Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dez Reviews Stephen Stills, Live at Shepherd's Bush, 2009

Stephen Stills is one of the most frustrating musicians to follow. He is one of my favorite musicians, and was a prodigiously talented songwriter, guitarist, singer and all around musical visionary. He managed to outshine Neil Young while they were in Buffalo Springfield together, and was the leader and most talented of the law firm Crosby, Stills & Nash when they were in their prime. But somewhere around the mid-70’s he lost his way and never really regained his footing. Ego, excess and perhaps creative exhaustion stalled a career that seemed destined to rival that of his on again/off again musical partner Neil Young. Stills has not been able to write consistently good music since the mid-1970’s, and out of all of his CSNY comrades, the years have probably been the least kind to Stills. As much of a legendary junkie as Crosby was, at least the Cros still possesses some killer pipes. Stills, on the other hand, has lost that beautiful range that he used to have. His voice is now a scratchy, strained howl. He has been in as bad shape as Crosby has been in recent decades, often showing up to gigs out of shape and drunk. Even his once peerless guitar playing has suffered in the last couple of decades.

Therefore, I wasn’t too excited when I heard that he had a new live record coming out that he wanted to act as a sort of career overview. The only thing that got me somewhat interested was that it was to be split evenly between acoustic and electric halves, just like his other live release, the killer 1975 Live.

But it is still Stills, so I had to give him a shot. What a great thing when your expectations are low, and then they are pleasantly and greatly exceeded. This live record is a triumph of sorts for Stills. Perhaps it is because he knows this show is being recorded for posterity, he seems particularly focused. The setlist is well chosen, hitting most of the phases of his remarkable career. He hits highlights from Buffalo Springfield (“Rock and Roll Woman,” “Bluebird” and “For What It’s Worth”) to CSN (“4+20” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”) to Manassas (“Johnny’s Garden,” “Isn’t It About Time”) and various solo highlights like “Treetop Flyer,” “Change Partners” and “Love The One You’re With.” In addition, he throws in some well chosen covers, like Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country” and Tom Petty’s “Wrong Thing To Do.”

ABOVE: Stephen Stills might be fat, old and out of shape, but he can still kick your ass on the guitar

He is especially chatty during the acoustic set, introducing his classic drug smuggler tale “Treetop Flyer” with “This is dedicated to some of Crosby’s friends…before they knew that they could grow it themselves…” and even acknowledging his age before “4+20” with “I will go ahead and sing the original lyrics, because “3+60” doesn’t have the same ring to it.” It was also interesting to hear him discuss “Johnny’s Garden,” I did not know that it was based on the same gardener that Peter Sellers based his film Being There on. Stills evidently bought the house from a friend who had bought it from Sellers in London and the gardener “came with the house.”

The centerpiece here is his epic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The song has been a curse of sorts for him to perform in recent years. Be careful writing classic songs in your youth that require vocal gymnastics, because your fans will still expect you to hit those notes 30 years later. I’ve seen CSN live quite a few times over the years, and Stills always struggles vocally with several lines of this song (to an embarrassing extent at times), with Crosby and Nash helping to cover for him with their still strong harmonies. So he’s gonna try it solo here? You can tell even he is hesitant to try it. He plays around with the guitar line for a little bit and then says “I’m just playing around here so I can figure out whether I really want to do this one…” What a revelation this rendition is. Free from the shackles of the tight three part harmonies of the original song, alone Stills is finally able to adjust and play with the vocal lines to fit what he can now do. This is a strong, exciting rendition, and is the most natural I’ve ever heard him sing it (and I’ve heard him do it many times). During the guitar solo section, he unleashes some lightning fast lines that remind us just how great he is on the instrument. Untouchable on the acoustic guitar.

The electric set is not quite as thrilling as the acoustic, but has its charms. His electric playing is muscular and he stretches out and solos in exciting fashion throughout. I especially like what he does with “Rock and Roll Woman.” The original was a bright, chiming pop gem with gorgeous harmonies (I always like to say that “Rock and Roll Woman” is the best Byrds song by someone other than The Byrds). But here Stills dirties it up and turns the once chiming pop tune into a gritty rock anthem. Great stuff. While his guitar playing is excellent throughout, some of the electric set has a certain sameness about it, especially on the rather tired rendition of “For What It’s Worth.” Also, where he was careful and able to work with vocal subtleties in the solo acoustic set, during the electric set at times he is really straining his voice.

Minor complaints aside, this is a triumphant set from Stills. It shows that while he’s been a bit battered, worn and torn, he has survived and still has some of his gifts and can offer us some great music.

