Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Cruising the Web

Sohrab Ahmari chides the media for not according Palestinians any acknowledgement of control over their own actions.
The latest media assault on Palestinian agency came Monday, as Israelis celebrated the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, while Palestinians attempted to infiltrate en masse the barrier fence that separates the Jewish state from the terrorist-run Gaza Strip to the south.

By the Western media’s dim lights, the blame for Hamas’s criminal stunt and the casualties it caused lay with . . . anybody and everybody but Hamas and the Palestinians.

The narrative emerged early on Twitter, and the social-media platform’s deplorable tendency to flatten reality into cheap, emotive images no doubt accelerated its dissemination. The juxtaposition–of “Jivanka” and Benjamin Netanyahu celebrating in Jerusalem while Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians at the Gaza border–proved irresistible to reporters. The BBC’s Katty Kay, for example, was quick to point out that President Trump’s warm words for the Jewish state came while there were “41 dead on the Israel Gaza border today.” An AFP White House correspondent posted the two sets of images side-by-side–a smiling and clapping Bibi next to a photo of fire and smoke from Gaza–with the words: “Quite the disconnect.” He had garnered more than 2,600 retweets as of this writing.
Well, these deaths aren't just happening out of the blue or because the Israelis decided to go kill a bunch of innocent Palestinians. Think about it for a minute. If the Israelis wanted to kill a lot of Palestinians, they could go wipe out thousands in one blow.
Then there was Peter Beinart (Marshall, declined): “While Jewish + Christian bigots celebrate an occupied city, Jewish soldiers kill people fleeing an open-air prison. As a great lover of Zion said long ago, ‘This is not the way.'” Yes, “fleeing.” That is an interesting way to describe a concerted, Iranian-regime-funded operation to violate Israeli sovereignty and do “whatever is possible, to kill, throw stones,” as the Washington Post quoted one of the “protesters” describing the movement’s goals.

The Palestinians’ more sophisticated friends know what Hamas is all about. They understand that young men whipped into a frenzy by an organization that exists to destroy world Jewry, per its charter, aren’t exactly latter-day Freedom Riders. But they think that the Palestinians can’t help themselves. While they expect Israel–a state encircled by hostile populations and threatened with nuclear extinction by the Iranian mullahs–to behave like Norway, of the Palestinians they have the most dismal, if any, expectations.
Journalists portray the Palestinians as driven by desperation to suicidal approaches to the Israeli border. Please.
Or maybe try to conceive of the poisonous power of Hamas’s anti-Semitic ideology and the Palestinians’ permanently aggrieved mentality, which has allowed the conflict to fester despite numerous peace offers from the Israeli side. There are desperate people all over the world who never translate their frustration into suicide bombing, stone throwing, border-rushing, and violent “Days of Rage.” It does the Palestinians no good to treat them as children entitled to tantrums, as permanent wards of the international community or, worst, as wild men bereft of reason. Then again, such highhanded pity isn’t really about helping the Palestinians so much as it is about flattering their Western friends.
In many ways, Israel is a miraculous country, surviving attacks from hate-filled enemies who way outnumbered them. It has survived and developed a thriving, modern economy. They have a lot to celebrate on this 70th anniversary.
Meanwhile, Israel has good reason to celebrate: 70 years of independence, a dynamic economy, an innovative tech industry, a vibrant public square, a globally influential culture, demographics that are the envy of the West, burgeoning alliances with former enemies, and now American recognition of its capital. Leave it to the New York Times to frame the anniversary as a moment of “peril” and a “nightmare taking shape.” The Times dispatch, by David Halbfinger, acknowledges these successes. But it claims that “Israelis seem not to know what to feel” and quotes historian Tom Segev, who says that the “future is very bleak.”

This is a distorted picture of Israeli sentiment. Massive celebrations have been going on for weeks, involving hundreds of thousands of people. It does, however, reveal the psychological anguish in the Times newsroom over the Jewish state’s triumph.
Why should the media take the exact opposite view of Israel's survival?

Frank J. Fleming succinctly summarizes what the fighting is all about.

