I'm posting from the lovely and cozy Victoria Station Cafe in Putnam, Connecticut (panorama here), now in the second half of my two-week visit to Putnam. You might have heard Putnam mentioned in the news because of the PlayStation shooting a couple of weeks ago, which happened just before I got here. (They've now arrested a couple of suspects.)

But did you hear about the Holiday Dazzle Light Parade?
Putnam, a town of about 9,000, saw an invasion of revelers that reached monumental proportions. The 20,000 in attendance almost matched the number of people who work at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos. The 20,000 is more than a sellout for the UConn basketball team at the Hartford Civic Center. It's more people than the populations of Canterbury, Pomfret, Sterling and Woodstock combined.

The enthusiasm didn't end Sunday night. The Winter Dazzle has accounted for dizzying amounts of people visiting the Norwich Bulletin's web site, www.norwichbulletin.com to see dozens of photos of the event. People just loved this parade.

How to explain it? ...

Read the rest at the link. The announcer on the local station, WINY, was commenting this morning that the station had contacted the news media in Hartford about the event, but was told that their reporters "couldn't find" Putnam. He said they didn't have any trouble "finding" Putnam when somebody got shot. He was pretty irate, and I don't blame him.

(For the record, I've never driven in Connecticut before, and am completely unfamiliar with this part of the state - but somehow, following Route 44 from Bradley Airport through the backwoods of Connecticut in the dead of night, I managed to "find" Putnam. Go figure.)

Anyway, thanks to the magic of blogging, you can get the good news, not just the bad. I was at the parade, I took photos, and I'll post 'em. And no, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the weighty issues facing the world today, but I'm enjoying my hiatus from political blogging and welcoming the chance for a little breathing space.

Regular posting will resume in a week.

Update: Pictures here.


Gay Palestinian Beaten at Pride Rally

Via American Thinker, Bookworm Room links to this story at SFGate:
A group of gay Palestinian Americans canceled a planned pride march in East Jerusalem on Friday after one of them was beaten unconscious by a local man who said he was from the Waqf Muslim religious authority.

The beating incident occurred on the same day an Israeli gay pride rally went ahead as scheduled, though without a planned march through city streets. The march had been called off after threats by religious and right-wing opponents to mount huge counterdemonstrations. Only minor violence marred the event. ...

In the East Jerusalem beating, two men -- one wielding a knife -- came looking for the group of gay Palestinian Americans who were staying at the Faisal Hostel near the Damascus Gate of the Old City. One of the assailants identified himself as being from the Waqf, the clerical trust that administers Muslim religious sites in the city.

"I'm pretty terrified right now," said Daoud, an MBA student from Detroit who declined to give his full name. "We left the hostel immediately, but when my friend went back to collect some things, they were waiting for him. They asked if he was with 'the homos' and then started beating him." ...

Daoud said nine gay Palestinian Americans had come to Jerusalem to join the pride march. "Maybe I was just being naive. I heard about the pride rally, and I thought it would be nice for us to do something together as a gay community," he said. "We got a different kind of reception instead."

In America, he said, "you have some tolerance and appreciation and understanding of what it means to be gay and to be a Palestinian. We're discovering the hard way it's not so acceptable here."

I won't adopt the sneering tone I've seen some conservative commentators take toward incidents like this, as if it's all a big joke. But it does speak volumes about the gulf between free societies and repressive ones. I'm glad Daoud wasn't injured more seriously. And I'm glad these guys are waking up to the homophobia that's still rampant and dangerous in the Arab-Muslim world - even if it was a rude awakening.

Jerusalem Gay Pride Wrap-Up

In the end, the event was held in a stadium.

A few thousand gays and their supporters rallied in Jerusalem on Friday under heavy security, going ahead with a festival that has sparked religious protests and highlighted deep divisions in Israeli society.

... Organizers had planned a gay pride street parade but cancelled it after police said they needed to beef up security to guard against threatened Palestinian attacks following a deadly Israeli army shelling attack in Gaza this week.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews had also threatened to disrupt the march through the holy city. There have been nightly protests in Jerusalem's religious neighborhoods against the parade.

...Police said they arrested several religious youths near the venue who were carrying knives and brass knuckles. There were also a few minor scuffles between right-wing opponents of the event and gay rights activists in the city but little violence.

Arutz Sheva:
Event organizers reported that some 4,000 people attended Friday’s gay pride event in the Givat Ram area of the capital. About 3,000 policemen were on hand to maintain law and order. There were no serious disturbances reported.

Police security worries spiraled after an errant Israeli artillery shells killed 19 civilians in Gaza on Wednesday and Palestinian militants vowed to carry out suicide bombings in Israel in retaliation.

Responding to those concerns, Pride organizers agreed to turn the parade into a rally, held inside the fenced-in stadium of Jerusalem's Hebrew University, which was ringed by mounted police and anti-riot units.

This article at Time points out some things you should know about Israeli culture:
The fuss over the Gay Pride Parade also exposed some of the seismic cracks inside Israeli society, where modern, secular values collide with fiercely defended religious traditions. The sharp Tel Aviv-Jerusalem rivalry illustrates this divide. Tel Aviv prides itself on its hip nightclubs and a laid-back, cosmopolitan attitude, while an hour's drive away, in some Jerusalem neighborhoods, ultra-orthodox men re-create the customs of 17th century Poland and wear long, black waistcoats and beaver hats that make them broil in the Mediterranean sun.

Making up half of the Holy City's Jewish residents, the ultra-Orthodox ride their own buses, send their kids to religious schools and have the power to close off their neighborhoods to cars on the Sabbath. Any Tel Aviv visitor wandering into these austere communities in shorts and a T-shirt on the Sabbath runs the risk of getting clobbered by a rock.

Even Jerusalem's gays are more subdued than Tel Aviv's. Organizer Canetti says she asked Tel Aviv's participants to tone down their sexy costumes. "We're not having floats or naked men flashing their asses," she says. "We just want to tell people, hey, we're here. We have a right to exist."

Now for my thoughts.

As regular readers of this site know, I originally opposed the Jerusalem parade because I feared it would result in a net setback for gay rights in Israel, and because I was worried about the negative image of Israeli Jews that would likely result from the haredi protests.

But the gay marchers (who, as the previous article indicates, did not copy the notoriously provocative fashions of gay pride events elsewhere) are not responsible for the behavior of the haredi (so-called "ultra-orthodox") Jews. If religious zealots chose to throw a collective temper tantrum in front of the world, they would have nobody but themselves to blame for the resulting damage to the image of Jews everywhere.

The gay pride event challenged Jerusalem's traditional religious community to grow up. It was never a question of whether the hareidi orthodox would approve the event - no one would expect them to - but how they would choose to express their disapproval. Ironically, while reading descriptions of the rioting and the self-justifications of the hareidim, I was once again reminded of the parallel between the insular worldview of Israel's orthodox and that of American left-wingers, which I previously explored here:
Like the religious Zionist movement, the American Left was the only segment of society that was strenghtened, not weakened, by the last war - in our case, Vietnam. Over the next three decades, the liberal movement - that is, the increasingly dogmatic ideology that called itself "liberalism" - consolidated its hold on our media, our educational and cultural institutions. Liberal communities like Berkeley and neighborhoods like, well, the one I live in, ensured that left-leaning Americans could live comfortably without having to rub elbows with "red-staters".

Liberal Americans, guided by a "deep internal sense of being in the right without asking for or needing external confirmation," built and strengthened their own communities but rarely stopped to ask themselves what they might learn from their conservative neighbors...

The compromises made by each side in this controversy are part of the necessary process of Israel's development as a nation. Even the most basic steps - renouncing lewdness and violence - are evidence that the process continues as it must. In the end it can only strengthen Israel's religious community, its gay community, and its society as a whole.

Finally, let me leave you with this article about Israeli lesbian Avigail Sperber, which comes by way of Sarah at Israelity:
Avigail Sperber, 33, is a film director and cinematographer. She has made several documentaries and a short movie, and is currently working on her first full-length film. Her father is Rabbi Prof. Daniel Sperber, who teaches Talmud at Bar-Ilan University and received the Israel Prize for his achievements in his field. For many years, he chaired the public council for state religious Jewish education. Sperber found it especially difficult to accept the disclosure of his daughter's sexual identity. However, his public position, Avigail stresses, was never a factor in her family's acceptance of her lesbianism. ...

For Avigail, the high point in her family's acceptance of her was reached a year ago, when her younger sister Shuli, who had become ultra-Orthodox, was to be married to a young man who had also become ultra-Orthodox. It was considered only natural to invite both Avigail and her present partner, film director Netali Baron (whose film, "Metamorphosis," about four rape victims, was screened this week on Israel Television's Channel 1). Hannah felt this was not enough and began inviting other lesbian friends of Avigail's whose families had severed contact with them. ("Some girls are no longer welcome in their own homes, even on holidays, even without their partner.")

Two years ago, Hannah started a support group for the religious parents of homosexual/lesbian children (fathers were invited, but only the mothers actually attended). Monthly meetings were held at the Sperber home in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City. Over the past few months they have not met, but Hannah said this week that the controversy generated by the gay pride parade is a good reason to reactivate the group.

Hannah: "Initially, I attended a parental support group at the Open House [a center for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, or GLBT, community in Jerusalem]. However, some parents didn't like going there. That's why I launched the group in my home. There are various levels of attitude with respect to the children in this group. One mother, who's very extreme, said she wouldn't invite her daughter to the weddings or other occasions of her siblings. Another mother, a widow, moved me when she declared that she loved her homosexual son very much. Her greatest fear was that he would stop being religious...

