Sometimes a situation is so horrific that it renders one speechless. Such was the attack by Israeli Arabs on innocent Jews praying in Jerusalem this morning. And so, I’m going to start with photos, which provide greater impact than my words alone would.
Once I would have apologized for provided such graphic illustrations. No more. The world must “get the picture,” figuratively as well as literally.
Jews went to pray this morning in a major synagogue connected to a yeshiva on Aggasi Street in Har Nof, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on a hill in western Jerusalem.
Two Israeli Arabs entered, bearing guns and meat cleavers and knives. Calling “Allahu Akbar,” they proceeded to massacre those who were praying.
Please note the fact of meat cleavers. This is about more than “just” killing Jews. For that guns would have sufficed. How do I – struggling for adequate words – convey to the world what is going on? How do I get people to understand what we are dealing with here?
Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO/FLASH90
ZAKA is an Israeli organization that, among other things, gathers tissue and blood from attacks, to be interred with the deceased according to Jewish law. A member of ZAKA today commented that he has been at scenes where more people had been murdered, but he had never seen a bloodier or more gruesome scene than the one today.
Some worshippers were lying in blood on the floor with their tallitot (prayer shalls) and tefillin still on.
In the end, four were killed:
Rabbi Moshe Twersky, 59, Rosh Kollel for the Torat Moshe yeshiva and grandson of the great Rav Soloveitchik; Rabbi Kalman Levine, 55; Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky, 43; and Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, 68. Rabbi Goldberg had dual Israeli-British citizenship; the other three were American-Israeli.
May the Almighty avenge their deaths.
At least eight others were injured, including two police officers. Four are serious to critical.
All four of the victims lived on Aggasi Street. “On one street, four widows and 24 orphans were left,” the head rabbi of the community, Yitzhak Mordechai Rubin, said at the funeral of Rabbi Twersky.
Rabbi Twersky’s funeral, the first held, was attended by thousands. The other three funerals, also heavily attended, were held shortly thereafter.
The two terrorists were shot dead by police. They were Rasan and Oudai Abu Jamal, cousins from the problematic Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber in eastern Jerusalem. They are reportedly related to terrorist Jamal Abu Jamal, who was released from prison as part of a “gesture” to Abbas and subsequently re-arrested. As I’ve indicated before that terror is often a “family affair.”
According to various reports I’ve picked up, one of the terrorists worked in a small grocery store (a makolet) just next door to the synagogue. (More on the significance of this below.)
Security forces went into the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood today, where they met resistance. I believe some family members were arrested. The terrorists’ homes will be demolished and I believe their wives may be expelled. But note this, please:
The families hailed the terrorists as heroes and martyrs, and passed out candies to celebrate:
Yet another cousin of the terrorists, Alaa Abu Jamal, said:
“This occurred because of the pressures of the occupying Israeli government on the Palestinian people and in Jerusalem generally, and the ongoing harm to the al-Aqsa mosque; this act is something normal for any person who is connected to his people, to courage and to Islam.
“We got the usual death notification and we shouted with joy, people here also handed out candies to guests who came to visit and were happy for the martyrs.”
I have noted the language of this creep carefully. He says the act is “normal” for any person connected to Islam. I’ve seen this word used again and again. Oh? Arab residents of Jerusalem throw stones at the Light Rail? That’s “normal.”
Think, think carefully and deeply about what it says that a Muslim Arab can describe the horrendous murder of innocent men at prayer as “normal.” It wasn’t excused as an aberration, as the desperate act of people who are demented or deluded. “Normal.” And a cause for shouting with joy, yet.
As to Abbas, he was under sufficient pressure from various sources – including the US – that he felt the need to at least appear to condemn the attack. But note how he did it:
“The Palestinian presidency has always condemned the killing of civilians on both sides, and condemns today the killing of worshipers in a house of worship in west Jerusalem.
“It also condemns all acts of violence from whatever source and demands an end to invasions of Al-Aqsa mosque, to the provocations of settlers, and to the incitement of certain Israeli ministers.” (Emphasis added)
This is no condemnation. It is additional incitement. “Invasions” of the mosque? “Provocations” of settlers?
Netanyahu went out of his way to calm things by meeting with Kerry and King Abdullah. He made a point of saying there would be no change in the status quo on the Mount. It does not matter.
