Saturday, October 31, 2009

Beyond Despicable

Trafficking in human beings presents as a business opportunity around the world. From marketing young women as sex slaves, to kidnapping babies and infants as potential adoptees, this kind of trafficking represents big business, and a general degradation of society's values, respecting fundamental human rights. Young people or homeless, able-bodied men are abducted for slave labour at work sites in some countries and never again heard from by their families.

Women are brought to foreign shores on work visas handled by 'entrepreneurs' who promise them legitimate job opportunities only to find themselves without legal documentation, stranded in foreign countries where they have no command of language, working as prostitutes for the benefit of human traffickers. And these situations can and do arise anywhere in the world. Including developed countries that think of themselves as champions of human rights.

The underground network and economy of illegal transference of migrants living in refugee camps hoping to bypass the difficult procedure of normal refugee-claimant or emigration-seeking opportunities also fall victim. They pay traffickers to produce the lengthy paperwork and make all arrangements. Where professional traffickers stealthily and dangerously transport desperate people into countries to declare themselves refugees, or just disappear into the general population armed with dearly-purchased false documentation, thrive.

And parents of children in North America, adopted through agencies working out of China are now discovering the cachet of the foreign-born adoptions of their adorable babies or infants may be tarred by the simple fact that their adopted children may represent the results of children stolen from their biological parents. Whisked away to orphanages complicit with the illegal trade, and making plenty of money through the trafficking of abducted children.

Alert to the growing incidences of children abducted from their biological parents, the government of China has felt compelled to finally act on the problem. Inside China itself, with its one-child-per-family policy, and with boy babies at a premium, abductions make hefty profits for the sale of baby boys and infants to anxious couples with problems relating to sterility. Realizing for quick and easy sales within the country.

Female babies find eager adoptive customers outside China, with no end of potential adopters willing and eager to pay whatever it will cost to expedite their parenthood via adoption. This morally reprehensible, but extremely profitable business with its squalid disregard for fundamental human rights has suddenly found itself facing a government initiative determined to put a stop to the practise.

Chinese security forces have been tasked to crack down on child trafficking. Since the inception of the crackdown in the spring, police have been successful in tracking down over two thousand missing children in a succession of raids. Intense and often extremely difficult identification processes, including posting photographs of the children as they now appear on Internet sites, have been successful in restoring most of the abducted children to their biological parents.

Parents of kidnapped children have themselves long bewailed their loss. And become actively engaged in advocacy work. Most keep hoping that their children, abducted fifteen years earlier, may soon re-surface to be restored to them. In that space of time much depends on the biological family's ability to recognize their children long after the abduction has taken place. As for the children themselves, they seldom have any memory of who they might have been before their abductions.

Knowing little of who their real parents might be, where they originally came from within the country. This soul-destroying activity goes on oblivious to the grief and loss it represents. Sociopaths whose goal is to make profit from human tragedy cannot easily be persuaded that their risk-taking may now be apprehended by security forces intent on tracking their activities.

Meanwhile, the perplexed gaze of children innocently peering into cameras are pictured on a Chinese government website named Babies Looking for a Home. Except that this is not a site used by human traffickers inviting the highest bid to reward those unable to conceive who long for a child of their own, or of a widower or a lonely unmarried male hoping to purchase a child-bride.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Canada's Iran Relationship

Decidedly unwholesome, in a word. Which is to say in explanation that Canada holds Iran as an exemplar of the very worst of national governance. A state demonstrably given to iron-fisted rule, imprisoning, torturing and killing political dissenters. Where extra-judicial executions take place, free speech is routinely suppressed, basic human rights repressed, and those unwilling to submit to fanatical Islamism are persecuted, as are Baha'i, homosexuals, opponents of the ruling Ayatollahs.

Where arbitrary detention and sudden disappearances are the order of the day.

Canada is introducing yet another draft resolution in the United Nations, highlighting Iran's extensive array of human rights abuses. Despite the Islamist Republic of Iran's strident denials and strenuous attempts to back Canada into a corner through counter-accusations, Canada has managed successfully to lobby for support by other countries within the UN General Assembly to pass such resolutions in past years.

This year's resolution has been co-sponsored by Norway and Sweden, working closely with Canada on the file.

The text to be submitted to a general vote for condemnation of Iran reflects previous Canadian-led resolutions highlighting torture, flogging, amputations and stoning as "serious ongoing and recurring human-rights violations" which are regular proceedings within Iran. This has become Canada's very special and determined purpose within the United Nations; to hold Iran accountable to the general body for its ongoing human-rights infractions, which it commits with utter impunity.

The true absurdity of the United Nations' special rapporteurs on a whole host of human rights investigations is that time is spent needlessly, almost frivolously, with UN investigator involvement probing alleged abuses in developed countries, rather than focusing where they should; within those countries well recognized for their abysmal record of human rights abuses. Canada has also criticized the UN's human rights investigators for ignoring the need to expose abuses where they should.

The UN's housing rapporteur is now engaged in probing fairness in housing in the United States. Last week the UN's investigator on the plight of minorities visited Canada, ending up chastising Canada for purported misdeeds on engaging with minorities. The Canadian-led draft resolution exhorts as a first step that the UN's extra-judicial executions rapporteur investigate the situation in Iran. Second mentioned for attention is the special rapporteur on torture.

That same UN special rapporteur on torture was uncordially invited to leave Zimbabwe just as he was to begin the process of investigating attacks on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's supporters by President Robert Mugabe's thugs. Iran, like Zimbabwe, will not willingly permit any of the UN's rapporteurs entrance to the country to investigate human rights abuses casually practised there. Unlike Western countries which lend themselves to the investigative process.

Canada's outlining in the draft resolution of Iran where there exists a "persistent failure to uphold due process of law rights, and violations of rights of detainees, including defendants held without charge or incommunicado, the systematic and arbitrary use of prolonged solitary confinement, and lack of timely access to legal representation", highlights the dire need of Iranians to experience a sea-change in their country's administration of justice.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pakistan's Dedication

Special Dispatch - No. 2622
October 29, 2009 No. 2622
Afghan Journalist: 'As Strongly as the United States and NATO have Worked to Remove Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan - Pakistan is Working Equally As Hard to Keep Them Securely in Place'

In a recent article, prominent Afghan writer Masood Qiam urges the West to consider the needs of the Afghan nation, not just their own.

Masood Qiam, who began his career with Afghanistan’s Moby media, now lives outside of Afghanistan due to threats to his life over his investigative reports.

In the article, published by the Afghan website, he says that Pakistani intelligence continues to protect the Taliban in Afghanistan, while the West treats the country merely as a battlefield.

Following are some excerpts from his article [1]:

"As strongly as the U.S. and NATO have worked to remove Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from Afghanistan, Pakistan is working equally as hard to keep them securely in place. The attack last week at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Nuristan province, killing eight U.S. soldiers, was the deadliest attack on the U.S. forces in over a year. This is exactly the type of militancy the Pakistani secret service is planning and overseeing - attacks specifically directed at discouraging foreign governments from sending more troops.

"The Taliban is not completely controlled by Pakistan, but they do utilize military intelligence from and are financially supported by Pakistan. Pakistan plants the idea, for instance, of attacking NATO troops in the north or killing soldiers from nations- such as Germany, Italy, and France- that are already debating whether or not to pull troops out. They are putting more pressure on NATO as well, with the goal of forcing the organization out of Afghanistan.

"Though it may appear as a diversion, the Pakistani government did not invade the Swat Valley and kill thousands of Taliban soldiers to convince the West that they are actively fighting the Taliban. Pakistan, rather, simply does not want the Taliban in their country. The Pakistani government will not kill Taliban in Afghanistan, only those within Pakistan."

"Pakistan’s government benefits from the support of Afghanistan’s Taliban. When the Taliban gained troops and power, they began to disobey Pakistan’s orders. For instance, Pakistan supported the U.S. government’s request that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden, but the Taliban did not comply. Even if the Afghan Taliban obeys half of Pakistan’s orders, the relationship will remain intact. Pakistan doesn’t want to control the Taliban completely, but it’s important to them that they are able to direct Afghanistan for their own benefits."

"Just as taking tablets for a headache has side effects on other parts of the body, Pakistan’s encouraging of Afghans to become Taliban has side effects within Pakistan. Keeping border areas secure is part of the plan to retain the insurgency in Afghanistan. In order for Pakistan to do this, they must encourage people living at the border between the two countries to become extremist fighters. The violence in these areas spills over onto Pakistan soil."

"Sending in more foreign troops will assist those currently stationed to remove [the] Taliban, but it won’t completely fix the situation in Afghanistan. A fundamental problem is that American, European and even Afghan leaders don’t recognize Afghanistan as a nation- they think of it as a battlefield. They strategize around their own political agendas, not around the well-being of the people of Afghanistan. It is imperative that they think about justice in such a socially conflicted country."

