Gaza into the Abyss

In the Washington Post yesterday, Charles Krauthammer had a column on the poor Palestinian family that got blown up on a beach in Gaza. After explaining that the explosion could not have been due to an Israeli shell fired in response to nearby rocket launches into Israeli neighborhoods, he writes,

Let’s concede for the sake of argument that the question of whether it was an errant Israeli shell remains unresolved. But the obvious question not being asked is this: Who is to blame if Palestinians are setting up rocket launchers to attack Israel — and placing them 400 yards from a beach crowded with Palestinian families on the Muslim Sabbath?

Answer: This is another example of the Palestinians’ classic and cowardly human-shield tactic — attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Palestinian civilians. For Palestinian terrorists — and the Palestinian governments (both Fatah and Hamas) that allow them to operate unmolested — it’s a win-win: If their rockets aimed into Israeli towns kill innocent Jews, no one abroad notices and it’s another success in the terrorist war against Israel. And if Israel’s preventive and deterrent attacks on those rocket bases inadvertently kill Palestinian civilians, the iconic “Israeli massacre” picture makes the front page of the New York Times, and the Palestinians win the propaganda war.

Krauthammer then goes on to ask exactly why terrorists in Gaza are bothering to launch rockets into Israel, since, y’know, Israel pulled out of Gaza and withdrew behind pre-1967 borders. He sums it up as the same mindset that I always ascribed to Arafat: it’s a lot easier to be a terrorist/victim than a statesman.

In my opinion, one of the key functions of the Israel’s withdrawal from the territories and construction of a wall — besides keeping Palestinians from homicide-bombing inside Israel’s new borders — is to force the Palestinian people to look at themselves as citizens of their own state. Quite early in the withdrawal, we began hearing stories that Palestinians were not happy that Yasser’s cousins had all the good jobs.

My buddy Mitch Prothero commented in a recent article that the foreign press isn’t interested in covering the civil war going on in Palestinian society. He doesn’t say explicitly that this is because it goes against the accepted narrative of the Palestinians as the oppressed victims of the Zionist conspiracy, but I think that’s a big part of it (another big part is that journalists don’t want to get shot at).

Just as Brendan O’Neill has brought up some very-difficult-to-stomach aspects of the genocides in Rwanda and Sudan in his recent columns, there are parts of every story that we gloss over to keep from facing the messiness of reality, or to keep from sullying the purity of our outrage.

Measure for Mermaid

If you’re in NYC and got a hankerin’ for some Shakespeare, former VM buddy John Castro (not-so-long story) is launching his new theater company tonight with Measure For Measure. Dates, times, location, tickets, etc. are at the Hipgnosis Theatre site.

I’m not planning on being there, for a variety of reasons. Opening night is out because I’m pretty stressed out from writing my Top 20 Pharma Companies report (nice job by Wyeth, not reporting that it’s fired 750 sales reps), and I’ll be probably be parked in front of the big screen to watch game 4 of Mavs-Heat. Also, I’ve never read M4M and I’m afraid to pick up another book while I still have 500 pages of The Power Broker remaining.

Besides, if I were to go into NYC tonight, it would be to catch ABC over at the Canal Room. Now That is one fine suit . . .

Maybe we’ll go next weekend, but our big excursion is likely going to be the Coney Island Mermaid Parade! I haven’t been to Coney Island since I was a little kid, and I’m usually away at conferences on parade weekend, so I’m hoping we get good weather and can get blisteringly drunk while watching my erstwhile favorite bartenderess try to win the Best Marching Group award (her group came in 2nd last year as the Mir-Maids).

I kinda doubt we’ll be in any Shakespeare mood after something like that, but hey.

Megaton

Foreign Policy looks at six megacities (pop. 10+ mil.) and why they might collapse.

Evidently, Mumbai’s weather is so bad, the city even gets hailstorms of criticism. (Thanks. I’ll be here all week.) But seriously: 37 inches of rain in 24 hours?

Update

Sorry I’ve been outta the loop, dear reader. I was just in one of those not-writing-so-much phases. I can’t afford to get caught in that for long, since I’ve gotta write profiles on the top 20 pharma & top 10 biopharma companies this month.

I’ve also been reading that Robert Moses biography pretty devotedly. Since it’s insanely long, I’ve been a little afraid of putting it down for a few days and losing my steam. It’s a phenomenal story, and the author’s just reached the point where all of Moses’ bridges and parkways are managing to create more traffic. The crux of the problem — Moses’ power-thirstiness — appears to be explained as a function of RM’s domineering mother and grandmother, which just sounds kinda boring. I’m hoping that Caro’s interpretation of RM’s personality gets a little more intricate, otherwise I’m afraid that NYC really is just a twisted child’s vision.

In other news, we went to a surprise 40th birthday party for my “big sister” (next-door neighbors who are more family to me than just about anyone beyond my immediate relations) on Saturday night. It was good to catch up with some of them, since we never get together, even though I still live next door to their house (where their mom lives). Just about all my “brothers and sisters” have kids now, so the evening was spent making sure they stayed out of trouble, got enough attention, and didn’t hear my gin-lubricated sailor-speaking mouth. It was good times.

We also discovered a good restaurant earlier in the day, while looking for a birthday present. It’s right across the street from one of the finest pizzerias in NJ, which I had to stare at while eating my rogan josh. It’s a tough life.

On the plus side, official VM buddy (and nearly VM wedding-officiant) Tom Spurgeon is coming to visit this week. We’ll watch the first game of the NBA finals Thursday night, maybe get to the Belmont (if he’s got an extra ticket for me) on Saturday, hit the MoCCA Art Festival on Sunday, and generally shoot the breeze, which I find to be a delightful and worthwhile pursuit.

Hot ticket

Here’s an article from Forbes about the roots of corrupt behavior. It explores the matter via the parking tickets unpaid by UN diplomats in NYC:

Scandinavian countries, which perennially rank among the least corrupt in the corruption index, had the fewest unpaid tickets [between 1998 and 2005]. There were just 12 from the 66 diplomats from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Almost all of these tickets went to one bad Finn.

Chad and Bangladesh, at the bottom of the corruption index, were among the worst scofflaws. They shirked 1,243 and 1,319 tickets, respectively, in spite of the fact that their UN missions were many times smaller than those of the Scandinavians.

The last time I heard about Chad and cars was when they fought with Libya and used Toyota pickups instead of tanks or APCs.

Find out what Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer decided to do about the problem.

Hoopage

Two neat basketball stories today. First, Chuck Klosterman wrote a neat piece on ESPN’s Page2 about how Phil Jackson will become a much better story once he’s gone through the abject failure of coaching the Lakers this year.

Americans don’t read very much, mostly because they don’t have to. But we still live in a staunchly literary world. We understand almost everything (and everyone) within the context of a narrative that’s written by circumstance and reality; each person’s history is a little story where they are the main character. As such, historical figures are remembered for the things they accomplish and the victories they win — if life were a movie, the collection of those achievements would comprise the plot. But people are always defined by their greatest failure. You learn very little about a man’s character from his success; truth exists only within adversity. And adversity is what Jackson needs to define himself as A Great Man; without it, he’s just a tall dude from Williston High School who won a lot of games with a lot of talent.

The other neat story? Why, it’s that Seattle Sonics center Reggie Evans missed a piece of the 3rd quarter of last night’s game against the Knicks because he was taking his drug test at halftime.

“I’ve been clean since I’ve been in the league, I’ve been clean since I’ve been in college, I’ve been clean since I’ve been in high school, middle school, elementary school,” Evans said. “I’m just cleaner than clean. I’m cleaner than Pine-Sol.”