I note a bitter irony here. NO terrorist attack is ever justified in any terms. But in this instance there was no justification even from the Palestinian Arab perspective, although they pretend there was. The people who were killed lived and were praying in western Jerusalem. They were peaceful people – heads of institutions of study and the like. They were not “settlers” or radicals. They are not even the sort of people who were likely to visit the Temple Mount. And so?
This attack was random on purpose: designed to foment terror precisely because of its unpredictable nature.
There was one other incident that was hauled out as the “reason” for the attack. And for this I must backtrack a bit.
On Sunday night, an Israeli Arab bus driver, Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, hung himself in his bus, which was parked overnight in the Egged bus company terminal in Har Hotzvim – an industrial area of northern Jerusalem. Police investigating found no signs of foul play and strongly suspected a suicide. None the less, rumors flew that Jews had killed this man, and riots ensued in at least three Arab neighborhoods.
An autopsy was done (and I believe members of the family were permitted to be present); it concluded that cause of death was suicide. Made no difference. One relative of the deceased declared: “Eye witnesses told us they saw three Jews who murdered him. Unfortunately, the Israeli police is ignoring the murder and claiming my relative hanged himself.”
Hamas spokesman Sanu Abu Zuhri put out a statement that declared (emphasis added):
”The operation in Jerusalem is a response to the murder of the martyr Yusuf Ramouni [the bus driver] and to the series of crimes by the occupier at Al-Aqsa and Hamas calls to continue these operations. Hamas calls for more operations like it.”
According to Israel Hayom, Hamas “urged all Arabs who have Israeli ID cards to infiltrate public places [their ID cards making it easier for them to move about] and use any weapons at their disposal.” (Emphasis added)
What I discovered out on the Jerusalem street today was rage. Grief, yes. Sadness, yes. But a particular rage. I know the feeling well.
Netanyahu has met with the Security Cabinet but I have nothing concrete yet regarding actions to be taken. There is talk of bringing more security forces into Jerusalem, of guards at all synagogues, etc.
What is understood by those of us who feel rage is that it is time for the Arabs to be afraid. Only then will they stop.
Condemnations of the attack have come from many quarters.
What a visibly shaken Kerry said earlier today was laudable – strong and appropriate in tone. He actually fingered Palestinian Arabs:
“Innocent people who had come to worship died in the sanctuary of a synagogue. They were hatcheted, hacked and murdered in that holy place in an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and murder. I call on Palestinians at every single level of leadership to condemn this in the most powerful terms. This violence has no place anywhere, particularly after the discussion that we just had the other day in Amman.”
But please note what Obama said:
“At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.
“…tragically, this is not the first loss of lives that we have seen in recent months. Too many Israelis have died, too many Palestinians have died. Obviously, we condemn in the strongest terms this attack.”
Even now, moral equivalency. “Too many Israelis, too many Palestinians.” The Israelis died in terror attacks, the Palestinians were in the main shot for perpetrating attacks.
And so – with the permission of my readers – I will drop my professional cool for a moment at the end of this long day, and simply say, damn him.
A long and difficult but very necessary posting. I will close with two additional links that demonstrate ways in which international media in some instances downplayed what happened:
This too we must contend with.
Hat Tip: BB
Hat Tip: Citizen Scribe
Hat Tip: BB
Hello and welcome to the Watcher’s Council’s ‘Weasel Of The Week’ nominations, where we award the famed golden plastic Weasel to a public figure who particularly deserves to be slimed and mocked for his or her dastardly deeds during the week. Every Tuesday morning, tune in for the Weasel of the Week nominations and check back Thursday to see which Weasel gets the votes and walks off with the statuette of shame!
Here are this weeks’ nominees…
House Minority Leader Nancy ‘What VISA IPO?’ Pelosi!!
The Independent Sentinel: Nancy Pelosi was so very weasley this past week.
“I do not believe what happened the other night is a wave,” Pelosi said about the election, she described it as “an ebb tide.”
She can say any dumb thing she wants because the imbeciles who vote for her will continue to vote for her no matter what she says.
She went into a crazed rant about sexism and ageism last week because CBS news reporter Nancy Cordes asked her if she gave any thought to stepping down as the leader.
After she was asked the question, Nancy said, “What was the day,” she replied to Cordes, “when any of you said to Mitch McConnell when they lost the Senate three times in a row… ‘Aren’t you getting a little old, Mitch? Shouldn’t you step aside?’ ”
It’s “interesting that, as a woman, to see how many times that question is asked of a woman and how many times that question is never asked of Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi added.
