CaturSaturday, November 4, 2023, shabbos for Jewish cats and National Candy Day. Here’s an excellent bar, which kindly readers occasionally send me from Canada: it’s the famous Coffee Crisp candy bar, described as consisting “of alternating layers of vanilla wafer and a foamed coffee-flavoured soft candy, covered with a milk chocolate outer layer.” It’s terrific!
I’m off to Paris for a week tomorrow, so posting will be light starting tomorrow (though there will be a full hili dialogue and a Readers’ Wildlife). Expect food photos from Paris and remember: I do my best.
It’s also Book Lovers Day, National Chicken Lady Day (celebrating Dr. Marthenia “Tina” Dupree), National Wine Tasting Day, National Homebrew Day, National Bison Day, National Skeptics Day, Yitzhak Rabin Memorial (“unofficial, but widely commemorated”) and World Numbat Day. What’s a numbat? Go here, and below is a video of the endangered marsupial:
Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the November 4 Wikipedia page.
As international pressure mounts to relieve dire conditions in Gaza, the U.S. secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, was meeting with regional officials in Jordan on Saturday to discuss efforts to get more aid into the battered enclave and to contain the war.
Mr. Blinken was expected to hold talks in Amman with his counterparts from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, as well as Palestinian representatives, Jordan’s foreign ministry said. Those countries have been among the most forceful in their condemnation of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas and is home to 2.3 million Palestinians.
Mr. Blinken visited Israel on Friday and appealed for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting to allow more aid into the territory.
But soon after meeting with Mr. Blinken, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel appeared to rebuff the American request, saying that any cease-fire would be contingent on the release of more than 200 hostages abducted in the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas that killed at least 1,400.
The NYT’s editorial board has also called for “humanitarian” pauses. Netanyahu, however, won’t consider that until the hostages are released, and he has a good point. The hostage abductions were a war crime, and at the very least the hostages should be released before any kind of deal can happen. They are not bargaining chips to stop the war: they are abducted civilians that must be let go unconditionally. Hamas won’t do that because they see a huge advantage in keeping hostages.
The Israelis have indeed allowed shipments of food, water, and medical supplies (but no fuel, as Hamas has plenty it can give to the Gazans), and will pause the war (briefly) so long as all the hostages are released. Why aren’t the same people who demand humanitarian pauses also demanding the hostages be released as a tit for tat? Realize, too, that most of the humanitarian aid is taken by Hamas for their own purposes. There are 500 km of tunnels in Gaza—more than the London Underground—and those tunnels require fuel and other supplies for storage and maintenance. But the editorial adds this:
For any such measure to be effective, both sides in this conflict must abide by it. Hamas would have to agree, through its interlocutors, to stop launching rockets at Israel. Arab countries in the region should also put pressure on Hamas to release all of its hostages, which include many women and children.
“Put pressure on Hamas to release al of its hostages”? Pressure is not enough: this should be a condition for pauses. There is plenty that Israel would do to get those hostages back, and that includes allowing breaks in the war. So why aren’t America and the West calling for a firm deal: pauses for hostages? I really don’t understand. The hostages, their safety, and their value to Hamas seem to have been forgotten. The ending of the war and the Israeli attempt to destroy Hamas will requires Hamas to surrender, stop firing rockets at Israel, and releasing the hostages. That’s not in the cards, for Hamas is sworn to destroy Israel. So far, at least in terms of world opinon, they’re accomplishing this aim. But they’re also allowing their country to be severely damaged.
The NYT also calls for Israel to stop using large, 2000-pound bombs:
Israel’s use of such bombs, the second largest type in its arsenal, is not uncommon, and the size is generally the largest that most militaries use on a regular basis. They can be used to target underground infrastructure, but their deployment in a dense and heavily populated area like Jabaliya has raised questions of proportionality — whether Israel’s intended targets justify the civilian death toll and destruction its strikes cause.
But if Hamas allowed Gazans to move South (they are actually shooting some of those who try to leave, using snipers as well), then the “densely populated areas” would empty. Hamas, as usual, is using civilians (and a hospital) as a human shield against attack. So long as Hamas encourages civilians to stay, or prevents them from leaving, these areas will remain populated, and any attempt to either bomb or attack them will result in civilian deaths that the world will abhor. I do, too, for every civilian lost is to be mourned and their killing deplored. But I put most of these deaths at the door of Hamas, not Israel.
*Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, has an op-ed in the NYT, “From the President of Israel: This is not just a battle between Israel and Hamas.” Among other issues, he takes up the matter of the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Although Herzog is not in Likud, was an opponent of Netanyahu (and has little power), you can regard this as a general statement of Israel’s policy. That’s because the government, and most of the public, is united in the aim to wipe out Hamas. An excerpt:
The center of what is nothing less than an existential struggle. This is not a battle between Jews and Muslims. And it is not just between Israel and Hamas. It is between those who adhere to norms of humanity and those practicing a barbarism that has no place in the modern world.
. . . History has taught us that foul ideologies often find the Jewish people first — but tend not to stop there. We find ourselves on the front lines of this battle, but all nations face this threat, and they must understand that they could be next.
