Minutiae
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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Monday, November 03, 2003
Hmmm. Hungry, infuriated, bored, and antsy, I'd better go home.

{insert Sideshow Bob voice here} "Oh how do I hate thee bureaucrats. You who play with budgets and lives as though they were a game of Monopoly."

Apparently we can expect a delegation from asshatistan sometime in the next few weeks. Their express purpose is to find any of our residents who shouldn't be here and give them the boot. {insert sound of my head exploding} They're going to go over all our documentation with a fine toothed comb. This is happening to everyone in our industry because the fucking bastards want to save money. I cannot think of anything more fucking stupid. I know we'll harrass and stress the workers who are already underfunded so we can find any disabled folks who might possibly not qualify for service if we bend the rules enough. That'll solve our budget woes.

BASTARDS! I want a lawsuit. This is sooo fucking illegal. If I ever win the lottery I'm going to set up a lawyer full time to file lawsuit after lawsuit to fucking spank these people until they fucking understand that it is not ok to fuck around with people's lives like this.

Ahem.

posted by Rachel 11/03/2003
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Presented for your consideration:
This dated 7/16/03
"The file grows almost daily: 309 incidents in the past 15 months in the Paris region, according to Jewish council officials, and more than 550 since the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, broke out in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2000. The National Consultative Committee on Human Rights, a government-funded body, reported a sixfold increase in acts of violence against Jewish people and property in France from 2001 to 2002.
...............
The violence in France parallels incidents throughout Europe, where attacks on Jewish institutions and other expressions of anti-Semitism have risen over the past few years, as has strong criticism of Israel. But in many ways, France -- with 6 million Muslims and 600,000 Jews, the largest population of each group in Western Europe -- is unique.

For Jews here, many of whom had thought of themselves as French first and foremost, the violence and the initial tepid response of government officials have led to a crisis of identity.

"At first, neither the politicians, nor the courts, nor the intellectuals, nor the media, nor public opinion, nor civil society -- none of them said anything," said Simon Kouhama, president of the Jewish Citizens Forum, an organization founded largely by Sephardic Jews. "We began to ask if we could even stay in France. Were we really French citizens? Were we Jews? We had the feeling we were a people apart."

Then thisdated 6/22/03
"We got to Abdel-aziz al-Rantisi a couple of weeks before the Israelis almost did. Our yellow taxi-bus had taken us down an anonymous side-street in Gaza city, and stopped outside a grey-black four-storey apartment block. There was no decoration on the ground or first floors, just bare concrete steps, with no banisters. One flight up we passed a room in which a sub-machine gun sat, ownerless, on an armchair beside a sunny window. Mr Rantisi was in the room above.

The Hamas leader, a famous hardliner in that organisation of hardliners, was going, I hoped, to answer a specific question. Why, in article 32 of the Hamas covenant, was there an approving reference to a document, an anti-Semitic forgery of the early twentieth century, once described by a leading historian as a 'warrant for genocide'?

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - supposedly a transcript of a meeting of the world's top Jews, called to discuss the achievement of world domination - was concocted by an ultra-orthodox member of the Tsar's secret police, Sergei Nilus in about 1903. By the early 1920s it was being widely circulated in Europe and America, was later taught in the schools of Nazi Germany and is now to be found on any good neo-nazi web-site near you. It is the classic of Holocaust-era anti-Semitism, portraying the Jews as a conniving, Machiavellian race, plotting how to gain power well beyond their puny numbers, through manipulation and money.

So what on earth is it doing in the twenty-first century manifesto of an Islamic movement? The Covenant says that 'the Zionists' want an Israel that extends from Cairo to Basra, and then next stop, the world. 'Their plan,' says Mr Rantisi's Covenant, 'is embodied in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.'

Rantisi is serious and measured (he was once a paediatrician). His windows are veiled against surveillance, there is a picture of Hassan al Banna, murdered leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, on the wall. 'When I first heard about this document,' says Rantisi reasonably, 'I didn't want to believe it, but then I saw what was happening in Palestine, and I could see that it was genuine.' That is his answer.

