Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Defiant In Solidarity

The Arab League summit was convened in Qatar, with a hero's welcome given to one of their own, Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir. That he faces an international arrest warrant on war crime charges is seen as an intolerable insult to all of Islamdom. This was the fourth trip Mr. al-Bashir had defiantly undertaken since the International Criminal Court in the Hague had issued that warrant early in March.

Mr. al-Bashir stands accused of being the architect of mass murder, torture, and rape on a grand scale of atrocities committed against the people of Darfur. The summit is prepared to declare outright a rejection of the ICC's decision to place the warrant against Mr. al-Bashir, along with the accusations levelled against him. The 22-member Arab League, in solidarity with one of their own has pledged to 'step up visits to Sudan'.

Amre Moussa, secretary-general of the league, levelled accusations of 'selectivity' against the ICC for paying attention to Sudan, instead of toward Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip. Genocide occurred not in Sudan, but rather against the Palestinians in Gaza, according to Mr. Moussa. The alleged war crimes levelled against Mr. al-Bashir cannot compare in scale and vicious intent to the crimes Israel imposed upon Palestinian civilians.

Within the sacred confines of the United Nations and various UN bodies such as the Human Rights Commission, the Arab League has successfully and selectively levelled accusations of racism and human-rights abuses and intent toward genocide against Israel. Continual slanderous attacks against Israel take place within the United Nations with the yearly ritual of condemnations issued ad nauseum. No other country is ever sanctioned.

Israel is to anticipate a final ultimatum to be issued from the summit. Duly warned that it must be prepared to accept the league's demands calling for full Israeli withdrawal from all lands under Jewish occupation since 1967, inclusive of Jerusalem; from the Golan Heights and from Judea and Samaria in their entirety, along with acceptance of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital; and finally, full acceptance of all Palestinian returnees.

Should Israel refuse this generous offer it will be withdrawn never to be repeated. In exchange for such an agreement that would effectively dilute the Jewish presence in Israel transforming it from a Jewish state to yet another Arab state with Jewish residents who may or may not be permitted to visit the most sacred of Jewish religious sites in a Jerusalem-held Palestinian state, the Arab states would agree to enter into a collective peace agreement with Israel.

And thus would the Arab-Israeli conflict be concluded. Enmities and war-mongering over. The dream of a Jewish state over, as well. This would satisfy the Arab League, Israel is assured. The league mentioned nothing of Hezbollah and Hamas both of which proxies of Iran love nothing so much as sacred jihad against the Jews. With the Jewish presence in the Middle East a historical anomaly, its remnants once again dispersed elsewhere around the globe, is satisfaction guaranteed?

Israel has been naively under the impression that it had the freedom as a legally constituted State to bargain in good faith with the Palestinian Authority to reach an agreement leading to peace, and the eventual presence of a border-contiguous sovereign Palestinian state. On the way to accomplishing this, the government of Ehud Olmert has been meeting with representatives of the Palestinian Authority.

Now outgoing, acting Prime Minister Olmert stated that he had offered the PA "more than any Israeli leader had offered in the past", but his offer had gone unanswered. Peace with the PA, he said, would result in "a dramatic, painful and heart-breaking compromise". In other words, even though Mr. Olmert exerted himself strenuously to meet the implacable demands of the PA, it was never enough. It never has been. It never will be, it appears.

On the other hand, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas claimed at the Arab League summit in Doha that Israel was promoting "expansionist ambitions" rather than a peace settlement. That Israel in fact, according to him is "far from abandoning the path of settlement and choosing the path of peace." Israel has prepared itself for sacrifices to obtain peace, sacrifices that would repeat the withdrawal from Gaza, among others.

Can two enmities seeking to reconcile however coolly, to advantage both sides' aspirations ever reach any meaningful compromise given their history?

Labels: , ,

News of the World, 31 March 2009

Israeli military investigators said yesterday Israeli soldiers were passing on unsubstantiated rumours when they said Israeli troops shot unarmed Palestinian women and children in the Gaza offensive. Avichal Mendelblit, the Judge Advocate-General, said a military police investigation "found crucial components of [the soldiers' descriptions of events] were based on hearsay and were not supported by specific personal knowledge". He described the incident as "unfortunate", adding, "It will be difficult to evaluate the damage done to the image and morals [of the armed forces] in Israel and the world." Investigators looked at allegations about cold-blooded killings of civilians and soldiers' deep contempt for Palestinians.

Pakistani commandos fought an eight-hour battle outside Lahore yesterday after gunmen stormed a police training centre, killing eight officers. Interior Ministry Secretary Kamal Shah said 89 police officers were wounded. Four of the gunmen were killed and three arrested. The latest incident near the city where Sri Lanka's cricket team was attacked this month provided more evidence of the terrorist threat in Pakistan. Officials said some of the gunmen wore police uniforms. One civilian was also killed. The fighters, some wearing suicide bomb belts, appeared well trained and highly disciplined, spreading panic and scattering many cadets. Some escaped by jumping over the wall of the academy that held about 700 trainees.

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, insulted King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia yesterday, but added he was ready to exchange visits with him before walking out of the opening session of the annual Arab summit. "It has been six years since you have been avoiding a confrontation with me", he said. "You are always lying and you're facing the grave, and you were made by Britain and protected by the United States." Sound on the televised transmission of the session was interrupted. "I am the leader of the Arab leaders, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of the Muslims", added Col. Gaddafi, who recently became chairman of the African Union.

Unidentified groups hijacked cars and set some of them alight in the Northern Ireland capital Belfast yesterday, closing roads, disrupting rush-hour traffic and causing security alerts, police said. A representative of Sinn Fein, the main pro-Iran nationalist political party, suggested the disturbances were the work of dissident nationalist groups that want to end British control of the province by force. Police declined to say who was behind the disturbances, which followed a revival this month in violent attacks on security forces.

The Kremlin is growing weary of some high-profile verbal attacks on Russia by senior cabinet ministers in the Canadian government, but does not want to bully Canada in the Arctic, Moscow's Canadian envoy said on Monday. Ambassador Georgiy Mamedov said Moscow has no untoward military ambitions nor does it plan any "outlandish power grab" in the Arctic. Mamedov was responding to some tough talk in the last month from Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who have accused Moscow of provocative behaviour in the Arctic, including flying too close to Canada's airspace, straining relations between the two countries.

United States
A massive blizzard bore down on flooded North Dakota yesterday as officials struggled to shore up levees against potential erosion from powerful waves and swift-moving waters. Fargo remains on high alert against further breaches to its 77 kilometres of protective dikes and levees as the Red River is forecast to remain near record highs for days. The snow - an estimated 35 centimetres - is not expected to worsen the floods as it will not melt until after river levels fall significantly.

A U.S. sergeant became the second non-commissioned officers to be convicted of murder for the summary executions of four bound and blindfolded prisoners in Iraq in 2007. Sergeant First class Joseph Mayo was sentenced by a court martial in southern Germany to life in prison, but because he pleaded guilty, will serve no more than 35 years in prison and be eligible for parole in 10 years.

On his first visit to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI made an outrageous and wildly inaccurate statement about HIV/AIDS, telling journalists that the continent's fight against the disease is a problem that "cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, they increase it". The Catholic church's ethical opposition to birth control and support of marital fidelity and abstinence in HIV prevention is well known. But, by saying that condoms exacerbate the problems of HIV/AIDS, the Pope has publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine on this issue. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. - The Lancet


Monday, March 30, 2009

Comes a Time to Demand Loyalty

Past time, isn't it? for the government of Canada to make it abundantly clear that citizenship in the country is a two-way street. The comforts and freedoms and protections that Canada affords its citizens require that all of its citizens understand that they are obligated to conform obligingly and willingly to the values and priorities that constitute our social contract. Before anticipating that one will receive respect and egalitarian treatment, one must be prepared to extend it to others.

This is a fundamental that Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney understands very well, and also insists upon. Like Australia, a sister Commonwealth country with its own problems of immigrant integration into its larger society, Canada should take the step the Australian government did, to rename that portfolio the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. On the basis that they were shifting the emphasis from 'altruism to pragmatism'.

It is nothing but pragmatic to anticipate that immigrants seeking a better life, choosing to emigrate from their home countries to Canada, be prepared to insert themselves in the larger social atmosphere that prevails here. To learn the language, adapt to the customs, become familiar with the laws and practise good citizenship. The foremost of which is to understand that in a society comprised of people of various ethnic, religious and social backgrounds, parochialism takes a back seat.

Above all, it is not permissible that social attitudes inimical to various ethnic or religious groups respecting each other, and traditional enmities not be imported to the new country that has accepted them. The psychological unwillingness to surrender long-held beliefs that are obviously not in keeping with the transition to a pluralist society where all are held in mutual respect despite ethnic and religious diversity, is unacceptable within Canada.

Mr. Kenney has experienced his share of familiarity with building support networks between Sikh, Hindu, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish and Arab communities, during his time as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian identity. It is the 'Canadian identity' portion of his portfolio that should be stressed equally with that of multiculturalism. He was committed to assisting immigrants solve issues important to them.

Helping him were his staff which included an individual of Tibetan origin, a Muslim and an Armenian. He was involved in the government's initiatives to recognize the Ukrainian Holdomore, its apology for the Komagata Maru incident to the East Indian community; the defence of Chinese Uyghur Muslims and he acted for the government in paying respects for the terrorist attack on the Mumbai Jewish Centre. He is colour-blind and ethnicity-insightful in the clarity of his vision.

He needs no lessons from groups such as the Canadian Arab Federation, whose president feels free in this society to spout gratuitous insults and racist slurs. And free also to express his unequivocal support of overseas terrorist groups whose support is seen as a criminal offence by the Government of Canada. It is no credit to Canada that one group of its citizens continually attempts to smear the good character and citizenship of another group whom they despise.

Mr. Kenney feels that immigrants to Canada have an obligation both to themselves and to the country to ensure that one of their first orders of business is language proficiency. Without it, social communication and a full awareness of the society at large is unachievable. Without the ability to function in one or both of the country's two official languages immigrants' opportunities for employment are constrained.

Mr. Kenney's message is clear: immigrants to the country must be aware that it is past time that Canada support its core liberal values of tolerance, democracy and secularism. "We want to avoid the kind of ethnic enclaves or parallel communities that exist in some European countries. So far, we've been pretty successful at that, but I think it's going to require greater effort in the future to make sure that we have an approach to pluralism and immigration that leads to social cohesion rather than fracturing."

Canada welcomes almost a quarter-million new residents annually from every corner of the world. That the federal government, through various incentives to ethnic groups, materially supports the integration of immigrants, language training and employment opportunities is most generous. There was a time in past history when new immigrants were on their own, themselves responsible for the struggle to earn a living, learn the language, support their families, and integrate into the economy and society. And they did all of that, and did it splendidly.

Now, with all the tax dollars spent in various ways to assist new immigrants to settle in to a new country and a new society, the outcomes are more problematical. The more assistance newcomers are given, it seems, the less willing they would appear to make a more personal effort to ensure they fit the expectations of the country, even while their expectations of the country are being fully experienced.

Mr. Kenney is cosmopolitan in outlook, Canadian to the core, and wise beyond his years. That he remains unperturbed by the malicious complaints lodged against him by groups taking umbrage at his decision-making is part of his job. And he does it exceedingly well. The mosaic of the Canadian population largely sorts itself out logically, but there are elements of distrust, unrest and downright racist ideology hindering the potential of universal accord.

Those are the areas of discontent and dissonance that require a firm reminder that specific groups are overstepping the boundaries of government patience and society's acceptance. Canada has an obligation to itself, to all of its people to ensure that its traditional standards of social conduct are observed and respected. It's past time.

Labels: , , ,

Spiritual Unease In The Sceptered Isle

How far indeed has the stately old institution of the Church of England come from its inception in the late 6th Century, to the somewhat ignoble boost it received through Henry VIII's spiteful schism with the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century. As the country's establishment religion of the nobility and the country at large; still yet as a more wan, but distanced cousin of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Recognizable in the inherited title "Defender of the Faith" with which Henry VIII was invested by Pope Leo X, and now proudly borne by Queen Elizabeth II.

Another icon of British tradition, albeit not nearly as elderly, while just as widely respected, is the British Broadcasting Corporation, the Mother Corporation, upon whose stately, even exalted public broadcasting image Canada and Australia have modelled their own public broadcasters. From the BBC, to the CBC and the ABC, respectively. As goes the mother broadcaster, so also followed its daughters, and as the BBC became increasingly socially-leftist in sensibility, so too did the CBC.

And as the hallowed voice of the people, the BBC has slowly but inexorably taken up the vox populi sensibilities of present-day Britain, one whose traditions and values now reflect attention to the tender sensitivities of establishment liberal-biased socialists toward Britain's countless minority demographics. In his own strenuous efforts at accommodation toward other religions held dear to the immigrant populations of his native isle, the Archbishop of Canterbury famously stirred a controversy about sharia law.

Now he speaks in worried tones of regret and despair that the once-proud Church of England is being handed the left-overs of public broadcast time allocated to the dissemination of religious programming. After championing the 'rights' of religions not native to their soil, those hardy souls of God's communion find themselves seeing preferential treatment through the BBC given to minority faiths. The minorities of which they speak minorities may be, but they represent a considerable number of people.

Dr. Rowan Williams has appealed to the director-general of the BBC to overturn the decline of traditional religious programming at the corporation. The larger majority of Britons, long accustomed, like their religious leaders, to being first and foremost, now see themselves neglected. Christianity is on the downturn, Islam and other religions now take centre-place. So much for the generosity of inclusion that demands no counter-efforts toward merging with the larger society's social contract and values.

The head of the CBC's religious programs, a Methodist preacher, has been fired, and the leading contender of the position is Muslim, partnering with the appointment of a Sikh to head another religious program which once Christianity dominated. A sharp decline in religious broadcasting on the BBC World Service where coverage was once an hour and 45 minutes each week, to its current half-hour, threatens the future of Christian religious programming, as the Church's executive body sees it.

"The vast majority of the population identifies itself as Christian and as the established Church in England we would be negligent not to take an active concern in the changes happening with the BBC's religion and ethics department", explains a member of the council. The departure of the former head of the CBC's religious programs represents the fifth of seven executives in the BBC's religion department to have been considered redundant to its programming needs.

It concerns the Church executive that the individual seen as the likely successor to head the religious programs has been accused in the past of treating faiths other than his own 'differently', in his commissioned programming. This is all an unfortunate error in judgement, however; the BBC remains committed to its impartial stance on delivering to the public religious programs of meaning and value. "The BBC's commitment to religion and ethics is unequivocal and entirely safe", assured a BBC spokesperson.

Therefore, the Church of England can rest easy. Nothing approximating the worrisome situation that The Archbishop of Canterbury frets about will occur; he has it on the best possible advice. It is obviously his perspective that is slightly askew. Matters will proceed as they always do. Pity that it will not be to everyone's complete satisfaction. But then, perhaps the time to stand fast and sound the alarm has already passed the point of no return.

Where was the Archbishop when it was common for imported clerics from Islamist states thundering from London mosques urging the divine status of Inslamist-inspired jihad on enthusiastic Muslim followers? Politely, unassumingly, standing back, not wishing to cause undue embarrassment to anyone, much less an immigrant population of whom not too much in the way of selective morals and universal values along with loyalty to the country that sheltered them from harm was expected, in any event.

Labels: , , ,

News of the World, March 2009

Sri Lanka
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), fighting a desperate battle for survival, seeing their twenty-six-year rebellion against the government of Sri Lanka face its end, hold an estimated 150,000 ethnic Tamils as virtual human shields. These are the Tamils for whom they have waged their bloody rebellion, and they are considered expendable to the larger cause. Now those Tamil civilians have lost their trust in their defenders: "The people do not like the Tigers any more. They are trapped by them and they are scared. They want the Sri Lankan army to rescue them", according to one elderly escapee from the Tigers' unwilling human protective shield.

United States
A gunman opened fire inside a nursing home in a small North Carolina town yesterday, killing eight people, including elderly patients in wheelchairs. A 45-year-old local man was arrested and faces eight counts of first-degree murder after the shooting in Chartage. "There are eight dead", Moore County District Attorney told a news conference. Officials were unable to offer a motive for the killings, in what was the third major shooting incident in the southeastern U.S. this month. The dead included seven patients in their 70s, 80s and 90s, and one 39-year-old staff member.

Ivory Coast
Fans eager to view top soccer stars, stampeded in an Abidjan stadium during a World Cup qualifier yesterday, killing at least 19 people and leaving hundreds injured, many in critical condition. Scores of fans with tickets forced their way into the Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Ivory Coast's largest city after the match against Malawi started. Police were said to have fired tear gas to control crowds and the stampede was followed by a wall collapse. Many casualties were treated at the stadium as the match proceeded.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators crowded central Madrid yesterday, waving banners and chanting slogans against government plans to liberalize the country's abortion laws. Protesters massed outside the Equality Ministry, which is drafting a new abortion-access law, and marched through the streets with signs proclaiming: "There is no right to kill, there is the right to live", and "Women yes, abortion no".

A Colombian man accused of raping his daughter from a young age and fathering eight children with her was arrested on Saturday, causing an outcry over the lack of child protection in the Andean nation. Arcebio Alvarez, 58, informed a judge he was innocent, claiming his accuser was not his biological daughter. Alba Nidia Alvarez, the 35-year-old woman who claims to be his biological daughter, informed police he had abused her since she was under the age of ten. Alba Nidia's mother died when she was five, leaving her under the care of Alvarez, who has been branded "the monster of Mariquita" by the local press.

Police in parts of Northern Ireland have begun wearing flak jackets and carrying rifles for the first time in years following three high-profile killings. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has returned to arming some of its officers after the fatal shootings of two British soldiers and a police officer within 48 hours of each other. "Regional commanders will decide where it is appropriate to carry Heckler and Koch rifles" a police spokesperson advised.

North Korea
North Korea is preparing to launch a close- to mid-range ballistic missile separately from the long-range rocket that Pyongyang has said it will launch next month, the Sankei Japanese daily newspaper reported yesterday. The report comes as Pyongyang is poised to launch a communications satellite between April 4 - 8 that regional powers believe will in reality be a test of a long-range missile, the Taepodong-2, which is already believed to be on its launch pad. North Korea has given international agencies notice that the rocket's planned trajectory should take it over Japan, dropping booster stages to its east and west. Any attempt to shoot the rocket itself down would be construed as an act of war, it has warned. Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported yesterday that Japan's Air Self-Defense Force had started to deploy units capable of shooting down the rocket to the norther prefectures of Akita and Iwate.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another War President

Not that it appears he's been given much choice, either by his own destiny, or by events hurtling themselves into history. The memory of past, let along ongoing, attacks by fanatical Islamists lends credence to the apprehension that more are on the way, even while those that have taken place haven't yet cooled into the historical past. One report after another from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, India, and elsewhere in the unsettled world of Islamist dedication to jihad reminds us that the country that leads the world and the leader of that country cannot rest easy.

