UN Observer Identified

On the news a few moments ago:
The dead Canadian UN observer has been positively identified as Maj. Hess-von Kruedener. I mentioned Kruedener in this post made earlier today. Our sympathies go out to his family.

What Hezbollah Does

If you don't believe that Hezbollah really does use civilians as shields, visit The Herald Sun.
The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.
Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon...
The images include one of a group of men and youths preparing to fire an anti-aircraft gun metres from an apartment block with sheets hanging out on a balcony to dry.
Others show a militant with AK47 rifle guarding no-go zones after Israeli blitzes.
Another depicts the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of a residential block blown up in an Israeli air attack...
"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.
"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated...
The release of the images comes as Hezbollah faces criticism for allegedly using innocent civilians as "human shields".

Interview with the General

Little Green Footballs has a clip of an interview with retired Major General Lewis Mackenzie. It's definitely worth listening to.

Decent Coverage of the Israeli Side

I recommend this video diary at HonestReporting.com. It take a look at what is happening in the north of Israel.

Hezbollah Created This Crisis

There is an excellent article in the Calgary Sun about the current Middle East Crisis. I have reprinted portions of it below.
As the latest Mideast bloodbath plays itself out, it's important to realize something about Lebanon...
Its sovereignty has been usurped by Iran, Syria and Israel.
This is a nation that cannot control its own territory where it borders on Israel.
Hezbollah -- a homegrown, militant, Islamic movement formed to fight the Israeli invasion of 1982 -- rules there.
From there, Hezbollah has launched more than 1,000 rockets into Israeli territory in the last couple of weeks.
It has been provided with as much as $100 million a year by Iran. Some of that money goes to an extensive social welfare program that has created a host of Hezbollah sympathizers and no doubt paved the way for the election of Hezbollah representatives to the Lebanese parliament.
A lot of it goes to weaponry...
Calgary Sunni Imam Alaa Elsayed, railing against the Harper government's pro-Israel stance last week, told the Sun: "We cannot accept the fact you give one side an F-16 and another side stones in their hands. Mr. Stephen Harper can still redeem himself."
Couple things. One, Canada, hasn't provided anybody with F-16 fighters. If we had F-16 fighters, we'd keep them for ourselves...
And two, the stone-throwers you see on TV are mostly in Gaza, and they're staged photo-ops.
Palestinians aren't armed with stones. They're armed with assault rifles.
You can't swing a dead cat in the territory under Palestinian Authority control without hitting someone toting an AK-47. (Of course, it's probably a really, really bad idea to hit somebody toting an AK-47 with a dead cat.)
Anyway, in Lebanon, a bunch of angry guys with a cool $100 million a year aren't armed with stones.
Hezbollah launched all those rockets and are well enough armed and led that they've inflicted pretty impressive casualties on the highly professional Israeli army, enough that Israel's civilian leadership has turned away from an expansion of the ground war...
But the problem isn't Israel. If Hezbollah hadn't kidnapped Israeli soldiers, if Israelis could go shopping without wondering if everybody wearing an overcoat was hiding a suicide bomb vest, if all their neighbours would just announce Israel has a right to exist and quit musing how much fun it would be to drive the Jews into the sea, maybe Israel's idea of public relations wouldn't begin and end with self-propelled artillery.
This is a crisis and a war of Hezbollah's making.

Pretty much.
I don't have too many thoughts to add to this, except to say that yeah, this isn't Israel's fault. All the uninformed, brainwashed, lefty wingnuts who think Israel is "over-reacting" need to go an live there. They need to sit in a Palestinian school where children are taught that "the Zionist Entity" must be eliminated.
They NEED a reality check.

