TCR Note: Fox News contributor and columnist for the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer explains clearly what is going on in the Middle East. This is a must read for TCR subscribers.
"Next June will mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War. For four decades we have been told that the cause of the anger, violence and terror against Israel is its occupation of the territories seized in that war. End the occupation and the 'cycle of violence' ceases.
The problem with this claim was that before Israel came into possession of the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War, every Arab state had rejected Israel's right to exist and declared Israel's pre-1967 borders - now deemed sacred - to be nothing more than the armistice lines suspending, and not ending, the 1948-49 war to exterminate Israel.
But you don't have to be a historian to understand the intention of Israel's enemies. You only have to read today's newspapers.
- Exhibit A: Gaza. Just last September, Israel evacuated Gaza completely. It declared the border between Israel and Gaza an international frontier, renouncing any claim to the territory. Gaza became the first independent Palestinian territory in history. Yet the Gazans continued the war. They turned Gaza into a base for launching rocket attacks against Israel and for digging tunnels under the border to conduct attacks such as the one that killed two Israeli soldiers on June 25 and yielded a wounded hostage brought back to Gaza. Israeli tanks have now had to return to Gaza to try to rescue the hostage and suppress the rocket fire.
- Exhibit B: South Lebanon. Two weeks later, the Lebanese terror organization, Hezbollah, which has representation in the Lebanese parliament and in the cabinet, launched an attack into Israel on Wednesday that resulted in the deaths of eight soldiers and the wounding of two others, who were brought back to Lebanon as hostages.
What's the grievance here? Israel withdrew from Lebanon completely in 2000. It was so scrupulous in making sure that not one square inch of Lebanon was left inadvertently occupied that it asked the United Nations to verify the exact frontier defining Lebanon's southern border and retreated behind it. This "blue line" was approved by the Security Council, which declared that Israel had fully complied with resolutions demanding its withdrawal from Lebanon.
Grievance satisfied. Yet what happens? Hezbollah has done to South Lebanon exactly what Hamas has done to Gaza: turned it into a military base and terrorist operations center from which to continue the war against Israel. South Lebanon bristles with Hezbollah's 10,000 Katyusha rockets that put northern Israel under the gun. Fired in the first hours of fighting, just 85 of these killed two Israelis and wounded 120 in Israel's northern towns.
Over the past six years, Hezbollah has launched periodic raids and rocket attacks into Israel. Israeli retaliation has led to the cessation of these provocations - until the next time convenient for Hezbollah. Wednesday was such a time. One terror base located in fully unoccupied Arab territory (South Lebanon) attacks Israel in support of another terror base in another fully unoccupied Arab territory (Gaza).
Why? Because occupation was a mere excuse to persuade gullible and historically ignorant Westerners to support the Arab cause against Israel. The issue is, and has always been, Israel's existence. That is what is at stake.
It was Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization that convinced the world that the issue was occupation. Yet, through all those years of pretense, Arafat's own group celebrated its annual Fatah Day on the anniversary of its first attack on Israel, the bombing of Israel's National Water Carrier - on Jan. 1, 1965.
Note: 1965. Two years before the 1967 war. Two years before Gaza and the West Bank fell into Israeli hands. Two years before there were any 'occupied territories.'
But, again, who needs history? As the Palestinian excuses for continuing their war disappear one by one, the rhetoric is becoming more bold and honest. Just Tuesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, writing in The Washington Post, referred to Israel as "a supposedly legitimate state" ["Aggression Under False Pretenses," op-ed, July 11].
He made clear what he wants done with this bastard entity. "Contrary to popular depictions of the crisis in the American media," he writes, "the dispute is not only about Gaza and the West Bank." It is about "a wider national conflict" that requires the vindication of Palestinian national rights.
That, of course, means the right to all of Palestine, with no Jewish state. In the end, the fighting is about "the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967.
In 1967 Israel acquired the 'occupied territories.' In 1948 Israel acquired life. The fighting raging now in 2006 - between Israel and the "genocidal Islamism" (to quote the writer Yossi Klein Halevi) of Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran behind them - is about whether that life should and will continue to exist."
The U.S. Economy Doing Okay But World
Competition Affecting Incomes For Most People
And Rising Interest Rates Hurt
While the Bush tax cuts have prolonged the economic recovery and helped create a significant number of new jobs, there are clouds on the horizon!
While average incomes are up, incomes for most are not. This is occurring as pay levels at the top are soaring. (You know the CEO's are making huge money regardless of how the company is doing) but for most, wages are going down especially after considering true inflation. In 2006, weekly wages are down 2% for the year, astonishingly for 90% of the workers earning less than $184,800 per year. Median incomes fell 5% from 2001-2004.