As David Harsanyi writes, the media has to stop being apologists for the Palestinians and buying into their propaganda.
Hamas isn’t merely a terrorist organization committed to murdering Jews, it’s a terrorist organization that urges its own people to become cannon fodder as a means of appealing to Western journalists and intellectuals. The higher the death toll, the happier Hamas will be. And few things have more of a detrimental effect on the Palestinian cause than the media’s asymmetrical coverage of this conflict with the Jews.

Until Palestinians shed their hatred, turn from the Israeli fences, and march towards their own governments, they will remain pawns and saps in a decades-long suicide mission. That’s because no amount of bad press about Israel’s efforts to stop violence coming from Gaza will impel that nation to create a terror state on its borders. It’s untenable, not to mention immoral. We would never contemplate such a thing. Nor would any rational country.

Despite what you’ve heard, the 35,000 Palestinian “demonstrators” massed along the security fence between Israel and Gaza — the ones throwing firebombs and other explosives, burning tires, chucking rocks (if you think these are aren’t deadly, you should see one landing; I have), and those attempting to light fires to burn crops and vegetation — are only ostensibly protesting the United States moving its embassy to Israel’s capital. I know this because Hamas doesn’t accept a U.S. embassy anywhere in Israel, as it doesn’t recognize Israel at all.

Hamas has openly asserted that it’s attempting to create incursions into Israel, and that has absolutely nothing to do with East or West or North or South Jerusalem. For Palestinians this is about the 70th anniversary of Israel — or, as they see it, Nakba. It’s about an ongoing historic effort — an intermittently theocratic or nationalistic effort, depending on the trends — to play victim.
but for the media, it's always Israel's fault.
o while it might grate against the sensibilities and preconceived notions of those covering the mess, Hamas is the oppressor in this situation. And while rioters might think they’re fighting a “war,” Israel is merely trying to stop a mob from breaching a fence. To frame this as a battle between occupier and occupied is deeply simplistic. Gaza is unoccupied territory. It is only after a Hamas coup d’etat that dispatched the opposition political party of Fatah led by Mahmoud Abbas, the internationally recognized leader of the Palestinians, that both Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza. Like Israel, Egypt was rightly worried about the increase of Iranian influence and terrorism....

Hamas might regularly crush political dissent, torture opponents, and limit every freedom imaginable, but let’s not forget that it’s also plagued by corruption. Since Israel conferred semi-autonomy on Gaza, Hamas has created one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, at more than 40 percent. The government siphons off hundreds of millions in international aid it should be using to promote economic growth and for basic necessities for the people, to fund the making and use of thousands of rockets and mortars (rendered ineffective by the Iron Dome; and the reason Hamas has not turned to riots), concrete-bolstered tunnels that shuffle terrorists into Israel, and other unnecessary terror activity.

One of those activists is ginning up mobs to rush a fence separating Gaza and Israel. At one gathering near Gaza City, The Washington Post reported, Hamas organizers encouraged rioters to push through the fence, “telling them Israeli soldiers were fleeing their positions, even as they were reinforcing them.” The purpose, of course, was to create casualties.

On the other hand, Israel dropped leaflets urging Palestinians to stay away from the fence. “Save your lives and work on building your futures,” the papers read. Israelis also fired warning shots at people as they began breaching the fence. Snipers only fired real shots at those who had already crossed the first fence despite warnings and were trying to breach the main security fence.

Using civilians as human shields and canon fodder, and the resulting death tolls as propaganda, has been a tool for Palestinian groups for more than half a century. In 2015, the United Nations was forced to admit that Hamas was storing explosives in at least three UN schools (where displaced people as well as children were housed) that Israel targeted during the mini-war of 2014. Using international aid buildings as staging grounds for terrorism is part of Yasser Arafat’s legacy.

Of course Israel makes mistakes. Many of them. But what is Israel supposed to do when a mob of violent rioters march towards them? Should it shut down the IDF and allow Hamas to overtake their military positions? Should it tear down the fences and allow a million Gazans, propagandized over a generation by violent regimes and steeped in virulent anti-Semitism, to walk into Israel proper?

Perhaps this tweet might help journalists see what is really going on.

And don't kid yourselves that those who were killed were innocent victims.

Perhaps we can take them at their word for what their goal is.
A young Palestinian man boasted to National Public Radio on Tuesday about putting swastikas on incendiary kites and flying them into Israel, saying that "Jews go crazy" when they see it and "we want to burn them."