Hezbollah: Using the UN, Children, Innocents as Shields

There is an interesting article at the Ottawa Citizen. It's interesting that the email discussed was sent to CTV. I don't recall hearing anything about it on yesterday's Question Period, when they all sat around bashing Israel for "deliberately targeting" the UN post, not to mention bashing Harper for supporting Israel.
But maybe I missed it.
Just last week, Maj. Hess-von Kruedener wrote an e-mail about his experiences after nine months in the area, words Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie said are an obvious allusion to Hezbollah tactics.
"What I can tell you is this," he wrote in an e-mail to CTV dated July 18. "We have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both (Israeli) artillery and aerial bombing.
"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."
Those words, particularly the last sentence, are not-so-veiled language indicating Israeli strikes were aimed at Hezbollah targets near the post, said Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie.
"What that means is, in plain English, "We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces)," " he said.
That would mean Hezbollah was purposely setting up near the UN post, he added. It's a tactic Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie, who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, said he's seen in past international missions. Aside from UN posts, fighters would set up near hospitals, mosques and orphanages.

So, you mean that Hezbollah does this on purpose? You mean that Hezbollah shields themselves with innocents and UN personnel? You mean that Israel didn't hit said UN post or civilians on purpose?
To hear the media tell it, CTV in particular, Israel is looking for women and children to bomb. I love that "mostly women and children" is inserted into the first sentence of the opening paragraph of their story... especially since who has been killed has not been confirmed.


Israel vs. Hezbollah:
Ottawa Sun Article

There is an excellent article on the situation in Israel in the Ottawa Sun. Below are a few excerpts.
Annan initially claimed Israel had deliberately targeted the UN post. He later softened his accusation.
He better have, since a Hezbollah post was mere meters away from said UN post. The UN post was being used as cover. For anyone who thinks a "peace keeping force" in Lebanon is a good idea, this is yet another example of why it's actually totally useless.
Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, Canada's most experienced commander of UN military missions, wonders why the UN didn't withdraw its "peacekeepers" when fighting started. It's a valid concern, since the UN has an abysmal record at negotiating peace.
Pretty much.
Despite agreeing with U.S. President George Bush, who supports Israel against Hezbollah, Harper is right to stand with Israel in this case.
Hezbollah started the war -- not just because it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, but because it invaded Israeli territory and killed eight other soldiers. How could Israel not respond to that provocation?
Those who argue that Israel overreacted by smothering Lebanon with bombs, rockets and missiles neglect to point out that Hezbollah has a reported 10,000 missiles and rockets from Syria and Iran, and has declared all-out war on Israel.
Unmentioned, too, is Hezbollah's tactic of placing missiles and rockets in civilian zones, so reprisals will inevitably kill civilians.
Israel's military sites are removed from population centres, not placed in downtown Haifa.
MacKenzie and others have pointed out that most of the civilized world, including Canada, has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
Telegdi omits this observation, to which his own party subscribes. What concerns Telegdi and those who think as he does, is that "the situation in Lebanon has degenerated into total war."
Sorry, Andrew, but if you believe that you know little about "total war." From Israel's viewpoint, and response, it is "selective war."
Just as Hezbollah's (and Hamas') declared intention is the liquidation of Israel, so Israel's determination now is the elimination of Hezbollah as a threat to its security and existence.
Arguably, Hezbollah is the most disciplined Arab fighting force. It also sponsors schools, social work, health clinics and is represented in Lebanon's Parliament.
While these are positives for the people, Hezbollah's military wing is not only a threat to Israel but, by its effectiveness, a threat to Lebanon as an independent state.
Telegdi thinks Canada has abandoned some 40,000 Canadians of Lebanese descent who mostly live permanently in Lebanon.
This is unfair, considering the huge effort and cost of evacuating people.
As if to underline his unrealism, Telegdi urges Canada "support an all-out international effort to immediately put an end to this conflict."
How? With blue berets? The sorry truth is that if the Arabs had no weapons there'd be peace, while if Israel had no weapons there'd be no Israel.

I think I would change that last line to "if Hezbollah had no weapons there'd be peace," but the point is still well made.


Red Ensign Standard #44

Nick is hosting the latest issue of the Standard.

By the way, we are actively seeking new members. If you are interested in joining the Red Ensign, have a blog that is more than six months old and can commit to hosting at least one issue of the Standard, please send me an email or leave a comment here.


