Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oops, More Misunderstanding

Arab Mob's Reaction to Accident:Hurl Rocks at Ambulance
by Gil Ronen Arabs Attack after Accident

Arabs with Israeli citizenship reacted violently Saturday to a traffic accident caused by an Arab driver, who was killed in the crash. They pelted security forces and emergency crews with rocks, for no apparent reason other than the knowledge that they could get away with it.

The accident took at the Musheirfeh junction in Wadi Ara, just a few kilometers away from the archaeological site of Megiddo. Police volunteers who were manning a checkpoint spotted a driver who was driving without a seat belt, and talking on a cellular phone. They motioned him to stop over at the side of the road and began approaching his car. Instead of doing as he was told, the driver tried to get away, executing a sudden U-turn on Highway 65 and getting in the way of a bus that was speeding northward. The bus hit the car, killing the car's driver, Ahmed Jabareen, 21, of Umm El-Fahm. The force of the collision threw the bus into a shallow ditch at the side of the road, which is a major artery that connects the Galilee with the coastal Hadera area.

The bus was reportedly carrying workers from a security-related factory in central Israel. Fifteen of them were lightly hurt in the crash. It is not known why the workers were being transported on Saturday, the Jewish day of rest.

According to the bus's driver, immediately after the accident, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of local Arabs from surrounding villages and the city of Umm El-Fahm came out to the site of the crash. Instead of offering help to the passengers of the bus, some of them began hurling rocks at security forces, fire trucks and ambulances that arrived on the scene.

Highway 65 was sealed off for a period of time until police cleared the locals from the road. The road was blocked for an entire week in the October 2000 riots, proven later to have been a well planned event that was timed to coincide with the launching of Yasser Arafat's barbaric terror war against Israel, known by Arabs as the Second Intifadah.

Published at Arutz Sheva on line, 31 October 2010

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Goring Oxes and Chopping Olive Trees

Arabs Chop Down Olive Trees at Netzer
by Chana Ya'ar Arabs Chop Netzer's Olive Trees

A gang of 12 Arabs was discovered Friday chopping down olive trees that were planted last week in the Jewish Judean community of Netzer.

At least three of the big trees fell to the axes and saws wielded by the attackers before Jewish activists discovered what was happening. The defenders managed to stop the Arabs from further action, and stayed with the trees until an IDF unit arrived to inspect the damage. (Israel news photo: Women in Green / Netzer)

“They saw the damage and promised to catch the Arab perpetrators,” said the Women in Green and Netzer (Judean Action Committee) organizations in a joint statement. “The story of this plot of land is obviously not over.”

The big olive trees are part of a grove that has become a new battlefield on the Path of the Patriarchs in Gush Etzion. Tthe plot is part of an area considered to be state land by Israel's Civil Administration.

Local Palestinian Authority Arabs from the surrounding area, who consider state land to be theirs whether officially designated as such or not, uprooted grapevines there more than a week ago. A few days later, in response, activists planted a group of large olive trees donated by a farmer from the north. (Israel news photo: Women in Green / Netzer)

The trees were not in the ground for even 24 hours before Arabs came and uprooted them. By Sunday evening, however, Jewish activists returned and began a complicated operation to replant the big trees – three of which are now dead. (Israel news photo: Women in Green / Netzer)

While Jews and Arabs battle for control over the land in Judea, a similar fight continues less than an hour north in Samaria, along the same road, Highway 60, where several brutal terrorist attacks by PA Arabs have taken place in recent months.

Slanted Coverage Continues by International Media

Meanwhile, the international media led by various foreign and Arab leftists continue to report on the Palestinian Authority Arabs who “go out to harvest their olives” and the “Israeli settlers [who] go down from the hilltops to stop them.”

Most recently, TIME Magazine claimed in an article published October 29, “The current harvest is the most violent in years, with attacks by settlers on Palestinian property largely to blame.” The damning statement was not substantiated with photos, nor with specific quotes from any IDF official, other than a paraphrased claim that “more than 50% of Israeli forces there (in Judea and Samaria) are patrolling the groves.” (Below: IDF personnel inspect damage inflicted by Arabs at Netzer olive grove / Israel news photo: Women in Green / Netzer)

The writer continued with the explanation that the deployment came following a decision six years ago by Israel's Supreme Court, instructing the IDF to safeguard Palestinian Authority Arab farmers as they harvest their olives.

However, the annual reports of conflict over the olive harvest have become an annual rite of Israel-bashing, according to Gershon Mesika, chairman of the Samaria Regional Council. “It's become about ways to defame Israel,” he told Israel National News in a recent interview. “No Jews living in Judea and Samaira are interested in stealing or damaging the olives of any of our Arab neighbors. It is the radical leftists and Arabs themselves who are doing the damage.”

Frame-up for Jewish 'Price Tag' Libel

Last Friday, members of the Tazpit Unit -- a group of Jewish activists -- spotted Arabs and leftist anarchists aggressively chopping down olive trees in a Samaria grove near the Jewish community of Neve Tzuf. The attackers waved the buzz saw at the Jews as they approached with a video camera. Tazpit photographer Ehud Amiton, who documented the attack, said it was clear this was no pruning, but rather an attempt to frame Jews in a “price tag” scenario.

“Some of the branches broke and other trees were cut off entirely,” Amiton noted. “When I approached closer with my camera, the Palestinian waved his saw at me threateningly. I became worried, and so I backed off.”

Although there is no proof of this occurring at all, an attacks allegedly perpetrated by Jews against Arabs in Judea and Samaria have been denounced by Jewish leaders, including prominent nationalist spokesman attorney Elyakim Ha'etzni, who lives in the Judean Jewish town of Kiryat Arba. However, Haetzni himself did not cite evidence that they were indeed perpetrated by Jews.

Published in Arutz Sheva on line, 31 October 2020

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Good To Hear....

Saudi Prince Opposes 'Ground Zero Mosque'
by Maayana Miskin 'Mosque Should Move,' Saudi Says

Saudi Arabia's Prince Al-Waleed announced Thursday that he is not behind the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City, and on the contrary, he does not support the project in its current location. The prince spoke to the Arabian Business news website.

“I heard and saw a lot of news about me being associated with it, and it is all wrong. We did not finance this thing,” Al-Waleed said.

He said he opposes the location of the planned facility, close to Ground Zero, the site where the World Trade Center was demolished in the 9/11 attack nine years ago. “First of all, those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York, and not try to agitate the wound by saying, 'we need to put the mosque next to the 9/11 site,'” he said. “The wound is still there... I am against putting the mosque there out of respect for those people who have been wounded over there.”

He also expressed opposition to the location due to the businesses nearby. “The mosque has to be in a dignified location. It can't be next to a bar or strip club, or in a neighborhood that is not refined and good,” he explained.

Muslims have the right to built a mosque where they want, the prince said, but should show respect and move it by choice. “Ten years ago is nothing when you talk about history," he added.

The proposed Muslim community center and mosque near the Ground Zero site has been met with controversy and protests. Some have questioned the project due to investors' ties to terrorism.

Published in Arutz Sheva on line, 31 October 2010

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Due Caution Rewarded

Sounds peculiar does it not, that an Emirates flight would not respond to in-flight enquiries? As though the captain and crew had knowledge that something was not quite right, and that to open themselves to enquiries might result in embarrassment.

Not, though, if they suspected, one might imagine, that they were carrying in their cargo a lethal message of which they comprised the personally-lethal suicide component. Should the concealed explosives on board have been meant to be detonated while in flight, that is.

So NATO called Canadian CF-18 fighter jets into action from Canadian Forces Base Bagotville for tracking duty, more or less escorting the "aircraft of interest" as it negotiated the wide blue skies that the United Arab Emirates are so dedicated to opening even wider, on its way toward its destination within the United States.

Over American airspace, the tracking and escort duty was delegated to two U.S. F-15s from the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes International guard base in Massachusetts.

And as it happened, the cause for concentrated attention on the cargo aboard Emirates Airlines Flight 201 from the United Arab Emirates, carrying cargo from Yemen was soon enough unveiled, as packages of a suspicious nature were removed; one from the plane in question, another from a plane in Britain and yet another still in Dubai.

Destined for synagogues (or, as President Obama put it, Jewish places of worship), in Chicago. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been busy. From Yemen, which source it would appear makes the Saudis, due to unfortunate proximity, and lethal antipathies, extremely nervous.

Suspicious activity has since been reported as having been witnessed at Sana'a International (El Rahaba) airport in Yemen. Where unauthorized and uniformed boys were hauling bags away from X-ray machines, and porters were removing them to the personal baggage terminal. Further sourced information was that all women on the Yemen-to-Dubai flight wore full face coverings even as they moved through security.

