Thursday, April 30, 2009


It is undeniably barbaric to consider other human beings antipathetic objects to be used and abused. It is barbaric when one ethnic or religious group targets another as inferior to their own tribe or clan, or religion. It is savage and uncivilized for one group to continually spread their pathology of hate and dehumanization against another group, slandering and attacking them.

Yet this is precisely what obtains in the larger Arab world, and the world of Islam.

Antipathy toward Jews, toward the State of Israel, toward the religion that preceded theirs, gave impetus to theirs, book-ending another toward which their hatred also extends, does not reflect a world vision, nor does it reflect the most basic concept of human beings living in harmony as most religions, including that of Islam, purports to instill in their faithful.

Islam and tribalism were historically inter-twined from the very inception of the faith.

And they have never strayed very far from one another. The civilizing precepts of accepting one's fellow man, and doing to them as we would wish done to us, does not appear to have made the impact on the sub-conscious of Muslims as one might hope it to have done. Defying that truth, there are millions of Muslims for whom concern for others not of their tribe obtains; human compassion and kindness remains their guiding light.

While no religion can claim to have a monopoly on goodness and justice, compelling its faithful through worship of a great unifying and caring Spirit that is omniscient and omnipresent, to aspire to emulate the angels and defy the devils residing in us all, Islam appears to have failed most spectacularly. Ignorance, disrespect and disregard for others - even among other Muslims - is rampant.

The vestiges of tribal cruelties of punishment and fanatic oppressions of the weak and the defenceless are seen in the scourge of continuing slavery, abductions of children, inducting them into terror and war, and the wholesale hatred and oppression of women, the deadly rejection of homosexuals, and of apostates. Death is the final and most absolute justice meted out for these social outcasts.

And it was a cruel and merciless death that was meted out to Ilan Halimi, a young French Jew, by The Barbarians. Abducted through the devices of a rude scheme to entice him by a young woman who was an accomplice of the gang of young Muslims, he was tortured relentlessly over a period of 24 days. His family was unable to raise the ransom demanded, despite the belief of the abductors of the wealth of Jews.

The gang calling themselves The Barbarians lived up to their name, and doubtless that was also indicative of their deranged pride. They sent video and audio messages to the family of Ilan Halimi, where his fearfully agonized pleas for mercy no doubt terrified his family, who were unable to raise the $720,000 demanded of them.

Mr. Halimi was finally released from his ordeal, left naked, handcuffed to a tree beside a railway track. En route to the hospital he died. His murderers are now on trial in Paris, the leader, Youssouf Fofana charged with murder, his 26 accomplices facing various other charges.

In Pakistan the Taliban behead their opponents, a common enough solution to a nuisance often faced by fanatical Islamists. Schools for children are burned down, their teachers slaughtered. Men are flogged for shaving, women for venturing into public inadequately covered by oppressive burqas.

As elsewhere in the barbaric world of fundamental Islam women are stoned, flogged, raped and murdered, due sentences, punishments duly delivered for infractions and infringements of Islamic sharia law. Honour killings are conducted by family members upon young women and girls who have brought disgrace to their families by their un-Islamic conduct.

And Israel's partner in the peace process, the Palestinian Authority, sentences a Palestinian man to death by hanging. Guilty of selling land in the occupied West Bank to Israeli Jews. Anwat Breghit has been found guilty of treason, of "selling Palestinian land to Israelis". The sentence cannot be appealed, but it could be repealed, should Mahmoud Abbas order it not be carried out.

Should Mr. Breghit be brought to 'justice' in this manner, he will represent only one of many. Many who have not been brought to trial, merely to justice, brutally killed, convicted in the opinion of Palestinian fanatics of having aided and assisted or being sympathetic to the Israeli oppressors.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Celebrated Statehood

As Israel celebrates sixty-one years of statehood, she fends off verbal accusations of racism, of oppression, of denying statehood and opportunities for the future for Palestinians. Along with violent physical assaults from within the State on her citizens from the very citizens who deny the legitimacy of the state yet who share the country's equality and justice, beyond traditions of tribe, creed or religion. Majority Jewish, but accepting of a minority non-Jewish population in a liberal democracy.

And to ensure that attacks from beyond its borders are not mounted to interrupt the solemnity of the celebration of existence as a Jewish state, the need to seal off the West Bank for the duration of the celebrations; Independence Day, and Remembrance Day. The occasion of Independence Day, a bitter day of mourning for the Palestinians; Remembrance Day where Jews mourn their fallen representing both civilian and armed services members, since 1860.

Israeli Jews are still facing attacks from the Palestinians with whom they share the territory, both from within the borders of Israel, and from beyond, through West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinians. Those who continue to demand the disintegration of Israel and the creation of one national entity, led by, peopled by Palestinians. Fatah-led Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas defies the official Israeli demands for recognition of the Jewish state.

He speaks of a peace option, of the need and necessity to set up a parallel Palestinian state beside that of the Jews, but this is for public consumption beyond the Middle East, in polite social terminology found acceptable by the international community. Among his own, he speaks uncompromisingly of recapturing that which destiny holds in store for the Palestinians, the entirety of the area, perhaps permitting a Jewish presence within the larger Palestinian state.

Israel is cautioned by the international community that it must assent to surrendering the Old City of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, destined to be their capital. Arabs do not do things by half-measures. They pry open narrow interstices where they may insert themselves and then cling to the demands that more and even more be surrendered to their needs and aspirations. Jerusalem divided; Palestinian returnees and the surrender of Israeli cities to the Palestinians to follow.

There are crafty political ploys as an interregnum in the wider scheme of attrition where the world observes an authentically earnest Palestinian Authority gravely bargaining for peace with the State of Israel. Both sides, it is assumed, must make sacrifices, for the larger and honourable purpose of establishing peace between the adversaries. Israel gives up half of Jerusalem, withdraws from all of the West Bank, embraces millions of 'returnees'.

And the Palestinians? What are they prepared to sacrifice? Nothing too awfully much, it appears. For they still teach their young to detest, fear and swear vengeance against the Jews. Their official map represents their aspirations to inherit all of the area, the impediment of Israel nowhere in sight. The Arab loathing of the presence of a Western-based ideology, a religion other than Islam remains unabated.

The United States, the European Union, Norway, France, Britain, insist that Israel accept the olive branch extended by the Arab League through Saudi Arabia's plan for peace; the only, the last, the final option. Jordan warns that lack of acceptance of the offer as it stands will define the future where Israel can anticipate further and ongoing attacks against its sovereignty, its very existence.

The Western world swears its allegiance to the idea of the continuation and the security of the State of Israel. However, Israel must succumb to expectations of it; to accept the promise of a peace proffered by Arab states which have no control of the jihadists among them, of the proxy Islamist armies whose mission is to destroy Israel. Or languish as it has for over a half-century in constant fear of attack.

Now Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, meeting in Israel with President Shimon Peres, affirms China's commitment to respect and aid Israel, acknowledging the reality of the Holocaust, offering China's kind regards to Israel. Two countries which, throughout history, however distant they are geographically, have shared much.
During the Second World War, Jews sought and found refuge in Shanghai, mostly due to Japanese assistance.

Here is the blind leading the halt; China's foreign minister offering the opinion that the world hopes to see Israel make "sensible decisions that lead to peace and stability in the area". As though it is Israel alone that must make those decisions. As though China, with its dreadful, fractured 20th Century history of mass slaughter of its own, oppression of minorities and religions, is in a position to act as a mentor, a moral guide.

Like most other critics of Israel, piously insisting she must give up much, make great sacrifices for the greater good of co-existence with a neighbour demonstrating scant indications that normalcy of civil relations can be anticipated if she surrenders to all the demands made of her, China is in a compromised position. While not sharing Iran's insistence on the mirage of the Holocaust, and professing sympathy for Israel, her dependence on oil and natural gas from Iran taints her overtures.

And while Israel entreats China to use its influence with Iran's leaders to persuade them to halt their march toward nuclear armaments, China is leery of its vulnerability in the issue, should Iran in high dudgeon over undue interference decide to stop supplying vital energy needs. It needn't be; Iran needs the export business and the funding it provides for a sad economy more than China needs the energy source.

Meanwhile, Israel celebrates its miraculous presence on the world stage as a sovereign nation, despite the monumental difficulties it continues to face in a hostile Middle East and an ever-increasing hostile world. Dependent on its own stubborn need to provide a homeland for its people, subordinate to none other than the imperative of its existence.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Blessed Legitimacy

Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya: Camp David Accords Are Valid According to Shari'a

Thirty years after Israel and Egypt signed the Camp David peace accords, a senior Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya official stated that the accords were sanctioned by shari'a and had served Egypt's interests. This statement was remarkable in light of the fact that, for many years, Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya had vehemently opposed recognizing Israel and establishing peaceful relations with it.
In recent years, however, Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Egypt in the 1980s and '90s, has categorically reversed its position. Its leaders, who are imprisoned in Egypt, have pledged to renounce violence, apologized for their past terrorist activities, and are now promulgating a new ideology that advocates coexistence with the regime. [1]
Following are excerpts from the statement by the movement's founder and mufti, Najeh Ibrahim, which was posted on [2]

Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya mufti Najeh Ibrahim, who served a 25-year sentence for colluding in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat, told www.islamonline that the Israel-Egypt peace treaty was valid according to Islamic religious law. Relying on the precedent of Hudaybiyya, [3] Ibrahim contended that "shari'a permitted agreements and peaceful relations - whether between Muslims and Muslims or between Muslims and Jews, Christians, or members of any other ethnic group - provided that they served the interests of Muslim countries." Ibrahim added that claims that peace with the Jews was forbidden, made by several young members of the movement from the 1970s until today, flew in the face of shari'a.

