Abbas on Deck

I hope Mahmoud Abbas is taking notes.

The gut-wrenching images of Jewish settlers being evacuated from their homes in Gaza is a striking display of the lengths Israel will go to in confronting the most extreme elements within its society. Ariel Sharon has torn his country apart, seen members of his government resign, risked political defeat and weathered assassination plots all as part of the disengagement plan.

Once the Israelis pullout completely, it will be Abbas’s show. Hamas terrorists have claimed the Israeli withdrawal as a victory of their resistance and will be asserting themselves. Abbas must follow the example that Sharon has set and forcibly disarm the terrorist groups. Confronting the terrorists is not only essential for becoming a reliable peace partner, but it is essential should the Palestinians ever achieve statehood. There is simply no way any Palestinian state could be viable if a government is competing for control with armed terrorist groups.

When Israel was founded in 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, forcibly disbanded several paramilitary organizations and he even sunk a ship filled with weapons that were purchased by one of these groups. The controversial move claimed 82 lives.

Terrorists may see the Israeli withdrawal as a victory, but they are deluding themselves. Should they step up their war against Israel while Abbas sits on the sidelines, Sharon will not hesitate for one minute to send tanks into Gaza.

To borrow a line from the Godfather, Part II, Sharon will essentially tell Abbas, “If you don’t take care of this, I have to.”

Big Government Republicans

Pejman Yousefzadeh writes about how Republicans will suffer politically in 2006 or 2008 if they continue to embrace big government as in the case of the recently passed highway bill. I am a small government voter who voted for President Bush because of national security–even though I was sickened by the expansion of the government in his first term (especially with regard to the prescription drug plan). But voting for Senators or House members is different, because the Congress does not have as much control over national security matters. With security less of an issue, I really would have no reason to vote for a Republican over a Democrat. What do I really need with a Republican who embraces pork and is too much of a wimp to support private accounts and other Social Security reform measures?

Home Front, Continued

My friend Jerry adds this on the issue of the Quiet Home Front:

One of my history professors said that the modern age of the nation-state began with the institution of the levee en masse in August of 1793. With the institution of conscription, wars engaged entire nations, not just armies; thus, the major conflicts of the twentieth century owed much to a pattern developed in the eighteenth. If this is true, then one might say the nation-state passed into its post-modern phase in July of 1973, when the draft bill expired and the United States began transitioning to an all-volunteer force.

While ending the draft was a politically brilliant move by Nixon, it also boded ill for the health of the democratic nation-state. When they didn’t have to worry about being forced into the service themselves, many ordinary Americans stopped caring about what their military was being asked to do in their name.

This, then, is the post-modern world we are living in: as Andrew Bacevich writes, serving one’s country has become “strictly a matter of personal choice,” little more than a drab option in a dizzying array of bright potential careers. Given that fact, should it surprise anyone that there is such a rift between the civilian world and the military one? Or that the military is being stretched to the breaking point, whipped nearly to death by its civilian taskmasters with nary a protest from the public that is supposed to be overseeing everything?

His point is certainly backed up by my recent trip to Israel, where everyone is required to serve two years in the military (though women also have a national service option). While I don’t yet support something like this in the United States, there is no doubt that it does help foster a “we’re all in this together” attitude, where the citizenry is more willing to tolerate disruption in their lives as part of the ongoing struggle against Palestinians and Arab nations. Everyone in Israel has either served in the military or has friends or family currently serving in the military. I remember at one point on my trip I went into a supermarket with a soldier on a road outside Jerusalem. Before we entered, the soldier flashed his military ID card to a security gaurd. He told the gaurd that I was with him. As we were walking through the supermarket, I asked the soldier if you had to show ID to enter, and he said that if he hadn’t they probably would have searched our bags. It was surprising to me that they’d be searching bags at what was essentially the equivelent of a suburban Kroger. When the soldier saw by the look on my face that I thought this was a bit odd, he matter-of-factly responded, “It’s a store.” It was no big deal to him. All part of going shopping. In NYC, they are doing random bag searches in the subway, an ideal terrorist target, and you have the ACLU hyperventilating.

But how much of this is a “chicken or egg” scenario? Is a society’s willingness to sacrifice a condition that must be met for a government to impose something such as a draft? It’s no coincidence that Nixon ended the draft during the unpopular Vietnam War. Israelis tolerate mandatory military service (and other disruptions to everyday life), because they know it is all a matter of their survival. They have their backs against the Mediterranean Sea, and are surrounded by enemies. Americans simply do not see the war against terrorism as one of survival.

Hillary Slayer?

You knew that the tabloids were going to have a field day with this:


Jeanine Pirro, the tough, media savvy Westchester D.A. has thrown her hat into the ring against Senator Clinton. An absolute gift to New York’s dailies, and Clinton obsessed Dick Morris, who already chimed in.

