Coronavirus Notes


I haven’t posted as much as usual this week because I’m dealing with a nasty head cold, and, yes, it’s just a cold. However, i’ve seen a few things related to the coronavirus go by that are worth sharing.

One of the hot spots for the illness is Iran where many members of the ruling class have ti.

It looks as if Israel is among the leaders in development of a vaccine.

And the World Health Organization has declared that we are in a pandemic.

BTW, I was at CPAC a couple of weeks ago. According to the emails I’ve received from the event organizers, the Maryland State Health Department has screen all of the employees of the event venue, and none of them tested positive for corona virus. There were a couple of other events going on at the venue at the same time as CPAC. One was a medical meeting, and during my time in the Lobby Bar, I had an interesting conversation with an ophthalmologist about her preparations for dealing with the disease. Because her work require close patient contact, she plans to use additional layer of protective equipment—and she plans on additional screening of patients before they are seen. Her prime concerns were the availability of extra masks, gloves, etc., and whether the public would act calmly and responsibly in following medical advice (as opposed to press and political sensationalism).

The next few months will be interesting. (Say, is it raaaaacist to point out that old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times..”?)

Beresheet Impact Site


The Israeli lunar lander Beresheet impacted at too high a velocity for a safe landing. The images for this before and after comparison of the landing site were taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The dates in the lower left indicate when the images were taken. It appears the spacecraft landed from the north on the rim of a small crater, leaving a dark smudge on Mare Serenitatis that’s elongated towards the south.

Image Credits: NASA / GSFC / Arizona State University

Don’t Know Much About History


That would be the charitable way of categorizing Congresscritter Rashida Tlaib’s (D-MI) statement that her “Palestinian” ancestors provided a safe haven for Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

First, there were no “Palestinians” during the Holocaust or the immediate aftermath. The arabs living in Palestine during the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate called themselves “Arabs.” No one referred to them as “Palestinians” until after Israel had survived being invaded by multiple Arab armies in 1948.

Second, even if she used the term “Palestinian” proleptically, the arabs almost universally opposed Jewish immigration into the region, and they did so violently for the half-century prior to the founding of the State of Israel. And in 1967, and in 1973, and in …

Of course, it could be that Tlaib really believes the Palestinian propaganda version of Near Eastern history, but I don’t think so. I believe she knows the truth, but it doesn’t fit her narrative. Her response to outrage over her statements has been to double down with a statement repeating the lie that Palestinians welcomed Jewish refugees.

Not even CNN is buying it.

Stuxnet II


The Times of Israel has an article up about recent intelligence operations directed against Iran.

Iranian infrastructure and strategic networks have come under attack in the last few days by a computer virus similar to Stuxnet but “more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated,” and Israeli officials are refusing to discuss what role, if any, they may have had in the operation, an Israeli TV report said Wednesday.

The report came hours after Israel said its Mossad intelligence agency had thwarted an Iranian murder plot in Denmark, and two days after Iran acknowledged that President Hassan Rouhani’s mobile phone had been bugged. It also follows a string of Israeli intelligence coups against Iran, including the extraction from Tehran in January by the Mossad of the contents of a vast archive documenting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and the detailing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN in September of other alleged Iranian nuclear and missile assets inside Iran, in Syria and in Lebanon.

And Reuters reports that the Iranians have sorta/kinda fessed up on the computer virus attack.

Gholamreza Jalali, head of Iran’s civil defense agency, said on Sunday that Iran had recently neutralized a new version of Stuxnet.

“Recently we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet which consisted of several parts … and was trying to enter our systems,” Jalali was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency at a news conference marking Iran’s civil defense day. He did not give further details.

Sounds like some folks at the Mossad have been earning their pay.

Two Views of Jerusalem


One point of view concerning President Trumps decision to obey the law and move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (Congress mandated the move before the turn of the century) is summed up by the headline on a post at Breitbart Unmasked Bunny Billy Boy Brett Unread: Trump Throws Gasoline on Middle East Fire by Recognizing Jerusalem as Israeli Capital. There’s not much original thought in the BU piece by “Staff Writer”—just a bunch of cut-and-paste from the usual suspects such as CNN and the NYT.

A more insightful view is outlined in a piece over at Bloomberg: Trump Teaches Palestinians About the New Middle East. The article begins by noting that the Sunni Arabs are more concerned about Iran than the West Bank. Indeed, there are signs that the Sunnis are ready to consider a three-way alliance with Israel and the U.S. to roll back Iranian expansion.

And so, Israel’s full participation in the Trump-Sunni project comes at a price. Netanyahu has a vision of how to solve the Palestinian issue. It includes a unified Jerusalem legally belonging to Israel, as well as continued West Bank settlement and, if there ever is a deal, a demilitarized Palestinian entity. The alternative — no deal — is okay with him, too.

Seen this way, Trump’s move today is not a Hanukkah present at all.  It is a down payment. How long will it take to build that embassy? Three years? Four? No rush. Time is on Israel’s side.

Read the whole thing.

An Interesting Summer Ahead?


Netanyahu_redline“At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war.

“Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.

“From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”

Syria: Of Course, You Know This Means War


As The Other McCain noted earlier in the day concerning Syria’s reaction to Israeli attacks, CNN is reporting that a “top Syrian official” in “an exclusive interview” has that the Israeli attack on a military facility outside Damascus was a “declaration of war.”

Not to be too pedantic, but Israel and Syria have been in a state of war for decades. The fighting on the Golan Heights in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 ground on into the spring of 1974, ending in a disengagement agreement. There has been no formal peace between the two countries ever since.

Geography 101: Countries & Capitals


Mitt Romney gets an A.

It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.

UPDATE—Mitt Romney also remarked on a significant difference between Israeli and Palestinian culture. The Israeli culture has resulted in greater economic success.

Of course, Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat immediately accused Mr. Romney of raaaaacism. Nonsense! First of all, the Jews and the Arabs are essentially the same racially. Second, even if they were not, the remark has to do with culture not some inherent racial difference.

It was Jewish settlers who made the desert bloom in British Mandate Palestine, and it was the Jews who left refugee camps in the 1940s to build a modern economy.

Give Mr. Romney extra credit and an A+ for get this correct as well.

UPDATE—Mr. Romney understands how culture affects economic performance.

Cui Bono?


The AP is reporting that the National Security Advisor Tom Donilon has briefed Prime Minister Netanyahu on U. S. plans to to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities and that the Israelis are denying that such a briefing has occurred. (H/T, The Lonely Conservative)

Funny how that leaked out during Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel, isn’t it? Who benefits from such a leak?

Israel? No. The idea that the U. S. will do the heavy lifting on taking out the Iranian threat gives a talking point to those who don’t want Israel to act in self defense.

Iran? Possibly. Confusion among their enemies is good for them.

Barack Obama? Certainly. It allows him to look tough on Iran while actually doing nothing. This has the odor of a politically inspired leak to benefit the reelection campaign.

Is it November yet?

Nomex Underwear


Nomex is a fire retardant material used for safety clothing worn by pilots, firefighters, etc. What with all the “pants on fire” level of lying going on, it probably should be used for politicians underwear. Nancy Pelosi might find such safety undergarments useful.

In an interview with Al Hunt she claimed that President Obama has been to Israel “over and over again.” Wrong! He’s never been since elected to the White House. He’s never been as a private citizen. He did make a couple of official trips as a senator, but that hardly adds up to over and over again.

Mrs. Pelosi tries to paint the President as a friend of Israel. With friends like that … Oh, never mind.

Is it November yet?

UPDATE—White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer is another candidate for Nomex BVDs after his bogus claim concerning the bust of Winston Churchill removed from the Oval Office.

Proxy Warfare


Tyrants would rather not go to war, especially if they can get someone else to do their dirty work. For example, Hitler and Stalin fought a proxy war in the 1930s, the Spanish Civil War. J. E. Dyer takes a look at the latest proxy war, the “civil war” in Syria. On the surface it looks like the Sunnis (Turkey and the Saudis) against the Shia (Iran), but it’s more complicated. Russia, Israel, and Greece have common interests that favor neither the Sunnis nor the Shia.  And America isn’t looking after our interests.