It has also been reported that women in Yemen have been arrested, a mother and daughter, as being the source, if not the inspiration of the suspicious bags being moved onto various flights. With additional bags and explosives intended for other flights. All now in a state of apprehension.

U.S. intelligence was evidently alerted by their Saudi counterparts, of an explosives-plot emanating from Sana, Yemen. The intelligence data was complete enough so that American agents knew where to look and what to look out for. Which meant they were able to single out copier cartridges as having been transformed to explosives, to be detonated by cellphone.

Forensics examinations have thus far been successful in identifying the explosives, and in matching them with similar explosives used in an earlier, Christmas-day attempt to blow up an in-flight airliner. For which al-Qaeda earlier took proud responsibility.

American Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki must be chuckling to himself in utter delight. The plot may not have succeeded in its intent to destroy American synagogues and take the lives of accursed Jews, but it most certainly has caused an international furor and great consternation, let alone having succeeded in its foremost intent; to create an aura of terrorism.

His inspiring role for the Christmas Day plot and his encouragement and direction to the U.S. Army psychiatrist who succeeded in murdering 13 American Forces personnel at a medical facility at Fort Hood Texas must be another huge source of immense satisfaction to him.

On the other hand, he might not be quite so ecstatic about the failed plot were he to realize that Jews, regardless of where they live - Israel or anywhere in the diaspora - are so accustomed to being singled out, slandered, threatened and placed in danger that they have developed a different kind of attitude over the course of their recent history.

Ask the Jews in Chicago whose synagogues may have been among those targeted. Rabbi Michael Balinsky of the Chicago Board of Rabbis calmly asserts: "It's obviously disturbing, but certainly the Jewish community will proceed as it proceeds. We'll just exercise caution."

Come to think of it, perhaps that's also what Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cabinet were exercising, when they refused to submit to the demand from Dubai that Emirates and its sister airlines of the UAE be allowed more frequent flight opportunities in and out of Canada.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Representational Responsibilities

Yep, it doesn't make one feel very good to know that Canada remains evasive about its responsibilities to the rest of the world.  Fearful of impeding business initiatives, of making ill-thought-out decisions that will impact on already frail employment statistics in enterprises that should long ago have been abandoned because of their deleterious effects on peoples' health and the environment.

Tobacco, a case in point; while the wealthy countries of the world have undertaken domestic public relations drives to discourage smoking with the realization of its impact on vulnerable populations, and concomitant soaring health costs, there is no matching responsibility seen to alert people in developing countries of the world to the perniciously ill effects of smoking, lest domestic tobacco producers suffer a further loss in their manufacturing and profit margins.

Then of course, there's the problem of the federal government looking the other way while the province of Quebec insists it will do nothing to dissuade the asbestos industry in the province that its mendacious business, harming asbestos mine workers, is conscienceless, but far more so, an affront to the dignity and the human rights of third-world workers in countries like India which still use asbestos as a building material, while in Canada work is ongoing to remove the deadly carcinogen from elderly buildings.

Now a private member's bill, Bill C-300, introduced in the House of Commons to construct legal standards that all Canadian mining companies should observe has gone down to defeat.  No single political party stood four-square with the premise that a wealthy, forward-looking and human-rights-observing country like Canada should logically pass legislation that would compel its industrial mining giants to operate internationally in a responsible manner with full respect for the countries in which they do business.

International Trade Minister Peter Van Loan had a legitimate concern when he voiced his concern that the bill - whose major contention was Canada's responsibility to ensure that its mining companies were not responsible for human rights abuses - might appear too strictured and stringent, impacting badly on Canadian jobs.  Well then, if the bill as it was presented seemed too restrictive, then collaborate on presenting an altered bill that would address the industry's concerns, yet produce a set of useful guidelines.

Many Canadian mining companies already match their activities to the guidelines the bill represented.  It is those companies who do not, and whose reputations reflect so poorly on their own operations, and that of Canada as a responsible government that should be requiring its industry giants observe certain acceptable standards, who sully the situation.

Canada's far reach and experience in mining, as a result of our own natural resources and extraction and refinement of minerals and metals resulting in 75% of the world's largest mining and exploration companies being based in Canada, places a special obligation upon the country and its mining industry to operate abroad in a manner that does justice to our internal values, which should match those which we practise internationally.

It is profoundly disturbing to know that Canadian companies have been deeply implicated in the past decade in abusive incidents and serious allegations including human rights violations, in supporting brutal regimes - in looking the other way when violence, civil war and corruption is occurring while they are engaged in mining and exploration in areas of the world experiencing great social turmoil.

It truly is incumbent on Canada to demonstrate, as a leader in mining activities around the world, that the industry should not be immune to practising leadership skills reflecting Canadian values in its interaction with emerging economies for whom the rights and safety and security of their populations is of lesser concern that it should be. 

We are not disinterested onlookers, capable of neutral non-involvement, when we are ensconced directly within theatres of civil war, witness to atrocities we do nothing to ameliorate.  Remaining there, operating as though nothing untoward is occurring when all around people are suffering, is not an option, or should not be. 

It's too bad, in fact, that legislation must even be considered, and that industry leaders themselves do not produce a general best practises code of conduct that would represent best industry practise that all would willingly adapt to, in pursuit of an honest and respected bottom line.

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Message To Israel

From Israel's well-wishers and religious neighbours abroad and within the geography of the Middle East, comes an indelible message.  You're where you are on suffrage, and are being put on notice by the regional religious authorities that you do not make the rules, the Holy Roman Catholic Church does.  Now this is a strange, albeit explicable admixture of tribal inheritance and religion. 

Arabs who are not Muslim, but Christian, adhere to their tribal affiliations in the guise of presenting as religious purists interpreting the word of God Almighty.  Presumptuous in the extreme, since God Almighty was first represented by the recognition of Judaic monotheistic practise, morphing into Christianity, giving birth to Islam.

The progenitor is afforded scant courtesy of respect in the house of its offspring.  This is human nature mocking the ineffable nature of the mysterious Spirit that overwhelms us by its omniscient concern for we lowly human creatures so given to fallible error, exercising our free will to antagonize and criticize and berate and extend misunderstandings between one another.

In direct contradiction to the dictates of the Holy Spirit to respect one another as they are to give homage to Him by so doing.  That homage is freely given, but always in a manner felt reasonably suitable to the needs of those particular human groups whose compact with the Almighty feel assured should always favour them.

The title of Archbishop comes complete with respect for the venerable position, but it cannot hide the reality that this Archbishop, head of the commission that drew up a statement agreed upon by Middle East Catholic bishops, is of Arab-Lebanese origin.  

Presumptuousness could not possibly play a part in the conclusions of that distinguished company which determined through their grave discourse that Israel, the people and the state, had no divine right to claim the treasured land they were forced to abandon through blood, sweat and tears, and conquest that scattered them all over the face of the Earth, to mourn what they had lost.

It is true that Jews of the truly Orthodox persuasion, fixated on their heritage and history, proclaim Israel their Promised Land.  But it is also true that Zionism was never a religious movement, but a social, ideological, practical political movement, one meant to rescue the diaspora of world Jewry from further attrition through dedicated, organized attempts at mass eradication. 

It was a return to heritage and geographic roots, to be sure, but many Jews did not have to travel too far to gain entry to Israel's past geography; they came in their droves from Arab countries which barely tolerated their presence despite millennia of residence, to join those of their brethren who had always lived in Jewish Palestine.

It is not surprising, under the circumstances, to see a Palestinian-Arab population  - which once summarily refused to accept a UN-brokered Partition of Palestine that would offer 70% of the land to Palestinian Arabs, and 30% of the land to Jews anxious to provide a haven for themselves, only to have the Jews accept and the Arabs violently dissent - eagerly take up the conclusions of the synod's call for a two-state solution that would see Israel withdraw from portions of the land Palestinians insist must be theirs. 

It is, however, risibly dishonest to hear that august body claim that Israel is responsible for the ongoing emigration of Christians from the 'occupied territories'.  Where the reality is that the Christian population has increased under Israeli-administered Jerusalem, and it is at the angry hands of Arab Muslims that Arab Christians have been tormented, threatened, assaulted and forced to flee the lands they once felt comfortable in. 

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Keep Him, By All Means

Trouble is, they have no wish to detain him any longer. Without the admission of guilt, which many claim was coerced, he might have stood trial, refusing to acknowledge his guilty status, so that if the prosecution was successful in finding him guilty on all counts brought against him, principally that of murder as an enemy combatant, he might have been sentenced to life in prison.  Life in prison within the United States means just what it states.  Quite unlike Canada, where a defined period of time is allotted, and the lifer still has the right to seek clemency through early parole.

