Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Busy-busy Russia

What's that old tried-and-true formula? The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Right, that's it. And isn't it true, so very often.

So sad, after all. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the world breathed a collective sigh of disbelief and relief that the Cold War was at last put to rest, there was a breathtakingly-welcome rapprochement between the United States and Russia.

Fear and loathing given a rest. And all of us thought we were home free. No longer any need to beef up our armed forces, so downsize, fellas, downsize like crazy. The world has at last come to its collective senses. Threat of mutual annihilation gone.

Didn't last all that long, after all, for good fella back slaps to transmute to bad vibes. And there, we're almost back where we started. A very chilly diplomatic, political, socially-destabilizing environment has reasserted itself.

Once again the United States and Russia are at loggerheads. Russia has had her feelings hurt, she has suffered umbrage, an attack against her pride. Humiliation does not sit well on the Slavic head, and the injured heart of the people. No one likes to be taken for granted, to be ignored, to be the subject of ridicule and contempt.

All of which were visited in one degree or another on the Russian spirit, and by none other than through ingrate former satellites, by a larger Europe, and most of all by America. Insufferable, all the more so when a resurgent Russia is able to flex its new-built muscle.

So then, if the US is alarmed about the Iranian potential to wreak havoc in the Middle East, a geography where influence is hotly contested between the US and Russia (among others), then support of Iran by Russia becomes imperative.

And if America's protege in the Middle East, Israel, is harshly threatened by terrorist jihadist Hamas, then Russia sees its way through to cuddling up with Hamas. Islamist threat? Not to Russia, that devil's role is played by Chechnya and Russia does not make nice with them. So where were we? Oh yes, Russia making nice to the enemies of her nemesis.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov made haste to state his government's recognition of Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, lining up with the rest of Europe, North America and other influential states. Still happy to snub Israel, however. Offering no support equally to each of the adversaries. Still, it's comforting to know that Hamas has been put on the back burner.

And moving right along to that other trouble spot, it is being revealed that Russia intends to supply Iran with new fighter jets and aerial fuel tankers, valued at roughly one billion dollars. Kindly Russia is ensuring that Iran's air force will now be equipped with advanced and long-range aircraft and with new refueling capacity, extending their range by thousands of kilometers.

This, after Russia's pungent annoyance with Iran after defaulting on payments meant to be extracted for Russia's invaluable assistance in helping Iran set up her nuclear facilities. And after Russia icily withdrew her scientific expertise, ruffled at unpaid expenses.

Can we imagine France or Great Britain deciding to be helpful to Ukraine or one of the 'Stans, still feeling kind of mean-spirited about Russia's having captured their independence for its greater hegemony and resource-rapine during the stern era of the USSR? Russia might feel rather put upon under those circumstances.

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Oh dear, I misspoke myself, meant to ask what came first the American declaration of armaments support to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel, or Russia's declared counterweight offer to Iran?

With these giants fulminating against one another and hedging bets, supplying the wherewithal for cataclysmic destruction nicely removed from their geographies, the games of war proceed.

These tit-for-tat responses may occur as a proxy war situation, but in the affected areas there's no substitute for direct involvement; they're in it for keeps.


Oops, Conciliation, What Conciliation? It's Monday!

Well several days have passed, since the Fatah and the Palestinian Authority decided to remove several terms from their constitution for the purpose of de-fanging the appearance of their avowed intent against their neighbour. It played well in the international press, after all, and in this way justified its purpose. And gave Israel assurances that it could bargain in good faith with a one-time adversary that sought to unseat it as a legal entity in the region and reclaim 'their legitimate' territory.

As good-will gestures go, this was a rare display of amenability, auguring well for future bargaining. And Israel, never loath to do her part, agreed to release Fatah militants from prison, to halt in its efforts to ensnare others thus ensuring they would no longer lob rockets into Israel, and even to accommodate the free passage of Egypt-stranded Fatah members back into Gaza. And, oh yes, assist the United States in re-arming Fatah militias with a new cache of weapons. To be used against Islamist, terrorist Hamas, of course.

Until such time as Islamist, terrorist Hamas wrenches them from the unwilling and unheroic hands of Fatah. Which, judging from past incidents needn't be very long in coming. But that's the logic of the Middle East. And that's another story entirely. Arm your avowed enemy to promote peace, and to allow him to regroup for the purpose of launching further attacks, while the political wing makes nice and arranges diplomatic trysts that amount to piddling-poo.

Not nice to be a cynic, to be so untrusting. Where's good faith in all of this? Well, show me. Earn trust. Behave in a manner conducive to trust. Coming right up!

Back to reality. The glow lasted all of a week, almost. Was it even a week? Nah...! Before PA-affiliated terrorists, likely the same ones that snickered under their kafiyehs as they 'gave up' their weapons to Fatah authority and pledged to join as one for the betterment of the Palestinian people, to work toward peace, to surrender their bloodthirsty revenge-and-hatred jihadist mission.

Then came Monday, and attacks against several Israeli targets ensued, with the attackers using firearms, rocks, arson and bombs. Very convincing. To which the new, highly-thought-of and respected PA prime minster declared his support for "resistance" operations against Israel. There's that word again, the very one that was just several days earlier expunged from the constitution to loud acclaim.

We're still on Monday, night - this time where PA gunmen fired on IDF soldiers. Earlier, an act of sabotage when fire was set to vegetation close on a Jewish town. Two Arabs in the same area were arrested earlier, found to have a gun in their possession, during a search of their vehicle. Same afternoon, IDF soldiers close to Gaza discovered a bomb near the security fence, close by a Kibbutz. When the bomb was destroyed, Arab gunmen fired at the soldiers.

A pipe bomb discovered in an Arab-owned vehicle in Gush Etzion, the driver arrested. Two buses stoned Monday night near Hevron. An Israeli driver had stones hurled at his vehicle. But that's all right folks, since Prime Minister Salam Fayyad declared "Resistance is a legitimate right for the Palestinian people as an occupied people." It's a mantra, very same words pronounced in the past by moderate PA Mahmoud Abbas.

Human nature. Old habits die hard.

Lest Israel feel too put-upon, she can take some kind of grim reassurance from an increase (yet weary again) in internal violence among the various PA terror groups - also on Monday. A senior Fatah terrorist, it seems, was found murdered (on Monday) near the border with Egypt, his body bearing evidence of violence; he was first tortured, then beaten, then dispatched, a never-fail formula among traditionalist Arab 'insurgents'.

Sigh. Same old, same old.

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(Relatively) Moderate Islam And The Lunatic Fringe

A Saudi court found three members of the kingdom's religious police, along with a policeman not guilty over the death of a man in their custody, and acquitted them of all charges. The enforcement of a strict Islamic code isn't taken lightly in that 'moderate' country. Members of the Commission for the promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are authorized to roam the country to ensure no moral blight occurs in the public arena. The man, Ahmad Bulawi, was accused of consorting with a woman not from within his family circle.

Interestingly, it would appear that some members of this administration-approved enforcement secretariat of righteous Islamists dedicated to the purification of Saudi society have been attacked by members of the public frustrated by their incursions into their private lives. May peace be upon them, may they increase in numbers, may they realize success in their mission to normalize their society.

Iraq's governing body has decided to throw in the towel - temporarily, for a summer break. Having reached no consensus on anything meaningful, having been unable to pass any laws, reach out to the public in the hopes of reconciling and reunifying the country, legislators feel they need their holiday, and so be it. They plan to return to business in September - that is, if there is a country left to be administered, in their absence, and the heating up yet again of internecine warfare.

Elsewhere in the region a new breakthrough: the uncovering of new Zionist plots. An Iranian publication has declared the Harry Potter hysteria to represent a global Zionist conspiracy. The ruling mullahs now understand just what has occurred: the infamous Harry Potter series is, in reality "a billion-dollar Zionist project" to fund the evil-doers in their plan to take over the world, and on their way infiltrate and corrupt the minds of vulnerable young Iranians.

Ah, and in Sudan an Arab newspaper published in Saudi Arabia has revealed the ghastly truth, that Jews are responsible for Sudan's Arab-on-Black genocide. None other than the illustrious defense minister of the country has pointed the finger of blame at Jews for the violence and ethnic cleansing in southern Sudan by Jews manipulating and controlling international media and financial markets to benefit "rebel elements" inside Darfur.

No fewer than twenty-four Jewish organizations have been identified, busily campaigning against Sudan, hiding their own dreadful involvement in Darfur, falsely accusing the Sudanese government. The truth is manifestly clear: it is the "Save Darfur Coalition" comprised of 20 American Jewish organizations - not to mention other evil Jewish groups elsewhere located - who are fulminating and organizing and prodding their governments to isolate and blame Sudan.

Misunderstood Sudan. Defensive Sudan. Blameless Sudan.

Thaaat's it for today, folks!


Shoot-Out At The MidEast Corral

An act of desperation? Of deception? Can it be that the U.S. doesn't know where else to turn, what else to turn on, to make a success of its dismal failure in Iraq, its unleashing of internecine warfare that seems to know no bounds, is amenable to no solution? That it is so befuddled politically by where it has landed itself in the opinion of the majority of U.S. citizens that it has decided to take truly incendiary measures to defer attention from its inability to pull itself together?