Clinton has a 30-plus point lead in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, which was released last week, before Pirro’s announcement. But it’s a long time until election day and Pirro at this point remains unknown to most voters. Pirro’s biggest liability is her husband, who went to jail for tax fraud and allegedly has mob ties. But this liability would be neutralized in a Senate race. Is Hillary really one to argue that a female politician should be held accountable for the transgressions of her husband?

Pirro wasted no time in attacking Clinton:

“When Mrs. Clinton first came to us and said she wanted to be a New Yorker, she asked New York to put out a welcome mat and we did,” Pirro added in a separate statement issued by campaign aides. “?But now she wants us to re-elect her even though she won’t promise to serve out her term and wants to use us as a springboard to the presidency. She’s asking us to become her doormat. I believe we deserve better.”

Stay tuned.

Golf Rights

From the AP:

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s highest court ruled Monday that country clubs must offer gay members who register as domestic partners the same discounts given to married members — a decision that could apply to other businesses such as insurance companies and mortgage lenders.

The California Supreme Court decision dealt with a policy at the Bernardo Heights Country Club in San Diego that allows the children, grandchildren and spouses of married members to golf for free.

Birgit Koebke, 48, an avid golfer, challenged the policy after being told that her longtime partner, Kendall French, could play as a guest only six times a year while paying up to $70 a round.

Because of my belief in limited government, I support allowing homosexuals to marry legally. My reasoning is that same-sex marriage does not affect anyone other than the two people involved. I have not been swayed by arguments that allowing gays to marry would weaken heterosexual marriage or otherwise harm society.

Gay rights advocates often use limited government arguments to further their cause, chiding conservatives who “want to regulate people’s bedrooms.” But this case is an example of how gay rights advocates are disengenuous when they speak of wanting government to butt out of people’s business. What really irked me was a quote by the lead plaintiff:

Of the ruling, Koebke said: “We just wanted to play golf together, and we just really felt we had every human right to do that.”

Koebke and her partner have every right to leave the country club for another golf course, or pay the extra fee, or lobby other members of the golf course to change the bylaws to allow them to receive the special marriage discount. But since when do we have a “human right” to play golf at a course of our choosing under terms of our choosing?

Wanting the government to butt out of our lives cuts both ways. If you oppose the government moving into people’s bedrooms, you shouldn’t support a government that butts into the policies of a private country club. As a Jew, I would find it offensive if my local country club were restricted, but as a supporter of limited government, I believe a private club should have every right to bar Jews.

You can read the California Supreme Court’s decision here and decide for yourself whether the court was bound by existing California laws to reach the decision it did.

My issue is mainly with those gay rights activists who will seek to use the courts to interfere with private businesses. It seems that we can look forward to endless litigation on this front in the coming years. From the article:

Jon Davidson, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, predicted that the ruling would also affect mortgage lenders, insurance companies and other businesses that have separate policies or fees for married and unmarried customers.

The more gay rights advocates pursue this route, the more they will lose allies like me who are with them when they are on the side of getting government to butt out of people’s lives.

Ideology of Death

I recently watched the documentary Death in Gaza, based on the footage of filmmaker James Miller, who was accidentally killed by fire from an Israeli tank while making this movie about the lives of Palestinian children. While I had problems with the portrayal of Israelis as big, bad, bullies, I found that the film was worth seeing to gain perspective on the terrorist mindset. Specifically, how Palestinian children are raised in a culture that celebrates death and seeks to exploit how Israelis cherish life.

In one scene, we see a twelve year-old boy hanging out with a group of black-masked terrorists (or “militants,” as they are referred to in the film). One of the terrorists says, “Let’s see what you look like with a rocket launcher.” He then hands the weapon to the child and demonstrates the proper way to hold it. When the interviewer asks if the boy is too young to be involved in the resistance, another terrorist replies that if the child were to die, “there are a thousand more kids like him.”

While this movie focused on Israel, the ideology of death can just as easily be seen in the 9/11 hijackers or the 7/7 suicide bombers in London. But the scary part is that not only do these people revel in death, but they aim to take advantage of the fact that the civilized world values life above all else.

At a rally for martyrs featured in “Death in Gaza,” a voice speaking through a loudspeaker can be heard saying, “You desire paradise, they are eager to cling to life.” Later in the movie, the militants explain why they use a young boy as a lookout by saying, “This job is perfect for a little boy because nobody suspects him.” These cretins put a child in the line of fire, because they know Israeli culture values the lives of children. Terrorists employ children, and then if a Palestinian child is caught in Israeli crossfire, they cry outrage that Israel killed an “innocent” child, and the rest of the world rises up to condemn Israel. They exploit the compassion of the rest of the world, who are their “useful idiots.”

All of this is really disturbing to me, because it makes me wonder if it is possible to defeat militant Islam without employing tactics so brutal that any civilized person would find them hard to stomach.