Monday, January 31, 2011

Conferring with the President

That venerably righteous, lance-tongued elder statesman, former American president, Jimmy Carter, is at it again. Understandably, since the Middle East and its unnervingly complex intrigues is his 'specialty', although he reserves his right to impose his humanitarian and progressive views on that troublesome continent of Africa, as well.

Mr. Carter continues to stand as tall as his years will permit him, with the experience garnered through his international travels, and as president of that great United States of America, at a time of huge social and political turmoil.

One would think he is far more self-assured and can avail himself of far more knowledge and integrity through his experiences than he appeared in 1979, when he was vexed, perplexed and completely unnerved by the fall of the Shah of Iran and the inexplicable rise of the fiercely Islamist Ayatollah Khomeini.

When Iranian passions ran high and volubly named the United States as the Great Devil whom Islam must defeat, taking 66 American embassy diplomats and workers hostage for 444 agonizing, and frightfully indecisive days. He could claim the inglorious blight of failed negotiating attempts for their release.

Along with the ill-fated and amazingly amateur Operation Eagle Claw rescue operation in 1980, which failed miserably. The mission saw the destruction of two aircraft, the deaths of no fewer than eight American servicemen, attempting to do their sworn duty on behalf of the President of the United States of America.

It would take the following year to see the release of the hostages, just in time for President Carter to turn over the seal of office to his successor, a far more able administrator. Who successfully faced down the world's most tyrannical ideology. And may not have been in full possession of his intellectual faculties at the time. Which leads one to question the extent of Mr. Carter's.

Yet here is Jimmy Carter, doing his inevitable shtick again: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, he has declared, must leave office. On the authority of his having brokered the 1979 peace accord between Egypt and Israel, one that was initiated without him, one that would have been inevitable, given the courage and determination of Anwar Sadat, but which success in helping to implement has been the shining star of his legacy in office.
President Mubarak has "become more politically corrupt" of late, he opinioned, determined to "perpetuate himself in office". And the current crisis in Egypt represents "...the most profound situation in the Middle East since I left office". It is interesting that this protest is given greater substance than that which occurred in Iran, than the American invasion of Iraq and the subsequent horrendous descent into violent chaos between Sunni and Shia.

But President Carter is a man of international stature. When he names the only democracy in the Middle East which should represent as a model of governance for its neighbours, an Apartheid state, it could not conceivably be construed as vicious slander. A simple misunderstanding of someone who cannot conceive of a Jewish state whereas Arab states make profoundly good sense.

And he is a Nobel laureate, after all.

Like the current president, Mr. Obama. Two American presidents, thirty years apart in their administrations, each of whom has faced an upheaval in the Middle East in countries which they held impressive levels of influence with. History may question President Carter's inept handling of the Iranian Revolution. But Mr. Carter has taken it upon himself to question President Obama's handling of the current situation, shaping up as the Egyptian Evolution.

He did not, presumably, confer beforehand with the current president.

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Christian-Muslim Dialogue

Concern for Christian Minorities Under Islam Continues
by Amiel Ungar Christians Want Reciprocity

Although media attention is focused primarily on the situation in Egypt, it is a mistake to overlook other trouble spots that are tangential to the same issue. As reported in previous articles, the plight of Christian communities in the Muslim world is beginning to attract attention and even some indignation.

Doctor William Oddie, a leading English Catholic writer and broadcaster and a former editor of the Catholic Herald, expressed his pessimism over the future of Christian-Muslim dialogue. He reached this conclusion given the reaction of top Muslim scholars at Egypt's Al-Azhar University who suspended dialogue with the Vatican to protest Pope Benedict XVIth's condemnation of anti-Christian violence in Egypt. The writer was referring to the decision of Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, the supreme Muslim religious authority in Egypt, and members of the Islamic Research Academy to suspend dialogue with the Vatican.Sheikh el-Tayeb called the papal comments "inacceptable interference in Egypt's affairs."

According to Dr. Oddie, the double standard that allowed Muslims to comment on anything that happens to Muslims anywhere in the world, but refuses to allow the pope similar rights when complaining about the persecution of Christians, is unacceptable. It also was not the doctrine of a minority but that of the religious establishment and seconded by other Al-Azhar scholars. Doctor Oddie claimed that the idea of defensive jihad has now been extended to secure Islam's borders and to carry the fight to regimes that do not allow Islam to flourish.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester who was the first Asian to be appointed a Bishop of the Church of England, has stepped up his role on the issue. He recently retired from his post in order to concentrate his full attention on protecting Christian minorities the Muslim world. He knows the situation firsthand, because he too was forced to flee Pakistan for England due to religious persecution after his parents converted to Christianity from Islam. He, however, returned to Pakistan to work with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.

The main topic on Nazir-Ali's agenda is a call to repeal the blasphemy law that imposes the death penalty on insulting Mohammed and life imprisonment for those desecrating the Koran. He pointed out to the Pakistani president that Muslims suffer from the law as well because the denunciations are frequently used for settling personal scores. To circumvent the power of local courts that are frequently captives of Islamic fundamentalists, he urged Zadari to create a legal body answerable to the president that would assume authority in such cases, as well as special police units. Zadari was sympathetic but acknowledged that given Pakistan's situation, this was highly toxic.

Italy is also trying to engage Pakistan to safeguard Christian and other minority rights and modify the blasphemy law. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini underlined this while speaking to the Italian group called "Italy for Asia Bibi Freedom Justice and Human Rights Committee. Bibi is a 45 year old Christian mother of five facing the gallows for presumably insulting Mohammed.

While the tone adopted by Oddie, Nazir Ali and Frattini is not a total surprise, one cannot say the same about a recent article in the Huffington Post by Prof. John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion & International Affairs at Georgetown University and founding director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. It is coauthored by Sheila B. Lalwani, a Research Fellow at the Center.

Esposito is a longtime defender if not an apologist for Islam. Now Esposito is forced to take note of "the significant threat to religious minorities in some Muslim societies, citing a vast arc extending from Turkey to Pakistan and acts varying from discrimination to murder.

Esposito manages not to abandon political correctness by saying that "this is an act of a significant minority of hard-line conservative fundamentalist and militant Muslims – like their counterparts in Christianity and Judaism." Esposito expressed his shock that the assassin of the governor of Punjab was greeted as a celebrity and lawyers are lining up to defend him, pointing to the seepage of fundamentalism to the mainstream.

In proposing a solution Esposito returns to "evenhandedness".

Both Muslim and Christian religious leaders will need to work more closely on religious and curricula reforms for madrasas, seminaries, schools, and universities and utilize mass media, the internet, and other avenues of popular culture.

Still, it is something that Esposito has to address the issue and it is remarkable that the Huffington Post, a critic of "Islamophobia", has printed it.

As published online at Arutz Sheva, 31 January 2011

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The Beginning of the End

American-Egyptian political relations appear to have become tattered in the past week. The popular uprising among young, educated Egyptians - not entirely shared in popularity or determination or intention by all of their parents and the Egyptian middle class - and opportunistically being used by Mohamed El Baradei in co-operation born of political convenience with the Muslim Brotherhood has cast a dark shadow on the long-term relationship.

At the princely cost of almost two billion a year, the American taxpayer has been subsidizing stability and a modicum of peace in the Middle East. While most of that funding has gone toward the Egyptian military, a vital bulwark of the country, some most certainly helped President Mubarak fund heavily subsidized bread and cooking oil to impoverished Egyptians. The trade-off of financial support for the alliance between the two and Egypt's peace with Israel may now seen to be in peril.

Not, it would seem, if those loyal still to President Mubarak and his NDP party manage to take over the reins of government, nor if President Mubarak, by some miraculous stunt of sheer dogged determination hangs on, even at his fairly elderly 82, but certainly if the opposition parties, primarily the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist parties from which it would have support, have anything to do with that decision to cast Israel aside.

It took courage as well as a love for his country for President Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat, to travel to Israel and initiate a peace agreement. He well understood that continued hostilities leading to one war after another was too costly in terms of financing, dignity (constantly on the losing end), stability and Egyptian lives. To his great credit, President Hosni Mubarak took on that burden of peace with the enemy, for burden it was, despised by the other countries of the Middle East.