NPR host Steve Inskeep reported live from the Gaza Strip after a wave of violence on Monday following mass violent demonstrations at the border fence with Israel. He spoke with a 19-year-old Gaza resident, who was holding a homemade white kite.

"This is a kite that's going to go to the Jews," the Palestinian said through a translator.

The incendiary kite, designed to catch fire, was decorated with "writing claiming Jerusalem for Palestinians" and with swastikas, the primary symbol of Nazism.

"Why do you put that on there?" Inskeep asked.Nikk

"The Jews go crazy for Hitler when they see it," the Gazan said.

"The Israelis know that people are flying kites with swastikas," Inskeep said. "They know this, and they use it to discredit you, to say this shows you're bad people. What do you think about that?"

"This is actually what we want them to know, that we want to burn them," he replied, according to Inskeep.

Sometimes, it's rather easy to tell motivation - just look at people's actions.

Nikki Haley is exactly right. What nation would allow people pledging openly to murder its citizens into their country? These aren't immigrants wanting to make better lives for themselves; these are people who brag about killing Israelis.

Just contrast the media's coverage of our moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which was following a law passed in 1995 and according to the expressed wishes of every president since Clinton, to the euphoria with which the media greeted the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana. And what have we gotten from that move - a bunch of American diplomats with brain damage from a mysterious attack. And, of course, the Cuban regime has done nothing to lighten its attacks on civil liberties.

Here's another contrast.

And this is why the media lies about Israel matter.

Noah Rothman is struck
by the lack of curiosity or just plain decent journalism that the media have shown about this whole story.
Among those questions are, for example, why Gaza? Yesterday’s events were not the first of their kind. Urged on by Hamas, Gazans began crowding the border with the intent to harass Israeli security forces as early as February. Those protests quickly became violent, when an improvised explosive device hidden under a Palestinian flag near the border wounded four IDF soldiers and ignited a night of Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gazan targets. Similar mass demonstrations followed in March and April, during which civilians crowded the Gazan border with the express intent to provide Hamas militants the opportunity to breach the fence.

Each time, those confrontations resulted in numerous casualties and several fatalities among Palestinians. No doubt, many of those fatalities were civilians; that is to be expected when civilians are explicitly placed in the line of fire. But just how indiscriminate were those deaths? Both Hamas and Israeli officials agree that 80 percent of the fatalities in April —26 of 32 dead—were identified as Hamas militants. As for yesterday’s confrontation, Hamas’s Internal Security Apparatus claimed that 16 of the dead were members either of their organization or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. As Gen. Martin Dempsey said during Israel’s 2014 incursion into Gaza, though they may at times be unavoidable, “The IDF is not interested in creating civilian casualties.” Some have suggested that Israel should have resorted primarily to non-lethal munitions—as they generally did, indicated by images featuring copious amounts of tear gas. The apparent targeting by snipers of suspected militants suggests that these fatalities were not the result of recklessness by individual IDF soldiers or a crowd control operation gone wrong.

So why haven’t we seen the mainstream Western press repeat Hamas’s Internal Security Apparatus’s claims when they take Hamas’s Ministry of Health’s assertions as though they were gospel? The notion that 1,400, 1,100, or 1,360 people were injured by “live fire” with less than 1 percent succumbing to their wounds defies logic and should be met with skepticism, but those figures are bandied about in the press without concern for their propagandistic effects. And why hasn’t the mainstream press noted the extent to which Hamas officials provided demonstrators along the “Great Return March,” the quickest routes by which they could infiltrate Israeli communities upon breaching the border fence? And why hasn’t more been made of the fact that Hamas actively lobbied Gazan civilians to converge on the border while simultaneously using those civilians as cover to launch attacks on the IDF using grenades and Molotov cocktails? Perhaps because to note these things would be to expose the extent to which the press has played precisely the role Hamas and their benefactors wanted them to play.

