Hat Tip: Brian B.
Hat Tip: Jean Stoner
Isn’t this interesting?
And this should make you feel all warm and fuzzy…
Hat Tip: ContrairiMairi
United States of America
The Star Spangled Banner
Oh, say! can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution!
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“Political correctness is tyranny with manners.” – Charlton Heston
Hat Tip: Doris Wise Montrose
From: Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
We cannot forget that Israel is the West’s best ally in a turbulent region
By José María Aznar
former Spanish Prime Minister published in the British newspaper ‘The Times‘ on 17 June 2010
For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion.
In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship. In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organised a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.
In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN. Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.
Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances.
Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was attacked by its neighbours using the conventional weapons of war. Then it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks. Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.
Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.
For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.
The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.
The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation. It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East. Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.
Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down. To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders, requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.
The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith. To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.
This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people, including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual George Weigel.
It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we believe in diversity.
What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defence of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic error of the first magnitude.
Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.
José María Aznar was prime minister of Spain between 1996 and 2004.
From: The Israel Project
Ships from several countries, including Iran and Lebanon, have left or are planning to leave for Hamas-controlled Gaza in defiance of an Israeli maritime blockade on that territory.
Israel considers Gaza-bound convoys a security risk because of Hamas’ ongoing efforts to smuggle Iranian rockets and other weaponry into Gaza since the Iran-backed group overthrew the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in a bloody coup there in 2007. Israel Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin has said that a port in Gaza would “pose a huge security threat to Israel.”
Iran arms, funds and trains Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United States, Israel, Canada and Australia. Since Israel voluntarily withdrew from all of Gaza in August 2005 in hopes of paving the way for a peaceful, independent Palestinian state, Hamas has fired more than 6,500 rockets and mortars into Israel.
Reports about the new flotillas come in the aftermath of a May 31 Israeli campaign to prevent an illegal flotilla from reaching Gaza, in which nine activists – all Turks or of Turkish descent – were killed after passengers on board the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship in the convoy, attacked Israeli military personnel. Israel had ordered the vessels to dock in the southern Israeli port of Ashdod to unload the cargo for security inspections and subsequent delivery to Gaza. Despite the refusal of all six ships to detour to Ashdod, the Mavi Marmara was the only vessel where a violent confrontation took place.
Although two individuals coordinating the Lebanese convoy have denied they are receiving support from Hezbollah, another proxy of Iran, one of them has written in praise of the terrorist group’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and the other has met and thanked Nasrallah publicly. Nasrallah called for more ships to Gaza at a June 4 rally, stating that “only diplomacy which is built on strength and arms is effective.” Since the end of Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, the terrorist group has rearmed far beyond its pre-2006 capacity.
Following are details about new ships heading for Gaza, collected from published reports as of June 16, 2010.
- One Iranian ship left for Gaza June 12 from the Iranian port of Khorramshahr and plans to sail through Omani, Yemeni and Egyptian territorial waters before it tries to reach Gaza.
- Two Iranian ships organized by Iran’s Society for the Defense of Palestine are scheduled to depart shortly: one ship is named Toward Gaza and will set sail from the southern Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, while the other ship will leave from northern Iran and stop in Turkey before making its way to Gaza.
- Despite a previous statement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that it was willing to provide a naval escort to any additional aid ships wishing to reach Gaza, an IRGC commander and an official in charge of the ships both said June 14 that IRGC forces would not accompany the ships.
- An Iranian official in charge of the convoy said those aboard the ships “are willing to become martyred in this way.”
- Three members of the Majlis (Iran’s parliament) also intend to travel to Gaza by way of Egypt later this week.
- An Iranian ambassador recently threatened that “if the (Zionist) entity dares to direct any aggressive attack (against the ship) then it is certain [Israel] will be met by a much stronger and firm blow.”
- Two Lebanese organizations – Journalists without Borders and Free Palestine – are sponsoring the Naji Al Ali, with at least 50 journalists and 25 European volunteers on board, including European parliament members.
- Palestinian businessman and Free Palestine chairman Yasser Kashlak is funding the Naj Al Ali vessel, as well as an all-women’s ship, the Mariam. Kashlak has insisted he has no connection with Hezbollah, Hamas or Iran, but in 2009 Kashlak sent a letter to Nasrallah in which he wrote, “We ask Allah to extend your life and the lives of all who support Palestine and the noble resistance.” Additionally, in a blog post, Kashlak criticized Arab governments and media for failing to embrace Nasrallah’s self-proclaimed victory in Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel.
- Samar Hajj, who is organizing the Mariam, said the ship “has nothing to do with Hezbollah even though it is an honor for us to be supporters of the resistance.” She is the wife of Ali Hajj, a former Lebanese general imprisoned until recently for his suspected involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The couple met with Nasrallah three weeks ago to thank him for his support.
- A U.S.-based group, the Council for the National Interest Foundation, has asked its supporters to volunteer to join the Lebanese convoy.
- The Insani Yardim Vakfi, or “humanitarian relief fund” (IHH), the hardcore Turkish Islamist group that partly organized and funded the previous flotilla that included the Mavi Marmara, said it will send six more ships to Gaza in July. A 2006 study conducted by the Danish Institute for International Studies showed that the IHH was involved in planning an al-Qaeda attack against Los Angeles International Airport in 1999. The IHH reportedly acquired forged documents, enlisted operatives and delivered weapons to al-Qaeda in preparation for the attack, which was ultimately foiled.
- A German organization called Jewish Voices for a Just Peace is sponsoring a ship with 14 activists aboard, scheduled for departure in mid-July. According to the group’s spokeswoman, that vessel may be delayed because 40 additional German-Jewish activists wish to participate, requiring them to charter another ship. The port from which the ships plan to depart has not been announced.
- European leaders have reportedly reacted positively to Israel’s request that they take action to prevent Gaza-bound vessels from leaving European ports and forbid their citizens from participating.
“Freedom Fleet II”
- Free Gaza – the group that sponsored the flotilla intercepted by Israel May 31 – and Viva Palestina, a UK-based group, are planning another convoy of 10 – 15 ships, slated to leave for Gaza by October. One of the main organizers is Iyad el-Sarj, based in Norway.
Historically, ships bound for Gaza have carried tons of weapons among their cargo.
Examples of previous Gaza-bound ships carrying weapons:
- “Francop” (2009)
In November 2009 the Israeli Navy intercepted the “Francop,” a ship containing 320 tons of arms sent from Iran and destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Weaponry and ammunition were disguised as civilian cargo in the hundreds of containers the ship was transporting.
- “Abu Hasan” (2003)
On May 21, 2003 Israeli naval commandos intercepted a fishing boat, the Abu Hasan, sailing from Lebanon to Egypt carrying a Hezbollah explosives expert bound for Gaza. Also seized were CD discs with instructions on how to assemble bomb belts for suicide bombers, a radio-activation system for remote-control bombs and 25 detonators for Kassam rockets.
- “Karin A” (2002)
In January 2002 a ship carrying weapons intended for the Palestinian Authority was captured in the Red Sea by Israel’s Navy and Air Force. The boat’s cargo included 50 tons of advanced weaponry including Katyusha rockets, rifles, mortar shells, mines and a variety of anti-tank missiles. Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority were involved in the smuggling.
Ashkelon and other coastal cities would have been threatened by these Katyusha rockets if they reached Gaza.
- “Santorini” (2001)
On May 7, 2001 Israeli naval forces intercepted a Lebanese ship destined for Gaza, which contained anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank missile-launchers, RPG rockets, mortar shells, mines, rifles and guns. The shipment, some of which originated in Iran, had been loaded in Lebanon by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The Santorini and another boat, the Calypso-2, made three successful smuggling operations of which the first was in November 2000.
Hat Tip: Nancy Jacques
Hat Tip: Brian B.