Read the rest at the link.

At its best, Israel stands as a model of what a free and democratic society in the Middle East could be. It can, in effect, say to its Arab and Muslim neighbors: "This is what democracy looks like."

For all related posts, please go to this category archive: Jerusalem Pride 2006.

Morning Report: November 14, 2006

Tehran's determination, Washington's vacillation, London's negotiation. Has the West's strategy changed? Did the West ever even have a strategy? Iran has one - and it hasn't changed.

Ahmadinejad: Fuel program near completion. AP via Yahoo: 'President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said Iran would soon celebrate completion of its controversial nuclear fuel program. "With the wisdom and resistance of the nation, today our position has stabilized. I'm very hopeful that we will be able to hold the big celebration of Iran's full nuclearization in the current year," the hard-line president said referring to the country's nuclear fuel program. Iran's current calendar year ends on March 20.' (AP)

Nasrallah: Lebanon's Siniora government to go. Debka: 'Nasrallah tells his Hizballah followers in S. Lebanon: Siniora government will soon be ousted. It will soon be replaced with a “clean government,” he said. Six pro-Syrian ministers including Hizballah quit the Lebanese government Saturday, breaking up unity coalition talks and aiming to torpedo Foud Siniora’s initiative for an international tribunal to try the men implicated in the Feb. 2005 murder of the Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri last year, including relatives of Bashar Asad’s. The pro-Syrian camp demanded veto power in the new coalition and threatened to foment civil unrest if their demands were not met. Nasrallah reported that until now Hizballah had spent $300 m in funds received from Iran to repair the damage caused in its war on Israel.' Strategy Page: 'Hizbollah is demanding more seats in the Lebanese cabinet, so that Hizbollah would have a veto over anything the government sought to do. The majority Christians, Sunnis and Druze have refused. Hizbollah believes that it is strong enough to impose its will on the majority of Lebanese. Hizbollah openly boasts of the huge amount of cash it is getting from Iran, and points out that the UN peacekeepers in southern Israel do not interfere with Hizbollah, and, instead, protect Hizbollah from the Israelis. If the majority Lebanese refuse Hizbollah demands, they risk starting another civil war. Hizbollah is less afraid of another war, and this gives Hizbollah an edge.' (Debka, Strategy Page)

Amir Taheri: Iraqis' uncertainties. Amir Taheri at Benador:
The Shiites, grateful though they are to America for having helped them win power for the first time, feel obliged to have a insurance policy for when (not if) the Americans cut and run. This is why all prominent Iraqi Shiite politicians have been to Tehran.

That insurance, however, comes at a price. Iran's rulers insist that the new Iraq turn a blind eye to the activities of Shiite militias, created and armed by Tehran with Hezbollah support.

And, because they are unsure of American steadfastness, the Shiites are pressing for a federal structure that would give them 90 percent of Iraq's oil regardless of what happens next. That, together with the increased activities of Shiite death squads, enrages the Arab Sunnis.

These Sunnis know that as long as there is a U.S. military presence, the Shiites can't move into Sunni provinces to solve the problem the Oriental way - that is, by large-scale killings and ethnic cleansing. But what if the Americans leave before Iraq has a government capable of protecting all communities?

Uncertain about U.S. intentions, many Sunni Arabs tolerate (if not actually support) the Saddamite bitter-enders and, to a lesser extent, the non-Iraqi jihadists and suicide bombers. Just as Iraqi Shiites look to Iran for insurance, Iraqi Sunnis regard Jordan and, to a lesser extent, Syria and Egypt, as putative protectors.

Uncertainty about American fidelity also affects the policies pursued by Iraqi Kurds. ...

Read the rest at the link. (Benador)

Blair's foreign policy speech: Ties with America, isolation for Iran. Via Iran Focus:
There is a fundamental misunderstanding that this is about changing policy on Syria and Iran. First, those two countries do not at all share identical interests. But in any event that is not where we start.

On the contrary, we should start with Israel/Palestine. That is the core. We should then make progress on Lebanon. We should unite all moderate Arab and Moslem voices behind a push for peace in those countries but also in Iraq. We should be standing up for, empowering, respecting those with a moderate and modern view of the faith of Islam everywhere.

What is happening in the Middle East today is not complex. It is simple. Iran is being confronted over its nuclear weapons ambitions. Its stock market has lost a third of its value in the last year and foreign credit is increasingly hard to come by. The statements of its President - such as wiping Israel from the face of the earth - are causing alarm, even in Iran.

To be fair, they have a genuine, if entirely misplaced fear, that the US seeks a military solution in Iran. They don't. But we all want Iran to suspend its enrichment process which if allowed to continue, will give them a nuclear weapon. Under the agreement we brokered in June, the US has said they will talk to Iran direct for the first time in 30 years, if they abide by the UN demand to suspend enrichment. But Iran is refusing to do it.

Instead they are using the pressure points in the region to thwart us. So they help the most extreme elements of Hamas in Palestine; Hizbollah in the Lebanon; Shia militia in Iraq. That way, they put obstacles in the path to peace, paint us, as they did over the Israel/Lebanon conflict, as the aggressors, inflame the Arab street and create political turmoil in our democratic politics.

It is a perfectly straightforward and clear strategy. It will only be defeated by an equally clear one: to relieve these pressure points one by one and then, from a position of strength to talk, in a way I described in July in my speech in Los Angeles: offer Iran a clear strategic choice: they help the MEPP not hinder it; they stop supporting terrorism in Lebanon or Iraq; and they abide by, not flout, their international obligations. In that case, a new partnership is possible. Or alternatively they face the consequences of not doing so: isolation.

Blair goes on to stress the importance of ties with America. Full text of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech at the link. (Iran Focus)

Commentary. Marze Por Gohar quotes the Financial Times:
Downing Street officials made clear Mr Blair's speech did not represent a change of policy on Iran and Syria - and Mr Blair himself suggested that those who thought it was such a change were guilty of a "fundamental misunderstanding".

In July - in a speech in Los Angeles - Mr Blair made a similar plea that Iran and Syria must "come in to the international community and play by the same rules as the rest of us - or be confronted". However, Mr Blair's restatement of the argument is now more significant because the Bush administration is thinking hard about whether to engage with Iran and Syria.

The Telegraph has this to say:
Both the American and the Downing Street versions of this formula are being billed as fresh, realistic responses to the dilemma of post-war Iraqi chaos. In fact, they represent a stunningly abrupt volte-face in the Anglo-American approach to the problems of the region.

Iran and Syria would be offered privileged status in resolving the future of Iraq, even though they have previously been regarded as serious obstacles to peace in the Middle East and, in the case of Iran, the most prolific sponsor of terrorism in the West — as Con Coughlin reminds us today with his revelations about Teheran's links with al-Qa'eda. ...

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Washington and London are now so eager for a face-saving formula that would enable them to wash their hands of Iraq and its apparently intractable problems that they are prepared to retreat from positions which they had declared, only weeks ago, to be principled and unflinching.

Instead of delivering ultimatums to Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his nuclear ambitions, Britain and America are to offer him an invitation to play a larger and more influential role in global politics.

I don't have any comments directly on Blair's speech. The Telegraph's view reflects a disappointment with both London's and Washington's retreat into myopic "realist" foreign policy doctrine. My general impression from the text is that Blair has not really said anything new on the Middle East; but his stress on the importance of relations with America is interesting. He's mentioned Russia, China, and the EU in passing, but the stress is on US ties. Clearly a lot of this is directed at the British Left (and perhaps specifically the Mayor of London) but I don't know what the significance of it is in the context of Mideast policy.

My impression from reading the Iranian activist sites is that pro-democracy Iranians view the UK with much greater suspicion than they see the United States. As for what change, if any, is in store for cozy London-Tehran ties, we'll have to wait and see. I'll be watching this closely.

UPDATE: This post by Hashem Hakimi at the Free Iran news forum illustrates exactly what I'm talking about:
The Brits did it at the end!!!??

This was the Brits plan right from the start. To pull the Yanks in & then see to it that they are out with disgrace!? The same old story of special relationship of Brits & the Yanks!!??

Did you learned your lesson!?

INDEPENDENT 14th November 2006.
By Liz Harris

In a major departure from previous foreign policy, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair urged his so-called “war on terror” ally George Bush last night to engage with Iran and Syria and encourage them to contribute to sorting out the endemic violence in Iraq.

In his annual foreign affairs speech last night at London’s Guildhall, the Prime Minister threw in his lot with the voices of the Iraq Study Group and urged co-operation with Iran and Syria.

The PM is at pains to deny that this is a policy shift. The two countries can either co-operate or face isolation, he told the gathering. ...

Dr. Hakimi's point is that Blair's declaration is indeed no policy shift for London, but rather part of its plan from the beginning - a plan that has little concern for the interests of America or the freedom-loving people of Iran.


Morning Report: November 13, 2006

Ripple or sea change? A foreign submarine follows American warships. But has the President's foreign policy vision been deep-sixed?

