...Views from mid-Atlantic
15 April 2006

I don't want to make light of a serious subject, but when the Telegraph decides it wants to get thin-lipped about something, it amusingly turns itself into the very essence of thin-lippedness: "...The accusation that Labour has been selling honours is of a different order to what has gone before. We are not talking here of undeclared mortgages, or technical fibs, or conflicts of interest...

"Many Labour MPs and Labour-supporting commentators are calling for the Prime Minister to resign. We have so far not added our voice to theirs, for three reasons.

"First, there should be a natural bias in favour of sitting prime ministers who have a direct mandate from the electorate. Second, as a glance at the benches behind Mr Blair should remind us, there are many worse alternatives.

"Third, the presumption of innocence applies in this, as in any, case. If, however, it turns out that knighthoods or peerages were offered in return for financial favours, and that Mr Blair knew about it, he will have to go."

You almost expect that last paragraph to end "he will have to bend over," as the Telegraph brings its very thinnest cane out from behind its back and tests it in the air...don't you?

Here's another one of those interesting little illuminations of history - former Mossad Director Efraim Halevy published a book called Man in the Shadows last week. The Jerusalem Post says Man in the Shadows is in large part a memoir of the former Mossad director's twilight years of quiet creative thinking, common sense and troubleshooting in the upper echelons of the Israeli intelligence community, and in small part a recipe for trying to sustain life on the planet in the face of al-Qaida style global terrorist aspirations...

"What Halevy takes pains to point out, however, is that Israel is only one priority for the global Islamic terrorists, and not a major one at that. 'Al-Qaida', he writes, 'has set its sights on the entire world with the goal of effecting an Islamic international revolution that will encompass the entire planet. It is as simple and diabolical as that.'

"He notes that the perpetrators make no secret whatsoever of this agenda. 'It is not a hidden blueprint. It is stated up front for everyone to read and absorb.' It is equally clear that the enemy will use whatever means at its disposal to achieve the goal - 'from the roadside bomb to the civilian aircraft.' Were it to obtain non-conventional weaponry, it would have 'no reservation about employing that device at any moment considered appropriate and against any target, civilian or military, across the globe.'"

The blurb says it's a fierce and intelligent book, sure to be one of the year's most talked-about.

Philip Larkin (who was a keen jazz man) says Albert Ayler's saxaphone sounded to him like someone playing a double bass with a wet Welly. I'm not sure I quite get that, but Ayler is difficult for me to follow, and sometimes I think he is being difficult for the sake of being difficult. I wonder if he ever played with Eric Dolphy, who I thought was also fond of being difficult. The two of them together...well, I see that collaboration as being useful to police SWAT teams trying to get stubborn criminals to surrender. Nonetheless, the Guardian is reporting that Ayler is undergoing a resurgence of fortune. There's a new Swedish (of course) film about his life going on, called My Name Is Albert Ayler. And in 2004, the Guardian reminds us, Revenant label released a "sumptuous boxed set" of his recordings, called Holy Ghost. I think I'll have that - see if age has freshened my understanding, as it sometimes does.

14 April 2006

April, as the New York Sun points out, is the month of IRS payments, hay fever, showers and poetry. "This year, April brings collections from some of America's best-known poets, including a brace of Pulitzer Prize winners: Louise Gluck's Averno (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22) brings her elemental lyric voice to bear on the myth of Persephone, while Franz Wright's God's Silence (Alfred A. Knopf, $24) continues his urgent confrontation with suffering both spiritual and mundane. And in a few weeks, Seamus Heaney returns with District and Circle (Farrar Straus & Giroux, $20), his first new collection in five years, which shows that his instantly recognizable voice has lost none of its power...

"National Poetry Month is also a boom time for anthologies. The biggest one this year, in both size and scope, is The Oxford Book of American Poetry, a 1,132-page tome that stretches from Anne Bradstreet to Anne Carson. Chosen by David Lehman, editor of the Best American Poetry series, the Oxford Book has ample room for poems both canonical (The Waste Land, the complete 1855 Song of Myself) and minor (those of Trumbull Stickney and Elinor Wylie).