Of course, those great phalanxes of war resisters will have their say, and why shouldn't they? Who could disagree that war is a dreadful man-made catastrophe, one that sends a nation's young to the battlefields and brings them home no longer quick. That the innocents, the civilians, the elderly and the young in any population where war is ongoing, suffer enormously, disproportionately, that there is no shelter for them from the atrocities that visit a battlefield and beyond. The peace-sayers and the war-nayers have charity toward others on their side.

But reality brings us to the little problem that results from refusing involvement in war. There are assaultive wars, and there are defensive wars. What will occur if those whose existence is threatened by a determined war-mongering religion-inspired legion of blood-spillers and mayhem-conspirators are given free rein to disport themselves as they wish, unopposed? It is not merely an innocently incorrect perception that we are under attack; ongoing events are proof positive.

Those instances where Islamist fanatics have been successful in attacking the United States, Indonesia, Spain, England, let alone Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and elsewhere represent a beginning of initiatives, and a lack of opportunities on the one hand - and a surfeit of opportunities on the other; separating the West from the rest. The conclusion is inescapable, the struggle to defeat Islamist jihadism is nowhere close to concluding.

New intelligence from a new American president that al-Qaeda is 'actively planning' new terror attacks on the United States, prepares the American public to support their government in actively deploying additional of their troops in the crucible of fanatical Islamist recruitment. Afghan's Taliban gave birth to their Pakistani counterparts, and each has agreed to unite in a common purpose, to combat foreign troops battling for a sovereign Afghanistan.

In recognition of Pakistan representing a haven on its border with Afghanistan for the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, the Pakistani Taliban acknowledge by this joining of forces that their time of relaxed accommodation by the successive governments of Pakistan may just have reached their apex. "Pakistan is willing to play an active, constructive role in this because we feel our peace and security is linked to Afghanistan's", admitted Pakistan's foreign minister.

Of course Pakistan's current administration has a bit of a problem; to earn the billions of dollars of American support flowing from Washington, it must demonstrate its commitment to opposing the Taliban, not continuing to make meek accommodation to their demands as has been the norm, and still is. And the infiltration of Pakistan's armed services and its intelligence wing by Islamists whose agenda supports the Taliban must be addressed, strenuously and purposefully.

Of course, before that is accomplished, it's abundantly likely that Pakistan itself may implode and a civil war ensue. "Make no mistake: al-Qaeda and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within", President Obama warned in his latest address to the nation.

"After years of mixed results, we will not provide a blank cheque. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out al-Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders. And we will insist that action be taken - one way or another - when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets."

Good luck, and goodspeed.

Labels: , , ,

Too Good To Last - For Now

What a gesture, assembling a group of children from the Jenin Refugee Camp and bringing them inside Israel to perform songs of peace for elderly Israelis, survivors of the Holocaust. The Palestinian youth, aged from 11 to 18, playing musical instruments and singing accompaniment weren't aware they would be playing before an audience of Holocaust survivors; they came to Israel at the initiative of their music teacher who wanted to strike a chord for peace and understanding.

The children, in fact, would have had no real idea what the Holocaust represented. This was a new and vastly different kind of exposure for them, and for the elderly Israelis as well, who were amazed to hear their entertainment guests came from Jenin.

When the young people were finally advised who their audience represented and precisely what the history of the Holocaust was, they were shocked and sympathetic to hear of a systematic campaign during wartime to exterminate world Jewry. "Only people who have been through suffering understand each other" commented an 18-year-old keyboard player whose grandparents were Palestinian refugees.

The thirteen musicians comprised a modest orchestra named Strings of Freedom, the event held at the Holocaust Survivors Center, as part of Good Deeds Day. During that two-hour introduction of two solitudes; young Palestinians, elderly Israelis, human contact and understanding was achieved.

The Palestinian youths had never encountered Israelis outside the military, and were struck by how unlike these elderly people were to their own. Twelve-year old Ahed Salameh, wearing a black head scarf remarked "They don't look like us. Old people look different where we come from".

Their 50-year-old conductor, Wafa Younis, herself from the Arab village of Ara in Israel, announced the peace program in flawless Hebrew; "Inshallah", responded an elderly Jewish woman. The Arabic songs accompanied with violins and Arabic drums moved the audience.

Ms. Younis dedicated one song to the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, then went on to criticize Israel's West Bank settlements. She stressed the orchestra's mission; to help Palestinian children overcome the trauma of war, and to help adversaries to recognize their common humanity. "I'm here to raise spirits" she said; "These are poor, old people."

For her pains, Wafa Younis has been forbidden to enter Jenin again. The apartment where the Strings of Freedom orchestra were taught is boarded up, and the orchestra disbanded. "She exploited the children", said the head of the municipal committee. "She will be forbidden from doing any activities. We have to protect our children and our community."

That the Holocaust is a historical fact is not denied. Palestinians feel that the suffering that Jews experienced is now being foisted upon them. And they were innocent of wrong-doing, becoming victims of circumstances beyond their control. "We were forced to flee and we've lived in refugee camps for the past 50 years.

The director of the charity organizing the event, Good Spirit, expressed his disappointment in the outcome. "They approached us and volunteered to play. Wafa knew the orchestra would play before Holocaust survivors. We wanted to bring peoples' hearts closer together and if they are against that then that's a real shame.

The Palestinians are standing firm. The polarized needs of two disparate people. Demanding their grievances be acknowledged before they will be prepared to relent. Who can blame them. That is not the entire story, but it is their story.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Honoured Guests and Visitors

Seems there's no end to the number of perniciously racist internationals being invited to speak at events within Canada sponsored by an astonishing number of 'peace' groups. As though there aren't a sufficient number of Canadians who espouse views that are clearly meant to create division between people of different faiths, cultures and ethnic backgrounds, it hardly seems needful that more be imported to hammer home more hate-fest-ridden conferences in the ongoing search for 'peace'.

No sooner than British MP George Galloway is denied entry to Canada for a series of speaking engagement, than we're once again assailed with new information on invitations to two Palestinian clerics coming to Canada to spread their messages of friendly brotherhood and peace on earth. Mr. Galloway is currently contesting his exclusion from Canada. The other esteemed visitors will take up his slack.

Mr. Galloway, however, has been here before, on previous speaking engagements. And feels it entirely unreasonable that he has been declared persona non grata. He's comfortable in his support of Hamas, an outlawed terror group in Canada and elsewhere, just as he was comfortable in flying to Baghdad to give aid and comfort to that mass murderer, Saddam Hussein.

And when the Province of Ontario was entertaining the possibility of agreeing to Canadian Islamists' demands to introduce sharia law to the province, there was George Galloway, visiting Canada, defending the rights of Muslims to be governed within Canada, under sharia law.

Mr. Galloway and former London mayor Ken Livingston, must have been ecstatic when Britain quietly ushered in that same sharia law that condones the execution of gays and wife-beating on the basis that opposition to radical Islam is 'racist'. It took the active denunciations of sharia by Canadian Muslim women to finally persuade Ontario to back down.

The new invitees to speak at an event sponsored by Palestine House in Toronto, are the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, whose forte is the support of suicide bombings and rejection of the Holocaust, along with the "Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Ekrima Sabri, former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is capable of adding much to the debate currently raging about Israel and the Palestinians.

"He is a peace activist", according to a spokesman for Palestine House. In fact, both of the invitees are "moderate people". Palestine House, among other 'social activist' and 'peace groups' was behind the Israeli Apartheid Week, whose agenda was so clearly to bring an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, brotherhood and co-operation between Palestinians and Jews.

Ekrima Sabri is on record as claiming to be "filled with rage toward the Jews" although he has never 'greeted' a Jew, as "The Jews do not bother me, because they are the most cowardly creatures Allah has ever created". That's an interesting admission, that 'Allah created Jews', since according to the Koran Muslims are enjoined to respect all creeds, all men as equals, although throughout the history of Islam nothing could be further from reality in practise.

Mr. Sabri's effusive praise for "martyrs" who valiantly respond to exhortations to jihad and lend themselves to suicide bombings speaks volumes about his commitment to peace and good fellowship. He is especially appreciative of child bombers: "The younger the martyr, the greater - and the more I respect him", he has claimed.

Meanwhile, there does exist within Canada groups that genuinely do wish to foster understanding and good relations between Jews and Palestinians and Canadians; youth who gather yearly to participate in fellowship through a group called Peace It Together, in a year-long curriculum that teaches conflict resolution skills empowering the participants to think creatively and positively.

Exposed to one another for the first time, these youth realize that living with pervasive fear and hostility created alienation, blame and hatred leading to violence. They're taught the culture of compromise and negotiation instead, to prepare them to become leaders within their various communities, in a search for a viable peace.

Those are the honoured guests and visitors to Canada.

Labels: , , ,


"We have major problems with Sudan as a source of contraband arms." Thus saith one who should know. "The Egyptians cannot be relied upon to patrol that big, porous border." They most certainly should but can't be bothered. Israel's intelligence networks are quite capable of identifying such nuisance data. Besides which, blatant evidence of Iran's supplying Hamas with weaponry, along with the rockets that keep raining down on Israel's border towns clearly identify their source.

And while Israel complacently denies nothing, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert blandly reminded any who might require reminding that "there is no place that Israel can't reach" in its continuous need to protect itself, in the process striking at terror targets "near and far ... in the north and in the south ... There's no need to mention details; people can use their imaginations".

Two U.S. officials spilled the beans; that Israeli jets hit a convoy from Sudan carrying weaponry from Iran destined for Gaza, during Operation Cast Lead. It was clear that an agent of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards had co-ordinated the smuggling operation. Sudan prefers to name the convoy attackers as American. But then, they also see no political distinction between Americans and Israelis.

Sudanese, Eritrean and Ethiopian smugglers were killed, some 39 people, ferrying seventeen trucks stuffed with weapons destroyed in the Israeli jets' bombing mission in an isolated region near Port Sudan on the Red Sea, on their way to Egypt. "A convoy of vehicles carrying illegal weapons was bombed near the Sudanese-Egyptian border in mid-January, admitted Sudan's transport minister.

The message to Iran clearly is that Israel can strike where and when it wishes, in its defence. The message to Hamas is that Israel will continue to hamper its rearming of rockets, anti-tank missiles, high-grade explosives and other armaments.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Islamist Jihadis Objectors

MEMRI TV recently translated and released a clip of a speech by the prominent Kuwaiti Islamist Dr. 'Abdallah Al-Nafisi. In his speech, Al-Nafisi suggested a method for carrying out an anthrax attack in the U.S., lavishly praised Mullah Omar, and expressed the hope that "white militias" would succeed in their alleged plans to bomb a nuclear facility in the U.S. (see http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/2027.htm ).

Al-Nafisi's speech garnered sharp responses from a number of prominent liberals: Kuwait University professor Ahmad Al-Baghdadi and columnist Ahmad Al-Sarraf, both of whom are Kuwaiti, and the Jordanian-American author Shaker Al-Nabulsi.

Following are excerpts from their responses:

Ahmad Al-Baghdadi: Al-Nafisi's Lecture Shows "The Extent to Which Terrorism Has Penetrated the Arab Mentality"

In a February 24, 2009 article in the Kuwaiti Al-Siyassa daily, Ahmad Al-Baghdadi wrote: "Day after day the Muslims prove to the West, and to others, that they are a nation that encourages terrorism, [though] they become angry if Western authorities accuse them or imprison them. The proof of this is the applause received by the [Kuwaiti] thinker Dr. 'Abdallah Fahd Al-Nafisi during his terrorist lecture in Bahrain, which urged the killing of more than 300,000 Americans in an anthrax [attack] and called the 9/11 attacks just 'small change.' Anyone who listens to this Kuwaiti thinker's lecture and hears his words of support for Mullah Omar, and his call to encourage and support the terrorists and their [WMD] laboratories, will see the extent to which terrorism has penetrated the Arab mentality.

"In addition to these Bahraini supporters [who applauded his speech], along came 'Adel Al-Qassar from America - the country whose citizens Al-Nafisi calls to be killed - in support of Al-Nafisi. [1] Neither did the [Islamist] religious organizations in Kuwait criticize this lecture. This is a further indication of their support for global terrorism.

"In this terrorist lecture, the thinker Al-Nafisi said one should phone people who oppose Hamas - people he described as 'despicable' - and punish them. He made a motion with his hand as though he were holding a razor or a knife, alluding to slaughter! Dr. [Al-Nafisi], you are noble indeed, but you are all talk. I, Dr. Ahmad Al-Baghdadi, oppose Hamas, and I am also against the Muslim Brotherhood to which you belong, as well as the [salafi group] Jama'at Al-Salaf. I will write against you and will expose your traffic in religion. I challenge you to carry out your terrorist enterprise, so we can see if you really walk the walk. I challenge you to match your words with actions, if you truly believe in what you say: personally carry out a terrorist anthrax attack against the Americans. But you don't have the courage, or even the desire, to do this. You leave these kinds of terrorist attacks to gullible and foolish youth who have been seduced into destroying themselves with their own hands."

The Kuwaitis and Americans Should Arrest Al-Nafisi and Prosecute Him for Incitement to Terrorism

"It is an obligation incumbent on the Kuwaiti government - and even more so on the American government - to arrest Dr. 'Abdallah Fahd Al-Nafisi, since he is a prime instigator of terrorism. He should be held responsible, from here on in, for any attack carried out by any terrorist - Muslim or non-Muslim - who uses anthrax against any institution or against people in general, anywhere on the face of the earth. I am amazed that the Bahraini government let this terrorist lecture pass in silence…

"Frankly, I am very happy with Dr. Al-Nafisi's lecture, since it makes clear to all the terrorist orientation of the [Islamist] religious organizations, and affirms what I and other liberals have written about this terrorism, and which everyone says is an exaggeration. Here is their 'Dr.,' publicly and without fear delivering threats about killing Americans, and even explaining to whoever wants to hear how this criminal act should be carried out. He said that a small suitcase with four pounds of anthrax [could] be spread like confetti on the White House lawn…

"It is clear that membership in an [Islamist] religious organization leads to the continual deepening of the abyss of hatred for others - even if this member holds 50 doctorates. Just look at the Kuwaiti parliament and you will see that this degree is worthless in intellectual terms. All of our misfortunes come at the hands of these holders of doctorates. But the difference between them and Al-Nafisi is that his degree is from [the University of Cambridge in] noble London, whereas theirs are from Arab religious universities and are not worth the paper they are printed on…

"Of course I wish Dr. Al-Nafisi well so that he may continue to present us his brilliant terrorist views. If our government does not have state security arrest him and prosecute him for incitement to terrorism, this will mean that our government is in fact the number one terrorist, [just] as the writer 'Abd Al-Latif Al-Du'eij said. [2] Thank God Dr. [Al-Nafisi] has given up teaching, otherwise we would be seeing some of our students fighting the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I can assure you that neither the honorable Dr. [Al-Nafisi] nor the senior leaders of the religious organizations are prepared to fight jihad against the Americans; they leave these terrorist missions to foolish young terrorists who are deceived by the kind of vapid lectures they hear from people like Dr. Al-Nafisi, while they themselves live a pleasant and secure life.

"As for the Hamas movement, they are just a mafia gang and a bunch of thieving liars. Here is the proof:

"Amnesty International accuses Hamas of abducting and killing dozens of its opponents. This is the behavior of a mafia gang. And a group of them stole goods from UNRWA, which provides aid to the people of Gaza. At first Hamas denied this theft. Then they said that it occurred due to a technical error. Then they said that this aid was being used for political ends. Then they admitted the theft and returned the goods to the international organization after it threatened to halt its activities in Gaza.

"Is there anything honorable about belonging to an organization that abducts and kills its opponents and steals food and blankets from its own citizens, and [then] lies [about it]?

"I'll say to the fools and the terrorists: Israel is going to steal this article and post it on the website of its Foreign Ministry, without my consent. But remember that your friend Al-Qaradhawi lives in Qatar, and he didn't say a word against the Qatari regime when it hosted Peres, the president of the Zionist entity, in the Islamic land of Qatar - so it would do you some good to not be so shameless…" [3]

Ahmad Al-Sarraf: "Are Our Feelings and Emotions So Dead That We Are Not Bothered by [the Prospect of] the Deaths of 330,000 Innocent Americans?"

In a February 15, 2009 article in the Kuwaiti Al-Qabas daily, columnist Ahmad Al-Sarraf summarized Al-Nafisi's speech, and then remarked: "I do not know how one can describe as a 'fighter' or 'courageous' someone who undertakes to smuggle four pounds of anthrax into America and disperse it among the Americans, killing 330,000 of them in a single hour, [as Al-Nafisi did]. How could we justify to the world the fact that the person who did this would then emit 'cries of joy'… and pray for the Prophet and his family, directly after killing 300,000 innocent human beings - among whom would surely be thousands of Arabs and Muslims [as well]?

"How can we wonder at the feelings and emotions of the riffraff among us, when this is the 'logic' of our 'intellectuals'?

"More importantly, what would we, the Arabs and the Muslims, or [anyone else], gain if a religious fanatic carried out to the letter what this 'great thinker' said? For example, would the world be a more just, good, and peaceful place, or would this be this be the first sign of the coming of the awaited Mahdi, [who is said to arrive] when the world is filled with injustice and oppression?

"What would be the response of the U.S. government and its people if we killed 330,000 innocent Americans in a single hour? Would we then become capable of getting Palestine back from the Israelis, the [UAE] islands back from the Iranians, Alexandretta back from the Turks, and Andalus back from the Spaniards? And what good would all that be if nuclear bombs fell on our heads and destroyed the little that is good in our countries?

"And are our feelings and emotions so dead that we are not bothered by [the prospect of] the death of 330,000 innocent Americans in a single hour - among whom may well be some of our own people, and true friends - just because the government of this country has helped one of our enemies? And as though we ourselves haven't been our own enemy for hundreds of years? Oh logic, oh reason: how beautiful you are, and how rare." [4]

Shaker Al-Nabulsi: Al-Nafisi Is More Dangerous than Bin Laden

In a March 3, 2009 article in the Elaph e-journal, Jordanian-American liberal author Shaker Al-Nabulsi wrote: "… The aim of this article is not to reproach or condemn the Kuwaiti political scientist 'Abdallah Al-Nafisi. It is simply an attempt to analyze the importance and danger of his political discourse, much of which is a call to the culture of terrorism, glorifies terrorism, encourages terrorism, and says that it is necessary to carry out terrorism. This has made him a new, Kuwaiti, Bin Laden.

"The importance and danger of 'Abdallah 'bin Laden' Al-Nafisi lies in the fact that he is the greatest media propagandist for terrorism in the Arab world. He wraps his terrorist speeches in a layer of buffoonery, joking, and laughter, which makes them enter more easily into the heart and mind of the listener. He travels freely in the Arab world, and speaks freely and with great audacity.

"The danger of 'Abdallah 'bin Laden' Al-Nafisi is that he does not hide in Tora Bora or in the caves of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border; he is not wanted, and is not being pursued by anyone; he doesn't hide or dissimulate his beliefs. Rather, he travels throughout the Arab world giving speeches unabashedly encouraging terrorism, slaughter, and suicide [attacks]. He propagates his ideas and his calls for mass terrorism and the killing of hundreds of thousands of people openly and audaciously, and openly prays for [the terrorists'] victory and success…

"[I have] absolutely no opposition or objection to 'Abdallah Al-Nafisi's condemnation of American policy or his staunch opposition to its foreign policy towards the Palestinians and the Arabs. There is no reasonable person in the Arab world who doesn't oppose this policy, and especially [America's] behavior towards the Palestinians - and I am the first to oppose this. But I denounce, reject, and express indignation, in the strongest terms, to the manner in which we [Arabs] express this indignation, [if we do it in] the manner in which 'bin Laden' Al-Nafisi does. Is dispersing deadly anthrax powder in Washington, as 'bBin Laden' Al-Nafisi called for, and killing 330,000 Americans the only way for us to rectify America's [foreign] policy and [bring it to] an upright, humane attitude towards the Palestinian cause?...

"'Abdallah 'bin Laden' Al-Nafisi is a leader who openly and clearly calls for the 'greater terrorism', i.e., the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents - and not just thousands, the number killed by bin Laden in the September 2001 catastrophe. For this reason, he is a much more dangerous terrorist than Osama bin Laden, and [also] because he is more cultured than the original bin Laden, more eloquent, more charismatic, and enjoys much greater freedom of movement…" [5]

Labels: ,

The Authority of Perspective

Worse than Gaza

By Ben Harris · March 25, 2009

That's the impression of veteran Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, who recently wrapped up a speaking tour of American college campuses. Toameh says that the non-Arab, non-Muslim pro-Palestinian students are more strident, less tolerant of opposing viewpoints, and more fixated on their hatred of Israel than Arab Muslims on campus. The situation, he writes, is more hostile and uncivil than what he has encountered on Palestinian campuses.

Toameh writes:

If these folks really cared about the Palestinians, they would be campaigning for good government and for the promotion of values of democracy and freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Their hatred for Israel and what it stands for has blinded them to a point where they no longer care about the real interests of the Palestinians, namely the need to end the anarchy and lawlessness, and to dismantle the armed gangs that are responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians over the past few years.

The majority of these activists openly admit that they have never visited Israel or the Palestinian territories. They don't know -- and don't want to know -- that Jews and Arabs here are still doing business together and studying together and meeting with each other on a daily basis because they are destined to live together in this part of the world. They don't want to hear that despite all the problems life continues and that ordinary Arab and Jewish parents who wake up in the morning just want to send their children to school and go to work before returning home safely and happily.

What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the "occupation" as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cool, Calm, Collected

When Senator Obama presented his cool persona during the election campaign for the presidency, he was much admired for his ability to remain above the fray, and stick to the point, the matter at hand. His calm demeanor earned him great plaudits, as a potential for the highest office in the land. Nothing would faze him, he was in control, not given to histrionics, to passionate outburst, to embarrassing lapses in temperament.

In fact, the man is not temperamental. There is a serenity about him, a seeming clarity of vision, a commitment to clear and trustworthy communication. His promises to alter the way things have traditionally been conducted in Washington appealed to a majority of Americans. His personal appeal of being in charge, of enduring adversity with a great measure of calm spoke to his stolid and trustworthy character. And he promised a new and different future.

In short, this was a sterling display of control that he evinced, that had the effect of enthusing people in his potential to take charge of situations sans agitation, and in a manner that inspired confidence in his abilities. This helped get him elected; the trust he inspired in people by his confident and calm demeanor, the assuring qualities of his character. And those promises, oh those promises.

Now he is president, in the early stages of his administration. And suddenly he seems detached, too unperturbed, too cool and measured when the country is in a dire state of unsettled economic woes that simply do not seem to want to settle down. Rising unemployment, a collapsed housing market, a feeble stock market, a hugely diminished manufacturing sector, and scandals in the financial sector have taken their toll.

He's the first populist, common-touch and electronic president of the United States. He represents the consummate political communicator, available at any time to the media, and going out of his way in a manner unprecedented, to speak to his country through the medium of interviews, television talk-shows, writing op-ed explanatory pieces, and spreading the word through the Internet.

But his casual demeanor and almost-dismissive air of rejection of catastrophe, in his determination to forge ahead with his administration's decision to bail out financial institutions and auto manufacturers, his rejection of big business' self-entitlements, his socialism-inspired taxes on the wealthy, have earned him few admirers of late.

His injections of humour during bleak moments discussing the nation's travails have appalled his interlocutors and his critics, happily emerging from the shadows of anonymity where they lay in wait for events to overtake his learning curve. Statements that appear flippant in the face of emergency legislation and taxpayer discontent have brought his critics to a loud howl.

It's being claimed that his light-hearted responses to some heavy questioning are grossly inappropriate to his executive station and his responsibilities to the nation. He's gone former President Clinton's 'feeling your pain' gambit one too far, toward let's laugh together, when no one feels like laughing.

Life's tough: 'no drama Obama' has morphed into 'no pain Obama' and people are confused, bemused and unhappy.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Honoured Visitor

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, a Tibetan designated by China as a 'living Buddha' in the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism which mysteriously identifies "reincarnated soul boys", very young boys who appear somehow to be imbued with the spirit of the living Buddhas that have gone before in a long tradition that produced the Dalai Lama, is on a visit to Canada.

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak happens also to be a deputy representing Tibet in China's National Peoples' Congress.

He is there because he is at one with China's determination to suppress Tibet's heritage, history and traditions, complacent with China's claims that Tibet is but a province of China. He owes his 'living Buddha' status, after all, to Chinese invention, that sought to undermine the legitimacy of the true 'living Buddha' and replace him with their carefully selected representative.

"We have agreed to respect each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity and abide by the principle of one China" he commented, speaking in his official capacity, in explaining precisely why Canada and more specifically Prime Minister Stephen Harper erred catastrophically when he met officially with the Dalai Lama, as a sign of respect from one head of state to another.

"When your prime minister met with someone engaged in separatist activity aimed at splitting China, it was a gesture showing support", he complained. He appeared in Ottawa to lead an official Chinese public-relations delegation on a tour of Canada and the United States. The purpose being to persuade both countries to forget about the dreadfully misguided claims of the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet.

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak observed that Canadians would be equally as offended as China is, should Chinese government elites ever have met with separatist activists from Quebec, lending credence to their 'splitism'. Equating Quebec's move for independence with that of Tibetans agitating for a return to autonomy. Inferring a relativity that doesn't in fact, exist.

This is China's way of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama, and coincidentally conducting a media event introducing "Tibet Serf Liberation Day", for China most certainly did not invade Tibet, a historically self-contained and autonomous nation and country. Rather China liberated the people of Tibet from the oppressive thrall of a hideous theocracy that enslaved them.

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak owes his position to China's strictures against Tibetan tradition. The next in line to the Dalai Lama had been identified and groomed, as the Panchen Lama, following the traditional course of identification and grooming. That young boy somehow disappeared from view. He was replaced by illustrious China's choice of replacement as Panchen Lama.

Shingtsa Tenzinchodrak, who is indebted to China for the great honour bestowed upon himself as a Buddhist luminary, obviously knows nothing of the plight of thousands of Tibetans who have been imprisoned without charges, legal counsel and fair trials.

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Moscow, Tehran

Imperialist soulmates, one secular the other theocratic. This is rather amazing, in that they would seem to be rivals for world domination, not partners. But then, only the devil knows the recondite details. Both working diligently to invoke fear and suspicion from within the international community, both proudly accepting the mantle of social-political pariahs. Each content to support the other, satisfied with their partnership of world bedevilment.

They do, after all, recognize a common enemy, one whom they regard as the Great Satan, although Russia is a trifle more subtle in her evaluation, pronouncements and identifications in qualifying the United States of America as a threat to world peace. Each has their own agenda, however, tailored specifically to their history, traditions, aspirations and final goals, although they do seem, somehow, to converge, in the final analysis.

Russia, throughout its history as part of the U.S.S.R. was the central figure, as it were, of that great failed experiment in social control and political advantage. It was the authority, its satellites having client status. Much like Iran, in its own way, as claimant once again to expressing the true spirit of undying Islam from whence the word of God emanates in its purest form, so that other Islamic countries should present as satellites to its theocratic majesty.

Russia, reborn, is exerting itself mightily to extend its authority in an aggressive new imperialist expansion for the new world order to express the 21st Century. Russia recognizes its destiny as Eurasianist, to dominate Europe and Asia both, with its moral, social and political superiority. The latest proponent of the Eurasianist movement, great good friend of (Prime Minister), former President Vladimir Putin, as Russian nationalist Aleksandr Dugin puts it:

"In principle Eurasia and our space, the heartland Russia, remain the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution... The new Eurasian empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the U.S.A. and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us. This common civilizational impulse will be the basis of a political and strategic union."

Mr. Dugin is an admirer of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the Holocaust's chief organizers. He does appear to have something fundamental in common with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian ayatollahs, perhaps lamenting the lack of total efficacy of the Holocaust, echoed by Tehran. Although Tehran is also fond of challenging the full success of the Holocaust, their views do appear congruent.

Mr. Dugin, moreover, seeks a Slavic (Russian) Turkic alliance against the West toward the "long awaited renaissance of the Russian Empire". Now isn't that just so coincidental? Iran too seeks an alliance with Turkey. This is the same Turkey that has so restively, determinedly sought entrance to the European Union, also presenting as an erstwhile member of NATO.

Turkey's ardour toward both the EU and NATO has demonstrably cooled, quite disappointing Europe and the U.S., seeing it as a vital ally. Secular Turkey's warming to Iran and Syria coincides with the election of an Islamist President, Abdullah Gull, in 2007. Its former warmth toward the U.S. will be put to the test with President Obama's projected visit in the coming month; the outcome will be instructive.

Coinciding also with President Obama's overtures to Iran, seeking a melting of the icy relations between Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his political creature, President Ahmadinejad - providing Mr. Obama is prepared to deliver the properly acceptable and unilaterally abject obeisance to the majesty of the Islamist state.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Honestly, Obama

"In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people, and..." Well, you can't. The Islamist theocracy will not permit you to. Iranian state television simply did not broadcast your heartfelt speech inviting reconciliation. Although it's possible that Iranian Internet users may find it somewhere, it won't be on YouTube, since the government blocks that, too.

You're an Internet, populist president, to be sure. But you're speaking to a stone-age mentality, that's for certain. And you don't appear, in your preoccupation with human rights and speaking directly to those concerned, to realize that you are rational and they are not. You have opened the floodgates of accusations to once again wash over America from an irate Tehran, lecturing your country on human rights abuses.

The "new day" in relaxed relations of which you so movingly speak exists in your mind; there is no prospect in the very near future of a "new day" dawning between the rabidly Islamist government of Iran and the newly-thawed attitudes of the United States of America. You have not, it would seem, seriously read the history of Islam's burning desire to conquer the West; from its inception to the present.

The last century's brief interregnum in the clash between East and West, Islam and Christianity, the faithful and the kuffars has been re-joined. It moved itself forward once again when Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini returned from exile in France in 1979 to overthrow Shah Reza Pahlavi and launch the Iranian Revolution, installing said Khomenei as Supreme Leader.

You know, the year when the Republican Guards and fanatical Islamist student leaders breached the walls of the American Embassy in Tehran and held 66 American diplomats hostage, 52 of whom were held in captivity for an excruciating 444 days, while Iranian revolutionaries screamed "Death to America!" and Jimmy Carter's hostage rescue mission flopped so humiliatingly?

Well, President Obama, Tehran is not impressed with the magnanimity of your free gesture of conciliation. "The American administration has to recognize its past mistakes and repair them as a way to put away the differences", according to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, once one of those student revolutionaries. Ready to apologize abjectly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now?

Go to it, Mr. President.

Labels: , , ,

A More Useful Papal Message

Why the abortion issue must preface every Papal message to the masses is a question only he can answer. It appears all too often to be the only message. Certainly one of over-riding concern to the Vatican, taking precedence over all others. But the Roman Catholic Church is adamant and will not retreat from its stand that its ban on abortion is absolute, not to be countenanced even to save a mother's life.

Pope Benedict, in Angola, took grave issue with a part of the African Union's charter enacted to protect women's rights, referred to as the Maputo Protocol. Women in Africa have little enough protection in their strife-riven continent at the best of times, inclusive of the continent's generally accepted social attitudes that lead to both peace-time and war-time rapes.

The charter in question guarantees that women have a right to an abortion in instances of rape, incest or major health risks to the mother. "How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health", the Pope lamented. "How bitter the irony of those who promote abortion as a form of 'maternal' health care."

He speaks as one who knows nothing of human sexuality, of the duress of women's safety, utterly lacking human empathy, unwilling to extend compassion toward young girls raped and having no choice but to submit to an abortion to save their own frail lives. This, following hard on his condom-AIDS statements, condemning condom use as undermining morality.

But in Angola also, the Pope took courage in hand and addressed the issue of two-thirds of the country's population living in dire poverty, while the country's economy is in a boom-cycle as a result of oil exports. The government of Angola is ranked among the most corrupt in the world. Calling on his hosts to fight poverty and improve governance, is a welcome diversion from abortion and condoms.

During the televised speech in Angola, the Pope addressed all governments in Africa to display "a determination born from the conversion of hearts to excise corruption once and for all. Armed with integrity, magnanimity and compassion, you can transform this continent, freeing your people from the scourges of greed, violence and unrest."

He spoke of the need for "respect and promotion of human rights, transparent governance, an independent judiciary, a free press, a civil service of integrity, a properly functioning network of schools and hospitals. Particularly disturbing is the crushing yoke of discrimination that women and girls so often endure, not to mention the unspeakable practise of sexual violence and exploitation which causes such humiliation and trauma."

And that is a message well worth delivering. Neatly encompassing the full spectrum of ills continually afflicting the continent and its people.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Solidarity Without Cause

In November of 2007 French police issued a warrant for the arrest of a Palestinian by the name of Hassan Diab. Mr. Diab happened to be living in Canada at that time. Canada has an extradition agreement with France. German intelligence had revealed that Mr. Diab was identified as being involved in the 1980 bombing outside the Copernic Street Paris synagogue that killed four people. This target of a Jewish centre represented an attack against France as well, the first such occurrence since the end of the Second World War.

On this occasion violence against Jewish targets were carried out not by Nazi stormtroopers, but by a member of a violent Palestinian terror group (PPLF). And that member was identified as a then-young Palestinian, Hassan Diab. Mr. Diab insists this is an error, that he has been misidentified. French authorities reject that, claiming they have the evidence now that they require to take him to justice. He will face a life sentence for murder, attempted murder and wilful destruction of property if he is convicted.

Canada, acting on France's request, took Mr. Diab into custody awaiting extradition. Mr. Diab has the moral support of many within Canada who are willing and eager to vouch for him, none of whom believe that the person they know would have been capable of acting as a violent extremist. They know him as he is now, an ostensibly mild-mannered academic, who has taught sporadically at both University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

The chairman of Carleton University's department of sociology and anthropology, where Mr. Diab had a part-time teaching assignment is fully in support of this man: "The person I know is hard working and cares about his students". The person he knows is most obviously not the person who committed a terror act. Much as those accused of war crimes, later settling down to a normal life are seen by their neighbours as being 'ordinary', unremarkable and kind, not the type to commit murder.

There are those within Ottawa's Arab community who are convinced Mr. Diab is merely a predictable victim of universal anti-Arab attitudes prevalent since 9/11. "We feel we are being targeted and this is just one case of it", according to a member of the Canadian Coalition of Arab Professionals and Community Associations (CAPCA), one of several people who testified on Hassan Diab's behalf at a court bail hearing.

Another, a PhD student and teacher at the University of Ottawa informed the court of the "very high support" among Arabs living in Ottawa. Most of them convinced that Mr. Diab has been 'targeted'. That the move to extradite this man represents a 'miscarriage of justice'. A miscarriage that surely a French court would speedily identify. A local mortgage broker, another member of CAPCA, claims that Canadians of "Muslim and Arab origin have had a bad time in Canada."

Supporting them is a rabbi for the Congregation Migdal Tzedeq, who became involved because he was intrigued about the case, and who contacted some of Mr. Diab's former teachers and graduate school colleagues in Canada and the U.S., all of whom filed supportive letters on his behalf. Their testimony and his gut reaction after having interviewed Mr. Diab at the detention centre where he's being held has convinced the rabbi of Mr. Diab's 'sincerity'.

Asked by Crown prosecutors how much information they have on this case, the PhD student and the mortgage broker admitted they had no personal knowledge of Mr. Diab, and nothing about the allegations launched against him other than what they'd gleaned from their brief interviews at the detention centre. When he was prodded by an interlocutor as to how he could be so certain about Mr. Diab's innocence, the mortgage broker said he had asked him.

"I asked him, 'Did you do it [the bombing]? I looked the man in the eye and he said 'No'. I believe the man." They all do, and they have all expressed their willingness to put up bail for this high-flight-risk man accused of murder. If he is innocent the evidence assembled by French authorities will surely not be sufficient to indite him. This is for a French court to determine.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Unforgivable

According to the acceptable virtues and unspeakable human vices as interpreted by the Vatican, the Monster of Austria, Josef Fritzl erred as a human being when he repeatedly raped his imprisoned daughter, but because he permitted his daughter to bear seven of his children he failed to commit the cardinal sin of aborting a potential human life. Even the death of his seventh child through a misadventure of the delivery process would not have brought him excommunication, for it would not be seen as deliberate.

That he destroyed so many lives through his viciously brutish diminishment of their humanity, subsumed by his ravenous lust, is another human misadventure. All can be forgiven, if one repents. And, finally, he has repented. He claims to be repentant. He wishes to be spared the fear of the finality of life by exposure to other criminals when he is incarcerated. He fears his life may be taken by some imprisoned criminal who may take a very visceral reaction to such a monster in his near vicinity.

There is a large question looming here with the further revelations of the utter incompetence of the police forces in Austria. Let alone with the social contract in that country, with the seeming disinterest of the society at large in the horrendous fate of too many missing young women. Among whom have been a number of girls - roughly Elizabeth Fritzl's age when she was entombed - when they were raped and murdered. Some of whom were reputed to resemble her physically.

It has been revealed that police detectives now consider the real probability that Josef Fritzel was a public sex offender of long standing before his attention was turned on his own child. Whom he raped repeatedly from the age of 11. This inveterate rapist was convicted in 1967 for raping a young woman, sentenced to 18 months, spent less than a year in jail, and the record of his conviction somehow disappeared.

A string of rapes and murders occurred stretching over a four-decade period of time, all of which in retrospect, can be traced to his near proximity. And since his arrest in 2008 other women have come forward to claim that he had attacked them, as well. Some of these women, given the treatment they receive as victims in society, were too shamed and embarrassed to come forward and report what had occurred to them.

Even before he was convicted on rape charges he had a conviction for indecent exposure. He is known to have been a regular sex tourist in Thailand. Where was his wife's awareness? Where were the public safety authorities in all of this? This monster was given the freedom to roam wherever he wished, to attack the defenceless and the vulnerable, an extraordinary predator.

His pathetic excuse that he was an unwanted, unloved and abused child which led to his life-long hatred and violent obsession with humiliating and violating women presents as yet another exploitative ploy, this time for public sympathy. Sympathy? There are times when the world would simply be far better off without the living presence of such a hideously living offence against decency and humanity.

Yet it is entirely possible, since the man is such a survivor, feeding off the misery of those upon whom he preys, that he may yet see freedom. Some truly arcane laws may aid and abet his future release, despite a life sentence. He will be placed in a psychiatric unit "for people with an abnormality of the mind", as stated by Judge Andrea Humer.

And if, at some future date, within that period construing a 'life sentence' he may be deemed by mental health specialists to have been rehabilitated, he could be transferred to a normal prison, and from there be eligible for parole, after a mandatory minimum of 15 years' imprisonment.

Unless some noble creature incarcerated alongside him doesn't put us out of the misery he has imposed on us, first.

Labels: , ,

Deep Shame

What a confounding, contradictory and shameful contretemps, to be revealed to an worldwide audience divided between those who expected better, much better, from the State of Israel and the Israeli Defence Forces, and those who, on hearing the news find much to celebrate at the shame that some members of the IDF have brought to the country. There is nothing particularly new about the proven fact, witnessed time and again, about various countries' militaries behaving horrendously in times of warfare.

With the United States it was the revelations that resulted from the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1968 when hundreds of Vietnamese civilians were murdered by U.S. army troops. It was thought to be a gross violation of official policy directives, but a succeeding investigation placed the responsibility for the event on General W. Westmoreland whose blanket policy of humane treatment of villagers was thought to have been misconstrued by troops entering four hamlets believing everyone in the Communist-controlled area should be killed.

A similar defining moment in the measure of how a respected military force could go wrong, occurred for Canada in Somalia, when a Somalian teenager, Shidane Arone, was beaten to death by soldiers from the Canadian Airborne Regiment. The Somali teen was apprehended attempting to take supplies from the Canadian base, when two members of the regiment captured, tortured and murdered him. An enquiry revealed that superior officers were aware of what was occurring, and did nothing to stop the horror.

Now, in Israel, two Israeli newspapers, Haaretz and Maariv have published accounts detailed by Israeli soldiers that validate the claims made by Palestinian Gazans who suffered humiliations and privation and preventable death during Israel's offensive 'Cast Lead' in Gaza. What all three countries, the U.S., Canada, and Israel have in common is that they have a free press able to freely publish information inimical to the reputations of their respective countries.

The 22-day conflict in Gaza saw many casualties from among the civilian population. Their Islamist terror administration, Hamas, was satisfied to create a human-shield situation of the Palestinians, knowing full well that sooner or later Israel would be forced to respond to the ongoing Kassam rockets launched against its own civilians. The Hamas elite, during the assault, sequestered themselves safely in underground bunkers, while members of their militia were picked off.

Israelis are afflicted with a horror of sacrificing their vibrant youth in the necessity of mounting a workable defence against the ongoing terror assaults and the promise of Hamas to destroy the state. Before the advent of the encircling Wall, suicide bombings were rampant occurrences. The society is imbued with a sense of their lives being precious beyond those of the lives of others; a not unknown phenomenon elsewhere in other world communities, both in the past and present.

Islamists often deride this social attitude common among Jews, enjoying their contrary statement of the value of life: their enemy values life, they embrace death. Death-dealing, in any event. And here then are members of the IDF, from infantrymen to squad leaders describing incidents of hateful abuse of Palestinians, and dreadful instances of soldiers 'following orders' to shoot at anyone approaching beyond a certain line.

In the process scrawling racist and humiliating slogans on the walls of homes they invaded, urinating on family portraits, bullying the elderly and frightening children, and in the worst of all scenarios, outright sharp-shooting a confused and fearful woman and child. The testimony given points to a policy during the operation that a soldier could shoot if he deemed someone to be suspicious, or present in a forbidden area.

The chief advocate of the Israeli army has ordered an investigation of these claims by the military police. The government will itself mount an enquiry, without doubt, once it gets itself in order. This shameful news has been disseminated widely, within the country and without. This is a country proud of its tradition of justness and it does not pleasure itself with causing the deaths of others.

It is, nonetheless, yet another lesson in human behaviour; no society is devoid of such problems, nor the presence among them of those whose ability to evaluate dire situations and to behave responsibly and morally is personally compromised.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Exemplary Life, Honoured and Esteemed

In 2006 Canada lost a most respected member of society, a man who emigrated from England to live out his life in Canada. Roy Farran had a colourful background during the Second World War. As a 23-year-old in 1944, he led one of the most successful post-D-day operations, penetrating 200 miles through enemy lines in four days, north of Dijon, from Rennes airfield in France. The operation he led resulted in a high number of enemy casualties.

His own troops' casualties, by contrast, were light. In celebration of their exploit, his squadron took an illicit leave in Paris. Clearly, he was imbued with a spirit of derring-do; clearly he was also a rebel. The operation he led, however, brought him a distinguishing DSO. His family had a military history, and he was himself commissioned into the 3rd Carabiniers Dragoon Guards, serving with the 61st Training Regiment, then attached to the 3rd King's Own Hussars in Egypt.

He also fought in Crete; leading a tank attack, was wounded and captured, but he managed to escape; such escapades were his forte, as much as his proclivity to escapes. He was again medalled with his first MC. By 1942 he received advancement to ADC to the commander of the 7th Armoured Division. His war adventures were many and varied; he was a military achiever, and in 1946 he was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

Then, he became second-in-command of the 3rd Hussars and was sent with them to British-mandated Palestine. He returned to Palestine after a stint as a Sandhurst Military Academy instructor. His clandestine intelligence-gathering capabilities were placed at the disposal of the Palestine police, where he formed patrols of personally hand-picked undercover police officers tasked to infiltrate terror networks.

The terrorists of the time represented Jewish guerrillas, most notably the Stern Gang whose resolve it was to remove Britain from Palestine so that the dream of worldwide Jewry to establish a state of their own could be accomplished. Roy Alexander Farran, and the five companions forming their terror patrol unit were continually on the lookout for those they deemed suspicious, associated with the underground Jewish resistance movement.

And sixty-two years ago, in May 1946, he and his companions abducted a 16-year-old Jewish youth, Alexander Rubowitz, a young volunteer with the Lehi underground, who knew the risks, but who had been handing out leaflets. The youth was in possession of broadsheets associated with the work of the Stern Gang and the Irgun, and had been in Farran's sight for some time. They took the occasion to spirit him away in a vehicle, and the young man was never seen again.

He was tortured by this special British Palestine police unit, headed by Roy Farran. Despite the torture the young man never gave any information that Roy Farran and his cohorts sought, and they killed him. He was murdered, in fact, by Roy Farran himself, who bashed in his skull with a rock. And then undertook to file an official report to be handed to his superior officer. That document is no longer in existence.

When he was alerted to the fact that he would be charged with murder, accompanied with two of his NCOs he crossed the border by car into Syria, and there related his story to the head of the British Legation in Damascus. Then he flew back to Palestine accompanied by the Assistant Inspector-General of the Palestine Police, and was later incarcerated in Allenby Barracks, Jerusalem, and escaped again. He surrendered when the Stern Gang undertook reprisals.

No body had ever been found, and it was claimed that Farran hadn't been identified in a line-up, causing the case to be dismissed due to lack of evidence. Roy Farran returned to Britain where he served as a quarry master in Scotland, then moved on to Kenya, and from there to Rhodesia to work for a construction company. He returned to his home in Britain to run as a Conservative in the 1950 general election, but lost.

Finally, this peripatetic world figure emigrated to Alberta, where he lived out the rest of his long life, until age 85. He distinguished himself in Canada in many ways. He tried his hand at dairy farming, worked as a reporter and columnist for the Calgary Herald and in 1954 founded his own paper, the North Hill News. He was elected a city alderman six years later, and ten years after that a PC member of the provincial legislature.

He served under Peter Loughheed's government as minister of telephones and utilities, then as solicitor-general. He was a respected fixture in the country's political and social infrastructure. Leaving politics in 1979, he stepped into the chairmanship of the Alberta Racing commission. Then he wrote for the Edmonton Journal in the 1980s and became a visiting professor at Alberta University Centre.

This man of honour returned to France to accept the Legion d'Honneur in 1994, from the French government. Truly, a life well lived. Not long afterward he had his larynx removed after being diagnosed with throat cancer. Mr. Farran, truly a man of huge and varied accomplishments found strength in his Catholic faith, saying his Hail Marys before embarking on any action.

As a good Christian he often said later in life that he bore no ill will toward the British authorities over his arrest and court-martial. And he also claimed that he did not dislike Jews. But the fact remains that he committed the ultimate offence against humanity, in abducting, torturing and murdering a 16-year-old teen. He did confess to the murder, but he felt that he was simply doing his duty.

Following orders, "nicht schuldik" was the standard response actually, during the Nuremberg trials, after the Allies brought a halt to the rampage of the Nazis intent on establishing their Thousand-year Reich, and dominating the world.

Relatives of the young murdered man would like to discover the whereabouts of his mortal remains, to enable them to give him a proper and respectful burial. To that end they hired a private investigator whose Pallorium detective agency has operations in the U.S., Canada and Israel. Steven Rambam feels he is close to discovering the place where Alexander Rubowitz's remains may be buried.

Moreover, although Mr. Farran has been dead a number of years, it's speculated that a number of members of his squad are still alive and should be tried for war crimes. That is obviously an opinion that won't be shared by many. Israeli authorities and the family of the murdered youth would be satisfied with their testimony and their assistance in discovering the whereabouts of their family member's remains to conclude this sordid, sorry historical event.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fair and Balanced Debate

Canada's Conservative government stands on its principles and moral determinism. It was the first country to announce its non-attendance at Durban II for the very good reason that this upcoming event in Geneva is shaping up to reflect the original event in Durban, South Africa as an Arab-Muslim-led majority bloc to defame and isolate one single UN-member country as a human-rights abuser, handily turning reality inside-out.

Canada's perturbation at the actions of its Ambassador to the United Nations who, in his recent role as chairman of a United Nations debate on human rights decided to cut off an NGO representative from presenting a case for "universal condemnation" of anti-Semitism expressed in defamatory anti-Jewish initiatives, most certainly did not reflect the values and views of the government he represents there.

When this came to the attention of Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, it was announced that the matter would be investigated. The result of that investigation has now been revealed. It has resulted in a rare rebuke from the government to its own appointed permanent representative in Geneva, Marius Grinius. It was made abundantly clear to Mr. Grinius that he erred in judgement on this occasion.

Ambassador Grinius, in consultation with a UN procedural official on a point of order, had made the decision to cut off a statement by David Littman, an accredited United Nations NGO activist, in the UN Human Rights Council, on March 6. Mr. Littman had later written to Ambassador Grinius, seeking an explanation, and he is still awaiting that response.

"It is our conclusion that Mr. Littman should not have been cut off by Ambassador Grinius", is the official response now from the office of the Minister. This is in reflection of continual assaults against the reputation of Israel by the 47-member council, heavily weighted in favour of the Arab-Muslim voice, where vicious condemnations of Israel are routine.

While the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference bridles violently at any suggestion that Islamist sharia law might infringe on human rights, and insists that the UN adapt a hate-law against any who might bring Islam to disfavour by questioning its precepts and the various interpretations of the Koran that lead to violent jihad, deeming it to be Islamophobia, it's seen as fair and balanced to defame Israel.

UN-monitoring groups now express the hope that this event will serve as a hopeful sign to other Non-Governmental Organizations - who have experienced their own instances of censure on points of order that reflect a one-sided position and negate attempts at a balanced view of valid points of discussion.

Labels: , ,

A Life, Atrophied

An utterly deranged megalomaniac lives behind the facade of a paterfamilias, the stuff of which horror fantasies are derived from.

Fiction, it is so often said, is stranger, more peculiar, more odious, more unbelievable than much that happens in life. But not always. Society does breed its social monsters. People so utterly without empathy for others, so deeply wedded to themselves they are incapable of resisting their black, bleak urges to destroy the lives of others.

There are some breeds of fish where the males, upon the birth of offspring, will immediately set about devouring their own. There are some breeds of men so lacking in compassion, and bereft of the ability to care for others, so emotionally dead to the humanity of other human beings that they are capable of the most heinous acts of bestiality, one could never ascribe to sentient beings.

On the other hand, they are legion, they inhabit their own very special place in this shared world of the raptors and the victims, the self-enablers and the vulnerable, the vicious demanders the the innocent. Interspersed between the hunter and the hunted there is sprinkled a shambling element of non-interferers, those who might take the initiative to protect the victims, but who choose not to.

In Austria, Elizabeth Fritzel's older brother Harald, was one of those. True, he was only two years her senior, but she trusted him and they were emotionally close as siblings. She informed him of the horrors that their father was imposing upon her from the age of eleven, and he knew of the dreadful abuse his sister was suffering.

There's a big difference, both in chronological age and in physical capabilities between eleven and thirteen, female and male.

Why would a child whose father violated her repeatedly not approach her mother and plead for her help? This was a stern man who would brook no opposition to his dictates as head of family. What kind of woman would live with such a man? What kind of woman might it be who could contrive ignorance of what occurs between her husband and their children?

What measure of fear and foreboding could be sufficient to ensure that a mother would assent to a father abusing, tormenting, threatening and raping their children? The girl that Elizabeth Fritzel was, was utterly abandoned by anyone who might save her from the predations of her father. She ran away from home at 16, was found by authorities and returned to the security of her loving family.

She had earned her father's relentless enmity by defying his wish to maintain her as a child sex-slave. There was nowhere she could turn to for help to deliver her from her living nightmare. And when he finally entombed her two years later so he could control her with no possibility of intervention, a life already drenched in misery and horror sank even lower into the mire of humiliation and despair.

She was forced to endure as a sex slave to a depraved lunatic, with no opportunity to escape, no one to share her torment with, living in her dank cellar with no hope. Forced to carry out one pregnancy after another, to self-deliver in that stinking dungeon, reliant only on her singular will to live. It's truly a pity that hate alone is an insufficient weapon with which to kill a tormentor.

With all the psychiatric assistance she and her children - forced to endure their relentlessly-fearful incarceration in an foetid underground cavern of cement and rats - may now be dependent on to help them try to adjust to a human life, nothing can expunge the memory of their unending ordeal of fear, control and physical and psychic deprivation.

The pity of it is, there is no punishment suitable for this father and grandfather; architect-monster of a sordid tale so unbelievable that it defies human credulity.

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pakistan's Agonized Choices

What a blighted, benighted, conflicted, dynasty-driven and riven failure of a country Pakistan represents. There are failures, and there are failures.

And Pakistan's failure as a democratic country, riven by its wish to be ruled in a secular manner, supported by a large majority of its urban population, viewing themselves as urbane and law-abiding, as opposed to the pathologically-driven religious fanatics seeking to ultimately empower themselves into governance has resulted in utter civil collapse.

The unrest seen in Pakistan today just another manifestation of the inner rot so long infecting all the instruments of government and the institutions upon which civil society depends. In a population passionate about their religion, their society, their country; prideful of their technology in advancing to nuclear weaponry alone among Islamic countries, yet mindful of how they appear as fractious and financially ruined, they continue to wreak disorder and dissent.

One might imagine that the great aggregation of educated, professional and middle-class within the population might advocate for more responsible government and invest their energy in providing respectable political alternate candidates for executive office. Instead, two convicted criminals vie with one another for the presidency; one prevailed, and the other continues to agitate to unseat him.

Which of the two is more injurious to the fate of the country, a light-fingered and exuberant playboy extending his wife's inheritance to the presidency, or another pocket-liner who espouses an executive representing fundamentalist Islam? It was the secular one who gave his blessing to fanatic sharia law among the Taliban-held
NorthWest Frontier; it will be the fundamentalist who will extend it within.

Former President Musharraf who, fearing the demands of Chief Justice Chaudhry's decision that the head of the military could not remain as president, unseated him. It was President Asif Zardari who reneged on his agreement with Nawaz Sharif, the one-time president, to reinstate Justice Chaudhry. Bringing out, once again, the country's hordes of lawyers in revolt.

Another about-turn for President Zardari, and personal fears for prosecution set aside, Justice Chaudhry is now reinstated. In the interim, Mr. Sharif successfully curried favour in aligning himself with both the protesting lawyers and the rampaging Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party. What's wrong with the country's judiciary and its lawyers, and its civil society?

Are they completely unaware of how close their country is to finally succumbing to sharia law? Then their precious democratic rights will be entirely forfeit. Then the instability of their relations with India and Afghanistan will be utterly destabilized. Bringing them, however, closer to Iran, aspiring to attain to what Pakistan already has and may in future share with it.

Labels: , , ,

"What Will Be Will Be"

Incestuous barbarity. It wasn't just that he repeatedly raped his own daughter, forcing her into an eternity of confinement, and impregnating her repeatedly. It was his creating of an unspeakable future for those children whom he forced into the world, defying even the most primitive abhorrence of incest, and in the process submitting them to the atrocious condition by which they too were forced to live, as prisoners, mutant beings.

One supposes, given the Vatican's recent support - then recantation - of the Archbishop of Brazil expounding on the level of sins, those acceptable and those so unacceptable that they were deserving of excommunication, that this Austrian, Josef Fritzl, would never be shunned out of his church but for the murder through deliberate neglect of one of the youngest child he fathered with his agonized daughter.

He is prepared to plead guilty to holding his daughter Elisabeth - a wayward and intransigently-independent woman in his estimation - his personal prisoner and rape-object for twenty-four unutterable, untenable years of pathetic squalor and forlorn hope. He is not prepared to plead guilty to murder of one of his seven children by his daughter. He was, he claims, a 'good father'.

The good father was a barbarically grotesque monster, but because he is very aware of the penalty for murder, this one charge he will not lay claim to. The others; abducting and closeting his daughter in a subterranean set of chambers, repeatedly raping her, and violating the most fundamental needs of children, another thing altogether.

He denies having enslaved that segment of his family. One can be forgiven for asking, politely, of course, how it might be that there were no questions from those closest to him - say his wife, for example - at his lengthy absences in that hidden, forbidden bunker. Nothing suspicious about the regular conveyance of food and other necessities, and the removal of waste products from an otherwise-observant wife?

Would the mother of a young woman not wonder why it might be that her daughter suddenly disappeared and then chose at random intervals over the years, to contact her father, depositing with him her offspring? Which the good wife then obediently undertook to raise as her own? What manner of distorted loyalty might that represent, and to whom?

The three middle children who were raised above-ground, permitted to see the light of the sun, breathe fresh clean air, run about as normal children do, attend school, feel themselves valued, must yet come to their personal dilemma of their parenthood, and surmount it to succeed in advancing their lives beyond the trauma of guilt. Guilt that they represent a biological shibboleth.

Guilt that what was permitted them in freedom and the pursuit of youthful happiness was denied their incarcerated siblings. Whose physical and mental state is so unlike their own, though they too represent society's most whispered condemnations. Rotting teeth and gums, friable immune systems and frail physiques; ghostly apparitions of the underworld incapable of communicating with the denizens of the real world.

What restitution is even remotely possible to enable these horribly inflicted individuals to embrace the normality of life? What forgiveness might be possible from daughter to mother to bridge that razor-thin gap of responsible parenthood? What penalty might come close to representing society's will to judge and to penalize an inhumane and unrepentant monster?

Labels: , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet