Friday, March 30, 2012

On Trial for Treason

Osama bin Laden had been favoured by Pakistan and particularly by the military and its intelligence agency, with a peaceful existence in Abbottabad. There, he took the youngest and latest of his wives to sire four more children with her, to while away the tedious hours. A hunted man must live a careful, albeit precarious existence. With the help of his friends, of course.

The military garrison close by and the nearby homes of elite officers guaranteed respect for his anonymity.

Ah, but one of his closest neighbours harboured his own suspicions. Dr. Shakeel Afridi, aware that his government boasted its friendship with the United States and trumpeted their common cause in battling terrorism, saw little amiss when he was recruited by the CIA to aid them in discovering just who that mysterious recluse might be.

They thought up a scheme to vaccinate the town's residents for hepatitis B. In the process, procuring DNA samples from those living in that compound.

Dr. Alfridi took it upon himself, responsibly, to maintain a watch on his neighbours. He reported activities of interest to the CIA. And possibly was able to validate suspicions through DNA testing, that the children living there were related to Osama bin Laden. Ergo, the tall, silent ghostly figure likely was Osama bin Laden himself.

The lightning, split-second-timing SEALs raid that ended the life of al-Qaeda's leader, constituted an embarrassment for Pakistan, revealing its administration and its military and intelligence agency for the duplicitous, treacherous 'friends' they are. They hadn't officially been alerted to the planned raid because suspicions were robust enough that they would alert bin-Laden.

It's taken awhile, but the government in northwest province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where bin Laden had lived has fired Dr. Alfridi on disciplinary grounds. "The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has issued a notification of dismissal of Dr. Shakeel Alfridi", announced the provincial health secretary.

Dr. Alfridi is not merely fired. He is in police custody. Seventeen additional medics who worked on the same vaccination program that had been arranged for through collusion with the CIA have also been fired. Fifteen female health workers were dismissed last summer. A female doctor and an assistant coordinator were fired earlier this month.

Dr. Afridi had worked for years as a government surgeon.

An investigative panel looking into the bin Laden raid has put forward the recommendation that Dr. Afridi be tried for treason. He is suspected by Pakistani officials of having led the U.S. to Osama bin Laden. This is the very same Pakistan that pledged, in return for yearly American funding to the tune of multiple billions, to form an alliance against terror with the United States.

This is the Pakistan that claimed it had no knowledge whatever of the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad; for that matter, anywhere in Pakistan. The SEALs raid, however, represented an insulting violation of the country's sovereignty. And, of course, Pakistanis were outraged, along with their furious government.

Even so, the American government was not completely certain of the identity of the man they targeted in that fateful May 2 raid on the Abbottabad compound. It just happened, after all, to be Osama bin Laden. And he was summarily dismissed from life. "Paid" stamped on a debt of revenge, or natural justice.

And Dr. Shakeel Afridi will now go on trial for treason against his country. Does that not speak absolute volumes?

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Following The UN Plan

Ah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed that he will, in the best interests of his country, accede to the UN plan. Warning, however, that the plan's chances of success can only be met if the "terrorist acts" behind which lurk foreign powers, cease. He himself plans to "spare no effort" to make the plan work. Not making an "unsparing effort"; rather he will "spare no effort". And that fairly well sums up the situation.

The terrorists behind the ongoing protests, the very same Muslim Brotherhood-inspired protests that his father before him settled expeditiously, feel somewhat the same way. Unless and until the regime ceases its acts of institutionalized terrorizing against that portion of the Syrian demographic that is not Shia, and not Christian, there will be no opportunity for the peace plan representing the Arab League/UN, presented by their envoy Kofi Annan, to succeed.

A halt to violence, daily two hour humanitarian truce, media access to areas of fighting, political dialogue, the right to demonstrate, and the release of detainees. Likely. Each side has already invested too much of their blood, sweat and tears to pull back now. And never will the Alawites trust the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, nor will the Sunnis trust the Alawites; why would they? Their common history has taught them otherwise.