"The part of the book guaranteed to start debates, however, is the last few hundred pages, where Mr. Lehman dares to predict which living poets deserve a place in this putatively canonical anthology. Some of his choices are inevitable (Richard Wilbur, Adrienne Rich); others (Billy Collins) will likely make this book a curiosity for the reader of 2106."

Serendipitously, the bold Mr Lehman published a piece in the Wall Street Journal a week ago, in which he sings the praises of memorising poetry: "Poetry is not a mass-market art, though many people can recall a poem that inspired them at some point. But they probably can't remember precisely how it goes. A couple of generations ago, most people could recite word-for-word more than one poem because learning poetry by heart was a routine task of English classes. Something has been lost since - but it can be found again and soon may be.

"Every year during National Poetry Month I am asked how I manage to teach poetry, given the variety of its forms these days and its growing public exposure. (The emergence of Billy Collins as the most popular serious poet since Robert Frost has helped to raise poetry's profile and has quickened the pulse of versifying optimists.) There are in fact many ways to teach poetry. Possibly the best method is the most old-fashioned one: learning by rote. It may seem counterintuitive in the age of Google, but if the goal is to convey the pleasures of poetry, it's hard to do better than to memorize great poems and recite them aloud for the edification of others."

Never say I didn't warn you.

In January, the Pope was on about terrorists, according to the Wall Street Journal, when he was speaking to the diplomatic corps attached to the Holy See.

"Attention has rightly been drawn to the danger of a clash of civilizations," said Benedict. "The danger is made more acute by organized terrorism, which has already spread over the whole planet. Its causes are many and complex, not least those to do with political ideology, combined with aberrant religious ideas. Terrorism does not hesitate to strike defenseless people, without discrimination, or to impose inhuman blackmail, causing panic among entire populations, in order to force political leaders to support the designs of the terrorists. No situation can justify such criminal activity, which covers the perpetrators with infamy, and it is all the more deplorable when it hides behind religion, thereby bringing the pure truth of God down to the level of the terrorists' own blindness and moral perversion." (This was before the Moussaoui trial, or he would doubtless have mentioned the criminal banality of that Allah is the Greatest chant.)

Today, he's apparently going to be going on about geneticists in equally harsh terms - The London Times says: "The Pope will deliver a blistering attack on the 'satanic' mores of modern society today, warning against an 'inane apologia of evil' that is in danger of destroying humanity.

"In a series of Good Friday meditations that he will lead in Rome, the Pope will say that society is in the grip of a kind of 'anti-Genesis' described as 'a diabolical pride aimed at eliminating the family'. He will pray for society to be cleansed of the 'filth' that surrounds it and be restored to purity, freed from 'decadent narcissism'."

It's a curious sort of equivalence, isn't it? Geneticists are offending by trying to improve life, terrorists by destroying it. And His Popiness's nose seems put out of joint by both to a more or less equal extent.


13 April 2006

Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has been awarded the 2006 Pritzker Architecture Prize, according to the Christian Science Monitor, which said: "Mr. Mendes da Rocha - renowned for designing bold, open structures that blend with their surroundings - will receive a $100,000 grant and bronze medallion on May 30 at a ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey.

"Mendes da Rocha is the second Brazilian to receive architecture's highest honor. Oscar Niemeyer was honored in 1988. Some past winners include Frank Gehry of the United States (1989), Rafael Moneo of Spain (1996), Renzo Piano of Italy (1998), and Thom Mayne of the US (2005).

"'The jury salutes Mendes da Rocha's outstanding use of style and space,' said Thomas Pritzker in a statement. He is president of The Hyatt Foundation, which gives the award. 'His dedication to innovation is evident in all of his work.'

"'Mendes da Rocha brings a joyful lilt of Brazil to his work, never afraid of innovation or taking risks,' said Lord Palumbo, chairman of the seven-member Pritzker Prize Jury, in a statement. The award was announced Sunday."

12 April 2006

In an editorial, The Washington Times is joining issue with those who would hold Joe Wilson (of Valerie Plame fame) up as a truth-telling whistle-blower, struggling with the Iraq war lies of the Bush administration: "The truth is that the assertions of Mr. Wilson and his partisans that Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Niger are a Bush administration fantasy do not stand up to serious scrutiny.