***1/2 out of *****

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dez Reviews Adventureland, 2009

Coming of age comedy/dramas are plentiful in movieland, but they are difficult to pull off with authenticity. Adventureland is one of the best of the genre that I've ever seen. Released earlier this year, it is now available on DVD. It sort of came and went under the radar, but it deserves more attention.

Adventureland was marketed all wrong, first of all. As you can see at the top of the movie poster above, it is "from the director of Superbad," and the previews all focus on comedic moments that lose much of their charm and humor out of the context of the film. Based on the preview, you might expect Porky's for the 2000's, but what you get is a sincere, touching (and often humorous) love story.

James (a wonderful Jesse Eisenburg, who was also great in Zombieland) has just graduated from college with a not very useful degree in comparative literature. Thinking that he is about to join his buddies on a summer trip through Europe before starting grad school at Columbia, his plans change when his family falls on hard financial times and he instead has to get a summer job to make some money for grad school. After some funny scenes featuring James being rejected by a host of employers ("I'm a college graduate but apparently I'm not qualified to drive a cement truck"), he settles for a job at the local amusement park. Predictably, he meets and befriends a host of oddball co-workers. He is soon smitten by co-worker Emily (a sly and seductive Kristen Stewart).

ABOVE: Emily (Kristin Stewart) and James (Jesse Eisenburg) spend their summer working at Adventureland, smoking pot and falling in love

The film works for several reasons. First, it captures youthful passion, confusion, love and lust like the best John Hughes films. The performances are all spot on, with many memorable supporting characters (among my favorites is Ryan Reynolds as park repairman/alleged part-time musician/male whore Mike, who claims to everyone who will listen that he once jammed with Lou Reed, but when pressed by James for details, can't even correctly name most of Lou's tunes). Secondly, it takes place in the summer of 1987, and captures the era wonderfully. (There is great use of Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus," for instance). The soundtrack is awesome throughout, The Raplacements's "Unsatisfied" is my new favorite song. But the film mostly works due to the chemistry between the awkward but smart James and the wild child Emily. You sincerely pull for these two to make it.

This is a wonderful coming of age film that sticks with you long after the credits roll.

**** out of *****

BELOW: "James? Am I pronouncing that right?"

"Selling England By the Pound..."

You think Peter Gabriel is a little weird these days? Check out this clip from 1973. In honor of Genesis's long overdue nomination to the Rock Hall of Fame, I went on YouTube and found some great Gabriel-era clips of Genesis. Here's a favorite, "Dancing With the Moonlit Knight." This clip is so old, Phil Collins actually has hair...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's a...

As most of my loyal readers know, I am scheduled to be a father at the beginning of March. My wife and I went to the doctor on Monday for the big sonogram where they tell us the sex of the child. As we were looking at the sonogram picture, I noticed a huge, long, snake-like object between my child's legs. It was massive. When you consider the relative size of this thing with the body of the child, it would dwarf Dirk Diggler. Pride swelled inside of me that we would have such a well-endowed son with a bright future in the porn industry. Dollar signs were dancing in my head as my eyes bulged with awe...but the doctor then told us that what we were looking at was the umbilical chord stuck between the kid's legs. Oh. OK.

It's a girl. Very exciting. I wanted a daughter. Today in class I told my students that we were having a girl and so I projected the website on the board and I asked for name suggestions. I quickly dismissed the suggestions of "Cookie" and "Candy" as "stripper names," which they found funny. Someone suggested Loquishia. But by and large they gave me some good suggestions.

I told them that we, so far, had "Ella" and "Julia" as frontrunners (and my wife is also pushing "Alana"). My wife's name is Nicolyn, and her mother is named Rosalind, and my sister's middle name is "Lynn", so I think we've decided to definitely have "Lynn" in the middle. I really like Ella Lynn. That's got a nice ring to it. But a downside to that is, according to, Ella is the 10th most popular female name this year. There is a flood of Ellas hitting the market. But it seems to really work for me. Thoughts?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fantasy Basketball Draft '09

Just finished my yearly ritual of sitting in front of my computer for hours in my Dikembe Mutombo Rockets jersey participating in my Fantasy Basketball draft. I've been playing in this league for about 5 or 6 years now with these other 10 guys. I've got to say that I'm pretty damn happy with my team this year. For those in the fantasy know, we play a rotisserie league that counts points, threes, rebounds, blocks, steals, assists, turnovers, field goal % and free throw %.

I ended up getting the 7th pick (out of 11 players) for the first round, and I picked Danny Granger. That is ridiculous that he was still available at the 7th pick. In my view he should be 4th or 5th (toss up between Granger and Durant at those spots). Granger doesn't have the name recognition of Lebron or Wade, but as far as fantasy numbers go, he is almost as valuable as they come. He basically is the Pacers offense. Last season he averaged over 2 threes a game and 1.5 blocks per game! That is a crazy combo. He averaged almost 26 points a game last season and was playing injured. So that should go up, if anything.