Eight UN experts and three from the Organization of Islamic Co-operation took part in a Syrian government-sponsored assessment tour. The result of which is the understanding that one million Syrians are in dire need of humanitarian aid, according to the deputy UN spokesman. A rare agreement.

There is none within the Arab League, with Saudi Arabia, Qatar (with Turkey) feeling it appropriate to help arm the rebels, while others, led by Iraq resists that move. The divisions are split, accountably, along sectarian lines. "Based on our experience in Iraq, the option to arm either side of the conflict will lead to a regional and international proxy war in Syria."

Iraq knows of what it speaks. Its Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in fact just recently gave Iraqi Sunnis good reason to return to hostilities with the ruling Shia. The one thing that all outside influences appear to be agreed on, is to rule out exterior intervention, military action by those outside the country.

And as the stalemate and the violent aggression and counter-aggression continues, Homs has been leaking its Christian population, driven out by fear and apprehension of their fate once the protection that the al-Assad regime has given them is removed, and the Islamists step in, as seems somewhat predictable in the long run.

Ancient Homs hosted 50,000 Iraqi Christians; that population has now been reduced below 1,000. "Some Christians who tried to escape a week ago were stopped from leaving by the rebels and were instead forced to go to a mosque to act as shields. They thought that, because Christians support Assad, the government would not attack them", explained a priest who had fled to Lebanon.

"The people we are helping are very afraid. The Christians don't know what their future will hold. They are afraid they will not get their homes back", explained Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo. "There were rumours of extremists coming to Homs from other Muslim countries to fight with the rebels. We don't know if it was true, but it frightened many people."

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Deadly Insouciance

The Axis of Evil that Iran, North Korea and Syria represent - (excluding for the sake of recognizing the more immediate threats, though Pakistan represents the initial crucible of information-sharing on nuclear technology) that has much in common with one another and their front in sparring with the United Nations' IAEA, the Security Council, the United States and the West - feels itself to be invincible.

They know from experience that there is much bluster with the condemnations that erupt each time they initiate yet another step to defying world security in their inexorable move toward nuclear threats aimed at spreading terror and cowing their enemies. They know how effective it is to dole out little dollops of hope from time to time, to gain time to continue furthering their expansion ambitions. They know how unwilling their detractors are to committing to physical means.

They encourage one another, and give robust aid and assistance surreptitiously, under cover of appearing to temporarily accede to the demands of the world body to honour its promises to cease and desist in their conquering quest. And the laxness of their pledges and the fearsome ambitions that they represent, bring chilling fear to those with the imagination to foresee an impulsive threat delivered and humanity suffering.

Not merely at their own hands through the deployment of powerful, far-reaching missiles which they continually perfect, with the covert and deniable assistance of those whose advanced technology aids them, when those agencies purportedly work within the Security Council itself, but at the not-altogether unlikely prospect of their sharing those deadly technologies with their non-state terror proxies.

North Korea has proceeded with the preliminaries of its planned launch of a powerful missile, ostensibly to launch a satellite, despite its promise to respect the UN Security Council resolution that it refrain from "any launch using ballistic missile technology". In the process, it is spending millions that could feed its starving people. The emergency food aid that the United States had offered to provide to North Korea in exchange for its honouring that resolution has been cancelled.

Official North Korea has responded to the American president's condemnation of its activities as "confrontational, duplicitous and insulting". This could very well be a Monty Python skit writ large; wryly amusing if it were not completely, delusionally, bitterly threatening of world peace. It is well enough accepted that North Korea is developing intercontinental ballistic missile technology to be fitted with nuclear warheads.

Japan, in self-protection, has ordered interceptor missile units in preparation for the latest celebratory (anniversary event honouring their revered founder) North Korean missile launch. Both Japan and South Korea have issued due warning of their intention to shoot down any parts of the rocket that violates their air or land space. Threats that North Korea characterizes as "war-mongering".

Syria is being condemned by the UN, the Arab League, the United States, the European Union, for continuing to attack and slaughter that significant majority portion of its population that continues to demand regime change, despite its agreement with the peace treaty that Kofi Annan presented Bashar al-Assad with. And the G5+1 is set to re-start negotiations with Iran yet again over its nuclear program, in April.