Ibrahim went on to state, "Despite the many drawbacks of the Camp David accords, they were the best [option] available to Egypt at the time, especially since Egypt's domestic, regional, and international circumstances preclude an ongoing military conflict with Israel."

He added: "Egypt has no military, political, or economic capabilities to liberate all Palestine, nor has it attempted to accomplish this in any of the wars [it has waged]… which sought to achieve the political, military, and economic goals of Egypt [alone]." Ibrahim stressed, however, that "while Israeli occupation of Palestine was religiously illegitimate, it was part of reality." At the same time, he added, "facing up to this reality and recognizing Israel as a [sovereign] state did not grant it religious legitimacy…"

Ibrahim justified his position based on history: During the Crusades, two Muslim leaders - Salah Al-Din Al-Ayoubi, one of the greatest Muslim kings of the time, and Nour Al-Din Mahmoud, the last ruler of the Zangi period - signed peace treaties and hudna truces with the Crusaders. He argued that "no religious authority [of that period] had objected to these agreements, except on the grounds that they religiously sanctioned the occupation of Muslim lands by Crusaders… However, this was a temporary compromise, dictated by interests and the balance of power."

Ibrahim also claimed that none of the Arab countries that opposed Camp David, foremost among them Iraq and Syria, "suggested a better political or military alternative, and none of them accomplished anything as noteworthy as Camp David, with all its drawbacks."
[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 309, "The Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya Cessation of Violence: An Ideological Reversal," by Y. Carmon, Y. Feldner, and D. Lav, December 22, 2006,
[2], March 27, 2009. Ibrahim made similar statements to the Gama'a Al-Islamiyya website, stressing that he was expressing his personal opinion, and not the movement's official position.
[3] The truce of Hudaybiyya, signed in 628 A.D. between the Prophet Muhammad and his Meccan enemies the polytheist Quraysh tribe, was for a period of 10 years. It was signed by the Prophet when he realized that his forces were inferior to those of the Meccans. Two years after signing the truce, Muhammad captured Mecca.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Advice-Giving ... Thank You

The U.S. State department, speaking of the new Obama administration's mood and priorities, through spokesman Robert Wood, insists that Israel and Syria must 'resolve their differences'. What 'differences'? Israel has no objection to the existence of Syria, has no plans to train, fund and encourage for example, disgruntled Lebanese patriots to launch a guerrilla war against Syria.

Nor has Israel ever thought it would be interesting to launch its own surprise attack on Syria, without provocation.

On the other hand, Syria, allied with others of its neighbours planned to execute a defining assault on Israel for the purpose of removing that despised irritant from the neighbourhood. The Golan Heights, while in Syria's possession, was used as a launching area for fusillades of gunfire against Israel, along with bombing the areas within Israel so nicely located within easy target distance.

Informing Israel fully of the contempt in which its presence was held.

Syria has never stopped fuming at the ingratitude of Israel for the entertainment value its assaults provided the Jewish State, evidenced by its taking possession of the Golan Heights to prevent further such assaults. And has vowed that there is no potential for peace between the two countries as long as Israel continues to retain control of that coveted parcel of land; the heights and the fertile valleys below.

If there never was any prospect for mutual peace to begin with, how might it be enhanced with the return of the Golan Heights to enable Syria to once again launch missiles at Israel? Who will ensure that Syria keeps the peace? Why would Israel have even a modicum of trust in a country allied with another country that avidly seeks Israel's destruction and makes no secret of it?

Syria's undeniable role in training and funding a proxy army in Lebanon intent on destroying Israel another case in point. Syria makes no secret of its violent and vicious antipathy toward Israel, handily bringing up its concerns about the oppressed Palestinians, threatened by those dastardly, bloody-hungry Jews with genocide.

"[Arabs] ...should not be turned into victims of a Holocaust which they did not commit. It should not serve as a pretext for the Israelis to commit a Holocaust in Palestine, Gaza, or Lebanon." Once more, the embattled sole non-Arab Middle East state turned into the oppressor.

"A large proportion of public opinion in the Arab world supports the words of the Iranian president", Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem claimed with obvious satisfaction, as he praised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's outpouring of anti-Semitic venom at Durban II. It is Israel described as "the most cruel and repressive racist regime" ... Israel a "totally racist government". Labelled so by racist governments.

Experience and hard-headed intelligence leads Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to declare that he would impose no pre-conditions on talks between Israel and Syria, while yet acknowledging rejection of Syria's precondition that Israel retreat from the Golan Heights. Syria's demand, he points out, is an ultimatum.

More, he's having difficulty recognizing Syria's legitimacy as an authentic partner-for-peace, in recognition of its active support for terrorism, and Iran's nuclear weapons program. He might have added Syria's own flirtation with nuclear development, thanks to North Korea, but which Israel speedily dispatched; another irritant between the countries.

Of course it isn't just the United States leaning on Israel with its concerned advice, but markedly so the European Union as well, with which Israel would like to form a political-economic bond. The EU prefers to keep Israel at arms-length, basing the level and depth of its warmth and welcome on the progress of the peace process.

For the time being, Israel can have confidence in the current revolving EU presidency, held by Czech Prime Minister Mirel Topolanek who plans to oppose a movement within the EU to suspend warmer relations with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his judgement that Israel's relationship with the European Union should not be dependent on Israel's relations with the Palestinian Authority.

"Don't set conditions for us. Peace is in Israel's interest no less than it is in Europe's interest, and there's no need to make the upgrade in relations with Israel conditional on progress on the peace process." And it appears that Mr. Topolanek agrees, emphasizing his own personal opinion that the European Union "underestimates the Iranian threat".

Having, obviously, no real appreciation of the stresses Israel suffers, with assaults, rhetorical and physical, implied and real from sources such as Syria and Iran.

Terror groups, extensions by proxy of both countries operate with impunity in Lebanon and in Gaza. The advice that is so thoughtfully rendered from sources with no real and immediate stake; risk of their very existence gives due pause to diplomatic thanks, and filing in that bottomless drawer of 'some-time-soon'.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Religion of Peace in a Region of Peace

U.S. President Barak Obama is making good on his election pledge to end the American presence in Iraq at the earliest possible date. Disengagement has begun, as troops are being pulled out of Iraq to take up stations in Afghanistan, relieving the pressure on vulnerably-placed Canadian, British and Dutch forces. The U.S. has hailed its military intervention in Iraq as a success, preparing now to leave the Shi'ite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to judiciously rule a once-Sunni-led society.

An uneasy coalition of Sunni and Shia parliamentarians have pledged themselves to the peaceful future of Iraq, despite the ongoing sectarian violence, muted somewhat from the worst years of sectarian carnage. Iraq can't wait to see the end of foreign troops on their soil, but for that small segment of the population who view that inevitability with some great degree of trepidation. Signposts of continued restlessness between Sunni and Shia are increasingly evident.

Violence is steadily on the uptick, to the extent and to a degree presenting a challenge that Iraq's police and military forces appear unable to control. From the twin (female) suicide bombings outside Baghdad's Imam Musa al-Kadhim Shiite shrine in Kadhimiyah to a series of attacks and bombings raising the two-day death toll to near 150. The purpose of the bombing is clearly to inflame tensions between the sectarian factions.

The current month has seen eighteen major attacks, straining an already divided society, raising the potential of civil war. The Iranian-backed Shi'ites are being increasingly targeted by a loose federation of Sunni militant forces; the Islamic State of Iraq. Many of the deaths were those of Iranian worshippers on pilgrimages to Iraq's holy Shi'ite sites. Causing the defensive action of closing the border between Iraq and Iran in Diyala Province where thousands of Iranians weekly pass.

Iraqis themselves are denouncing their own government's lax security, and the society-traditional, endemic corruption of the police and government officials as a good part of the problem. "They have been ruling us for 1,400 years", commented a Shi'ite soldier, harking back to the domination of Shi'ites by Sunnis in Iraq. "We took it over for four years, and they are slaughtering us."

American diplomats bemoaned the fact that soon after occupation they missed the opportunity to bring former Sunni supporters of Saddam Hussein into an alliance with Shias, at a time when their experience and expertise would have been beneficial to the process, they felt, rather than casting them out and alienating them completely.
Now the Islamic State of Iraq, the umbrella insurgent coalition, inclusive of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, celebrates the successes of their ongoing campaigns.

"Harvest of the Good" has been anything but for the Shia population of Iraq and those of neighbouring Iran, since the unbridgeable chasm of religious apartheid between Sunna and Shia appears to be hardening, with the obvious intention of the Sunni insurgents to again mount another bid for ascendancy, irrespective of the death toll. It is only with a mounting death toll and the fear and terror it inspires that they can realize success.

Inspiring the final cataclysmic civil war that will rent the nation apart, creating once again, the political, religious, social overseers and the socially and politically dislocated subordinates. At which time should the Sunni insurgents be successful, another schism in the collective society will bring Iraq neatly back to where they started, under Saddam Hussein.

All that's missing from the current picture is a charismatic and forceful figure who will maintain the status quo through brutal totalitarian rule. Saddam Hussein's plans for dominance may have been largely bluster, augmented by a strident attempt to secure world-class armaments, but his efforts will be seen as puny in comparison to those of a newly-assured and -entrenched al-Qaeda-affiliated government in Iraq.

Jihadist terrorists through their websites are highlighting a series of maps with strategic military and nuclear facilities in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, turkey, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Pakistan and the United States. Should the current destabilization of Pakistan continue with the result that Islamists successfully establish government there, the two countries have an obvious alliance.