That the lunatic aspirations of an Ahmadinejad running roughshod over UN-delivered pleas to cease and desist, may bring American plans for the geography to a screeching halt, a defeat of its determination to hold onto its interlocutor position, to restore its former standing in the area of the "Muslim street" now looking askance at American 'adventurism' in an Islamic landscape?

Whatever the actual single cause, or combination of events conspiring to bring the American government to its decision, it has just handed a loaded nuclear device to an arena very much enamoured of explosives. Is it logical when a situation is highly combustible to bring along a lighted torch, out of curiosity, just to see what will occur? There's a lot of heated belligerence gassing up the atmosphere, why light a match?

Yet that appears to be exactly what is occurring. Washington is 'offering' a US$13-billion armaments packet to Egypt, another package worth US$20-billion to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries; for the Saudis meant to beef up missile defences and air force and increase its naval capabilities. And Israel, oh yes, US$30-billion targeted to upgrade its already-substantial armaments.

Doesn't that bespeak a nicely diplomatic balance? Everyone happily guaranteed the means by which real fireworks can be produced. But according to U.S. Secretary of State Condie Rice, "This effort will help bolster forces of moderation and support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran". Yes indeed. What moderation exactly are we talking about here - in Egypt and Saudi Arabia?

The real experts, military experts, see things from a somewhat different perspective, that born of experience in the theatre of war, the history of the Middle East, and the inherent nature of the states involved - as a high risk effort permitting Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the other involved states to shout a little louder, threaten a little more convincingly - and in the process bring calm to an inflamed region...?

"The failure of the American project for a democratic greater Middle East, confounded in the battle for Iraq, has forced Washington to try to salvage the situation by distributing military aid all over the place", according to the editor-in-chief of a French defence periodical. And chairman of the German parliament's foreign affairs committee weighed in with his take: "If you add more explosives to a powder keg, you increase the risk and do not make the region more secure".

Indubitably. Spinning toward a concussive conclusion. Bets anyone?

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Teaching Russian History

Could there conceivably be history that is written from a completely unbiased position? Who better to describe events of historical importance than one who has lived through the events in question? And that historical rendition of events depends, does it not, entirely on the opinion of one who represents one side over the other. There has always been, will always be, human perceptions abetted by human allegiance; events transcribed through the eyes of the affected.

And isn't there always more than one side to any given story? Perhaps an all-seeing, all-knowing entity looking down from some heavenly seat could bring an unbiased and clear-sighted observation of any given historical occurrence to posterity so that future generations could apprise themselves of events long past and reach an informed conclusion, but as things stand now, history always reflects vested interests.

There are times when an individual involved in historical events presents a clearer more honest vision than at other times. "Kruschev Remembers" is rather enlightening in its way, enabling the reader to view the times from Nikita Kruschev's point of view, made all the more interesting for his generosity of spirit in unveiling the kind of truth that Russia historically chose to shut out for curious and critical eyes.

Under Vladimir Putin, who took charge of a disintegrated Soviet Union after Gorbachav brought the USSR to collapse through perestroika and a wish to join the company of the West, through his unseating by a furious public and Kremlin, through to the clownish yet serious failures of Yeltsin, Russia has left her humiliation and loss of world leadership behind. President Putin enjoys a high popularity among his people for his iron-fisted KGB-style control.

Russians enjoy a strong leadership, they aren't in the habit of questioning truncation of their perceived freedoms; they demand political stability and stable economics. Gentle tyranny, even on a bit of the forceful side, suits them quite well, as long as it goes hand-in-glove with a kind of brute strength abetted by a power-resurgent state that has restored pride in the soul of the average Russian - and a quiescent and well-fed home market. Authoritarian capitalism.

The new Russian history books seek to placate the bruised feelings of the country's population. Nothing succeeds to bring people together so much as to form a common bond against a perceived enemy, and in this case it is the country's former twin in world politics, one of the two then-super powers. The new history books describe the United States as being determined to create a global empire, leaving Russia in the dust of isolation.

That perception actually does reflect history in the way it unfolded, with the disparate parts of the former USSR seeking and finding refuge away from their former bullying overseer, in the bosom of Europe-friendly institutions like NATO and the European Union, both of which happily side-stepped Russian interests, neither of whom, along with the rest of the world, cared very much when Russia teetered on economic collapse.

That kind of deliberate neglect verging on gleeful observation at the miserable collapse of a world-class tyranny isn't soon forgotten by a proud people. President Putin's firm control of the country, now economically resurgent, and through its energy resources holding its former satellites in thrall, along with much of Europe, is much celebrated in the country; his style of governance is termed "Sovereign Democracy". So there, you can have it all.

Yeltsin's drunken giveaway of the country's great natural resources to his unscrupulous friends and the creation of the Oligarchs really did pave the way for what later occurred; the yanking back of state resources, the hounding and imprisonment of the super-rich raiders. Russians like the message: "obey the law, pay your taxes and don't try to put yourselves above the government".

But describing Josef Stalin as "the most successful Soviet leader ever" rather strains credulity. He was, after all, a mass murderer, engineering starvation in the Ukraine, ordering the mass murder of intellectuals, land-owners, the factory wealthy, any of his Communist colleagues who dared to question his edicts... In his memoires, Nikita Kruschev described Stalin for what he represented, a mass murderer, a criminally psychopathic presence extraordinaire.

Charismatic, yes. The father of the USSR, most certainly. One who could sign a war agreement with Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler, then turn about and sign a peace pact with Churchill and Roosevelt, who most certainly knew him for what he was, but who also knew his strengths and had no more stomach for war at that juncture. The Cold War overtook the peace.

How history repeats itself. We're in the unfortunate process of another event unveiling itself, slowly but inexorably, a tepidly-on-the-cold-side, small double-you war.


Counterbalanced Spoilers

Trying to begin to re-start a reluctant, but imperative peace process is always difficult between adversaries, but when the process is one that has pitted Israelis against Palestinians for generations, to the extent that a large proportion of both the Palestinian population and Israeli citizens have known nothing but bitter disputation and warfare between them, with positions hardened against compromise, that's a formula for an arduous and frustrating process.

Despite which, polls appear to indicate that each of these solitudes desperately wants to achieve peace between themselves, each society requiring that most basic of human needs to be fulfilled; safety and security, to enable them to to live normal lives, achieve normal aspirations, look with confidence to a secure future for their children through the eventual process of agreeing to live side by side without enmity, in a situation approaching amity.

Each society has the potential to assist the other, to advance their individual and dual interests in that fractious geography. The Israelis are, and likely always will be, viewed with suspicion, distrust and more than a mere veneer of dislike by their Muslim neighbours; they will always represent the 'interlopers'. The Palestinians have historically been held aside from the larger Arab representation, viewed with dislike and distaste, for whatever reasons, by their brethren.

The popularity that Hamas has achieved for itself among the majority of residents of Gaza, and a good portion of Palestinians in the West Bank speaks volumes of the abysmal failure of the PLO/Fatah faction to live up to their promises to provide responsible leadership to their Palestinian dependents. Hamas is now installed ascendant in Gaza, with Fatah claiming full leadership of the West Bank, a tenuous, fragile and very temporary arrangement, fractionating the Palestinians.

Israel, prodded by the West, realizes this situation as a window of opportunity, to support the more 'moderate' Fatah, against the Islamist Hamas. The question is how legitimate and factual is the claim by Fatah that they now solely represent the best interests of all Palestinians, given their enduring lack of popularity among a populace inured by practical experience to the resurgent promises of Fatah?

Israel sees little other choice but to begin to bargain in good faith with Fatah, to make practical overtures, to assist them in arming themselves, to indicate flexibility in bargaining. Nothing particularly new in any of this; rather a repeat of past attempts at conciliation and rapprochement. But the Islamic Resistance Movement makes no bones about its rabid opposition to any form of compromise with Israel.

Given their popularity with a greater number of Palestinians than that which Fatah can claim, and the fact that a very large percentage of Palestinians, while wishing for peace as an ideal, an anodyne to their current status, still support violence against Israelis to achieve Hamas's aim of destroying the Jewish State, this is one huge clunker set to derail any Hamas-absent deals Israel can approach with Fatah.

And given that one of the major demands of the Palestinians, of Fatah and Hamas, of the international community, and indeed of many Israelis themselves, that the West Bank be cleared of Israeli settlements, there's yet another clunker on the way to achieving clear passage ahead. Add to that the fact that an insufficient number of Israelis are committed to the clearing out of Jewish settlers from the biblical Judea and Samaria.

The settlers of the West Bank, more fiercely determined than those who were brought out of Gaza in the initial unilateral withdrawal, represent in their own way a counterweight to the Islamic fundamentalists represented by Hamas. The settlers are prepared to give up their lives in their claim of legitimacy to Judea and Samaria. Hamas is more than prepared to assist them in giving up their lives for their ideals and love of their land.

The fact is Israelis have not yet and may never fully reconcile themselves to the withdrawal of settlers from Gaza; a mere 18% support is evinced for a similar withdrawal from the West Bank. Half the population of Israel now feels that the Gaza withdrawal represented a worsening of Israel's security - and it would appear that the disintegration of law and order that followed the pull-out, along with increased attacks across the border, bear them out.

The excruciating pain of dealing with the insecurities on both sides, of gradually achieving some balance in the demands and expectations, the urgent need for flexibility and compromise will continue to exact a toll on both sides' patience and willingness to forge ahead to achieve the ultimate goal.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Big Daddy, At It Again

Zimbabwe just continues to fester; the value of its economy continues to plummet, the value of human lives degraded beyond belief. And the African Union may privately deplore the mad egotistical dictator that rules the country but they have undertaken no meaningful solutions, indicated no outright disapproval or disavowal of its president, taken no actions to demonstrate any kind of collective responsibility. Solidarity with one of their own.

Where is shame? Where is support for the people of Zimbabwe? Where is compassion? All quiet on the African front.

Brave Zimbabweans determined to see a new constitution in Zimbabwe, desperate to have Robert Mugabe removed, had the courage to plan to march in a demonstration to illustrate their resolve, knowing well they were placing themselves in danger, but little realizing, despite that, just how much danger their lives would be placed in, how much they would be made to suffer for their determination.

One hundred sixty people were arrested by government forces at the offices of the National Constitutional Assembly, an organization whose purpose is to seek constitutional reform. These were among the people who attempted to hold their demonstration. Six nursing mothers among the would-be demonstrators were hauled off to Harare central police station, and along with others arrested were beaten for hours.

As the unmerciful beatings commenced, the infants of the nursing mothers screamed as they watched police beating their mothers and the other adults without let-up for hours, using long heavy rubber truncheons. "We were half men, half women. There were six women with children. There were grandmummies", according to a 35-year-old woman in hospital with a broken shoulder.

"We were made to lie down on our stomachs in rows of five or 10 with our hands stretched out in front. All were beaten. From about 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. they were beating us, non-stop, going up and down the rows, one after another, one after another. When one group of police got tired, another would take over. They trampled on our bodies with their boots. One of them hit me on my ear with his hand. Now I cannot hear. They said we wanted to have the country recolonized by Bush and Blair."

There were too many victims to be accommodated without additional beds being set up on the floors of two private hospitals. Many were still lining up for medical attention, including elderly women. The injuries included more than 30 skull, hand, arm and rib fractures, and nearly all the victims sustained deep soft-tissue injuries. "This is so perverse, it makes me want to vomit", said one of the examining doctors.

One woman explained they had been warned beforehand that they could expect violence to be directed against them if they were caught, that they could be beaten. "I was scared. I had a fear. But I made myself strong. I told myself if anything happens to me, it will happen to all of us", she said.

And she was right.

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Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Ship of Stalemate Turning?

Can it be so? The remission of hateful resolve? Merely expunge from one's public platform a word here, a phrase there, and voila! one is transformed, completely made over, become reasonable and a potential reliable partner for the future. As simple as that! Amazing, what human beings can construct to divide one another, then turn around swiftly to disarm the resulting state of anarchic aggression.

Yet there it is, in black and white, and if it's publicly stated, and then published, where is the cynic to turn? Yes, another historic 'olive branch', and would that it could be implemented fully and realized completely. Better an optimist than a pessimist. Why could it not happen, after all, that the Palestinian Authority under its new Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, said to be a good and reasonable man, now turn its direction in the pursuit of a lasting peace?

They will now, it would seem, expunge the inflammatory language of their persecuted and revengeful past. Disavow the words "resistance" and "armed struggle". Turn the cumbersome beast of hatred around, in other words, to bask in the gentle swell of possibilities. As a government-issued edict this sounds very good.

Dig a little deeper and there's a bit of a puzzle. How does one now disarm the bitter disaffection and violent anger of a population groomed carefully to view its neighbour as its enemy? Good luck on that one. And hope that there are sufficient people of good will and open minds to accept this new direction their government has veered onto.

The fact is, while a greater number of Israelis have finally succumbed to the realization that Palestinians deserve and need their own autonomous state, a reversely-growing number of Palestinians - men and women, young and old, appear to be equally ideologically committed to the efficacy of suicide bombing to enable them to reach their goals of statehood.

Ehud Olmert, after all, came to office with the promise to build on his mentor's initiative to pull Israeli settlers first out of Gaza, then the West Bank. In the wake of the Gaza pull-out and the catastrophic brain death of Mr. Sharon, Mr. Olmert came to office with the intention of beginning the long-considered West Bank pull-out.

Internal doubts and Israeli citizens' insecurity about this needed manoeuvre were confirmed as a result of the steeply rising violence executed by members of Hamas jihadist militias, and those of Fatah-affiliated militias all equally devoted to Israel's destruction...such as Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. The growing violence and chaos within Gaza did nothing to reassure Israel it had done the right thing in abandoning Gaza.

Now they're embarked on a new adventure, one they hope will champion finally the cause of peace bilaterally. The PA's Salaam Fayad requires any peace agreement with Israel to begin with withdrawal to the pre-6-day-war borders. And that Jerusalem should find recognition as the capital both of Israel and the nascent Palestinian state. Within those requirements there are wide areas of discussion and possible compromise.

Israelis are nothing if not realistic. A history of grappling with mind-numbing adversity has inured her to difficulties thrown in her path, and has encouraged pragmatism as a life-enhancing device. "We should not insist on keeping territories when their continued occupation threatens our national existence and harms our position in the world", stated Israeli deputy prime minister, Haim Ramon.

The very soul of rationality, of looking directly at reality, at facing one's international and national obligations. But beyond talk and grave assurances of readiness for serious debate leading to concrete solutions, will the PA now actually move beyond its traditional adversarial role? Peace talks that promised to resolve the seemingly irresolvable were brought to an abrupt halt in 2000 on the second intifada, after all.

But then, nothing is quite so guaranteed to move people beyond stubborn stupidity toward practicality as when one's position is called into question through a defeat such as that suffered by Fatah at the hands of Hamas. When 40,000 Fatah supporters were expeditiously routed by 5,000 Hamas members to take control of Gaza. All of a sudden concentration on the matter at hand became an imperative.

Fatah isn't out of the woods yet. There's still the impending election to give legitimacy to Fatah as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. And given the manner in which the Palestinian public, and its most vulnerable, have been manipulated and deceived in the past, and their disgust with Fatah's corrupt rule, there are no guarantees they will have the undivided support of the voters.

And then what? Back to square one? What IS square one, anyway?

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Soccer Unification

They're at perpetual loggerheads - suspicious, envious, aggravated, fearful of one anothers' intent and trustworthiness. They were once neighbours, but factional war-mongering and infiltration by foreign jihadists has created adversaries of them. The Shiites, the Sunnis, the Kurds - all Iraqis, all pulling in opposite directions, all heavily besieged both by the terrorists who have flooded their borders and their own bitterly divided militants.

But the Asia Cup soccer matches have brought them together in a passionate scenario of togetherness, all cheering on their national soccer team. Despite the dreadful adversity that Iraqis undergo day by dreary, blood-drenched day, their attention has turned to the celebration of success of their mixed-sect soccer team, a true national symbol to all of them. Sunni and Shia Muslim and Kurd, they are all, after all, of the country.

This team represents the best efforts and skill of their team, assembled from the ranks of all three sects. They watched, transfixed, as their team successfully bested its rival South Korean team, to reach the country's first Asian Cup final. They danced in the streets, cheered, waved flags - and shot their firearms into the air. High spirits, good vibes.

Then someone must have noticed too many people were too happy, having a good time, and that's just not on. This is, after all, a war-torn country, where its people never know when the next suicide blast will occur, where it will strike, whom it will kill.

So out came the suicide bombers, and up went the bombs, and down fell the innocent civilians, decimated in their celebratory excesses.


Know Thine Enemy

According to Mirajuddin Pathan, governor of Ghazni province in Afghanistan, the Taliban who have kidnapped and are holding for ransom (release of a parallel number of Taliban prisoners) South Korean missionaries, "Keeping women as captives has not happened in Afghanistan's history. They should release the women". It's anyone guess now what will happen to this group comprised mostly of women who sought to offer their services to needy Afghan citizens.

Their leader, Bae Hyung-kyo, and founder of their church was murdered, his bullet-spattered lifeless body discarded with contempt. Faith in the goodness of humanity, faith in their mission to help others suffering miserable duress, faith in their faith to overcome any and all obstacles in their need to appear before their god as willing sacrifices to the needs of others led them to travel to that ravaged countryside, heedless of the danger they were placing themselves in.

Afghanistan has a long and storied past. The country has been invaded incessantly and brutally over the centuries, over millennia. Its people are warriors and farmers, and proud of their heritage. They have good reason to distrust and fear interlopers for no good has ever come to them from the interest evinced in their geography on the part of foreigners. Yet those of their own, fundamentalist Islamists, forced a rigid servitude upon them also.

Another invasion, the latest to uproot the Taliban has brought Afghanistan to a neither-here not-there position. A tenuous and frail attempt to install a democratic government, infiltrated by former war lords and oppressors, all struggling to manage their governing duties, and to install an infrastructure of peace and security, delivering needed civic measures approximating a normally-functioning society.

What has puzzled the governor of Ghazni province, where the South Korean abductees are being held and their lives threatened, is the lack of compassion on the part of the Taliban. He has characterized their behaviour as un-Afghan-like, not of the tradition and the culture he knows and values. But in their own words, the Taliban make quick work of such delusionary fantasies.