The unifying tactics all employ is promise, delay, divert and ignore. A highly successful formula to date.

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The Will Of A Fanatic Islamism

Hamid Karzai is well and truly sick and fed up with complaints about his country's misogynistic attitudes toward Afghan women. This is the kind of cultural interference that he fumes indignantly about. The West has no business instructing the East how it should go about the business of its social compact. Women have their place in Afghan society; it is a traditional heritage that women not be seen. It is, after all, for their own protection.

In Muslim societies it is well understood that men have instinctual urges that cannot be controlled. And that women instinctively attempt in the way they present themselves, to arouse men. Women are the work of the devil, and men are pious supplicants of Allah. Women distract and destroy the peace. Women should be retiring, should be well covered, silent, unobtrusive, not appearing in public.

If left to their own devices, women would mingle with men they do not know in social activities, in education, in bazaars, at offices. The tension between the genders is an avoidable distraction, and women should know their place. It is for this reason that hundreds of Afghan women languish in prisons for moral crimes, crimes against society and Islamic principles. Those women who shamelessly run away from home, desert a marriage bed.

Human Rights Watch has had the unmitigated nerve to issue a report, I Had to Run Away, insisting that the government of Hamid Karzai release these women. "It is shocking that 10 years after the overthrow of the Taliban, women and girls are still imprisoned for running away from domestic violence or forced marriage."

Girls are maintained in juvenile detention facilities, and women in prisons, accused or convicted of various offences.
"Some women and girls have been convicted of zina - sex outside of marriage - after being raped or forced into prostitution. Judges often convict solely on the basis of 'confessions' given in the absence of lawyers and 'signed' without having been read to women who cannot read or write. After conviction, women routinely face long prison sentences, in some cases more than 10 years."
Little does the government acknowledge the entire story, however. The women who are content to remain in prison because there they are safe. No one whom they fear will be able to attack them, flog them, throw acid at them, murder them. Female inmates whom Human Rights Watch interviewed before issuing their report filled in some of the blanks.

A 17-year-old imprisoned for running away with a boy whom her parents had forbidden her to marry: "My parents come every week on visiting day. Every time they tell me that very soon they will pay the prison staff to give me to them, and then they will kill me." Another woman sentenced after fleeing her father-in-law who raped her and had her brother murdered.

It is true that in the urban areas of that country the lot of women and girls has improved measurably in the ten years of UN and NATO intervention. Millions of children have been able to attend school finally, including young girls. And women have become accustomed in Kabul to going out in public, mostly completely covered in traditional burkas, but free to go out nonetheless.

But NATO countries are eager to depart; they have sacrificed personnel and treasury for long enough, and in the final analysis the change has been cosmetic. The Taliban is resurgent, the government weak, ineffectual and corrupt. The Afghan government and the U.S. has been negotiating with the Taliban; their return is inevitable; either to consolidate with the government or to retake it completely.

And then the fate and the future of the women of the country is foreordained to become what it was; all the gains in their human rights will dissolve in the reality of the indomitable will of a fanatic Islamism.

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France's Mistakes

There we are again, that bastion of liberal-democratic freedoms is once again intolerably persecuting its minority populations. France, the very home of liberty, equality, fraternity, has chosen to demonstrate its true colours of intolerance and oppression against those who feel they should have every right to practise as they preach.

Yet official France disagrees, and in so doing has outraged the sensibilities of some of its citizens, affronted and severely offended by government actions.

"It is with indignation that I learned that the father of the killer of seven people ... wants to file a suit against France for the death of his son", fumed President Nicholas Sarkozy. Who does this man, running for re-election, think he is, anyway?

"If I were the father of such a monster, I would shut my mouth in shame", claimed Foreign Minister Alain Juppe. Who asked him; a grieving father, parent to jihadists, would prefer his jihad-planning-and-executing sons alive.

Is this not his human right? Do not citizens of France have such rights? Including the right to speak as they will, to harbour ill feelings against whom they will, and, albeit initially covertly, opt into political movements and religious heresies that clamour for recognition while ordering their rank-and-file to get out there in the public sphere and engage in public relations.

That they engage in violent destruction of others' lives is simply a manifestation of their action plan. Their God-given right to exert themselves in defence of the honour of Islam, degraded by the dreadful slanders imposed upon it by the West. And France is as representative as any other Infidel nation of a curse upon humanity.

So typical of a country like France to draw back in horror and call it terrorism. There was ample opportunity beforehand to weigh the situation, when restless youth, drawn to their peculiar mode of expression in the banlieues rampaged joyously and firecrackered and barbecued countless vehicles.

In the process making it clear that they, if not the government, took their entitlements in a free society quite seriously indeed. This is the tribal, Arab, traditional Middle Eastern way of settling differences. France's response to these traditions renders it a most suitable target for the avenging angels of jihad.

In the spirit of which Franco-Algerian nuclear scientist, Adlene Hicheur, exercised his freedom of choice in a world hostile to his beliefs, by unequivocally aligning himself with the plans of al-Qaeda. As a researcher studying the birth of the universe at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), he is companion to elites in Islamism with an intense interest in the work being carried out.

Al-Qaeda is as interested as any other intelligence-seeking source, in new findings that might consolidate their position as the world's current representative of the highest order of spiritual guidance. CERN laboratories and infiltration there can conceivably become a link to obtaining fissionable materials.

Islamic militants harbouring a deep belief that their time has finally arrived to achieve a universal Caliphate naturally wish to be represented in every sphere of human endeavour to carry out their spiritual mission in the name of Islam, which only vibrantly pursued jihad can accomplish.

Leave it to France's intelligence agency's suspicious nature, to link this brilliant scientist with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Which, in its sublime state of hubris in conveying to official sources in France the depth of their surveillance and integration was itself responsible for alerting France's DCRI.

Dr. Hicheur's email exchanges with Mustapha Debchi revealed the connection they sought. Interfering in the lives of people, French authorities kept watch.
"Don't beat around the bush: Are you prepared to work in a unit becoming active in France?" pressed Mustapha Dehchi, from Algeria.
"Concerning your proposal, the answer is of course YES but there are a few observations.... If your proposal relates to a precise strategy - such as working in the heart of the main enemy's house and emptying its blood of strength - then I should revise the plan that I've prepared", responded Adlene Hicheur from the Franco-Swiss border northwest of Geneva.
French intelligence, failing to respect the privacy of citizens! "There is not the least proof of a beginning of a [terrorist] intention", insists Mr. Hicheur's lawyer, faulting "the steamroller of anti-terrorist justice", for implicating his client. "When the justice system gets going it finds it difficult to admit its mistakes."

France would do well to step back from the brink it finds itself teetering toward. The UN's Human Rights Council may just feel justified in accepting resolutions that Syria may feel morally obligated to bring to their attention, denouncing the human rights abuses that France is pressing upon its citizens....

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"They Preferred To Kill Him"

It is impossible to overstate the presumptive entitlements of people in the most impossible of dreadful situations who yet claim that though they or theirs have done irreparable wrong to society, committing the most odious of human acts, they deserve sympathy and compensation for their irreplaceable losses.

It is just as well to believe that the loss of the life of Mohamed Merah is irreplaceable, but it is not. He may be gone to his Maker (who may in full distaste for what the man represents, disown him, so much for martyrdom and Paradise and countless Virgins), but there are more where he came from. Men full of hatred and assumed grievances that consume them to the point of requiring emotional release that can only come at the cost of death to innocent others.

Mohamed Merah was a special breed. Just as well there are not legions of them, otherwise the world would become a charnel house. But there are enough of his type ambulatory and seeking their opportunity to trigger an event of carnage with enough blood spilled and horror evinced by the community that will guarantee him his moment of fame and celebration in jihadist circles, bringing further infamy to al-Qaeda.