Lebanese Canadians Thank Harper

The following thank you letter was printed in the National Post today. I have been hard on the Post lately for their biased coverage, so it's only fair that I point out their good deeds as well.

What follows is a statement released jointly by six Canadian Lebanese organizations on Wednesday.
- - -
We, the undersigned, representatives of the six Lebanese organizations listed below, extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Canadian government, represented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay, for the correct, just and prompt positions they have taken with regard to Lebanon and the unfortunate military confrontations that are occurring on its soil as a result of the reckless hostile actions of Hezbollah. Those actions violate the will of the Lebanese people and the decisions and authority of the legitimate government of Lebanon.
The actions and conduct of Hezbollah are extremely harmful to the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and obstruct progress of the peace process in Lebanon specifically, and in the Middle East in general.
We also thank the government for its wise and effective efforts with respect to its handling of all measures for the evacuation of Canadian citizens from Lebanon, the safeguarding of their security, and their safe return to Canada.
We call on the Canadian government to continue its interventions through the United Nations and the Security Council to secure an immediate truce in Lebanon based on UN Resolution 1559, which explicitly calls for the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, the deployment of the Lebanese army along the border with Israel, and the extension of the authority of the Lebanese government over all Lebanese territory.

Signatories: Elias Bejjani, Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC); Toni Mouanis, Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF); Noel Haddad, Phoenician Club of Mississauga (PCOM); Khalil Kaekati, Canadian Phoenician Community Services Club (CPCSC); Charbel Constantine, Canadian Lebanese Christian Heritage Club (CLCHC); Colonel Charbel Barakat, World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU)-Canadian Chapter.

- For further information, please contact clhrf@yahoo.com or Phoenicia@hotmail.com. Or visit www.clhrf.com or www.10452lccc.com.

Harper's Plane

Harper is a better Prime Minister than Martin and Chretien combined. He is a better person and a better leader. He's not an elitist; he's a decent, regular guy.
Due to the chaos that has been the evacuation from Lebanon to Cyprus, the Prime Minister decided to change his travel plans. He diverted his plane to Cyprus and will be picking up evacuees and flying them home. Yesterday, he booted much of his staff off the plane in Paris, as well as all the journalists covering his foreign trip, to free spots for the swing through Cyprus.
Judging from the articles, it would appear that some have had the audacity to suggest that this is nothing more than a PR op. Again, I am so happy Harper is Prime Minister and not Martin. Harper merely shrugged off the accusations and pointed out that there was clearly a need for air support in Cyprus. What's wrong with using the Prime Minister's plane?
Does anyone here honestly think Martin or Chretien would have stepped up to the plate like that? I assure you, they would not have. Elitists are more content to talk than act. We voted in a man of action.
Thank goodness. Our country needs it.