It simply made far more sense for Omar Khadr, whom many describe as "intelligent", to take the other route available to him.  To rejoin his extended family in Canada, citizens all, although they are also more familiarly acknowledged to be Canada's "al-Qaeda family".  The father an avowedly high-placed member of al-Qaeda, and a major financier through the raising of 'charitable' funds to advance their cause, and the mother unreservedly supportive of al-Qaeda's mission to overturn the degraded West, and institute a global Caliphate.

Of course, under the global Caliphate it's doubtful whether they would still be able to collect social charity through welfare, assisted housing, universal medical care and education.  Which is why they are avidly engaged, though they claim to despise this society, in grasping as much of these citizenship entitlements as they can, while they yet may.  As for youngest son, Omar, he will be in more direct geographic contact with his family.  And they can be proud of him, that he has not forsworn his dedication to jihad.

Young Mr. Khadr has a reputation to uphold, one he is very proud and conscious of; not only the legacy of his father's dedication to Osama bin Laden and his pathology of hatred for the despised West, but his star standing as a prize specimen of Islamism's finest; a youth well doctrinated into violent jihad and its twisted relation to Islam and the Koran - a high-value standard-bearer of the ascendancy of the inevitable.

The conscience of a Western society has been moved by the seeming misfortune of a youth whose values were sternly drawn by the example and the instruction of his father.  As though none of us is born with free will, and the capacity to look beyond the obvious into our inner hearts and instinctive values.  Omar Khadr passed the test of Islamist indoctrination, making his parents proud, and elevating his status as an example to other Muslim youth.

Israel, the singular state that has always, since its birth, been the recipient of Muslim hatred and revenge-wishing that would have it disappear off the face of the Earth, must also grapple with the issue of home-grown terrorists.  Those with Israeli citizenship, reaping all the benefits that come with that citizenship, yet conspiring to destroy the state, and the lives of other citizens who happen to be Jews, not Arabs. 

There are some within Israel, some lawmakers who have been musing within the Knesset that the time may have arrived when citizenship should be revoked from those who actively conspire to destroy the state.  To many within Israel, and not only Arab MKs and Palestinian-Israelis, but Jewish Israelis who value the concept of equality and the sanctity of state sovereignty and allegiance to the state, and democratic ideals, this appears an unspeakable travesty.

But is it?  Or is it a potentially practical solution to those citizens who conspire to destroy the very social and political conditions that allow them to aspire for their enlightened and socially advanced futures?

Instead of, for example, gently admonishing in a court of law and committing to short prison sentences, young Muslim men who have been nurtured within Canada, and who choose to turn their plans toward destroying Canadian society, perhaps they should discover they run the risk of becoming stateless, their citizenship revoked in exchange for planning terrorism against the country that represents their best interests.

It's a thought.  Most Canadians have no wish to welcome Omar Khadr back into Canada.  Nor are we particularly pleased to host his extended family whose values are clearly so different than our own.  We generally do not make common cause, in any event, with those who literally spit in our faces.  And this family has done that, and much, much more to demonstrate their contempt for Canada.

They should be cordially invited to leave, to return to Pakistan where they would be feted.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Not Quite According To Plan A - What's Plan B Again?

ANALYSIS / Iran's unlikely understanding with Saudi Arabia

Iran and Saudi Arabia are working together to divide up their sphere of influence in Lebanon and Iraq.

By Zvi Bar'el
"Iran is not the enemy, Israel is the enemy," the head of the Center for Strategic Studies in Saudi Arabia declared in an interview with Al Jazeera. This was his response to a question on whether the $60 billion arms deal between Riyadh and Washington was meant to deter Iran. The American efforts to portray the deal as aimed against Tehran doesn't fit with the Saudi point of view, and it seems this isn't the only subject over which these two countries fail to see eye to eye.
Ahmadinejad in NY - AP - Sept 23 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at the UN headquarters on Tuesday, Sept 21, 2010.
Photo by: AP
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia twice last week, and Iran reported that a senior Iranian official would visit Riyadh soon. It's not clear if it will be Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki or the head of the National Security Council, Saeed Jalili.
But the frequent contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia are not over the big arms deal or Iran's nuclear plans. The two countries have concluded that they need to reach an agreement on two other issues regarding their sphere of influence in the region: Iraq and Lebanon.
Regarding Lebanon, Iran is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to help stop the work of the special international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. This would prevent the collapse of the Lebanese regime. While Iran is worried about Hezbollah's status, it also doesn't want Lebanon to collapse or fall into another civil war, whose results cannot be ensured.
Furious American
In this respect, Tehran doesn't have to make too great an effort to get Riyadh's support. This became clear last week to Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to Beirut, when he visited Riyadh. During his meeting with King Abdullah, the monarch tried to figure out America's position if the international court's work were stopped. Arab sources say Feltman was "furious but restrained," and made it clear to the king that Washington was determined to support the tribunal.
With all due respect to the American insistence, if the client that is supposed to pay Washington $60 billion decides it's vital to halt the tribunal's work, it won't make do with consulting the Americans. It will throw its full weight behind the efforts. Meanwhile, the indictment the tribunal is due to publish is not expected before February.
After all, what is happening in Lebanon - and Saudi Arabia can't be accused of not supporting the establishment of the tribunal - is not isolated from other regional issues that involve the Saudis and Iran. Riyadh, which paid millions of dollars in Ayad Allawi's election campaign in Iraq, is aware that his chances of being elected prime minister are diminishing. The aid last time helped Allawi win two seats more in parliament than his rival, outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Meanwhile, in the past two weeks, Maliki has visited Syria, Turkey, Iran and Egypt in an attempt to garner support. He is trying to persuade Iraq's neighbors that he is worthy of being prime minister again. But that's not enough. To win, he has to convince his rivals at home to forgo their aspirations of being Iraqi prime minister and join him.
No dream team
Tehran understands that it can't get the Iraqi prime minister it was hoping for, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. But it has "convinced" the influential Iraqi religious leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, who is living in Iran until completing religious studies there, to support Maliki. Maliki is not exactly Iran's dream prime minister, especially considering that he accused Tehran and Damascus of terrorist involvement.
He is also not a natural partner of Sadr, who won 39 of the 325 seats in parliament. Sadr has also not completely forgiven Maliki for sending Iraqi troops to wage a bloody battle against Sadr's forces and arresting many of his supporters, some of whom are still in prison. But the Iranian pressure mounted, so Sadr agreed to announce his support for Maliki.
Nevertheless, even with Sadr's support, Maliki will not be able to set up a coalition without getting at least one other bloc to support him, either the Kurds or Allawi. That's why Iran needs Saudi Arabia's help to try to persuade its proteges in Iraq, especially Allawi, to join such a coalition or at least not work against it.
For its part, Saudi Arabia is not prepared to give Iran gifts, but it also doesn't want to lose all influence in Iraq. In Iraq as in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia realizes it's in a relatively inferior position vis-a-vis Iran; all it can do in these countries is to prevent Tehran from wielding exclusive influence. This is what the discussion between Saudi Arabia and Iran is now focusing on: deliberations during which Riyadh will try to divide its sphere of influence in Iraq and Lebanon with Iran.
One significant element is missing from these moves - the United States. Washington seeks to promote the process at the international tribunal on the Lebanese issue, blame Hezbollah for the Hariri assassination, see Allawi as Iraqi prime minister and block Iran's influence in the region.
Meanwhile, it seems the Americans are aiming too high. The real game is in the hands of local forces that are sketching the strategic map, which will be presented to Washington as a fait accompli.

Published in Haaretz online, 27 October 2010

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Equal Opportunity, No Shame, No Blame

Cash received and gratefully, gracefully accepted.  The New York Times has it from an inside source.  Well, of course they do.  Not that this is new news, so to speak.  But it still manages to issue a bit of a shock, nonetheless.  After all, NATO is there, in Afghanistan, at the stated wish and continued invitation - entreaty, more like it - of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.  He insists that NATO remain as long as possible, to ensure that the dreaded Taliban not complete its re-invasion of the country and remove him and his warlord-comprised cabinet from power.

Mr. Karzai feels he can live with accepting mid-level Taliban into the fold, buying their allegiance, and sharing governance with them, as long as he is permitted to remain the chief executive.  For he knows that NATO will not forever remain in Afghanistan, since many nations are in the process of withdrawing their forces, with clear end-dates inscribed in the dead lead of intention.  This is not a popular war for the countries of the West that have dedicated treasury and worse, the lives of their young men and women in their dedication to ease the plight of Afghanistan.

