Commentary Magazine


Topic: York

Burned Mosque Is a Mystery, Nearby Burned Synagogue Wasn’t

The New York Times reported today about a fire in a mosque in the Palestinian village of Luban al Sharqiya, but the point of the article wasn’t the tragedy of the conflagration but the theoretical possibility that a Jew was the arsonist.

The problem is, while there have been a few isolated incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Palestinian villages (and numerous, far-from-isolated instances of Palestinians attacking Jews in and around settlements), as the Times reports, there is absolutely no evidence that the mosque fire was started by a Jewish extremist and not even proof that arson started the fire. But that doesn’t stop Palestinians from making such accusations and using them as an excuse to avoid peace with Israel. Nor does anything prevent the Times from reporting unfounded accusations as though they were reasonable opinions.

But in reading about the mystery of the fire in the mosque in this village south of Nablus, one couldn’t help but remember the burning of another house of worship not far away. Less than 10 years ago, in the fall of 2000, a Palestinian mob, aided and abetted by Palestinian Authority “policemen,” attacked the Tomb of Joseph, a Jewish shrine and synagogue inside Nablus. The mob sacked the Jewish institution, desecrated sacred Jewish objects, and then burned it to the ground.

Neither at the time nor since have Palestinians apologized for that crime, although the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jews have apologized for the few instances where Jews have committed such an outrage. Nor did the Palestinian Authority apologize or help to rebuild the Tomb or restore Jewish worship to the place.

The fire at Luban al Sharqiya may be a mystery. What happened at the Tomb of Joseph was not. Nor was the burning of the synagogues left behind by the Jews in Gaza, committed by similarly bloodthirsty Arab mobs. While even the possibility of unprovoked Jewish violence against Arabs is deeply troubling, the cries of outrage from that Arab village and elsewhere among the Palestinians would have more credibility if they were just as outspoken in denouncing the hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of Arab violence against Jews in the territories that occur every year.

The New York Times reported today about a fire in a mosque in the Palestinian village of Luban al Sharqiya, but the point of the article wasn’t the tragedy of the conflagration but the theoretical possibility that a Jew was the arsonist.

The problem is, while there have been a few isolated incidents of Jewish extremists attacking Palestinian villages (and numerous, far-from-isolated instances of Palestinians attacking Jews in and around settlements), as the Times reports, there is absolutely no evidence that the mosque fire was started by a Jewish extremist and not even proof that arson started the fire. But that doesn’t stop Palestinians from making such accusations and using them as an excuse to avoid peace with Israel. Nor does anything prevent the Times from reporting unfounded accusations as though they were reasonable opinions.

But in reading about the mystery of the fire in the mosque in this village south of Nablus, one couldn’t help but remember the burning of another house of worship not far away. Less than 10 years ago, in the fall of 2000, a Palestinian mob, aided and abetted by Palestinian Authority “policemen,” attacked the Tomb of Joseph, a Jewish shrine and synagogue inside Nablus. The mob sacked the Jewish institution, desecrated sacred Jewish objects, and then burned it to the ground.

Neither at the time nor since have Palestinians apologized for that crime, although the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Jews have apologized for the few instances where Jews have committed such an outrage. Nor did the Palestinian Authority apologize or help to rebuild the Tomb or restore Jewish worship to the place.

The fire at Luban al Sharqiya may be a mystery. What happened at the Tomb of Joseph was not. Nor was the burning of the synagogues left behind by the Jews in Gaza, committed by similarly bloodthirsty Arab mobs. While even the possibility of unprovoked Jewish violence against Arabs is deeply troubling, the cries of outrage from that Arab village and elsewhere among the Palestinians would have more credibility if they were just as outspoken in denouncing the hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of Arab violence against Jews in the territories that occur every year.

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You Don’t Need to Be a Weatherman but It May Help

The supposedly rock-solid consensus among all thinking human beings about the impending catastrophe of global warming has taken another hit from an unlikely villain: your friendly local TV weather forecaster. According to a front-page feature in Monday’s New York Times, some of the biggest global-warming skeptics are precisely those people whom many Americans look to for insight about the weather. The Times reports that a study released this week by George Mason University and the University of Texas reveals that “only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was caused mostly by human activities.” This is very bad news for environmental extremists, since the public seems to trust the weather guys more than Al Gore.

Apparently there is a real split developing in the world of weather between climatologists and meteorologists, with the latter showing a remarkable disinclination to accept the claims of the former that the planet is melting. But the frame of reference of this piece, like so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of those who raise questions about the alarmist theories of global warming, is not to examine the views and the reasons of the skeptics. Instead, the point of the article is to view it as yet another unfortunate problem to be overcome on the road to eradicating heretical dissent from the global-warming orthodoxy of our time. And since the average American is more likely to hear about the weather from a TV weather forecaster than to be lectured by a climatologist, this is especially dangerous for a field that has been rocked by a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in the honesty and accuracy of global-warming advocates.

For the Times, the problem is primarily one of academic achievement. The climatologists who are promoting fear of global warming—and profiting handsomely from it—are generally affiliated with universities and tend to have advanced degrees whereas many meteorologists do not. For Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who works to promote global-warming hysteria at something called Climate Central, the problem is that the weathermen are just not smart enough to understand her field. Indeed, she says the claim that it will be hotter 50 years from now is as open and shut a case as asserting that August will be warmer than January. But if you think about it, it makes sense that those who work on a day-to-day basis with weather forecasts would have their doubts about computer models about the weather we will get 50 years from now. They know all too well how variable the climate can be and that efforts to project forecasts with certainty, especially those promising apocalyptic disasters, should be taken with a shovel-full of salt.

The response from climatologists is, of course, not to listen to the skeptics or take them seriously, even if the skeptics in question know a thing or two about the weather. Instead, as the Times pompously relates, what the global-warming crowd wants is more “education” and “outreach” designed to squelch doubts about their theories before the debate about the issue—and the dangerous “cap and trade” schemes to handicap our economy to supposedly avert a global-warming disaster—gets out of hand.

As Bob Dylan famously wrote, “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” But when it comes to bringing some common sense to the “climate change” debate, it apparently helps to be one.

The supposedly rock-solid consensus among all thinking human beings about the impending catastrophe of global warming has taken another hit from an unlikely villain: your friendly local TV weather forecaster. According to a front-page feature in Monday’s New York Times, some of the biggest global-warming skeptics are precisely those people whom many Americans look to for insight about the weather. The Times reports that a study released this week by George Mason University and the University of Texas reveals that “only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was caused mostly by human activities.” This is very bad news for environmental extremists, since the public seems to trust the weather guys more than Al Gore.

Apparently there is a real split developing in the world of weather between climatologists and meteorologists, with the latter showing a remarkable disinclination to accept the claims of the former that the planet is melting. But the frame of reference of this piece, like so much of the mainstream media’s coverage of those who raise questions about the alarmist theories of global warming, is not to examine the views and the reasons of the skeptics. Instead, the point of the article is to view it as yet another unfortunate problem to be overcome on the road to eradicating heretical dissent from the global-warming orthodoxy of our time. And since the average American is more likely to hear about the weather from a TV weather forecaster than to be lectured by a climatologist, this is especially dangerous for a field that has been rocked by a series of scandals that have undermined confidence in the honesty and accuracy of global-warming advocates.

For the Times, the problem is primarily one of academic achievement. The climatologists who are promoting fear of global warming—and profiting handsomely from it—are generally affiliated with universities and tend to have advanced degrees whereas many meteorologists do not. For Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who works to promote global-warming hysteria at something called Climate Central, the problem is that the weathermen are just not smart enough to understand her field. Indeed, she says the claim that it will be hotter 50 years from now is as open and shut a case as asserting that August will be warmer than January. But if you think about it, it makes sense that those who work on a day-to-day basis with weather forecasts would have their doubts about computer models about the weather we will get 50 years from now. They know all too well how variable the climate can be and that efforts to project forecasts with certainty, especially those promising apocalyptic disasters, should be taken with a shovel-full of salt.

The response from climatologists is, of course, not to listen to the skeptics or take them seriously, even if the skeptics in question know a thing or two about the weather. Instead, as the Times pompously relates, what the global-warming crowd wants is more “education” and “outreach” designed to squelch doubts about their theories before the debate about the issue—and the dangerous “cap and trade” schemes to handicap our economy to supposedly avert a global-warming disaster—gets out of hand.

As Bob Dylan famously wrote, “You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” But when it comes to bringing some common sense to the “climate change” debate, it apparently helps to be one.

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Memo to the White House: Check Out YouTube

As the health-care debate approached a climax in the Senate a few weeks ago, it became widely noted that the negotiations were going on behind closed doors, even though as a candidate, Obama had promised numerous times to put those negotiations on C-Span. His campaign promises were all over YouTube, but White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused even to discuss questions about the discrepancy.

Now, it seems the Obama administration is at it again. The lead story in today’s New York Times reports that Obama will call for a freeze on discretionary spending (excepting military spending, the Veterans Administration, homeland security, and foreign aid). Guess what his opinion of a spending freeze was during the campaign?

And the spending freeze he proposes would save what? Nick Gillespie at Reason, estimates, at most, $15 billion in fiscal year 2011. Compare that to the $1.4 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2009.

This is what Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously called “boob bait for bubbas.” The people have made it abundantly clear (as in last week’s Massachusetts Senate election) that they regard federal spending as out of control. So the Obama administration will toss the public a bone, knowing that it will be meaningless in size and easily evaded with special appropriations and other budget gimmicks.

The sheer cynicism is breathtaking, if not unexpected at this point. What is unexpected in this self-proclaimed post-modern administration is that Obama and his staff don’t seem to have realized yet that YouTube has changed everything. Yesterday’s newspapers, notoriously, were used to wrap fish, their content forgotten. Today’s news clip lives forever on the Internet.

As the health-care debate approached a climax in the Senate a few weeks ago, it became widely noted that the negotiations were going on behind closed doors, even though as a candidate, Obama had promised numerous times to put those negotiations on C-Span. His campaign promises were all over YouTube, but White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refused even to discuss questions about the discrepancy.

Now, it seems the Obama administration is at it again. The lead story in today’s New York Times reports that Obama will call for a freeze on discretionary spending (excepting military spending, the Veterans Administration, homeland security, and foreign aid). Guess what his opinion of a spending freeze was during the campaign?

And the spending freeze he proposes would save what? Nick Gillespie at Reason, estimates, at most, $15 billion in fiscal year 2011. Compare that to the $1.4 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2009.

This is what Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously called “boob bait for bubbas.” The people have made it abundantly clear (as in last week’s Massachusetts Senate election) that they regard federal spending as out of control. So the Obama administration will toss the public a bone, knowing that it will be meaningless in size and easily evaded with special appropriations and other budget gimmicks.

The sheer cynicism is breathtaking, if not unexpected at this point. What is unexpected in this self-proclaimed post-modern administration is that Obama and his staff don’t seem to have realized yet that YouTube has changed everything. Yesterday’s newspapers, notoriously, were used to wrap fish, their content forgotten. Today’s news clip lives forever on the Internet.

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