CAF Issues "Statement,"
More anti-Israeli Reporting by
"Unbiased" Media

According to an article by the Chronicle Herald, the Canadian Arab Federation is holding Prime Minister Harper responsible for the Canadians killed in Israel's bombing of Lebanon. The statement, plus a few others, can be found at the CAF website. Among other things, they say:
We also hold the Canadian government morally responsible for the death of these 8 Canadians since its unconditional support for Israel has emboldened Israel to escalate its aggression against Lebanon and occupied Palestine.
These acts of aggression amounting to war crimes come on the heel of the war crimes being committed by Israel in Gaza... CF views the Canadian government's inaction as encouraging Israel to continue committing war crimes against innocent Lebanese and Palestinian civilians. As such, Canada will be morally responsible for the bombing and invasion of Lebanon and Gaza, and for its complicity in IsraelĂ‚’s plan to isolate and starve the democratically-elected Palestinian government.
These accusations are outrageous to say the least. "I don't think that warrants a response," Harper shot back Monday. "ItĂ‚’s a bizarre accusation." I am so happy our Prime Minister has the good sense not to respond to these extremists. The very idea that our government is responsible for the deaths of civilians in a war which we are not waging is preposterous.
Adding to the insanity,, we have this article from the National Post. I seem to recall the Post as a balanced newspaper. Clearly, those days are gone. The article quotes individuals calling Hezbollah their "protector."
Ms. Akhras accused the Canadian media and Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, of twisting the truth about the conflict and the role of Hezbollah, which Canada has listed as a terrorist organization. "Hezbollah is our protector," she said. "I ask Mr. Harper to be on our side and to say the truth about Israel -- to say that Israel entered into my house, that Hezbollah was protecting my house. That is the truth."
The truth about Israel? Like what? That it's not a nation but a Zionist entity? That they used "disproportionate force" to retrieve their kidnapped soldiers? Or wait, are you actually going to sit there and try convince me and every other average Canadian that this situation is Israel's fault? That Hezbollah and Hamas are not terrorist organizations?
To the media: stop reporting these lies. Stopping lending printing this anti-Semitic propaganda. Invest in some history books. Visit the region for yourselves! Learn the facts. Don't accept anything less than the truth. Report honestly! The slant you are putting on this story is unjust both to the Canadians who died in Lebanon and to Israel. You do a disservice to the people of Canada when all you print are lies and propaganda.
Suppose the soldiers who had been kidnapped were Canadian. Would you not be furiously printing articles demanding that the Canadian military (such as it is) respond quickly, decisively and to the fullest measure? Why should we forbid another country the same justice we would demand for ourselves? Hypocrites! Do not forget who it was that made the first strike! Hezbollah had no reason to kidnap those Israeli soldiers. If they were a just organization, desiring to benefit Lebanon, then they should have found a more positive outlet than a criminal kidnapping.
Also, terrorist organizations are not, nor should they be, accorded the same rights as legitimate governments. They are a criminal element! These terrorist should be caught, tried for their crimes and duly punished.
I am tired of the leniency you press give them.


Anti-Israeli Media: More Proof

My husband sent me this article. It is an older article about how the media twists what happens in the Middle East. In light of the current and biased coverage of Israel versus Hezbollah, and the insane "discussion" had here (sorry you can't post. I had to close it), I thought the article might serve as a reminder to all of what we are dealing with.
Being anti-Israel or anti-Zionist is merely another form of anti-Semitism. Doubt me? Then I would suggest you read this bizarre entry at Daily Kos. A "historical" perspective is put forth. Many key facts, such as the Arab refusal to accept partition and the immediate declaration of war on Israel the day it was created, are omitted. Zionism is equated with colonialism, and is apparently "without moral justification." The authors "history lesson" is remarkable for one thing in particular: he entirely ignores history.
Israel is blamed all too often for the problems in the Middle East. They are not the cause of the problems in the Arab world.

Anti-Israeli Media and
Harper Bashing

Canadian journalists are sorely in need of a reality check, not to mention a history lesson, when it comes to issues in the Middle East. This morning I did some catching up on Israel versus Lebanon, and here is what I found:
Canadian deaths in Lebanon cast pall over G8 political success for Harper, from the Canadian Press. The story attempts to take a stab at Harper's support for Israel in light of the deaths of Canadians in Lebanon.
Israel pounds Lebanon after 2 soldiers captured, by CTV. This article places all of the blame on Israel for what is happening in the region. I love their definition of Hezbollah: Shiite Muslims, opposed to Israel's occupation of Lebanese territory, created Hezbollah in the 1980s... Hezbollah has become a strong political force, but still has a military branch called the Islamic Resistance, backed by neighbouring Syria. Get it through your skulls people: Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.
Seven Canadians reported dead in Israeli strikes against Lebanon, from Canada.com. I think I was the most disappointed in the coverage provided here. The quote that the seven dead are "all martyrs" is completely unacceptable for a supposedly unbiased press. What makes these people martyrs? In war, death happens. It is ugly, but true.
I, for one, am thankful that Harper is standing up to support Israel. They are a shining beacon of democratic light in a vile, corrupt area. Their neighbours hate them for no other reason than that they exist. Israel has had to fight every day for that one thing that we in Canada take for granted: a peaceful life.
To the media: invest in a few history books.