Now, because autocrats cannot seem to recognize that human beings require a sense of personal responsibility in the trajectory of their own aspirations and rewards for their investments in their future, and the freedom to have ideas, to support the political parties of their choice, to freely exchange the news of the day, this particular one has inscribed his own downfall from power. All is not yet lost to him, and he may yet skilfully, but through underwriting much of the change Egyptians now demand, turn things to his favour.

But for the party he leads, and those loyal to him, as well as his own more immediate plans, it is obvious that their days of unopposed glory when political opponents could be silenced, exiled, imprisoned, propagandized, is over. The NDP will have to transpose itself into a party delivering what it must now promise to Egyptians; social and political equality and opportunities, with an open media and equitable and fair justice system.

Perhaps the vocal tens of thousands who have come out stolidly determined to ensure Hosni Mubarak's ouster will prevail in the end, perhaps it will be their elders who find little to fault in the only president they have ever known who will prevail, satisfied that their lot in life, social and political, will have been improved with necessary and promised new measures to address their legitimate grievances.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Survival of the Prepared

What do you do when you live in a society that is ordinarily well policed to ensure public security and that police presence is suddenly removed? In most societies it becomes a problem, where that vacuum in lawful authority presents as an opportunity to the criminals that exist in any society. In a society that has a large number of very poor and where a small minority live in relative wealth, and there is little recourse by the poor to justice, many more may turn to crime than in more regulated societies.

Now that the police presence in residential and business areas of Cairo and other large Egyptian cities like Alexandra has evaporated as police have been ordered to be present in large phalanxes at demonstrations, the problem of pillaging and looting has raised its ugly head. Area residents, concerned about the very real threats to their homes and businesses have arranged for local teams of youths and men to arm themselves to defend against looters.

Women and children are left to fend for themselves, fearful of violent intrusion and robbery as their men are deployed out on the streets in the absence of the police. The hated police have suddenly become valuable in their absence, no longer at their normal posts to ensure law and order. The diversion caused by the rioters protesting against government corruption have allowed the criminal underbelly of the cities to crawl out from under their places of refuge.

Those neighbours who have been deputized to act as defenders of neighbourhood homes and stores are alert to the passing presence of unfamiliar faces, and suspicion is rife. Rampant insecurity has led to a sense of vulnerability and people take comfort and trust in committees set up in their neighbourhoods to act in concert for self-protection from criminals preying on the lawful.

"We are organizing to go outside shops and stay in front of properties." This, in a city where, thanks to the ever present police, people have always been free to roam about without fear of being accosted other than by the police themselves, for questioning. Now that there is an absence of police there is also an absence of social protection, other than what can be organized by ordinary residents.

Free from police, and subject to the depredations of the criminals who loom as a new threat to home owners and residents of quiet neighbourhoods. "We are terrified. We are staying with the children in an inner room of the house. All the men have gone downstairs to try to protect our buildings. What are we supposed to do? There is no police; the army is not doing anything. This is ridiculous. What are they waiting for?"

Revolution is no quiet, comfortable and outcome-predictable initiative as forces are unleashed that no single entity is capable of controlling.

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Inchoate Rage

Without for one moment dismissing the very real reasons for people to be fed up with their state of existence whose state owns entirely to the geographic, social and political conditions in which they live, there are times when mass hysteria spreads like a malignant virus, causing people to mass in dense howling crowds to demand change, without fully comprehending the potential outcome of what it is they demand.

The current president of Egypt has been exercising his role as sole and supreme leader for three decades. In that time the population has almost doubled, and so has the average, albeit inadequate income level, still leaving fully 40% of the population living in dire poverty. The government is undeniably politically repressive; there are no acknowledged legitimate political challengers; human rights are not recognized and protected.

At the same time, it should be recognized that nowhere in the Middle East has anything approximating democracy been established. All of the Arab countries and the sole non-Arab Muslim country in the geography are governed by autocratic rulers, sheiks, monarchs, theocracies, and now, in Lebanon, an Islamist, terror group matching its sponsor in Iran.

It is the young people of Egypt, mostly between 20 and 30, the educated, those who know how differently the country could be governed, through their contacts with the outside world by means of technological devices, by visiting other countries, by completing their educations elsewhere, who are restive and demanding change from the repression they have long lived with.

The wealthy and the older middle class are not out in the streets demonstrating. Nor are the poor. The young unemployed are, but there is no central organization and the prevailing atmosphere is anarchic in response to what they feel is their time to erupt in anger over their condition. The police, always despised for their brutal presence and response, have been deployed to deal with the protests.

They have been dispatched to vulnerable places in protection of government buildings, tourist spots and to the areas deemed most likely to be vulnerable to the crowds of protesters. Among the protesters are those who just enjoy a rousing opportunity to vent their frustration over life, and those whose aspirations are no more complicated than pillaging and looting where police are absent.

Shops, businesses, private homes left unattended, or left in the care of the helpless and the unarmed are now vulnerable to being entered and robbed, because the police whose presence is normally a deterrent are displaced otherwise. And because they have had to abandon their normal activities there have been jail riots and break-outs. Violent criminals have accessed their freedom and now roam freely.

Members of arrested Islamist groups imprisoned for security reasons, are now enjoying their freedom, some of them having crossed through the Egyptian border into Gaza. Armed terrorists are reported to have torched a police station at the Rafiah border. And Bedouin tribes hostile to the Egyptian government have used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles to attempt a takeover of the border area in the absence of Egyptian police and army forces, called to duty elsewhere, to help quell rioting protesters.

The Muslim Brotherhood had announced they had given assent to their youth members to join the protesters, but they are themselves not actively involved, it seems. Even though should the government of President Mubarak fall, they might seem to be the logical inheritors given their cohesion and long-standing organization. Former IAEA head Mohamed al-Baradei seems to have given them a clean bill of health, denying them to be fanatics.

He has no established organization himself, and lacks credibility as a potential replacement for Mr. Mubarak, but he could represent as a possible figurehead for the Muslim Brotherhood, thus fulfilling both his and their agenda to take over the reigns of government; an unsavoury and potentially worrying scenario.

But in light of the fact that President Mubarak elevated his top intelligence chief and staunch ally, highly respected in international circles as well as with the Egyptian public, as an esteemed public figure who has the support of the country's still-respected armed forces, it is entirely possible that
the newly-appointed Omar Suleiman may leap from vice-president to President with current President Mubarak stepping down for the good of the country.

The reforms that President Mubarak promised could be implemented under a new president. Which would encourage the return to Egypt of its wealthy citizens and the middle-class and professionals who have hastily departed in fear of the revolutionary zeal of the demonstrators who refuse to adhere to the government's appeals for withdrawal from the streets.

On the other hand, President Mubarak, despite his age, is determined for now not to step down from office. Should he remain, and begin to speedily put in force the changes he has suggested to turn Egypt into a more democratic country that offers its people the dignity of their human rights, the country would still have to contend with the problems of rising food prices, unemployment, and the incessant, destabilizing threats of fundamentalism.

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Food Scarcity, Political Instability

Poor harvests resulting from disastrous weather conditions in various parts of the world have been contributing to certain food shortages. Russia's wheat crop has been the victim of adverse weather conditions; India and Pakistan have found themselves short of root vegetables and all three have halted exports as a result.

Australia has suffered years of drought impacting deleteriously on their agriculture. Growing middle-class wealth in China has contributed to an abnormal call on meat products. China has been renting land in Africa to grow crops for home consumption. And the West's preoccupation with biofuels production has caused a shortage of corn and other agriproducts on the food market.

Recent riots in countries like Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt have reflected those in European countries like Greece and Portugal, and African countries like Zimbabwe, Somalia and Mozambique and with people protesting scarcity and higher food prices in economies already hard pressed with people living constrained lives due to endemic poverty.

The escalating price of oil added to the equation ensures that rising production and delivery costs will also increase food prices.

The geographic and national manipulation of agricultural production by many countries from North America to the European Union and beyond also does its bit to maintain high food prices.

And while Europeans and North Americans complain at the steady rise in food prices on the grocery shelves, they can still afford those prices far better than those living impoverished lives in developing countries. In wealthy countries, capitalism and free enterprise trump everything.

The European Parliament has proposed massive stockpiling of food for the purpose of avoiding price and supply crises; making hoarding of food stockpiles a safety net for the EU, ensuring less exports to those countries whose populations are in dire need of food supplies.

Financial subsidies and regulatory interventions are to be maintained and expanded in a EU-launched we're-all-right-Jack kind of food security proactive initiative.

What is needed is the installation of initiatives that persuade producers to increase production of agricultural products, not stifle them to maintain a steady and increasing commodity issue to disrupt markets, leading to "food price shock", shortages, and an inability of people to pay for the foods that are available.

Less conversion of grains and corn to biofuels and ethanol should be another positive issue to be addressed.
"The reality is that the same speculators that caused the global economic meltdown through their illustrious trade in subprime mortgages, are betting on our food system now too." D. Doane, world Development Movement
This is a reflection on food commodities suffering inflation as a monetary phenomenon through deliberate market manipulation rather than a supply and demand problem caused by climate forces alone. The energy-intensive nature of large-scale agriculture, inclusive of the total cost of production, from fuelling farm machinery to transportation costs to fertilizer costs all relate to the rising costs of food.

A serious problem continues to be the determination to increase annual ethanol production, diverting important food grains from the food-consuming market for people, exacerbates the problem. Along with dire weather conditions now impacting major food-exporting countries across the globe, complicated by the steadily rising demand from a steadily emerging middle class from newly-emerging economies.

Rising food prices are set to continue, and they will be led also by monetary inflation with commodity prices steadily rising and various countries' currency peg policies. Unless there is a general agreement for countries to understand that full co-operation is required to ensure that steadily rising food prices do not end up pricing themselves out of the reach of the world's poor, the situation will become more desperate.

Speculators interested in rising food prices and gambling that they will continue to rise so they can continue to make a killing, and the spectre of food hoarding to help prices rise even more steeply will add to an already volatile situation world-wide. This is something the world cannot afford.

Leading inevitably to more impoverished countries, many with corrupt, inept and autocratic governments seeing their social and political stability threatened through a rising tide of hungry people and outraged sensibilities demanding their human rights.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

The West Fiddles, Egypt Burns

Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

President Hosni Mubarak's curfew does not appear to be making much of an impression on Egyptians determined to hold their government to account for its unrelenting stranglehold on the country's social and political progress. They do have the government to thank for keeping the Muslim Brotherhood in a state of suspended animation, although that has not resulted in a more quiescent Islamist group, but rather a more careful, yet still bold one.

One that has successfully established ties throughout the world, including Europe and North America. Where they have stealthily and successfully presented themselves as reasonable alternatives to the prevailing political (and religious/secular-oriented) governments historically and currently in place in the Middle East. Familiarity breeds acceptance in many quarters, quieting suspicion, proving that patience is a great virtue.

And whose sibling-organization in Gaza, is carrying on the fundamentalist message of Sharia and strengthening the region's ever-expanding net of Islamism whose first target is Israel. Sectarian differences may separate Shiite from Sunni, but Hamas and Hezbollah recognize certain indivisible loyalties and aspirations more achievable in a state of convenient concert than discordant divisiveness. Once the goal of destroying Israel is achieved, and Sharia more accepted, the sheathed knives of dissent can be once more drawn.

For the moment, all can bask in the happenstance of collective pan-Arab-populations' discontent with their status quo as socially backward, politically constrained, religiously restive resulting in poverty, inequality and ignorance. The Arab Street, sharing much of the fundamental message of the Islamists have, independent of that fact, awakened from their slumber of acquiescent bondage to tyrannical regimes.

Riot police walk past burning tires placed to form a barricade during clashes with protesters in Cairo.
Riot police walk past burning tires placed to form a barricade during clashes with protesters in Cairo.Photograph by: Goran Tomasev, REUTERS

The first-responder police, hated by the public, representing the government's implacable will that they will implement at the cost of lives and injuries, are doing their utmost to ensure the protests become becalmed, before they break out another day on the rough seas of fiercely renewed determination. The patrician former head of the UN's IAEA, Mohamed el Baradei, a long-time critic of President Mubarak, is joining with the youthful protesters, portraying himself as a potential, (albeit another elderly), compromise candidate for president.

But the estimable Dr. el Baradei, Nobel prize aside, has no political network working on his behalf. He may be esteemed for his former work as head of the IAEA, but he has been absent from Egypt for far too long to be recognized as a politician, rather than a diplomat. It remains the precinct of the Muslim Brotherhood to present as an alternative to the current government, as the single most organized and longest-existing challenge to the governing NDP party of President Mubarak.

There's a balancing act evident on the part of the United States, Egypt's generous financial supporter to the tune of one and a half billion yearly, most of which supports the country's armed forces. The status quo, while crushing the aspirations of ordinary Egyptians to overcome their desperate state of poverty and ignorance, has been one of stability. Egypt, traditionally the elder statesman of the Middle East, has supported the West's struggle to contain fundamentalist political Islam, and its peace accord with Israel is vital.

President Mubarak has the grudging respect of those who know him as a political ally, while his coercive use of the police and the army on dissidents within the country - his mock-democratic display of elections where conventionally his ruling party is elected by acclaim, and he by a margin excluding any challengers, who may post-election find themselves incarcerated on trumped-up charges - greatly perturb his Western allies.

Which, inconveniently for those who wish to uphold universal freedoms and human rights, leads to the paradox of urging democratic reforms on the country; honouring peoples' rights to free and fair and open elections which may, as was done with Hamas, end up elevating the Muslim Brotherhood to the status of elected majority and administrative rule of the country.
Yet change is manifestly in the charred air of an Egypt rent with anger at the status quo.

What and how that change will result in is a worrisome matter of much speculation. Tunisia's future is far more predictable than is Egypt's; one a small country of more educated and urbane people more given to secularity than the religious fixation of the far more populous, socially downtrodden, uneducated Egyptians. As goes Egypt will eventually go other Arab and Muslim countries teetering on the brink of social/political revolution.

The world can only wait with bated breath.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Machinations of Conquest

Surprising, fast-moving news out of Tunisia, then Egypt's crisis, and that of Yemen, are focusing the world's attention on those Middle East countries, with mere foot-notes being reported on Lebanon's crisis. The several years of relative calm, was only that which occurs before the onset of a spectacular storm.

After all, the UN commission of enquiry into the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri was well anticipated to result in another kind of storm.

Speculation abounded, after the initial accusations against Syria's involvement, to focus on Hezbollah, while Hezbollah pointed the finger of guilt at Israel's Mossad. If anything unites the disparate factions, tribal antipathies and religions, it is the goading of Hezbollah to permanently honour the general loathing and distrust of Israel.

This, from a country that traditionally lived in harmony with its Christians, Muslims (Shiites and Sunnis), Maronites and Greek Orthodox Christians and Catholics, Druzes and Jews. That country fell into a deep abyss and it is doubtful it will ever exist again. The creation of the State of Israel did that, when Jews became the enemy. And the PLO's Fatah settled in for the duration.

The enemy was surrounded by Muslim countries for whom land consecrated to Islam must never be surrendered. The raging hatred between religions became an inextinguishable fire where Christians of all denominations now are almost as endangered as the Jews. And the Druze make their accommodations where it most profits them, while incendiary sectarian hatreds between Sunni and Shiite continue to simmer.

Hezbollah is a Shiite medieval assault weapon, a bluntly assertive catapult, a creature of imperialist Iran, in common cause with Syria in a Sunni-dominated geography. But even within the sects there are those opportunists who bridge the gap and help create an atmosphere of non-partisanship to avoid direct, violent conflict.

Sometimes it works, often it does not, and then civil war erupts as it did for an extended 1975 to 1990, when Beirut became a city destroyed, with tens of thousands of Lebanese killed, foreign troops blasted into oblivion, news reporters and peace negotiators kidnapped and the country completely transformed.

Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon in the 1980s in response to constant bombardments from the PLO and assassination attempts, and its later entry into Lebanon in 2006 in response to Hezbollah's capture of IDF soldiers and rocket attacks simply consolidated the reputation it had garnered throughout its brief history as the geography's interloper and enemy.

With the release of the UN investigative tribunal's findings imminent, and details pre-released implicating high-placed Hezbollah operatives in the 2005 assassination resulting in an infuriated Hezbollah bringing down the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Sunni businessman Najib Mikati was named as interim prime minister.

Mr. Mikati is known to be comfortable with Syria and with Hezbollah, who manipulated his nomination as prime minister-designate. He is also a man who will lose his nomination if he dares recognize the UN tribunal's results, should he choose to ally himself with his fellow Sunni legislator, Saad Hariri, who has pledged himself to honour the UN tribunal's findings.

"I say in all honesty that my nomination by Hezbollah does not mean I am bound to any of their political positions except as concerns the protection of the national resistance". The 'national resistance', of course, unites Lebanon and all its tribal and religious factions. The 'national resistance' refers to the ultimate enemy: Israel.

Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah will hide behind the bogeyman of Israel as long as it takes them to achieve the completion of the Lebanese make-over, to the complete satisfaction of Iran, whose long tentacles have made common cause with Hamas in Gaza, and where Hezbollah has long infiltrated, to teach Hamas their assaultive methodology.

File:Martyrs Square 1982.jpg

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hell And The Holocaust

I Hell: Definition and Description

Death camps. Zyclon B: cyanide-based pesticide. Use: Fitting to the nth degree for the purpose of destroying sub-humans having more in common with pestiferous insects than with the human race.
A vast, unbottom'd boundless pit,
Fill'd fou 'o lowing brunstane,
Wha's raging ragin' flame an' scorchin' heat,
Wad melt the hardest whunstane. R. Burns
Gathered from all the cesspools and pits of xenophobic, racist European society where they were sometimes quietly, sometimes violently despised, to assemble into holding areas called ghettoes, far from the original in Venice; these crowded, squalid pre-death camps suffocated the Jewish spirit rendering their victims compliant but not complacent, awaiting they knew not yet quite what.
There is in hell a place stone-built throughout,
Called Malebolge of an iron hue,
Like to the wall that circles it about.
(Loco e interno detto Malebolge,
Tutto di pietra e di color ferrigno,
Come la cerchia che d' intorno il volge.) Dante
In that world there were many helping hands, eager to divest their communities and their societies and their nations of the irritating inconvenience of those classical outsiders; biblical-era scapegoats transformed into the world's detested horde of balefully malicious skulkers intent on world domination.
Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscrib'd
In one self place; for where we are is hell;
And where hell is, there must we ever be;
And to conclude, when all the world dissolves,
And every creature shall be purified,
All places shall be hell that are not heaven. Christopher Marlowe
We pause but briefly to recall six million lives methodically, systematically extinguished because there were those who would have it so. The world made that much poorer for their absence. Loving life as they did, their cries for mercy and for help to avoid their fate went unanswered, their desperately clawing hands ignored, clasping life and loved ones as they made that journey from whence none return.
A dungeon horrible on all sides round
As one great furnace flam'd yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible,
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,
regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all, but torture without end. Milton - Paradise Lost
Heaven and Hell, Hieronymus Bosch


Snow Damps Crematoria Memorial

Holocaust Day programs snowed out in N.Y.

(JTA) -- Heavy snow in New York caused the postponement of a special U.N. General Assembly meeting commemorating International Holocaust Day.

The United Nations building was shut down due to the bad weather. Other Holocaust commemoration events planned for Thursday in New York also were postponed, according to reports.

The General Assembly in 2005 designated Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an annual day to honor the victims of the Nazi era.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington was scheduled to hold a candle-lighting ceremony in its Hall of Remembrance. The Washington diplomatic community and Holocaust survivors were among those expected to attend, according to the museum.

On Wednesday, in an address to Israel's Knesset marking International Holocaust Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it is "obvious" that global anti-Semitism is "renewing and expanding."

"If anyone thought that anti-Semitism stopped after World War II and the Holocaust, it is now evident that it was only a hiatus," he said, calling on the world to fight the scourge globally.

"It is not only a threat against us because it always begins with the Jews but never ends with the Jews," Netanyahu said. "The hatred of Jews kindles an overall fire, and I expect that on this day, when I applaud the world for marking the most heinous crime in world history and the history of our people which was perpetrated against our people -- I hope others will also learn the lesson. We already have."

Events commemorating International Holocaust Day took place in countries around the world.

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Spinning Out Of Control

It's an ill wind that blows no good for repressive Arab regimes that have for far too long oppressed their people. With Tunisia attempting to recover from a populist shake-down of its ruling political party and the former president driven from the country, leaving his party to try to appease the population demanding their rights, other Arab and Muslim countries' populations have been inspired to wreak damage on their tormentors.

One can only begin to imagine how nervous Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt must be right about now. Lebanon is a different story altogether. They've long since co-opted normalcy and civility to the slow and brutal succession led by a violent militia doing the bidding of Syria and Iran, themselves now susceptible to the unwholesome rot within leading to liberation.

Ancient systems of brutal governance, totalitarian, autocratic, theistic, princely, have latterly been threatened quietly but resolutely by the kind of communication, support and comfort derived through what is called social networking, where the Internet's cyberspace has a wide, wide reach that provides for solutions never imagined by the tyrants and kingships content in their grip on power.

Self-immolation has become popularized; an extreme, morbid and effective tool for protest that helps to mobilize like-minded protesters to mob the streets and threaten the stability of the governments they loathe. Thousands of Egyptians have flocked to the streets, demanding the cessation of President Hosni Mubarak's iron-fisted reign.

Compelling. The spanner in the works of this kind of revolution is the up-tick globally within the Muslim world of a long process of Islamization toward the fanatical end of political, ideological Islam. With the vacuum that may result in Egyptian leadership who will prevail, the Muslim Brotherhood?

And this now, from Arutz Sheva online:
The wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and their son Gamal, considered the successor to his father as president, have fled to London with 97 suitcases after unprecedented massive protests in Egypt, an Arab website reported.

The plane also carried Gamal's daughter, the Akhbar Arab website reported. It also said a Twitter account was blocked to prevent a social network campaign to urge the ousting of Mubarak, who is over 80 and is reportedly is suffering from cancer.

Dozens of Twitter messages have been sent sayng that Mubarak’s wife Suzanne was identified at Heathrow Airport in London, where she and her son and granddaughter arrived in a private jet.

In Egypt, calm has returned to the streets. Three people – two of them protesters—were killed in Tuesday’s demonstrations that spread throughout the country.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Distortions and Fraud"

Offensively intolerable to the Palestinians, sensible enough, were it to have been true, to the Israelis. Carve out those areas within Israel's borders where majority Arab Palestinians live under Israeli rule and citizenship, and incorporate them into the nascent Palestinian state. Balance that by ceding those areas within the West Bank where sufficient Israelis live to merit the action, and incorporate them into the Israeli borders.

Solve the aching problem of East Jerusalem by submitting its administration, protection and neutrality to a trusted, special-purpose third party to ensure that the holiest site in Judaism remains accessible to Jews, and that the third-holiest site in Islam is equally accessible to Muslims, but with nothing like the preferential treatment given to Muslims as currently exists.

As for the Right of Return, no such thing; there is no 'right' for descendants of the original Palestinians who chose or were forced to flee the fledgling State of Israel. Saeb Erakat may have declared that the accessed/purloined papers were false and taken out of context, but there have been expressions of the utility toward the peace process of ensuring that returnees remain under Palestinian rule.

Problems solved. More or less. A state is negotiating with a population without an established state. There is no force on Earth, moral or legal, that propounds the theory and the necessity that the established state forego many of its most vital needs to satisfy the demands of the state-to-be which has flourished with co-operation from the state, yet resents and abhors its existence.

The positions accredited by the archival material given to Al Jazeera purporting to reveal the double-crossing motions of the Palestinian Authority for the purpose of achieving a peace settlement opening the door to nationhood for the Palestinians are obviously those of Israel, cross-referenced to the PA. The purpose; pure mischief, to make certain the unravelling of the peace negotiations remains permanent.