"Writing in Slate magazine on Monday, Christopher Hitchens describes a February 1999 official visit to Niger - a desperately poor country 'known for absolutely nothing except its vast deposits of uranium ore' - by Wissam al-Zahawie, Saddam's ambassador to the Vatican and longtime senior public envoy for nuclear matters. Noting that Iraq had acquired uranium from Niger in 1981, Mr. Hitchens comes to a commonsense conclusion about Mr. Wilson's critique of the Bush administration: 'In order to take the Joseph Wilson view of this Baathist ambassadorial initiative, you have to be able to believe that Saddam Hussein's long-term main man on nuclear issues was in Niger to talk about something other than the obvious.'

Given the extensive record of Iraqi cheating and deception prior to the war, the Bush administration would have been derelict in its duty if it had given Iraq the benefit of the doubt as to the purpose of al-Zahawies's visit to Niger.

"But the fact is that Mr. Wilson has little credibility left, as his charges against the Bush administration were eviscerated by the Senate Intelligence Committee in its July 2004 report on prewar intelligence. Here's the way Susan Schmidt of The Washington Post (in a story buried on page A9) described the report on July 10, 2004: 'Wilson's assertions - both about what he did in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information - were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report. The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts.' In the same story, Miss Schmidt added that Mr. Wilson 'provided misleading information' to her newspaper claiming that certain documents had been forged.

"Both Miss Schmidt, and even more so NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell, have been harshly attacked by the Huffington Post and other liberal blogs, for challenging parts of Mr. Wilson's version of reality. It is no exaggeration to say that Miss Mitchell - often described using unprintable epithets - has become a hate figure with some of the left-wing bloggers for daring to question Joseph Wilson's story."

The forces of political correctness are at it again in Europe, where they believe, according to the Daily Telegraph, that the phrase 'Islamic terrorism' might be upsetting. The preferred phrase, they say, is 'terrorists who abusively invoke Islam'. It's not a phrase you're going to be reading on this site terribly often.

Speaking of political correctness, I lament, more than I can say, the closing of the Hotel Reina Victoria in Madrid, which for bullfighting fans has something of the holy about it. It was the place where Spain's matadors have been dressing before appearances at the Las Ventas bullring for more than 60 years. The philistines who own it, according to the New York Times are apparently going to be reopening it next year as the Hard Rock Hotel Madrid, which apparently promises "an atmosphere of pure, unadulterated rock and roll."

Robert Hughes mentions in his Guardian article today, that Goya was a great bullfighting fan. I think I've mentioned before that Goya's Last Works, which is to be at the Frick in New York, until May 14, is not to be missed. His Tauromaquia etchings are a kind of bulwark and icon of the bullfighting world. You'll see why at the Frick.

Richard Lindzen, who is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, is lamenting the ease with which scientific misinformation takes hold in public opinion. In the Wall Street Journal, he asks: "...how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?" I'd have liked him to say that it's because many people are deaf, dumb, blind, stupid and forgetful, but he seems to have a more even temper than I do.

"The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science - whether for AIDS, or space, or climate - where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

"But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

"To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred.

"In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right, as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming."

And while we're on the subject of the deaf, dumb, blind and ignorant, scientists in Britain are still having to battle creationists who, despite the recent public airings their flimsy beliefs had in the US recently, want them taught in schools as science: "The Royal Society yesterday issued a strongly worded attack on the teaching of creationism as a leading scientist compared it to the theory that babies are brought by storks.

"The warning from Britain's leading scientific academy comes amid increasing concern over the attempts by religious fundamentalists to challenge the theory of evolution in schools and colleges by teaching the idea that a god created the world, as if that were a scientific theory."

11 April 2006

The New York Sun's man in London, Daniel Johnson, thinks the election success of Romano Prodi, who may emerge as the New Italian Prime Minister, is another sign that Europe has lost its will to survive. "Romano Prodi...ran on a ticket distinguished solely by its barely concealed anti-Americanism. While still president of the European Commission, he showed that he was fierce in opposition to the spread of free markets and democracy, but soft on the enemies of the West. Mr. Prodi belongs to Italy's mandarin class of socialist professors, notorious for neglecting their students in order to meddle in public life. A second career as a Brussels bureaucrat has left him even more aloof."