Behind on World Affairs, Blogging, etc...

So, Saturday I was asked for my thoughts on Israel versus Lebanon. To my eternal chagrin, I had to answer "I haven't been keeping up on it." Alas, this is true of many important political issues lately, not to mention my blog.
Never fear! I plan to change that. Today marks my return to blogging.

PS: Have I mentioned my kid has learned to climb the stairs? She's also become a human vacuum cleaner. I swear, I need eyes in the back of my head.


The Gospel According to Scholastic

Wednesday is grocery day. Every Wednesday, I drive my husband to work, drop him off, do my groceries and run any other errands that need to be done. This past Wednesday when I was doing my shopping, I happened to look at some kids books they were selling in my grocery store. (As a note, I would never buy books at a regular store unless it was absolutely necessary. My husband works at a bookstore and gets great deals. Any book you need, he can find it for cheap.)
As I was looking, I happened to spot a children's first Bible, published by Scholastic. Since my daughter is just discovering the joy of turning pages (though not much else about reading makes sense to her as yet) I decided to pick it up and take a look. The Bible was expectedly simple. There was roughly one page allotted for each major story in the Bible, perhaps two. There were, however, two glaring and unforgivable omissions.
The Creation story ended with God creating Adam and Eve and calling His Creation good. The story of Jesus ended with Him sitting the little children on His knee, telling us that He will always be our friend. In other words, there was no fall and no death or resurrection. Jesus was not God; He was just some guy. There was Christmas which, when you really stop and think about it, is a bizarre inclusion in the light of no fall and no salvation.
It occurred to me that whoever put this children's Bible must have thought they were doing a good thing. After all, children would be exposed to what is arguably society's most important book. If the author/editor was a Christian, they may even have convinced themselves that they were presenting children with the Good News of the Gospel, perhaps for the first time. In fact, I have no doubt that there will even be a few Christians reading this thinking "Why are you concerned? At least they are putting a Bible for children out there. That guy was doing a great thing for our kids and should be commended."
Consider this fact. Such a view of what the Bible is and should be utterly omits its raison d'etre. The Bible exists to tell us that we are in sin and that God loved us enough to do something, namely send His Son to die to bring us out of that sin and bring us into relationship with Him. If a Bible is presented to anyone and it does not contain these key elements of sin and salvation, then what does that Bible actually present?
It presents a world in which everyone is ok, not in sin and not in need of God's divine grace. The book's omission of the fall naturally resulted in the omission of the death and resurrection of Christ. How could it be otherwise? If we are not in sin, salvation is unnecessary. There is nothing to save us from.
Where is the Good News of the Gospel if this is as good as the world gets? What kind of a loving God leaves us in a world like this one and tells us we are fine? Think about it. Does this version of Christianity offer any hope? Any joy? Any meaning? Does this version of Christianity distinguish itself from other religions as being the Way, the Truth or the Life?
The Bible, no matter what version, teaches something. To be honest, before Wednesday it had never occurred to me that there might be a children's Bible out there that would omit the central tenets of Christianity. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. We must keep in mind that this verse applies to the bad as well as the good. Regarding children, Matthew 18:6 says But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. When we teach our children, we must do it with the utmost care. They are young, impressionable and their minds are easily influence, especially by what their parents tell them. James 3:1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. The crucial components of the Bible cannot be removed or even watered down. To do so would lead our children astray and put ourselves in danger. If we love our children, then we will teach them what is right and true. We will never present them the Gospel according to Scholastic.