So proud of what he meant to accomplish, and indeed did; the valorous act of redeeming Islam and defending poor innocent Palestinian children from the oppressive presence of Israeli military who seek to hold back the tide of suicide missions meant to destroy Jewish children, that he was eager to have his video of point-blank shooting young Jewish children displayed in all its glory and gore for all to admire in the jihadi blogosphere.

"In accordance with Al-Jazeera's code of ethics, given the video does not add any information that is not already in the public domain, its news channels will not be broadcasting any of its contents", was the announcement from the Qatar-based network. How noble a response to the demand by Nicolas Sarkozy that they refrain from showing the monster's footage.

But, then, another issue has erupted for France to deal with. Mohamed Benalel Merah, the piously grieving father of Mohamed Merah, who threatens France with a lawsuit for dispatching his child, tells another story yet again of the place of Algerians in French society. Assimilation is not for them; assassination more their style, for those Muslims who dare to assimilate, and for those Jews who handily present themselves as unknowing victims.

His pain of loss of a son whose vicious murders shocked a nation and the international community has precedence over any normal human being's shocked horror that one of his sons would commit such unforgivable atrocities. As a values judgement, symptomatic of preferences and allegiance, it is understandable that the apple fell very close to the tree that bore it.

The mother, married to a second man, this one whose son is imprisoned as an al-Qaeda operative, so that the sympathies of the family as a whole, and that branch in particular lead inexorably to a drama whose conclusion took the headlines of the world's news by storm. And now, Mohamed Benalel Merah insists on retribution from a government whose authorities preferred to kill the mad dog rather than take him alive....

Would that they had, in actual fact.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That Arab Spring...

Last year's Arab Spring continues to unfold, and to unravel as well. In the sense, of course, that those involved in the mass protests in various countries of the Middle East and North Africa felt themselves to be involved in a movement that would result in liberty, freedom and equality coming their way, and possibly the mounting of democracy in Muslim countries, may now have second thoughts.

While Syria is still battling it out, with the regime brutalizing its challengers, and oppressing their supporters, as the Arab League looks on mightily disturbed over the fact that one of their own has just latterly int he space of a year, slaughtered thousands of its own, in Libya the rival militias in the south have unleashed lethal violence in ongoing clashes, tribe upon tribe. The ruling National Transitional Council struggles to assert its 'authority'.

And in Egypt, the country remains troubled, its economy in disarray, the political scene hugely unsettled, but the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist party, together holding 80% of the seats in Parliament, chafing at the bit to assume complete leadership and institute Sharia law. Those who had originated the mass protests that led to the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak, holding him accountable for all the ills they perceived in the country are no more content now than they were then.

Still demanding he pay the ultimate penalty for his reign that did not completely or even remotely satisfy the needs of all his critics, they now face the prospect of his former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who acted as Mr. Mubarak's vice-president just before he was forced from power, now preparing to present himself for presidential elections.

The liberal and leftist parties have reacted to the move by the Islamist parties to move themselves to a position of control of the assembly set to write the new constitution, by insisting they will boycott the constitution-writing process. Thereby, leaving the way clear for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists to handily take the advantage given them.

While the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has accused the Islamist leaders of attempts to "pressure the armed forces and its Supreme Council with the intention of making them abandon their national mission to rule the country during the transitional period." And after the transitional period? What then, will become of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces?

"If anyone intends to recreate the former corrupt regime with new faces, the people are willing to move in order to revive their revolution and protect their ship from sinking at the hands of people with no sense of responsibility", according to the Islamist party spokesperson. Which caused the military council to return with an official statement of their own, accusing the Islamists of "baseless slander".
"The Egyptian population knows well who protected its dignity and pride, and who always put the people's best interest before anything else. The armed forces and its council were keen to adhere to that code and not deviate from it as a result of attempts at provocation. We understand that the performance of the government might not satisfy the expectations of the people at this critical stage, but we emphasize that the nation's interest is our foremost priority, and we shall spare no effort to pass through this tough stage."
And, perhaps ominously: "We ask everyone to be aware of the lessons of history to avoid mistakes from a past we do not want to return to, and to look towards the future." Might the future not look slightly more advantageous to the prosperity and prospects for Egypt, should the Muslim Brotherhood be put once again on the back burner of suspicion, and the aging, ailing Hosni Mubarak return to bring order once again to the country he so loves?