Gerard Baker, the Times's man in Washington has New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh dead to rights: "Everybody remembers Hersh as the man who unmasked the criminals of My Lai and Abu Ghraib, but for every story he's got right there are probably at least ten that have been exposed as utter balderdash. Max Boot in this piece a little over a year ago did a fine job of debunking some favourite Hersh fictions.

"This latest piece is so full of anonymous sourcing and innuendo and statements of the obvious tarted up as devastating revelations that it's hard to know why it should be taken seriously. In the end what does it actually say? The Pentagon has a plan for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities. I should darn well hope it has."

The French seem to have got something right, for a change. A feature-length Asterix film, Asterix and the Vikings, is being released in 650 French movie theatres tomorrow, by Toutatis! The Times of London is billing it as some kind of mano a mano against the US, but then they do that with everything these days.

My friend Mary in England has sent me a couple of pieces from today's Guardian that I find tough to deal with. I love to visit Britain. It's the country of my birth. But I can't handle much more than two or three weeks before the novelty wears off and the British fetish about class begins to assert itself. This pair are perfect examples of the kind of thing I mean. The headline on the first article is "Future Bling of England". It's about Prince William dressing up as a chav in some Sandhurst fancy dress thing to celebrate the end of their first term. Some dickhead named Harris deduces that this is a shameful case of "privileged people revelling in looking down their noses at the white working class."

The second is such a parody of itself that, had it been printed on April 1, I wouldn't have used it for fear of falling into some April Fool's trap. I'm still not 100% certain it's on the up and up. It's by someone called Hywel Williams. Here's a sample: "A century meant to be a democratic one has come and gone leaving inequalities of wealth and power that threaten to be more Georgian than Victorian. Recently retired permanent secretaries rush to embrace the corporate boardroom; the private firms of an Anglo-American military-industrial complex use army officers who retire early to help them make billions running 'security' operations in the Middle East; while almost a century after its attack on Lloyd George - and three and a half centuries after the Cromwellian coup - the Lords not only survives but is sustained by the power of a plutocracy that buys its way in. Britain's elites not only retain their power, they also exercise it with a shameless rapacity that is unique in this country's history and that distinguishes them from their predecessors."

It's taken from a book apparently, called Britain's Power Elites: the rebirth of a ruling class. It has just been published by Constable and Robinson, and it's worth saying that if I had a tower, I'd lock Messrs Constable and Robinson up in it forever and have large men hide the key in a convenient place on Mr Williams's person.

This Robert T McLean article appeared first in the The American Spectator, and is reprinted in the Wall Street Journal this morning. He is a research associate at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, and argues that while many obsess on terrorist activity in Iraq, the Iraqi economy is growing, for all that, by leaps and bounds.

I particularly liked what he had to say about oil: "Of the most disingenuous, or simply ignorant, charges that were leveled prior to, during and following the spring 2003 invasion of Iraq was that the war was conceived to rob the Iraqis of their oil reserves. This imprudent accusation has largely disappeared because few have the audaciousness to carry on this conspiratorial paranoia. However, the administration's reluctance to become thoroughly engaged in the Iraqi oil industry - a result of domestic and foreign critics - has made things unnecessarily difficult for the Washington and Baghdad alike. Put simply, the Bush administration needs to focus more on Iraq's oil.

"One of the first actions taken by the United States following the ouster of Saddam Hussein was the nearly immediate transfer of sovereignty of Iraq's oil industry back to the people of Iraq. Even after handing the key to nation's wealth back to Iraqis, the United States has sought little influence in oil policy-making decisions. When asked by the Baghdad based daily Al-Adalah about American and British interference in the Iraqi oil industry, former oil minister Dr. Thamir al-Ghadban responded:

"'No doubt the U.S., British and other forces are here in Iraq. This is an accomplished fact and known to everybody. But throughout my experience after the fall of the regime until I left the ministry I can affirm that no person or side tried to influence on the approach that we adopted in the oil policy. Where is the influence?'"

10 April 2006

Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, caused quite a stir last week, when he announced that Massachusetts was close to adopting a plan for near-universal health coverage for all its citizens - funded by a mix of individuals, businesses, and government subsidies. A bunch of odd bedfellows have signed on, including both Clintons and Ted Kennedy, and other states are looking at the possibility of trying something similar, given the lack of action at the Federal level. Cynics feel Romney is using his plan to position himself as a GOP presidential candidate...the timing is right. He added to the suspicion this morning with a piece in the Washington Times, setting out his very sensible ideas on how to tackle education reform. Is there an immigration reform plank on the way? That would get him some attention.