. . . The result of these sickening tactics [Hamas’s human shields and encouragement of Gazan casualties] is the civilian suffering we are all watching unfold. Many reports of the humanitarian difficulties in parts of Gaza are unverifiable, but there is real suffering, and it concerns us, too. These are our neighbors, and our full withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was meant to give them free lives and open the door for peace. To our dismay, Hamas and its many Palestinian supporters chose otherwise.
Even as Hamas fires hundreds of rockets at our cities and as our soldiers fall in battle, we’re making an effort to give early warning to civilians with leaflets and phone calls, to move them out of the main battle zones and to enable humanitarian aid through Gaza’s border with Egypt. Hundreds of aid trucks are now arriving, with more expected each day.
But anyone who thinks the cynical exploitation of civilian suffering will tie our hands and save Hamas this time is wrong. For us and for the Palestinians, the suffering will end only with the removal of Hamas. Anyone trying to tie our hands is, intentionally or not, undermining not only Israel’s defense but also any hope for a world where these atrocities cannot happen.
In other words, don’t expect any cease-fires, and I wouldn’t put my money on “pauses”, either. Israel means business. If Hamas and the world want pauses, they should put as much pressure on Hamas to release the hostages as they do on Israel to pause the fighting.
*As always, I’ll steal a few items from Nellie Bowles’s weekly news summary at The Free Press. This week’s contribution is called “TGIF: Useful idiots“.
→ Hamas × Vogue collab: All this is so chic. Like, it’s pretty edgy to say babies are fair game because the moment calls for any means necessary. Anyway, Vogue staffer Laia Garcia-Furtado was into it, and so there she is posing at a protest with a flyer in her mouth that reads “RESIST COLONIAL POWER BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.” And Ahed Tamimi, the charismatic young Amnesty International cover girl, who has been celebrated in The Atlantic and CNN as “a symbol of resistance” and leader for peace, had this to say: “Come on settlers, we will slaughter you. We are waiting for you in all the cities of the West Bank. What Hitler did to you was a picnic. We will drink your blood and eat your skulls. We are waiting for you.” Edgy and chic. Cool and normal. Vogue shoot upcoming, no doubt.
→ It takes two to call a cease-fire: The Israelis have been attacking peace-loving Hamas, which is why we need a cease-fire now (or at least that’s what I know from Instagram). But strangely, Hamas leaders keep saying their goal is to kill all Jews and they will not rest until the last Jew is dead and Israel is wiped off the map.
Here is Ghazi Hamad, of Hamas’s political bureau, on Lebanese TV on October 24: “Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country. . . . We are not afraid to say this with full force. . . . We must teach Israel a lesson and we will do it again and again. The Al-Aqsa flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth. . . . We are called a nation of martyrs and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.” The television interviewer asks: “Does that mean the annihilation of Israel?” Response from Hamas chief: “Yes of course. The existence of Israel is illogical.”
Fun fact: whenever a Hamas leader says their goal is to kill the Jews, the BBC translates it to “Israelis.” There are actually two separate words in Arabic for Jews and Israelis (I just double-checked). But the BBC knows best. They know what Hamas was really trying to say.
→ Weird how Hamas never runs out of fuel: There are a lot of calls for food and fuel (a.k.a. humanitarian aid) to Gaza, which makes sense until you realize that there’s actually tons of food and fuel in Gaza, hoarded by Hamas, which rules Gaza. Credit where it’s due—there were two great stories this week in the mainstream media on this exact fact. First, from NBC: “[M]ore than 80% of [Gaza’s] population lives in poverty, according to the United Nations. [But] Hamas has an investment portfolio of real estate and other assets worth $500 million, say experts, and an annual military budget of as much as $350 million.” Second, from The New York Times’ Matt Rosenberg, we have this piece on the stockpile: “Hamas has hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel for vehicles and rockets; caches of ammunition, explosives, and materials to make more; and stockpiles of food, water, and medicine.”
Asked why Hamas, the ruling government of Gaza, felt no need to help their civilians, a Hamas leader explained “that is the responsibility of the occupation.” And if you’re interested, here’s some footage of the high life in Gaza.
*Pro-Israel Democrats have put up an ad criticizing Rashida Tlaib (see below) for her inflammatory anti-Israel marks, and that’s stirred big trouble among Democrats—a party that’s beginning to splinter over the Middle East war.
The six-figure TV ad, which began airing on Thursday in Tlaib’s district in Detroit, points at Tlaib’s votes against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile protection system and against a resolution to condemn Hamas’ attack on October 7.
. . . But the ad has drawn criticism from many accusing the group of fuelling division between supporters of Israel and of Palestinians.
. . .”This ad campaign targeting Rashida Tlaib is dangerous. It should be condemned by Democrats and taken down now,” wrote the If Not Now movement, an organization formed by American Jews calling for an end of U.S. support, on X.
. . . Earlier this week, the House voted against a resolution to censure Tlaib brought forward by Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
“The people in the Detroit area deserve to know the facts about her positions,” DMFI President Mark Mellman said in a statement. “Our ad clearly shows her wanton disregard for the safety of the citizens of one of the United States’ closest allies, Israel.”
