Wednesday, August 16

'Al-Qaida: 5 City Gas Attack' (Speculative fiction from a parallel universe)

Andrew Sullivan (one of many fascinating reads) in New York magazine on "What if 9/11 Never Happened?"

(...) To recap: We now have reports of up to 30 separate gas attacks in subway systems in New York, D.C., Moscow, and London, and a shower of chemical-tipped rockets directly into Tel Aviv from somewhere in the Syrian-controlled part of Lebanon.

October 23, 2006, 10:36 a.m.
AMERICA ATTACKED—that’s the headline on Drudge. world attacked would be more accurate. Write this date down now: October 23, 2006. It’s the day we finally slipped into the reality of the world many of us have feared for several years now. The Islamofascists—maybe that term won’t be so stigmatized in polite circles any longer—have struck.

The synchronization—five Western cities, if you include Tel Aviv and Moscow, within one hour of each other—suggests a sophisticated operation. There are poignant reports on CNN of text messages sent from the subway cars in the few minutes before the gas killed the passengers. They finish mid-sentence. London seems to be the worst hit so far. Given that the attacks happened at rush hour, and we don’t even know how many there were—ten? Twenty? The BBC is sticking to “more than a dozen”—it’s impossible to know how many people may have died. I’m seeing experts on Fox saying the swiftness of the deaths suggests cyanide. But how were the chemical weapons unleashed? Maybe we’ve just seen the first suicide bombings in the West.

An important read.

(Hat tip: The New Steve Silver Net)

Israel's broken heart

Yossi Klein Halevy is telepathic. Either that, or he stands in the same check out lines that I do at the supermarket, shuk and bank. I cannot think of one Israeli who I've met in the last few weeks who isn't bewildered over the handling and outcome by the government of this war. And, to read the press, certainly not only on the right.

In The New Republic, Klein writes:
This is a nation whose heart has been broken: by our failure to uproot the jihadist threat, which will return for another and far more deadly round; by the economic devastation of the Galilee and of a neighboring land we didn't want to attack; by the heroism of our soldiers and the hesitations of our politicians; by the young men buried and crippled in a war we prevented ourselves from winning; by foreign journalists who can't tell the difference between good and evil; by European leaders who equate an army that tries to avoid civilian causalities with a terrorist group that revels in them; by a United Nations that questions Israel's right to defend itself; and by growing voices on the left who question Israel's right to exist at all.
Sitting with a close friend at a Jerusalem coffee shop last night, I watched from across the table as her son, who serves in the Armor Corps and was in battles in Lebanon, called her to say he was back in Israel - but not coming home for Shabbat.

She immediately asked him to pass the phone to his commander, so she could convince him to give her son a break after such hellish experiences
(only in Israel...):

"He can't come to the phone, mom."

"Why not?"

"Well, he's not here."

"Where is he?"

"He's been at funerals all day of soldiers in the unit."

Ashen-faced, she replied, "This is not a conversation for the telephone..."


(...) Still, in the Jewish calendar, the summer weeks after the fast of the Ninth of Av, commemorating the destruction of the Temple, are a time of consolation. "Be consoled, be consoled, my people," we read from the Torah on the Sabbath after the fast. And so we console ourselves with the substantial achievements of the people of Israel during this month of war.

First, our undiminished capacity for unity. My favorite symbol of that unity is the antiwar rapper, Muki, whose hit song during the era of Palestinian suicide bombings lamented the absence of justice for the Palestinians but who, this time, insisted that the army needs to "finish the job" against Hezbollah. Second, our middle-class children, with their cell phones, iPods, and pizza deliveries to their army bases. In intimate combat, they repeatedly bested Hezbollah fighters, even though the terrorists had the advantage of familiar terrain.

This generation has given us some of Israel's most powerful images of heroism, like the soldier from a West Bank settlement and father of two young children who leaped onto a grenade to save his friends, shouting the Shema--the prayer of God's oneness--just before the grenade exploded. Along with the recriminations, there will be many medals of valor awarded in the coming weeks.

So moving. So right. So go sign in and read the rest.

(Hat Tip: An Unsealed Room)


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