I don't entirely understand the state the people of the United States have worked themselves into over illegal immigrants. They seem to be complaining about everything but the core of the problem, which is that lax enforcement has allowed it to become so massive that it is overwhelming. The entire body of immigration law is routinely ignored where immigrants from the south, especially Mexico, are concerned, and enforced rigidly, to the point of unpleasantness, where the rest of the world is concerned.

There are really three problems. The first is what to do about those who are in the United States now, most of them participating in the American economy, which would be damaged if they were made to leave. It's a problem that crops up from time to time all over the place, albeit not on this kind of scale. Canada, I seem to recall, had to deal with a problem like this not so long ago. They held an amnesty, and allowed illegal immigrants to apply to regularise their status. After that, they were in shape to deport any illegal immigrant they found.

The second problem is what to do about getting illegal immigration under some kind of control from now on. The key is not beefing up border security or building fences, it is to target those who give illegal aliens work. The US should do what little countries like Bermuda do, which is to make employers responsible for getting permits and overseeing the circustances under which those employed work, and come and go. That is a more efficient way of doing it than even a human wall of border policemen could be.

And the third is what to do about the present appalling state of the US immigration bureaucracy, which is now so overworked and inefficient that it is not in a fit state to play much of a part in helping to solve either of the first two problems.

I suppose you could also count a fourth problem, which is the extraordinary crap coming out of the mouths of politicians at the moment. This is a Wall Street Journal piece by the Governor of California, Mr Schwarzenneger: "To pursue a policy of compassion, Congress must attack the problem, not people. A compassionate immigration policy will fight this battle at the borders, not in our schools and not in our hospitals. Teachers, doctors and charity workers should not have to choose between helping those in need and enforcing the law. A compassionate immigration policy will acknowledge that immigrants are just like us: They're moms and dads looking for work, wanting to provide for their kids. Any measure that punishes charities and individuals who comfort and help immigrants is not only unnecessary, but un-American."

They're pretty words, but completely unfocused. What's needed is less vote-getting and more getting on with the ton of hard work that's going to be necessary to fix this.

Benny Avni of the New York Sun continues the good work he's been doing on the Turtle Bay beat with a story detailing the kind of patronage that gets people into high places at the UN. The little twist to this story is that the patron who helped Alicia Barcena get her new job as chief of staff is supposed not to have anything to do with the UN any more. He is Maurice Strong, the Canadian financier who "asked" to sever his UN ties after his oil-for-food connection emerged last summer.

Avni writes that "Mr. Strong's former business partner, Korean influence peddler Tongsun Park, is currently held without bail awaiting trial on federal charges of acting as an unregistered agent for Saddam Hussein. In July 1997, according to the investigation team under Paul Volcker, Mr. Park received from Saddam's deputy, Tariq Aziz, $1 million in a card box filled with cash, which was then converted in a Jordanian bank to a $988,885 check made for 'Mr. M. Strong.'

"After that, the United Nations could no longer afford to publicly be associated with Mr. Strong. But away from New York, Mr. Strong continues to draw on his UN connections. And at Turtle Bay his friend and protege is now holding a key position, making sure that the severed ties do not keep Mr. Strong too far from his favorite institution."

The escalation of the Israeli response to Palestinian firing of Kassam rockets into Israel from Gaza seems to have had an effect. Haaretz is saying this morning that "Hamas is close to a decision on initial steps aimed at restraining the terror organizations that are launching Qassam rockets at Israeli targets. And three of the terror organisations have already taken themselves out of the equation - Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Hamas-supported Popular Resistance Committees have not been participating in the rocket fire.

The Israelis have been firing hundreds of shells a day at fields which might be used as launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip. They brought back targeted killings of Palestinians involved in the manufacture, deployment and launching of the rockets. And the third stage, which began over the weekend, was the bombing of terrorist training camps in Gaza and the integration of Navy warships in the daily barrages.