The rant continued: “I was never on the front of Time magazine even though I was the first woman — wasn’t that a curiosity? Then the Republicans win and [House Speaker John] Boehner’s on the front of Time magazine. Mitch McConnell wins, he’s on the front of Time magazine… As a woman, it’s like, is there a message here?”
Best yet was her big lie about Jonathan Gruber.
She said she didn’t know him, but there is video of her referencing him in 2009.
President Barack Hussein Obama!
The Noisy Room: Barack Obama for his thuggish response when questioned if he has the lawful/Constitutional authority to sign an Executive Order giving Amnesty to at a minimum of 5 million illegal aliens and a more realistic estimate of 34 million:
Showing no signs of backing down, President Obama today strongly pushed back against critics questioning his authority to bypass Congress and act unilaterally to reform the nation’s immigration system.
“There is a very simple solution to this perception that somehow I’m exercising too much executive authority: pass a bill I can sign on this issue,” he said at a news conference at the conclusion of the G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia.
If Congress does act, Obama said, “Metaphorically, I’ll crumple up whatever executive actions that we take and we’ll toss them in the wastebasket because we will now have a law that addresses these issues.”
The president said he has received legal advice from his attorney general about the limits of his executive power to act on immigration, but would not comment further.
In other words, my way or no way. Amnesty will happen, according to the dictator, either by a bill he approves or by decree – his choice is no choice at all. It is a mafia-style threat. And you’ll find out if I have the authority when I do the dirty deed. A bigger weasel never scurried the earth.
Obama campaign manager David ‘Red Diaper’ Axlerod!!
The Right Planet: David Axelrod, who tweeted, “As one who worked hard to make ACA and its benefits clear, let me say: if you looked up ‘stupid’ in a dictionary, you’d find Gruber’s picture.” Huh. Imagine that – throw Gruber under that bus. An interesting comment coming from Axelrod, considering he was present with Jonathan Gruber at a July 20, 2012, meeting at the Oval Office where they discussed how to get around the CBO scoring of Obamacare.
Via ABC News:
“In addition to the president and Elmendorf, present in the meeting were White House officials such as Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Phil Schiliro, Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle, Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag (a former CBO director himself), National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Christy Romer, senior adviser David Axelrod, and press secretary Robert Gibbs.
Others were there as well, including Department of Health and Human Services adviser Meena Seshamani, Harvard University economist David Cutler and Alice Rivlin of the Brookings Institute, who was founding director of CBO from 1975-1983.”
Although the ABC piece did not mention Gruber by name, White House Logs show Jonathan Gruber entered the White House at the same time as David Cutler for the meeting in the West Wing.
When asked if Archie Bunker would be a member of the Tea Party today Lear said, “Archie would have denied the Tea Party. He would have started the coffee party. He was not a hater and that was the secret of Archie Bunker, he was not a hater. He was much more afraid of progress then he was um of a bigotry. Black people moving into the neighborhood, wait a minute that never happened before.”
Well, there it is! Are these worthy weasels or what? Check back Thursday to see which Weasel walks off with the statuette of shame!
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum.
And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.
It’s a weekly magazine of some of the best stuff written in the blogosphere and you won’t want to miss it… or any of the other fantabulous Watcher’s Council content.
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
In recent days the Obama administration has attempted to separate itself from MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber’s comments regarding the torturous way that Obamacare was written, and the “stupidity of the American voter.” Not to let President Obama’s signature achievement be sullied by potential bad press, President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and others have disavowed their connection to Gruber despite long, consistent government ties to the consultant.
The Daily Caller reports that “All told, Gruber has earned at least $5,893,100 for his work for federal and state governments,” with $4 million coming from the federal government since 2000. If Gruber’s a nobody, he’s a very well paid one. It’s a great example of how incredibly wasteful and careless government can be in respecting the hardworking taxpayer’s dollars.
“The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run,” contended President Obama during a press conference in Australia this past weekend. His administration is running scared about the optics that Gruber’s controversial comments have fostered just as the second enrollment period for the exchanges opens. He began his answer by saying, incredulously, “I just heard about this,” trying to pretend that this wasn’t a big deal among his staffers, though it had been in the news for nearly a week by that time.
Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post gave claims that Gruber earned nearly $400,000 from the Obama administration a “Geppetto Checkmark,” a rare certification of accuracy from the fact checker. “In any case, the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 has been lucrative for Gruber and his microsimulation model,” writes Kessler. “All told, he has been hired by at least eight states to provide advice or assist in creating the health-insurance exchanges that are at the heart of the Affordable Care Act: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.”