But it’s the dogs that aren’t barking that is the most interesting story to develop in the last 24 hours. It is also the Western media’s biggest blind spot. Extensive coverage was devoted to Turkey’s decision to respond to Monday’s border skirmish by withdrawing its U.S. and Israeli ambassador. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long sought to unite the Islamic world behind Ankara, and Turkey’s outrage over Israel’s actions fits a pattern among majority Muslim nations. Or, at least, it used to. Precious little coverage in the West has been devoted to the non-response to yesterday’s events from Palestinian sponsors in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt. Indeed, Egypt has been conveying Israeli messages to Gazan officials in an effort to prevent the escalation of hostilities and to facilitate reconciliation between Hamas-led Gaza and its supposed brothers in the West Bank. Why? Because the West Bank’s sponsors in Riyadh are more closely aligned with Cairo’s priorities than Hamas’s benefactors in Tehran.

Real Clear Investigation exposes how Obama Director of the CIA John Brennan has been lying.
Former CIA Director John Brennan’s insistence that the salacious and unverified Steele dossier was not part of the official Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election is being contradicted by two top former officials.

Recently retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress that the Clinton campaign-funded memos did factor into the ICA. And James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the assessment was based on “some of the substantive content of the dossier.” Without elaborating, he maintained that “we were able to corroborate” certain allegations.

These accounts are at odds with Brennan’s May 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the Steele dossier was "not in any way used as the basis for the intelligence community's assessment" that Russia interfered in the election to help elect Donald Trump. Brennan has repeated this claim numerous times, including in February on “Meet the Press.”

In a March 5, 2018, letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, Adm. Rogers informed the committee that a two-page summary of the dossier — described as “the Christopher Steele information” — was “added” as an “appendix to the ICA draft,” and that consideration of that appendix was “part of the overall ICA review/approval process.”

His skepticism of the dossier may explain why the NSA parted company with other intelligence agencies and cast doubt on one of its crucial conclusions: that Vladimir Putin personally ordered a cyberattack on Hillary Clinton’s campaign to help Donald Trump win the White House.

Rogers has testified that while he was sure the Russians wanted to hurt Clinton, he wasn't as confident as CIA and FBI officials that their actions were designed to help Trump, explaining that such as assessment "didn't have the same level of sourcing and the same level of multiple sources.”
They even inserted information on the Steele dossier into President Obama's presidential daily briefing.
“Brennan put some of the dossier material into the PDB [presidential daily briefing] for Obama and described it as coming from a ‘credible source,’ which is how they viewed Steele,” said the source familiar with the House investigation. "But they never corroborated his sources.”
And then there is the role of James Clapper, Obama's Director of National Intelligence, and his leaks to CNN about the dossier right before taking a job at CNN. Might convenient that.

BuzzFeed looks at "The 9 Minutes That Almost Changed America," the attempted murder of GOP congressmen while they were practicing for their annual baseball game. They're right to call it that. Just imagine the feeling in this country if there had been a mass political assassination that day. As the story details, there were so many contingencies that day that, if things had gone differently, the results of the attempted assassinations might have been quite different.
If you ask the people who survived, a series of miracles took place that morning, which Roger Williams considers “angels,” and Rep. Jeff Duncan, “God winks.”

That the shooter never got a good shot into the dugout. That his first shot hit the fence, diverting the bullet’s path away from Rep. Trent Kelly who was standing directly in front of him, at third base. That he never thought to climb the announcer’s booth. That the pitchers weren’t there that day, instead of trapped in a batting cage. That Matt Mika was turning his body when the first bullet struck him, so it didn’t hit his heart. That Zack Barth could still run. That Dr. Brad Wenstrup didn’t leave early. That Richard Krimmer’s ambulance hit green lights the entire way to the field. That the gate next to third base — through which the shooter could’ve walked through right onto the field — was locked, another fact nearly everyone on the team credits with saving their lives.

"If it was just one thing, you could maybe call it a coincidence, but when you add them all up together, the only way you can explain it is that they were all miracles,” Scalise says.

That Steve Scalise was even at the field was a miracle, too.

“The irony is because Steve Scalise was there,” Rodney Davis says, “we all survived.”