But yes, Hamid Karzai says, not quite meekly-defensively, Iran has and continues to hand over bags of cash.  Iran, after all, is a neighbour and as such represents a 'friendly country'.  NATO countries do not consider Iran to be particularly friendly in intent and purpose, ascribing to it support for the Taliban, in training and in IED-parts supply.  IEDs, in fact, have been more responsible for more deaths and injuries among NATO troops than actual clashes with the Taliban.

And the Taliban, as it happens, despite almost a decade of NATO presence in the country, have succeeded in taking back greater portions of the country than ever before.  Thanks in large part to Pakistan's aid and encouragement; another friendly country, both to Afghanistan and to NATO.  But to put the cash into perspective, it should be understood, insists Mr. Karzai, that "The government of Iran assists (my) office with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice a year, which is official aid."  So that's all right, then; it's official aid, assisting Mr. Karzai's office, you see.

And no Iranians are dying, blown up by IEDs in the process.  Only NATO troops, whose governments are shelling out millions upon millions in support of Afghan infrastructure, civic improvements, health and education, judicial and policing services, training for the Afghan military.  "This is transparent, this is something that I have discussed even with (former) president George (W.) Bush, nothing is hidden, the same thing ... it does give bags of money, yes, it's all the same."  Same, same as what?  Oh yes, the 'same' as the bags of cash the U.S. was giving out to Afghan war lords.

"Cash payments are done by various friendly countries to help the presidential office to help expenses in various ways to help the employees around here, and people outside.  We will continue to ask for cash from Iran."  Help is indeed a wonderful attribute; everyone could use more of it.  For their part, Iran denies, denies, denies.  "Such baseless rumours are spread by some Western media with the aim of harming growing relations between the two neighbours and friendly countries", claims Iran's embassy spokesman.

What 'friendly', willing dupes NATO countries are.  Never indoctrinated in the cleverly underhanded tribal jealousies and animosities and alliances, completely ignorant of such potentials.  Invested with the humanitarian need to aid an embattled, poverty-stricken, socially backward, religiously constricted country from returning to a safe haven for Terror Central, allowing itself to be milked as a clueless responder to desperate need. 

Rapacious greed characterizes both the official Afghan administration and the Taliban alike. Each benefits from corruption, from the sale of the ubiquitous poppy crops, from demanding cash from 'friendly' neighbours and from NATO defenders.  All the sacrifices by the West on behalf of that medieval-minded patriarchy prepared to turn full circle with the departure of Western support and international aid agencies will see the country return to the dark ages that still fits it so comfortably.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Turkey's Aspirations

Turkey has had a most interesting history. It seems the country perplexes itself; it is uncertain whether it is Asian or European. Not surprising, since it straddles both Asia and Europe. Its European persona stresses secularism, while its Asian element clings to Islam. Who said never the twain shall meet?

It was once a powerhouse of Islamic presence in the world. From Turkey emanated the order and function of Islamic countries under the Ottoman Empire. Until it lost its power and prestige and succumbed to being regarded as a backwater, one that struggled with its heritage, and which conundrum was finally settled by Mustafa Ataturk who chose secularism over overt theism to guide his country.

Turkey increasingly, under the current government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, is investing itself in closer ties with its Muslim neighbours. Prime Minister Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) is a huge departure from the previously-secular-invested governments that evolved throughout the 20th Century with Turkey as a majority-Muslim country, but a parliamentary-secular one. Its military was always involved in seeing that it remained a secular country, true to the vision of Kamal Ataturk.

Much has changed since the gradual ascension to power in 2002 of the AKP, as Turkey has increasingly turned itself into an Islamist-governing country, although some elements of its former secular state have not yet been completely overturned. Its military, however, has undergone some hard times, with Prime Minister Erdogan's government claiming former high-ranking Turkish elite army officers were involved in a conspiracy to unseat him and return the country to full secular rule. Hundreds of army officers have been arrested. And the country is in the process of reducing the ranks of its military.

Formerly closely aligned with Europe, and intent on pursuing membership in the European Union (despite French and German disinclination to admit it), under Erdogan the country has ruptured its once-close ties with Israel, and fragmented its association with the United States in favour of renewing binding ties with Iran and Syria. In the process recognizing and supporting Hamas and Hezbollah in their incendiary war against Turkey's former ally, Israel. Where once the two countries, Turkey and Israel, held joint war games, Turkey now accuses Israel of 'genocidal' intentions against the Palestinians.

Turkey has full knowledge in its own background of what construes genocide, having committed that full-scale atrocity itself on its Armenian population in the first quarter of the 20th Century. Something which Turkey has always strenuously denied, despite evidence to the contrary. Turkey has also nurtured warm relations with Sudan and its president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, despite the latter's indictment for war crimes in Darfur. Prime Minister Erdogan claims to be more comfortable in the presence of mass murderer al-Bashir, than with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"A Muslim", Mr. Erdogan claimed, seriously, "can never commit genocide". In one fell swoop, declaring the innocence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Turkey's innocence. "It's not possible", insists Mr. Erdogan. Ask the Armenians, they will describe in excruciating detail just how it is possible. Speak to the Greeks, they too will attest to the cruelty and vicious behaviour of Turks, since both of them bitterly contest ownership of Cypress. Or speak to members of the Kurd community, anxious to finally have a homeland of their own, and in the process earning the brutal response of Turkey.

Germany's Chancellor recently bemoaned its large Turkish immigrant demographic that has not integrated into German society, remaining a thorn in the side of immigration-and-integration with a growing mood of black resentment in the German population. Not entirely the fault of the immigrant Turks; they were brought in as cheap labour. France is unequivocal in its dismissal of the 77-million Turks representing European culture and traditions, rather than Asian. And Turkey, after attempting for so many years to be accepted into the EU is frustrated beyond measure.

To the point where this increasingly Islamist country has taken to taunting the EU over its "Islamophobia". "If the EU wants to prove that it is not a Christian club ... then it should take the necessary measures to prevent the threat of rising Islamophobia throughout Europe", claimed Turkey's chief negotiator, minister for EU affairs. Absorbing Turkey within the EU will do precisely nothing to 'prevent the threat of rising Islamphobia'. It is the exacerbating lack of interest within Islam to combat ferociously blatant fanatical Islam resulting in violent jihad that causes aversion to Islam in the West.

The nomenclature of "Islamophobia" is an Islamic invention, a blunt sledgehammer of moral condemnation that the world of Islam uses to convince itself that the West is engaged in a war on Islam, when the truth is the reverse; fanatical Islam is at war with itself and with the West in its determination to mount an international terror war to result in a global Caliphate. And nowhere does Islam itself condemn this terror outright, and work to erase the dread disease from its midst.

Turkey, which bills itself as a potential "vital asset for the EU" as a bridge between Europe, the West and the Muslim world, is increasingly demonstrating to the discomfiture of the West, that it is not fit to bridge any 'gap', but is, on the other hand, investing itself in increasing the 'gap'. It cannot have matters both ways. Yet the country insists it can and will.

Just as militant, violent jihadis commit themselves to their irreversible course of action to mount a global terror war to benefit Islam, so too do Muslim authorities in government and academia and the mosque and madrases, encourage the warriors of Islam to mount their vengeance against a world prepared to advance without it.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Vatican Speaks

"Israel can't use the biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or territorial claims, a Vatican synod on the Middle East said on Saturday. In its concluding message, bishops from the Middle East also said they hoped for a two-state solution for peace between Israel and the Palestinians and called for peaceful conditions that would stop a Christian exodus from the region."
So now we have it on the authority of the Vatican that Judaism's Old Testament attesting to the historical antecedents of Israel's authenticity as a Jewish-heritage geography in the Middle East is to be set aside. In favour of the reality that the Holy Roman Catholic Church recognizes that the Creator invested heritage within His son, Jesus Christ, negating any claims that preceded his appearance as Saviour.

On the other hand, is that logical? Why does the New Testament supersede the Old Testament? That, in fact, is what Islam claims, that the Koran is the more updated manifestation of God's word than either of its predecessors. Using the logic of the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Church should humbly be acceding to Islam, setting aside the New Testament alongside the Old Testament, and accepting the Koran as the word of God.

And as an inescapable extension of that logic, set aside Christianity itself in favour of the step-child of both Judaism and Christianity, the last of the three representatives of the "Abrahamic" religions. This is the theory that Islamists are advancing, those Islamic scholars who favour the thought of Judaism and Christianity finally recognizing the legitimate superiority and inheritance of Islam.

Why then is there any sense of legitimacy in the writing of the New Testament? It might also be well to recall - as a real dose of recent history - that under Muslim rule Jerusalem's Christians were not quite as free to practise their religion as they are now, under Israeli administration. Nor are Christians free to practise Christianity in Muslim-dominated countries of the Middle East; they are, indeed, becoming a vanishing species beset by Muslim hostility.

Yet the Bishops from the Middle East repeat the absurdity that once peace between Israel and the Palestinians results in a two-state solution, the hostility and violence that Christians face in the Middle East will end. Muslims will suddenly accept and love the diminishing number of Christians among them. This fictive rubbish is repeated ad infinitum simply because the Christians are largely of Arab origin, betraying their bias against Judaism.

It is extremely sad that the Vatican is so anxious to please and collaborate with its far-flung family irrespective of the inane, political and disruptive statements that emanate from some of its members, that it remains prepared to sacrifice its always-tenuous relations with Jews and Israel. Despite that Arab Christians are under siege by Arab Muslims, it is still and always the Jews that are at fault.

As for the Roman Catholic Church and its relations with Israel and with Jews; the troubled past does not reflect wrong on Israel's part, or on the part of the Diaspora, but indeed, on the anti-Semitic past of the Catholic Church itself. Which does not appear to be able to shake itself loose of its lack of wisdom in adhering to this very particular heritage obsession.

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Aiding the Enemy

Appeasement doesn't work, but don't tell the big brains at the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA. They're located in the United States, just in case you didn't know. Although they do have a penchant on occasion to perambulating outside the United States and venturing elsewhere where they happen to have business to be conducted.

Conciliation is another word that's interesting and the practise of which is confusing to the onlooker because it so often doesn't seem to make practical sense.

Nor moral sense either, come to think of it. As, for example, the U.S. administration, the new one under Barack Obama, promising to do things differently than in the past, for their own self-respect, let alone the respect of the outside world, yet falling into the same old familiar trap.

While before the U.S. administration talked a streak about turning back the tide of terror, now there is no terror, simply inconvenient distractions from business as usual.

Always prepared to overlook the nasty truths that simply confused the issues, the U.S., seeing its dependence on Middle East oil not diminishing any time soon, and finding it extremely useful to continue multinational oil alliances with theocrats, autocrats, dictators and totalitarians, commits to practical issues.

It is impractical to recognize that Saudi Arabia continues to fund the founts of terror.

Wahhabi-style Islam is promulgated proudly and strenuously by U.S. greenbacks paid to oil sheikdoms in setting up madrassas all around the geography of the Middle East, Europe and North America, Asia and Africa. So the growing Islamism that spawns fanatical jihadis eager to give their all, and our all for Islam has its genesis in Saudi Arabia by way of Pakistan.

Which is why it is practical for the United States to sell some $60-billion in state-of-the-art war machinery to Saudi Arabia, and thus procure back some of the funds it has enriched the Saudis with through their oil refineries. And since Pakistan, which breeds jihadis sending out their deadly tentacles all over the world, is also a nuclear state, handle with kid gloves.

For Pakistan is America's greatest ally in the war against global terror. You heard it from American administrations one after the other, and now you hear it from the Obama administration. Prepared to offer additional billions in aid for Pakistan's military. This, of course, is the military and the ISI, which funds, arms and protects the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is prepared to ask Congress to approve additional military aid representing the U.S. "enduring commitment to help Pakistan plan for its defence needs." Against whom? Why of course, India. India toward which Pakistan remains an implacable foe, has had to suffer the effects of U.S.-funded Pakistan violence, as has Afghanistan.
"Washington had lavishly aided Pakistan's military, and U.S. legislators now asked where were the results of that aid. Between 2002 and 2007, the Bush administration had provided Pakistan with $3.5-billion in aid, more than half of that for the military. Between 2002 and 2005 the military had received another $3.6-billion in payments for use of its facilities and services by the U.S. Defense Department, while the United States had forgiven Pakistani debt worth over $3.0-billion. The CIA had paid large secret sums to the ISI in order to improve its performance and provide reward money for catching al Qaeda leaders. The army received another $30 to $40-million to improve border security. Washington provided for the computerization of all international passenger traffic at the country's airports, the creation of an air wing for the army to monitor FATA, (federally administered tribal areas), the building of access roads in FATA, and police training in several fields, including crime scene analysis and a centralized fingerprint ID system. Officially, by 2007, the United States had provided $10-billion in aid to Islamabad, and unofficially the figure was much higher, yet FATA and indeed Pakistan were now greater threats than ever before. With terrorism on the increase, U.S. legislators were asking the Bush administration where the money had gone." Ahmed Rashid, Descent into Chaos
This, incidentally, is the same Pakistan needless to say, which recently took great umbrage at the U.S. entering its airspace with drones to take out top-ranking Pakistani-Taliban and al-Qaeda members. So incommoded by the insult to their sovereignty on the part of their great ally in the war against terror that they refused passage of NATO-supply trucks, leaving them and the truckers sitting ducks for Taliban attacks.

These, then are the friends and allies upon which the U.S. hangs its trust; Saudi Arabia, the source of fanatical Islam's international stretch, and Pakistan, the breeding ground for attacks against Mumbai, Great Britain, Germany, France, and anywhere else their demented plans to convince the Western democracies that universal sharia is on its way, so get used to it.

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Immensely Discombobulating

Call it losing face - at the very least the confidence of those who had hitherto given their respect to the naval command prowess of the British Royal Navy. An "untoward" incident has the capacity to alter that.

Becoming a snickering laughing-stock does no one's sense of self any good. To witness, even at a remove - there are no longer any discreet 'secrets' carefully hidden away from public scrutiny in this age of vigilant electronic devices put to good use - a routine operation gone awry to a spectacular degree is the new reality.

Let's face it, this was not an professionally astute move on the part of the command and crew of the newly-built and -launched HMS Astute, all $2.5-billion-worth of most technologically advanced nuclear stealth-submarine so sophisticated it can remain undetected for weeks on end, submerged off an 'enemy' coast.

But not if its current commanding officer, Cmdr. Andy Cole, has anything to do with it. He and his doughty crew of 103 were engaged in a routine disembarkment of contractors, preparing to assist in the boarding of another group, while manoeuvring in shallow waters clearly marked with a line of red and green warning buoys, just as the tide was flowing out.

Clearly, shallow waters become even more shallow and treacherous to the buoyant capacity of a state-of-the-art submarine when the tide is going out. With or without warning buoys, their own experience might have forewarned them, one might venture to suggest? But no, the rudder of the Astute got stuck on a shingle bank off the Isle of Skye.

It will shortly be established how many millions of pounds it will take to repair the sadly wounded submarine. And to pinpoint precisely who among its crew was responsible for obvious oversight. Irrespective of which, isn't the commanding officer by the very fact of his presence and position of command, responsible? Court marshal? Perish the thought.

But this will be a painful wound in the side of Britain's newly-embarked-upon austerity move to cut back on government expenditures - particularly as those cutbacks relate to the slimming down of Britain's armed services and their costly fleet of ships, planes, and armoured personnel carriers, etc.

However, as Britain's Ministry of Despair (oops, Defence) clarified, no one was injured, no threat to the environment ensued, the vessels remained watertight, "This is not a nuclear incident". Just a routine manoeuvre. Cantcha tell the difference?

Just nature's little prank, after all, pitting puny human brains against force majeure, and nature wins, because puny human brains remain oblivious to the obvious.

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Economies In Freefall

They're faltering like dominoes, struck one by one by the economic cataclysmic effect of a deeply-felt recession, complicated by desperate attempts to fund themselves out of the recessionary hole, finding themselves painfully headed toward fiscal bankruptcy, necessitating the adoption of austerity measures. European states, one after the other, faltering economically, attempting to enlist the support of their populations in belt-tightening. Count countries like Japan in there, as well.

Unsurprisingly, citizens are snarling in response. Populations that suddenly found themselves on the receiving end of hard times after a decade and more of good employment opportunities, healthy national economies, booming trade, and a satisfying way of life. Suddenly, countries that blithely offered their citizens generous social benefits found themselves strapped for cash. And the welfare services proffered to so many became truncated and mean.

Still, there are some services that are outer-directed that appear to be sacrosanct in nature. Green environment initiatives, for one, to which all national economies to greater or lesser degree, appear to have committed themselves to. With the exception of Conservative-led Western governments which have taken a more wait-and-see approach, not convinced, as per the president of the Czech Republic, that global warming is human-derived.