An Israeli security official sums up the awkward position Hamas is in. "The Hamas government is facing a dilemma," he told Haaretz. "It must decide if it is an authority or a terror organization. We expect that ultimately, the Hamas members will understand that the price they are paying for their silence is already too high and they will be forced to act."

09 April 2006

Whether it's a good Sunday laugh, or a good Sunday cry you want, go to this site, where you'll learn about a British Government campaign to encourage ethnic minorities and women to break the middle-aged, white stranglehold on river fishing, which is being opposed by an animal rights group which claims that fish are intelligent and interesting individuals.

Then go to this site, where you will learn that the British RSPCA has spent 50,000 pounds pursuing a policeman through the courts because it thought he shouldn't have put a dying cat out of its misery.

And then try this one, where you'll learn that the Brits had a 10-year old up on a criminal charge in a district court for using racial slurs in a fight on a school playground.

And you can learn of the struggle (not to the death, sadly) between universalists and relativists at this site. You'll learn that "the defining political divide of the global era is between those who believe that some moral rights and freedoms ought to be universal and those who argue that each culture to its own." (Thanks for pointing it out, Brenda.)

On reflection, none of this is at all funny.

A young female Vietnamese doctor, fighting for the North in the war against the Americans, kept a diary which, when it was published in Vietnam recently, became such a sensation that the Vietnamese government has been trying to get a piece of it. Its success stems largely from the fact that it is a very moving document, but a subsidiary reason is, as the Observer explains, that it was an American who saved the documents from being burned after Dang Thuy Tram was killed, and who has been instrumental in having the diaries published.

Robert Whitehurst expects the full English translation, complete with an introduction, to be published within a year, but his own version is accessible now to net readers. The link given by the Observer in its story is incorrect. Use this one instead.

Following on from yesterday's post, suggesting that Hamas was beginning to tone down its views on the existence of Israel, the Observer today notes that Hamas has announced that it will no longer use suicide bombers in its struggle against its arch-enemy. "Yihiyeh Musa, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said Hamas had moved into a 'new era' which did not require suicide attacks. 'The suicide bombings happened in an exceptional period and they have now stopped,' he said. 'They came to an end as a change of belief.'"

Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Ira Sharkansky, Professor of Political Science at Hebrew University, agrees the whispers are there, but says they're still too faint and vague to mean much. "Hamas is a long way from a serious confrontation with Israel's existence. It may be stuck permanently in the fundamentalism which pervades contemporary Islam."

But the Observer quotes Khaled Hroub, director of the Cambridge Arab Media Project and the author of Hamas: Political Thought and Practice as having said Hamas "has the potential to make the transition to a purely political organisation. 'The concept of the two-state solution is now the cornerstone of their thinking. I doubt we will see the old Hamas again,' he said.

"Hamas now finds itself turning from poacher to gamekeeper. Islamic Jihad and the Fatah-linked Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade have said they will continue to attack Israel. But Hamas fears that if armed groups are carrying out attacks and firing missiles, it will make its government look weak. Hamas hopes to persuade other groups to stop their attacks but insists it will be be prepared to use force."

It's interesting that the Observer, not exactly known for its pro-Israel views, manages in its story to mention that Israel fires many artillery shells into Gaza every day, but leaves out any mention of the Kassam missile launches they're designed to stop. In 2005, the Palestinians fired almost one Kassam day into Israeli territory from Gaza. Since the beginning of January of this year, there have been two a day. This weekend, so far, there have been 75 rocket alerts in Israel, and, at last count, 11 missiles actually fired.


Art in Bermuda
Bermuda's Cuban Connection
Death of the Nation State
Helen Lives!
Joe Wilson and Michael Moore
Linton Kwesi Johnson's Dub Poetry
Me and Evergreen Review
Michael Howard's Vision
Miss Lou and Jamaican Patois
More Doomsday Nonsense
Mullah Nasrudin's Lessons
New York Dogs
OECD's Unfair to Competition
On Catullus
On Charles Ives
On Colin MacInnes
On Collecting Books
On Collecting Books - Part Two
On Gambling in Bermuda
On Napoleon
On Patrick Leigh Fermor
Race and Bermuda's Election
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Gift of Slang
The Limits of Knowledge
The Nature of Intelligence
The Shared European Dream
The US Supreme Court's First Terrorism Decisions
Useful Yiddish
Yukio Mishima's Death

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