Chinese sub stalked American fleet. Washington Times: ' Chinese submarine stalked a U.S. aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific last month and surfaced within firing range of its torpedoes and missiles before being detected, The Washington Times has learned. The surprise encounter highlights China's continuing efforts to prepare for a future conflict with the U.S., despite Pentagon efforts to try to boost relations with Beijing's communist-ruled military. The submarine encounter with the USS Kitty Hawk and its accompanying warships also is an embarrassment to the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, Adm. William J. Fallon, who is engaged in an ambitious military exchange program with China aimed at improving relations between the two nations' militaries. Disclosure of the incident comes as Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet, is making his first visit to China. The four-star admiral was scheduled to meet senior Chinese military leaders during the weeklong visit, which began over the weekend.' UPDATE: Submariners' blog The Stupid Shall Be Punished has more:
Absent from the article will be any indication that it's not tough at all for a submarine to trail a carrier; what's tough is doing it when they're at a heightened alert level and have a friendly submarine attached to them, without having the friendly submarine ready to take you out at any time. ...

It's even lamer than I thought; the Song-class diesel boat was spotted on the surface about five miles from the Kitty Hawk. So, either the Chinese were trying desperately to let us know that they could get that close to us, or this is another of a series of attempts by the Chinese to send their submarines farther afield where they just can't seem to stay undetected and/or submerged. Since they have nothing to gain by taunting us like that, I vote for the second option.

For some background: the Chinese were probably interested in checking out preparations for the Annualex 18G exercises taking place south of Kyushu.

Read the full post at the link. Keep an eye on Dreams Into Lightning for more updates and details. (Washington Times, TSSBP)

Olmert met with Rice in Washington. Arutz Sheva: 'Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in Washington on Sunday night with US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice. The two discussed the possibility of a new political realities vis-a-vis the PA (Palestinian Authority) and the Iranian threat. In addition, the meeting served as a prepatory event ahead of Monday’s meeting between Olmert and US President George W. Bush.' (A7)

Blair wants to work with Syria, Iran. Arutz Sheva: 'British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday will call on Syria and Iran to work towards increased regional peace and stability as well as working towards reducing violence in Iraq. According to a Reuters news agency report, the British leader believes the time has come to persuade Tehran and Damascus that if they are not part of the solution, then they are part of the problem, indicating Blair intends to paint a picture showing them the consequences of failing to assist towards bringing peace to the region.' AP via Iran Focus: 'British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the international community on Monday to engage Iran and Syria to advance the peace process in the Middle East and defended his government's close relationship with the U.S. Blair said the outcome of the Iraq war was central to bringing peace to the Middle East, and the world must make clear to Syria and Iran how they can assist in the process as well as the consequences of hindering it. Blair was to deliver the remarks in a speech later Monday and excerpts of the text were released in advance by his office. The United States has said it was willing to hold direct talks with Iran about Iraq - which would be the most public exchange between the countries in years. But the U.S. does not want to discuss broader subjects such as Iran's contentious nuclear program which Washington suspects is aimed at making weapons.' (A7, Iran Focus)

ThreatsWatch on Lebanon. ThreatsWatch:
Hizballah’s weekend move is believed to be driven by their Syrian sponsors seeking to evade further any prosecutions and likely resulting sanctions. The situation is being placed within the context of a greater ‘cold war’ over influence in the Middle East, principally between the United States and an Iranian-Syrian cabal.

But Hizballah’s quiting the cabinet does not automatically dissolve the government based on their non-participation and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora rejected the Hizballah resignations. In the United States, the White House issued a statement that criticized the move and condemned Iran and Hizballah, stating that “Hezbollah and Iran remain a dangerous, global nexus of terrorism.”

Hizballah deputy chief Naim Kassem siad that the resignations were but the first step in a Hizballah strategy to assume power within the Lebanese government. “There will be other steps that we will discuss in detail with our allies and which we will announce gradually,” he said.

Full article at the link. (ThreatsWatch)

Olmert on Palestinian plans, Iranian options. Vital Perspective: 'In an interview with Lally Weymouth that was just put to print today, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert insisted he still stands by his plan for peace with the Palestinians and declared that Israel 'has many options' to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat.' He's got a comeback for that question about poll numbers, too. Transcript at the link. (Vital Perspective)

The Mesopotamian on America's Iraq policy. Alaa at The Mesopotamian: 'The only thing that America is guilty of is that of underestimating the viciousness of the enemy, and not so much his military capability; because the enemy’s weapon is not so much military prowess, but evil and viciousness. He specializes in hitting below the belt. He has no rules and no scruples, and will stop at nothing. He is absolutely devoid of any kind of human feeling. To think that you can reason with him or somehow accommodate his wishes and desires is absolute folly and suicide. This was clearly illustrated lately in Iraq when all kinds of overtures and approaches were made in forlorn hopes of appeasing him. This only resulted in boosting his morale and appetite for murder and violence. America seems to have become confused and loosing sight of the fundamentals of the issue and even who the real enemy is. Of course this was aided by a massive propaganda assault aimed directly at the American public from abroad and from within.' Full post at the link. (The Mesopotamian)

Kianoush Sanjari. New Iranian blogger Sayeh Hassan at Shiro-Khorshid Forever writes: 'Kianoush SANJARI, a student activist and blogger was re-arresed on Oct. 7th while preparing reports on protests in support of Ayatollah Broujerdi. He is currently being held in ward 209 of the Notorious Evin prsion and is tortured and interoggated several times a day.' Go to the link for the Amnesty International report. (SKF)

Commentary. Despite having left the Marine Corps with the exalted rank of Corporal, I am not an expert on military matters. But if you read the guys who are, they'll tell you that there are a few things - only a few - that you can count on in war. They'll tell you that war is a fluid, ever-changing thing, and that success depends on persistence, flexibility, and your ability to adapt to new conditions, respond to new threats, and exploit new vulnerabilities on the enemy's side.

That last week's Republican losses were a setback in the war against terrorists and dictators is beyond dispute, though the magnitude and nature of that setback may be subject to debate. Still more serious, as some see it, is the Bush Administration's apparent abandonment of the central tenets of its foreign-policy doctrine. In short, it is a victory of the self-styled "realists" over the neoconservatives.

Here is what Debka has to say:
Bush Prepares Switch on Iraq and Downgrading of US Ties with Jordan and Israel
November 12, 2006, 4:14 PM (GMT+02:00)

Monday, Nov. 13, former US secretary of state James Baker and ex-Congressman Lee Hamilton will present their recommendations on Iraq to President Bush in the Oval Office. Their audience will include an array of top administration officials: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Stephen Hadley, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and CIA Director Gen. Mike Hayden, as well as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace. Incoming defense secretary Robert Gates will attend as a member of the bipartisan committee.

Absentees will include outgoing defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who stepped down after the Republican’s lost the Nov. 7 midterm to the Democrats over the Iraq war, and the commanders directly running that conflict, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey.

The timing and composition of the conference indicate that the larger decisions are already in the bag with regard to the new US policy on Iraq and a fresh approach to the radical side of the Middle East led by Iran and Syria, mainly at the expense of Jordan and Israel. Monday’s White House conference will be concerned mostly with tying up the last ends and deciding who performs which part of the revised strategy.

DEBKAfile’s Washington sources report that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is due Monday will be one of the first foreign White House visitors to hear an update on the new policy. He will find he is required to listen rather than speak. Bush will use the occasion to inform him where America’s Iraq policy leaves Israel and the Palestinian dispute.

Now I've recently been reminded from several quarters that Debka is neither omniscient nor infallible, so I pass that caveat on to you. Nevertheless, the bleak report reflects one set of conclusions that can be drawn from the events of the past week. Today's analysis at Stratfor asserts that "the Israelis have real reasons to be concerned" about Washington's plans, which may include cutting a deal with Tehran to end the US/Iran proxy war in Iraq, and perhaps assurances that Israel will not strike Iran on its own.

But as the Stratfor piece notes, Washington may not be in a position to deliver such assurances on Israel's behalf. Meanwhile, Amir Taheri argues that the recent election won't result in an American "Madrid effect" because the word "Iraq" means different things to different people: 'The word "Iraq" brought together a disparate coalition that might unravel, now that the Democrats share greater responsibility in shaping policy.' And Michael Ledeen, channeling James Jesus Angleton, finds that the Gates appointment doesn't signal a radical change of Administration policy, in part precisely because of Gates' reputation as a "team player".

So those are the arguments for optimism - Israel is going to defend itself regardless of what happens in Washington, the Democrats are united in how they feel about Iraq but not on what to do about it, and Gates is enough of a true realist to know how to work with the Bush administration on behalf of its goals.

Who's right? I have no idea. (Taheri sounds a little confused himself when he says: 'One thing is certain. The jubilation expressed in jihadist circles as a result of the Republicans' defeat may be misplaced.' Well, which is it - "certain" or "may be"? But I digress.)

Here's what I am sure of: What happened last Tuesday was part of the democratic process in a free society. And nobody should give up on the struggle based on the results of a single election. We can and must adapt to changing conditions and keep up the fight. This means supporting (real) human rights organizations, humanitarian causes, soldiers' and veterans' aid groups, and pro-democracy groups. It means continuing to expose the lies and distortions of the moribund mainstream media. It means demanding that our colleges and universities teach facts and critical thinking, not multicultural mishmash and anti-American propaganda. And it means continuing to dialog with our neighbors, getting the word out, and standing firm for what's right. Because that's where the battle is being fought.


New Iranian Blogger: Shir o Khorshid

No matter what happens in Washington, our most important responsibility as freedom-loving citizens is to keep working to get the truth out and to keep fighting fascism. Via The Spirit of Man, there's a new Iranian blogger on the scene, Shir o Khorshid Forever (Lion & Sun forever).
In the very first speech Khomeini made when he arrived to Iran he stated that the first thing that needed to be done was to remove the Lion and Sun (Shiro khorshid) from the Iranian flag. The Mullah's have always feared the Shiro Khorshid, so what better name to choose for my blog. My goal is to unite all freedom loving Iranians under this great national symbol.