Austerity is an austere word; not a very appealing thought behind it, the need to conserve and to be prudently concerned. Government belt-tightening everywhere has resulted in fewer jobs in the civil service, and by extension in private enterprise. With the rise of unemployment, people face a grimly worrisome future. Unemployed people cannot spend what they do not have, and the economy suffers further decline.

Governments lead the way, and in the process battle public service unions who feel terrifically entitled to battle employers. The result is not pretty, particularly in a country like France where unions are traditionally bullishly militant. Now Great Britain has stepped up to the austerity-cutting plate, and diminished job prospects for a half-million Brits in the public service, which will surely extend to the private sector with an additional half-million cuts.

In Britain, cuts across the board, from welfare and pensions to government services, police and the military, even the Queen and the Royal Household, along with the country's universal health care and oops, the BBC. What will remain intact is international aid, education and climate change spending. And good luck to all of that. England's debt, deficit, inflation levels are all deeper than Canada's.

The United States' debt and deficit levels parallel those of the United Kingdom. There is a crisis looming in America, with states like California teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, along with Eastern Seaboard states, finding it difficult to pay for the infrastructure and services required to represent an advanced economy. Social security and health care costs in the U.S. will require they go the way of France and Britain.

And Canada is struggling to maintain its momentum of rising above the slow drain on its economy, although it has suffered far less than other G20 countries. The country's net national debt is still in the manageable range, but would represent greater comfort if it were to be speedily brought down. Both federally and provincially. Job numbers are slow to increase and consumer confidence is not yet booming. Waiting for an uptick in the U.S.

Not a very propitious time to start a business, look for well-remunerated employment, buy a new home, plan for a vacation - anywhere, at the present time. Food banks continue to enjoy great popularity.

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Another Truth-Speaker On Islam

"Islam Does Not Like Christians"
by Elad Benari

Jewish Italian MP Fiamma Nirenstein was reconfirmed this week as Vice President of Italy’s Foreign Affairs Committee. In addition, she was also appointed an official consultant on Israel and the international Jewish communities by Italian Foreign Minister Frattini.

Earlier this week, Nirenstein commented on Christian leaders who criticize Israel yet ignore violence by Arabs. She pointed out that “Islam does not like Eastern Christians: it has forced them to flee and now they account for only 6% of the population in the Mideast”, and added that the only country where the number of Christians has grown is Israel, where 163,000 Christians live today, a number which is expected to grow to 187,000 by the year 2020. “In Muslim countries, on the other hand, Christians are on the wane, but the 50 churches present in the Holy Land seem not to notice. They prefer to dump on Israel, where they enjoy full freedom of worship and expression,” said Nirenstein.

Commenting on the Vatican Synod about Middle East taking place in Rome these days, Nirenstein pointed out a document “written in a tone of theological excommunication towards the State of Israel,” which was signed by the Custodian of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who later denied involvement, saying that “no church in the Holy Land had signed the document.” Nirenstein pointed out, however, that the names of top-level signers are clearly visible on the document which is available on the internet. The document speaks in the name of "us Christian Palestinians," and says that “the military occupation is a sin against God and against man”. It excommunicates Christian supporters of Israel, takes sides against the very presence of Israel, likens the defensive barrier that has blocked 98% of terrorism to apartheid, attacks the communities in Judea and Samaria and essentially cancels the existence of the Jewish state. The document goes so far as to legitimize terrorism when it talks about the “thousands of prisoners who languish in Israeli jails” which are “part of the society around us”. “Resistance to the evil of occupation is a Christian's right and duty," says the document.

“In the final draft of the appeal which will be voted on Friday, the Synod is once again offering the Catholic Church as the guarantor of freedom of religious and personal freedom for all religions,” wrote Nirenstein. “But if there are no sanctions against what Christians suffer in Islamic countries and if they continue to blame the Jews who have nothing to do with it all, how do they think they will be able—morally and practically—to sustain this?”

Other comments made by Nirenstein this past week addressed remarks made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that Germany's multicultural approach to immigration “has failed, utterly failed,” and that in the future, immigrants should be expected to integrate into German culture.

“The point is that certain cultures very often have no intention of mixing in with ours, despite our actions and best intentions,” said Nirenstein in response. “Paris has become a city in which more than 200,000 people live in families where polygamy is common practice. In Italy 30,000 women have been subjected to genital mutilation and Islamic courts—ninety-odd in London alone—inflict sentences that are inconceivable.”

She pointed out that despite the fact that immigrants should have freedom of rights because of democracy, “they have other rules, not the ones of democracy. In Germany, Chancellor Merkel’s homeland, a Berlin lawyer was beaten along with her Muslim client who wanted a divorce; she was also attacked in the subway and was forced to close her practice. Again in Germany, Mozart’s opera, Idomeneo, was cancelled following Islamic threats. By pure luck, the editor-in-chief of Die Welt, Roger Köppel, blocked the hand of a young Muslim who was about to stab him in his office. In Germany, England and France, it is no longer possible to trace the “missing girls” who become slaves following arranged marriages. Giulio Meotti writes that, in Stockholm, the latest fashion is a T-shirt worn by young Muslim on which is written: ‘In 2030 we will take over’. Just some incidents.

“When we are faced by a culture like that of Islam, there are forms of irreducibility that run up against legal and moral issues with a whole range of subtleties,” continued Nirenstein. “For us, ‘immigration’ is a sacred term, filled of a sense of guilt, of generosity, of religion and liberal or left-wing overtones. But democracy is also a sacred term, our most important conquest: the masses of immigrants that do not share our democratic values put it in danger. And while we think that allowing immigration is a duty of democracy, we don’t understand that we are putting it at stake. Perhaps Chancellor Merkel—democratic German, pro-Europe, middle-class, complex-ridden and shy as every cultured German is—has succeeded in posing the question.”

Earlier this month, Nirenstein organized a mass rally-demonstration entitled “For the truth, for Israel” which was held in Rome. 63 speeches were made by personalities, politicians, intellectuals, artists and journalists from all over Europe during the rally which was billed as "the first European, bipartisan event aimed at restoring the truth regarding Israel, putting an end to the barrage of lies that are hurled at Israel every day and to the double standard used by the media and international organizations." According to estimates, 3,000 people attended the rally.

Published at, 22 October 2010

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tip Of The Hat

Imagine, the Wall Street Journal recognizing Canada. Rarely does one see Canada mentioned for any reason whatever in an American newspaper. Next-door neighbours we may be, each other's largest trading partners, sharing many traditions and social mores, reliant on one another for safe borders, but Canada and thoughts of Canada are remote to the consciousness of most Americans, although Canadians are hugely welcomed as tourists and vacationers.

Here is The Wall Street Journal waxing in great admiration for Canada's principled stand within the United Nations. Vying for one of those rare, entitled albeit temporary two-year sets in the Security Council on the basis of having been enormously supportive of the United Nations in the past, paying (more than) our share of operating costs of the UN, and generally and reliably playing the Good Scout to developing countries.

All those African countries, the Asian and South and Central American countries which Canada has benefited in the past through tax-funded largess? Acknowledged by those heads of state whom we were privileged to assist? Who earnestly promised their votes when push came to shove against tiny impoverished Portugal? Ah, well, it is a secret vote, after all, and allegiances are always fluid within the confines of the United Nations.

Waddya expect, anyway, giving the finger to the United Arab Emirates? Don't you know who you're dealing with, aren't you aware of the potential consequences, don't you care that this kind of umbrage leads invariably to swaying like-minded others to work against your best interests? Yes. Yes. No. Sign that free trade deal with Israel and broadcast it widely. Commiserate with Israel over the injustices done it continually within the United Nations.

And deny Dubai its request to honour blue skies because they're a lot bluer in the Middle East than they are in North America, and who cares about the lousy service Air Canada offers anyway? Deny Dubai at your peril. Remember that long-term lease on a secret plot of desert where supplies and personnel are transited to Afghanistan? Cringing is sometimes the better part of valour...

Oops, don't think so? You'll pay for it. It's this Conservative government in Canada, that's what it is. It's that devil of a politician, Stephen Harper, the one who claims to govern the country on behalf of all Canadians. Not all Canadians agree, but a whole lot do. What's next? Trade retaliation, check. Slander, check; they're on it, sounding the alarm of Canada keeping mum on the alleged arrest of an Israeli wanted in the Dubai-Hamas/assassination debacle.

Calgary and Vancouver are agitating to allow the Emirates airlines more landing and take-off time? They would. Think of the industry, all that fossil fuel stuff and the huge numbers of Canadians employed over there. And what's this about Canada feeling they have the right to snub the UAE ambassador? Just because the UAE refused landing on their sacrosanct territory to Canada's Chief of Defence Staff and Minister of Defence? Tch, tch.