It was also (and this is no cheap point) Hitler's answer. In Mein Kampf, the future Führer allowed that many people thought that the Protocols were a forgery. He was sure they embodied the truth. 'The best criticism applied to them,' he said, 'is reality.'

Everything in the Middle East is propagandised. For those Israelis who do not want a settlement such as the road map, this kind of thing is evidence that the enemy is as implacable and hate-filled as were, say, the Nazis. For the Israeli government it constitutes a powerful supporting argument for armed vigilance. Jewish and pro-Israel groups consume the material put out by monitoring groups such as the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri) and Palestinian Media Watch, and shudder collectively.

There is a great deal to shudder about. The amount of anti-Semitic literature, journalism and television in Arab countries is voluminous. The more sophisticated Arab governments, however, who tolerate this stuff, understand the need to turn a less contorted face to the West, with its anti-racist liberal campaigners. They play it down, or ignore it. It isn't easy, though.

When you are confronted with the collected anti-Semitisms of the post-11 September Arab world, what is most striking is the weirdness of journalists and politicians raiding the ancient political sewers of old Europe for arguments. Take the example of what is called the 'blood libel'. This is the old medieval story of how Jews kidnap Christians, kill them and use their blood in arcane rituals. We had a spate of these tales in England in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and many Jews lost their lives as a result.

So what on earth is the blood libel doing in a column in the respected Egyptian mass daily paper Al-Ahram, in a book by the Syrian defence minister and in broadcast sermons from various Palestinian mosques? The libel in question is the 1840 Damascus case, in which several Jews (including a David Harari) 'confessed' to the Ottoman authorities - under torture - to kidnapping a priest and stealing his blood.

Holocaust denial is another widespread feature of Arab discourse, but for different reasons. In a school in Gaza, a middle-aged teacher of English interrupted my interview of several of his pupils, and launched into a tirade against the Jews. Were they not behind all wars? Had they not caused trouble wherever they were? Had they not caused troubles even for the Germans? 'When?' I asked him. 'Before the reign of Hitler,' the teacher replied.

A few blocks away I met Dr Musa Al-Zubut, chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council education committee, who had been trying to go and meet his colleagues in Ramallah for several weeks, but had been prevented by the Israelis. He was explaining why the history books for the new Palestinian curriculum contained no reference to the Holocaust. Zubut said he knew that the Holocaust was 'of course' exaggerated. It was not, he said, '1 per cent of what we have suffered in Palestine'. Besides, even if every Jew had been killed, what was that to do with the Palestinians?"

Then finally, this Dated 11/2/03
"Israel has been described as the top threat to world peace, ahead of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran, by an unpublished European Commission poll of 7,500 Europeans, sparking an international row."

Now imagine that you are an Israeli. You may very well have parents or grandparents who survived the holocaust. What would you think and how would you vote in light of this? Would you give a flying fuck what the rest of the world thought you should do?

This sums it up pretty well.
"Europe is sick again. The memory of 6 million murdered Jews, it seems, is no longer inoculation against the virus of antisemitism. It has taken hold, on the supposedly liberal left as well as the xenophobic right, all too long unchecked by feeble political leadership with one eye on the vengeful sentiments of millions of anti-Zionist immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. The historic antisemitism denying individual Jews the right to live as equal members of society has horribly coalesced with a new version of antisemitism that denies the collective expression of the Jewish people, namely Israel, to live as an equal member of the family of nations. From Kiev in the East to Bilbao and Barcelona in Spain, and Rome in the South, from Marseilles to Paris to Berlin in the West, the poison is at work. Somehow antisemitism in Europe has outdone every other ideology and prejudice in its power and durability. Fascism came and went; Communism came and went; anti-semitism came and stayed. And now it has been revitalized.