Egypt's Coptic Christian minority was nominated six members by the Islamists on the 100-member constitutional assembly panel. And Egyptian women, whose courage in confronting their traditional place in society brought them international respect, have also been given six seats on that panel. The leftist, liberal and secular parties who feel the constitutional assembly should better reflect the range of the Egyptian public, rages helplessly.

But this, then, is the movement and the mechanism that they unwittingly unveiled in their grand scheme to bring freedoms and democracy and equality to their country. Even food scarcity and rising costs that were a motivating factor in the initial protests have taken a back seat, while the country's economy continues to stagnate, and the political standoff continues.

Egypt's secular tradition is now at risk, along with whatever questionable respect for the rights of religious minorities and women there was to begin with, further imperilled. "We are going to continue struggling for a secular Egypt in the streets", insisted Mohammed Abou el Ghar, head of the Social Democratic Party, resigning from the constitutional assembly.

And good luck to that repetitious agenda, spitting in the wind.

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Racial Polarization

Even if one of the actors in the drama that took place in Sanford, Florida was not shot dead, there would still be the confusion left of two perspectives. Somewhere, between the story told by the 28-year-old, robustly-built George Zimmerman, and the evidence and appeals made by the dead 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, lies the truth.

As new evidence is revealed respecting the night-time encounter between the two, one a self-empowered watchman for his neighbourhood, the other a casual transient who happened to leave nearby, outside the gated community, the actual activities surrounding the event become ever less clear.

One adult man was armed with a lethal weapon, the other, semi-adult, slighter of build, was armed only by his fear and indignation. Had Trayvon Martin assaulted the older man as a result of his having been interrogated officiously by him, and working out his offended feelings in that manner, did it warrant that the older man extract his deadly weapon to shoot the boy dead?

In fear for his life, he claims and the law upholds that fear as a legally-protective issue, so he is not considered guilty of a capital, let alone criminal offence. Mr. Zimmerman had been in cellphone communication with a police dispatcher who urged him not to continue following the young man whom he described in a "hoodie", "up to no good".

Mr. Zimmerman's neighbours have praised him for his commitment to neighbourhood security and safety. And they, because of his demonstrated zealousness, appointed him their area neighbourhood watch captain. The local police department was involved, and knew him well. Not only for his role as neighbourhood watchdog, but from previous run-ins with him.

When he was 21 years of age - older than Trayvon Martin by four years - he had assaulted a police officer in an altercation over under-age drinking on behalf of a friend. That same year, 2005, his then-fiancee filed a court injunction against Mr. Zimmerman, accusing him of domestic violence. He countered that with an injunction of his own.

Some years later, he decided to pursue the possibility of becoming a police officer. Because he hadn't been charged with assault, the issuance of a gun permit was never a problem for him. It does appear he had an anger management problem.

We have also learned that Trayvon Martin, shot dead on February 26, had once been found with an empty marijuana bag in his possession. As though this small social transgression should be compared with assault.

President Barack Obama has stated his personal indignation over the matter very publicly. Adding fuel to the fire of public anger over the death of the young man, and the fact that the man who mortally shot him was not facing any criminal charges.

Unsurprisingly, African Americans are livid with rage that such an occurrence could take place with the shooter facing no charges though he caused the death of a young black man who was engaged in nothing more malevolent than stopping at a local convenience store to pick up Skittles and iced tea.

It is not only African Americans who are appalled at this dreadful miscarriage of justice.

But when such a situation brings out the race-card-playing charlatan Al Sharpton who never met a Black Cause he didn't fulminate fulsomely about in his inimitable bellicose manner, alongside a new Black Panther group, American society is being polarized once again.