Who, in the Middle East, stands to profit from the interference and the inferences? Why, all those entities, formal and informal, national and religious, who choose to spike the goblet of potential accord with a poison draught of ongoing hatred, revenge and ongoing plans to destroy Israel. Stand up and take a bow, Syria, Iran and Lebanon, for starters. Qatar? Turkey?

There are some obvious truths that were revealed previously, but denied in self-defence. That in fact Israel did inform the PA leadership well in advance of its defensive invasion of Gaza, and without too much of a doubt, the PA agreed to the necessity, urging the swift defeat of Hamas which had violently uprooted Fatah from Gaza.

But when this information became public, the PA was quick to denounce it as a blatant lie, and to announce that it planned to react to the genocidal-intending Israeli move on Hamas in Gaza by unilaterally withdrawing from the then-ongoing peace talks.

When Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Al Jazeera deliberately confused the Palestinian and Israeli positions, he correctly diagnosed the situation, as well he might, and to little avail. "We don't have anything to hide, and I reiterate that Al Jazeera's information is full of distortions and fraud", fumed Saeb Erakat.

Quite so. And now?

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Lebanon Undone

Analysis: Western Naval Fleets Heading to Lebanon
by Elias Bejjani 'Western Navies to Lebanon'

Elias Bejjani is spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF) and Media Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC).

Hizbullah, the armed Iranian-Syrian terrorist proxy, is resorting to all sorts of force, terrorism, intimidation, threats, bribery, division, sectarianism and instigation to install a new puppet government in Lebanon after toppling the Hariri national unity government January 13, in response to direct orders from its two Axis of Evil supporters, Syria and Iran.

In a report that was published Tuesday in the Kuwaiti daily Alseyiasi, veteran analyst and journalist Hamid Gheriafi wrote that many Western and Arabic countries have been lately issuing urgent travel warnings.

They have cautioned their citizens who are residing in Lebanon to take the highest required measures to avoid being targeted by Syria's and Hizbullah's armed groups and advising them not to travel deep into Lebanon's southern and Bekaa Valley regions or to go to Beirut areas, where there are Sunni Shiite tensions.

The report stated that the whole democratic and Free World and the majority of the Arab countries are extremely concerned that Tehran's and Damascus's allies could take full control of the Lebanese state and all of its institutions, including both the army and internal security forces.

The United States, European countries, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and many other countries have been conducting around the clock consultations on the highest level to abort this vicious Syrian-Iranian scheme. The Syrian-Iran full control of Lebanon will impose a dire threat to all the Arab countries, Israel, and Europe.

Gheriafi learned from reliable European Intelligence sources in Brussels that at least two well-equipped Western military fleets were urgently ordered to move from the Arabian Gulf to positions close to both Syria and Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea.

They carried strict instructions to fully monitor and watch the unfolding events in Lebanon, especially in case Hizbullah, backed by Syria and Iran, succeeds in taking over the new Lebanese government.

The intelligence sources did not unveil the identity of the Western fleets but confirmed that they comprise two nuclear aircraft carriers with 210 jet fighter planes on board, and more than 30 ships carrying about 5,800 marines armed with the latest technologies.

The same sources said that the Israeli air and navy forces have been on a high alert status since last Friday after Lebanon's Druze Leader, MP Walid Jumblatt, decided to join Hezbollah and Syria with his parliamentary bloc. His support gave them the upper hand and a parliamentary majority that enables them to form a new pro-Syrian and -Iranian government, killing all chances for caretaker PM Sa’ad Hariri to return as a prime minister.

A new Hizbullah-controlled government will cut all Lebanon’s legal and financial relations with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and force the country to fully join the Axis of Evil terrorist front comprised of Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hizbullah. The STL is expected to indict members from Hizbullah, Iran and Syria for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and dozens of high ranking Lebanese politicians, clergy, journalists and intellectuals.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his deputy and other high ranking officials expressed their very serious concerns in regard to the looming possibility that Lebanon will have a pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian government fully controlled by the terrorist Hizbullah and its allies.

The U.S. administration and both Houses of Congress are looking seriously into the dreadful hazards that could affect both the peace process and stability in the Middle East, in case Hizbullah succeeds in forming and fully controlling Lebanon's new government. The Obama administration will most probably halt all kinds of aid to Lebanon and even impose harsh sanctions.

In this same context, all the 18 countries with troops participating in the UNIFIL forces deployed in South Lebanon on the Lebanese-Israeli border are extremely concerned about their safety. These countries are definitely going to reevaluate their participation in UNIFIL, as well as their aid to Lebanon once Hezbollah's government is in office.

In conclusion: The Free World and the Arabic countries have an obligation to help the Lebanese people by all available means, including military forces in a bid to stop Iran and Syria, through its armed terrorist proxy, Hizbullah, from taking over Lebanon and turning it into an arena for evil wars against all the democracies in the world.

The confrontation with the Axis of Evil is inevitable and now it is the right time to act before it is too late and before a new Nazi dragon starts goose stepping in to devour all the Arab countries and Europe.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 26 January 2011

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Russia's Agony

The carnage and the fear left in the wake of one suicide bombing after another leaves that indelible message, that Islamists will not be contained too readily. Despite the atrocities committed by dedicated jihadists intent on blackmailing the world into compliance with their agenda of accepting that Muslim-majority countries around the world must submit to Sharia law and Islamism, countries under attack that are not Muslim-dominated continue to treat the issues with kid gloves.

Russia does not. Her troops have been sent to Chechnya, the north Caucasus and other Muslim-insurgent hot-spots within her territory and sphere of influence, to quell the insistence of the Islamists. Much good it has done Russia. Some of the most horrific attacks against non-Muslim targets have taken place in Russia.

Certainly the 2002 attack on the Moscow theatre by 50 armed Chechens, ending with the deaths of 130 of the hostages was one of those. Over a two-and-a-half-day siege (the Nord-Ost siege) 850 hostages were held, and the siege lifted only when Russian special forces pumped a chemical agent into the ventilation system and raided the theatre, freeing most of the hostages and killing 39 of the attackers.

And the world watched their television news with growing apprehension and horror as details of the Beslan massacre, a three-day hostage-taking of over 1,100 people, including 777 children, ended in the deaths of over 380 of the hostages, 186 of them children, when Ingush and Chechen terrorists invaded the school in Beslan, North Ossetia, in 2004. The Russian special forces were accused of heavy handedness in their violent response.

But that tragedy and others became responsible for a hardening of the Russian position toward Islamist jihadists, and went a long way to strengthening the retributive options of then-President Vladimir Putin. Yet strangely enough, Moscow has often aligned itself with Islamist forces as long as their violent agenda does not include attacks on Russia itself.

When those forces, like Hamas and Iran threaten Israel, for example, Russia finds it possible to be generous and helpful to those agents of violence. Of course that position is not all that far off Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates who fund terrorist activity as long as it is not aimed at their regimes. Inevitably, that too will come to pass.

In the interim, Russia has faced another disaster on its soil, with an attack on the international arrivals hall at Moscow's modern showpiece Domodedovo Airport. A fairly brazen one at that with the bomber, explosive-case in hand, entering the the arrivals terminal from the outside; so much for security. In fact, there had been prior notice of the attack a week previously.

The response to which was a problem in and of itself since despite that notice the bomber was somehow able to elude security and bring into the arrivals lounge 5 kilograms of explosives. The airport is the busiest in Russia, carrying over 22 million passengers a year, with 77 airlines using the international airport.

There goes Russia's reputation for safety and security in the face of constant threats from the north Caucasus. Yet another tragedy for the country and its population, with 35 people dead, and 170 injured, many seriously, bleeding from shrapnel wounds.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Banality Of Evil

Poor France, it is under attack by dint of its 20th Century history during the Second World War as a Third Reich-collaborationist government by the Petainist government whom most French citizens detested, and it is embattled by claims levelled by the grandson of one of the Petain government's chief functionaries who aided in the removal of French Jews.