When reached for comment in response to the ad, a spokesperson for Tlaib pointed POLITICO to past statements the congresswoman has made on the Israel-Hamas war. Last week, Tlaib said in a statement that “achieving a just and lasting peace where Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights and freedoms, and where no person lives in fear for their safety, requires ending the blockade, occupation, and dehumanizing system of apartheid.”
Well isn’t that a conciliatory statement, what with the blockading, apartheid, and dehumanizing and all? Here’s the ad, which is simply a critique of Tlaib, someone who I consider antisemitic.
And here’s the criticism of that ad:
This ad campaign targeting Rashida Tlaib is dangerous. It should be condemned by Democrats and taken down now.@DemMaj4Israel & @AIPAC use Republican donor money to pit Jewish Democrats against Muslim Democrats.
We won’t let them tear our communities apart with fear-mongering. https://t.co/EGP1n3wyki
— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) November 2, 2023
It’s not fear mongering: Tlaib is an anti-Semitic “progressive” who will do anything she can to get rid of Israel. In that sense she is dangerous, and I am not going to silence my criticizing her because I’m a Democrat. We can vote for Biden and against Tlaib, right?!
*The University of Washington is in trouble, or so says Inside Higher Ed, because a psychology department faculty hire put a black candidate in third place, behind a white and an Asian, and then leapfrogged the black candidate to the top because of his race, offering him the tenure-track job. (h/t Luana)
The hiring process for a University of Washington psychology professor position titled “Diversity in Development” initially ranked a white person No. 1 out of 84 applicants, the university says in a report released this week.
But psychology department faculty members then pressured one another until the third-ranked finalist, who was Black, was given this tenure-track assistant professor job, above the white and Asian finalists, the document states. It adds that it’s unclear how candidates’ racial identities were assigned. The assistant professor accepted the job in April of this year.
The investigation, which the university posted online Tuesday, concludes that “race was used as a substantial factor in the selection of the final candidate and the hiring process,” violating a university executive order that bans considering race in hiring. Though the report itself doesn’t conclude state law was violated, university spokesman Victor Balta noted in an email to Inside Higher Ed Thursday that Washington citizens, in 1998, passed a referendum banning affirmative action in public colleges and universities.
The university announced on its website that the psychology department is now “barred from conducting searches for tenured and tenure-track faculty positions” for at least two years, “subject to review by the Provost’s Office.” It also said the department will “undergo a comprehensive review and revision of its hiring processes,” and all department members “will receive training on how to conduct searches consistent with law and policy.”
“The University is taking personnel action to address individual actions,” the institution stated. “These proceedings are confidential.”
At least the department suffered the consequences. And I wonder if the two candidates who were ahead of the hired one can sue since affirmative action is no legal. They are easily identifiable as being harmed by the procedure, so they certainly have “standing”.
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is upset that some houses are being built nearby. Andrzej and Hili like their solitude:
Hili: Our town is growing.A: I’m worried as well.
Hili: Nasze miasto się rozrasta.Ja: Też mnie to martwi.
And Szaron and Kulka, resting on the windowsill:
From Irena, a late Halloween cartoon:
Masih notes the irony of the UN appointing an Iranian envoy as head of a human rights forum:
The United Nations is becoming a place for uniting dictators.
The Islamic regime chairs the UN’s human rights forum, while their fingerprints are found on global terrorist attacks, including the October 7th assault on Israel.
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 3, 2023
From Florian: a nice speech from Germany’s Vice Chancellor, posted yesterday, emphasizing religious tolerance and condemning Hamas. He doesn’t pull any punches.
It's almost four weeks since the horrific terrorist attack on #Israel. A lot has happened, the public debate has become heated and confused. Find thoughts from Vice-Chancellor Robert #Habeck in the video, putting the events in context. 📣With English, Hebrew and Arabic subtitles. pic.twitter.com/5jdXAZr7ey
— Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (@BMWK) November 2, 2023
This was suggested for me when I clicked “home” on Twitter (I don’t follow anyone in particular). I can’t believe that this is for real:
What’s going on Stanford University?
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) November 2, 2023
Let’s get lighter. Barry says of the second cat, “I’m not sure if this is the first thing I want to see when I get up in the morning.” As for the first cat, well, I’m speechless
— Nuella Onche (@nuella_onche) November 2, 2023
This child will always be kind to animals:
Kindness 💚 pic.twitter.com/SnBOeYPhjz
— Amazing Nature (@AmazingNature00) October 30, 2023
From Malcolm. Do you know how this trick is done? The cane is essential.
So cool Street Artistpic.twitter.com/cEyd1YJf2P
— Figen (@TheFigen_) October 25, 2023
From the Auschwitz Memorial: A lad who died in Auschwitz at 21
4 November 1921 | A Belgian Jew, Felix Ciesielski, was born in Antwerp.
— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 4, 2023
Tweets from Dr. Cobb. There are other tweets in this bizarre thread:
A few years later, I was at another wedding at the same venue so took the opportunity to recreate it on my own and this is where it became a thing 2/ pic.twitter.com/4BtBO9FqHB
— James Marsters (@earlofbeverley) October 6, 2021