Those with decreasing wages either have adjustable rate mortgages and/or hone equity loans and face higher payments and lower equity as house values and incomes drift lower. This all spells future potential economic trouble. Coupled with the nonexistent savings rates means our economy is fragile at best.
TCR's advice: Save at least 10% of your income via a payroll deduction plan so you "automatically save." Pay off your credit cards monthly (don't charge what you can't afford) and reduce your debts to an affordable level.
Palestinians Determined To Destroy Israel
By Thomas L. Friedman
Israel has evacuated Gaza, and what does Hamas do? It doesn't put all its energy into building a nest for its young there - a decent state and society, with jobs. Instead, it launches hundreds of rockets into Israel. The Palestinians could have a state on the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem tomorrow, if they and the Arab League clearly recognized Israel, normalized relations, and renounced violence. But those driving Palestinian politics seem determined to destroy Israel in its territory - even if it means destroying themselves in their own territory.
TCR Comment: Friedman is a liberal commentator but nails it here. How many chances do the Arabs get? It takes a willing partner to have peaceful relations. Maybe they will wake up.
The State Property Tax Cut:
The More We Look At It, The More It Gets
As we peel the onion of the school property tax cuts just passed, we discover more bad news. Nothing has been done on city, county, MUD and junior college taxes. Nothing was done to lower the cap on valuation increases despite homeowner demands. Now we discover the legislature encouraged school districts around the state to raise their rates by 4 cents per $100 valuation and even gave them a bonus from the state to encourage them to do so. In the case of Houston, it would be a $12 million bonus!
Some local school officials have said it puts local school boards in line to feel the wrath of taxpayers for increasing taxes. In Houston, the call to action by the Harris County GOP and its Chair Jared Woodfill generated enough heat in Houston to slow down the rush to increase taxes. Good work, but they need to finish. The real problem is paying a cash bonus to encourage tax increases, who are they kidding?
The homeowners of Texas pay some of the highest property tax rates in the U.S. and it's time to get control of them or Texas will start losing the attractiveness we have for business. As housing becomes unaffordable, where do employees live? The pittance of property tax reduction for homeowners just won't make a big difference because valuations are running through the roof. How do you like being taxed on unrealized capital gains?
By Contributing Editor Ed Check
Allow me a couple of quick observations about the media analysis of the recent Supreme Court redistricting decision. This is an especially hot topic in Austin where the liberals are in a constant tizzy about being represented by three members in congress instead of one liberal one. Apparently, this is the wrong kind of diversity.
First, how are the rights of Latinos denied because a man named Henry Bonilla was elected to congress (a man of Hispanic ancestry I am told!)? Is it because he is not a member of the liberal justices’ preferred political party? I guess Clarence Thomas knows that feeling, but let’s not even get started on this one.
Instead let me explore a second observation.
I’m getting rather fed-up with a lot of the comments about the way congressional districts are drawn in Texas. The one that really gets my goat is: what do people (usually Latinos) in Austin have in common with people on the border? Pardon my World Cup French, but what a bunch of crap! It’s obvious what all voters have in common—they all want a member in Congress who will work hard and make decisions based on good judgment. They send a representative to D.C. to advocate for fair trade practices, a strong national defense, good highways, secure borders, good economic policies, low taxation, efficient government, fair business regulation, good education policies, a clean environment, etc. What person in any part of the state doesn’t want these things? Is it not possible that a family in Austin and a family in McAllen have similar hopes and dreams—isn’t that why we call it the American dream?
Congressional districts are drawn in accordance with the constitution to contain a certain amount of population. Since the time when the founding fathers came up with this excellent method of representation, most districts have had to cover wide geographic areas. Many districts in Texas have always encompassed large territories (it’s a big state, but maybe they don’t teach that in our government schools anymore). Oh, here’s another interesting fact: seven states send only one member to the U.S. House of Representatives. Do people in western Montana think they have nothing in common with people in eastern Montana?
In fact there is even a benefit to having large districts with diverse populations in them. It broadens the perspective of the representative and requires him to consider issues from a variety of angles.
The whole thing is ridiculous when you stop to think about it. Is the only purpose of a legislator to bring home pork barrel projects to his district so the various towns in the district can argue with each other over about who deserves what? Of course not. We send representatives to Congress to debate ideas and principles that must be enacted into law. We all want somebody who is going to study the issues and represent us well and not merely serve his own financial interests.
We all have a lot in common no matter where we live. The drawing of congressional districts is by definition a partisan project with “winners” and “losers”—always has, always will be. But let’s try not to make it worse with insulting rhetoric about only people of the same skin color can have the same concerns and therefore can only be represented by someone of the same race. I know we understand that even if the mainstream media refuses to.
COMING - (Friday, July 28, 2006 at 8 pm) to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - the connection - Red, White & Blue featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones with guest Senator John Cornyn.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.