Bravo, Canada!
"We, The Wall Street Journal say: Way to go. Canada seems to have annoyed a sufficient number of Third World dictators and liberally pious Westerners to come up short in a secret General Assembly Ballot. The sins committed by Stephen Harper's Conservative government include staunch support for Israel, skepticism about cap-and-trade global warming schemes and long-standing commitment to the Afghan war. Americans would be so lucky to get a leader as steadfast on those issues as the Canadian Prime Minister.

"The U.S. role here is also embarrassing - to the U.S. Richard Grenell, a former senior official at the U.S. Mission to the U.N., reported last week that America's U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, refused to campaign on Canada's behalf. Mr. Harper's politics are not hers, and Liberal opposition leader and Obama political soulmate, Michael Ignatieff, declared last month that Canada under Mr. Harper didn't deserve to get one of the 10 temporary seats."
Ah, yes, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, a staunch opponent of Canada, evidenced by his statement of non-deserve status within the United Nations. A shining example of partisan bitterness and failed political demagoguery. Dunce hat for you, and off to sit in the corner, Chappie.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Professional Expert Opinion

Well, certainly we're interested - even fascinated - by the opinion of a well-known and highly-respected psychiatrist who is prepared to divulge his conclusions after having clinically examined the state of mind of Canada's notorious Omar Khadr, son of the country's infamous al-Qaeda stalwart and fund-raiser.

We are interested simply because this is the opinion of a mental health professional experienced in evaluating the state of mind of extremely troubled people.

We are interested because we have heard too much and too often from politicians - from news sources, from left-wing apologists eager to explain that it is incumbent upon enlightened and democratic societies to recognize that certain religions appearing devoted to violence as a means of impressing the imperatives of their ideology - to offer the benefit of the doubt.

We are interested because we understand why it is that the greater majority of the society of which we are an integral portion is uneasy at the very thought of returning an avowed and trained and active jihadist to the country, even to be placed in incarceration to live out his sentence as a war criminal.

For the simple fact is, we would prefer to disown Omar Khadr and the rest of the Khadr clan.

That we cannot, because we must feel obligated toward them on the basis of their Canadian citizenship is our personal tragedy. That they have betrayed the values and customs and traditions and mores of Canadian society in favour of violently fanatical Islam is said to be of no moment in the issue. The issue, Mr. Khadr's supporters fervently claim, is that he was not responsible.

He was trained as a mujahadeen, trained to feel confident in constructing explosive devices, in handling firearms and explosives. He was trained as an Islamist guerrilla, a terrorist, a jihadist. And he was determined to give a good accounting of himself in confronting other armed men, professional soldiers, not that much older than himself, considered a 'child soldier' at age 15.

But Dr. Michael Welner, the psychiatric expert who investigates the deep-seated motivations behind peoples' aberrant behaviour has an entirely other opinion of the now-24-year-0ld Khadr. Doubting Omar Khadr's wish to become a normal, law-abiding individual who can be trusted to take his peaceful place within the society that gave his family safe harbour.

The extended Khadr family, which enjoys defaming the values of this country, along with all other Western countries, which, according to them, are dens of iniquity, of irreligious shame, but whose social benefits in welfare opportunities and free and excellent health and medical care are not to be shunned by principle.

"When one leaps to the conclusion about Omar Khadr's future because he is friendly, one might recall that Osama bin Laden has always been described as gentle, likeable and charming", Dr. Welner explained in a media interview. "There is no record of (Khadr's) publicly repudiating al-Qaeda, as civilized Muslims should, not even a letter composed for him by (one of his Canadian lawyers)".

There is "no call ... to radical Islamists to mature, beyond their elemental intolerance", said this man who, if anyone knows the incendiary mind of a psychopath, he might well be the one.

As for the Liberals and NDP slagging the Conservative-led government and the efforts of the bureaucrats at Foreign Affairs on behalf of this sterling citizen of Canada...
"Publicly available records reflect that members of the Canadian foreign ministry have made visits to Guantanamo to check on Khadr's every comfort, and Omar Khadr, not surprisingly, appreciated those visits", said the good doctor-shrink.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Troubled Global Economies

Workers everywhere are reviling their governments anxious to cut back on spending strategies after the globally severe economic slowdown and stimulus action taken to ameliorate nations' struggles against mass unemployment and loss of consumer confidence. The unions have become grumpily militant as a result of governments like that of France, taking steps to reduce the impact of rising worker expectations and diminishing government ability to meet them.

Reversing the trend that had seen steady increases in workers' benefits is not an easy thing to do. Greece saw rampaging protests that turned violent and anti-government when it attempted to install its economic reforms. And France is still struggling mightily to cope with the trade union responses to President Nicolas Sarkozy's attempt to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62. In Iceland, workers are simply stunned at the failure of their false economy.

In Germany a blow-back of the financial collapse leading to high unemployment rates has seen a return of xenophobia, tangled with sentiments always simmering below the surface of polite society, leading to discrimination and overt symptoms of racism. What better target than immigrants? Since it is the presence of immigrants or refugees, from countries as diverse as South Africa, France, Spain and Germany that is held responsible for a lack of jobs.

Fragile national economies make for uneasy social times. At the best of times, when economies are flourishing, unions make their inroads, demanding reductions in workloads and increased wages, along with more benefits and time off for employees. During the worst of times, when nations find themselves groaning under the impossible weight of pension responsibilities, back-tracking on benefits becomes nigh impossible.

It is relatively easy to be generous; far more difficult to invoke national need and unity in the name of revoking entitlements once given.

The unemployment rate in the United States, traditionally the global leader in growth and viable economic stability, has reached almost 10%, an unheard-of height of social dysfunction, leading to huge numbers of bankruptcy claims and home foreclosures. In cities across the United States, municipal governments find it difficult to balance previously rich entitlements for their workers against the provision of social services in a tight economy.

Benefits packages for the employees of various States of the Union are hampering the ability to plan for renewed infrastructure, understandable when state payroll represents a 41% increase over similar jobs with Fortune 500 companies. New York City can barely finance its schools in view of the burden it shoulders to provide retirement benefits to ten thousand former policemen, retired at age 50.

In California the average corrections officer earns $70,00 annually, plus overtime, while teachers earn significantly less. Prisons are well funded, schools are not. Buffalo has seen a reduction by half of its population in the last fifty years, yet its public working staff is as large as it was with twice the population it currently has. Worker rights become unassailable when unions financially support the candidacy of state leaders who then become indebted to them.

In Canadian cities taxpayers are being squeezed. In good times generous programs were undertaken, and in bad times they still have to be paid for. City budgets are over-strained, and much of that is due to salaries, with too many public employees on the payroll, too many duplicate and costly programs, and too much wastage. Municipalities are facing elections and it's the rare mayor who will be re-elected as voters hope for better management leading to better times.

In Toronto, the left-leaning mayor who many felt was simply a stooge for municipal unions is facing the certainty of being replaced by a more practical-minded right-of-centre politician whom Torontonians in their fatigue with transit and garbage collection strikes, are anxious to offer an opportunity to. In Ottawa, squabbles over tax increases resulting in fewer services, are leading to a replacement of the incumbent.

It's a universal mess, with no nice and tidy end in sight, quite yet.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

WikiLeaks Release

As though months ago when WikiLeaks released about 70,000 leaked documents to embarrass the U.S. military and the American administration with embarrassing little facts they would far rather keep hidden wasn't enough, they're at it again. They've 400,000 leaked classified documents this time around. And this time around they've gone through them carefully to ensure that none of them contain the names and addresses of informants working with the U.S. military.

In the previous release they were accused heatedly of recklessly placing the lives of innocent and useful Afghans informants in danger of potential Taliban reprisal. This time, after close scrutiny, 15,000 incriminating documents will be withheld. Which still leaves hundreds of thousands of confidential documents set for release. Very nervous-making, to be sure.

These later, set-for-release files will relate to the concluded and withdrawn war in Iraq. There will be revelations that the Pentagon and the U.S. Defence Secretary may feel they can live with. Even so, the founder of WikiLeaks has been soberly put on notice that what he is planning to do may very well result in a breach of national security.

The documents themselves will be published simultaneously by The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel; in the United States, Britain and Germany, respectively. They've had experience in this sort of thing, since they also published the previous releases, the Afghanistan "War Logs".