"Fire and Broken Glass." Some of the manifestations of the campaign are spelled out in a report by the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights aptly titled "Fire and Broken Glass." The summary of evil deeds can only sketch the daily nightmare. Jews, and people presumed to be Jewish, are assaulted across the region. Attackers, shouting racist slogans, throw stones at school children, at worshippers leaving religious services, at rabbis. Jewish homes, schools, and synagogues are firebombed. Windows are smashed. Scores of Jewish cemeteries are desecrated with anti-Jewish slogans and threats and Nazi symbols on walls and monuments. In Belgium, thugs beat up the chief rabbi. In Britain, the left-wing journal the New Statesman depicts a large Star of David stabbing the Union Jack. In London, a young student reading Psalms is stabbed 27 times on a city bus. A mural in a Scottish church depicts a crucified Jesus surrounded by Israeli soldiers. In Italy, La Stampa publishes a Page 1 cartoon of a tank emblazoned with the Jewish star pointing its gun at the baby Jesus, who pleads, "Surely, they don't want to kill me again." In France, where there have been hundreds of acts of violence, walls in Jewish neighborhoods have been defaced with slogans proclaiming, "Jews to the gas chambers." In Germany, the Free Democratic Party has unofficially adopted antisemitism as a campaign technique to attract Germany's sizable Muslim minority. A former German defense minister blames the power of the Jews for all the perceived ills of American foreign policy. German Jews are advised not to wear anything in public that will identify them as Jewish because their safety cannot be guaranteed. A listing of such incidents could fill, and fill again, this entire magazine–even though they represent just a fraction of the total number of such crimes, their racial origin concealed in routine statistics of ordinary assault and vandalism.

All it takes for evil to flourish, as Edmund Burke reminded us, is for good men to remain silent. That, alas, has been the pattern. When things were getting out of hand a year ago, the French government finally made a forthright stand, and it had an effect. (Kudos to Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, who recently spoke out forcefully against antisemitic trends in U.S. academia.) Many public officials in Europe make racist, anti-Jewish statements but too often escape rebuke. Many Europeans are shocked by the re-emergence of hatred of Jews, but the most common reaction has been complacency. Israel seems to be absorbing Europe's lingering anti-Jewish feelings, which are easier for many to express as anti-Zionism than antisemitism.

How do they do this? By applying two of the oldest antisemitic techniques: the double standard and moral equivalency. The double standard is manifest in the way Jews and the Jewish state are judged in a way no other people would be. With venom unsurpassed in modern dialogue, Europe demands that Israel acts as if it has to win the "moral man of the year" award just to defend itself. Israel is attacked for any deviation, no matter how trivial, as if responding to those that seek its destruction is a moral failure. This pernicious, and intellectually dishonest, double standard has the effect of implicitly denying Israel the right to the same measures of self-defense that any other state would exert. When Israelis take steps to assert their collective rights of self-defense in the face of unprecedented terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians, they encounter an almost unanimous condemnation from the European establishment and the European media. European detractors turn every Israeli act of defense into its current euphemism: crimes against humanity. The Europeans took the election of Ariel Sharon as a license to view every act of self-defense as an aggression. They forgot what produced Sharon's election, namely the terrorism that Yasser Arafat launched in September 2000 against the most left-wing government in Israeli history–a government that had just made the most far-reaching proposals to settle the conflict.

What provoked Europe's latest hostility was Israel's incursion into the West Bank, which was in response to the unprecedented campaign of terror, culminating in the Netanya Passover bombing in which 29 Israelis perished and more than 140 were injured. If any other country in the world were bleeding from terrorism at the same rate as Israel, would there be any question of its right to defend itself? To deny Israel's right to defend itself, of course, is to deny the right of the Jews to a state that can perform the minimal function of protecting its own citizens.

The European double standard toward Israel takes many forms. Witness the eagerness with which so many in Europe diminished, and even dismissed, Israel's previously unimaginable concessions at Camp David, swallowing the Palestinian version of events there, despite a forceful American repudiation of that spin. Witness the almost hysterical reaction in Europe to a nonexistent massacre in Jenin, even as it failed to pay attention to the cumulative massacres of civilians in Israel. The Guardian newspaper in London betrayed its historic association with the founding of Israel with the outrageous editorial utterance that Jenin was every bit as bad as 9/11. Witness Europe's virtual acquiescence in the World Conference Against Racism held in South Africa, where Israel, the only democracy in the region with a program of civil rights and full Arab participation in government, was accused of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, and apartheid, while the vicious racism of the Middle East and Africa was ignored.