"Numerous Afghan politicians are not physically in the Taliban, but their sympathies lie with and support the Taliban. The Afghan government will never be able to talk directly with the Taliban, but we can force these corrupt leaders out of the government. If we bring justice, the Mujahideen and the Taliban will not be able to solicit support from the people, and Afghan citizens will realize that criminals must be removed from within the governmental system. We must erase all opportunities for Pakistani politicians to abuse the Afghan people by pitting them against each other.

"It is possible to accomplish this with the support of the international community. The people of Afghanistan cannot do it alone. Stability and security can be kept with short-term coalition governments. We have to see the problem from the root. Mujahedeen and the Taliban are playing the roles of political parties, but they are both criminal organizations that have been committing war crimes for the past 30 years. President Obama must consider transitional justice, and if the international community doesn’t negotiate with the Pakistani government, the problem of the Taliban will remain."

[1], Afghanistan, October 23, 2009. The article has been edited slightly for clarity.

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Innocuous? Or Deadly?

Both, it would appear. Largely innocuous, but vested in its capacity to strike at the human body's own immunological response system, tinged with deadly potential.

"It is a very different virus. It does attach to the deep lung tissue in people. When it does, it creates a very bad viral pneumonia, one of the worst we've ever seen... This is the sickest bunch of people I've seen, as a group", according to one medical expert, speaking of the virus's biological attributes.

Describing the distinctive trait of the H1N1 virus to lodge itself deeply within the lungs by binding itself to lung tissues to create a dangerous viral pneumonia. According to the interpretation by some medical scientists. And others yet claim that the virus onset can trigger an extreme immune reaction in some rare instances, where an individual's normal immune response to a foreign invader is to attack the invader, but instead attacks itself.

Creating what is termed scientifically-biologically, a "cytokine storm". "In essence, they die because their own body, in its attempt to fight off the influenza virus, actually kills them", not the virus, according to the president of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease, in Kingston, Ontario.

The very unpredictability of the viral infection has experts confused. There is as yet no way in which individuals can be identified who will experience an over-response through their body's immune system going berserk, and causing them to die of a cytokine storm. As opposed to the vast majority of people who will experience relatively mild symptoms after viral onset.

Unlike seasonal flu that afflicts the elderly and the young and the immune-compromised, this H1N1 virus appears to focus on a younger demographic, with an age median of 32. Further confusing things is that on the rare occasion, healthy young people suffering no chronic illness become fatally afflicted. Including children with no known immune-compromising conditions.

It has been pointed out that this flu is comprised of the genetics of swine, bird and human influenza, and as such behaves in an entirely unpredictable way, confounding the experts and overturning normal expectations. A British study revealed findings that indicate the new viral strain can bind to cell 'receptors' in the upper respiratory tract; nose, throat and upper airway. Whereas seasonal viruses strike the upper-tract receptors.

In immune-compromised individuals the onset of the virus exacerbates existing medical conditions causing secondary bacterial pneumonias, and this group is seen to represent over 80% of deaths from H1N1. But there is no scientific-medical general agreement; these are educated theories. It is the randomness, the unexpectedness of the assault in seemingly healthy people that strikes fear into the general public.

For perspective, worldwide deaths annually caused by the ordinary flu virus are said to be between 250,000 to 500,000. Certainly a considerable figure, which includes deaths where the seasonal flu virus has played a part, with an underlying, chronic illness. Whereas the worldwide figure for H1N1 flu deaths currently stands at 5,000.

This is what the public focuses on, not the fact that the vast preponderance of the afflicted rapidly recover from the H1N1 flu with no ill effects whatever.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

H1N1 Preparedness

Canadians are led to believe several things, that our national health authorities, along with their provincial and municipal counterparts are right on track in decision-making and delivering the vaccines that are being touted as the only real way of forestalling a full-blown national pandemic - and that the vaccines themselves, although they have not been subjected to Canadian trials, will do the job of protecting vulnerable human beings from the worst, albeit rare, effects of this new flu virus.

Since the opening of municipal clinics established in Canadian cities to first serve those judged to be most likely to being exposed to the worst effects of H1N1: health-care workers, pregnant women, children under age six and people with immune-impairing illnesses, chaos has reigned supreme. Even within that discrete section of society it has become obvious that the clinics are too few in number, the vaccination process has been time-impaired by the paperwork associated with it, and people are being turned away.

Long, tedious waiting times, the result of sobering though rare news of previously-healthy young people in the prime of life suddenly losing life with the onslaught of H1N1 has caused no little amount of concern. Pregnant women, women with infants, the elderly health-impaired, and health-care workers are experiencing the frustration of mingling among hundreds of other anxious people awaiting vaccination. Half of them will be turned away, instructed to return at another time in the hopes they can then be served.

These crowded clinics, with people of every age and medical condition thronging the sites, restlessly trying to calm their fears and accompanying young children's need to be entertained and fed while waiting, also present as an excellent breeding ground for germs and viruses in and of themselves. The inoculation itself takes a mere second to perform. While the associated paperwork results in a time-waste of up to ten minutes, per individual. Both of which issues the nurse is charged with.

Not possible for waiting adults to fill in their own questionnaires adequately with instructions printed on the forms, and/or prompting from roving clerks placed there for that precise purpose? Expediting the inoculation process by removing the tedious need for the nurse to perform both functions? With the end result being far more rapid and thorough processing of each individual, and infinitely greater numbers of vaccinations could be performed.

It's disheartening and pitiful that people who haven't the physical capacity to extend themselves for prolonged periods of time, needing to line up, and then be informed after a six-hour wait that they will not make the cut, necessitating that they return for another attempt. Obviously, more clinics should be opened. Retired and currently-non-practising RNs should be recruited to expedite matters.

In view of the recent deaths of a pre-teen and a teen, both of whom were suddenly fatally struck, with no previous health impediments, it would seem reasonable for nurses to fan out into area schools to vaccinate school children in those premises. Authorization forms could be sent out in advance to be signed by consenting parents. A total recalibration of the manner in which the vaccination process is being done should be undertaken, quickly, to establish a best-practise regimen.

Ordinary vaccinations for yearly flu shots, extolled for their value in ensuring that the general population is as protected as possible, are available through clinics and through the offices of general practitioners. There seems no really good reason why that practise should not, in this obviously tense and emergency atmosphere, be replicated for the H1N1 virus. Nurses in the offices of general practitioners are adept at delivering vaccinations.

For it's abundantly clear that this is not what is now occurring. And it is also obvious that Health Canada, having accepted trial results that were undertaken elsewhere, rather than lose precious time in using the newly-developed vaccine, including the adjuvenated type as quickly as possible, harbours some concerns, which accounts for their perceived need to track and monitor the progress of all who are being vaccinated.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Pure Hatred"

Perhaps a man, stateless, seeking refuge in a country not his familiar own, left to his own devices, unemployed and socially distanced from the population that surrounds him and suffering from depression, is a seriously ill human being. That being acknowledged, such individuals who answer to the above may become disgruntled by society and their place within it, so that they develop a distinctive grudge against any who seem to cause them personal offence.

Their distance from society as a whole, feeds a psychopathy that may make them extremely dangerous. Their state of mind is diseased, and they can find little empathy for others, simply because they feel no one has any for them.

They become pathetic survivors in a society that has little time or inclination to play a fostering role, too busy making a life for themselves in the ordinary way that people are focused on their own lives. Resentment festers in those outside the mainstream of society, and they become potential lethal weapons in their proclivity to strike out at those whom they perceive as threatening to them.

None of which character diagnosis will be of any help to a young Muslim woman, mother of a young child, and expecting her second, who was murdered in a German court of law as she was expecting to testify against a young man who had defamed and insulted her in a public venue. That venue was a park in Dresden, where, in the playground, a 28-year-old Alex Wiens, sat smoking, on a playground swing.

When Marwa al-Sherbini - veiled, thus reflecting her religion - asked Mr. Wiens to vacate the swing so she could place her two-year-old son Mustafa on it, she was rewarded with an anti-Islamic tirade. She responded by pressing charges for defamation, and Mr. Wiens was fined in a Dresden court for $1,240.

Obviously, no one anticipated what came next, as Mr. Wiens extracted a knife he had hidden and stabbed the pregnant al-Sherbini sixteen times in the space of three minutes. Where court security was, how guards were deployed, the manner in which a response was mounted to halt the attack is a question that most certainly should be answered. Despite that no one might anticipate a relatively 'minor' offence to elicit such a harsh response.

Her then-3-1/2-year-old child witnessed his mother bleeding to death. And her husband, attempting to come to her aid, himself being stabbed by the same man, a like number of times. In the confusion of the ensuing melee, a court guard shot Mrs. al-Sherbini's husband in the leg while he was struggling with his attacker. Egyptian geneticist, Elwy Okaz, husband of Marwa al-Sherbini, may never again walk without crutches.