The United States, having launched a trajectory of chaos-filled religious and ideological re-structuring, finding themselves mired in an agony of American sacrifices accomplishing a complex holding pattern, desperately searched for an opportunity for early departure. President Obama has launched the departure date. Iraq stands poised on the brink of a vanishing governing coalition.

All the best and most hopeful aspirations in this unsettled world of fierce tribal and sectarian antipathy will avail nothing as intentions collapse into vengeance and blood-letting, allowing the fiercest, most pitilessly aggressive to sustain the winning momentum. A beefed-up U.S. forces presence in Afghanistan, more latterly identified as the real crucible, between that country and Pakistan, of the al-Qaeda/Taliban threat, may yet produce nothing substantial.

The potential for disintegration of the current, ineffectual and desperate government in Pakistan, along with the embattled government of Afghanistan, both under deadly attack by increasingly confident Taliban, augers well for the jihadists, poorly for the countries they stand poised to control. And should the world be faced in due time with a triad of fanatical Islamist countries like Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the doomsday clock moves closer to midnight.

North Korea and Iran will have reason to celebrate the success of their little clique of nuclear-availing nations, unfazed by the danger their deranged social, religious and ideological compact poses to the world at large. Triumphant, however, at the success of their defiance of Western interests, powers, politics and degenerate societies. At that time, the world and all its inhabitants can take refuge in a giant, collective tremble of comprehensive anticipation.

We needn't fret and worry however, for this is not destined to occur. It represents the bleakly evil mind of a rank purveyor of nightmares.

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Partners in Respect, Trust and Peace

Once the anticipated 'two state solution' to settle grievances by Palestinians against Israel becomes a reality, the two solitudes can settle down to enjoy a revolution of good fellowship, peace and understanding between one another.

Much as obtains at the present time, with Palestinians eager to demonstrate to their Jewish 'Semitic brethren" that they are perfectly comfortable sharing the land of both their ancestors in harmony and trust. There will come a new flowering of mutual appreciation, with a cross-fertilization of sharing and a blossoming of personal relations, economic renewal, and social intermingling.

At the present time, Palestinians - despite the their disappointment that Israel has not acted with the alacrity expected of it to voluntarily give up to the Palestinians control the Old City of Jerusalem (actually controlled by Jordan, but let's not nit-pick)- are puzzled that Jews are not eager to accommodate by ceding their most timeless and sacred site to their tender care.

Jews can be so unreasonable, all the more so when Palestinians go out of their way to extend friendship and to persuade Jews that they care deeply for the well-being of their neighbours. And respect the sacred memory of their traditional heritage, as they expect Jews to do for them.

It must have been quite the surprise for Palestinians when Jews arrived at the site of one of their signal biblical-era places of honoured memory to discover that once again, it had been vandalized. So soon after having been restored. The surrounding Arab population must feel confounded over this mystery. After all, what greeted the worshippers entering Joseph's Tomb was yet another desecration by vandals.

Having obtained special permission to visit the tomb of the Biblical Joseph in Shechem, just imagine the shock, a day after Holocaust Memorial Day. Particularly fascinating was a picture of a sword thrust through a Star of David, the agonized blood of Jews seeping from the Star, a boot stamping upon the symbol of nationhood. This augers ill, does it not?

The second intifada had seen the tomb torched by a rampaging mob of Arabs, somewhat upset over the lack of progress in the submission of the State of Israel to Palestinian demands - yet another misunderstanding. What could possibly have occasioned a re-occurrence, one wonders, at this time when the two peoples have engaged in civil talks toward settlement?

We know that the Palestinian Authority is sincere in its efforts, and we know that the Palestinians are suffering untold miseries, because they have told us so.

However, the usual good relations will soon be restored. We will overlook the occasional misunderstanding occasioned by a Palestinian attacking the odd Jew here and there, as an expression of emotional confusion, then, right? And the laws peculiar to Arabs who consider land once consecrated to Islam must remain so in perpetuity for to allow Jews to settle on sacred land is to allow an act of odious impiety in Islam.

So much so that Palestinians, even those living in Israel itself, who seek to sell their privately-owned land to a Jew are brought to justice, Arab-style, and such a violation is paid in full by the death of the offender. At the present time, such an unfortunate Palestinian does face a sentense of death for his flagrant denial of Islamic precepts. He is charged with treason, and must pay with his life.

Much as those Palestinians accused by the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas, of aiding and abetting the enemy also face immediate death. The enemy, naturally, being the neighbour, the 'occupier', the criminal presence in a land dedicated to the martyrs of Islam. Oops, slip of the tongue, another misunderstanding. Misunderstandings do and will occur, it's human nature.

We will overlook that the Palestinian Authority publishes school textbooks teaching Palestinian children to fear, blame and hate Jews. Grooms them to take their place in society by eschewing contact with Jews. The child musicians who were brought to Israel to play for Holocaust survivors now fully understand that their music teacher had forced them to take part in a dreadful miscarriage of unsupportable friendship.

We will instead, as rational, hopeful beings, consider the results of a new independent poll revealing that the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians are willing to live alongside each other peacefully in separate states. Now that's progress. Perhaps the poll, which indicates 74% of Palestinians and 78% of Israelis are willing to accept a two-state solution, interviewed only the moderate Palestinians and Israelis.

Understandably, it's the others, that minority in whose viscera rankles the pathology of hatred for one another, and who don't at all mind sacrificing human lives to prove the level of their distemper, who give ample cause for reflection.

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Injecting Reason and Humanity Into The Arab Debate

Arab Intellectual: The Holocaust Must Be Remembered by Everybody - For It Targeted the Very Essence of Humanity
In an article posted April 21, 2009 on the liberal Arab website, reformist writer Basem Muhammad Habib condemns the Holocaust denial in the Arab world. He states that this trend, which is unreasonable and inhumane, is motivated by political agendas, and by a false belief that empathy for the victims of the Holocaust amounts to a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. He calls on the Arabs to separate these two issues, and to join the world in commemorating the Holocaust, for it was an attack on the very essence of humanity.
Following are excerpts:
(published in MEMRI)

"These days, the world is commemorating the Holocaust, because it was one of the biggest massacres in history, which surpassed other massacres in its barbarity, even those committed by primitive civilizations. Abundant [evidence] indicates that more than six million Jews were killed during the 1930s and 1940s, having been accused by the Nazi authorities of conspiring with the Allies, of causing the Germany's defeat in World War I, and of cooperating with the efforts of its enemies in World War II. This racist thinking fed the feelings of hatred towards the Jews, and led to this horrible massacre, whose wounds are still tormenting the world even decades later.

"Though this horrible event has become part of history, and cannot possibly be denied, there are nevertheless some who insist on denying it and on questioning [the validity of] the numbers, out of motivations that are mostly political. [This is true] especially in our region, which is steeped in [psychological] complexes and feelings of resentment. Many [in our region] attempt to link the Holocaust and the issue of Palestine, believing that to recognize and commemorate the Holocaust is to betray the Palestinian cause. This approach raises questions about the soundness of the ideologies that dominate our attitudes and feelings - ideologies that are clearly not anchored in sound logic, and are not at all consistent with our human values. Thus, we unwittingly turn our backs on the proper human attitude, just because our feelings of hatred get the better of us.

"There is no connection at all between the reality of the Holocaust and what has happened in Palestine. These are two different matters that [occurred in different] times and places, and we can assess each of them independently of the other. [Only] then... will our judgment be free and grounded in correct values and sincere sentiments.

"Instead of doubting [the historicity of the Holocaust], we should admire the Jewish political leaders for the interest they show in the Jewish [Holocaust] victims and for their constant remembrance of those atrocities. They dedicate much effort to honoring their memory, documenting their trials, and fighting for [the survivors'] rights, wherever they are. This is something we hardly ever see in our region, where people are killed for the most trivial reasons, and their suffering and pain are quickly forgotten. In Iraq, for example, hundreds of thousands were killed [under Saddam Hussein's] reign of terror and tyranny, yet we have never heard of any attempt to commemorate these victims, nor have we seen any concern for their lost rights...

"Today, the world has become free of [fascist] ideologies, and the reign of reason is expanding. Even Germany, which witnessed this criminal massacre, has acknowledged this catastrophe, and has begun to atone for it in various ways, [for example] by providing annual economic support to Israel. The U.N., for its part, has issued a resolution designating January 27 as [International] Holocaust Remembrance Day... This date was chosen in honor of the few survivors who were discovered in Auschwitz by the Allies [when they liberated the camp on January 27,] 1945 - [survivors] who were among the few who experienced the horror [of the Holocaust] and lived to tell the tale."

"Because of the doubts raised by many [people about the Holocaust], some countries have been forced to issue laws that criminalize any attempt to doubt or deny this event - for the casting of doubt does not usually stem from scholarly motivations but [comes to serve] political and ideological goals... Some regard such laws as undemocratic, and as indicating a pro-Israel bias. However, the truth is that [these laws] came in response to a wave of irrational doubt, promoted by certain parties under the guise of scientific inquiry.

"The Holocaust deserves to be [recognized as] a momentous world event, because it targeted [the very essence of] our humanity. At the time, there was no Jewish state and most of those who suffered this injustice lived in Europe in small diaspora communities.

"We [Arabs] should feel empathy for the victims of the Holocaust and commemorate them, as do others [throughout the world]. Certainly, our participation in commemorating this event will help our international position and change the way people regard us. Perhaps we will be able to improve our image in the eyes of the world and reverse some of the damage that the terrorists have done."