Paradox upon paradox. The traditional attacks from the right based on national, religious, or ethnic reasons have been surpassed by the more driving force of the extreme left, which invokes political or universal reasons, like human rights, anti-globalism, and socialism. Ever obsessed by anti-Americanism, they have seized on the Middle East crisis as a way to attack the United States and Israel as being unfeeling toward the poor of the world. For them, the Palestinians have become the poster child for Third World victimization. Indeed, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is portrayed as an extended human-interest story told exclusively from the Palestinian point of view. Unmentioned is the fact that there is not a single democratic state in the entire region, that there would not be a single Israeli soldier in any Palestinian city or any checkpoint were Jews not the daily targets of terror. Ignoring the corrupt, authoritarian regime in Palestine, the critics from the left attack Israel on universalist issues, arguing that Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank oppressing the Palestinians. They pay not the slightest heed to the fact that Israel is there because the Arabs made war. Never do they acknowledge that the Palestinians could have had their own state just two years ago, and perhaps be flourishing in peace now, if they had not been incited to still more insensate violence. The paradoxes are dizzying–and malign. Israel, a country victimized by terrorism, stands accused of perpetrating terrorism, the Jews described as Nazis, and their Arab tormentors cast in the role of helpless Jews.

Next, of course, is the moral-equivalency trap. When Israel responds to terrorism, Europe treats it as if the response and the terrorism are morally equal; as if there were no difference between the arsonist and the firefighter; as if Israel's response, which seeks to minimize civilian casualties, is equal to the terrorism, which seeks to maximize civilian casualties; as if the premeditated campaign of suicide murder were a sane response to an extraordinarily generous proposal that would have provided Palestinians with a state–a proposal many in Palestine now fervently wish their corrupt and vicious leadership had embraced.

Of course, the point of the double standard and moral equivalency is to create the impression that Israel is an illegitimate state, among the world's worst human-rights violators, and thus legitimize the extinction of a state the Arabs have never accepted. The insight of Amos Oz, a liberal Israeli writer, is pertinent. He is haunted, he says, by the observation that before the Holocaust, European graffiti read "Jews to Palestine," only to be transformed in modern times into "Jews out of Palestine." The message to Jews, notes Oz, is, "Don't be here and don't be there. That is, Don't be."

Europe seems to be unconscious of the virulence of the campaign of lies against Israelis in Palestine and throughout the Middle East, where the fact of the Holocaust is routinely described by media and governments as a Jewish invention, and where teachers foment a hatred of Israel and fail even to acknowledge its existence in history texts and maps in the schools subsidized by Europeans!

The unprecedented and unbridled hatred embodied by jihad, sanctioned by authoritarian Arab states, is, of course, a device to divert their populations from the failures of their own societies. But Europe, the killing fields of so many Jews, should know better. It should be the first to understand that Jews, of all people, have the right to defend, even overdefend themselves from the consequences of hate. Europe has a historic duty to redeem the crimes committed on its soil by first recognizing and then repudiating the persecution Jews face today and vigorously defending the collective right of the Jewish state to defend itself from its legions of hate-blinded enemies.

Anything less defames the glories of a European civilization dedicated to the dignity of man, freedom, honor, and decency."

posted by Rachel 11/03/2003
. . .
Oh this is so not fair. I had all my plans worked out to get the last few storm windows in and caulked, this week. We haven't raked leaves even once yet. Most of them are still on the trees. Now... snow? Now I have to go find gloves and the brush/scraper for the car. Thank goodness we bought Benno's Sorrels last week. I'm sure everyone will be trying to buy them now.

posted by Rachel 11/03/2003
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