He has left Germany with his child, to live with his family in Egypt, once again. But was present at the new trial for his wife's murderer. The government prosecutor described the attack on Mr. Okaz's wife as being inspired "...out of pure hatred of non-Europeans and Muslims. He wanted to annihilate them." That may or may not be true. But this demented man is most certainly guilty of murdering a woman and her unborn child.

The sad story and the trial has elicited anti-German protests in Egypt and Iran. While in Dresden, thousands of people rallied, to respect Marwa al-Sherbini's memory.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Friendly Persuasion

Israel has long extended the equality of citizenship to its Palestinian-Israeli citizens. And doubtless there are countless Palestinians who derive a good measure of satisfaction from that, feeling that their lives as Israeli citizens are infinitely more valuable as measured in freedoms, security, economic opportunities, than their counterparts elsewhere in the geography.

But resentment of Palestinians for the very presence of the Israeli state remains a stab in the heart, even though, if given the opportunity, few would opt to move to the Palestinian Territories, even if and when a Palestinian state is achieved.

The greater measure of the perceived versus the real state of accommodation by Palestinians of the presence of the Jewish State can be seen by the popularity of Marwan Barghouti, an imprisoned, convicted terrorist, found guilty of the murder of Israeli Jews. Seen as a 'moderate', he was elected in absentia - given the inconvenience of his five life sentences - to ruling Fatah's central council.

With the authority of his position within Fatah's central council, he is publicly advocating that the PA resume support for terror attacks on Israelis.

Simple enough: to achieve its goals toward a national entity, and receiving agreement from Israel for all Palestinian demands; the surrender of the Old City of Jerusalem, the right of return, the return to 1967 borders, and whatever else the Palestinians feel newly emboldened to demand as their just due, it is his heartfelt opinion that gains can only be made by negotiations leavened by terror attacks against the 'Nazi occupiers'.

In other words, a two-pronged approach to peace: the pursuit of peace talks alongside terror attacks.

Compellingly persuasive. Israeli Palestinians, who have elected their own representative Members of the Knesset, traditionally mourn what they call "The Nakba", a monumental disaster which overtook Palestinians, with the establishment of the State of Israel. This tragedy for Palestinians dating from 1948, is a ceremonial acknowledgement of great grief and huge moment for Palestinians.

Within the State of Israel, Palestinian children use textbooks in the school system which outline this portion of their history. All taxpayers in Israel pay for the publication of this kind of school curriculum. Dangerous to the State of Israel, since along with mourning of the Nakba is the premise that Israel's existence is illegitimate, and this feeds directly into the Palestinian Authority's institutional teaching defying Israel's existence on land rightfully Palestinian Arabs'.

There has been some movement in Israel, resulting in a new law that exempts taxpayers from paying for materials damaging to the institutions of the State; specifically anti-Zionist propaganda, leading to activities that ultimately result in violence against the state. The new law would prevent state funding of "Nakba Day" ceremonies, as well as paying for such dysfunctional school curricula.

Government funded groups would no longer receive public funds to assist them in spreading the purposeful messages of anti-Zionism, and demonstrations harmful to the state, such as the burning of the Israeli flag. In effect, denying the the rightful existence of a Jewish state.

This initiative does not sit well with Israeli-Palestinian MKs, who feel entitled to decry the existence of the State of Israel, and insist that freedom of expression should include secessionist goals, alongside a refusal of the very citizens of the state to recognize that it is primarily, and was originally established to exist as, a Jewish state.

"One cannot ignore the context and initiators of the law. The identity of its proponents [is like that of] the party to which they belong: the Jewish fascist party", fumed Ahmed Tibi, a Palestinian MK.

His outraged comment took place during a Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee discussion. The bill in question was diluted from its original reading which would have resulted in up to three years' imprisonment for consigning the Israeli annual celebration of Independence Day, to a day of mourning for a significant proportion of the population.

The bill's purpose is to prohibit funding for essentially colluding to destroy the legitimacy of the Jewish state.

The new law, this Member of the Israeli Knesset, said reminded him of the "thought police" in George Orwell's dystopian novel, 1984. Whereas, were Eric Arthur Blair alive today, he would have marvelled at a situation that existed whereby a legitimate state funded activities meant to degrade its existence.

He might have remarked that such a state was a self-defeating one, a hapless enemy to itself, constrained by political correctness and ultra-liberal excess to assist its enemies who slander it, who seek to sabotage its existence, who engage in criminal sedition.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dysfunctionally Brutalized Islam

1. More and yet more suicide bombings in Pakistan. Nowhere is security tight enough and sufficiently reliable to ensure that the Taliban cannot enter with impunity and wreak havoc. The ninth attack on a major government installation - this one at the country's most important aeronautical manufacturing complex, where it is rumoured, there is also a nuclear complex - has just teken place. "One or more of these facilities is probably associated with the weaponization of Pakistan's nuclear devices", according to a military think-tank.

"The Air Weapon Complex at Kamra is devoted to air-to-surface munitions, among other activities, and would probably have at least some connection with the development of air-delivered nuclear weapons." The country's nuclear sites are undisclosed, safely distant from India, seen as the country's mortal enemy, but handy to the geography of the Taliban fanatics. This is the third site connected with the country's nuclear program that has been under attack; which the government of Pakistan denies.

No need to worry; the government insists everything is locked safely away and secure from unwarranted access. This, while the Taliban have demonstrated more than adequately, their capability to mount assaults on presumed highly-secure bases. Which includes Pakistan military headquarters, earlier in the month. This is the capable ally whom the world of the west has allied itself, to ensure some measure of stability can be brought to bear, in the ongoing struggle within Afghanistan, against the Taliban there. The Afghan Taliban, along with their al-Qaeda compadres whom the Pakistan army has no interest in challenging...,

2. Meanwhile, in another area, where international troops still have a muted presence, suicide bombers, most likely al-Qaeda affiliates, have also been successful in mounting a theatre of resistance to the current Iraqi government, struggling still to create an atmosphere of peace in a country still attempting to recover from its own cataclysmic civil atrocities born of ancient religious and tribal hatreds. Two suicide bombers succeeded in attacking Iraqi government buildings in simultaneous blasts that killed at least 147 people, and wounded another 700, in a carnage-ridden victory for Islamo-fascism.

3. The world awaits word from IAEA inspectors who have travelled to Iran to inspect the newly-revealed nuclear installation at Qom. Over a month has passed since the revelations of the existence of this new installation. Ample time for Iran to whisk away any incriminating evidence that this new installation is being used illicitly, for military purposes. There is no doubt Iran's nuclear program has military aims, according to one western diplomat, who dismissed Iran's claim of its goal being to produce electricity: "They don't even have a reactor", he said.

Israel has stated its belief that the West accommodatingly has adjusted itself to being duped yet again, by Iran. "We are very concerned that Iran will use the goodwill of the international community to continue to develop their real intentions." But this is permitted, this type of duplicity, by the Koran which states that if a country is attempting to defend itself or to procure an advantage for itself, it may engage in deceit. Even the BBC's Tehran correspondent understands that Iran has played for time, to remove any incriminating evidence from their Fordo nuclear plant in Qom.

4. And in Somalia, al-Shabaab is grooming the population there, where they are in control, to welcome militancy into their lives. Insisting that families, including their children, attend the public executions of those whom they accuse of spying. Schools have been ordered to close so children may attend the festivities occasioned by firing squad. Violence must be accepted as part of everyday life. Parents are exhorted to encourage their children to become familiar with firearms. Prizes given out by al-Shabaab to young village men include hand grenades, anti-tank mines and AK-47 assault rifles.

5. And in Jerusalem, Muslim leaders continue to foment agitation amongst their flock, to protect their holy sites against "Jewish conquest." Spreading rumours that Jews plan on destroying Islam's third-most holy site.

Hundreds of young Palestinians have taken, over the past several weeks, to throwing rocks at non-Muslims who enter the al-Aqsa mosque compound. Injuring people in the process, and battling with Jerusalem police. Refusing to permit Jews to enter their own holy sites, adjacent; the Temple Mount, the first holiest site in Judaism.
An aerial view of the golden Dome of the Rock Mosque at the Al <span class=Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount
Known to Jews as Temple Mount, and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif
Contains al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock
Site of two biblical Jewish temples

Police moved in to disperse the rioting Palestinians, who threw stones and rocks and petrol bombs at police. A reporter for Canada's CBC radio was injured and rushed to hospital when she was hit in the face with a rioter's rock.

The Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs has been arrested on charges of incitement to riot.