Donations Political: Tories vs Liberals

Let's face it, in this hot new debate, the NDP are really only jumping on the band wagon. As usual, their opinion doesn't count for much.
Canada's chief electoral officer wants the Conservatives to open the books on their 2005 convention... the party did not report delegate fees as political donations. Liberals and New Democrats maintain the omission means the ruling Tories broke political financing laws, potentially raking in $1.7 million in unreported donations...The Tories vehemently deny breaking any laws or regulations...The interpretation of the law regarding convention fees is hotly disputed by the Tories, who claim they do not constitute a donation, and the Liberals and NDP, who claim that they do.
Very well.
Did the Tories break the law or not?
According to the article at PoliticsWatch:
Parties usually deduct the fair market value of what donors obtain from the value of the contribution. So if a ticket to party fundraising dinner is $100 and the meal is $50, then the party records a $50 contribution. Both the NDP and the Liberals do not deduct expenses from party leadership and policy conventions, but the Tories appear to have been deducting all expenses, including hall rental and security, for their conventions and only claim a donation if a convention recorded a profit.
At Canada.com:
...Elections Canada spokeswoman Valerie Hache said the law stipulates that a fee paid to attend a political convention does constitute a donation "to the extent that the person paying the fee is not receiving a good or service that has any commercial value beyond its political value." She told CP that any portion of a convention fee that covers lodging, meals or travel does not count as a contribution.
So, this is one of those things that looks like it could be open to interpretation, as scary as it may sound. Both interpretations make sense. If any part of a convention fee covers the cost of meals, lodging and travel, then it makes perfect sense to only count the profit from a convention as the contribution to the party. On the other hand, if you choose to do things piecemeal, then it also makes sense to only count the cost of meals and lodgings per individuals and consider the leftovers as the contribution to the party.
The Liberals, of course, have decided to go nuts with the issue.
Opposition parties have pounced on the imbroglio. The Liberals, flayed by the Tories for past ethical lapses, have been particularly gleeful. "I have never seen anything so hypocritical and so shameful," Liberal national director Steven MacKinnon told a news conference Thursday.
So hypocritical.
So shameful.
C'mon guys.
The Liberals have broken every rule in the book. Do you honestly expect me to buy you newfound righteous indignation? It gets better.
The issue of delegate fees arose due to the introduction of Harper's vaunted Federal Accountability Act, aimed at cleaning up government in the wake of the Liberal sponsorship scandal.
So, please note, if it weren't for the Conservative's new plan, we wouldn't even be discussing this.
According to PoliticsWatch, the issue has gained prominence after the Conservatives and the NDP blocked Liberal amendments to the Federal Accountability Act that would have delayed the implementation of tough new campaign donation limits until next year.
So, the Liberals think they are about to get screwed, and are scrambling to find something.
According to Canada.com, among other things, the act would entirely ban corporate donations and reduce the limit for personal donations to $1,000 from $5,400... The government wants the act, currently being examined by a Senate committee, approved and in force by Thanksgiving. That means the donation limit would change in the middle of the Liberals' leadership race, which ends in December. The Liberals fear the change would mean anyone who has donated more than $5 to their party this year would be prohibited from paying the $995 fee to attend the leadership convention.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Serves you right for having such a pervertedly high fee. Why not lower it, attract more peons to your convention? Oh wait, you prefer the elite.
And yet
MacKinnon said his party is planning to file... regarding the fact that the Tories charged outside associations and professional groups $750 to send representatives to the convention.
It's still lower than your rate. The argument is supposed to be that this counts as a corporate donation, which were banned. I find this accusation laughable. If you have ever been to any sort of conference, then you will know that businesses are often charged more than academics or individuals to attend. Why is it so surprising to find the same thing at a political party convention?
But back to the previous thought.
And they think the Tories are deliberately trying to disrupt the event. "I think (Harper) is pursuing a vendetta that is fundamentally undemocratic against the Liberal party," said MacKinnon.
I love this. Not only are the Tories trying to disrupt the Liberal leadership race(which is hardly off to a stellar start), they are undemocratically trying to pursue a vendetta against the Liberals.
Paranoia, anyone?
Desperation for power?

Blog Lite

My blogging has been minimal of late. My apologies to my readers.
But, you know...
...it's summer!
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