His contract with the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was a no-bid contract issued one month after Obama took office. It sure looks like they were ideological soul-mates. In an Obama-Biden campaign ad in 2012, Gruber was shown on camera saying that he helped President Obama develop his national version of that law.
CBS News, after mostly silence on this controversy, has published an article, titled “Why GOP Anger Over Jonathan Gruber’s Obamacare Comments is Justified.” It includes the following sentence: “In a video produced by the  Obama campaign celebrating the anniversary of ‘Romneycare,’ Gruber says, ‘I helped Gov. Romney develop his health care reform, or Romneycare, before going down to Washington to help President Obama develop his national version of that law.’” Smoking gun, anyone?
As I outlined in a recent article on this continuing fiasco, Gruber has consistently peddled misinformation about Obamacare, including the idea that King v. Burwell—which undercuts federal Obamacare subsidies and is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court—is based upon a debate about a “typo.” I argued that it is about a lot more than that: “This is not just about whether this lawsuit ‘guts’ Obamacare, but whether the law will be interpreted based upon its plain language…”
It is also ridiculous for the President to dismiss Gruber as an “adviser who was never on our staff,” a blatant disavowal that ignores how key Democrats during the debate over the bill referred consistently to Gruber’s work as a justification for Obamacare, according to The Washington Free Beacon. And here is a YouTube video of Gruber admitting he was in the room with President Obama when the Cadillac tax was just an idea.
It seems that some in the media aren’t swallowing Obama’s disavowals. “Official logs show he [Gruber] visited the White House about a dozen times between 2009 and this year,” reports Politico. Other reports have that number as 19 or 20. “Despite Obama’s dismissive tone toward Gruber, the President has acknowledged that some of his own statements about the law were ill-advised, in particular his repeated promises that if Americans liked their health care plans they could keep them.” PolitiFact labeled the President’s claim that you could keep your health insurance if you liked it the “Lie of the Year” for 2013.
As for the Cadillac tax, Gruber has said,
“Then our Senator, John Kerry, had a very clever idea. He said, ‘Let’s call it instead a tax on insurance companies and not a tax on insurance plans.’ So we’ll have what we call a Cadillac tax, which is any insurance benefit that costs more than $23,000 a year will have a tax on it. Now, you and I know, economists know, that that will just get passed on in the price of insurance. So, really, what it’ll mean is basically above $23,000 we’re taking away your tax break.”
Gruber’s presentation of Senator Kerry’s “very clever idea” falls in line with his characterization of the stupidity of the American voter—that Americans won’t realize until its too late that the rising cost of insurance will be passed onto them.
But according to some in the media, Gruber was just conveying normal Congressional log-rolling, pulling and hauling, and the American people should not be surprised by it. “Mr. Gruber was exposing something sordid yet completely commonplace about how Congress makes policy of all types: Legislators frequently game policy to fit the sometimes arbitrary conventions by which the Congressional Budget Office evaluates laws and the public debates them,” writes Neil Irwin for The New York Times. “In the case of the Affordable Care Act, that meant structuring the law so that the money Americans must pay the Internal Revenue Service if they fail to obtain health insurance under the law’s mandate is a penalty, not a tax.”
Similarly, Steve Benen writes for MSNBC that “policymakers were constantly trying to accommodate perceptions when drafting the proposal, avoiding even hints of controversy because they were terrified of political blowback. Lawmakers in both parties do this all the time on key issues.” He calls the Gruber story a “shiny object for the political world to stare at for a while.”
Yes, Americans are getting a rare view into the politics of how Washington, D.C. works with Gruber’s insights—but this type of behavior manifested by one’s political leaders should not be a media cause célèbre nor dismissed as business as usual.
Gruber also made false promises. “This bill is largely public financing of private health insurance expansion,” he said in 2010. “Of the 30 million who gain health insurance coverage, about 18 to 20 million gain it through private health insurance coverage and about 10 to 12 million gain it through Medicaid.” In reality, 71% of the first year’s enrollments can be attributed to Obamacare expanding Medicaid to able-bodied working adults, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal. How many more will enroll in Medicaid this year?
Yet Benen questons “…what deception? What exactly did we not know about the law before that we know now?”
The Gruber debacle is not a shiny object to distract the media and public from the successes of Obamacare, as Benen contends. Instead, it exposes the lies that were told about the law in order to sell it to the American people, the character and integrity of Barack Obama and the media that enable him, and the long-term consequences of Obamacare’s implementation.