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Assisting The Process

"There won't be working relations with them, conversations, passing papers, making visits, exchanging information, consulting one another, attending meetings. That's work, and it will not take place."
"We had been participating in meetings, discussions, arranging visits to Israel. All that is over. We are not working with them any more."
"They systematically and serially make all kinds of decisions and condemnations against Israel without even symbolically considering our positions."
Yigal Palmor, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman
What took so long? And why on Earth would Israel have continued to have formal diplomatic ties with the very most dysfunctional, hypocritical agency tied to the United Nations? Finally, Israel has taken the step of severing official contact with the UN's Human Rights Council. All it took was the umpteenth instance of unjustified, blatantly insulting, demagogic accusations of human-rights injustices against Israel.
"I have no doubt that it is in the interest of Israel to cooperate with the Human Rights Council on this investigative mission, not least so that it can explain its own policies and actions to the independent commissioners once they are appointed."
"The most recent example of refusal to cooperate is Syria, which did not permit either the Human Rights Council mandated Fact-finding Mission or the Commission of Inquiry to enter the country." President of the UN Human Rights council, Laura Dupuy Lasserre
Such innocence of purpose, such a surprised reaction that Israel has finally had enough of being demonized by the Human Rights Commission, the very body that accepts and honours nominations on behalf of the most egregious human-rights abusing countries in the world. Hugo Chavez ran for a seat on the Council, as did the Libyan Ghadafi regime and Syria's al-Assad regime; now there's human rights legitimacy for you.

This is the world body's outstanding forum for focusing on the observation of human rights throughout the Globe, where it sits to consider blatant instances of human rights abuses, taking care not to 'name and shame' and apportion blame, but to chide, to move the errant country closer to approximating what any intelligent being would recognize as the basic requirements of human rights entitlements.

But naming and slandering is what occurs regularly from that human rights body when it comes to one single state: Israel. The Human Rights Council has seen fit to issue no fewer than 91 decisions of condemnation, and of those 39 highlight Israel's presumed lack of attention to its obligations in observing human rights. In contrast, three decisions of condemnation related to Syria, and one, one single condemnation toward Iran.

At no time does the Human Rights Council consider the Palestinian Authority's lauding of the martyrdom of those Palestinians whom it encourages to invest in "resistance", the code word for violent action against Israel and Jewish settlements. This is the authority that lionizes murderers of children and entire families, paying their own families handsome sums in reflection of rewards for their sacrifice of a terrorist son.

It is the Palestinian Authority that resists returning to the bargaining table to resume peace talks, insisting that Israel must, without equivocation, surrender to the PA's demands as a prior condition before talks can resume. The illogic of the demand seems to escape the PA, for should Israel agree to all demands, what use then is there of peace agreements; there would be no Israel to bargain with, if it met all the demands. And therein lies the strategy.

Leaving the Palestinian Authority the usefully manipulative option of mewling to the UN body to condemn Israel for occupying portions of the land it plans to use for its own Palestinian state - the message that goes out to the international community, to screen the real intention of managing by any means conceivable, the retaking of the entire geography that Palestinians claim belong rightfully to them.

The name of the game, both with the Palestinian Authority through its clever, but transparent ploys - opaque to those who wish to see nothing untoward - is to discredit Israel. And it is succeeding admirably, only because it has such an eagerly willing collective of ears to impress with its 'side of the story', sitting comfortably in their pews at the Human Rights Council.

The resolution to "dispatch an independent, international, fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem"... will commence apace, and reach its foreordained conclusion.

Unless it harbours a suicide wish, why would Israel seek to assist in the process?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"A Declaration of War"

Taken in again. The United States administration, similar to those before the current one, occasionally demonstrates an appealing though tendentious naivete in opting to place trust in the promises of co-operation offered time and again by regimes that are proven to be expressly untrusworthy. So it is with Iran and so it is with North Korea. Both of those states conspire continually to foil all attempts by the United Nations and the U.S. to honour their global and treaty commitments.

And each of them from time to time hold out the hope of an olive branch. The result of which is that both the United Nations and the United States as well as other members of the Security Council believe that they can at last trust the good word of Iran and North Korea. Both of which simply play for time, revelling in their view of how simple-minded and easy to forestall the two sources of commitment to international peace are, how vulnerable to manipulation.