Their new leader, Mansour Dadullah, informs all those who would listen that the Taliban plan to use children to behead hostages. The kidnapping of foreigners for the purpose of trading them for Taliban captives is, according to this man the way to go: "Of course, kidnapping is a very successful policy, and I order all my mujahedeen to kidnap foreigners of any nationality wherever they find them, and then we should do the same kind of deal."

The Taliban, he explained further, is interested in the opportunity to "give children a military education - we want to train them against cruel invaders and infidels, so when we need them, they will join this struggle. We want to use children to behead infidels and spies so that they will become brave." How's that for an expression of traditional values?

Kind of reminds one of Hamas structuring educational materials for primary grade Palestinians children, teaching vile hatred of their neighbours, and featuring the glories of martyrdom.

This same man informs that he is in close contact with Osama bin Laden, that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have much in common: "we don't keep count of weapons, money or anything. Our aim is the same. We help them and they help us."

Get the picture?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Poo-Faced Bigots

Whoa, what exactly is it with left-wing academics and unionists? The ivory tower and the blue collar appear to have much in common. They're both belligerently anti-Semitic, although they'd likely go to the ends of the earth to deny it, since it smacks of anti-political-correctness. So then, they really adore Jews, they just detest, abhore and absolutely cannot stand the fact that a country of Jews must defend its very existence by trying to stave off hostile and very effective attacks against its people and its institutions.

Seems that British resolution endorsed in May by 150 of the University and College Union's members is still set to roll. Resulting in a veddy-well-deserved freeze on academic ties with Israeli universities, instructors and students. A ban on teacher and student exchanges, conference attendees and research paper publication. So there, all you brilliant-but-morally flawed Jews. Stick that in your Nobel prize cups.

You exist, therefore you are...guilty...of complicity in denying the rights of Palestinians. The tenets of academic freedom be damned.

Thank heavens for sanity prevailing elsewhere. Within the bastions of higher education in a former colony of the British Empire, no less. At this juncture, a growing backlash in Canada and most certainly in the United States and elsewhere; wherever reasonable, self-respecting and honourable minds are wont to dwell, is manifesting its presence.

No fewer than twenty-two Canadian universities, from Dalhousie, to Simon Fraser (from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast) and all other respected institutes of higher learning within this country have made their voices heard. University principals, rectors, chancellors and presidents have been adding their voices to the growing opposition, including also heads of state, scholars and Nobel Prize winners internationally.

"The attempt of one group of scholars to stifle the views of another is an affront to modern society and must be condemned wherever it arises"; the view of University of British Columbia president Stephen Toope. "Those British professors who have brought forward this shameful scheme ought to reflect on the example and consequence of the intolerance they are communicating to their students."

All of Montreal's universities have similarly put forward strong statements: "If you choose to isolate Israeli universities you should add McGill to your boycott list", said Heather Munroe-Blum. "We will stand steadfast against those who seek to undermine academic freedom."

Lest Britain seem to be standing alone in its pariah-righteous state, it should be pointed out that the Ontario wing of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Canada's largest syndicate, also passed a resolution calling for "boycott, divestment and sanctions to end Israel's apartheid practises", in 2006.

The coming academic year promises to be full of unpleasant little scenarios of dissent, since pro-Palestinian groups have already issued their statements of condemnation against those academics who have protested the British resolution.

We can hardly wait for the fireworks to light up again, once again renting asunder campus peace.

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Peace Emissaries

It seems so truly comforting, that two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, both of whom have signed peace agreements with Israel, have sent their highly-placed peace emissaries to assure Israel that the Arab world is prepared to extend "a hand of peace" to the country in exchange for Israel's acceptance of the 22-member Arab League's plan setting out the conditions for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Saudi-backed proposal that promises normalizing relations between Israel and its Arab neighbours also holds provisions which the Arab League expects Israel to accept before full diplomatic relations can be brought into existence. Those key provisions - of abandoning all land that Israel occupied post 1967, including part of Jerusalem, and the acceptance of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees within Israeli borders are sticking points.

Dicey proposition that: an offer for long-lasting peace (presumably long-lasting...) in exchange for a well-defined methodology for populating the State of Israel out of existence. It's relatively easy to offer peace to a state that no longer exists. What the proposal in essence represents is a return to the status quo; that situation that existed before the creation of the State of Israel, when Jews were permitted to inhabit parts of the Middle East as quasi-citizens, dependent on the grudging approval of their Islamic masters.

What an offer; one to die for. And die the State most certainly would, should all these conditions be accepted. So then, a plan for survival might conceivably include rejecting at least a part of these 'insignificantly political' demands. Since giving up that portion of Jerusalem which holds the most revered and sacred sites in Judaism, those very sites to which Jews were traditionally denied access, would certainly not serve Israel well - scratch it.

Since to permit the entry of generations-swollen population of Palestinian refugees now numbering ten times their original number would be sufficient to drown Israel in a belligerent and self-serving tide of returnees having no intention whatever of becoming biddable and supportive citizens of the State of Israel, we've got another non-starter.

Give up all lands formerly in the possession of hostile Arab states who sought, time after time, to expunge the Jewish state from existence? It could certainly be done. What guarantees might be offered to ensure that Syria, for example, that wellspring of good-natured Arabs who hold Jews in such high esteem, would not once again attack Israel from the ramparts of the Golan Heights?

And were Israel to remove the hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews from parts of the West Bank they currently occupy, what on earth would become of them? Where would the country accommodate them? The one hundred thousand Jewish settlers who were removed from Gaza in Israel's unilateral withdrawal are still living in temporary shelters, their lives rent asunder.

This is, of course, Israel's problem, one for Israel to solve, and of no concern to her would-be Arab friends and neighbours, who have their own limitless problems. But wait, there are other potential problems that raise their black and ugly heads; with unification between Gaza and the West Bank seemingly unlikely in the very near future, a settlement with Fatah and the West Bank would solve only one dimension of this irresolvable dilemma.

And wait again: Fatah-affiliated militants will do as they are wont to do, and continue attacking the Jewish State. Is official, political Fatah, the Fatah that is now the sole inheritor of the Palestinian Authority, we are to believe, poised to rein in its terror-contingent? Fact is, many demands are being made of Israel; what demands are being placed on the PA? That they take solid steps to ensure that their paramilitaries toe the line?

That they now pull all the anti-Semitic tracts so beloved of Fatah from public view, and with them the Jew-hating, enemy designation they have taught their impressionable primary-grade children, on through higher education levels to ensure those same children will become fodder for future armed resistance? What happens with the culture of hatred so carefully and determinedly encouraged within Palestinian society?

The Fatah terrorists whom Israel pardoned just last week upon their agreeing to renounce terrorism consider their handing over of weapons a charade, a "big joke". Consider this: a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes survey recently released showing data representative of responses from 47 countries indicates a growing rejection of Islamist militant tactics among Muslims, with a concomitant waning confidence in al-Qaeda.

"The marked decline in the acceptance of suicide bombing is one of several findings that suggest a possible broader rejection of extremist tactics among many in the Muslim world", states the report, comfortingly. Oops, what's this? Oh dear, while the Pew report discovered dwindling support for suicide bombings in seven of eight Muslim countries since 2002, support for suicide attacks remained at a high 70% among Palestinians.

I guess the good news in all of this is a whopping 30% of Palestinians don't think suicide bombing to murder as many Israelis as possible in an effort to persuade them that Palestinians are mad and they aren't going to take it any more, is reasonable comfort for heralding a future Palestinian State, side by side with neighbour, Israel.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Honour On Sale

Moammar Gadhafi and his iron rule over his country haven't changed one iota. This proud desert nomad, the dictator of Libya whose people adore his every dictate and respond with a fervent desire for his despotic rule to last forever, has become very adept at manipulating the political deliberations of the world when it deplores his actions, by skilfully and disarmingly reaching unexpected accords when sufficiently tickled by hard cash or promises of acceptance.

The uneasy alliances reached between the European Union and Libya measure a sometimes counterproductive atmosphere of live-and-let-live. Gadhafi's excesses are accepted as a diplomatic necessity to bring him into an atmosphere of detente. This man grandly assented to giving up a nuclear project in exchange for reassurances that the great glowering power of the United States would not be unleashed upon him.

He was persuaded to admit that his country had been responsible for the mass murder of innocent people through the downing of a civil airliner in Lockerbie off the Irish coast. And agreed to pay restitution to the families of those who had died. Big mistake, confirming to this man that money can pave the way to forgiveness; that human lives can be exchanged for sufficient cash incentives.

But the West was overjoyed at the momentous news that Libya under its truly eccentrically-mad leader agreed to give up on its long-range plans to furnish itself with weapons of mass destruction. Which paved the way for the West to embrace his newfound respectability, and for the United States to restore diplomatic relations.

Who knows the ways of such inscrutable minds, those who reach conclusions stretching credulity and belief in sanity? That he would target innocent medical workers and implicate them in planning, under urgings from Western influences, to give life-destroying injections to hundreds of hospitalized children to infect them with HIV.

Embarrassment at the fact that over 400 children in a Libyan hospital whose sanitation and medical practises left something to be desired, became infected with HIV? A mass infection that had occurred, according to international scientists well before the arrival of the five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor at the hospital in question.

But logic and reality appear to have no influence on the quirky and irrepressibly mad mind set of such as Moammar Gadhafi, and the six people were incarcerated for life. They'd served eight years in hopeless imprisonment despite the best efforts of the West to secure their freedom. Finally, through the intervention of the European Union and its assisting funds offered to Bulgaria, and through the effervescent presence of Cecilia Sarkozy's influence they were freed.

Bulgaria gave instant citizenship to the Palestinian doctor, and he and the Bulgarian nurses were all given immediate freedom once they reached Sofia. The agreement to permit them to leave was reached once it was assured that the families of the 400 infected children would receive recompense for their grief. To the tune of $1-million for each family.

The funding source remains a mystery, but the Libyan government pronounces itself satisfied that justice has been done. Sometimes, nothing prevails beyond reason and it takes outright bribery to achieve a goal. How much is a human life worth? Nothing, if such a one as Gadhafi takes it into his head to bomb a civilian aircraft, and then grudgingly to invest himself once again in international good graces, antes up.

Beyond value, if one is sane and humane.

Forgive us if we now delicately question the sanity and humanity of France's president Nicolas Sarkozy, that resolutely good man who promises much for the future of France and that of the European Union. Has he temporarily lost grasp of his senses; at the very least sense of proportion, appropriate recompense in ransom, giddy with victory and the power it grants him?

Sign an agreement with Col. Gadhafi to help build a nuclear reactor for Libya? What can the man be thinking?

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False Teeth

Although Darfur has been in the world's horrified eyesight for years, with everyone deploring the tragedy and demanding that responsible agents step up and solve the dreadful carnage - the wasting of hundreds of thousands of human lives, the uprooting of millions of people, the rape, the carnage, the mass murders - the situation continues to unfold.

The vast numbers of helpless people, the millions of black Darfurians who have already been stripped of their homes and villages, living hopeless lives in refugee camps and experiencing aerial bombings by the agents of the government of Sudan, violent incursions by the Janjaweed are straining the capacity of international aid groups to assist them in their human needs, to protect them.

The United Nations has proven itself to be spectacularly inept at coming to grips with the need to boldly interfere with the intent of saving lives, for that body is unwilling to question the authority and question the integrity of the leadership of a country that carelessly sacrifices its citizens to quell civil unrest.

In diplomatic language a recent United Nations report announces that the "caseload of conflict-affected populations has increased by more than 500,000 to 4.2 million". The United Nations is very good at disclosing statistics, at reaching conclusions, but not very skilled at proposing, initiating and implementing solutions. All the more so as it waits eagerly for acquiescence from the very perpetrators of the tragedy who remain adamantly opposed to outside intervention.

In their ongoing, tragically inadequate and post-untimely efforts to staunch the blood flow, the rising refugee count, the ongoing attacks, a UN resolution authorizing up to 26,000 troops and police in Darfur has been further diluted in fruitless attempts to appease Sudan's government, to assure it that the UN has no intention of unduly "interfering" and contesting its authority.

Still, the Sudanese ambassador to the UN huffs that the resolution is unacceptable: "It's very ugly. It's worse than the first one". That Sudan's government, which has visited death and misery on a significant segment of its citizenry is permitted veto power over a United Nations resolution whose purported purpose is to bring cessation to what amounts to a genocidal government policy is beyond absurd.

In its first year of operation the joint force of the UN and the AU operating in Darfur is estimated in the neighbourhood of $2 billion, with a December 31 target date to transfer authority from the inadequate African Union to the combined force. Sudan's complaint is that the resolution would permit the use of force in defence of the mission's personnel and humanitarian workers by hostile government forces.

And although Khartoum has agreed to the joint force taking effect, they can also, under the agreement, take sufficient issue with the project to reject entry of foreign-resourced troops. Interchangeably, troop contributors aren't falling all over themselves to send their soldiers into Darfur without the assurance that the mission would be permitted "to use all necessary means as it deems within its capabilities" to protect its people.

The really big, really important question here, the most vexing question is why Sudan, under the circumstances, and with prevailing world opinion, and given the mandate of the United Nations, is allowed by a conscience-stricken world to continue its punishment of its citizens?

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"Please Let Me Stay"

How to fail to be moved by that plea? Whoever mouths those pleading words should be met with sympathy and assurances. All the more so when to deny that request would be to toss the already tempest-tossed lives back into the maelstrom of black adversity, homelessness, starvation, death. A delicate diplomatic situation? Well, you bet.

The world is awash with a vast migration of people who have been displaced from their homes, their countries, living dangerously tentative lives approximating normal conditions, but rife with opportunities for the spread of disease, the lack of medical attention, education for the young, safety for women, attacks from angered residents of the country where they've been forced to take up temporary residence in squalid refugee camps.

Nowhere is the plight of refugees more heart-rending than that of the black Sudanese population who have been forced out of their homes by the millions, who have suffered rape and deaths in the hundreds of thousands, who even while in refugee camps in Sudan or neighbouring Chad are subjected to deadly raids, rapes, killings and food and water shortages.

It seems amazing, quite extraordinary, that some of these homeless, hopeless refugees have found their way inside the borders of Israel, via Egypt. Why Israel, a Jewish State that seeks to be a refuge for world-wide Jewry, a country that already is compromised in its Jewish-only identity by the presence of a one-fifth non-Jewish community of citizens of Israel...?

But come they did, and they are pleading to be accepted, to be enabled to become a part of the country, to be given succour, a place to live, to raise their children, to hope for the future; the most vulnerable people on earth. "The Jews were victims of the Holocaust, I am a victim of the Darfur genocide. Please let me stay," pleaded one refugee. How to refuse?

And then there's a higher dimension here, a debate whether a Jewish State can dilute itself any further, and yet there is the imperative to meet the moral need to give sustenance and support to a horribly victimized black Muslim community. Is this manifest irony or is it not? But human beings are more like one another in their needs, than the differences that set them apart.

Sudan, yet another Muslim country hostile to Israel and who will admit to no ties of diplomacy, visiting the most unbelievable atrocities on a segment of its population and they flee to safety through Egypt to access Israel. "I chose Israel because I thought Israel was a country which was once in a situation like Darfur and they would understand me. I am asking the Israeli government to accept us, the people of Darfur."

As unsettling as it is to accede to such a request, it is not quite possible to refuse the plea. The government of Israel says some 2,800 people have crossed illegally from Egypt into Israel through the past year and a half; mostly African, one thousand Sudanese, 300 Darfurians. There are temporary "detention centres" set up to house the refugees.

The government hesitates to commit itself to welcoming the unwelcome visitors. It is from the worldwide diaspora of Jewry that Israel seeks to swell her modest numbers, not from an African country, to be inundated by non-Jews, by Muslims. Will the acceptance of these needy people unleash a flood of like-minded refugees desperate for a harbour?

This is a moral conundrum that only the wisest of minds can solve. But when the need is so excruciatingly great, and when other sources of potential assistance have been exhausted, found utterly wanting to conclude the tragedy playing out in Sudan, what other alternative but to accept these tortured people could there possibly be?

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Unsurprising Contrasts

In the United States, Islamic charities are under deep suspicion for channelling funds to jihadists. The U.S. Department of Justice is in the process of proving through a court trial that the Holy Land Foundation charity funneled charitable funds to Hamas. Other Islamic charities also feel the heat of burning suspicion. There are legitimate charitable Muslim institutions but it is those under suspicion that are being targeted.

Just as there are majority Muslim moderates whose peaceful co-existence with their neighbours are interrupted by the actions of fundamentalist fascist-Islamists who prey both on moderate Muslims and on "infidels". But the separation, vast though it is between the groups, is often difficult to detect since those who have nothing to hide are always hidden behind the violently disruptive acts of devoted fundamentalists.

There can be no question that Muslims, and Arabs in particular are viewed generally with suspicion. Violently murderous actions on the part of committed Islamists have created an understandable backlash against those who resemble them physically and in religious affiliation. Little wonder that 75% of young Arab Americans feel targeted.

Whose fault is it? The indictment in the Holy Land charity maintains three of the accused met with Hamas activists to discuss ways in which they could support the movement materially and in the process deliberately oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives. "The attendees acknowledged the need to avoid scrutiny by law enforcement officials in the United States by masquerading their operations under the cloak of charitable exercise", according to files.

In the United Kingdom there is a backlash against plans to build a huge mosque in London, one capable of hosting well over ten thousand of the faithful at any one time, and which is purported to come with a price tag ranging between 50M pounds to 100M pounds. A petition containing 275,000 protest signatories has been posted on the Prime Minister's Web site. Out of that huge numbers of protest signers, one was seen to contain a racial slur.

At a time when England has experienced a number of terrorist attacks, some of which have been deadly serious, killing a significant number of innocent people, it is more than understandable that people fear an influx of additional Islamists with, they fear, predictable results. Not only that their country's traditions and values are being diluted to too great an extent, but that the risk of further violence will be inevitable.

The burden that violent Islamists have placed upon moderate Muslims is intolerably difficult. Since moderate Muslims represent by far the greatest number in total Muslim membership it is also incumbent upon them to become more aggressively protective of their religion. To be emphatically less tolerant of those among them who bring ill favour and fearful regard to Islam, to lend themselves to the routing and eventual discouragement of Islamists among them.

In Toronto, Canada, a grand architectural marvel of a Hindu temple, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir has just opened to a marching band and children dancing down the aisle behind a delegation of Canadian and international leaders, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The temple, located in Etobicoke, was designed, carved and shipped in pieces from India, using traditional Vedic principles.

The high commissioner of India was present, along with the premier of Ontario, the mayor of Toronto, and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the faith's spiritual leader. Canada's Prime Minister spoke of the temple reflecting Canadian diversity. "Located in the country's most ethnically diverse city, the facility stands as a testament to Canada and India's proud tradition of pluralism. Canada's accommodation of diversity is not without precedent. There have been forerunners, and of these perhaps none is as noteworthy as India."

Quite the contrast; the existence of a large and peaceful religious minority in a country delighted to share its bounty of life and freedom with them. The existence of another religious minority, said to be peaceful, but increasingly fractious and prone to violent outbursts and attacks against others with whom they share geography.

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Determined Conquest

Softly, softly, all can be accomplished with patience. Stealth and patience. Cunning and patience. Stifle belligerence and rhetoric, demonstrate the capacity to produce needed results. Gain trust. Inveigle one's way into official recognition. Take the opportunity to demystify one's presence, smother enquiry. Suspicion must be lulled. In its place must come trust born of need.

Did not, after all, Hezbollah succeed in gaining the trust of those downtrodden whom they claim to represent by such tactics, after all? Ignored and despised by both government and citizenry, offered a mean and inadequate existence with insufficient structure and aid, and they are ready and ripe to react to social-action resulting in solid assistance. Build medical centres, schools, social/religious centres, and they will trust.

Did not Hamas, after all, offer to the ill-served Palestinian people milked dry by the PLO the very civic infrastructure that Fatah's greed denied them? These organizations know very well how to succeed at their task. Divide duties and functions; one portion to be devoted to furthering and furnishing the practical and social needs of the people, the other functioning as a well-trained and well-armed militia with an identified cause-and-direction.

And so we come to Turkey, the only Muslim country with a modern tradition of secular rule, carefully guarded and treasured. The only Muslim country that is an member of NATO, an ally and friend of the West, and given to democratic ideals. The (Islamist) Justice and Development Party (AKP) has just demonstrated through a democratic vote that it has gained the trust of a large proportion of Turkey's voters.

It has disarmed the wary by governing responsibly, by demonstrating its commitment to business, to advancing the Turkish economy and offering enhanced economic opportunities to its people. The AKP has succeeded spectacularly in a quest that Hezbollah and Hamas are still experimenting with. Determined conquest, bridled to Allah's wish, to once again launch Islamic rule.

Is Islam compatible with democracy? Traditionally, historically, Islam demonstrated its business acumen, its creativity, its brilliant vision, and treated with non-Muslims in what was then seen to be a fair manner, but no longer would be, as society no longer feels Dhimmi status, subjugation and uneven taxation, allied with denial of equality and citizenship to be acceptable in the modern world.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party have much to celebrate. They have disarmed the suspicion of sufficient numbers of Turkish citizens to ensure themselves a majority victory; they may be capable now of installing the president of their choice, headscarf debacle or no; the laws prohibiting them will be seen to be outmoded, and altered.

The military now may hesitate at this late stage to counteract a democratic result, however unpalatable.

Mr. Erdogan is described as a "charismatic populist"; an unfortunate descriptive, for were not Hitler, Stalin, Ahmadinejad, Castro, Arafat and Chavez just such personalities? The defences have been breached, the second round stands ready to be unleashed. The country looks for stability; there will be a detente between the government and the military, for the people wish it so.

And the moderate Turks? Those many who wait with bated breath to see moderate Islam that they so value slowly metamorphose into fundamentalism? "The AKP has done some good things for Turkey. But I know that they are Islamists and at the end of the day they will do something for Islam," claim its detractors.

"Those who are afraid of the AKP believe it will impose Sharia, but this will not happen", claim those who voted for the AKP, who appreciate its governing successes, who bask in the satisfaction of prolonging the country's good economic fortune under the government that brought it into reality.

Softly, softly, steady as she goes.

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Absent Subterfuge

There it is now, proud and official acknowledgement from Hamas and its brother-terrorist affiliates that they are indeed, with violence aforethought, assaulting Israel with the deadliest arsenal at their disposal. And armaments they have aplenty. Not only those weapons which they have gathered among themselves, but those they plucked from the possession of a fleeing Fatah, many of which were gifted to Fatah through the kindly auspices of the U.S. and Israel.

An outmanoeuvred Fatah fled the Hamas onslaught in Gaza, leaving Hamas triumphant, well positioned to continue its flagellating of its erstwhile compatriots, and the deadly lobbing of missiles into Israel. Ah, but this is just the beginning. There is no let-up in the smuggling of weapons through tunnels and crossings between borders, nor the determination of Hamas's patrons in Iran and Syria.

The steady and ongoing assaults have resulted in Israel having to take security measures in the hopes of protecting its borders and its citizens. The IDF has engaged in ground assaults to disrupt insurgents' intents to create havoc and mass murder, along with air strikes against identified terrorists in an attempt to halt their attacks.

Islamic Jihad has not hesitated now in identifying its members, among those killed in action by Israeli air strikes; they had been doing what they do best when targeted; firing rockets at Israel.

Two of the rockets they'd fired had slammed into Sderot yet again, one of them hitting a school and injuring an Israeli woman.

Two Hamas gunmen were killed as they approached a fence on the Israeli border. Hamas no longer seeks to disguise its direct involvement, proudly claiming it had dispatched the gunmen for the purpose of planting bombs beside the fence, the better to target Israeli forces. Another anticipated coup that failed.

But there will be more, many more attempts to wreak vengeance. Hamas is feverish with the self-perceived opportunity to assault its enemy. Not to engage, but to bludgeon as bloodily as conceivably possible.

A not-unexpected ratcheting-up of terrorist activities toward Israel. It is in Gaza that Hamas has the bulk of its supporters. It is that territory that hosts the most implacable demographic of Palestinians intent on destroying the State of Israel and reclaiming the land that they feel is theirs alone.

Not land to be shared with another entity, a rank interloper in the landscape. The fervently detested Jewish entity, the Zionist entity.

As though to wipe the history and tradition of Jewish existence in the Middle East so thoroughly from recognized fact, and recent memory.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Observer Status At The United Nations

Yasser Arafat did it, he was triumphant in entering the grand chamber of the United Nations, proudly wearing his Palestinian kaffiyeh, and something else beside. Didn't the members of the Assembly feel themselves to be generous and kind in extending this privilege to this man of the people? And didn't Palestinians themselves feel rather good that their doughty hero was given this honour, to address the United Nations?

It took a lot of hard work on the part of Arab countries who championed the worthy cause of the Palestinian people, and who agreed among them that Yasser Arafat would best represent their need and their cause, and who engineered this triumph. Sly fox he, bringing a firearm into the august chamber, never quite having to resort to demonstrating its use, but permitting it to be seen, to be known that he knew how to use it, and did, and would continue to.

A terrorist could be seen to be an honourable presence within the Assembly of Nations, to be honoured as a bona fide observer, a person of status, of international repute, of substance, of honour. But political activists attempting to persuade that respected international body of State delegates that Taiwan might be granted international status to make a case for Taiwan's membership in the World Health Organization, had their observer status suspended for angering China.

Yasser Arafat was allowed to flaunt his firearm, however surreptitiously, and by so doing flout United Nations in-house rules and there would be no protest, no attempt to restore the dignity of the chamber by divesting him of that ferociously impudent gesture. The Geneva UN meeting of the Economic and Social Council, run by 54 member governments for the United Nations was recently faced with another decision with respect to the granting of observer status for a specific group.

On this occasion the Council was reviewing the potential for granting NGOs permission to campaign at ECOSOC meetings as official "observers". Among the 19 members, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar and Sudan led to the blocking of the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Quebec to receive "observer" status at their initial try. This group has status as a bona fide campaigner within Canada, and Canada pulled out all the stops this time around in its effort to swing sufficient votes to reverse that earlier rejection of the group.

The hostility in which gay rights are held in many parts of the Muslim and developing world, along with Russia and China, ensured that the Quebec gay rights activist group faced a hard struggle for acceptance. But now, they're satisfied and elated, planning to use the United Nations as a springboard from which to work on behalf of gay and lesbian rights internationally. "It may take many years in places like Egypt, where there's been extensive persecution, or Iran, where they hang homosexuals", said Yvan Lapointe, CGLQ executive director.

According to Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based monitoring group, "Canada should be saluted for speaking out forcefully and fighting bigotry on the homosexual question."

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A "Start', Or Another Beginning?

Hard to say, isn't it, whether fresh initiatives to attempt to support the weak-but-determined government of Mahmoud Abbas promise the start of a new relationship that might bear fruition toward peace, or the beginning of yet another round of disappointments. It's hard to judge an erstwhile-adversary's intent, level of integrity and reliability, based on past performances which have failed abysmally on all three counts.

Yet here we have Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and against the wishes of a goodly proportion of a war-weary Israeli population, agreeing to the release of 250 Palestinians judiciously languishing in Israeli jails for a variety of offences, ostensibly as a preliminary to a larger prisoner release at some undetermined future date, should the initial release prove it can sustain the promise inherent in a recently engaged "trust" initiative.

The released prisoners, who still had three to six years of sentencing time to serve, signed pledges to the effect that they would, upon release, not again engage in violent activities against the State of Israel. Israel permitted the transfer of new weapons to rearm Fatah. Israel agreed to halt its targeting of known Fatah-linked terrorists, to enable Fatah to bring these "resisters" back into its approved fold to boost its government-linked militias.

As well, leaders of terrorist factions engaged in violent strife against the State of Israel, many of whom have been responsible for countless violent attacks against the State, as well as a large number of Israeli deaths, have been given a different type of reprieve, and permitted to re-enter the Palestinian Territories without fear of detention, in a bid to re-engage with Fatah in a constructive, ultimately state-building initiative.

Hope springs eternal: "If the Israeli government and the Palestinian government can continue taking these measures, we can turn the corner and leave the negative dynamic of the last two years and return to a positive one," according to Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. There's a lot of positive energy invested in this start, this assumption that Israel's relaxing of her tensely guarded position vis-a-vis the cudgel of Palestinian extremism may bear promise.

Not all observers are as blithely optimistic in the short term, for as the director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington states, "It changes the subject for a while, but it doesn't address the fundamental strategic challenges Abbas has," says John Alterman, "I don't see how this does any more than begin to set him in the right direction."

On the other hand, Mr. Abbas's chief of staff claims "We feel there is now some momentum in the air...There is now a window of opportunity, but it may close very quickly." Which is to say, Fatah feels pretty good about Israel's assent in these trusting initiatives, but they have no hesitation in warning that they anticipate far more in the near future - or Israel should be prepared to pay the consequences.

Truth is, for every newly-released prisoner from Israeli jails, three times that number has been newly arrested. So where, pray tell, is the initiative from the PA side, in instilling patience and forbearance into the mind-sets of those Palestinians, male and female, who still practise their determined efforts to destroy their enemies?

Hard to shut that particular valve off, once it's been primed, particularly since it starts so early in life, with primary-grade children facing indoctrination in hate and suspicion. Not to speak of the ongoing encouragement to young men and women to engage in the "struggle", to give their lives over to Allah in the honourable and celestially-favoured practise of suicide-homicide.

Take, for example, the young man Yusef Nahleh, such a mature 15 at the time of his arrest that he was shooting at a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. As with all those others who were freed, he too signed the pledge not to attack Israel. In the festivities of reuniting with his family, when he was questioned by a friend what he would now do to help build a Palestinian state, a friend supplied the answer for him: "suicide attacks".

He was not to be swayed; he had signed a pledge, after all. He pondered his own response, and out it came: "military attacks". His father pointed out to the youth, now an even more mature 17, how infelicitous it was of him to make such a statement before a U.S. journalist, writing down his every word. "You are shooting yourself in the back" observed the father. Stealth being the order of the day under such circumstances. Corrected, Yusef amended his statement to "political struggle".

On television a middle-aged woman was interviewed, one of the newly-released prisoners. A mother of seven small children, she would now, finally, be re-united with her children. Defiantly, this stoutly dedicated jihadist avowed herself to be immensely proud of what she had done. She would do it again. And encourage her children to do likewise, as they grow older. Thus speaking her priorities, her values.

Incorrigible? Blind? Wilfully and violently antagonistic? Are these then representative of the Palestinians with whom Israel binds herself in trust toward a new "start"? Let us fervently hope not.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Unintended Consequences

When decisions are made and actions taken there are always consequences. Bad decisions make for ill-considered and ultimately harmful consequences. When we're blindsided by a sense of urgency that creates a type of hysteria that in turn impairs the thinking process, we make real problems for ourselves. Problems that have to be faced, to be resolved. And actions taken to turn back the results of 'unintended consequences'.

One of those unintended consequences can be seen taking shape in today's world with commodity prices going sky-high for corn. Although we seldom give it much thought, corn and its byproducts are a much-used commodity. Apart from providing a good portion of the world with meal and flour and fresh corn, its extracts such as corn starch and corn syrup are basic ingredients in a good many consumer products.

Corn is also fed to cattle, to ensure livestock come to market sleek and healthy and ready for all those eager consumers who cannot consider the good things in life complete without meat on the table. Think of the food value of corn-fed poultry. Yet the great thinkers among us, faced with a growing natural catastrophe where weather patterns have changed and climate has altered and the hitherto-natural flow of temperature, winds and oceans have all been affected.

The very atmosphere in which our earth is contained has changed, thanks at least in some part to the activities of mankind busy altering the environment that holds us all. Fossil fuels have contributed greatly to the degradation of our environment, chemical fertilizers have done their part, and industrial smokestacks have added their contributions as the search for national wealth and trade goes on at ever greater speed.

Because the fuels we use to provide energy to warm and cool our homes and factories and buildings of business enterprise, along with the fossil fuels consumed by motorized vehicles of every description have contributed so greatly to the general detriment of every little thing on earth, we realize our activities have presented us with a huge problem; how to continue achieving the enterprising growth in national GDP and living standards?

We're additionally faced with the knowledge of a dwindling stock of fossil fuels; and the carbon particulates that have created great environmental problems through the burning of coal, oil and gas present us with a conundrum. What other fuels can possibly be used to replace or augment traditional fossil fuels? Water-generated, wind-generated, nuclear-generated, sun-generated, we've tried them all.

And now we've turned our beady eyes on biofuels. Not so bad perhaps the utilization of spent and dirty oils used for cooking, cleansed of their particulates and re-used as fuel. But biofuels taken from sugarcane and corn? They burn as detrimentally to the environment, causing just as much degradation as traditional fossil fuels. And they represent food for all living creatures.

Is this a reasonable exchange...to turn arable land over to the growth of agricultural crops to be used as fuel to operate motor vehicles?

Corn-based ethanol and oilseeds to be turned into biofuels are already having a considerable impact on the world economy. And we're in the process of charging up at an enormous rate to double, triple, quadruple the availability of crops for biofuel production. The inflation rates in most countries of the world are now being impacted because of rising prices for agricultural prices once stable, and food-directed.

Now cereal- and bread-manufacturers, dairy producers and more are realizing a significant increase in raw prices and their finished edible goods are reflecting those price rises. Consumers are not amused. "Nothing affects consumer inflation expectations more than food", according to Richard Yamarone, chief economist at Argus Research in New York.

Globally there has been an unprecedented surge in demand which has translated in a whopping 23% rise in food prices, as recorded by the International Monetary Fund throughout the last eighteen months. The situation can only become worse.

More than a trifling alteration in our realization of the value we place on food, seeking to deliberately and with (little) aforethought to exchange that value to the need to conserve food stocks in a world that will require more, not less food resources with growing populations in China and India.

Yet we have made the decision that we will exchange the value of food for that of an energy source. Gaawd!

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Friday, July 20, 2007

What? Spewing the Venom of Hatred Here?

It isn't as though one doesn't expect it will not be done in Canada by malcontents, by racists, by ideological fanatics, by religious zealots, but these events generally take place in private arenas, subtly and covertly. Mostly preaching their hatred to the converted, to the confused, to the envious and the ignorant, to those for whom the greater society is a failed experiment in humanity.

All is not always as it seems. The religious channel out of Toronto, Vision TV, has defended its programming, denying that it gave a green light to a lecture by a known radical, a Muslim fundamentalist, a vociferously-vibrant anti-Semite. This multi-faith broadcaster has entree to some 7.8 million Canadian homes. Its purpose and presence in Canada is to air programmes to enlighten the faithful and the curious.

It sees nothing amiss in having permitted the broadcast of a lecture by a Pakistani Muslim fundamentalist whose vitriolic views and racist ramblings are well known to a sensitive audience. This Islamic preacher from Pakistan, Israr Ahmad, pronounced in his hour-long talk that "Jihad in the way of Allah, for the cause of Allah, can be pursued either with your financial resources or your bodily strength when you go to fight the enemy in the battlefield.

"So jihad, the highest form, is fighting in the cause of Allah." Nothing whatever for the ears of the pious identifying jihad as an internal struggle for understanding of the ways of Islam, to become a better Muslim. This is militant jihad of which this man spoke. A direct encouragement to pious action on the battlefield in the name of Allah. In the spirit of Islamist extremists who, while in the process of attacking a perceived enemy target, or blowing themselves up, shout inspirationally "Allah Akbar!".

This man has fervent followers in Canada, including one Qayyum Abdul Jamal, arrested last year for his role in a plot to detonate truck bombs in Toronto. This preacher, Israr Ahmad, was the inspiration for this Muslim-Canadian terrorist; his teacher and mentor, according to the wife of Mr. Jamal. Mr. Ahmad claims that Jews control the world through a secret conspiracy involving financial institutions.

And while Vision TV's code of ethics prohibit it from broadcasting programmes that glorify violence or essentially provoke or abet or encourage domestic or international religious or political conflicts, it denies that it has been complicit in doing just that in enabling this hate-monger to spout his viciously polemical views.

Mark Prasuhn, Vision TV's chief operating officer and vice-president of programming sees nothing wrong in Israr Ahmad's on-air discussion: "He is saying that Muslims have a duty to propagate their faith", claimed he. Encouraging Muslims to engage in jihad as a sign of respect to the Koran is disingenuously unambiguous. The statements go well beyond inference, straight in the direction of outright encouragement to violence.

This is something that Canada, with all its vaunted freedoms, including freedom of expression, can do very well without. A shame and a pox on Vision TV, or at the very least, its spokesperson, Mr. Prasuhn.