France has always had an unfortunate relationship with its Jewish population. In that respect, however, little different from most other European countries, and far better than east European nations.

Still it does rankle, like prickly burrs somehow stuck under one's underclothing, never permitting one to sit comfortably and look dignified through the process of attempting, in public, to discreetly extract those burrs while carrying on a civil conversation. The conversation is anything but civil at the moment, with denials from every corner of the allegations levelled by Alexandre Jardin through his legacy accounting of his grandfather Jean Jardin, chief of staff to Pierre Laval, prime minister of Vichy France.

France has never been comfortable in contemplation of its war-time compliance thanks to Marshal Petain, with Nazi Germany's occupation of the country.
"France is a curious country. You can talk about anything here: about pedophilia, about the most shameful passions, but not about our families' dishonour during the Second World War - because that particular past just won't pass. Especially if you argue that to have taken part in the worst atrocities of the Nazi occupation one didn't necessarily have to be a monster." Author, Alexandre Jardin
Aiding in the mass extermination of a signal portion of Franc's population who just happened to be Jews is not a nice topic of conversation in polite company. Best to simply ignore it. The past, after all, is the past.

And France currently feels it has a special obligation to its Jews. It took great moral umbrage when, on a visit to France, former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and later Ehud Olmert and Benyamin Netanyahu, issued pointed invitations to French Jews to remove themselves to Israel, where they would be protected from the growing incidence of anti-Semitic attacks in France. And just incidentally help to increase the Jewish presence in the State of Israel.

Even Mr. Jardin's own family has condemned him for writing his revelatory book claiming his grandfather to have been quite involved in the arrest and deportation of Jews. "It took me a while to realize that nothing is signed by a chairman of the board that didn't pass through his chief of staff", he wrote. Historians have their doubts about Mr. Jardin's nomination of his grandfather as chief enabler of the transport of French Jews to death camps and the chimneys of the crematoria.

But Mr. Jardin is adamant. He will not be swayed. He knows of a certainty what is obvious to him. Despite the social and familial pressures he is under he remains unswayed and will not renounce what he has written. His book has given him notoriety, but he regrets nothing other than to state his regret at the "blindness of my family and our whole nation", responding to the contents of his book which "evokes the guilt of the upright, morally endowed people who collaborated with Nazism and who, definitely, allowed the extermination of the Jews."
"I have wondered how a perfectly decent man like him, belonging to a society of perfectly decent people, could aid the horror.
"To burn down a synagogue and liquidate a few Jews, all you need is a handful of violent sadists. But to perpetrate this on a large scale, a moral discourse must be used of a sort that mobilizes a great many decent people, who will be even more efficient.
"My grandfather, a man steeped in Christianity, was one of those people."
And France still does not recognize nor does it admit its portion in the history relating to the Holocaust. Only in 1962 did school curriculum address the Second World War, and the related textbooks barely make mention of the Holocaust; too depressing, distressing, embarrassing for young Frenchmen. And certainly with the preponderance of immigrants from Muslim backgrounds, far too socially inconvenient.

No French leader had given public acknowledgement of the country's role in deporting Jews to the Nazi death camps stationed around Europe. Until Jacques Chirac as president in 1995 succumbed to the issuance of a public apology. Now, can we all set this aside for good?
Not, it seems, if Alexandre Jardin has anything to say and write about it.

Public discourse anyone?

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New French Pamphleteer Sensation

He is 93 years old, and as such can be considered to have acquired the wisdom that comes with venerable old age.

He has had experiences that qualify him as one who can look back and assess the state of the world, then and now, making comparisons and announcing his qualified diagnosis. Which appears to be that his French countrymen are too placid, too busy going about their distracted lifestyles, and in his opinion, not sufficiently engaged in the social and political life of their country.

His message will have huge appeal to the 4.1 million Muslims now residing in France. Stephane Hessel's experience had little to do with the perceived shortcomings he now recognizes, of his country in addressing itself - or failing to, in reflection of the current climate of hopeful neglect and resulting resentment among immigrants - to the ills he perceives among the body politic of his country.

This is a man with a storied past. A former spy with the French Resistance. Who happens also to be a survivor of the Holocaust, since he is a Jew, besides being a decidedly angry personage. Who wouldn't be angry if life had served up a performance consisting of not one but two incarcerations in Nazi prisons, and death camps thrown in for good measure. He escaped to join the resistance.

And now, well seasoned by experience and by all the time that has elapsed since the end of the aspirations of the Third Reich, this man who was a former diplomat to offset his stint as a freedom fighter, and who just incidentally is one of the last surviving authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - who better than one with his experiences to delineate human rights? - has written his own brief tract, Indignes-vous!

He wants to mobilize public opinion, encourage people to think, to engage in some introspection; is this the society they want, where inequities, social and economic, dominate the social fabric of the country he so obviously loves?
"I would like everyone - every one of us - to find his or her own reason to cry out. That is a precious gift. When someone makes you want to cry out, as I cried out against Nazism, you become a militant, tough and committed. You become part of the great stream of history ... and this stream leads us toward more justice and more freedom, but not the uncontrolled freedom of the fox in the henhouse."
In other words, he wants, reasoned, rational reaction, a cry from the heart, a commitment, an impassioned but credibly reasonable move to right the wrongs of society where too many are poor and those that are not are too well endowed with the riches of the world. He cautions that those who heed his appeal not succumb to the "uncontrolled freedom of the fox in the henhouse", but he is aiding that very process.

Whereby a public conscience becomes aroused, and through that arousal looks about for a focus for their alienation and the privation they see around them - and that usually does translate as the fox having his way in the henhouse. The henhouse in this instance is the Jewish community within France.

For Stephane Hessel is also an outspoken and dedicated critic of the State of Israel. He denounces Israeli policies, accusing Israel of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity".

While this is fairly standard fare for the progressive, liberal-left which has, through unions and academics taken up the cause of the Palestinians, and in the process ascribing to Israel perniciously indefensible actions against a weak and fearful society dominated by another, what he is engaged in is stridently slanderous propaganda which serves the purposes of malign Islamist forces in the Middle East and within immigrant-Muslim Europe.

Those accusations which he has helpfully included in his pamphlet-publication identifying an enemy upon whom his followers can focus will do its part to help spread the already metastasizing cancer of anti-Semitism in Europe. And is that not the supreme irony? That a Jew who had experienced the Gestapo, torture, Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen, the Liberation and the General Secretariat of the United Nations, now dedicates himself to the greater good of humankind through skape-goating Jews for the world's ills.

"It's true that reasons to cry out can seem less obvious today" he has written. "The world appears too complex. But in this world, there are things we should not tolerate ... I say to the young, look around you a little and you will find them. The worst of all attitudes is indifference." He is certainly not indifferent. And there most certainly are things that should not be tolerated - in abundance.

Linking Israel and its 'policies' to the miseries of the world in general that creates slums like those which exist in French and British cities breeding material for violent jihadists does not represent social justice. To colour Israel in the vibrant mantel of the modern world's imperialist ambitions preying on a victimized population which in fact represents a dire threat to its existence through incessant violence posing as 'resistance' to the 'occupation' disfavours truth and reality.

Mr. Hessel, whose social-change tract has created a sensation in France is a most unlikely-seeming catalyst for the change his impassioned words are likely to aid. We are not the better for all of that.

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European/Muslim Anti-Semitism

Islam Grows in Europe, Jihad Not Far Behind

by Chana Ya'ar
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The growing demographic picture of millions of Muslim immigrants and their descendants in Europe is beginning to bear bitter fruit in a quiet “under the radar” jihad against Israel.

Muslim lobby groups representing this sector are rapidly gaining a hold on Europe's relations with the State of Israel and the Middle East, contends writer Soeren Kern in a long, well-referenced article entitled “Europe's Muslim Lobby” published last week in Hudson New York. Kern notes in the report that in Britain alone there are 3 million Muslims. In France there are more -- 4.1 million -- and in Germany, home to Europe's largest Muslim community, there are more than 4.5 million.

“Several European countries, for instance, eager to maintain good relations with local Muslim communities, are laying the political groundwork for the EU to recognize a Palestinian state, possibly as early as October 2011, even if negotiations for a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are not concluded – a total abrogation of the UN's signed Oslo accords,” Kern explains.