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Pushing Back

Jewish groups learned a great deal from the original 2001 Durban Conference against Racism. Once they got over the shock of witnessing and experiencing first-hand the bitter renaissance of anti-Semitism, that is. And got beyond the stunned disbelief that a United Nations-sponsored conference mounted for the purpose of battling the scourge of racism turned against the very people who have historically suffered the greatest from its existence.

After being pushed around, verbally and physically assaulted by NGO participants under the auspices of the UN, Jewish participants in the original Durban vowed there would be no repeat without adequate preparation to respond effectively, assertively, honourably. One of the assurances Jewish groups received from the UN was that the successor, the Durban Review Conference, would be held in a venue other than a third-world environment where control might be better assured.

In Geneva, Swiss authorities were prepared to deal with violent and vile protests of the type that visited physical abuse on Jews, assaulted their sensibilities with banners equating Zionism with Fascism, with piles of literature that vilified Israel, and slandered Jews as sub-human vectors of pathological pandemics. This time around, such protesters were forcefully removed before they could deliver their abuse and distribute their pamphlets.

Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel activists represented by dozens of Jewish groups converged on Geneva to prevent a repeat of the original Durban conference which was, in reality a conference to celebrate the dehumanization of world Jewry, and the demonization of Israel to wild acclaim from the greater audience. The presence of NGOs whose sole purpose was to slur Israel as a racist society were far less in evidence in Geneva.

In the audience, in fact, were two Arabs, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, who just also happened to be elected Knesset members. They were inspired to loudly applaud Iran's mild-mannered, personable, and peace-loving President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, forced by his ideals of honesty and religious conviction to do honour to all of humankind, to regretfully label Israel a racist state.

And in later proceedings, it was fascinating to become aware that Libya, one of the principal countries on the organizing committee of the conference, was forced by the misfortune of unanticipated consequences to have its representative, Libyan Chair Najat Al-hajjaji, be somewhat embarrassed when faced with a stubborn witness, none other than the Palestinian doctor who, along with five Bulgarian nurses was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death in Libya.

Dr. Ashraf Ahmed El-Hojouj and the nurses were made scapegoats as a result of an HIV epidemic at Bengazi Hospital in 1999, where they were practising. They were accused of deliberately infecting patients, and were tortured, convicted of the charges against them, and sentenced to death. As foreigners they were considered dispensable, a sop to the pride of the country whose unheigenic hospital and poor medical practices led to the HIV outbreak.

The Libyan Chair objected to the witness testimony of Dr. El-Hojouj, insisting that he was deviating from "the principles and objectives of the conference", in opening his remarks by describing his incarceration, torture and death sentence in Libya. On the resumption of his testimony, Dr. El-Hojouj continued: "Section 1 of the draft declaration for this conference speaks about victims of racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance.

"Based on my own suffering, I wish to offer some proposals. Starting in 1999, as you know, the five nurses and I were falsely arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, brutally tortured, convicted and sentenced to death." At which point Madam Al-hajjaji, once again intervened to call the witness to order: "...either you commit yourself to the subject matter of racism, racial discrimination, intolerance, xenophobia and I will give you a chance and an opportunity to take the floor..."

Whereupon the witness, Dr. El-Hojouj continued: "All of this, which lasted for nearly a decade, was for only one reason: because the Libyan government was looking to scapegoat foreigners. Madame Chair, if that is not discrimination, then what is? On the basis of my personal experience, I would like to propose the following amendments regarding remedies, redress and compensatory measures: One: the United Nations should condemn countries that scapegoat, falsely arrest and torture vulnerable minorities.

"Two: countries that have committed such crimes must recognize their past, and issue an official, public and unequivocal apology to the victims. Three: In accordance with Article 2, paragraph 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such countries must provide victims of discrimination with an appropriate remedy, including adequate compensation for material and immaterial damage.

"Madame chair, Libya told this conference that it practises no inequality or discrimination. But then how do you account for what was done to me, to my colleagues and to my family, who gave over 30 years serving your country, only to be kicked out from their home, threatened with death and subjected to state terrorism?"

Supreme irony, and a quite wonderful comeuppance; reality finally meets reality, rather than malicious fantasy. A human-rights abusing country that has found satisfaction in falsely accusing another UN member-country of racism and human-rights abuse has finally been brought to task in the very body and the very mechanism it devised for accusing others.

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United Nations Revealed

Horribly flawed in its conception and execution, but evidently no repeat of the first United Nations World conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

Isn't that a mouthful? Doesn't it reflect some of the blathering nonsensical ministries that socially, politically, backward theocratic regimes of the world bring into existence to hound and control and oppress their populations with? Like 'the ministry of public and private virtues, dress codes and respect for national integrity and the rule of the Almighty'.

But then the United Nations is an extremely bureaucratic, unwieldy institution. It is quantity, not quality that rules the expressions as well as the actionable dictates of the majority-member countries. Those countries whose fragile economies, backward traditions, feeble tribal-related cultures and homophobic, xenophobic, mysogynistic theocracies are in the majority.

And whose resentment of the advanced economies and political structures of democratic countries leave them apoplectic with jealousy and unmitigated rage.

So what better tool to use than accusations of human rights abuses, racism, societal disentitlements and contempt of poorer countries, to flagellate the very countries whose economic largesse the emerging economies are reliant upon? The bitter pill of recognizing one's nation as disadvantaged by geography, culture and economical capital breeds not humility and hesitance, but contempt and anger and blame.

The happenstance of socially, technologically, politically and economically advanced countries' solid performance in presenting as models for the emerging countries to emulate too often breeds a sense of guilt that tempers the collective health and well-being of social democracies, leaving them open to the accusations of their detractors.

Pricking collective consciences to offer even more assistance to the less privileged.

In a spirit of gratefulness, the collectively disadvantaged heap endless blame on their benefactors. This is the proportional representation of the United Nations at its finest.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bargains With The Devil

Hellish bargains at the very least, those agreed to through a sense of desperation on the part of a truly besieged government. The executive branch of Pakistan, duly elected in an Islamic version of democracy - in a country whose devotion to corruption and broken promises, where the greater proportion of the population is comprised of landless peasants dependent for their wherewithal on a feudal system of social engineering - presents a veneer of control. In fact, the government is controlled by its military and by its Islamist-infiltrated secret services.

The lawyers and the judges and the social establishment who battled for integrity in the country's legal system appear to suffer a true disconnect between their vision of a democratic, secularly-ruled government and the reality that simmers under the radar, of a country critically infested by another type of religious/political/social contract entirely. The presence of the Red Mosque, and its clerics and its agenda for cleansing the country of gratuitous and corrupt Western influences was merely the vanguard, one too late recognized for the threat it represented.

The Islamists ensconced in the North-West Frontier Province - whom even many tribal chiefs recognized as a threat to their society worshipping Islam in a time-honoured manner not quite as fanatically-observed as the Taliban - slowly but with a certainty of purpose spread the virus of their pathology of hatred of social progress and the slender emancipation of women through educating girls and boys to live in a semi-modern society. The tenuous control that Pakistan's previous military president General Pervez Musharraf, held in keeping the Islamists in check, was disdained.

Conflicted Pakistan, enthralled with the idea of secular democratic governance on the one hand, and dedicated on the other hand, to Islamic rule, fractured the public and delivered the country into the hands of incompetence posing as a government in control, reflecting the diversity of the country. Had Benazir Bhutto been elected instead of assassinated, she would have done no better than her husband Asif Ali Zardari; the first and second time around the lesson for the third.

To quell the bloodshed, President Zardari succumbed to the insistence of the conservatives around him, and gave assent to Sharia law for three million people living in North West Frontier Province, benefiting the Taliban, but not the populace who had already suffered the destruction of hundreds of schools, the beheadings of teachers and those who resisted the Islamists. The tens of thousands who have since fled the area seeking refuge from the bitter rule of the Taliban speaks volumes of their betrayal.

That the Taliban, nicely emboldened, have now spread their rule into areas that had only recently voted down all the Islamist candidates in their area, further victimizes Pakistanis, with Taliban fighters establishing themselves further in other areas, with their rocket launchers and machine guns, taking local security forces into custody in their police stations and camps. The Taliban setting up their bases in mosques and banning music, dance and television, preparing to extend Islamic law.

The Taliban announce their intention to establish Islamic judges to hold court in additional towns. Training camps are being established around Swat with greater numbers of young tribal members being inducted as Islamist fighters. Recruitment is not difficult, since unemployment or educational opportunities are close to nil in the area, with many young men joining the militant movement in an effort to have their families spared and left in peace.

Islamist hardliners, while establishing their rule in an ever widening arc, are now closer than ever to the country's capital of Islamabad. The general population of the country should be, by now, extremely nervous. Certainly the world at large is. Although the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is thought to be a small one relatively speaking, and of a primitive design lacking the power of more technologically advanced devices, they're still enormously deadly.

India has reason to feel somewhat agitated by the state of affairs over her border, with a neighbour with whom she has never enjoyed civil relations. And the world at large is now somewhat less safe than it was two years ago, by a large factor. Leading world powers like the United States have a very good idea of the fragility of the situation, should Islamists take possession of the country's nuclear technology.

The Islamist terrorists plaguing the world are patient, waiting.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Slumdog Realities

Hollywood gilds endemic poverty with a veneer of jollity, so its viewers can feel good about people living hand-to-mouth because those impoverished people are happy, content with their lot in life. We know this is so, because Hollywood films bear witness to that simple fact: The poor are resigned to their lives of want, and they truly want for nothing as a result.

