rushdie is always worth listening to, and you can catch the video of the discussion here at Asia Society (it runs for more than an hour and a half), or read edited extracts from his remarks here at Outlook India.

It’s interesting that he has a swipe at Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy:

[Arundhati Roy in her article had actually written: “We’re told one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That’s absolutely true. It’s an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day.”–Ed ]

I thought that particular remark in her piece was disgusting. The idea that the deaths of the rich don’t matter because they are rich is disgusting.

The idea that the 12 members of the Taj staff, who heroically gave their lives to save many of the guests, are to be discounted because they were presumably the lackeys of the rich — this is nauseating. This is amoral. And she should be ashamed of herself.

Roy was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004.

Talking of the Bombay attacks, some chilling stuff here.

Disturbing photographs made available to this newspapers by police sources indicate that several of the guests at the Taj Mahal Hotel during the siege November 26 were sexually humiliated by the terrorists and then shot dead.

Police sources confirm that even as the terrorists were engaged in a fierce combat with NSG commandos, they were humiliating their hostages before ending their terrifying ordeal.

Foreign guests were their particular target. Eight of the 31 killed at the Taj were foreign nationals.

Photographs taken by a police forensic team after the hotel was sanitised yield a gruesome picture of some of the guests in the nude.

These bodies were found away from the hotel’s swimming pool which makes it clear that they were not those guests who were taken hostage from the poolside.

“Even the Rabbi and his wife at Nariman House were sexually assaulted and their genitalia mutilated,” said a senior officer of the investigating team, not wishing to be quoted.

We’ve seen some of these stories before, and I’m not convinced they’re not just rumours and gossip. I hope they are.


War comes back to Gaza

December 28, 2008

A precision strike by the Israeli Air Force – one among many.

UPDATE: Targets detailed here.

The chorus of condemnation begins.

Major world powers called for an immediate end to violence after massive and deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip yesterday and rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The European Union, the bloc’s current president France, Britain and Russia urged both sides to stop the fighting, while in the Middle East the Arab League and its members singled out Israel for blame.

The French EU presidency “expresses greatest concern at the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and deplores the very large number of civilian victims”, Brussels said.

“It condemns the Israeli bombardments as well as the firing of rockets from Gaza. It demands their immediate halt. It condemns the disproportionate use of force.”

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana earlier in the day said: “We are very concerned by the events in Gaza.”

“We are calling for an immediate ceasefire and the maximum restraint. Everything must be done to reinstate the truce” declared by the Palestinian Hamas movement controlling Gaza, which expired on December 19.

UPDATE: And the whole situation would have lacked that sense of the real without the UN springing into action and condemning Israel. Here they are:

It appears to have been a very cunning plan:

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

Barak gave orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas’ security infrastructure, along with that of other militant organizations operating in the Strip.


A poem for the Christmas season

December 26, 2008

Beats cricket.

Whilst I immensely respect and admire the theological skills of The Currency Lad and saint at DogfightAtBankstown, I have to admit that it’s things like this that really work for me as far as Christianity in concerned. High Anglican, too. Now, if only they had a different Archbishop.


Despised And Rejected

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

My sun has set, I dwell
In darkness as a dead man out of sight;
And none remains, not one, that I should tell
To him mine evil plight
This bitter night.
I will make fast my door
That hollow friends may trouble me no more.

“Friend, open to Me.”—Who is this that calls?
Nay, I am deaf as are my walls:
Cease crying, for I will not hear
Thy cry of hope or fear.
Others were dear,
Others forsook me: what art thou indeed
That I should heed
Thy lamentable need?
Hungry should feed,
Or stranger lodge thee here?

“Friend, My Feet bleed.
Open thy door to Me and comfort Me.”
I will not open, trouble me no more.
Go on thy way footsore,
I will not rise and open unto thee.

“Then is it nothing to thee? Open, see
Who stands to plead with thee.
Open, lest I should pass thee by, and thou
One day entreat My Face
And howl for grace,
And I be deaf as thou art now.
Open to Me.”

Then I cried out upon him: Cease,
Leave me in peace:
Fear not that I should crave
Aught thou mayst have.
Leave me in peace, yea trouble me no more,
Lest I arise and chase thee from my door.
What, shall I not be let
Alone, that thou dost vex me yet?

