Saturday, January 17, 2009

So Much for the Iranian Unit reports that the Israelis took only a day or so to all but wipe out a 100 man elite unit trained by the Iranians:

The so-called "Iranian Unit" of Hamas has been destroyed, according to Gaza sources cited Thursday by the Haaretz daily. The sources said most of the unit's 100 members were killed in fighting in the Zeytun neighborhood of Gaza City.

The terrorists had been trained in infantry tactics, the use of anti-tank missiles and the detonation of explosives, among other skills, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard at Hizbullah camps in Lebanon's Beka'a Valley, as well as sites in Iran.

If the Israelis can so easily dispatch units trained by the Iranians the strength of the Iranian army itself is called into question. At the very least this is a huge embarrassment to Iran and Hizbollah. It also restores a lot of respect for the prowess of the Israeli Defense Force that had been diminished in the war in Lebanon two years ago.

In fact, one captured Hamas fighter said as much:

Two captured terrorists interviewed by Maariv/NRG say that Hamas was not expecting Israel's response to the escalation in missile attacks on Israeli targets that preceded Operation Cast Lead. One of them, a 52-year-old victim of a premature detonation who had already done time in an Israeli jail, said, "Hamas took a gamble. We thought, at worst Israel will come and do something from the air - something superficial. They'll come in and go out. We never thought that we would reach the point where fear will swallow the heart and the feet will want to flee. You [Israel] are fighting like you fought in '48. What got into you all of a sudden?"

Well, what got into them was that Hamas left them with no real alternative but to fight. Hamas may not have expected them to respond so vigorously, but what is the point of doing what Hamas thought they would do? A tit-for-tat retaliation solves nothing and only postpones the day when Israel will have to choose to dissolve itself or to eliminate Hamas.

In response to an e-mail from a friend asking me how I felt about the circumstances of the Palestinian people caught in the cross-fire, I replied that:

I feel deeply sorry for the Palestinian people. They have suffered terribly, and I wish their plight had some other solution. I know that most of them just want to live normal lives and raise their children and try to make a living. The whole situation is tragic. Yet I don't know what else Israel can do, given the leadership the Palestinians in Gaza have chosen for themselves. Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, the deaths of Israelis, and the return of their land to Palestinian Arabs. That commitment is implacable. Given their determination I don't see how Israel can do anything other than follow one of several courses.

  1. They can acquiesce to Palestinian demands and dissolve the Israeli nation.
  2. They can try to cling to their security while establishing a border with Gaza something like we have with Canada.
  3. They can seek to protect themselves from murderous Palestinians infiltrating into Israel by setting up checkpoints and building walls along the border.
  4. They can seek to protect themselves from Palestinian terror by preventing them from getting the weapons the Palestinians use to kill Israelis.
  5. They can try to eliminate the leadership of their implacable foe and hope that the Gazan Palestinians follow the example of their West Bank cousins and select somewhat less bloodthirsty leadership.

One and two amount to national suicide. Three, four, and five impose terrible hardships on the Palestinian people. Yet, I think that three, four, and five are the only options left to Israelis unless they're willing to dissolve their state and emigrate. The Palestinian people are caught in a terrible situation, but it's mostly the fault of their own elected leadership. Just as the leadership of the German and Japanese people had to go in the 1940s in order for there to be peace, so, too, must the Palestinian leadership go if their people are going to have any hope of a future. And just as removing the German and Japanese leadership cost the lives of tens of thousands of civilian Germans and Japanese, the removal of Hamas cannot occur without severe hardship to the people they govern. It's a terrible tragedy but no different than the tragedy suffered by the German and Japanese people during WWII.

Hamas has to go. If the Israelis end this offensive before they've excised the cancer it will only metastasize throughout the region and come back more virulently than ever. In the meantime, let us pray for the Palestinian people.



When it was discovered that Joe the Plumber had an outstanding tax debt of about $1200 there were cries of outrage from the left which was incensed that Joe had already committed the blasphemy of asking candidate Obama a question the answer to which caused Obama serious embarrassment. Joe asked the question. Joe had unpaid taxes. Joe must be a weasel.

Now it turns out that President-elect Obama's selection for Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy Geithner failed to pay almost fifty thousand dollars in taxes dating back to 2001 until he was about to be appointed to the position of chief tax collector of the nation.

Since he's an Obama appointee, however, that's okay, even if he's not being quite forthright about why the taxes are unpaid. Democrats have circled the waggons around Mr. Geithner calling his tax delinquency, which would have gotten you or I thrown in jail and did get Joe the Plumber's personal records rifled through by Ohio's bureaucrats, an "honest mistake." Well, according to the pieces linked to above it doesn't seem like an honest mistake.

It might be something to think about when Barack Obama fulfills his promise to raise the share of your income that goes to pay the salaries of such as Mr. Geithner that the obligation to pay taxes only applies to you. It doesn't apply to the members of his cabinet. If you don't want to pay higher taxes you are, in the words of Vice-President elect Joe Biden, "unpatriotic," unless of course, you're part of the Democrat elite in which case your deliberate failure to pay is just, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put it, a "hiccup."

It's ironic that Charlie Rangel (D. NY), the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, the committee which writes tax legislation, claims he didn't know he had to pay taxes on several rental properties he owns, and that now the guy who will be in charge of raising the money to bailout our economy in the Obama administration claims he didn't know he had to pay taxes on income he made working for the International Monetary Fund - despite having received numerous notices from the IMF specifying his tax obligations.

One has to wonder whether these guys are dishonest or just incompetent. Either way it doesn't do much to boost one's confidence in the ability of the party that's promised to steer us through these difficult financial times. Nor does it do much to reinforce their image of themselves as the party of the little guy.