Sayeh Hassan makes her home in Toronto. Go pay her a visit, and don't forget to bookmark her homepage on your browser.

Sayeh, khosh aamadid!

Morning Report: November 12, 2006

Centrifugal force. A fragile coalition collapses, while a Mideast power boasts of centrifuges and spy cameras. But there are some things they'd rather you didn't know.

Lebanon: Siniora government breaks up. Stratfor (subscription) reports: 'Five Shiite members of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's Cabinet resigned Nov. 11 after negotiations about Hezbollah's role in a new government ended without agreement, Shiite party spokesmen said. The ministers who quit represented both Hezbollah and the Amal movement. No date was set for further talks.' Debka: 'Siniora’s Lebanese government breaks up, faces street disturbances after national unity talks collapse Saturday. Five pro-Syrian Hizballah and Amal ministers walked out of Fouad Siniora’s government coalition Saturday, Nov. 11. Another two ministers, supporters of the pro-Syrian president Emil Lahoud, are on their way out, taking with them the government’s parliamentary majority. The two Shiite factions and the pro-Syrian Maronite leader Michel Aoun say their followers will take to the streets as of Sunday for demonstrations in Beirut and other Lebanese towns. It would only take a few shots, say DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources, to spark clashes between Syria’s adherents and opponents in Lebanon. The crisis erupted when Siniora proposed convening the cabinet Monday, Nov. 13, to approve a bill for a special court to try suspects in the Feb. 2005 Hariri assassination. He intended to propose a panel of 5 Lebanese and 3 international judges to be appointed by the UN Secretary General.' Yedioth: 'Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said Sunday that the Lebanese government had lost its legitimacy after the decision of five Shiite ministers to resign.' (Debka, Stratfor, YNet)

Iran claims spy drone photographs US carrier. Gateway Pundit: 'Iran spy drone footage of an American Aircraft Carrier aired on Al-Alam TV today. Iran released footage taken from a spy plane of a US Carrier in the Gulf today on Al-Alam television.' Original link to photos here. Go to the link for more info and comments thread. (Gateway Pundit)

Iran begins installing 3,000 new centrifuges. Jerusalem Post: 'Iran began installing an additional 3,000 centrifuges, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini revealed on Sunday. In October, Iran stepped up uranium enrichment by injecting gas into a second network of 164 centrifuges. Iran produced a small batch of low-enriched uranium - suitable as nuclear fuel but not weapons grade - in February, using its initial cascade of 164 centrifuges at its pilot plant at Natanz.' (JPost)

Witness to Zahra Kazemi murder executed. Azarmehr: 'According to news received from human rights activists in Iran, Madhan Javadolmanshi, one of the prisoners who claimed had witnessed the murder of Iranian born photo-journalist, Zahra Kazemi, was secretly executed back in August this year. Madhan was in prison for more than 10 years on charges of espionage. One of the political prisoners who met Madhan in prison, said Madhan told him, he had heard two of the prison guards by the names of Moussa and Niazi, take part in the horrific beating of Zahra Kazemi, which led to her death.' (Azarmehr)

Commentary. Big Pharaoh links to a very thoughtful analysis of Rumsfeld's successes and failures by Abdul Rahman al-Rashed in Asharq al-Awsat:
It was obvious after the quick military victory and fall of Saddam's regime that most of Iraq supported what happened, as evident by the small number of Saddam's massive military forces that actually stood and fought, while the majority opted to surrender or return to their homes leaving Iraq's barracks deserted and which the American troops occupied with minimal resistance.

But the US Department of Defense then took over the management of Iraqi political affairs ignoring the more qualified centers that were more specialized in political and democratic action. This sparked mass-confusion, with scenes of the looting of government offices, anarchy in the street, the announcement of the occupation governor (Jay Garner), the inclusion of opportunistic Iraqi parties in the civilian government, the bias toward one party against another, the entanglement in Iraqi details, and the drowning in the regional quicksand. It was obvious to the world that Rumsfeld's department went from one crisis to a bigger one at a time when it isolated the State Department until Colin Powell left it in sadness because of his impotence and realization that the Pentagon had entered a dark tunnel and dragged a bigger world behind it.

The Bush Administration will need to work quickly to make use of the new hand it has been dealt.


Egypt: Police Brutality

Abuse in Egypt isn't just for women.

Big Pharaoh posts a horrifying police brutality video. Needless to say, it's graphic.

Sandmonkey adds:
'I knew, but I didn't need to see.'


Morning Report: November 10, 2006

Semper fidelis. As the United States Marine Corps celebrates its 231st year, an amphibious group enters the Persian Gulf while Iran develops its missile program. Elsewhere, citizens stand up against assaults on women. Changing times call on us to be true to the things that matter.

USS Boxer Strike Group enters Persian Gulf. Debka: 'USS Boxer Strike Group, entered the Persian Gulf Thursday, Nov. 9, the largest US landing force to reach this water in a decade. The Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG) now in the US Fifth Fleet area headquartered in Bahrain, consists of Boxer (picture), Amphibious Squadron 5, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Seals), the Coast Guard cutter Midgett and Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa, as well as the USS Dubuque, USS Comstock, the largest landing craft in the US Navy, USS Bunker Hill and the guided missile destroyers USS Benfold and USS Howard. The Boxer Group has just come from joint maneuvers with the Indian navy in the Arabian Sea opposite the coast of Goa, including large-scale landing practices. The group’s commander, Capt. David Angood said that if “anything important happens in the real-world environment, the task force will deal with it in the most efficient manner.” DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the arrival of Boxer in the Persian Gulf coincided with the USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group’s passage through the Suez Canal on its way from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. It is the first time that a US naval strike force is accompanied by a coast guard unit. Its vessels are equipped and their crews trained for rapid rescue and aid missions to damaged ships and wounded crewmen. Their presence in the task force indicates that the Boxer strike group is prepared for Iranian attack by sea, air, submarine, sea-to-sea missiles or depth mines.' (Debka)

Israel's Deputy Defense Minister: Iran attack may be necessary. Ha'Aretz: 'Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh suggested in comments published Friday that Israel might be forced to launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear program - the clearest statement yet of this possibility from a high-ranking Israeli official. "I am not advocating an Israeli pre-emptive military action against Iran and I am aware of its possible repercussions," Sneh told The Jerusalem Post daily. "I consider it a last resort. But even the last resort is sometimes the only resort," he said. Sneh's tough talk is the boldest to date by a high-ranking Israeli official. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other leaders frequently discuss the Iranian threat in grave terms, but stop short of discussing military action against Tehran.' Debka: 'In a Jerusalem Post interview ahead of prime minister Ehud Olmert’s White House talks next week, Sneh said he is not advocating a pre-emptive Israeli operation, but considers it a last resort. “Even a last resort is sometimes the only resort.” ... The newly-appointed second in command at the Israeli defense ministry stressed that his priority was "preparing the IDF for victory in the next round with Iran and its proxies." High on the list was the need to improve the country's defense systems. "We developed and produced the Arrow, the only system that can intercept nuclear missiles. Depending on the altitude when intercepted, the warheads do not detonate. But Israel needs to substantially improve its indigenous long-range capacities."' (Ha'Aretz, Debka)

Iranian missile threat. Washington Times via Iran Focus:
As Secretary of Defense-designate Robert Gates prepares for his confirmation hearings, he will need to address one of the most serious but underappreciated security threats of the post-September 11 era: the burgeoning threat from Iran's ballistic-missile arsenal, which is growing much more lethal thanks to considerable assistance from North Korea. Today, Iran has ballistic missiles capable of striking U.S. military bases in the Persian Gulf and Iraq, where nearly 150,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed. Its missiles can also reach targets in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and may be able to reach parts of Germany and Italy.

As it becomes apparent that, at least for now, the United States, the Europeans and the international community in general want to avoid confrontation with Iran, the Islamist regime, emboldened, is becoming more aggressive and confrontational. For the past nine days, Iran has been staging military exercises, which may have included test-firing of Shahab missiles capable of targeting U.S. bases in the Gulf. On Sunday, the commander in chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi, declared that the Guards had trained thousands of troops for suicide missions in the event that Iran was attacked. ...

Several years ago, Iran, in an effort to placate Europeans worried about the Iranians targeting them, said that the Shahab-3 would be the last version and it would would not build a follow-on with a longer range. Subsequently, the Iranians announced a Shahab-4 exists, but that it is just a satellite launcher, not a ballistic missile. But, according to Uzi Rubin, former head of Israel's Arrow missile program, a "satellite launcher" is really a covert intercontinental ballistic missile. All the Iranians have to do, he said in an interview with IranWatch newsletter, "is orbit satellites and make threats against America once in a while. That will be enough to tell the United States that it could be hit by an ICBM."

Full article at the link. (Iran Focus)

Iraqi forces claim arrest of al-Qaeda figure. AP via Jerusalem Post: 'Iraqi security forces said they arrested the head of an al-Qaida cell in a western Iraqi city on Friday. Acting on a tip-off, soldiers descended on a building in the city of Rawah, 275 kilometers (175 miles) northwest of Baghdad, where they arrested local al-Qaida commander Abu Muhayyam al-Masri, whose name is a pseudonym meaning, "the Egyptian," a Defense Ministry official said. Aides Abu Issam al-Libi, or "the Libyan," and Abu Zaid al-Suri, "the Syrian," were also arrested among nine other members of the cell, said the official, who asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The official said al-Suri confessed to being responsible for organizing at least one suicide bombing in Baghdad. He said the raid also netted a large quantity of weapons.' (JPost)

Egypt: Photos of anti-harassment demonstration. Sandmonkey has pictures of yesterday's rally against sexual harassment in Egypt. 'The Police started besieging the protest, but they didn't do anything to harm anyone. It was an intimidation tactic more than anything, prompted by the shift in chants from just anti-sexual harrassment to anti-government. But for all intents and purposes, it was a success.' A Dreams Into Lightning roundup on the incident is at the link. (Sandmonkey)

Commentary. I won't try to read the tea leaves regarding the recent Congressional elections. What has happened, certainly, is that Congress has passed from a Republican to a Democratic majority, and Rumsfeld and Bolton are on their way out. Beyond that, I'm not sure what it means in the big picture.