ABOVE: My pick in the first round this season was Danny Granger

After that, my picks went in this order through the rounds: Chauncey Billups (freakin' Deron Williams was picked two spots ahead of my second pick...argh!), Gerald Wallace, Kevin Martin, Andrew Bynum (I'm a bit nervous about picking him, but it was the fifth round and I needed a center), Al Horford (very happy getting him here in the 6th round), Andre Miller, Wilson Chandler (he should be fun to own this year), Luol Deng, Shaq (he will be on my bench most of the season, but this late in the draft, why the hell not? Maybe last season wasn't a fluke, and he will have Lebron feeding him passes), Andrei Kirelenko, Courtney Lee and Yi Jianlian (who I promptly dropped after the draft and picked up Antonio McDyess off the wire in his place).

So, what do you think? I'm pretty happy with the team considering 11 of us were picking in the draft.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The 12 Miraculous Days of Obama

Our president, Saint Barack Hussein Obama, has joined such important historical leaders as Yasser Arafat (a terrorist) and former president Jimmy Carter (a failed president in every way) as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Not only that, but he did it in record time. The nominations for the Nobel Prize were due by February 1, 2009. Therefore, Obama was nominated for the award 12 days after taking office. I will repeat that: 12 days after taking office.

What did he accomplish in those twelve miraculous days? provided this handy itinerary of Obama's first two weeks in office. I reproduce it here for your convenience:

January 20: Sworn in as president. Went to a parade. Partied.

January 21: Asked bureaucrats to re-write guidelines for information requests. Held an “open house” party at the White House.

January 22: Signed Executive Orders: Executive Branch workers to take ethics pledge; re-affirmed Army Field Manual techniques for interrogations; expressed desire to close Guantanamo Bay

January 23: Ordered the release of federal funding to pay for abortions in foreign countries. Lunch with Joe Biden; met with Tim Geithner.

January 24: Budget meeting with economic team.

January 25: Skipped church.

January 26: Gave speech about jobs and energy. Met with Hillary Clinton. Attended Geithner's swearing in ceremony.

January 27: Met with Republicans. Spoke at a clock tower in Ohio.

January 28: Economic meetings in the morning, met with Defense secretary in the afternoon.

January 29: Signed Ledbetter Bill overturning Supreme Court decision on lawsuits over wages. Party in the State Room. Met with Biden.

January 30: Met economic advisers. Gave speech on Middle Class Working Families Task Force. Met with senior enlisted military officials.

January 31: Took the day off.

February 1: Threw a Super Bowl party.

Ah yes. Now I can see. Now I understand why Obama deserved to be lauded for his efforts at securing peace in our time after a mere 12 days in the White House.

Now, according to the very important Norwegians who dispense this honor, Obama represents a new hope for our future. He has tried to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the Middle East, clean up the environment and change the American unilateral ways. But what has he actually done? What concrete accomplishments do we have? We are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. No significant carbon emissions reduction legislation has been passed. The actual number of nuclear weapons has not gone down. Can we say "premature?" Former Polish president Lech Walesa and 1983 Peace Prize winner can. In fact, Walesa's reaction was "So soon? Too early. He has no contribution so far...This is probably an encouragement for him to act. Let's see if he perseveres." So once again, Obama is being praised for what he "represents" and what he is expected to accomplish. Forget the fact that he has not actually done much of anything.

The official list of other nominees will not be released for another 50 years, but we do know that there were a total of 205 nominees. Perhaps these were also all people with potential, or did they actually do something? We will only know when the list is released. I think that I will write a book. I promise that it will be amazing. Perhaps they should go ahead and give me the Nobel Prize for Literature now. It will be a great book, I promise.

It seems clear, most of all, that Obama won for who he is not. This was a repudiation of the Bush administration more than anything else.

I think the reaction from several of my students today when we discussed this in class says it all: "But he hasn't done anything!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2010 Nominees

I know that you have all been breathlessly awaiting the announcement of the nominees for the RRHoF's Class of 2010. The secretive Committee has released a list of 12 nominees, 5 of which will be voted in by the Rockhall members (about 500 musicians, critics, producers, and music experts) as the Class of 2010. I must say, this is an eclectic list. There are some definite surprises here too, considering the prejudices that exist on the Committee.

The nominees are: ABBA, The Chantels, Jimmy Cliff, Genesis, The Hollies, KISS, LL Cool J, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Stooges and Donna Summer.

As a reminder: a band or artist is eligible 25 years after their first release of album or single.