But before WikiLeaks there was a solitary reporter, born in Canada and latterly working for the U.S.-based Los Angeles Times. The Pulitzer Prize-Award-winning Paul Watson reveals in his book, Where War Lives, some embarrassing realities, much as he revealed them at a much earlier date with the discovery of "secret" flash drives that were circulating in the public market for civilian sale by Afghan shopkeepers.

Which provided him with startling documentary evidence of American military and government lies that Pakistan, for example, was a staunch ally of NATO and the U.S. The discarded flash drives that would slide into a computer's USB port contained all manner of secret documents. And they were available at a village bazaar. The digital files gave an impression of the ordinary, in soldiers' lives, as well as classified documents.
"There were intriguing shots, of Afghan prisoners, including one in a police uniform, leaning against a mudbrick wall, blindfolded by several rounds of tightly-wrapped tape, his hands bound behind his back.

"But most shocking were the photographs and detailed personal information on Afghans spying for the U.S. military. The files included the spies' names, addresses, birth dates, and similar information about their wives and children, as well as detailed records of meetings with their U.S. military handlers and the intelligence provided.

"When my story was printed, the military's senior public affairs officers at Bagram suddenly started calling me, desperate to plug a massive security breach that had compromised their operations and put the lives of several spies at risk. The Time's lawyers negotiated with the Justice Department and the Pentagon for the return of the flash drives in exchange for guarantees that neither I, nor Wesal (his interpreter), would be prosecuted. The U.S. Army's criminal investigators would spend months trying to figure out how one of the most important front-line bases in the war on terrorism had sprung so many leaks.

"...One of the computer file folders was full of intelligence reports, marked "Secret", which were part of an operation code-named "Implicit Agile". Also among the digital documents were secret PowerPoint presentations for senior U.S. commanders at Bagram, such as one from August 2005 that highlighted "obstacles to success", along the border and accused Pakistan of making "false and inaccurate reports of border incidents". It also criticized "political military inertia in Pakistan".

"Half a year later, the U.S. military was still complaining privately that improvised explosive devices,or IEDs in military jargon, were being smuggled in along numerous known routes from Pakistan, just as they had been for decades. A Special Operations task force map, which showed the militants' main cross-border smuggling routes in early 2005, included a comment from a U.S. military commander who sought some way to make "Pakistani border forces cease assisting cross border insurgent activities".
So, then, what else is gnu under the sun and Brother Mars?

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Threatening Nations: Iran/Turkey

Published in, 18 October 2010

Story by Zvi Bar'el

Those who seek further proof of the warming of relations between Iran and Turkey can find it in the meeting currently taking place at the National Security Council in Istanbul. According to Turkish reports, for the first time since the Cold War, Turkey is considering removing Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Greece from their list of "threatening countries."

This will directly affect Turkey's foreign policy, as laid out by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmet Davutoğlu, whose goal is to rid Turkey of any problems with its neighbors.

Mottaki and Davutoglu, AP, July 25, 2010

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, right, and Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki in Istanbul, July 25, 2010.

Photo by: AP

By taking countries off this list, Turkey is signaling nothing less than a new foreign policy design, one that has already been hinted at with their attempts to solve issues with the Kurdish population.

Turkey's prime minister is working to scale back the nation's army, which currently includes some 600,000 troops. The goal is to lessen security expenses, which have reached about $19 million a year, and create a professional army by doing away with the current policy of mandatory enlistment.

Leaders are examining the possibility of a program that would allow exemption from army service in exchange for a fee, which is expected to be about $7,000 dollars. In the Turkish army today, in-demand professionals like doctors and engineers are exempted from mandatory service, as are other university degree holders. Alternately, those without an academic degree must complete mandatory service, which lasts about five months. Career soldiers serve 15 years before they can retire.

In addition to its effect on the economy, doing away with mandatory enlistment will change one of the symbols of identity for Turkish citizens, who view enlistment in relation to the ideology that created modern Turkey, as laid out by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The army is an inseparable part of Turkey's informal education system, which spreads Ataturk's ideology.

Current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the other hand, aims to minimize the army's influence on the country.

The laws for the army as it currently stands are partially to blame for the undermining of the status of the police in the country. The army's standing has been lowered in civil institutions, like the education council, and by a series of reforms that were passed in a national vote last month. By removing traditional external threats, Erdogan is changing his foreign policy to stimulate internal changes, all the while avoiding a confrontation with internal opposition.

While Iran may be helping Erdogan's aspirations within his country, it is also placing Turkey on a dangerous track towards confrontation with the United States. In addition to refusing to support the United Nations decision to place sanctions on Iran, Turkey also refused to allow the U.S. to put a missile defense system against Iran on its soil.

Davutoğlu clarified that Turkey is not opposed to the deployment of the missile defense system in its territory, but rather opposes the conditions of NATO countries and refuse to appear to take a stand against Iran, Syria, or Russia. Turkey fears the stationing of a defense system, whose sole purpose is defense from Iran, would seriously damage relations between Turkey and Iran, and its ally Syria.

It appears that in the end, Washington and Ankara will agree on conditions for the missile defense system. However, Turkey succeeded again in proving that it can't be counted on as a sure thing.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Resolutely Implacable

Europe is coming alive to the reality that things are not working out too well for them through decades of immigration that have brought millions of migrating Muslims seeking to advantage themselves by living in free societies with sought-after social benefits. Somehow, the melding of populations has not occurred, neither the 'mosaic' model, nor the multicultural one, nor the pluralist vision has borne the fruit of integration.

Moreover, while Muslims in the main do seem to want to enter the society they have become part of, the established councils representing their interests - and theirs alone - seem to be comprised of combative, antagonistic, bellicose and demanding leaders. Who insist, in a free and open society, that their religion should be recognized as exceptional among all others, and their religious culture entitles them to the installation of Sharia.

It is an unfortunate reality that social customs have been imported into European countries that are inimical to indigenous social mores. It is another unfortunate reality that Muslims have brought with them ages-old antipathies and restless tribal disagreements. They have also brought along their violent sectarian sensibilities.

And while many are gainfully employed, many more appear over-represented on social welfare roll-outs in Western societies. Honour-killings, the dehumanization of women who like automatons appear in public when they must, but attired in all-encompassing garb, the bullying of young girls to honour traditions leading to early marriage, all cheapen life.

They are, as a result, costly to the countries they have been drawn to, in social affect and in economic terms. The most disturbing element is the seemingly broad consensus among Muslims, led by too many militantly-entitled leaders, that their religion-based laws supersede the laws of the land.

Taking exception to the freedoms they have accepted as their due, and belligerently reacting to the freedoms of others when they appear furiously to impact on Islam.

With them has come a virulent pathology of anti-Semitism, infecting the societies they infiltrate. A racist scourge that was not so long ago put to rest, has come screeching back, to be amplified and re-born as the natural state of Jews in civil society; despised outsiders.

Perhaps much of the problem lies in the historical militancy of Islam, one that appeals hugely to the modern-day faithful.

It is not just the growing emergence of hostile radicals being transformed to violent jihadists posing a threat to the Western world, seen by them as degraded societies ripe for Islamic take-over. It is the Islamic masses who respond with fanatical outrage whenever it is helpfully pointed out to them by rabid Islamists that Islam and its Prophet are being blasphemed.

The purported rumour of a Koran being desecrated, the outrage of mocking cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad as the desert warrior that he historically and accurately was represented, is enough to send a tsunami of frenzied Muslims into rampage mode, savagely looking for the offending kuffars.

"Death to America", and "Death to the Zionists", is a familiar refrain. Along with the dreaded "Allahu Akbar" at which point things have reached a deadly crescendo.

Arab Islamism threatens the world order. Those same proponents of Islamism instill outrage in the masses by claiming Islamophobia has caused untold suffering to Muslims who have been and will continue to be victimized by it. The mass murder of Muslims by fellow Muslims is handily overlooked.

As long as Muslims and their spokespeople represent as venomously hostile to their countries of refuge, with the intention of stealthily infiltrating positions of power leading to intentions of installing Islamic laws and customs, they remain a threat to Western civil society. And this, without the urgent threat that keeps surfacing, of terrorist attacks.

Conciliation between East and West, Islam and Christianity - and Hindus and Judaism, Buddhist and Sikh can only be possible once the Muslim hierarchy no longer express contempt for the West and for other religions. Islam has, in the final analysis, shown itself to be a decrepit religion, unable to adapt to changing times; averse to enlightenment and resurgent in militancy.

It is past time for Muslims of every stripe, ordinary Muslims, to create a unified front against the radicals among them, denying them the opportunity to corrupt and entrap their youth, indoctrinating and inducting them into jihad. For all our sakes, it is past time for Muslims to lay down their antagonisms against other religions and cultures, and when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

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