The Republicans (among whom I'm still proud to count myself a member) have had the luxury of GOP control of the White House and both houses of congress until now. This week, the voters chose to give a Congressional majority to the Democrats, and Republican leaders must now adapt to that reality. And if they do not have the flexibility to adapt to the shifting landscape of domestic politics, they are not fit to lead us in the war on terror.

What will matter in the years ahead is our commitment to the basics: individual freedom, equality for women, and security for America and the civilized world. I'm not the only one who has noted the irony of these essentially liberal values being defended by the more conservative of America's major political parties. And despite the ravings of some on the far left, there are also pro-Israel Democrats like the folks at Pro-Semite Undercover. Perhaps we are entering a new phase, in which political liberalism will re-emerge as a meaningful ally in the fight against fascism and terror while enriching the debate on both stragegy and domestic issues. This would be a good thing.

Women and the Middle East

A roundup of recent items on Middle Eastern women.

Saudi rape victim gets 90 lashes - ODIE. 'Here's the deal: A woman was gang-raped in Riyadh. The Saudi courts have just sentenced her to receive 90 lashes. For what? Being in a car alone with an unmarried man.'

Saudi orgies blamed on the West - BP. '"Our youths are not, unfortunately, educated on the importance of leading a secure married life," said Hassan Al Shelabi, the center director. "While the parents are keen to give their children luxury homes, rich food and fashionable clothing they neglect to prepare the children for a healthy married life and being good husbands or wives." Al Shelabi said his center has received reports of wife swapping, of husbands pressuring wives to sleep with their friends and of orgies. He said these requests reflect the influence of Western culture, easily accessible on satellite television or the Internet. ... Yes yes, have orgies and blame the West. Have orgies and blame Bush.'

Father gets 10 years in the US for FGM on his daughter - FFE. 'A man has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for the genital mutilation of his two-year-old daughter, in what is said to be first such case in the US. A US women's rights group described the verdict as a victory against female genital mutilation worldwide. Prosecutors said he used scissors to remove his daughter's clitoris in 2001. ... In Egypt, thousands of girls are having their genitals mutilated every year and no one is held responsible for this abhorrent crime!! FGM is one of the most rampant problems in Egypt. Not one single direct legislation was stipulated to punish those responsible those crimes against innocent little girls. A crime described as irreversibe against any woman!'

Women in Egypt

Comments on the mob sexual harassment of women in Cairo, and on the status of women in Egyptian society.

On the first two days of Eid in Cairo, a mob of hundreds of men swept through downtown attacking and sexually assaulting random girls in an animalistic display that must boggle every mind. Apparently, the utter lack of basic decency, respect for women, or the rule of law was not confined to Ramadan alone - in fact, Ramadan was the only thing suppressing the baser instincts of these men. I feel sick at heart, and may never spend time downtown again, as it seems we women are actively in danger there. Will Cairo one day be like Mogadishu, where every woman is raped before she turns 16?

Who to blame? I'll go with law enforcement. I was assigned an article once that said that a rape takes place every three minutes in North America alone; God knows what the number is worldwide. Many rapes are not reported. It is safe to say that is it futile to rail against dangerous male misconceptions of sex, and women, and consent. The only thing that can prevent sexual assault is fear of consequences, a fear that is entirely absent in Egypt. Socially, people don't give a shit – it's the woman's fault, somehow, and apparently hormones serve as a complete defense to any crime.

Egyptian Sandmonkey:
The story is as follows for the those of you who didn't hear about it: It was the first day of Eid, and a new film was opening downtown. Mobs of males gatherd trying to get in, but when the show was sold out, they decided they will destroy the box office. After accomplishing that, they went on what can only be described as a sexual frenxy: They ran around grabbing any and every girl in sight, whether a niqabi, a Hijabi or uncoverd. Whether egyptian or foreigner. Even pregnant ones. They grabbed them, molested them, tried to rip their cloths off and rape them, all in front of the police, who didn't do shit. The good people of downtown tried their best to protect the girls. Shop owners would let the girls in and lock the doors, while the mobs tried to break in. Taxi drivers put the girls in the cars while the mobs were trying to break the glass and grab the girls out. It was a disgusting pandamonium of sexual assaults that lasted for 5 houres from 7:30 PM to 12:30 am, and it truns my stomach just to think about it.

I called my father when I heard of that happening, and he informed me that he didn't hear of it at all. They watched Al Jazeerah, CNN, flipped through opposition newspapers, and nothing. Nada. Nobody mentioned it. As if it didn't happen.

Big Pharaoh:
My analysis of sexual harassment in Egypt will revolve around two factors: socioeconomic factors and cultural/religious aspects.

First, socioeconomic factors. The country is rampant with vacuum and unemployment. University graduates spend years before finding a decent job and even if they found one they'll still struggle to make ends meet if they decided to get married after years of staying single. Even college students suffer from their own form of unemployment. Millions of young Egyptians enroll in good for nothing faculties every year and many of them don't even bother to attend classes. The office boy who works in the multinational company that employs me holds a degree in commerce. Pass by any cafe in Cairo and you will definitely see unemployed youth and college students lingering there smoking shisha.

Another social factor is the difficulty of male-female relationship in Egypt. Yes boyfriend-girlfriend relations do exist but still many young Egyptians find it very hard to have a relationship with the opposite sex because of several issues among them the society's frowning upon such relations. So what do you get when you mix poverty, social deprivation, an empty life, idleness, and marriage postponement? You get sex bombs walking down the streets.

Second, the cultural religious aspect. Many religious figures and especially the political Islamists among them claim that Egyptians were not religious 50 or 40 years ago and they're now flocking to religion. They do have a point. Today the vast majority of women don the hair cover, mosques are full on Fridays, and churches are full on Sundays. However one can't help but ask this question: if we presumed that Egyptians were not religious back then and they're "holier" today, why can't my cousin do today what my mother did 40 years ago and walk in downtown Cairo without getting harassed? Why is corruption, theft, laziness, and sexual harassment rampant in our society? I mean aren't we supposed to be religious? Aren't our girls covered? Aren't our Muslims praying in the streets because mosques are overcrowded on fridays? Aren't our Christians in church every Sunday?

The answer to the above questions lies in the fact that our religiosity is nothing but an emphasis on outward appearances. It is nothing more than an opium that anesthetizes us against our troubles and failures. Exactly like a real drug. This is the reason why religion has done nothing to improve our "inner self" nor let women enjoy a basic right such as walking on the street without fear.

Now what does that have to do with the reason that led to the mass sexual assault? Very simple. This wave of fake superficial religiosity has done something terrible. It has devalued women. ...

Blame Dina!
The weekly newspaper El Esboua is blaming Egypt's top belly dancer for the mass sexual harassment that took place in front of a downtown movie theater! Dina went to the cinema to attend the premier of her newly released movie. Surrounded by her bodyguards, she started dancing in front of a multitude of young men who were celebrating the Eid holidays by going to the movies.

Sexual harassment caught on tape.
Filmmaker and activist Sherif Sadek shot a video of gangs running after girls in downtown Cairo when he visited Egypt during the last Eid el Adha (the feast of the sacrifice) in January 2006. So it's now clear that such a thing did happen before. (h/t 3arabawy)

There are two observations. First, notice how the police are standing there without doing anything to save the girls. Second, the girls whom the gang was chasing were not wearing the hair cover. Things developed in the latest incident. Gulf girls covered from head to toe were attacked and stripped.

Women demonstrate against sexual harassment.
Women protested today against sexual harassment and police failure to protect women. I really wanted to attend this protest and take pictures of my own. I asked my boss if he would allow me leave for 2 hours and then come back to work. "Where are you going? To the bank?" he asked. "No I'm going to attend a demonstration against sexual harassment in front of the journalist syndicate," I answered. "No, stay in the office. I don't want you to get arrested. Believe me it's for your benefit. You're not going," he shot back.

Demo pictures here.

See also: The Egyptian Center for Women's Rights


The Iraqi Holocaust

For those who have forgotten why Iraq matters, or who never knew, please spend some time reading The Iraqi Holocaust.

Morning Report: November 9, 2006

The new face of war. The US gets a new defense chief, and a terrorist group picks a new set of targets. Off the coast of India, Davy Jones may be guarding some interesting secrets.