ABOVE: After years of being snubbed, fierce advocacy by the KISS Army (including a march on the Rock Hall museum in Cleveland a couple of years ago) and equally fierce resistence by sworn KISS enemies on the Rock Hall Nominating Committee, KISS is finally nominated for possible induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Hmm. They seem to be covering a lot of bases this time out. Generally there are 8 or 9 nominees, but this time there are 12. They cover pop, disco, reggae, prog rock, classic rock, hard rock, rap, girl groups, singer songwriter, alternative, proto punk. Overall, I'm impressed and happy with this year's nominees.

Two of the most overlooked bands who have sworn enemies on the Committee finally managed to get nominated: Genesis and KISS. I recall Dave Marsh swearing that he will do everything in his power to make sure KISS never gets nominated, and considering his sway on the Committee, I am pleasantly shocked that they finally made it. Perhaps James Hetfield's scolding of the nominating Committee at last year's induction of Metallica and his specifically mentioning KISS as one of the most egregious omissions had an effect?

Love them or hate them, Genesis' continued snubbing has been equally ridiculous. The Committee has a long standing hatred of all things prog rock (King Crimson, Yes, Moody Blues, ELO have all yet to get a single nomination). Perhaps the prog rock door is finally opening beyond Pink Floyd? Cool.

ABOVE: Genesis finally gets a shot at broadening the Rockhall's prog rock contingent beyond just Pink Floyd. Peter Gabriel (right) should already be in twice by now, once with Genesis and secondly for his solo career. But this nomination is a start. This is the best line-up of Genesis, by the way. When Phil Collins (bottom Left) was just the drummer.

Grandmaster Flash and Run-DMC are the only rappers in so far, so LL Cool J is the next hesitant nomination in that regard (Afrika Bombaada and Beastie Boys have been nominated, but not inducted). The Chantels and Darlene Love show that the Committee still hangs on to the Fifties and early Sixties, even though they have already inducted almost all of the worthy acts from that era by now. They seem to keep holding on to that era as a way of avoiding moving into the early 80's. While The Police, REM and Pretenders are in, bands like The Cure, Sonic Youth, The Smiths and Depeche Mode are eligible, but have not been nominated at all.

The Hollies are pretty minor league, but they have many influential boosters on the Committee like Elvis Costello and Steve Van Zandt who have been pushing them for years. Crosby (Byrds, CSN), Stills (CSN, Buffalo Springfield) and Young (solo, Buffalo Springfield) are all inducted twice, so I guess they want to complete the circle by giving Graham Nash his second induction as a member of The Hollies. But, I kind of dig The Hollies, so I would not be too upset to see them inducted. There are simply much more deserving bands who have yet to make it in, much less even get nominated.

ABBA and Summer, although I'm not a fan of the genre, are both deserving disco-era representatives who could join The Bee Gees, who are already in the Hall. Seeing as Bob Marley is the only reggae artist in the Hall so far, I'd like to see the great Jimmy Cliff get in as well. Nyro represents the token obscure singer-songwriter nominee, but I don't see her having much of a chance with this year's competition. The RHCP's get a nomination their first year of eligibility, which is rare. Deserving though. And The Stooges are nominated again. Maybe the 9th time will be the charm (hey, it took Black Sabbath 8 nominations to finally get in).

The fun part is predicting.

First, if I had a vote, my five out of this list would be:

Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Stooges
The Hollies or Jimmy Cliff (I'm having trouble deciding on my fifth slot)

Who do I think will actually be inducted from this list? That is tough because it is longer than usual and more eclectic than usual. There will be some serious vote splitting this year. Most of the voters are older, so that is important to consider. But they are making a concerted effort to make up for some past omissions, so that is equally important to consider. I guess the following will be inducted:

The Hollies
Donna Summer

I am not confident in that prediction at all, by the way. It could go any way this year. The Inductees will be announced in January.

Thoughts? Predictions?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Netanyahu's UN Speech

Below is the transcript to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at the UN from a week or so ago. Pretty remarkable speech in my view. If only our own president had this type of fortitude and sense of purpose. The answers to many of Netanyahu's questions to the UN will, unfortunately, be 'no.' When has the UN ever stood firm in the face of real challenges for what is right?

"Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland. I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events. Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments. Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie? This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie?

And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie? One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife's grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state. What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization. It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day. Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially. It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world's most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism? Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.

We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way. Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice.

Delegates of the United Nations, will you accept this farce? Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here's why.

When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy? What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country - of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty! Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen, all of Israel wants peace. Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein. And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it.

We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more." These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.

We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland. As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity. But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don't want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv. We want peace.

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the "confirmed unteachability of mankind," the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them. Churchill bemoaned what he called the "want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.” I speak here today in the hope that Churchill's assessment of the "unteachibility of mankind" is for once proven wrong.

I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history -- that we can prevent danger in time.

In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come."