Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘israel’ Category

End result: an Israeli F-16 is shot down after Syria launches a barrage of anti-aircraft missiles in response.

Well, there’s $30M down the drain. Bibi is apparently about to be indicted for corruption. So he needed a distraction. But this was one helluva risky distraction, and could have cost lives if the pilots hadn’t ejected when they couldn’t shake the missiles off their tail.

I wonder if the supposed Iranian drone was as real as the imaginary poison gas that Assad used against his own people?

– Badtux the Skeptical Penguin

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

It never turns out well. Just ask George W. Bush. Or Ronald Reagan’s ghost, for that matter — he fucked around in Lebanon, it got a couple hundred Marines killed, he said “fuck this shit” and declared victory and went home (after blowing up a buncha innocent people with shells from a battleship).

Yeah, you sure paid attention, didn’t you, Donald? Doing exactly what everybody warned you not to do — declared that you’re going to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. A move for which there is literally NO gain for the United States — and you’re supposed to be President of the United States, dude, not President of Israil.

SIGH.

— Badtux the “Don’t these people ever learn?” Penguin

Read Full Post »

So, ThinkProgress, a lefty news rag, says that Israel just signed a $38 billion dollar military assistance agreement with the United States. This gives the impression that the U.S. is about to write a $38 billion dollar check to Israel. That is not, in fact, what happened.

First of all, this agreement is for $3.8 billion per year over a 10 year period. Accounting for inflation, this is not out of line with historical military aid to Israel. Yet even once you arrive down at the $3.8 billion figure, you’re *still* not understanding what you’re looking at. The reality is that Israel does not need military assistance from the United States. In 2012, Israel even baldly stated such to the United States. So why $3.8 billion, and why now?

If we had actual journalists here in the United States rather than propaganda hacks, they might cover that story. But probably not. Because the reason for this sum of money, and the reason it is now, is one of the greatest embarrassments to the United States since the Brewster Buffalo. I am talking, of course, about the F-35 fighter.

The deal is that Israel isn’t getting a check for $3.8 billion. Rather, what they’re getting is export credits that can only be reimbursed for American warfighting gear. They’re basically getting store credit at the US Military-Industrial Complex Store, that can only be spent there.

Why is this important? It is because Israel is one of the participants in the F-35 program. Due to the skyrocketing cost of the aircraft — now $148M per plane — and the poor performance of the F-35 due to the design compromises made to accomodate the USMC jump jet version of the F-35 and the USN carrier version of the F-35, Israel had threatened to pull out of the F-35 program and either buy more F-16’s or buy planes from someone else. That would have wrecked havoc with the production plans for the F-35 and resulted in lost profits for Lockheed-Martin, and that would have made Baby Jesus cry.

So basically, the deal is this: Israel gets $3.8 billion per year in credits, and Israel stays in the F-35 program. Basically, it’s an indirect subsidy to Lockheed-Martin. Israel has already spent $1.4 billion dollars on nine F-35 fighters. The plan is for Israel to continue buying F-35 fighters at a rate of roughly nine per year for the remainder of the new 10 year agreement, thereby helping keep Lockheed-Martin’s assembly line purring away.

In short, it’s really more of a $2.6 billion military assistance package with $1.4 billion on top of that to subsidize Lockheed-Martin. And given that the majority of that $2.6 billion also has to be spent in the United States, the only real question is why this is called military assistance to Israel, when in actuality it is corporate welfare to American defense companies.

But I suppose pointing out that reality — that this is actually a corporate welfare package for American defense companies, not the spectacular boon for Israel that it looks like at surface glance — would require actual, like, research, and everybody knows that research makes Baby Jesus cry. Why do research when you can whip up a facile surface glance at a big number like $38 billion, move on, and rake in the money from ads without having to actually, like, work for a living? What a job!

– Badtux the “Hell, I do a better job than that” Penguin

Read Full Post »

So, Egypt is about to raze Rafah.

Not the Rafah in the Gaza Strip, mind you. That Rafah, a city whose history goes back to the time of Christ, has already been razed multiple times over the centuries and the Israelis have essentially razed it a couple of times themselves but it keeps springing back up, poorer and more miserable each time, until now it’s mostly a collection of tin roofs held together by duct tape. No, they’re going to raze Rafah, Egypt, which until Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt in 1982 was just a rural suburb of the main city with a few thousand homes and a lot of agricultural land. Then Rafah became divided by the new border, and eventually a wall was built through the city separating this suburb from the main city.

Why they are doing this… well, it’s because Israel demanded that they do something about the smuggling. The smuggling was interfering with the plan to punish the Palestinians by turning the Gaza Strip into the world’s largest concentration camp for Palestinians. That cannot be allowed. Thus the demand, with the implied threat of “if you don’t do it, we’ll cut off the $1.5B/year you get in military aid from the Americans.” Everybody knows that Israel runs the U.S. Middle Eastern policy, so that implied threat wasn’t ignored by Egypt’s brutal military dictatorship. So Egypt’s brutal military dictatorship simply did a Stalin and said, “no people, no problem.” That is, if the land is razed flat for miles from the border, there cannot be tunnels dug from within homes to the other side of the border. Not practically, anyhow.

But that isn’t the point of this post. The point of this post is what happens the moment someone criticizes the Israeli government’s policies. At which point the flying monkeys paid by Israel to troll blogs and Internet forums come on in force and say “you’re anti-Semite! You want to exterminate Jews!” At which point I say… what… the… fuck? Since when is criticizing the policies of a sovereign state the same as wanting to exterminate an ethnic group who, frankly, I care nothing about in any way positive or negative because it just isn’t relevant to my life and I think the whole concept of “ethnic groups” is pretty much made-up bullshit in the first place? But then I realize that this accusation of “anti-semitism” isn’t intended to be accurate. It’s intended to be bullying. And far too often is successful as such.

Fundamentally, conflating criticism of Israel’s apartheid policies with “anti-Semitism” is not an attempt to engage in discourse or win hearts and minds. It’s an intellectually dishonest attempt to bully people. And it’s surprisingly effective, as is the tactic of calling Jewish critics of Israel’s apartheid policies such as Max Blumenthal “self-hating Jews”. But it is, of course, utter bullshit. It is an attempt to end discussion of a government’s policies by claiming that anybody who doesn’t agree with that government’s policies wants to exterminate the Jewish people.

Apartheid is not the answer in Israel any more than it was in South Africa. Creating fictitious Bantustans on a portion of your land in order to deny fundamental human rights to millions of residents of your country is no more ethical today than it was in the days when South African Prime Minister B.J. Vorster stripped South African citizenship from the entire black population of South Africa and embarked on a massive program of forced relocation to force them into quasi-independent “homelands” that in actuality were completely controlled economically and politically by the South African government. But invariably when you say this, some troll pops up and says, “You just want to exterminate Jews!” in much the same way that black critics of the South African apartheid regime were often accused of, “You just want to exterminate white people!”.

Well, that’s a lie, and people who say that kind of bullshit are liars, and I’ll call them what they are — intellectually dishonest liars who want to squash intellectual discourse rather than engage in it. If you want to engage in honest discourse I’m quite willing to do so, as should be clear by clicking on the tag “Israel” under this post. We probably won’t come to any agreement if we’re coming from such fundamentally different perspectives, but at least we can gain a clearer understanding of where each of us stands. But if you come in here being a dishonest liar? Bah. Eat pie, trolls.

Which, if you see comments that read, simply, “I like pie”, is exactly what happened: a troll got pied. Good riddance.

– Badtux the Trolled Penguin

Read Full Post »

At least, that’s all I can gather from this story. Apparently Prof. Hanoch Sheinman, a law professor at Bar Ilan University, started out an email re-scheduling a test due to the unpleasantness in Gaza by saying he hoped all his students were well and were not amongst those who’d been affected by the hundreds of dead or thousands displaced in the current situation. The result was outrage on both the part of his students and the university administration because… uhm. That one sorta eludes me. Because he implied that Palestinians are human by counting Palestinians as well as Israelis as being among those dead or displaced?

Naw, no racism in Israel, nosirree…

Meanwhile, Gaza’s only power station has been destroyed. It cannot be rebuilt in under a year because everything’s gone — boilers, turbines, everything. Just completely flattened. Remember that article I linked to a few days ago about premature infants dying in Gaza hospitals because of a lack of electricity? Well, that’s going to be the situation for the next year, at least.

But I guess from the Israeli point of view, since Palestinians aren’t human, that doesn’t matter.

One last reminder: Hamas has never — ever — won the vote of the majority of Palestinians. They came to power because they won a plurality of votes, *not* because the majority of Palestinians supported Hamas. That little fact kind of exposes the lie of “well, they’re all Hamas so it’s okay to kill them.” They’re not.

But hey, they’re not human, so who cares, right? Right?!

– Badtux the Disgusted Penguin

Read Full Post »

The negotiations are a lie.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel’s foreign minister both say they’re attempting to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas so that civilians can be evacuated from war zones and food and water brought in for civilians. There is only one problem: Neither one will talk to Hamas, the people they’re supposedly attempting to negotiate a cease-fire with, because “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”.

There’s no such thing as negotiations with people you refuse to talk to. There are only “negotiations”, just a PR stunt on the part of the US and Israel. The reality is that neither Israel nor its junior partner, the United States, will talk to the people they’re supposedly negotiating with because neither one has any real interest in stopping the shooting until Israel has attained whatever military objectives Israel is interested in attaining. (Which objective I have no ideas about, unless it’s a re-enactment of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising with the Israelis playing the role of the Nazis and the Palestinians playing the role of the Jews, but I’m sure the Israelis must have *some* objective, right?)

Meanwhile, too bad about the dead Palestinian kids and those women and children that Israel killed by refusing to let them evacuate a school that was on the edge of a combat zone, but hey, they’re BROWN, so it’s not like they’re REAL kids, right? Right?

– Badtux the “It’s not racism if it’s Jews doing it right?” Penguin

Read Full Post »

So, we have Hamas. They’re a big threat to Israel, right? Uhm, no. They have bottle rockets made of garbage cans and fertilizer that they fire off at Israel on a regular basis, but these rockets rarely hit anything and have killed no Israelis in a long time. Beyond that, they have AK-47’s and RPG’s. You can’t mount an invasion of a modern state like Israel with AK-47’s and RPG’s. It’d be a massacre. Hamas, in other words, poses no existential threat to Israel. Those poor schmucks in Gaza could no more overthrow Israel than they could walk on water. Hey, they’re still in Gaza, so clearly they can’t walk on water, right?

So, we have the Egyptians. They have a big army, right? They’re a real threat to Israel, right? Uhm, no. Wrong. Egypt is not interested in fighting any wars. They have their own problems, and they gave away Gaza to Israel in 1996 so they don’t care about what happens there, it’s all Israel’s problem now.

Then we have Jordan. They don’t have a really big army, but hey, it’s still pretty good compared to most Arab armies. Surely they’re a threat to Israel? Uhm, no. They signed a peace treaty long ago and formally gave up the West Bank to Israel. They’ve never been particularly interested in war with Israel and only went to war with Israel in the past when threatened with invasion by Syria if they didn’t. They even sat out the 1973 war, having no interest in attempting to re-take the West Bank from Israel. Besides, they, too, are busy with their own problems right now, mostly due to a refugee crisis caused by Iraq and Syria imploding.

Lebanon? No army worth the name, and Hizballah is a collection of village militia, capable of bloodying Israel’s nose nicely if Israel invades Lebanon, but not capable of taking the fight to Israel in any way, since they lack any of the necessary accoutrements of invasion — things like, say, tanks, and an air force.

Syria? Nope. Syria’s got its own internal problems and it’ll be probably a decade before that’s all resolved. Its army has mostly disintegrated, mostly gone home other than the Shiite and Christian sectarian units, and there’s a huge civil war going on there that’s stuck in a bloody stalemate. Syria threatens nothing, much less Israel.

Despite this, Israel does face a dire threat, a demographic threat. And that is the Haredim — the ultra-Orthodox “hats and beards” Jews. 39% of all Jews under age 20 in Israel are Haredi. They are exempt from the draft as long as they are doing “religious studies” (which are all they do for their entire life), and the majority of them will go on welfare when they become adults, again because they’re doing “religious studies” and thus too busy to get a real job.

So let’s recap: 39% of Israel’s male Jewish manpower over the next 20 years is going to be exempt from the draft. And within the next 20 years, 20% of Israel’s Jewish population is going to be on welfare.

There is no nation, anywhere, that can survive such a huge portion of its population on welfare. And the lack of manpower for the IDF is going to be disastrous if Israel ever again has to go to war against a real opponent (as vs. choose to go to war against inept slobs like the Palestinians in Gaza). So the question, I suppose, is what’s going to happen when Israel is forced to end the draft exemption and forced to end welfare as we know it. Will the Haredi rise up in civil war? Will they join the modern world rather than attack little girls trying to go to school just like the Taliban attack little girls trying to go to school? and attack women who don’t follow their creed? I don’t know. All I do know is that if things go on as they are, in forty years we won’t be talking about a State of Israel, we’ll be talking about a Jewish refugee crisis. Whether that is a good thing or bad thing depends, I suppose, on whether you view Jewish lives as more important than Arab lives — or not.

– Badtux the Demographics Penguin

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »