Welcome to Thursday, October 19, 2023, and National Seafood Bisque Day (I’d prefer lobster stew or clam chowder).
It’s also the days I said yesterday (I screwed up and gave today’s days yesterday as well):
It’s also Dress Like A Dork Day, International Gin and Tonic Day, National Seafood Bisque Day, Evaluate Your Life Day (!), Rainforest Day, World Menopause Day, Persons Day in Canada (look it up), Oxfordshire Day, and, in Croatia, Necktie Day.
Croatia is the Home of the Necktie! (check the link above).
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the October 19 Wikipedia page.
*According to the Wall Street Journal, both the U.S. and independent security experts are coming around to the view that the hospital “explosion” in Gaza was caused not by Israeli bombing but by terrorists themselves.
Israel, the U.S. government and independent security experts cast doubt Wednesday on Palestinian claims that an Israeli airstrike was responsible for a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital compound, saying the preliminary evidence pointed to a local militant group.
Independent analysts poring over publicly available images of Tuesday’s explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and its aftermath say the blast site doesn’t bear the hallmarks of a strike with a bomb or missile of the types usually used by Israel.
The amount of damage also appears inconsistent with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry’s assertion that 471 people were killed, experts said.
“We have none of the indicators of an airstrike—none,” said Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an expert on military and security issues.
The U.S. has collected “high confidence” signals intelligence indicating that the blast at the hospital in Gaza was caused by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, U.S. officials said, buttressing Israel’s contention that it wasn’t responsible for the blast.
A video verified by The Wall Street Journal recorded a shrieking sound and the explosion that followed.
The U.S. assessment that Israel wasn’t behind the blast at the hospital drew, in part, on communications intercepts and other intelligence gathered by the U.S., defense officials said.
“Our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said, adding that the U.S. continues to collect information on the incident.
There you go. Here are two more videos showing a largely undamaged hospital but some cars burned in the arking lot (h/t cesar)
So let’s walk through it.
We now have video of the scene showing the explosion is from the parking lot and the buildings are in tact. There is no crater, no building demolished. This is inconsistent with the type of bomb many were suggesting yesterday. pic.twitter.com/HFKKxS8kvr pic.twitter.com/SpgG3Ktbiy
— AG (@AGHamilton29) October 18, 2023
The IDF released drone footage showing the Ahli Hospital in Gaza both before and after the explosion overnight.
The IDF points out the absence of a crater and the lack of damage to surrounding buildings. pic.twitter.com/UodlmuruS8
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) October 18, 2023
Reader Linda Calhoun also recommends this article from Talking Points Memo as being objective and relying on unbiased sources (h/t Linda)
I’m so glad that the loss of life is much smaller than reported by Hamas, and also that I don’t have to condemn Israel for violating the rules of war. But despite the mounting evidence, the Jordan summit is still canceled and Palestinians are still rioting in the West Bank because of the hospital hoax. It’s as if some people, like diehard creationists and flat-earthers, are so brainwashed that they reject any evidence counter to their narrative (you can put the New York Times as having a bit of that character, too).
*Biden is, as you know, in Israel. Here’s some news about his visit. I’ve also embedded a video of his 16-minute speech, which is as good as his speech on the topic in Washington (there is some repetition).
Making a rare wartime visit to Israel on Wednesday, President Biden firmly backed the Israeli government’s assertion that it had nothing to do with the hospital’s destruction. “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” he said, appearing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in Tel Aviv.
And I’m delighted with this part, as I thought the siege was a bad thing, taking Israel away from the moral high ground. You musn’t punish civilians in this way if you’ve a mensch, even though a siege isn’t against the rules of war.
. . .Mr. Biden also said he had secured Israel’s agreement to allow some international humanitarian aid into the besieged strip, offering the first hint of relief to a humanitarian crisis that has left the strip’s two million residents facing acute shortages of basic necessities. Mr. Netanyahu’s office said Israel would not block the provision of food, water and medicine from Egypt to civilians in southern Gaza, but warned, “Any provisions that reach Hamas will be thwarted.”
There was no immediate comment from the government in Egypt, where emergency supplies are waiting to cross through a key land border with Gaza.
More—a bullet point:
President Biden also announced $100 million in U.S. aid to help civilians in Gaza and the West Bank and said he had secured a commitment from Israel’s government to allow food, water and medicine to be delivered to Palestinians in Gaza from Egypt in a humanitarian effort overseen by the United Nations and others.
And then there’s Lebanon and Hezbollah to worry about:
. . . Amid Hezbollah’s call for a “day of rage,” sirens sounded out in northern Israel on Wednesday as cross-border clashes appeared to intensify. The Israeli military reported several missile launches at army positions and border towns throughout the day, and said it had responded with tank and artillery fire, according to a statement. Hezbollah claimed to have inflicted casualties. “Your tanks are your graves,” the militant group said in a video released Wednesday that, with text in Hebrew and Arabic, appeared to be directed at Israeli soldiers.
This is an excellent speech, though delivered in Biden’s low-key manner. He’s handling this situation very well, but not pulling his punches about his feelings and what the U.S. is going to do. The last bit is particularly good.
*In a NYT column called “A chill has been cast over the book world,” columnist Pamela Paul reports on the cancellation (via not giving a prize) to a writer whose book was much applauded, simply because it contained some episodes that could be seen as pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. First, the demonization of the author:
Last week the literary association Litprom canceled a celebration for the Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s book “Minor Detail” at the Frankfurt Book Fair, one of the publishing world’s biggest international book fairs. The novel, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and was longlisted for the International Booker Prize, was to be honored for having won the 2023 LiBeraturpreis, a German literary prize awarded annually to a woman from the developing world. A panel that Shibli, who splits her time between Jerusalem and Berlin, was to be on with her German translator, Günther Orth, was likewise canceled.
In a statement defending the decision, Juergen Boos, the director of the book fair, distanced the organization from the award, saying the prize came from another group, which was now looking for “a suitable format and setting” to honor Shibli elsewhere. He also said that “we strongly condemn Hamas’s barbaric terror war against Israel” and that the fair “has always been about humanity; its focus has always been on peaceful and democratic discourse.” Furthermore, Boos said, the Frankfurt Book Fair “stands with complete solidarity on the side of Israel.”
And the reason for the cancellation and attempt to find another venue? The author wrote about Palestine and Israel in a way unpalatable to some:
“Minor Detail” undoubtedly offers sympathies to the Palestinian cause — a perspective that surely won’t be embraced by all readers. It includes the story of a Bedouin girl who was gang raped and murdered by an Israeli Army unit in 1949, an atrocity that has been well documented. One German judge of the prize, Ulrich Noller, resigned from the jury that determined the award last summer, saying the novel serves “anti-Israel and antisemitic narratives” and claiming it not only allowed such readings but also opened up space for them.
If a book is thoughtful and acclaimed, as this one seems to be, there is NO justification for damning it. And other authors recognize it:
More than 600 publishers, editors, translators, writers and others in the industry, including Ian McEwan, Colm Toibin, Anne Enright and the Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, have signed an open letter on the ArabLit website.
“The Frankfurt Book Fair has a responsibility,” the letter explains, “to be creating spaces for Palestinian writers to share their thoughts, feelings, reflections on literature through these terrible, cruel times, not shutting them down.”
I stand with those 600+ signers.
*The House of Representatives is still lacking a speaker as we move towards another government default deadline (June 1).
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) failed to reach a majority on the House floor Wednesday, drawing one less vote for speaker than on the first ballot Tuesday. He told reporters late Wednesday afternoon that there would be no further votes Wednesday, but he expects another floor vote to be held Thursday. Jordan, a conservative firebrand allied with former president Donald Trump, is seeking to succeed Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who was ousted as speaker two weeks ago. Twenty-two Republicans voted against Jordan on the second ballot. He can afford to lose only four.
. . .Rep. Carlos A. Gimenez (R-Fla.), a staunch supporter of former House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), said he thinks Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) would probably lose more support in another round of speakership votes.
“I suspect that if we go to a third round, I think we’ll probably end up with more people voting for somebody else,” Gimenez told CNN.
And polls show that this Speaker mess, which shows no sign of ending, is going to hurt the Republicans more than the Democrats, as Americans don’t like this squabbling and think it’s hurting the country:
there is an obvious way in which the lack of a speaker is negatively impacting governance: The House is spending a lot of time figuring out who should have this particularly thankless job instead of passing bills that aren’t considered in the Senate.
Presumably, thanks to a less cynical view of Congress, YouGov’s new polling for the Economist indicates most Americans — including most Democrats and Republicans — think the lack of a speaker is hurting the ability of the government to function. (Some fraction of each party thinks the lack of speaker is helping; that might be the most cynical view possible.)
Finally, reader Steve called my attention to this msn story, taken from Chicago’s NBC News, reporting on a Time Out article on the “40 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World”. Mine—Hyde Park—was one of them! Click screenshot below to read:
Do you live in Chicago? If so, you might just be living in one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.
Hyde Park, near the University of Chicago on the city’s south side, has been named to Time Out’s new list of “40 Coolest neighborhoods in the world” for 2023, editors said.
The list, Time Out said, is based on input from local experts and thousands of reader surveys from around the globe. It also incorporated factors like community and social ventures, access to green space and more.
“Hyde Park exemplifies the best of Chicago, with the spirit of a small town, yet the many amenities of a bustling metropolis,” Hyde Park’s entry on the list said. “You can dine at the neighborhood’s top restaurants and enjoy everything from award-winning Southern fare and po’ boys to mouthwatering burgers and amazing Italian cuisine.”
Hyde Park’s ranking on the list came in at No. 19. It’s one of only four U.S. cities to make the report’s top 20, with New Orleans, Los Angeles’ Arts District and Fort Greene in New York ranking above.
Well, I think they’re overrating the cuisine here, and I’m not sure we should be in the top 40 in the entire world, but this is a delightful place to live: a hybrid between urban and suburban environments, with dead-easy access to downtown Chicago but also lots of green space. I think we still need better restaurants, though, even if the food scene is much better than when I arrived in 1986.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Szaron is protected from toxic ladybugs by a window.
Hili: A ladybird.Szaron: On your side.
Hili: Biedronka.Szaron: Po twojej stronie.
A Gary Larson Far Side cartoon from Tom:
From Buzzfeed, postal duplicity:
From Masih, a longer video of a tweet she posted about the other day. Google translation:
The citizen who sent this new video from #دختر_تبریز says: The police officers took this girl with them, while she injured her leg and fell to the ground after being physically attacked by the hijab activists. The police announced that [s]he had a mental problem and became delusional. The lives of Iranian girls are in danger.
The girl apparently was attacked and taken away by the dreaded Morality Police for not wearing her hijab. I can’t translate what she’s saying, except the earlier tweet said part of it was “Death to Khamenei.”
شهروندی که این ویدیوی جدید را از #دختر_تبریز فرستاده میگوید:
ماموران پلیس این دختر را با خودشان بردند، در حالی که او از بعد از حمله فیزیکی تذکردهندگان حجاب پایش آسیب دید و به زمین افتاد.
پلیس اطلاعیه داد که او مشکل روانی داشت و به هذیانگویی افتاد.
جان دختران ایران در خطر است pic.twitter.com/peRTeVNm5D
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 18, 2023
A Hamas apostate, from commenter Kurt:
This is Mosab Hassan Yousef. His dad was a founder of Hamas. He was part of Hamas. He spent years in an Israeli prison. In this interview he spills the beans about the real situation on the ground in Gaza. #Israel #Palestine #PalestineGenocide #hamas pic.twitter.com/5CJStKWB68
— Will Grice (@GriceIsRightAL) October 16, 2023
From Jez, who says, “One to file under “‘You couldn’t make it up’.” A trans-Hamas alliance seems a little, well, misguided:
I wonder how long it will be before the "trans community" makes it all about them…oh. pic.twitter.com/6zUZe8mVdP
— Progressive Misogyny (@JustMisogyny) October 17, 2023
I couldn’t resist this one from the Babylon Bee:
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) October 18, 2023
A kindly cyclist encounters a skunk family. See how lovely and kindly they are? They squirt only when disturbed.
From the Auschwitz Memorial: a girl gassed upon arrival at age nine. This is what they want to copy when they cried “Gas the Jews!” in Sydney:
19 October 1934 | Dutch Jewish girl Else Hahn was born in Rotterdam.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) October 19, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. He’s off Twitter, he says, so readers should send me good Tweets (please!). Speaking of skunks, the first one is a skunk gallivanting on a trailcam:
— Dannyboy_westhawk (@DWesthawk) October 15, 2023
Life imitates science!
— Julie Teichroeb (@Teichroeb_Lab) October 15, 2023
A cartoon by Ellis Rosen:
— Andreas 🐌 (@saIinkari) October 12, 2023