Bush accepts Rumsfeld's resignation, names CIA's Robert Gates as Defense Secretary. The Belmont Club links Austin Bay: ' I think the resignation wasn’t entirely contingent on the election– though the Democratic win made Rumsfeld resignation a certainty. Robert Gates (currently president of Texas A&M University) has worked with James Baker on the “War on Terror” strategy evaluation. The Baker ”bi-partisan” political fall-back position for prosecuting the war was already in the works. ... One of the very smart young officers I know suggests the resignation is political prep for prosecuting the war even more vociferously. I think he’s on to something.' Debka: 'In his first statement after the mid-term election, the US President said he and Rumsfeld had agreed it was time for new leadership at the Pentagon and a fresh perspective needed for the Iraqi war. He praised the departing secretary. “I understand many Americans yesterday voiced their displeasure with the Iraq situation. But we cannot accept defeat. Defeat is not an option in Iraq. Our enemies should not see this as weakness. The people of Iraq can be sure America will stand by you. If we leave Iraq before the job is down, our country will be more at risk.”' In from the Cold has this:
Regarding Mr. Gates, he is a good man but the wrong one for the job. He spent most of his professional life at the CIA before retiring and becoming the President of Texas A&M University. Robert Gates certainly knows the intelligence end of military affairs, but his expertise ends there. Moreover, his management skills as DCI weren't particularly impressive, and as an analyst, he was part of a CIA team that consistently got it wrong on their assessments of the former Soviet Union. Dr. Gates is a very bright man and strikes me as a shoo-in confirmation, someone with no ties to the current Pentagon regime. That's probably a necessity in today's political climate, but that doesn't make him the right choice for DoD.

Greyhawk cites Gates' links with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Council on Foreign Relations, and a book calling for a "new approach" on Iran. ThreatsWatch:
The nomination of Gates likely telegraphs President Bush’s intent to implement one of the Baker Commission’s options (formally known as the Iraq Study Group) for the future of Iraq. ... The outlook for Jihadis just got decidedly better. The outlook for Iraqis is frightening.

Stratfor (subscription) sees Rumsfeld's failing as one of flexibility:
... he refused to shift course in midstream. Rumsfeld was designing a military that could defeat state power by the precise applications of force while minimizing the exposure of U.S. forces; but the U.S.-jihadist war brought to the table a foe that thrived in chaotic regions where state control was weak or nonexistent. Rumsfeld's plan could overturn the Taliban or Saddam Hussein's government, but it could not muster the manpower necessary to impose order on the resulting chaos.

The analysis concludes that 'Gates is a placeholder -- a competent placeholder for sure, but a placeholder nonetheless.' (various)

Hamas: Threat of attacks on Americans. Counterterrorism Blog: 'n the wake of reports that an Israeli tank strike killed 18 people in the Gaza Strip, Hamas' military wing issued a call for Muslims around the world to attack American targets. This is dangerous for several reasons. One is that Hamas has a broad financial infrastructure inside the United States and enjoys some support among parts of the U.S. Islamic community, so there would be little need infiltrate operators. There could be people already here willing to carry out such attacks. A second reason is that Hamas has traditionally not advocated attacks on the United States. But this call by the Hamas military wing is unambiguous: "America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas' military wing said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.' At his blog, Douglas Farah adds that 'this is worrisome because Hamas is a direct offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Brotherhood offers Hamas a worldwide network for moving money, maintaining secure communications links and moving weapons.' The fact that the statement does not distinguish between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims is in keeping with the Muslim Brotherhood's ecumenical approach. (CTB, Douglas Farah)

India intercepts Iran-bound North Korea freighter. ThreatsWatch:
A North Korean ship bound for Iran has been detained and inspected in India according to the Mumbai Mirror. Having run into mechanical problems and become disabled, the North Korean freighter apparently drifted into Indian waters where it was boarded and then towed to Bombay docks. The ship, however, was empty when Indian crews reached it.

“What is most suspicious is the fact that though it is a cargo ship, they are not carrying any consignment or goods,” said a Coast Guard officer. The authorities are now examining the freighter to find if any contraband is hidden somewhere.

TW concludes: 'If the Titanic can be found on the ocean’s floor, perhaps a more curious payload now lies on the floor of the Indian Ocean near where this ship broke down. It’s likely a matter of the will to discover it.' Read the full article at the link. (ThreatsWatch)

Poll: Americans support Israel, sanctions on Iran. Vital Perspective: 'The Israel Project Bipartisan POS/Greenberg poll on Israel and Iran shows that Americans overwhelmingly support taking action against Iran if it continues to bar IAEA inspectors from its nuclear facilities, as well as continued support for Israel as opposed to the Palestinians.' Facts and figures at the link. (VP)

Commentary. An election is a snapshot; an appointment is but a hastily drawn sketch. The true picture is drawn and redrawn daily by the people whose lives make, and are made by, the course of human events. New faces in Congress and the Defense Department matter; but what matters more is the mind, the will, and the soul of the people. It is there that the Long War will be won.


Morning Report: November 8, 2006

US elections favor Democrats. Democrats won majority control of the House last night, and probably the Senate too although that's still up in the air. Here's a short roundup.

Democrats take US House of Representatives. Fox: 'The Democratic Party has captured the House of Representatives and is two extremely close races away from winning control of the U.S. Senate, as well. In Virginia, incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen was trailing Democratic challenger Jim Webb by only about 7,800 votes out of the more than 2.3 million cast, with indications the final outcome might not be known for days, and could lead to legal challenges. Republican and Democrat party officials dispatched lawyers to Virginia to observe the continuing tally Wednesday morning of uncounted absentee ballots, as well as canvass votes counted on Election Day.' (Fox)

Lieberman wins in Connecticut. So, is it still a referendum on the Iraq war? That's what the media have been telling us about the Lieberman-Lamont senate race. Here's the Hartford Courant: 'Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman won re-election Tuesday night as a man without a party, overcoming the virulent anti-war sentiment that had cost him the Democratic nomination in August. With a $17.5 million war chest and Republican support, Lieberman rebounded to defeat Democrat Ned Lamont, a businessman who spent $16 million of his own fortune to challenge a co-author of the resolution authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A triumphant Lieberman offered no conciliatory words to the Democrats who abandoned him over Iraq, calling his election a victory of "the mainstream over the extreme." "We never wavered in our beliefs or in our purpose, did we?" Lieberman said. "And we never gave up, did we?"' Free Frank Warner: 'However the final count goes in yesterday’s U.S. Senate races, Sen. Joe Lieberman will make all the difference. Without Lieberman, the Democrats would have 49 or 50 of the Senate’s 100 votes. With Lieberman, they’ll have 50 or 51 votes. Without Lieberman, the Democrats would be tempted to abandon Iraq. With Lieberman, they’ll stick to the liberal cause of Iraq’s liberation.' (Courant, FFW)

South Dakota rejects abortion ban. MSNBC makes it short and sweet: 'In a triple setback for conservatives, South Dakotans rejected a law that would have banned virtually all abortions, Arizona became the first state to defeat an amendment to ban gay marriage and Missouri approved a measure backing stem cell research.' Feministe: 'The margin, according to CNN, is 44% in favor, 56% opposed. Much closer than I would have liked, but South Dakota is a red state and overturning an act of the legislature is not inconsequential.' (MSNBC, Feministe)

Arizona rejects gay marriage ban, seven other states approve. Gay.com: 'Arizona on Tuesday became the first state ever to defeat a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by popular vote, as returns showed the anti-gay proposal losing. With nearly all precincts reporting, the ban was defeated, 51 percent to 49 percent. Amendments to ban same-sex marriage won approval Tuesday in Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin, seven of the eight states with the issue on the ballot.' (Gay.com)

Commentary. The Belmont Club: 'The coming months will be ones of great opportunity. Reality provides one very powerful service: it shows what does not work. And it provides clues to what will work. A lot of the effort should consist of thinking out approaches from first principles. One obvious effect will be to shrivel the deadwood -- intellectual and otherwise -- out of the way. We are all free in a way that we couldn't otherwise be without today.'

Exactly. I haven't been stressing the election (though I'll admit to stressing over it) because what matters in the long run is the basics: the world of values, ideas, and information. The war against terrorists and fascists in the Middle East, and their enablers in the Western media and academia, will continue. All of us have a part to play. Last night's setback for the Republicans means we'll have to work a little harder. So let's get to it.

Log Cabin: Why the Republicans Lost

Log Cabin Republicans news release:
“Republicans lost this election because independent voters abandoned the GOP,” said Log Cabin Executive Vice President Patrick Sammon. “Social conservatives drove the GOP’s agenda the last several years. Their divisive agenda alienated the mainstream Republicans and independents who determined this election’s outcome. Social conservatives should take responsibility for this loss.”

“Democrats didn’t win because of anything they stood for. They won because of Republican mistakes,” said Sammon. “GOP leaders lost sight of what brought our Party to power in 1994. Limited government, lower spending, high ethical standards and accountability, and other unifying GOP principles attracted a broad coalition of support including fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, mainstream Republicans, libertarians, and independents. Now we’ve lost the U.S. House because Party leaders turned their backs on the GOP’s core principles and catered only to social conservatives.” ...

A failure to articulate a clear policy on the Iraq war was also a major factor in this defeat. And the ethical problems of some Congressmen caused voters to turn on the GOP. “These results show us that character counts. Our Party must nominate candidates who have the integrity worthy of their office,” said Sammon.

Full text at the link. Sammon also congratulates Log Cabin allies Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Gov. Jodi Rell (R-CT), Gov. Linda Lingle (R-HI), and Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH) on their victories.

MK Eldad: Marchers' Rights Are Worshipers' Rights

A religious Knesset member argues that if freedom of movement applies to the Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, it must also apply to Jewish worshipers on the Temple Mount. Works for me.

Arutz Sheva:
Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad wrote to the attorney general today demanding that Jewish worshippers on the Temple Mount be accorded the same civil rights protection as homosexual parade marchers.

In a letter sent to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz on Tuesday, MK Eldad (National Union-NRP) called for the state's chief legal counsel to apply the principles he elucidated regarding the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem to the rights of Jews to worship on the Temple Mount. As of now, police enforce a ban on Jewish worship on the Mount, Judaism's holiest site, due to threats of violence on the part of Muslims, who were allowed to maintain jurisdiction over the mosques on the Mount even after Israel conquered it in 1967. The ban is in effect despite Israeli lower court decisions stating that, in principle, Jews should have freedom of access and of worship on the Temple Mount. ...

On Monday, Atty. Gen. Mazuz rejected a police recommendation to ban the parade, saying, "We have to make a decision, either we give in to threats or we deal with them. We have to exert efforts to find an equation so that it can be secured." Mazuz ordered the police to work together with representatives of the Open House Gay pride organization to find a way to hold the event "with a modest character."

Further addressing the apparent inconsistency in the application of the law in the capital, Eldad pressed the attorney general: "You support the 'modest' right to protest of the [homosexual] community in Jerusalem, but you must surely know that a Jew caught standing with closed eyes and murmuring in a whisper is ejected from the Temple Mount."

Commentary. I like this. Eldad may not be thrilled about the court decision ruling that the gay parade can continue, but he understood that the principle behind it could work in his favor too. And he's right: If threats of violence are not permitted to deter the Gay Pride event, then why should the Jews' established freedom to worship on the Temple Mount be held hostage to threats?

For all related posts, please go to this category archive: Jerusalem Pride 2006.


Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade Reconsidered

Last week, I argued against the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. In this post, I'm going to look at it from a different angle.

In my previous post, I asserted that
a gay pride parade in Jerusalem is a confrontational, provocative gesture. It will do nothing to improve the attitude of straight Israelis toward gay people.

My reasoning was that forcing the issue of a gay pride parade in Jerusalem would cause a backlash among moderate Israelis which would result in a net setback, rather than an advance, for gay rights in Israel. And this may very well be true.

But I think what was really bothering me about the parade was the knowledge that certain orthodox Jewish fanatics would resort to all kinds of thuggish tactics to protest the event. Last year, a fundamentalist fruitcake named Yishai Schlissel stabbed and injured three people at the 2005 Gay Pride event in Jerusalem. He was convicted of attempted murder. Yediot:
The Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday convicted Yishai Schlissel, a resident of the ultra-Orthodox community of Kiryat Sefer, of attempted murder and severe injury for stabbing and injuring three people at a gay parade. About nine months ago, Schlissel arrived at the Gay Pride Parade which was held in Jerusalem, carrying a knife. He stabbed three people, who suffered light to moderate injuries. “I came to murder on behalf of God. We can’t have such abomination in the country,” Schlissel said during his police interrogation.

According to the charge sheet, the haredi assailant purchased the knife ahead of time in order to carry out the attack at the June 30 parade. "The accused displayed extreme fanatical behavior, and made up his mind not to let the parade end in peace at any cost," the judges wrote in their ruling. "He had no tolerance, not even minimal, toward the people who attended the parade because his worldview rejects any compromise. The accused was fully conscious and ready to pay a heavy personal price for his acts," the judges added.

Now this nutball was an extreme case, but not by far. As a Jew, I wince at this sort of thing. It means Jews looking bad in front of the whole world. And that was something I didn't want to see.

(Full disclosure: I was a practicing Orthodox Jew for a few years. And while I'm no longer frum, I do retain a considerable respect for the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism - as well as a certain sentimental attachment.)

But, you know what? The world does not revolve around what I want to see or don't want to see. Nobody expects the haredi Jews not to object to a gay parade in Jerusalem; that's a given. How they choose to express their disapproval, however, is up to them.

Looking back, I notice that I used the word "provocative". Well, of course we should try to avoid "provoking" people, right? But the idea of a "provocation" has a funny way of shifting the burden of responsibility. One must, after all, agree to be provoked. I'm not going to start talking about those Danish Mohammed cartoons, because I think you get the point.

So, if gay people march in Jerusalem, it will get ugly. Well, life is ugly. We have to deal with it.

I'm going to be following the Jerusalem Pride controversy closely here at Dreams Into Lightning. Stay tuned.

Morning Report: November 7, 2006

Decision day. An election-day roundup.

Syria: Countdown to war. Debka:
Syrian FM Walid Mualem threatens to start “countdown to war” with Israel failing progress on peace track. EBKAfile cites Mualem’s words at a joint news conference in Damascus with Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Steore Monday, Nov. 6, as an explicit threat of war to be launched against Israel at a time of Syria’s choosing. The Syrian minister welcomed a debate going on in Israel about whether to resume negotiations with Damascus on the Golan Heights, which Syria lost to Israel in the Six-Day War. He went on to say: “We now have a window of opportunity of several months. If there is no progress, the countdown will begin for a new Syrian-Israeli war.” On Nov. 3, DEBKA-Net-Weekly 276b> revealed that on Oct. 30 British PM Tony Blair had sent his senior political adviser Nigel Sheinwald (picture) on a mission to Damascus, hoping to turn the coming British exit from Iraqi towns round as leverage for a comeback to the Arab world and make up for his failed Iraq policy. One of the items in the British official’s briefcase for his meeting with president Bashar Asad and Mualem was a secret message from Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert: an offer to start peace talks. It was posted through Blair. The Syrian president sent a return message to the British prime minister: Tell Olmert I’m ready to talk. This move connected with a broader deal: Damascus would break away from its pact with Tehran in return for normal relations with the West. Israel-Syrian talks would kick off this process. Both parties agreed that the Sheinwald mission and the business they discussed would be kept secret. No sooner had the British emissary flown out of Damascus, when the Syrians leaked word of his visit together with the Syrian president’s rejection of Olmert’s offer to talk, barring a prior Israeli commitment to cede the Golan. This was not what the Syrian president had told his British vistor. When Sheinwald arrived in London, he found out that Asad had been stringing him along before killing the Blair initiative stone cold. All along the Syrian ruler had kept faith with Tehran.

Read the rest at the link. (Debka)

Operation Autumn Clouds ends. Vital Perspective:
Early this morning IDF infantry, engineering and armored forces completed their operations against terror infrastructure and rocket launching infrastructure in Beit Hanoun to prevent and disrupt the launching of rockets at Israel. Over the course of the operation:

Forces conducted searches throughout the town in order to locate terrorists, gunmen and weaponry.
Dozens of armed gunmen were killed in aerial attacks and clashes with soldiers.
IDF soldiers uncovered large amounts of weaponry including rocket launchers, anti-tank missile launchers, grenades, explosive devices, AK-47 assault rifles, various ammunitions types, observation equipment and more.
The IDF targeted and hit 9 rocket launching cells, some of them also responsible for rocket manufacturing.

Full post at the link. (Vital Perspective)

Europe's Muslim Brotherhood. Counterterrorism Blog: 'In 1990 Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Sunni scholar and the unofficial theological leader of the international Muslim Brotherhood (al Ikhwan al Muslimoun), published a book called Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase. This 186-page treatise can be considered the most recent manifesto of the Islamist revivalist movement. ... After examining the situation of the “Islamic Movement” throughout the Muslim world, the dissertation devotes significant attention to the situation of Muslims living in the West. ... Having affirmed the necessity of the Islamist movement in the West, Qaradawi proceeds to present a plan of operation. The Egyptian-born scholar openly calls for the creation of a separate society for Muslims within the West. While he highlights the importance of keeping open a dialogue with non-Muslims, he advocates the establishment of Muslim communities with “their own religious, educational and recreational establishments.” He urges his fellow revivalists to try “to have your small society within the larger society” and “your own ‘Muslim ghetto.’”' (CTB)

Egyptian blogger arrested. Or Does It Explode: 'Last October, Adelkarim Nabil Soliman got some attention for when Egyptian police interrogated him over blogposts critiquing Al Azhar University, where he was enrolled as a student. Soliman soon got booted out of school. And now he's been taken into custody for refusing to disavow his posts. A new blog is chronicling Soliman's arrest: http://www.freekareem.org. ' (ODIE)

Amarji's latest. A cancer-free Amarji shares his gut reactions to latest developments: 'The recent White House meeting with representatives of the National Salvation Front was, contrary to attempts at undermining it by many, quite a success and indicated a growing willingness by members within the current administration to assume a more open posture towards one of the most important and pragmatic Syrian opposition groups in exile. This openness is not restricted to members of the National Security Council. Indeed, and over the last few months, we have had quieter endorsements from all relevant decision-making centers within the administration. No, this does not mean that the Administration will be holding direct talks with Khadddam and Bayanouni soon, for tactical and ideological reasons on both sides. But contacts with the NSF through its liberal members will now take place regularly and on a high enough level to make it worth our while at the NSF to make point of acknowledging them at this stage. So, people can denounce, speculate, object, interpret, analyze and dismiss the fact and nature of these contacts to their hearts’ content, but, and at the end of the day, the fact cannot be denied: there is indeed a new kid on the block these days, a new player that, whether people like it or not, and for better or for worse, will make quite on an impact on the scene of Syrian external opposition. ...' (Amarji)

Commentary. Here's Orson Scott Card: 'There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror. And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.' Americans, you know what you need to do. Now go vote.

Neocons Blast Vanity Fair

Leading neoconservatives set the record straight in National Review Online:
On Friday, Vanity Fair issued a press release highlighting excerpts of a piece in their January issue on “neoconservative” supporters of the war in Iraq who today, unsurprisingly, have some negative things to say about how the war is going and how the Bush administration has been handling it.

In the wake of the press release – which has gotten considerable play on the Internet – some of those “neoconservatives” highlighted in the article have responded to the excerpts and its misrepresentations, in some cases, of what they said. We collect some of those reactions — including from Eliot Cohen, David Frum, Frank Gaffney, Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, and Michael Rubin — below.

Eliot A. Cohen
... I stand by what I said, however, which is no different from what I have said in other venues, including in articles in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal as well a in a variety of print and television interviews over several years. Indeed, insofar as I have any personal regrets as I look back on my public statements about the war, it is for not having spoken up even more often and forcefully than I already have.

David Frum
... My most fundamental views on the war in Iraq remain as they were in 2003: The war was right, victory is essential, and defeat would be calamitous. And that to my knowledge is the view of everybody quoted in the release and the piece: Adelman, Cohen, Ledeen, Perle, Pletka, Rubin, and all the others. ...

Frank Gaffney
... Perhaps we should have known better, given Vanity Fair’s generally venal character. We were encouraged to overlook that sordid record, however, on the grounds that the author would be Rose — a journalist who had earned a reputation of late for fair and honest treatment of matters such as this. ... For the record, I remain convinced that the liberation of Iraq was a necessary and laudable measure to prevent a megalomaniac from handing off to terrorists weapons of mass destruction for the purpose of attacking us and our allies. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. government has proof that Saddam Hussein had precisely such plans ready to implement.

Michael Ledeen
My experience with Vanity Fair is even more extensive than David Frum ‘s, having been the subject of a 30,000 word screed that ends with the author’s bland confession “there is no evidence for any of this.” So I am not at all surprised to see the editors yank words from me, David, and others out of context and totally misdescribe what we think, do and feel. I do not feel “remorseful,” since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place and I advocated — as I still do — support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters.

Readers of NRO know well how disappointed I have been with our failure to address Iran, which was, and remains, the central issue, and it has been particularly maddening to live through extended periods when our children were in battle zones where Iranian-supported terrorists were using Iranian-made weapons against Americans, Iraqis and Afghans. I have been expressing my discontent for more than three years. So much for a change of heart dictated by developments on the ground.

Richard Perle
Vanity Fair has rushed to publish a few sound bites from a lengthy discussion with David Rose. Concerned that anything I might say could be used to influence the public debate on Iraq just prior to Tuesday’s election, I had been promised that my remarks would not be published before the election.

I should have known better than to trust the editors at Vanity Fair who lied to me and to others who spoke with Mr. Rose. Moreover, in condensing and characterizing my views for their own partisan political purposes, they have distorted my opinion about the situation in Iraq and what I believe to be in the best interest of our country.

I believe it would be a catastrophic mistake to leave Iraq, as some are demanding, before the Iraqis are able to defend their elected government. As I told Mr. Rose, the terrorist threat to our country, which is real, would be made much worse if we were to make an ignominious withdrawal from Iraq. ...

Michael Rubin
Have those interviewed changed their mind about the war? I have not, no matter how self-serving partisan pundits or lazy journalists want to spin it. I can’t speak for others. Again, despite the punditry out there, the so-called neocons are not Borg.

Now, for my own quote: I absolutely stand by what I said. Too many people in Washington treat foreign policy as a game. Many Washington-types who speak about Iraq care not about the U.S. servicemen or about the Iraqis, but rather focus on U.S. electoral politics. I am a Republican, but whether the Republicans or Democrats are in power, Washington’s word must mean something. ...

Now that you've read the excerpts, please go read the whole article at the link.


Morning Report: November 6, 2006

Hanging in there. A dictator is sentenced while soldiers urge determination; to the east, a regime tests weapons and sets its sights on new horizons.

Saddam to hang. Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging. Omar: 'I was overwhelmed with joy and relief as I watched the criminals being read their verdicts. For the first time in our region tyrants are being punished for their crimes through a court of law. Until this moment and while I’m typing these words I’m still receiving words of congratulations in emails, phone calls and text messages from friends inside and outside the country. These were our only means to share our happiness because of the curfew that limits our movement. This is the day for Saddam’s lovers to weep and I expect their shock and grieve to be huge. They had always thought their master was immortal so let them live in their disappointment while we live for our future. This is a day not only for Iraqis but a historic day for the whole region; today new basis for dealing between rulers and peoples are found. No one is above the law anymore.' Gateway Pundit has the details on how Ramsey Clark went so far above and beyond the call of idiocy that he got himself ejected and reprimanded by Iraqi officials. For information on atrocities under Saddam, please visit The Iraqi Holocaust. (PJM, Gateway Pundit)

Iraq troops: Pullout would be devastating. Washington Post:
With a potentially historic U.S. midterm election on Tuesday and the war in Iraq a major issue at the polls, many soldiers said the United States should not abandon its effort here. Such a move, enlisted soldiers and officers said, would set Iraq on a path to civil war, give new life to the insurgency and create the possibility of a failed state after nearly four years of fighting to implant democracy.

"Take us out of that vacuum -- and it's on the edge now -- and boom, it would become a free-for-all," said Lt. Col. Mark Suich, who commands the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment just south of Baghdad. "It would be a raw contention for power. That would be the bloodiest piece of this war."

The soldiers declined to discuss the political jousting back home, but they expressed support for the Bush administration's approach to the war, which they described as sticking with a tumultuous situation to give Iraq a chance to stand on its own.

Read the full article at the link. (Washington Post)

Iran tests weapons. The Intelligence Summit citing AFP: 'Iran on Saturday announced it had successfully test-fired new armour-piercing weaponry and an anti-helicopter missile system on the third day of its latest war games. "The new generation of anti-helicopter and anti-armour weapons were successfully tested on day three of the manoeuvres," an announcer on state television said as pictures of the test-firing were broadcast. In the "Great Prophet II" war games, due to last 10 days, Iran has so far fired its Shahab-3 longer range missile for the first time in manoeuvres as well as new types of land-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles. The armour-piercing weapons tested Saturday include a rifle equipped with special sights that can identify an enemy seven kilometres (four miles) away and can penetrate a target wearing a bullet-resistant vest from a distance of three kilometres (one-and-a-half miles).' Debka:
Our sources reveal that scores of surface missiles – a record for any war games anywhere - were tested simultaneously at a desert testing site some two hours drive from Tehran Thursday, Nov. 2. Precisely planned, the testing went smoothly. Input has not yet come in about the accuracy of their targeting.

A senior American missile expert told DEBKAfile that the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess. They also displayed unfamiliar warheads. But their most startling feat was the successful first test-fire of the long-range Shehab-3 with its cluster of tens of small bomblets, as DEBKAfile revealed Oct. 31. The entire range bore the imprint of new purchases from China.

This Shehab-3, whose 2,000-km range brings Israel, the Middle East and Europe within reach - may be more than a match for any anti-missile missile system in American, Israeli or European arsenals – depending critically on the point of its fragmentation. Some of its features are still an enigma in the West.

If the Shehab-3’s cluster separates close to target, the Israel-US Arrow has a chance to intercept it, but the Americans and Israelis have no defense against the multiple warhead if it separates at a distance.

Debka adds that the intended audience for this performance was probably Europe, which Tehran sees as more easily intimidated. (TIS, Debka)

Hezbollah plans for Lebanon: A new Iran. ThreatsWatch: 'The Iranian-supported terrorists ultimately seek to assert a Shi’a Islamist theocracy over Lebanon modeled after their Iranian masters. As they are permitted to rebuild their southern infrastructure - including tunnels, rockets and other arms - they are ever more prepared to threaten inwards as outwards. The Hizballah power play is not subtle, as they have threatened to ‘take to the streets’ of Lebanon if they do not get their way. But some in Lebanon remain firm, as Saad Hariri criticized Hizballah’s latest move and rejected it, proffered by a co-opted Christian leader Michel Auoun. Auoun, a surprising Hizballah ally, called for the entire government to be reshuffled in order to ‘broaden representation’ in Beirut. But while the Lebanese government has long under-represented the Shi’a, relying on old census numbers, to adjust now means an influx of Hizballah terrorist leadership among the Lebanese government, the end of the Lebanese Cedar Revolution and the beginning of the imposition of an Iranian-style Islamic ‘Republic.’' (ThreatsWatch)

Gay Patriot: Massachusetts gifts to GOP. Gay Patriot links Jules Crittenden at the Boston Herald:
Every two years, bluest blue Massachusetts sends in the clowns. We show America what could be and America generally sees it and acts accordingly: runs in the other direction.

From Kerry’s insulting jibes at our troops, to the efforts by Kennedy and others in our delegation to undermine a wartime presidency and give Euro-style socialism a foot-hold in the New World, Massachusetts gives America its bogeymen.

With the likely election of Deval Patrick as governor, we’ll give America a brave new Dukakis, not to mention an advance glance at an Obama administration. Watch and learn. It is perhaps the best 2008 gift we, Massachusetts, could give the GOP.

More Kennedy. More Kerry - no way he’s going quietly; his Web site now sports a Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial saying his dumb troops-dumb Bush joke was “right either way.”

Gay Patriot can think of one more name for that list. Read the rest at the link. (Gay Patriot)

Commentary. Wretchard at The Belmont Club says, 'When faced with an enemy determined to destroy you, and who if temporarily lacking the means persistently works on acquiring the resources to eventually do so, withdrawal is not an option. It is not an option because it merely shifts the battlefront closer to home ...'. And not to the defender's advantage.

Soon, Americans will elect a new set of leaders in Congress. Our future will be shaped by the kind of leaders we elect - and by the degree to which those leaders reflect the American people's will to win.