None of this would be foreordained if the US took an active role in fostering the best future for Syria. It is important for Americans to understand that the more we recuse ourselves from the conflict in Syria, the more its outcome is guaranteed to be determined by a foreign power at the expense of the Syrian people. We have just about reached the stage at which what’s going on in Syria is not a “Syrian civil war,” but a proxy war between regional powers, whose objectives will frustrate, and in some cases even defeat outright, every single one of the US interests in the Syrian crisis.

Civil war; children and old people mowed down like animals; arms and paramilitary troops flooding into the country; ruthless power struggles between corrupt despots on third-party territory – this is your world, when American power isn’t being exercised.

Read the whole thing.

Speaking Softly—Not


Our ambassador to Israel is quoted as saying that an attack on Iran’s nuke program is not only possible but “ready” if necessary.

J. E. Dyer analyzes the significance of the ambassador’s remarks.

A warning (or, in this case, an assurance) that the US is ready to attack Iran was almost certainly given on orders from the White House, since it’s not something a diplomat would naturally be moved to say, or say without permission.  It’s a combination of operational TMI and inflammatory rhetoric: a sort of anti-diplomacy.

Second, this is a threat that can’t be convincingly conveyed in a fey, indirect manner.  If we mean this threat and we want it to affect Iran’s decisions, then say it to Iran.  (I would advise putting it in different terms.)  Putting the threat out there in the guise of an assurance to Israel just looks manipulative.

And the comment was made during the run up to the NATO summit. I’ll bet most (or all) of the allies were annoyed by the remarks. I suspect that the Israelis were not reassured by the ambassador’s statement. And, of course, the mullahs will be undeterred.

Chag Semeach Purim


PJ Media has a post up wondering whether or not Israel has taken a final decision on a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Here’s something I noticed.

Prime Minister Netanyahu gave President Obama a gift during his visit yesterday. It was a copy of the Book of Esther, the biblical story of how the Jews defended themselves from a genocidal attack from a group of Persians. That victory is celebrated in the holiday of Purim which begins this year tomorrow evening at sunset.

Hmmmm.

UPDATE–Allahpundit posts more chatter on this topic.

The Rumor du Jour


There’s a rumor going around that President Obama is laying plans to attack Iran’s nuclear program. The basis seems to be a report in the British press that the UK is preparing its forces to participate in such an action. Ed Morrissey has a good summary here.

Mr. Morrissey points out the damage that the President would do to his political base if he went ahead with such an attack. That’s why I don’t believe an American attack is being seriously considered.

That doesn’t mean that an attack isn’t under consideration, and not necessarily by Israel. How about a UK/France tag team? They were just successful (sorta, kinda, mostly) in Libya. They both have cruise missile capability. The SAS could handle ground recon. The French still have an aircraft carrier. Both countries have been on the receiving end of Iranian-inspired terrorism. And it might improve Sarkozy’s standing in the polls.

Hmmm …

Godwin’s Law and the Near East


Godwin’s Law states:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

Of course, if the topic deals with a group having some of its roots in the Nazi movement of the 1930s and ’40s, then we’ll be hearing about Nazis from the get go. In fact, the Nazis supported the Arab opposition to Jewish immigration to Palestine during the British Mandate, and that influence can be seen to this day.

Consider this by Victor David Hanson over at NRO:

The Palestinians have just shown the entire world their collective values — and the result is creepy beyond belief. Every once in a while a single incident crystallizes almost everything — all the cry-of-the-heart moral equivalence, all the special pleading, all the revisionism, all the national-liberationist cant. The crude and coerced Egyptian interview of Gilad Shalit says it all. He looked emaciated and short of breath, like the old film clips of those who had just emerged from Dachau; his Egyptian inquisitor, the repulsive Shahira Amin (lately a heartthrob of the Western media, who drew praise in the past from Secretary Clinton), preened like some sort of Lady Haw-Haw reading a script from Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda — with a masked Hamas thug in the background, rounding out the cast, perfectly playing the part of a cowardly killer from the SS Einsatzgruppen.

Read the whole thing.