This is peculiarly reflective of Islamic paranoia, resulting in Islamist fanaticism. Islam's belief that non-Muslims are conspiratorially attempting to demean their religion. Feeding into the violent militarization of Islam, breeding non-state militias whose purpose is to sacrifice all for the greater good of imperial Islam, the resurrection of primitive backwardness in human relations, where Islam will reign supreme over lesser religions and societies.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Arab Countries Graded on Human Development Index: Dismal Failure

Inquiry and Analysis - No. 555
October 21, 2009 No. 555
Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries [1]
By: Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli *


The United Nations Development Programme has issued the fifth volume in the series of Arab Human Development Reports (HDR), authored by intellectuals and scholars from the Arab countries who would hardly be expected to be heard in their own countries. In the introduction the authors lament the fact that seven years after the publication of the first HDR (2002) "the fault lines as traced in that analysis may have deepened." This HDR is set to find out why the obstacles to human development "proved so stubborn." (p.1)

Conceptually, the report distinguishes between human development and human security, the latter being the principal focus of the report. While human development is concerned with "the individual's capabilities and opportunities," human security "focuses on enabling peoples to contain and avert threats to their lives, livelihoods and human dignity." (p.2) In the Arab region, human insecurity, rather than human security is pervasive, affected by military occupation and armed conflict, flawed constitutions, and flawed laws and climatic changes. (p.2)

The ranking of Arab countries on the human development index (HDI) shows a major discrepancy between those few countries ranked high and the majority of the countries which are rated much lower. Globally, Kuwait ranks #33, followed by Qatar #35, and Saudi Arabia #61. They are followed by Jordan #86, Tunisia #91, Algeria #104, Occupied Palestinian Territory #106, [2] Syria #108, Morocco #126 [3], and Yemen #153. (p.229) Iraq and Somalia are not rated.

Seven Dimensions of Threat to the Arab Region

The report identifies seven dimensions of threat to the Arab region. [4] This dispatch will review the various components of each of these dimensions as they affect human security or insecurity in the Arab countries which includes 22 countries that are members of the Arab league. They include Egypt, the largest in terms of population; Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf countries, the wealthiest in terms of per capita income; the failed state of Somalia and the remote Indian Ocean island of Comoros.

1. People and Their Insecure Environment

Population pressures and dwindling resources pose a serious challenge to the security of the region. The population in the Arab countries is projected to increase to some 395 million by 2015, compared with 317 million in 2007, and 150 million in 1980. The most serious aspect of the demographic profile is the "youth bulge." Some 60% of the population of Arab countries is under 25 years old, making the region one of the most youthful in the world with a median age of 22 years compared to global average of 28. (p.3) This demographic structure is attributed to the highest population growth rates in the world. From 1975-1980, the total fertility rate in the region was 6.5, meaning that the average Arab woman gave birth to six or seven children. This rate declined to 3.6 in 2000-2005, a rate that is still higher than the population replacement rate of 2.1 (p.34) In fact, the projected rate of population growth in the Arab countries for the period 2010-2015 is double that of the world average. (p.35)

The report identifies a number of environmental problems that may be aggravated by the rapid population growth. Among these problems are water scarcity compounded by dependency on water resources, particularly Egypt, Iraq and Syria, shared with neighboring [non-Arab] countries; stressed groundwater systems, often the only source of fresh water; the peril of desertification (68.4 percent of the total area of the region has been swallowed by desert); and water pollution (attributed to the increased use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, among others).

The report seems to draw comfort from the fact that the United States in 2003 showed an absolute rate of pollution more than 10 times that of the highest Arab polluter, and the Russian Federation "out-polluted" the highest Arab polluter by a factor of nearly 7.5 (p.45) The region as a whole has an estimated 300 billion cubic meters of water which represents 1 percent of the world's total water resources, while the region's population accounts for 5 percent of the world's population.(p.139) The report warns that much of the population of the region will suffer from water stress, while others will experience water shortage. (p.39) On the other hand, air pollution in the Arab countries is generally among the lowest in the world, mainly because many of the Arab countries "have not progressed very far with industrialization." (p.3) All in all, the report warns that environmental degradation in the foreseeable future is more dangerous than war. (p.50)

2. The State and its Insecure People

The borders of most Arab states were drawn by colonial powers incorporating diverse ethnic, religious and linguistic groups as minority groups. Rather than making a serious effort to integrate these heterogeneous groups into a nation-state, the majority of Arab states have tried to subdue them under what the report characterizes as "command structures." Not surprisingly, many of these groups question the legitimacy of the state under which they live. A number of Arab writers hold the view that the achievement of individual human security "will have the effect of transforming the authoritarian state into one that respects the rule of law."(p.23)

The report underscores the constitutional failings of the Arab states and their inability to adhere to international charters governing the right to life and the right to freedom. Indeed, the report accuses Arab states of adopting in their constitutions ideological or doctrinal formulas that "empty stipulations of general rights and freedoms of any content." (p.5) The report points out that six [unnamed] Arab countries prohibit the formation of political parties. In many others, there are restrictions, particularly on the formation of opposition political parties, that are tantamount to their prohibition. In the case of civil societies, most of them come under an array of restrictive measures that for all intent and purpose render them ineffective if not entirely useless.

Under the guise of national security, many Arab countries have transformed martial law or emergency rules into a permanent way of conducting political life. These measures are often accompanied by state-sponsored practices of torture and illegal detention. Again, six unnamed countries are accused of practicing torture. (p.6) In some cases, the number of victims reaches thousands. (p.61) In the absence of checks and balances, the executive branch of government controls both the legislative and the judiciary branches of the state. Judicial independence exists on paper, and the judiciary is often subject to the whims of non-democratically elected political figures. The report laments the tragic fact that "[A]ll Arab heads of state wield absolute authority, answering to none."[p.6] In short, the report points to "a human security deficit," despite the constitutional commitments of Arab states. (p.76) Post-invasion Iraq would definitely be an exception since the president of the republic wields little power and the prime minister must constantly shuffle competing political forces both inside and outside the government to keep an unwieldy governing coalition together.

3. The Personal Insecurity of Vulnerable Groups

This dimension addresses three issues that affect the personal security of citizens in Arab countries. These include violence against women, human trafficking, and the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons. In particular, the report stresses the absence of security for some groups of people that are beyond the mainstream society.

In terms of violence against women, the report finds that Arab women "are still bound by patriarchal patterns of kinship, legalized discrimination, social subordination and ingrained male dominance." (p.7) Women suffer different forms of violence, from beating to rape and murder, or are victims of cultural practices such as female genital mutilation. And the Arab countries have yet to adopt laws prohibiting child marriage before the age of majority.

Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar underground business which involves many Arab countries serving as destination for trade, a transit point or the source of persons being trafficked. (p.8)

Apart of "the world's longest [Palestinian] refugee question" and that of the refugees in Darfur, the report estimates the internally displaced persons in the region at 9.8 million; most are found in six Arab states - Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

4. Volatile Growth, High Unemployment and Persisting Poverty

The report suggests that the oil wealth of the Arab countries presents a misleading picture of their economic situation, one that masks structural weaknesses that result in insecurity of countries and citizens alike. (p.9) The dependency on oil revenues, which are themselves hostage to exogenous factors, generates booms and busts which are a main cause of economic insecurity.(p.100) The "tyranny of oil" has destabilized the Arab economies, petro- or not, since 1970. (p.198) Elsewhere, the report points out that the region's oil-driven development model led to jobless growth. (p.199)

The report underscores a very disturbing fact that that for nearly two and half decades since 1980, the region "witnessed hardly any economic growth." Drawing on World Bank data, the report asserts that the real [growth minus inflation] of GDP per capita in the Arab countries grew by a mere 6.4 percent over the entire 24 year period from 1980 to 2004, which translates into 0.5 percent annually. Since the 1990s, real per capital growth rates in non-oil as well as oil countries "have fluctuated erratically, often turning negative." (p.101). No less significant is the fact that, generally speaking, the Arab countries were less industrialized in 2007 than in 1970 as they turned into increasingly import-oriented and service-based economies.(p.103) As a result, the contribution of the manufacturing sector to GDP is characterized as "anemic." (p.103)

Unemployment remains a major source of insecurity in most Arab countries. Figures supplied by the Arab Labor Organization indicate that, in 2005, unemployment rate for the Arab countries was about 14.4 percent compared with 6.3 percent for the world at large. Youth unemployment presents the biggest challenge to all Arab countries, although the rate of youth unemployment varies from 46 percent in Algeria to 6.3 percent in UAE. Even high-income Arab countries suffer from double digit unemployment rates, with Saudi Arabia (26 percent), Kuwait (23 percent) and Qatar (17 percent). In the middle income countries, the rate of youth unemployment was 39 percent in Jordan and 26 percent in Egypt (pp.108-9). Given this rate of unemployment and the young age of the Arab population referred to earlier, the Arab countries will need to produce 51 million new jobs by 2020."Most of these jobs," the report asserts, "will be essential to absorb young entrants to the labor force who will otherwise face an empty future." (p.10) For now, the unemployment rate among Arab youth is nearly double that in the world at large.

Unemployment among Arab females is also the highest in the world. The report identifies three factors for the high rate of unemployment in the Arab world: (a) the contraction of the public sector; (b) the limited size of the private sector; and (c) the type and quality of education that does not produce enough individuals with technical and vocational skills in demand. (p.11)

The report refers to "the backlog of poverty," which comprises income poverty and human poverty. Based on figures available in 2005, the report establishes the rate of income poverty at 20.3 percent of the Arab population, or the equivalent of 34.6 million Arabs, living below the two-dollar-a-day international poverty line (p.11) The figure of income poverty is as high as 59.5 percent in Yemen and 41 percent in Egypt.

Human poverty is a much more elusive concept that income poverty and it is measured by human poverty index (HPI) which comprises three measurements: (a) longevity, (b) knowledge, and (c) standard of living. Low-income Arab countries "exhibit the highest incidence of human poverty" with a score of 35 percent compared with an average of 12 percent in high-income countries. The high incidence of human poverty affects children in particular, contributing to low school completion rates that perpetuate the insecurity of the poor. In short, the report points out, "poverty in the Arab countries is a more conspicuous phenomenon than commonly assumed." (p.12)

5. Hunger, Malnutrition and Food Insecurity

Despite ample resources, the frequency of hunger and malnutrition is on the rise in the Arab countries. Indeed, other than the countries in sub-Saharan Africa the number of undernourished in the Arab countries has risen from 19.8 million in 1990-1992 to 25.5 million in 2002-2004. Most surprising are the data applicable to individual countries. Djibouti, Sudan and Mauritania have made the greatest progress towards lowering the prevalence of undernourishment. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco and Yemen have "recorded increases in both the absolute numbers and the prevalence of undernourishment." (p.12) Malnutrition in the region has also been the cause of rising obesity, particularly among women in contrast with the U.S. where obesity is prevalent among men.

The report highlights an interesting point in that most Arab governments subsidize food commodities as part of a social contract "based on state provision of essential needs in exchange for the people's loyalty." (p.13) A basic feature of the social contract is the citizen's acquiescence on limitations of state accountability in return for state-provided benefits. In the absence of free speech it is difficult to determine whether such acquiescence is driven by resignation or by fear. This rentier model is possible to apply where government have sources of income other than direct taxation, such as oil revenues. (p.197) Saddam Hussein had exercised this linkage by denying the Kurds and segments of the Shi'ite population of Iraq the food-rationing coupons that provided the bearers with basic food commodities either free or at heavily discounted prices.

Undernourishment affects children the most. Figures provides by the report indicate that for the years 2000-2006, 14.6 of children in the Arab countries under five are of less than average weight while 22.2 percent of the same age group are victims of stunted growth. (p.137)

6. Health Security Challenges

The reports maintains that in the Arab countries, while considerable progress has been made in forestalling death, extending life, and reducing infant mortality from 152 to 39 per thousand births (p.149) there is considerable disparity, for example, for under-five children mortality, ranging from less than 20 per 1,000 births in most Gulf states to more than 100 per 1000 in Djibouti, Mauritanian and Yemen.(p.151)

The report points out that the Arab states have not taken a holistic view of health and human development. As a result, they have assigned low priority to the subject of health itself in their national budgets compared with job creation and economic growth. Information on the health situation is not readily available because in most Arab states vital recording systems are not available or seldom reliable.(p.148)

With regard to health, two issues are worth mentioning. One is smoking and the other is genital mutilation of females. The report shows that the Arab countries are marked by a high percentage of cigarette smokers; in fact, it has one of the highest smoking rates in the world.

Female genital mutilation, which entails the removal of the external female sexual organ, is widely practiced in many Arab countries, with estimates ranging from 95.8 percent in Egypt to 22.6 in Yemen.(p.155) Wajeha al-Huwaider, the well-known Saudi women rights activist, has written about her own wrenching experience as she was dressed one morning by her mother in a white dress and taken together with her best friend Sara to a house where a number of young girls assembled. She graphically tells about the procedures which entailed the use of a razor by a woman to cut her external sexual organ, a traumatic experience that haunts her decades later. She lived to tell her story but her young friend Sara bled to death. [5]

7. Occupation and Military Intervention

The primary thesis of this chapter is that "occupation and military intervention expose human security to violence on three levels - institutional, structural and material." It lists three cases of occupation and military intervention: the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), Iraq, and Somalia. Occupation and military intervention displace peoples across borders, creating humanitarian challenges. Arab governments claim that occupation and military intervention are threats to their sovereignty and a pretext to halt or postpone democratization and to perpetuate authoritarian rule. (p.165)

Concluding Reflections

The report offers a number of "concluding reflections" drawn from the analysis of the issues. Those who have spent years or even decades in the field of foreign aid would consider many of these reflections as conventional wisdom that are hardly unique to the Arab countries. Among these reflections are putting people's security first, protecting the environment, reorienting the economy from oil-based to knowledge-based (the entire human development report in 2004 was devoted to this issue, and obviously not much progress has been made), ending hunger, boosting health, and resolving and preventing conflicts.

While the report does not offer a blueprint to address many of the sources of insecurity in the Arab countries, it does warn that "the public has become restive in the grip of authority fashioned in a bygone age, and the state's hold on power grows more fragile each year." (p.207) Whether the public will become restive enough to force a major change in governance is yet to be seen.

*Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli is Senior Analyst at MEMRI.

[1] United Nations Development Programme, Arab Human Development Report (2009), p.9.

[2] See a special index on the overall rating of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 550, "'Ending the Occupation, Establishing a State' - An Analysis of Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad's Blueprint for Independent Palestine," September 24, 2009,

[3] As far as we were able to establish, Morocco is the only Arab country which officially protested its low ranking as "totally unfair." Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, London, October 10, 2009.

[4] The "Arab region" is somewhat of a misnomer because it excludes non-Arab countries in the Middle East but includes Somalia in Eastern Africa and the Comoros in the Indian Ocean off the cost of East Africa. Our preference is for "Arab countries" rather than "Arab region."

[5] Wajeha al-Huwaider, "rafiqati Sara" ("My Friend Sara") in Sawt al-mar’a of October 9, 2009 in

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Backing Up

Much as Hamid Karzai railed and fumed and fulminated against the unjust and unwarranted interference by Western powers in the affairs of Afghanistan, he was left, finally, with little option but to agree, however reluctantly with the final assessment of the fraudulent outcome of the August election that, he felt, should have handily brought him victory at the polls.

If he is frustrated, just imagine how hopelessly frustrated those courageous Afghans are, who voted despite the very real dangers they placed themselves in, to exercise their vote.

Aside from Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, and his disappointed supporters, it is highly unlikely that most Afghan citizens have any wish to repeat the procedure of setting up polls once again. Several hundred district election monitors were dismissed as a result of their being implicated in the fraudulent proceedings. Afghans who had placed themselves in danger in the first round of voting aren't likely to repeat that drama, with the Taliban breathing hard down their backs.

And the UN and the Independent Election Commission will be in no position the second time around to ensure proper handling of the election results, as they were on the first round. Is it likely that a change might bring about less corruption and that it might result in a more capable hand at the helm of government? Not too likely. But then, a coalition government, with the two front-runners sharing governance, and in this way placating tribal antagonisms?

There is always the example of Kenya and Zimbabwe to look at, in how and whether coalition governments may work out. Dismally, in societies which are not socially advanced and emancipated from their heritage of tribal competition, resulting in social dysfunction. On the other hand, why should foreign troops do double duty in Afghanistan, on the one hand, struggling to contain the fanatical Taliban and their terrorist networks, while on the other hand, working with their diplomats and NGOs to establish a working civil infrastructure to benefit the country?

With the Taliban resurgent and claiming great swathes of Afghan territory, leaving NATO forces desperate for a turn-around it is not even likely that enough voters will brave the process to arrive at an emphatic representative majority acceptable to announce that 50%+ margin of victory for Hamid Karzai. "Why should I go and vote again? There will be explosions, suicide attacks. I don't want to die", one Kabul resident grieved.

All of this appears like nothing less than an absurd charade of democracy. Politics as played by established and confident societies bearing no resemblance whatever to the nasty realities of a country needing international assistance to heave itself out of medievalism. Bordering another country that had cultivated the very Taliban they battle, still unwilling to help stifle their advance, and themselves embroiled in a civil war with their own Pakistani Taliban.

It is as though this area of the world were sacrificed by fate, or an all-seeing, all-powerful, yet in the end helpless-to-intercede Allah, who threw his metaphorical hands up in a gesture of defeat, leaving the people to extract themselves from the stifling mire of their aspirant hopes for normalcy. When, in fact, the turmoil through which they are living is, for them, normalcy.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh. Dear. Me.

Here in Canada? Why yes, here in Canada, as also elsewhere in North America and in Europe at large. Canada is no different, just a little slow in catching up, as it were. In any event, this is not new in Canada. What is new is that YouTube has proven to be an instrument of visibility, bringing such events to the close attention of people at large. It's disturbing, to be sure. And should be taken seriously. Simply because this is an issue of the most serious import.

Fire and brimstone raining down like a deadly scourge. In the hopes that the words issuing from the irate mouth of a Toronto-based imam would lift directly to the heavens and be absorbed by Allah, who will then smite the offenders. Except they're not called, politely, offenders. According to Imam Saed Rageah at the Abu Huraira Centre, the hateful prodding of the ignorant, the "infidels" attempting to ban the niqab and burka from the wardrobe of Muslim women warrants a "damning".

"Allah protect us from the fitna [sedition] of these people; Allah protect us from the evil agenda of these people; Allah destroy them from within themselves, and do not allow them to raise their heads in destroying Islam." To champion the right of women to refuse to swaddle themselves within a moving tent, ensuring that no man can peer at their physical features, much less eyes, nose, lips, is commensurate with destroying Islam, evidently.

Such a friable, vulnerable religion. Hardly to be compared to the Islam that presents itself courtesy of fanatical Islamist jihadists, then! Who knew?

Well, Tarek Fatah, for one. Once head of the Canadian Muslim Congress, resigned because of death threats, and now merely a spokesman for moderate Muslims within Canada. It was, indeed, the Canadian Muslim Congress which called on the government to institute a legal ban on the public wearing of the burka or niqab. Pointing out an often-remarked anomaly of perception; that nowhere in the Koran does a requirement for women to cover their faces in public, exist.

"The cleric's ritual prayer asking for the defeat of Christians and Jews and the victory of Islam is not unique. It is uttered by many clerics across Canada spreading hate instead of harmony. There should be no room in Canada's mosques for such hatred, especially when most of these institutions get [tax-free status]", explained Mr. Fatah.

Imam Saed Rageah raged, in his 35-minute sermon, against Muslims fraternizing with "kuffars". Angry that members of his community would find friends outside the Muslim community. "You will see a lot of them going to the kuffar, taking them as friends and allies. The wrath of Allah is upon them. If they were true believers they would never take them as allies."

Well. Indeed.

Personally, it matters little to me if Muslim women garb themselves in a tent. If this makes them comfortable, so be it. But it does matter, greatly, that we harbour such hate-filled isolationists in Canadian society. We should legislate to remove individuals such as this imam, lest he commit further harm to the good relations between the various communities within the country.

We can afford to be generous about someone's preferred wardrobe. We cannot afford to turn away from dangerously offensive invitations to violent discord.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Triumph of Slander

Rumours associated with gossip are such delicious things. Someone has an idea, whispers it to someone else, and the thread is taken up with gusto, in the process becoming corrupted and twisted and only partially resembling the original rumour. Becoming more delectable as it undergoes a series of suggestions, first by innuendo, then by outright accusation, and suddenly the fevered rantings of a fantasist become reality through a cascading effect of vitriol directed against a third party.

The end result is poisonous slander, but slander that resonates with those who wield it, believing as they do that what their statements represent are truth. Certainly a kind of reality as they believe it to be. As they wish to believe it to be. They gloat over their received wisdom, eager to share it with all others who believe as they do. And how better to gain a larger audience than to advance this communication to the media who love a good story and who, in publishing it, invite a wider audience to comment.

And, as fortune has it, there is always one living source in which all the ills of humankind have come together to form a cesspool of errant and dangerous psychopathy. This can be seen in an individual, in a group, in a nation. What they all share is their Judaic heritage. Arab countries call the nation the "Zionist entity", and some Muslim countries term it the "little Satan". This is a country, existing in a geography that isolates it by the nature of its religious, social and political structure, from all its neighbours.

Muslims in general may see little reason to believe in the purported collective sociopathy of Jews, and may have no wish to support the Islamist cause of vilifying and isolating and shaming Jews and their national homeland, but they remain largely silent. Islamist theocracies and monarchies and totalitarian governments feel otherwise, and join ranks to express their hatred in the very international venue that heralds peace between nations. And they do it successfully, sharing a searing hatred with others who subscribe to similar sentiments.

The movement to achieve the destruction of the State of Israel enjoyed a great impetus with the the UN Human Rights Council's endorsation of a pre-ordained report singling out the one democratic country in the Middle East for condemnation of human rights abuses, by defending itself from violence from its avowed enemies whose purpose is its destruction. A resolution was passed condemning "all polices and measures taken by Israel", and that "condemned the recent Israeli violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories".

One voice stood out in defence of Israel when British Col. Richard Kemp spoke to the Council stating his professional understanding that war crimes accusations against the IDF were misplaced: "The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong."

Pointing out, as he did, that "extraordinary measures" were undertaken by Israeli forces to notify civilians in Gaza of areas to be targeted, through the dropping of millions of leaflets, and through notification warnings by way of 100,000 telephone warning calls. "Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. But mistakes are not war crimes", Col. Kemp emphasized.

Yet the media are immensely suggestible, particularly elements in the West, eager and willing to accept the old canard of blood libel. Unquestioningly accepting a casual suggestion that perhaps some really dreadful and inhumane operations took place during the Gaza offensive. Say, for example, murdering people to extract their bodily organs. As an institutionalized and deliberately methodical practise.

And so, a throwaway accusation initiated by Hamas was picked up and elaborated upon by a Swedish journalist, his story published in a mainstream and respected newspaper. And the story just grew, and took on the aspect of reality when Swedish journalist, Donald Bostrum published the anguished Gazan story of organ plundering by the Israel Defence Forces, in Sweden's leading daily, Aftonbladet.

Admittedly unsubstantiated claims, but sensationally effective in establishing guilt by denunciation; otherwise how could it be published in a respected newspaper? The claims have been happily reproduced in mainstream Muslim media, having had the imprimatur of a Western newspaper. Cartoons of Jews stealing body parts and drinking Arab blood have now been published in Syria, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, according to the executive director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.

There have been reports that Algerian children have been abducted and rounded up by Jews to be brought into Israel where their organs are removed, and put on the black market for sale to the highest bidders. Iranian Press TV is pleased immensely, to report that "An international Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs is gathering momentum." A vastly impressed National Federation of Algerian Journalists presented Bostrom with an award for excellence in reporting.

For his part, Bostrom did not disappoint, regaling his adoring audience with the news that fully one thousand Arabs had been victims of organ harvesting in the past fifty years. Obviously, a hidden and very remunerative industry in Israel. And here it was generally thought that China had the market on organ transferal, from imprisoned political prisoners willingly serving their country by relinquishing their right to life and surrendering their organs for the greater good of humanity.

Israel has remonstrated diplomatically, refuting and deploring the report by Bostrom and its publication in Aftonbladet, but the Swedish government, honouring freedom of the press, will not intervene. That this horrendous slander may play a part in setting back what potential may remain in the on-again-off-again peace process is of no moment. And Aftonbladet, while acknowledging that no evidence has surfaced to support the charges, feels justified in demanding an official investigation.

Steadily, stealthily, and publicly to great acclaim the process of de-legitimizing and stigmatizing Israel proceeds.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

General Walter J. Natynczyk


"I'm not sure if the Israeli standpoint is that much different than the Canadian standpoint, having had the experience in Afghanistan," Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defense Staff, General Walter J. Natynczyk said Tuesday, concluding a three-day visit, in an interview to the IDF journal Bamahane.

Canadian Armed Forces Chief...

Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defense Staff, General Walter J. Natynczyk speaking to commander of the Galilee Division, Brig. -Gen. Yoel Strick, during his tour of Israel's north.
Photo: IDF

Natynczyk was commenting on the Goldstone report, which sharply criticized IDF tactics employed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in January this year, saying he wanted to read the report following his tour here to understand whether the document took into account the complexities of the theater in which Israel operated and the methods used by the enemy it was battling.

"I've got to look through the whole report and read it through myself. But I fully understand how when someone is attacked from houses, family houses, and so on, that there is a responsibility to protect oneself and protect civilians," Natynczyk said. "I want to have a look at the report myself and understand the full context. I have just had a great education in terms of where weapons were fired from and so on. I want to look at the report in terms of how does it describe it… My impression of the Gaza Strip up to now has been through media reports. Now I got to actually see the size, the space, the context… It just puts into perspective many of the reports and also the operations that were conducted before."

Natynczyk arrived in Israel on Sunday for a work visit as guest of the IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Over the course of the visit, he held meetings with Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and toured the country.

Natyniczyk toured the skies of Israel by helicopter, and visited both the Northern Command and the Southern Command. In the North, the general visited the Galilee Division and the Israeli northern community of Mizpe Benaya. While there, he was briefed by senior officers of the Northern Command, regarding Israel's relations with Syria and Lebanon, and observed Israel's border area with the two countries.

The general also visited the IDF Southern Command and the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration in Erez, and was briefed regarding Operation Cast Lead as well as the various weapons systems used by IDF forces in their day-to-day activity.

Towards the end of his visit, Natynczyk toured the Tel-Nof Air force Base in central Israel, where seniors in the Ministry of Defense Administration for weaponry research and Technology Development presented him with newly developed Israeli technologies.

Natynczyk related to the similarities between what is required of Israel and what is required of his country as part of its battle against terror, saying: "I'm not sure if the Israeli standpoint is that much different than the Canadian standpoint, having had the experience in Afghanistan." He added "We have really come to understand and appreciate what the Israeli forces have had to counter for quite some time and the techniques, the way and the procedures that the Israeli military has adopted and evolved over the past few decades. We're learning what can we adopt from Israeli forces that will enable us to reduce risks to our people".

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Who Goes There, Friend Or Enemy?

Here we have the world's current institutional bad actor, a country that exemplifies all the worst traits of a nation, despotic in nature and intent, afflicting its people with the draconian rule of religious tyranny, and posing as a direct threat of violent action toward its neighbours. And, given its aspirations as a paranoidally-raging fanatical theocracy to own nuclear armaments, a threat to world stability as well.

Factor in there the friendly relations it maintains with other national thugs and there's a recipe for universal unease in a world that is never entirely at peace with itself. This is a country, not to forget, that foments unrest between its neighbours, that trains, supplies and encourages a proxy militia within another country. That proxy has unsettled Lebanon, creating a level of political and social divisiveness that has corrupted normalcy.

Hezbollah also, like its mentor-state, defies the United Nations' peace-keepers, and stocks up-to-date armaments threatening to reinstate a state of war between itself and the State of Israel. That too is largely in keeping with the Islamic Republic of Iran's immediate interests. But Iran and its Syrian ally do not stop there, for there is also Hamas which benefits from funding and arms supplies and training, another threat to Israel.

Pakistan began the illicit trade in nuclear secrets, and now that viciously-embattled country may lose control of its own nuclear armaments. While North Korea has attained its fledgling arsenal, and Iran is moving steadily toward its own. China and Russia, doing their part to help things along with matters practical and political. So has this fearsome threat to world peace, this country that defies world opinion anything to fear?

Threats, offers to mitigate misunderstandings, placatory measures, all leaving Iran sanguine in its trajectory toward success in attaining nuclear militarization and eventually ascension to the status of controlling power in the Middle East. A terrorist state, one that recruits and funds other terrorist non-state actors. Whose perceived enemies are the United States and Great Britain, both of which are controlled by the spawn of the Zionists.

Who have contrived to slander the great Republic of Iran and its Supreme Leader and its sensationally effective President Ahmadinejad. And who conspire to threaten the longevity of the Ayatollahs in administering the Islamic Republic, and who will ultimately fail, because Allah is protective of its premier people and country. Who might imagine that this land of terror which stimulates terror elsewhere in the region, might be attacked by ... terrorists?

Jihadists who do not make common cause with Shiite Iran. Sunnis (surprise!) whose mission it is to free themselves from Iranian control. Suicidal martyrs who have been greeted by their allotment of virginal maidens, and who have succeeded in their mission by killing a senior official of the Republic guards' elite Qods force, the deputy head of the Guard' ground forces, along with a Republic Guard General.

So sad.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Simply Amazing!

The world looks on as Muslims slaughter one another, from Pakistan and Afghanistan, to Somalia and Iraq. Shiites target Sunni Muslims with ongoing, lethal suicide missions, and Sunni Muslims return the compliment with vigour and determination. Slaughtering to their hearts' content, fulfilling the given directions for the accomplishment of jihad, in recognition as well of ancient tribal and religious-factional grievances. The mission is all-encompassing, targeting militants as well as government agencies, along with civilians, young and old.

The carnage is unceasing. The world looks on, and is revolted by the bloodshed, yet somehow inured to it, simply because it is so continuous, relentless, unsparing and without merciful conscience. Do we accept this as somehow reflective of a kind of Muslim normalcy? After all, repressive Arab and Muslim governments, with few exceptions, harness religious commitment to political and social domination of their populace. Some of them infinitely more harshly than others, to the point of outright human rights abuses.

Yet whenever some wag mentions that it is passing strange that the continual contempt expressed by bloodshed evinced by one religious faction against the other through mass homicidal dysfunction, silence reigns. It is unremarkable, because of its commonality. And Islamic nations themselves have no wish to linger on the matter. Yet these same nations harbour an immense grudge against a tiny non-Muslim state, one whose religion is Judaic, which just happens to immensely predate, perhaps even having inspired Islam.

The greatest form of flattery is to have one's inspiration flagrantly copied - alas, then corrupted in an agony of rejection. The ever-renascent hatred of Islamists for Jews, re-ignited by the presence of a non-Muslim country in a Muslim landscape has its culmination in a universal forum where anti-Semites of every background can come together in a common celebration of hatred. Thus is Israel condemned for protecting itself militarily against the ongoing assaults on its people and its sovereignty.

For there are many truths being demonstrated on the world stage. Much as religion separates Muslim believers one from the other in an ongoing paroxysm of hatred, there appears one thing that can bring them together in a common agreement of ultra-hatred; the existence of the State of Israel. Israel's denial of the possibility of its all-too-frequent promised death-knell at the hands of rocket-lobbing Islamists infuriates them all the more.

And that makes perfectly good sense, for after all, anything that goes awry on the world has its genesis in the maleficence of the Jewish presence. This explains why Pakistanis are convinced that 9-11 was a product of the Mossad. Why, when a Hezbollah bomb-maker is blown to smithereens in his home while busily manufacturing munitions, militia spokespeople can claim that it was the result of an Israeli bomb. Why Iran can hint darkly of Zionist interference in their latest democratic election results.

Why the president of Sudan is able to condemn Israel as a prime example of a state that commits crimes against humanity, and at the same time loftily ignores the condemnation of the International Criminal Court which has found him, personally, guilty of crimes against humanity for the deliberate massacre of Darfurians. It is why official Venezuela, condemning the Zionist entity, champions Iran's right to nuclear militarization, and helpfully votes in the United Nations to bring Israel before the Security Council for censure.

It is why Britain will accept certain initiatives to consider Israeli IDF commanders as persona non grata on its Island soil, because of the insistence of a growing Muslim population that also threatens grave turmoil should Geert Wilders profane British soil to espouse his views on the Koran. It is why the world turns away from inconvenient criticism when Muslims run violently amok in protest over cartoons depicting the Prophet in an unflattering pose.

It is why the liberal-left media, academia, unions the world over find it so useful to adapt themselves to their fanciful reality of Israel The Occupier of Palestinian land. To commit themselves to believing that Israel commits grave atrocities against the poor defenceless Palestinians. Those same Palestinians who support the suicide bombers among themselves as martyrs for their common cause, who teach their young to lob rocks at Jews, who claim the Temple Mount is theirs alone, not to be profaned by a Jewish presence.

This amazing phenomenon is a gift to the world - damping down its collective potential to achieve peace and understanding - one that just keeps on being gifted. And no great proportion of the world, Muslim or non-Muslim appears to find it perplexingly outrageous. This is an obvious testament to the limits of human intelligence.

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Practising To Deceive

Women are so devious, so unworthy, so unbelievably given to deception. It is their nature. They represent the worst of humankind, flaunting the richness of their temptations before helpless males, tempting men to behaviours unbecoming of normal social intercourse. Which is ample reason why they should be shrouded in public, so that neither facial features nor bodily contours can be construed by the naked male eye, lest he be bewitched, that helpless and hapless male.

This makes the case for the niqab, the veil, the burqa. And isn't that peculiar, that so many Muslim countries are geographically located in areas of the world that are hot, dry and miserable. Where women in public enshrined within a moveable tent can find no relief from the oppressiveness of the heat that surrounds them? Their movements impaired, their eyesight aggravated by the limits of the coverings they are expected to maintain, they presume normalcy.

In Somalia, women are experiencing new discomforts with the latent appearance of fundamentalist Islamists, al Shabaab. An Islamist conference of young males who, through convention and Islamic interpretation of sharia law, are practising to vent their frustrations upon women in the street in novel ways. Thus can an utter stranger approach a woman and demand she divest herself of the brassiere she is wearing.

It is worthwhile noting that in Western society women assume the wearing of a breast-holding undergarment for reasons of modesty. To restrain the breasts from moving freely and in so doing take the unwanted attention of passing males. In Somalia, where the enforcement of sharia is being undertaken, thanks to the fanatical al Shabaab, women must prove they are not wearing a brassiere by 'swinging' their breasts freely.

Should a woman refuse to remove her brassiere at the request or demand of a man - in public or in private as the case may be - she will be beaten. Women will be publicly whipped for their insolence in wearing brassieres, seen as violating Islam by, as it is said, constituting a deception. "Al Shabaab forced us to wear their type of veil and now they order us to shake our breasts", moaned a woman whose daughter had been whipped.

On the other hand, the type of 'moral cleansing' being undertaken by al Shabaab, a la Taliban, also encompasses the lives of men, who can be whipped in public for eschewing facial hair. And men who have engaged in robbery have had hands amputated. This is sharia justice. Movies, musical cellphone ringtones, dancing at wedding ceremonies, and playing or watching soccer - all forbidden.

Welcome to north Mogadishu and sharia law.

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

The UN's Risible Canards

The spokesman for Hamas gravely stated appreciation of "friendly countries" that voted in favour of a report that even its lead author now appears to feel has been interpreted/corrupted beyond his intentions. Not that Judge Goldstone did any favours to the world in giving what amounts to a green light to International Jihad Incorporated to pursue its agenda, tying the hands of free democracies in the process, to defend themselves against the slaughter of their populations.

The Hamas terrorist, speaking on behalf of political/social/religious Hamas in control of Gaza - which feels its agenda implicit to the destruction of Israel to have been rubber-stamped, also stated his entity's belief that the United Nations Human Rights Council's vote endorsing the Goldstone Report on Israel's response to Gaza's assaults, passing it on to the UN Security Council for further resolution toward the International Criminal Court - anticipates the "beginning of the prosecution of the leaders of the occupation".

This would most certainly set a world precedent. That the International Criminal Court would undertake to prosecute the government and the military of a free democracy forced to launch a defensive strike against a terror group intent in its destruction. One that governsa territory alongside the borders of that free state, would most certainly bring in an entirely new era of conflict resolution. The very resolution, which was drafted by the Palestinians alongside Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Tunisia on behalf of non-aligned African, Islamic and Arab nations poses a direct threat to peace in the Middle East.

As goes that geography, so too does the world at large, in a looming, Pyrrhic domino effect. The ceaseless infiltration of jihadist groups around the Globe, their presence on the Internet where they are able to entice and conscript Muslim youth to the Islamist cause, will have experienced a gigantic boost of confidence in their ability to successfully utilize Western, democratic-based human-rights laws gone askew, for their purposes of bloody conquest.

The resolution, as it stands, "strongly condemns all policies and measures taken by Israel, the occupying power, including those limiting access of Palestinians to their properties and holy sites", completely taking matters out of any context to the realities of circumstances brought to bear which the Government of Israel and its security forces have had to deal with. Such as rampaging, rock-throwing Palestinians who refuse to allow religious Jews access to their own holy sites, inclusive of Israeli sovereignty.

And which, in any event, bears little relation to the larger issue of the Israel/Gaza conflict to begin with. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is now tasked with ensuring that the UN Security Council becomes involved in a matter brought forward by the thoroughly discredited UN Human Rights Council, determined to continue its one-sidedly isolation, persecution, humiliation and slander of Israel, as frequently and as blatantly as it can. Because it can.

Judge Goldstone may now condemn the UN resolution that was given momentum by his 574-page report on Operation Cast Lead, but his utility as a presumed neutral, highly respected authority who allowed himself to be used for the Council's Israel-damning purposes is now history. "There is not a single phrase (in the UN resolution) condemning Hamas, as we have done in the report", lamented Judge Goldstone.

Precisely, and for this Hamas gives its sincere thanks.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Thank You, Col. Kemp

Commander Defends IDF against UN Criticism

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Col. Richard Kemp

GENEVA, October 16, 2009 -

The former commander of British forces in Afghanistan just finished addressing the U.N. special session on the Goldstone Report, speaking on behalf of UN Watch.

“Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare,” said. Col. Kemp.
Speech by Col. Kemp, as delivered today, Oct. 16, 2009

UN Watch Oral Statement
UN Human Rights Council, 12th Special Session
Geneva, 16 October 2009

Delivered by Col. Richard Kemp

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government’s Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ah, the United Nations Human Rights CouncilT

The Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, in addressing the UN Security Council in a debate called for by Arab states and their supporters in Latin America, to bring censure to Israel once again, spoke feelingly of the issue at hand: "Unchecked impunity and the absence of justice will only continue to prolong this tragic conflict, prolong civilian suffering, and obstruct peace efforts". Amazing, how quickly Arabs have learned to turn on the left-liberal taps of humanitarian pleading.

That little speech could have come from a true democratic-liberal society's spokesperson, speaking on behalf of Israel. And in that instance the expression would have been authentic, honest and straightforward, unlike the manipulative undertones resonant in those words issuing from a Palestinian. For it is the Palestinian Authority that, newly emboldened by the support it has succeeded in engendering not only from among neighbouring Arab states but throughout the international liberal-left, now insists on everything its way or no way.

The background of which is the institutionalized teaching from cradle to grave of Palestinians that Jews are their natural enemies, their oppressors, responsible for all the ills that have befallen the Palestinians. Children are taught to hate, and groomed to take their place as adults in the war against Israel. The PA maps give no indication of the presence of a Jewish State, only a wide sweep of geography reflecting the Palestinians' rights to own the land that Israel now sits upon. Young men are encouraged to go forward and become martyrs.

The more that Israel can be isolated, marginalized, demonized, the more eloquent the voices of the martyrs suffering under the iron fist of the enemy of the Arab world. One tiny state of 7 million people, as opposed to the combined populations of several hundred million in the Arab world, and an estimated 1.2-billion in the world of Islam. That kind of weight of disapprobation and denial casts the State of Israel in a necessarily defensive position as time and again the United Nations' agendas are steered to focus on Israel and all the wrongs it has purportedly foisted on the rest of the world, but mainly within the Middle East.

The legitimate action of a sovereign state to defend itself against aggression recognized throughout the world as a legal right, somehow is construed as conduct unbecoming a government comprised of Jews. While all other countries of the world may protect their interests from the deliberate and violent depredations of enemies, Israel may not. To do so is to bring irate condemnation down on the government of Israel. It provokes the United Nations to launch an official investigation into human rights abuses conducted by the State of Israel, and presents yet another forum by which the world sits in judgement and finds Israel wanting.

World indifference to Israel's ongoing embattlement, its struggle to exist surrounded by hostile entities, both governmental and jihadist, leaves the country struggling and isolated in its search for a balanced response to dreadful provocations. The kind of patient tolerance in attempting to stem the constant barrage of assaults on its territory and its people that Israel is expected to produce, is foisted on no other country of the world. Yet the world's most human-rights-abusing nations, like Iran, China, Sudan, and Libya can appear crisply before the UN Human Rights Commission and libel Israel.

The president of Iran can repeat, time and again, his and his country's intention to destroy Israel, and not a murmur of condemnation is heard from that same Human Rights Commission.Nor, for that matter, the United Nations general body, as well, in defence of one of their own members. Now, with the presentation of the Goldstone Report on the 22-day Gaza conflict, the Security Council has been called upon to report Israel to the International Criminal Court, for the prosecution of war crimes, should Israel fail to satisfy the Commission that it has rigorously investigated claims of human-rights abuses by the IDF.

The President of Sudan, responsible for the genocidal-depth destruction of Darfurians, the mass slaughter, horrendous rapes and torture inflicted on the people, their homes and farms destroyed, hundreds of thousands made homeless, can flout demands for his surrender to the International Criminal Court on charges of human rights violations and crimes against humanity, with impunity. And then turn around and state his personal conviction upholding his and his Muslim cohorts' condemnation of Israel for crimes against humanity.

That session convened to bring Israel to heel has been endorsed now by Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, accusing Israeli forces of war crimes. She has informed the council of her support of the Goldstone report's recommendations for investigation and prosecution of those responsible for committing war crimes. Hamas will certainly not investigate itself, and the PA, which has vowed to commit to an investigation, cannot enter Gaza, so how will this take place on the Palestinian side? Israel has already launched a number of investigations and come to the conclusion that all of this is much ado about very little. But this will obviously not suffice for her condemners.

And then the news that Lebanon has been elected to a two-year post on the UN Security Council. Replacing Libya. Lebanon, divided between a legitimate government and the terrorist group Hezbollah. Hezbollah, committed, as a proxy to Iran, to the destruction of Israel, much as Hamas, also funded and encouraged by Syria and Iran, is. This represents the utter corruption of any kind of philosophy of decency in world order, with respect where it is due. When the worst human-rights abusers, those dedicated to violence to obtain what they wish, are in control of UN outcomes, the entire convoluted mechanism becomes devoid of meaning.

Hypocrisy rules the day. Devaluing the institution of the United Nations beyond redemption.
In the process of a continuum of what has already become established procedure, the Arab and Muslim states among the 47-member Human Rights Council will continue to launch ever-new assaults on Israel through one anti-Israel resolution after another. The irony is that the language of democratic societies valuing freedoms that most Human Rights Council members would never permit in their own societies is being used, successfully, to haunt and to victimize Israel.

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