In December 2009, the EU adopted for the first time a resolution explicitly called for Jerusalem to become the future capital of the hoped for PA country, the writer adds. In December 2010, a group of former EU leaders and officials published a letter urging the EU to implement sanctions against Israel to force the Jewish State to bow to the PA's will.

The continent has also become the breeding ground for “lawfare” -- anti-Israel lawsuits aimed at harassing former and current leaders of the Jewish State, while delegitimizing its status and paralyzing its ability to act against terror.

And as European officials increasingly demonize Israel, the European street becomes more convinced in the “evil” of the Jewish State, eventually voting in more anti-Zionist leaders who enact more anti-Israel policies -- and the circle of hate slowly closes in a noose around Israel's neck.

A recent survey conducted by the University of Bielefeld showed that more than 50 percent of Germans equated Israeli policies towards PA Arabs with Nazi treatment of the Jews. A report commissioned by the EU Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia – now called the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights – found that Muslim immigrants were largely responsible for the sharp increase in anti-Semitic violence in Europe, according to Kern's article.

In Europe, where Islam is the fastest-growing religion, and where the number of Muslims has tripled over the past three decades, “Predictably, Muslim lobby groups pressured the EU into preventing that report from being released to the general public,” Kern wrote with grim irony.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 23 January 2010

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pointless Finger-Pointing

They're at at it again, characterizing Israel as perniciously racist, homophobic and discriminatory. This is the latest attack by the news media in a new feature published by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, citing what they claim to be a "wave of intolerance toward people of different races, religions, orientations and viewpoints", taking over the country.

Odd that there is no attention whatever given to Europe, where in Germany, France, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy and elsewhere in the European Union the Roma, that perennial scapegoat nation of gold-earring dancers and singers have been hounded unmercifully, their presence not seen as tolerable even though they've lived in those countries for generations.

Wrong, Time did indeed graze by the subject of European intolerance and rejection and persecution of their Roma, but only in passing reference in an article devoted to the well-being of Roma in the United States. Where they are free to capitalize on opportunities in a free society and seek their aspirations to their full potential. Only in America, though.

The Los Angeles Times took its inspiration from an article that appeared in an Israeli on-line news source, bewailing what appeared to be a hostile social climate, in "A Time To Hate", in Haaretz. Within Israel itself, this new focus on refugees and immigrants threatens to upturn the country's democratic ideals. Even politicians like Tzipi Livni, of the centrist Kadima party, fears "an evil spirit has been sweeping over the country."

From well-publicized initiatives to have non-Jewish individuals wishing to become citizens having to declare a oath of loyalty to a "Jewish state", to the move toward institutionalizing a law against Jews selling land within Israel to Arabs, Defense Minister Ehud Barak dolefully claims "a wave of racism is threatening to pull Israeli society into dark and dangerous places."

A recent poll came away with the information that almost 50% of Jewish Israelis would prefer not to live next to an Arab; 1/3 decline the opportunity to live close to foreigners or the mentally challenged. And, in the secular society that is Israel, almost 25% would prefer not to share a neighbourhood with gays or the ultra-Orthodox. Giving new meaning to equal opportunity denials.

One supposes it is futile to take too much out of these statistics. It is people behaving as they usually do. Some form or another of discriminatory choices are always taking place. It may not be socially polite, but it does represent how people think, anywhere in the world. When it happens in other countries a mental shrug ensues from the outside world; when it happens in Israel it is a sign of an evil malaise.

There are always reasonable explanations, more or less, however. Sweden has expelled 26 Iraqis seeking asylum, but that's justifiable since its courts have made the ruling that "you have to show an individual threat directed towards you as an individual to qualify for asylum." Obviously then, to simply flee an unstable, violent environment where members of your religious sect are slaughtered is deemed insufficient cause.

This, despite that the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has pleaded with asylum-offering countries not to deport those seeking haven because of the "volatile security situation" prevailing in Iraq. Details, details. To which Sweden's Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy responded, "We are returning only the Iraqis who have failed to meet the asylum requirements." Economic migrants need not apply.

Israel knows about all of that, all too well, as tens of thousands of Africans, most fleeing restive Sudan,newly voting for secession for the South and simmering with the potential for bloody civil war, have complicated matters in Israel, pouring over the border from Egypt. In a country which has dedicated itself to the solace and haven for the world's Jews, more non-Jews swelling the numbers of Christians, Arab Muslims, Kurds and others create a social and demographic threat to Jewish society.

Within Israel, there is the official concerns, of absorbing additional refugees, and there are other concerns to contend with, humanitarian ones. Where the liberal-minded oppose the government's intention to deport thousands of Africans (Israel has absorbed a good number of Darfurians as legitimate refugees). Immigration and refugee officials claim the refugees are mostly illegal migrants who travel across Egypt and into Israel to improve their social and economic futures.

Who can blame them? Egypt has no wish to absorb its fellow Africans seeking a better life. Nor would they necessarily find a better place in Egypt, a country wallowing in its own sub-standard living accommodations, insufficient employment and a rising cost of living, along with a restive population believing themselves to be ill served by an autocratic government.

The world is a place of haves and have-nots, and those that have generally acquire more, while those who live in squalor and despair urgently seek to upgrade their conditions. Unsurprisingly the populations whose struggle for survival threatens to disturb the entitlements of the populations who get by very nicely, thank you, are not likely to be embraced as brothers and sisters in that struggle.

Blame is not to be apportioned, necessarily, but the situation is fairly deplorable, always has been, likely always will be. As long as human nature, geography and unstable governments have anything to say about it.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Intra-Religious Dialogue

"The freeze was prompted by the repeated attacks on Islam by Pope Benedict XVI of the Vatican. The Pope has reiterated that Muslims oppress non-Muslims who are living with them in the Middle East." Al-Azhar
The most highly respected Muslim Cairo-based academic institution, Al-Azhar, chief centre of Sunni Muslim learning, has taken the step of suspending its relations with the Vatican. Maintaining open doors of communication has always been seen to be a positive undertaking, particularly among academic institutions. But Al-Azhar is offended, claiming that the Holy See has interfered too often in affairs of the Muslim world.

That in this instance the umbrage has been occasioned by the Vatican, the world's foremost Christian-orthodox body, coming to the defence of Egyptian Christian Copts makes little sense. Given that Roman Catholicism recognizes its birthplace and its birth, and that Egyptian Copts are among the original groups of Christianity, and as such when that group is threatened and suffers violent threats and death rampages, the Vatican must voice its concern.

Still, in the interests of maintaining open communion, without backtracking or apologizing for critical support on behalf of its venerable partners in the religion that much pre-dated Islam, the Vatican is urging a resumption of good relations. "The pontifical council for inter-religious dialogue's line of openness and desire to dialogue is unchanged", noted a Vatican spokesman.

Is it not sufficiently self-evident that Christians, or as Al-Azhar puts it, "non-Muslims" are indeed threatened in the Middle East? Where are the Christians who lived harmoniously in Syria, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon? Slowly bleeding out of the geography, as a result of spontaneous and institutionalized threats to their well-being, if not outright violent attacks. Christians have found safe haven in Israel, however, a Jewish-majority state.

Al-Azhar is implacable in its denunciation of interference in internal Muslim states and their affairs on the part of the Vatican. It is that purported interference that is intolerable, not the plight of Egyptian Copts who live in fear and misery, and mourn the passing of the mutual respect and tolerance they were better accustomed to, before the rise of militant Islam.

By repeatedly expressing solidarity with Egyptian Copts, and beseeching their protective custody on the world stage, Pope Benedict has committed the unthinkable; criticized Islam by implication. The most recent attack on an Egyptian church represented "yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt ... effective measures for the protection of religious minorities."

Which caused Cairo to recall its envoy to the Vatican. "Egypt will not allow any non-Egyptian faction to interfere in its internal affairs under any pretext", was the statement issued by the country's foreign ministry. "The Coptic question is specifically an internal Egyptian affair." Which is exceedingly strange, since the entire Muslim clergy of the Ummah have denounced the prevalence of what they declare to be "Islamophobia".