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Re-Balancing History

No, not a re-write of history, not at all. Rather an honest look at what truly did transpire during historic events for the purpose of assisting in recognition of a true narrative, rather than continuing to cling to the distorted version that would have Israel responsible for displacing over a half-million unfortunate Palestinians - and equally responsible for re-introducing them back into the bosom of the State of Israel, in numbers tenfold their original.

For this is, after all, one of the key ingredients put forward by the Palestinian leadership, encouraged and abetted by the greater Arab and Muslim world; the right of return of Palestinians to land once theirs, now incorporated into greater Israel, once the original owners fled. Oh yes, recompense to the original owners might also be an alternative to welcoming them and their progeny back to the inner confines of Israel, to significantly water down the Jewish presence in the Jewish State.

Most definitely a resounding YES! it was vastly unfortunate, a tragedy of immense proportions that to create a state, a place of refuge, a country of one's own for the world's disenfranchised, persecuted Jews in the wake of the Holocaust, another group of people faced the unsettling reality that they were invited to shift over to the "Palestinian" portion of the territory, or remain where they were and be absorbed.

Those that did remain were absorbed and realized a better social and political and economic lifestyle than they had hitherto enjoyed. Those who decamped in bitterness and fear refused to settle elsewhere, just as their Arab brethren in the countries to which they temporarily settled in refugee camps, refused them permanent residency, and the clarity and support of citizenship among them.

Ever since the world has been harangued with the narrative of Israeli aggression in throwing its Arab population out of the Jewish State. This, despite that out of a population of some six million, roughly one million Israeli citizens are Palestinian Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, and Druze and Kurds, enjoying full citizenship, and with a democratic presence in the Knesset, the parliament of Israel.

Well, world at large, what about the estimated 900,000 Jews who had resided for thousands of years in the geography's Arab countries who were summarily ousted in 1948, their properties and goods confiscated? Israel has absorbed them, for she tends to her own. No one speaks of the tens of thousands of Christians and other minority groups who joined the chorus of migrating refugees. Only of the Palestinians and the great wrong done them.

The United Nations was completely complicit in this charade, giving complete credence to the distortions so beloved by Arab and Muslim and leftist and developing countries who find common cause with one another. To the extent that annual UN resolutions condemning the State of Israel pass handily, in reference to the parlous plight of Palestinians.

And observe their state of dependence upon the goodwill and kindly efforts of the United Nations, the European Union and countries like the United States and Canada, among others. Vast sums of charitable funds have been invested year after year to ensure that refugee camps, now more resembling small cities than 'camps' were established with the needed civic amenities, food and pharmaceuticals.

With that vast investment in aid what has resulted in the Palestinian Territories besides the exponential growth of a collective aura of aggrievement, revenge and guerrilla tactics designed to unsettle the State of Israel? Israel, after all, welcomed, however reluctantly, the presence of Chairman Arafat and his cronies back from Lebanon, and actively assisted it in training security personnel for a nascent State.

Vast sums of money meant for relief for the Palestinian people, meant for the building of civic infrastructure systems, slowly and purposefully evaporated into private accounts held abroad by key members of the PLO. Little trickled down to fund needed infrastructure. Corruption was rampant and it was soon enough evident to the very people that the PLO and then the Palestinian Authority were meant to represent and to shepherd into an autonomous and forward-looking society.

While Israel quietly went about absorbing refugees of her own, encouraging migration to the Jewish State of Jews from around the world, those who were facing daily hardships related to state-sponsored discrimination, those whose historical places in their countries of birth were being devalued by state authorities and who launched a sterner campaign of imprisonment and sometimes torture and death.

With the creation of the State of Israel, a mortified and horrified Middle East geography went about systematically persecuting their Jewish citizens. This is a historic event, a situation that must be recognized, acknowledged and rectified. If only to agree that there was great harm done to more than one group of people.

And with the balance of the scale of injury and deprivation acknowledged, then the world and the two protagonists can begin the long slide to move forward into the future.

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Tripartite Terrorist Summit

Makes sense; even terrorists - even terrorist states - have a need to meet, to discuss, to negotiate, and above all to issue statements of intent and sympathy to ensure onlookers are adequately oriented in recognition of their purpose. Needless to say, as terrorists and terror-inspiring states they have complete confidence in one another as allies, but it doesn't hurt to meet now and again face-to-face to make certain that each entity issues complementary messages.

In this particular instance, it was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cheek-pecking his Syrian alter-ego, Bashar Assad. Oh yes, once the business of the day, the week, the month, this era - to marshall into reality the lapsed-but-impending Caliphate, tritagonist Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah was also brought into these vital discussions.

With a determined facade of confidence they face the world outside to waggishly recommend that the international community take a hand in the task at hand, which is to "stop repeated Zionist aggression against Lebanese sovereignty". Is that not truly amazing? And here we were all under the impression that Lebanese sovereignty was being threatened by Syria's undisguised greed for Lebanon's natural resources so beloved of her own people.

And if memory serves - and often it doesn't, requiring a gentle shove of re-orientation from such as this triumvirate - it was Hezbollah who brazenly attacked the State of Israel, with said State responding with alacrity, surprising just about everyone, including themselves. Details, details - and details are often such inconvenient obstacles to fuller understanding of revisionism.

It must have been some party, that meet-and-greet between Syrian and Iranian officials; a two-day state event no less. But then, when one is planning covertly, even overtly as we've seen from time to time, to re-arrange the political-religious-social map of the world, there is much to discuss. And of course, to agree on carefully worded statements to the world at large, to impress upon that breathless audience the depth of thought that went into these verbal constructions.

For example: "it is necessary to consolidate national unity and harmony among all Lebanese to assure the stability and security of Lebanon". Kindly assurances of sympathy and recognition of autonomous need on the part of these Lebanon-obsessed conspirators for justice and triumph. They have expressed, furthermore, lest any observers ascribe underhanded motivations to them, their "support for all decisions taken by all Lebanese".

There you have it. Oops, must have slipped their collective minds to invite Faoud Siniora or any of his elected cabinet. Just to kind of determine first-hand how the Lebanese themselves, the Christians, the Druze and the Sunnis feel about the situation. Mind, given the frequency of Lebanese leadership assassinations they might just have laid themselves open to declarations of interference of the most morbidly-bloodletting intent.

Upon which, it might be incumbent upon these three resolute and integrity-devout leaders to plead their case of concern for the stabilization of Lebanon and the security of its people. A pledge of non-interference and an assurance that no indeed, neither Iran nor Syria have been involved in the unsettling events of the near past. No, definitely not; they have never funded and trained paramilitaries for the purpose of bringing bloody jihad to Lebanon.

Nor, needless to say, was Hezbollah responsible for attracting Israel's attention by bombing it, by killing and kidnapping its soldiers. Yes, a complete and total misunderstanding. Hezbollah's intent, encouraged by its genteel sponsors is not to unsettle the government of Lebanon not at all. Merely to lead it to the path of righteous Islamism.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Society Split Asunder

We decry Pakistan's seeming unwillingness to face the demands of the Western countries to which President Pervez Musharraf has hitched his country's political and existential wagon. When Mr. Musharraf visited Canada, he scoffed at the untoward concern Canadians felt on the tragic loss of their Armed Forces servicemen and women stationed in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan. Pakistan, he scolded Canada, has lost far more many of its soldiery in battling Islamists.

Canada is not Pakistan, nor Pakistan Canada. We are here, they are there. It is on their borders with Afghanistan that the Taliban, that al-Qaeda find a safe and secure base from which to encourage their followers, to badger the West, to train a steady stream of eager jihadists. Canada has, as a responsible member of the world community, answered the call to assist the government of Afghanistan in establishing peace and security in that troubled country.

It is the madrassas situated within Pakistan that help so immeasurably to feed the appetite of fanatical Islam through their production of eagerly impassioned and violently imprinted young men ready and willing to dedicate their lives to suicide-murder missions. It is the lawless, tribal areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and at the foothills of the Hindu Kush, that extracts from among its tribes fervent warriors for Islam.

General Musharraf made the final decision to attack the Red Mosque, thus consolidating his position as one considered now to be a traitor to Islam, a ready target more than ever before for assassination by the hand of God through the intermediary action of true believers. Tens of thousands of armed tribesmen have rallied to the Islamist cause, and they are wreaking havoc on the border areas, attacking and killing the country's police and armed force members.

A showdown is in the making with Pakistan's military placing a full army division amply armed with heavy artillery into the troubled area of the North West Frontier Province. Radicals are prepared to meet them, eager for the fray. Determined to make the country over into its long-awaited Islamist presence for the purported pleasure of Allah. A resurgent Taliban and refreshed, re-armed, re-grouped al-Qaeda await the results.

Here is Muslim battling Muslim. The vile contagion of fanatical Islamism has escaped its roiling cauldron, creeping through Muslim society by the passion of its violent conviction, appealing to the emotional war-embracing tribalism of Muslim society. On the other hand, affronting and troubling those who embrace and value moderation. Those who recognize a distinct threat in the instability of the Muslim world.

The resulting carnage may bring surcease; may on the other hand, only embolden the Islamists to ever more bloodily determined moves to bring them closer to their goal. They plan, recruit, finance and execute their vision of Islam reborn. Can there ever be sufficient deterrents to their end plan? Other than complete and utter extermination of this contagious disease?


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