But all night long that voice spake urgently:
“Open to Me.”
Still harping in mine ears:
“Rise, let Me in.”
Pleading with tears:
“Open to Me that I may come to thee.”
While the dew dropped, while the dark hours were cold:
“My Feet bleed, see My Face,
See My Hands bleed that bring thee grace,
My Heart doth bleed for thee,
Open to Me.”

So till the break of day:
Then died away
That voice, in silence as of sorrow;
Then footsteps echoing like a sigh
Passed me by,
Lingering footsteps slow to pass.
On the morrow
I saw upon the grass
Each footprint marked in blood, and on my door
The mark of blood for evermore.


Christmas greetings from Israel

December 26, 2008

Before we go there, a question.  Sorry it’s such a long one.

WHICH STATE, in the all-too-long history of warfare between nations, is the only one which, when confronted with an enemy who:

  1. has as its foundational value the destruction of the subject state by armed force and terror
  2. inculcates genocidal hatred of the subject state among its population and more particularly its young
  3. infiltrates the sovereign territory of the subject state across international borders and kidnaps one of the subject state’s soldiers (an act of war)
    • refuses subsequently to allow the captive access to international humanitarian authorities (a war crime)
  4. infiltrates suicide bombers into the territory of the subject state as acknowledged instruments of murder in accordance with declared policies (acts of war)
  5. bombards the subject state with rockets (acts of war) – to the number of several score on a single day, which rockets are:
    1. fired from civilian areas under cover of the civilian infrastructure (a war crime)
    2. unguided, regardless of target (a war crime)
    3. specifically intended to kill, maim and terrorise civilians (a war crime)
    4. protected from retaliation by the subject state with civilian human shields, commonly women and children  (a war crime)
  6. has never concealed, denied or resiled from any or all of the above;

IS then nonetheless required by the international community to:

  1. refrain from retaliating (by striking at the rocketeers and terrorists)
  2. refrain from protecting itself (by closing its borders)
  3. refrain from defending itself (by erecting barriers and checkpoints)

AND IS also directed by the international community to support, sustain and nurture, in a time of war, the enemy sworn to its destruction by providing it with –

  1. Fuel
  2. Food
  3. Water
  4. Power
  5. Humanitarian aid
  6. Access of the subject state’s hospital and medical services
  7. Money
  8. Free movement across its borders

– without demur, limit or objection.

Which state? You guessed it.

With all that in mind, let’s go, as Carl in Jerusalem would say (thanks, Carl), to the videotape.


Christmas greetings from Iran

December 25, 2008

…. of all places.

Britain’s Channel 4 TV station has decided to broadcast a lecture to the West from the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as its ‘alternative’ to the Queen’s traditional Christmas message.

A taste (the whole thing is here):

If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. The solution to today’s problems is a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises is to follow the Prophets – they were sent by the Almighty for the good of humanity.

Ahmadinejad has been reading the Western Left’s talking points all right, but has obviously never heard that Christ said:

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s (“Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ”) (Matthew 22:21).

It is to this recognition of the distinction between the the spiritual and the temporal that may be attributed the success of Christianity as a modernising influence; and to the lack thereof, on the part of Islam, its failure to do the same.

Sadly, the Iranian leader’s message is only marginally more incoherent than that of the Archbishop of Canterbury (see this post).

It hardly seems necessary to add that under Ahmadinejad Iran is aggressively pursuing a nuclear weapons development program (no-one sensible seems to dispute this) and fervently desires the elimination of Israel from the table of nations.  But perhaps more to the point, early last year he humiliated Britain in the eyes of the world by kidnapping 15 UK sailors and marines from international waters and returning them, laden with gifts, and tarnished with unavoidable implications of cowardice and treachery, to their parent nation and service, to the disgrace of both.

For this service many thanks, and free air-time on Britain’s airwaves.

But be all that as it may, Tehran’s proxy in Gaza, Hamas,  continues to spread the Christmas message in its own inimitable way.  And implements Sharia law as well. And persecutes Christians, too, of course.


In the bleak midwinter

December 25, 2008

My favourite Christmas carol, words by Christina Rossetti (one of my favourite poets), music by Gustav Holst.

I’m not the biggest fan of the English choral tradition, but this rendering by Gloucester Cathedral Choir is pretty good.

I first heard this lovely carol as part of the soundtrack of a great feminist short film called A Jury of Her Peers.