Described as a pernicious and undeserved loathing of Islam by non-Muslim entities and individuals in the international community concerned and fearful of the planned and executed, past and future violent attacks on the non-Muslim community.

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Acts of Sickening Barbarity

Fascinating, completely irrational, but fascinating. That the source of a problem cannot see the kernel of reality involved in escalating that problem into one of global significance. Claiming instead to have been victimized. this is not what one normally thinks of when believing that maturity and intelligence equate with responsibility. Particularly when that maturity and presumed intelligence reside in the personage of a British Cabinet minister.

House of Lords-ensconced Lady Sayeeda Warsi, formerly co-chair of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party and currently minister without portfolio in his government, took it upon herself to lecture Britain for its purported hatred of Muslims. How extraordinary; on the evidence of institutionalized coddling of fanatical Muslims the world outside Britain had the indelible impression that British Muslims were well done by.

Not to hear Baroness Warsi, however. From her privileged heights as a devout Muslim, far from the experience of the squalid, teeming ghettoes and their fiery, eloquent clerics in mosques which are breeding ignorance and hatred resulting in the kind of unrest and belligerence that makes for easy recruits by Islamist jihadists, she sees only the unfair labelling of Muslims between the camps of the 'moderate' and the 'extremist'.

To well-balanced people, making that distinction between those who are 'moderate', which is to say reasonable, non-threatening, and those who are decidedly 'extremist', translated as fodder for violent jihad in nature, would appear in and of itself moderate and reasonable. In other words, an attempt made to distinguish good citizens from potential terrorists; at the very least those whose discontent and grievances pose as a threat to the country.

That threat has raised its head sufficiently frequently through the successful commission of viciously bloody attacks on British public transit users, and other vulnerable venues, and the just-in-time arrests of others planning carnage and destruction to convince authorities that the problem is real, attention to it justified. Yet even so, Britain uses kid gloves in response to iron-fisted threats, bending over backward toward political-social 'correctness'.

There is also the reported perceptions and feelings of mainstream Muslim society in Britain, including those whose only experience has been that of growing up British, albeit Muslim, second-generation Brits who worship Islam, yet are hugely in support of the theories that abound in Islamist propaganda. Among which is the outstanding charge of international Islamophobia.

Suicide bombings are quite obviously not unknown in Britain. And the threats of more, including the secret service and police successes thus far in apprehending additional threats-in-motion. So why would there not be a public back-lash of some dimensions growing inevitably on the back of the real fears that terrorists gloat they are able to foist on civil society?

Baroness Warsi would do far better by her religious community and her loyalty to Britain expressed in fewer accusations of discriminatory talk, and the implementation of more sincere and frequent attempts at educating the Muslim community toward the truth and the reality of the threats emanating from Islam into the wider community.

Like it or not, if the Muslim community feels hard pressed through perceived accusations and suspicion coming from the non-Muslim community, they must acknowledge its cause. They must also spare no efforts to disown, reject, condemn the violence and the threats that erupt from those from within the Muslim community to threaten and antagonize and terrorize non-Muslims.

She could begin by using her own academic and professional education and her political and social status to address the question her own prime minister posed earlier: "how we are allowing the radicalization and poisoning of the minds of some young British Muslims who then contemplate and sometimes carry out acts of sickening barbarity."

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Friday, January 21, 2011

The Turkel Commission Conclusion

Inquiry to Clear IDF in Flotilla Incident
by Elad Benari IDF Cleared in Flotilla Incident

The Turkel Commission, which investigated last May’s incident on the Mavi Marmara, will submit on Sunday the first part of its report to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, following which the report will be presented to the public.

The report is expected to clear the IDF of any wrongdoings in the flotilla incident. It will determine that the naval operation to take over the Gaza aid flotilla was not a violation of any international laws and that the soldiers acted on the Mavi Marmara out of self-defense.

The first part of the report deals with the legality of the naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and whether it adheres to the principles of international law. It also includes a summary of actions taken by the IDF to enforce the blockade and discusses the organizers and participants of the flotilla.

After submitting the first part of the report, the committee will continue to work for another few months and complete the second part, which will examine the question of whether the mechanisms for examining and investigating complaints and claims raised in relation to violations of the laws of armed conflict conform with the obligations of the State of Israel under the rules of international law. The second part of the report will also discuss additional issues raised during the committee’s work, such as the decision-making process on the political level with regard to the military action to stop the flotilla.

The Turkel Commission was established following the Turkish flotilla incident on May 31, when a group of so-called “peace activists” sent by the radical Turkish group IHH, tried to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip on the grounds that they were carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza’s residents.

The Israeli Navy initially requested the ships to change course peacefully from Gaza and head for Ashdod, where they would be able to unload their aid material, which would then be transferred over land to Gaza after undergoing security inspections. The activists refused and the soldiers had to take over the ships.

Upon their arrival on one of the ships, the Mavi Marmara, the soldiers were brutally attacked with metal clubs by the Muslim radicals onboard. The “peace activists” were trained in terrorism and tried to kill the soldiers before Navy officers issued an “open fire” order.

The soldiers were under orders not to shoot, but the “open fire” command was given after stun grenades failed to disperse the attackers. Nine people were killed, most of them from Turkey. An inspection of the ship following the incident found that there was no humanitarian aid on it whatsoever.

Judge Yaakov Turkel, who heads the inquiry commission, served on the Supreme Court from 1995 until 2005. The commission also includes two foreign observers: Irish politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate William David Trimble and former Judge Advocate General of the Canadian army Brigadier-General Kenneth Watkin. The two have said that they support the committee’s conclusions as they are to be presented on Sunday.

As published online at, 21 January 2011

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True Peace Requirement

British Official: No Recognition of Unilateral PA State
by David Lev UK: No to Unllateral PA State

A top British official said Thursday that Britain would not recognize a state declared unilaterally by the Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. "Negotiations are necessary to ensuring a true peace", Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Alistair Burt said as he wrapped up a Middle East visit in Jordan on Thursday.

"We are looking forward to recognizing a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements because our position is again very straightforward: We wish to see a two-state solution, a secure and recognized Israel side by side with a viable Palestine, Jerusalem as a joint capital and agreed borders," Burt said. "That’s where we want to get to. When we get there, that of course will imply recognition of a state of Palestine.” The only way to get there, he said, was via a negotiated settlement.

The PA had hoped that London would join other nations that have recognized the PA's virtual state, which the Authority is considering declaring in the UN next September. Last month, reports said that the British Foreign Office was considering upgrading the status of the PA's diplomatic delegation to London. The report, in Yediot Achronot and the Irish Independent newspapers, said that The PA was to be given virtually the same diplomatic status as other delegations, implying that London was preparing to recognize a state if and when the Authority declares one unilaterally.

But Burt clarified Britain's position Thursday, saying that London could not "recognize a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders." While Britain would “carefully consider” any resolution the PA files with the UN General Assembly or Security Council, Burt said adoption of a unilateral declaration of independence “is not up for decision immediately,” and that such recognition would only come “when it is appropriate," after a negotiated settlement between Israel and the PA.

Burt is a former member of the British Conservative Friend of Israel, and is considered by many to be sympathetic to Israel. In response to reporter's questions in Jordan as to whether he was too biased in Israel's favor, Burt said that his past actually put him in a better position to be a mediator.

"No one in Israel is in a position, or has even thought of querying my sense of understanding of what Israel is and what it wishes to be, and I always wanted to see an Israel that was at ease and peace with its neighbors, and to have the ability to work for that is very important,” Burt said, adding that he was “friends with the middle East, I’ve been warmly received by my Palestinian friends who have respected the fact that I have a direct engagement with Israel, that I hope have seen through my actions and my contacts with them and what I have said in the house of commons on these issues of concern, I hope that they have been able to see that I am an objective supporter of British foreign policy.

"We all have good friends on all different sides of issues; it's how you use your friendship that is the most important thing. I hope I’ve given people a clear sense of how I want to use that friendship in the best interests of peace in the Middle East."

As published online at, 21 January 2011

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