They remain cheerily hopeful, resilient, and demonstrate a capacity to sing and dance and laugh away their sorrows. Even while they burrow in peoples' garbage to discover discarded treasures that can be recycled and remade over into other, usable objects.

Slumdog Millionaire's child actors taken from the slums of Mumbai performed brilliantly, and were the toast of Hollywood when the Oscars were doled out in generous recognition of the box-office returns for the film. The odious conditions in which human beings are forced to live through circumstances beyond their control, the misery of their lives, their helplessness in the face of adversity somehow all manage to disappear through the courageous adventuresome of young Indian children.

Their natural affinity for acting, their brilliant presence and their capable performance made them world celebrities. The principal actors of the film, young children from poverty-stricken backgrounds, living in conditions no one in the West could even dream of, were compensated for their contribution to the success of the film. Their remuneration reflected industry standards.

Although they became stars and celebrities, when they performed in the film, they were 'undiscovered' prodigies.

Now they are simply has-beens. They had their time in the bright lights, enjoyed the acclaim that came their way, learned something, one might assume, from their experiences filming a movie for Hollywood, and then returned home to their ancestral slums. From brief comfort back to sleeping seven to a room, on the floor, with scarcely enough to eat. Back in the loving care of their proud, impoverished families.

There had been talk of setting up scholarship funds for the children, just as there was talk of providing their families with real houses to remove them away from their slum environments. But then, that wouldn't be right, somehow, to haul them out of the kind of environment and the lifestyle to which they had been long accustomed. It would somehow 'spoil' the naturalness of their lifestyles, their surroundings, their devotion to their lives.

And when a journalist, looking for a sensational story, disguised himself as a wealthy sheik, convincing the father of nine-year-old Rubina Ali who played Latika in the film, that he could make a fortune by giving the child up for adoption, he successfully won himself a front-page story. These desperate transactions occur regularly in India, but on this occasion it was a poverty-stricken celebrity child actor that was involved.

The world's attention turned briefly to the plight of the child. Her father railed at the injustice of it all, denying that he had any intention of 'selling' his daughter for three-quarters of a million dollars. And in a brief flash of anger, asked his accusers if they too, like him, had to inhabit a single room for a large family, all sleeping cozily together on the floor.

And then the father's brother put it into an interesting perspective with his observation: "Does anyone sell a cow that can still be milked?"

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Palestinian Communion

There has never been any love lost between Hamas and Fatah. One, the outright jihadist army dedicated to the destruction of Israel, right, front and centre. The other the 'moderate' representatives of the Palestinian people, quietly hoping for the disintegration of Israel through furtively 'diplomatic' means, while still encouraging their militant wings to attack and wear down the Israeli resolve to protect itself.

Their methods are not all that dissimilar, although one is secular, the other not. Fatah uses stealth, and wears a public face of accommodation and co-operation with Israel. Hamas celebrates its strength of commitment to the cause of destroying the presence of a Jewish state in the Middle East by arming itself for that purpose and attacking where and when it can, biding time.

Their brief coalition in the Palestinian Authority, after a 'democratic' vote brought Hamas, a distinct and deliberate jihadist 'terror' group funded by Israel's current arch-enemy Iran into power, was not able to sustain itself, the two turning against one another in violent, deadly clashes. Even while the Israel Defence Army engaged with Hamas in Gaza, the militants were busy killing members of Fatah.

Hamas 'security forces' seek out collaborators from among the Palestinians, those whom they suspect and charge with abetting the State of Israel, for swift execution. Maiming their Palestinian counterparts in Fatah by shooting them in the legs and breaking legs and arms is commonplace. Victims and witnesses to these attacks by Hamas upon Fatah members have been reported to Human Rights Watch.

Palestinian human rights groups attest to their occurrences, and take note of Hamas security forces torturing those whom they apprehend. Yet, in the final analysis, they will find the opportunity to gird themselves against their mutual hostility to face a larger enemy. And when they do, they will move with some semblance of co-operation to launch another, deadlier intifada against Israel.

While at the same time accusing Israel of brutal occupation, of delimiting the lives and aspirations of the Palestinians, of barbarous human rights infractions. Accusations which much of the world has great sympathy with. Palestinians, in fact, do not actually appear to want to acquire a country of their own, alongside that of Israel. They quite simply cannot visualize themselves living side by side with a Jewish state.

They can visualize, and fervently look toward the day when Israel dissolves, unable to continue blocking assaults against itself, and when the territory they claim to be rightfully theirs can be re-claimed, and in triumph they may finally constitute a state, a country, a nation of their own, so long denied them by their previous oppressors, Egypt and Jordan.

And Israel? Its disintegration will furnish the occasion for huge celebratory parties, dancing in the streets, gun-pumping into the atmosphere, handing out sweets to children taught to fear and hate the Jews. (Before the Hamas and the Fatah factions turn their deadly assaults upon one another again, for the final paroxysm of fratricidal warfare.)

This, in any event, is their hope. Israel has other plans.

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The Inextinguishable Pathology

Events converge to encourage and produce the pathology of anti-Semitism, the most palpable evidence of which is the growing institutionalization of anti-Semitism under the 'forgivable' guise of legitimate criticism of a state found wanting, as at Durban II, the anti-racism conference presented with the blessing of the United Nations.

There, the organizers whose unblemished national dedication to racist and inhumane practises, felt quite comfortable isolating the State of Israel for opprobrium-by-consensus.

Over the past few years there has been a steady rise in incidents of anti-Semitism, aided and abetted by a campaign of citing Israeli human-rights abuses, labelling the country an Apartheid regime, led by two sources; the liberal-left and the Muslim right.

Natural partners, in fact, a conundrum of happenstance noted by Osama bin Laden himself with some satisfaction. Now, the European Jewish Congress and Tel Aviv University have released new survey statistics on the rise of anti-Semitism.

Revealing that that singular scourge rose relentlessly, even in countries such as the United States, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Lithuania, Switzerland, Hungary and Italy. The incidents ranging from threats, insults, graffiti, and racist slogans.

A number of events spurred the latest rise; one the international financial melt-down, with countries finding themselves in stringent economic straits, the other
Israel's assault on Hamas jihadists in Gaza, in an attempt to halt ongoing rocket attacks.

Events began to percolate in eastern Europe and the Arab world, then spread outward. Resulting in 560 violent attacks, arsons, vandalizing of properties such as synagogues, schools, cemeteries, community centres, monuments and private property.

Classicial stereotyping of Jews as intent on world domination has been overtaken by Holocaust-denial, and criticism of Israel; the Magen David symbol equated with a swastika. Zionism in the same league as fascism; as the world annihilated Nazis, so should it Zionists.

Jews as evil, malevolent succubi on society gain a renaissance in public opinion, not only from the grimly unwashed, but from the ivory towers that disdain the uneducated. Radical Islamist propaganda has successfully encouraged Western leftists to take up the cause of the Palestinians against the oppressive Jews.

Islamist propaganda has successfully pictured the ugly Jew as a blood-lusting child-killer. And those criticizing Israel embrace their claims that critiques of Israel do not represent anti-Semitism.

In Britain particularly, the incidence of anti-Semitism, while on the rise, was never really excised from public perceptions. There has always been a prevalent, simmering anti-Semitism; it has merely become more boldly vocal, not merely insinuated, but stated clearly in the general acceptance that Israel, deliberately held to a standard no other country must struggle with, represents the ultimate in brutal imperialism, oppressing the Palestinians.

Slogans like "kill the Jews" are pasted on walls and bus shelters, not just anywhere, but in Jewish-dominated neighbourhoods. Verbal and physical abuse of Jewish children occurs on school playgrounds. Synagogues are torched, and assaults on Jews advertising their religion by the wearing of yarmulkes are more frequent.

When Jewish complaints are made about racist allusions to Jews, the response invariably is "I am sick of being accused of anti-Semitism, when what I'm doing is criticizing Israel". Israel's "Cast Lead" assault on the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza was seized upon as a "massacre" and "slaughter" of innocents, Israel being condemned as a racist regime intent on "genocide".

These charges are well received in Britain, finding a ready and enthusiastic audience eager to join the chorus of condemnation. It is in Britain that a high-ranking IDF general was forced to abandon plans to exit an airplane for fear of arrest, charged with 'war crimes'.

It is in Britain that trade unions and academics initiated boycotts of Israeli goods, investment in the country, and a campaign to boycott Israeli academics from entry to the country.

It is in Britain, that bastion of democracy and freedoms and fair-mindedness and justice that the publication of a book by a U.S. author, critical of Islamism was suppressed, as a result of a law suit brought by a well-heeled Muslim who was not even a resident of the country.

It was Britain who refused entry to the Dutch Parliamentarian, Geert Wilders, who produced the short 2008 film 'Fitna', and who had been invited by British parliamentarians to address a committee of interested viewers. Much to the annoyance of the Netherlands, who felt the insult of exclusion of one of their own

While other members of the European Union, boycotted Durban II, Britain, along with France, attended. Effectively validating the process by their respected presence. Canada led the world in announcing early on its intention to boycott the conference on racism. Joined by Israel, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Poland, Germany, Netherlands.

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: "We are very concerned that around the world anti-Semitism is growing in volume and acceptance, justified ... by opposition to Israel itself."

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Holocaust Commemoration

They came first for the communists
And I didn’t speak up because I
Wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade
And I didn’t speak up because I
wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I
wasn’t a Jew;
And then … they came for me …
And by that time there was no one
left to speak up.

That poem expresses a universal conscience. Unfortunately, the universality of the poem did not evoke determination and the will to act by those around Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoeller, perhaps in part because he had a limited audience. Since the Holocaust, his immortal words of conscience denied and regretted has been widely distributed, and people have had the opportunity, in hindsight, to ponder on this age-old dilemma of “what would I have done?”

The tragedy of that time was that people in the immediate vicinity of the atrocities, while knowing what was occurring, thought little of it, because of an advance campaign of dehumanization of Europe’s Jews, that very community representing the universal, historical scapegoat. The reasons might be many, among the most compelling the fact that most of the death camps were located in areas of Europe where traditionally Jews held a despised place in the social contract, and where the local populations were themselves persecuted by the occupying Nazi oppression.

Still, like Pastor Niemoeller, there were individuals and families whose humanitarianism and courageous determination to assist Jews set them apart from the mass of those to whom death marches, concentration camps, Zyklon B and crematoria with their great chimneys belching human souls were ‘nothing to do with them’. Those courageous, charitable souls have been recognized as ‘righteous among the nations’. And they were represented by individuals as various as poor peasants, middle-class businesspeople, diplomats, clergy and nuns, who set for themselves the task of rescuing those whom they could from the torments of enslavement, torture, disease and extermination.

Nazi Germany distinguished itself in the annals of man’s cruelty to man by its dedication to the annihilation of world Jews, its determination to reach its goal despite being involved in a wide-ranging military battle to dominate the world. Its ambitions were boundless; to see the Third Reich ascend the world stage as the over-controller of all other countries of the world. The Nordic ideal of the perfect male; physical perfection mated with cerebral acuteness. The Axis countries never did quite reach the level of enthusiasm of Nazi Germany in its quest for not only world domination, but a world free of the presence of Jews, but they were granted the status of inclusiveness.

There are many Holocaust memorials in the world today, throughout Europe and North America, commemorating that awful event of vile madness. Where, while a dominant military nation reached the decision that it would commit itself to exterminating a nuisance ethnic-religious group for the greater good of humankind. Considering Jews a pestilence, a tribe of sub-humans whose hierarchy had as its goal - why, world domination; in politics, finances, media, religion and culture. Absent the ‘religion’, a mirror image of Nazi German’s aspirations. It is interesting that fascist Germany also planned a museum dedicated to Jews and all things Jewish, as a curiosity reflecting the arcane lifestyle and aspirations of a ‘disappeared’ race.

And it is also instructive to understand that once the Allies - those combined countries of the world who made a military pact to battle to a successful conclusion those allied Axis countries aligned with fascist Germany - became knowledgeable about the plight of the Jews, not one, with the notable exception of tiny Denmark, made an official attempt to rescue Jews, even when it was in their power to do so. The pathetic exculpatory reasons proffered after the fact simply pointed out that inaction was a result of latent or overt racism, a simmering anti-Semitism that pervaded Europe and North America, Latin America and Asia, but for a few amazing exceptions.

Inaction to rescue even orphans from death was a result of supreme indifference to the fate of Jews.

Modern history recorded the horror of the Irish famine and the Ukrainian famine, both dreadful mass starvation events that could have been avoided, but for the deliberate disinterest of the British and the Russians in forestalling those disaster; instead they instituted them. The Armenian massacre by a worn-torn Turkey another instance of humanity’s failures, even before the Holocaust. And then after the Holocaust the world turned its shamefaced attention on the appalling mass murder of helpless victims representing an insane vendetta against a specific group - and the League of Nations vowed that such an abomination would never stain the annals of world history again.

We now have, to add to the earlier litany of mass atrocities against humanity, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur. And now, we also have the United Nations, heir to the League of Nations, doing its utmost to wipe the scourge of racism out of human destiny, and for that singular purpose it encourages all nations to bear witness to their internal social compact, in honour of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

And for that reason, we have such vital bodies as the United Nations' sponsored Human Rights Council, whose appointed leading lights represent repressive dictatorships, sitting in judgement of liberal democracies who need no lessons in the observance of human rights and freedoms. And we also have the spectacularly dysfunctional event named The Durban Review Conference, the 2009 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Durban II, held in the United Nations headquarters in Switzerland.

To which the world's foremost Holocaust-denier, fervent anti-Semite, human right- abusing racist, issuing existential threats against a UN member-country, insistent on the attainment of prohibited nuclear-defence/offence technology, is invited to speak as the 'honoured guest'. So he may ventilate at this most public of forums his, and his country's and his supporting countries' racist tirades against Jews.

And thus does the world unfold ... not necessarily as it must ... but as it tends to do.

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Geneva: Conference on Racism - A Resounding Success!

The much-debated and anticipated United Nations-sponsored World Conference Against Racism has finally begun. Already it can be pronounced a success, for none other than Iran's most honourable and highly respected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking on the opening day as "guest of honour" has unveiled the true nature of the State of Israel, and that, incidentally, of Jews in general, revealing them for the racists that they have always been suspected of being.

The gravity of the conference and the hushed attention to the speaker was momentarily diverted by the insulting appearance of two unconscionable protesters dressed in rainbow wigs, who had the unspeakable temerity to toss red clown noses at the honoured guest as he initiated his speech with a Muslim prayer. The malefactors were revealed to represent a French Jewish student group determined to label the conference a hypocritical masquerade of anti-racism. They chorused 'racist, racist' as they tossed the noses at the honoured guest, having obviously forgotten his name.

They were summarily disposed of. This is no laughing matter. This mischief so enraged many diplomats that they rose from their seats and vacated the hall in Geneva. Oh, sorry. It seems the diplomats who left the conference in protest did so to avoid hearing the honoured guest launch a tirade against the government of Israel, that racist Zionist entity. They may not have entirely appreciated the honoured guest's inclusion for censure of the United States.

Another trouble-maker, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz had already been escorted from the Geneva hotel which President Ahmadinejad graced with his presence. He had the effrontery to wish to consult their honoured guest about his views on the Holocaust and Israel. So much for graciousness, for free speech and civil discourse. Honoured guests are not to be irritated by unwanted truth-seekers, nor belittled by their controversial stances in questioning those of honoured guests.

As the hall emptied of those delegates who appeared morally affronted by Mr. Ahmadinejad's generous sharing of his feelings and view of history, those who remained applauded heartily, encouraging the honoured guest to continue to enlighten them. Those diplomats left to eagerly imbibe the opinions and denunciations did not represent Germany, Canada, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, United States, Czechoslovakia, Australia, New Zealand, or Poland.

The representatives to the conference from France and England remained steadfastly seated. Although France's delegate ungraciously characterized what emanated from the mouth of the honoured guest as a 'hate speech'. Nevertheless, of the 30 countries' representatives who walked out - not, obviously, those who boycotted the proceedings entirely - most would return to participate in the balance of the conference.

As matters transpired, Mr. Ahmadinejad appeared to be the sole major leader of a country to attend the conference. His interesting conclusion that Jewish migrants from Europe and the United States - most certainly not refugees who managed to survive the Holocaust, since it most certainly never did occur - had been purposefully sent to the Middle East to illegally oust the Palestinians to enable the squatters "in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine."

How very fitting that this United Nations event, calling together the world body to discuss the vile scourge of racism takes place on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day. "And in fact", lectured the honoured guest ... "in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine." Who, if they only tried, could emulate Iran's humane treatment of the dregs of Islamist society represented by gays, Baha'i, the irreligious, and protesters.

Post-speech the honoured guest pointed out the obvious, that those countries who confoundingly chose to boycott the forum were demonstrating their 'arrogance and selfishness'. Once again in evidence as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, speaking from headquarters in New York added: "We call on the Iranian leadership to show much measured, moderate, honest and constructive rhetoric when dealing with issues in the region, and not this type of vile, hateful, inciteful speech."

In response to which Mr. Ahmadinejad must most surely have wondered what on earth the problem was, since he most certainly did demonstrate measured moderation, honest and constructive rhetoric, and, come to think of it, he most certainly did take umbrage at the vile, hateful and inciteful response on the part of the U.S. Ambassador. For the honoured guest's speech was insightful, not inciteful; don't those cretins know the difference?

And French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, speaking afterward unburdened himself: "The defence of human rights and the fight against all types of racism are too important for the United Nations not to unite against all forms of hate speech, against all perversion of this message." To which, surely, the honoured guest must have murmured his deep appreciation. At last, someone of keen intellect, who understood the message properly; for that indeed was what the speech intended.

As for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, expressing his dismay over the unfortunate boycotts, the walk-outs, and the speech by the honoured guest, one can only scratch one's proverbial head. And empathize with the honoured guest over the perversity of human nature, the utter incomprehension of Mr. Ban claiming that the honoured guest had taken advantage of his opportunity to address the gathering "to accuse, divide and even incite".

Wot! Say that again? Slowly, please. I can feel myself, in sympathy with Mr. Ahmadinejad, taking offence. On the other hand, he's also considering the source...

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Struggle of the Powerless

The powerful may do as they like. Who will apprehend them, successfully chasten them? Might does make right, if not quite rightly moral or ethical.

The powerless can do little to defend themselves against the power of those who wield it, for better or for ill. The defenceless, and that is most of us, have few skills and fewer yet of any mechanisms apart from protest, civil disobedience, defiance of authority, to bring attention to their plight or distress, or unease with the decisions of the powerful.

They do have the option of offering the ultimate sacrifice. It's a sacrifice quite unlike that espoused by Islamist jihadists for whom sacrifice equates with blessed martyrdom, eliciting from He on High plaudits and a place in Paradise, embellished by the presence of willing virgins. Those jihadists sacrificing their lives do it in a state of exalted purpose, submitting to the demands of the Divine Maker, in anticipation of His blessing and their rewards.

They are acting in a powerful way. They are subsumed by the passion of hatred, eager to deliver death as a means of proving their honour, their courage, their commitment to jihad, a holy war that consecrates their actions as one with the glory of God. They act from a position of strength, encouraged by their mullahs, their ayatollahs, their learned clerics who probe the scriptures to define and isolate commandments to go forth and murder in cause of the one True Faith.

The powerless use another instrument altogether. Their sacrifice is a purely personal one. They have no intention of sacrificing other, innocent lives alongside their own. Their protest is one of submission to a moral and ethical code not quite recognized by the greater society, but which impassions them to the point of personal extinction, as a personal protest.

Hunger strikers devote their passive protest, the inertia of losing their bodily functions to pain and starvation to prove their devotion to a cause held dear to their hearts. This is the instrument of protest taken by the weak, those without power, the disenfranchised, in a last desperate appeal for attention to their ignored cause. They offer themselves as hostage to the cause. Unassuaged, they forfeit their claim to life.

This is the ultimate political act of protest. With nothing left to barter for attention, help, commitment, they offer no resistance, merely the unconscionable realization by the onlookers that by their inaction they have condemned a living human being to death. Hunger striking is the ultimate form of blackmail, imposing upon the onlooker the mantle of reluctant enabler in a death pact.

The process, if not halted, is inexorable, as the body breaks down along with the spirit and the will to live. The striker becomes progressively weaker, unable to use all his faculties. He may no longer be able to walk on his own, use his vision or hearing as normal. Pain begins to evince itself as the central and peripheral nervous systems begin to fail, along with the heart, the kidneys and even that largest organ, the skin.

Physical failure, and mental incompetency results. A steely resolve, a hard and righteous belief in one's cause, leading to the ultimate commitment; to cease existing in a common cause with those who are suffering, are oppressed, for whom the striker mounts his protest. The message is a powerful one; the weak transcending his weakness.

Despite the power of the message to move us all to compassion and caring, the protest will not necessarily result in vindication of the decision to hunger-strike. But it does represent the ultimate, and last resort of the desperate.

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Gut Reaction

Abu Zubaydah, al-Qaeda operative: "I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress". The result of an 'alternative set of procedures'.
Khaled Shaik Mohammed, chief al-Qaeda planner of 9/11: "Of course during this month I fell asleep on some occasions while still being held in this position. This resulted in all my weight being applied to the handcuffs around my wrist resulting in open and bleeding wounds."

We react with horror and disgust when hearing of the use of torture to extort information from those held captive, charged with crimes. Of course in soft human circles torture is considered a crime. Civil people do not engage in such inhumane practises.

And then there are the prisoners, those charged with truly heinous crimes. Not merely crimes already committed, as greatly damaging to society as they have been, but charged also with planning, in conspiracy with others, additional threats to great and violent proportions.

To extract from those being held in custody some information that may be helpful in being able to guard against further vicious assaults on one's country and citizenry civil beings visualize politely asking the accused for the information required to protect their community. Oddly enough, expressions of contrition do not trip easily from the lips of those who have conspired and been successful in creating terror, and mounting successful murderous attacks.

They may indeed admit to having committed those acts, as some are proud to do, claiming them to have been honourably committed in response to the ancient commands of a deity they worship and whom they believe, through sacred texts, demand such sacrifices. But while they may be pleased enough to accept the triumph of successful mass murder, they are understandably less amenable to incriminating others, or revealing details of further planned terror acts.

How to deal with such people? Clearly, to behave with them in the manner in which they have done with the injured party is to reveal oneself as having as few moral scruples as they have displayed - even if under the guise of doing homage to one's Maker. This does present as a conundrum. Countries claiming to be obedient to a civil code, subservient not to a vengeful god, but to a social pact, a legal and functioning Constitution of the people, by the people, for the people have other values.

Enquiries reveal that those civilized, moral, ethical and values-driven countries occasionally succumb to the severity of extreme punishment in an concerted effort to extract vital information from the accused. We are overwhelmed with revulsion that a civil society would resort to such means and methods. All the more so, when we are informed that such means and methods do not result in meaningful data.

What they do result in, is a form of institutionalized vengeance. One religion espouses jihad, encouraging its adherents to go forth and terrorize in the name of the one true religion. The other encourages a hard justice equated with "an eye for an eye". Each religion claims to represent itself as a bastion of peaceful longing, for equality among all humankind. Wherefore it is obvious to conclude that those who avenge and those who revenge are pretenders.

The thing about violent physical adversity is that he who turns the other cheek willingly sacrifices himself to further abuse, meekly accepting what is meted out. God, in whatever guise He takes, is said to help those to help themselves. If and when aggression is met with aggression, we are informed that two wrongs a right do not make. But aggression meeting aggression informs the original aggressor that his will may not be tolerated.

Modern, democratic governments are theoretically far removed from descending into the hell chamber of torture. In reality, we are all human, and we will react and respond as human beings will. Harm me and mine, and you will bring greater harm upon yourself and yours.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Iran Speaks

Special Dispatch - No. 2317
April 17, 2009 No. 2317

In an April 15, 2009 speech in Kerman, Iran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran was working diligently to draw up a new proposals package, to be presented soon to the West. He said that this package would assure peace and justice for the nations, and that it must be the basis for any dialogue between Iran and the West.

In response to U.S. President Barack Obama's "outstretched hand," as he expressed in his April 1, 2009 speech, Ahmadinejad emphasized that the West was weak, and could not force anything on Iran. Ahmadinejad enumerated Iran's demands for dialogue with the U.S.; the demands included the withdrawal of Western forces, the destruction of the West's entire nuclear arsenal, and respect for Iran's right to its nuclear program.

This response by Ahmadinejad is in addition to his previous response to Obama's speech; in that response, Ahmadinejad noted that Iran would cut off any hand extended to attack it. [1] Also, on March 21, 2009, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated that it was the U.S. that had to change, particularly in regard to its policy towards Iran. [2]

It should also be noted that in response to being invited to the Hague Conference on Afghanistan, held March 31, 2009 - a conference which was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - Iran sent a diplomat of the rank of deputy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Akhoundzadeh. Furthermore, in response to Clinton's statement that U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke had met with Akhoundzadeh and that the Iranians had been given a letter concerning the four U.S. citizens missing in Iran, both Akhoundzadeh and Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi denied that there had been any meeting and also the receipt of any letter. [3]

Also, recently the U.S. removed the precondition to negotiations with Iran that it had maintained for years - i.e. that Iran stop uranium enrichment. Since Iran absolutely refuses to discuss the issue of its uranium enrichment, the issue has now become a final aim of U.S. negotiations with Iran.

A senior U.S. State Department official said, in an anonymous April 15, 2009 interview with the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, that the "contacts" proposed by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Iran early this week are a kind of "discussions" that will constitute an "opportunity for serious negotiations" that will subsequently become a "possibility to solve the intricate problem... and then the joint work will begin, to deal with the international problem concerning Iran's nuclear program." [4]

"We welcome [the call by the West for dialogue with Iran], but we put forth several proposals to them: We say to you that you yourselves know that you are today in a position of weakness. Your hands are empty, and you can no longer promote your affairs from a position of strength. We recommend that you amend your rhetoric towards the rest of the nations, respect them, and not talk with the Iranian nation from the position of egocentric people. [Iran] will respond to anyone who wants to talk with the Iranian nation from a position of egocentrism just like it responded to Mr. Bush..."

"There have been great changes in the world in this past year. We are drawing up a new package, which we will present when it is ready. This package guarantees peace, justice, respect for the nations, and the participation of all of them in resolving world problems. We are people of dialogue and reason, and we say to you [i.e. the West] that today the world is run with respect and justice... and those who want to use [the tool] of forcing [a policy on others] are backwards. I hereby tell you that, with the grace of God, none of the [world] powers can now, nor will they ever be able to, force anything at all on the Iranian nation... For 30 years, the Iranian nation has invited you to reason, dialogue, and adherence to the law..."

"Anyone who talks about change must change his own behavior and policy. He must stop talking with the nations out of egocentrism and from a position of arrogance; he must officially recognize, and respect, the rights of the nations. Similarly, he must collect his forces from across the world, and withdraw them to his own borders..."

"We hear that they [i.e. the Western countries] want, after 50 or 60 years [since WWII], to remove their atom bombs from Germany, and to return them to their own countries. This is a good move, but we maintain that the fundamental step [must be] the collection and destruction of all [nuclear] arsenals in the world, in a single place, together with their storehouses, so that the nations will attain peace and tranquility...

"Four and a half years ago, those [i.e. the reformists under Iranian President Mohammad Khatami] who went to negotiate [with the West] said to their interlocutors, after they agreed to freeze all [uranium enrichment], "We want [nuclear energy for the purposes of] science and technology. Give us permission to operate 20 centrifuges.' But the other side [i.e. the West] answered insolently, 'If you want to operate 20 centrifuges, you must discuss this for 10 years, and maybe after 10 years you will get permission to operate 20 centrifuges.'

"But today, with the grace of God, and thanks to Iran's national unity, the recommendations of Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei], and the following of his [path], nearly 7,000 centrifuges are spinning today at Natanz, mocking them." [6]
[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2305, "Ahmadinejad in Response to Obama: 'Any Hand Outstretched to Attack Us Will Be Cut Off,'" April 2, 2009,
[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2297, "Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's New Year Speech and Reactions to President Obama's Message," March 25, 2009,
[3] See "Iran Denies Talks with American Representatives at the Hague,", April 1, 2009.
[4] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 15, 2009.
[5] ISNA (Iran), April 15, 2009.
[6] ISNA (Iran), April 15, 2009

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Bargaining for Peace and Property

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat: 'Abbas Rejected Israel's Proposal at Annapolis Like Arafat Rejected the Camp David 2000 Proposal

Following are excerpts from a television debate with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. The debate aired on Al-Jazeera TV on March 27, 2009.

To view this MEMRI TV clip, visit

Saeb Erekat: "I am sitting in Jericho, in the house where I was born, four kilometers from the Jordan River, and there are Israeli flags from the Jordan River all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, we are living under Israeli occupation. But let me say that Jerusalem has not been - and will not be - lost. Three hundred thousand Palestinian citizens live in Jerusalem.

"It is true that the negotiations continued for many years, but don’t you know that President Yasser Arafat was besieged at Camp David and was killed unjustly, only because he adhered to Jerusalem, and because he refused to let the Israeli measures on the ground give rise to any [Israeli] right or any [Palestinian] obligation? The Palestinian negotiators could have given in in 1994, 1998, or 2000, and two months ago, brother Abu Mazen [i.e. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud 'Abbas] could have accepted a proposal that talked about Jerusalem and almost 100% of the West Bank, but it is not our goal to score points against one another here.

"Our strategic goal, when we strive for peace, is not to do so at any price. We strive for peace on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 borders, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and with the West Bank and the Gaza Strip geographically connected." […]

"In my family, we are seven siblings. My six brothers and sisters are in the diaspora. But this does not deny them the right to inherit this land. Ten million Palestinians own Palestine, just like I do. Our survival and steadfastness on this land, our wresting of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital - this is what we can achieve in our generation."[…]

"Let me recount two historical events, even if I am revealing a secret. On July 23, 2000, at his meeting with President Arafat in Camp David, President Clinton said: 'You will be the first president of a Palestinian state, within the 1967 borders - give or take, considering the land swap - and East Jerusalem will be the capital of the Palestinian state, but we want you, as a religious man, to acknowledge that the Temple of Solomon is located underneath the Haram Al-Sharif.'

"Yasser Arafat said to Clinton defiantly: 'I will not be a traitor. Someone will come to liberate it after 10, 50, or 100 years. Jerusalem will be nothing but the capital of the Palestinian state, and there is nothing underneath or above the Haram Al-Sharif except for Allah.' That is why Yasser Arafat was besieged, and that is why he was killed unjustly.

"In November 2008… Let me finish… [Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert, who talked today about his proposal to Abu Mazen, offered the 1967 borders, but said: 'We will take 6.5% of the West Bank, and give in return 5.8% from the 1948 lands, and the 0.7% will constitute the safe passage, and East Jerusalem will be the capital, but there is a problem with the Haram and with what they called the Holy Basin.' Abu Mazen too answered with defiance, saying: 'I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. I came to demarcate the borders of Palestine - the June 4, 1967 borders - without detracting a single inch, and without detracting a single stone from Jerusalem, or from the holy Christian and Muslim places.' This is why the Palestinian negotiators did not sign…"

TV host: "But let’s return to Camp David. When you were at the meetings with Shlomo Ben-Ami… After two weeks of meetings between Barak, Arafat, and Clinton, which led to nothing, there was a meeting at which you proposed that there be [Palestinian] sovereignty, with arrangements in the Old City, including the Haram Al-Sharif. In other words, you proposed Palestinian sovereignty, with Israel playing a role in the administrative aspects. In other words, Israel would participate in the administration of the Haram area - unlike the 'reduced sovereignty' demanded by Shlomo Ben-Ami at that meeting. In other words, you wanted to let [Israel] play a role, one way or another, with regard to the so-called Holy Basin."

Saeb Erekat: "They will never have this. Like President Abu Mazen said in front of President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert: I am not in a marketplace or a bazaar. East Jerusalem is an occupied area, just like Khan Yunis, Jericho, and Nablus were. Its status in international law will never be anything else. Therefore, any arrangements regarding East Jerusalem are categorically unacceptable."

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Friday, April 17, 2009

What Jewish State?

Israel, and the world along with it, has suffered the delusion for over sixty years that the country was founded as a Jewish state, to provide a safe haven for Jews the world over. And while about one-and-a-half-million of its residents are not Jewish, it essentially represents as a state dedicated to the nationhood of world Jewry. That almost a third of its citizens are not Jewish simply demonstrates its willingness to accommodate other ethnic and religious groups.

Far from being the 'racist', 'xenophobic', and 'apartheid' state that its detractors enjoy naming the country, it has more than adequately, and quietly and efficiently, gone about its business, securing the future for itself and its multifarious peoples. Even the Jewish population represents a broad spectrum of different traditions, from the Orthodox to the secular, and Jews coming from various countries of the world, having little in common but their ancestry.

Under its new, hard-line government with Binyamin Netanyahu once again prime minister, the Palestinian Authority has a far more demanding counterpart to deal with than the previous one, willing and eager, albeit with great pain, to give up much that Israel holds dear to win consent for peace from the Palestinians. The sacrifices on the part of Israel to reach an agreement for two states was simply never enough to suit the demands of the Palestinians.

Now the new prime minister - no agreeable Ehud Olmert he - demands a pre-condition. In exchange for his goodwill in proceeding with a peace agreement to lead to the establishment of 'two states for two peoples', Mr. Netanyahu quite reasonably invites the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as fundamentally a Jewish state. This request is seen as a profound insult, an assault upon the sensibilities of the Palestinians. Effectively making hash of the thesis: 'two states for two peoples'.

Moreover, were the Palestinians to accede to the precondition and state unequivocally that they agree; Israel is indeed a Jewish state, it would become rather inappropriate for the Palestinians to continue to press for 'right of return', that Israel undertake to absorb millions of Palestinians wishing to 'return' to the territory that is now Israel. In effect, however, the Palestinian Authority's refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, reflects Hamas's refusal to recognize Israel as a legitimate state.

Where then, is the practical difference between the two, Fatah and Hamas? One seeks to destroy Israel overtly, the other by covert means. The newly-appointed U.S. President Obama's administration appointment of George Mitchell as envoy to the Middle East insists that Israel move forward with the PA to create the two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu, reasonably enough, has informed Mr. Mitchell it is prepared to proceed, when/if the PA recognizes Israel as a Jewish state.

In a hair-splitting exercise, the PA government recognizes Israel, but not Israel the Jewish state. They deem the prior requirement to serious engagement a 'provocation', a deliberate attempt on the part of the new Israeli government to throw a spanner into the works. They, on the other hand, are completely innocent of anything approximating ill-will toward the process.

Then, of course, there's the trifling concerns about security. Having vacated the Gaza Strip in the hopes that that unilateral move would result in a relaxation of hostilities, Israel witnessed instead the complete disintegration of civil life and order into violent anarchy, followed by the usurpation of authority in Gaza by Hamas, with no cessation whatever of violent actions against Israel.

So what guarantees would there be with the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank that the Palestinian Authority would genuinely be concerned with keeping the peace with its neighbour?

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Christian-Influenced Whores

Any woman, or any defender of women in Afghanistan today, who claims that women are entitled to equal treatment with men is considered an apostate, an affront to Islam, a sell-out to Christianity, a whore.

"We want our rights!" shout a relative handful of courageous young women, "We want equality!". It's abundantly clear that their attitude is not to be countenanced, that they have been morally corrupted by the horrible influence of Western thought and expectations for human rights.

A gathering of Afghani women audaciously made a decision to provocatively gather before the School of the Last Prophet, a madrassa under the control of the country's most respected Shiite cleric. The very individual who, along with his collegial scholars in Shia interpretation of Shariah Law drafted the controversial new 'family law' bill passed by both houses of the Afghan parliament.

"We are here to campaign for our rights", claimed one of the marchers through a loudspeaker, encouraging her companions, holding aloft banners, and chanting their determination to be viewed as human beings, not chattels. Inciting hundreds of students to stream out of the madrassa, to shout their outraged defiance of this unparalleled conceit of equality.

"Death to the enemies of Islam!" was the message from the counter-demonstrators.
"Death to the slaves of the Christians!"

There has been progress in that benighted country, thanks to the intervention of those very Christians whom the fanatical Islamists so despise and deride for their corruption of religious values and social traditions. There are now women engaged in a vast array of enterprises, forbidden them by the fundamentalist Taliban, so eager to retake the governance of the country.

The Shia clerics and the Taliban would appear to have much in common in their low opinion of women, whose place most surely is in the deep, dark recesses of their homes, never to see the light of day without an all-encompassing burka, led by a male relative in public spheres. Both Shia Afghans and Sunni Taliban feel a recalcitrant woman need know her place, and physical blows can help shred that stubborn streak into meek acceptance.

What separates them each is their detestation one for the other, of their choice of Islamic faith and expression, for only one can represent adherence to the one True Faith, the other an insulting-to-the-Prophet-and-Allah, pretension not to be countenanced. And so, when one is in the ascendancy, the other suffers derision and vicious denunciation, oppression and deprivation.

Much as they visit upon their womenfolk.

Women, being the frail and bovine-like creatures that they are, know little of what they demand. It is not they, after all, who are the scholars, those respected elders able to decipher and interpret the writings of the Koran and the Hadith. The clerics who deeply understand Islamic law know whereof they speak, and the women, clearly do not.

They are as stubborn, spoilt children, and must be beaten.

Above all, as Mohammed Hussein Jafaari pointed out politely, "We Afghans don't want a bunch of NATO commanders and foreign ministers telling us what to do."

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