Because he is the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, Scalise has a security detail — on that morning, US Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey. It’s against department policy for agents to speak with the press, so they haven't been able to tell their story. But all the Republicans who were at the field that day, and the prosecutor’s report, can tell you everything that Bailey and Griner did, will tell you they are heroes, will tell you to talk to them about what they did. They put themselves directly in harm’s way, engaging the shooter so he started firing back at them, instead of at everyone else.
After all that went on, the FBI decided, for their own reasons, that this was not a politically motivated shooting.
But many lawmakers are mad, or frustrated, or saddened, at how quickly the story disappeared from the headlines given that the shooter, James T. Hodgkinson, targeted Republicans. The FBI concluded the shooting wasn’t politically motivated — suicide by cop, they told members after an investigation.

But Hodgkinson carried a list of names of lawmakers in his pocket: Mo Brooks, Jim Jordan, Trent Franks, Scott DesJarlais, Jeff Duncan, and Morgan Griffith. The list included their office numbers and short physical descriptions. He’d recorded video of the field in April of that year — a sign, the prosecutor wrote in his official report, that Hodgkinson “had already selected Simpson field as a potential target as early as April 2017.” Rep. Gary Palmer says he had noticed Hodgkinson on the bleachers the day before the shooting; he’d even thought about walking over to him because he looked like he was having “a hard time.”

According to the prosecutor’s report, Hodgkinson had fallen on hard times. He had stopped working and traveled from Illinois to DC sometime in March 2017, telling his family he was leaving to “protest.” He was living in his van near the YMCA, a building adjacent to the field, that he used to shower. His social media posts show that he hated Trump, and supported Bernie Sanders, whose 2016 campaign he even volunteered for. (“I am sickened by this despicable act,” Sanders said the day of the shooting.) He once routinely wrote letters to the local paper, criticizing Republicans.
There is no reason not to have termed this a politically motivated shooting. I might have my guesses why the FBI didn't want to term it as such, but that doesn't change the reality.
The FBI briefed the players on their findings in the fall of last year. Several members were shocked they wouldn’t call the shooting politically motivated. Palmer ended up leaving after about a half hour.

“I think most people were really upset,” Palmer says. “I think I may have been the first one that really called them out, and then after I did everybody kind of piled on. I guess everybody was upset. Everybody knew that what they were saying was a crock. The guy had a list. He came there to shoot Republicans.”

He thinks they “misrepresented what happened because of concerns over the political fallout."

“I felt like they blew it off," he said.

“They said, ‘So, essentially this was suicide by cop.’ And we’re like, ‘Only?’ And I can tell you, I can buy that from what I saw at the end, where he walked out openly shooting,” Wenstrup says. “But let’s not kid ourselves here. You look at his website. He hates Republicans. He had the names of six Republicans in his pocket. He had — his social media is full of it. He camped out there for two months planning this, to kill Republicans. Did he hope to die at the end? Maybe.”

Just what taxpayers need to be paying for - subsidized housing for congressmen in Washington.
A Democratic congressman wants to create affordable housing in Washington, DC — for members of the House.

As the nation’s capital struggles with a homeless crisis, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson plans to introduce legislation as soon as this week calling for a study into converting a vacant residence hall blocks from the US Capitol into cheap housing for the well-paid politicians.

“I think that building should be available to members of Congress who have found housing costs to be prohibitive,” Thompson told The Post — referring to House members who rake in at least $174,000 a year.

“It can be the affordable-housing-availability option,” he said.

The move follows a recent Post exposé about the scores of House members — including Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens) and Dan Donovan (R-SI) — who bunk overnight in their offices, claiming they can’t afford DC apartments in addition to their homes.
I have two daughters who live in D.C., both of whom work for non-profits, so I'm well aware of how expensive housing there can be. But I have zero sympathy for these unfortunate congressmen. No one forced them to run for the position. They can share apartments. They can skimp and save like tens of thousands of D.C. residents do. They can live outside the District and commute in as many do. Or they can continue to bunk in their offices. Welcome to the real world, Congressmen.

James Harden is perhaps my least favorite NBA player. I watch a lot of NBA games and I can't stand the way that he gets foul calls simply by launching himself at the defender. I wish that the rules allowed the refs to exercise a bit more discretion as to what was something the defender did and what was something the guy with the ball did to make it look as if he'd been fouled. The Ringer has an excellent breakdown of all the ways that James Harden draws fouls. I found myself getting irritated all over again watching some of their video clips.