Each time that the United States seeks to mollify North Korea with promises of financial aid or with the provision of emergency assets like food for a starving nation of impoverished people whose government lavishes funding on nuclear arms, the agreement inevitably falls through when North Korea's Kim family tires of its submissive role and resumes the kind of pugnacious behaviour they feel is more suited to them.

This time the pledge from Pyongyang to suspend nuclear and missile tests and uranium enrichment in return for food aid, lasted all of several weeks before the regime released an announcement that is is preparing to launch a high-powered missile in celebration of the centenary of the birth of their founder. President Barack Obama has personally warned Kim Jong-un not to proceed with that breach of United Nations sanctions.

"Bad behaviour will not be rewarded. We have indicated to them very directly, because this was part of discussions that had taken place among negotiators, that it would be difficult to move forward with that package. That is just one example of the kinds of consequence that will take place", referring to the delivery of 240,000 tons of food that will now be suspended if Pyongyang proceeds with its plans to deploy that celebratory missile and purported satellite.

"I will also note that every time North Korea has violated an international resolution, the Security Council resolution, it has resulted in further isolation, tightening of sanctions, stronger enforcement. I suspect that will happen this time as well." And one suspects that this will have little impact on the imperturbable impression of entitlement emanating from North Korea; that no world body let alone superpower has the right and the means to halt their plans.

At the time that the agreement was made with North Korea to suspend nuclear and missile tests in exchange for food aid, the United States triumphantly considered it yet another breakthrough. but there have been many of those same types of 'breakthroughs', each of which has had an impression of having succeeded in taming the wild ambitions of the country, but lasting a very short time before the regime simply reverted to doing what it had pledged itself not to.

A scheduled 53-nation Nuclear Security Summit opened in South Korea this week. North Korea, not invited to attend, nor will there be delegates present from Iran or Syria, has given due warning that should any reference to its nuclear program be made in any communiques emanating from the summit, the regime would regard that as "a declaration of war". Accordingly, China has urged that the summit not stray into the topic of North Korea in its discussions, which given its purpose, would be difficult indeed.

Japan, feeling threatened by the prospect of a powerful missile being shot in the direction of its territory, is considering taking preventive action and launching its own missiles, to shoot down the North Korean missile, should it stray, as anticipated, into Japanese territory. That too has been declared by North Korea, as a prospective declaration of war.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Syrian Precedents

It all started with the colonial powers of the world conquering weaker, less technically developed and prepared-for-invasion countries whose natural resources attracted the presence of those imperial predators. It happened in Asia, in Africa, in the Middle East. Countries that vied with one another for the wealth that could be extracted from emerging societies that represented ancient cultures and traditions were ripe for the plucking.

And pluck they did, those imperial powers. They fought among themselves, the countries of Europe, and they played havoc with the world at large by setting off in their sailing vessels with full cannons and military presence, to bulldoze their way as powerful oppressors. Some nations, like Great Britain, have to this very day, fairly good relations with their previous hegemonic countries. Some, like France, not so much.

With the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War, France took possession of some of the former Ottoman jurisdictions, and one of them was Syria, created under the League of Nations mandate, where France ruled. The new country embraced geography that held tribal, ethnic and religious diversities, of clans and cultures that faced one another with bitter enmity; there was no 'national' bond to hold them together for any common purpose.

In 1925, France mobilized 50,000 troops, using all the weaponry developed during the Great War in an aerial bombing campaign and armoured tank land assault on a revolt that shook the entire country of Syria. There were huge civilian casualties. But this was a French dominated situation and the international community thought little of it, and there was no intervention, for this was an empire protecting its dominance.

Thirty years ago, under a minority Alawite faction, Hafiz al-Assad put down another insurrection, one mounted by majority Sunni Muslims under the umbrella of The Muslim Brotherhood, where tens of thousands of people were slaughtered by regime forces. Like many African states with their mixture of warring tribes and animosities that flare up incessantly, the Middle East too is freighted with these constant fractures.

And now there is yet another, with the same Muslim Brotherhood-inspired uprising from the Sunni majority against the Shia minority that rules. The current Alawite-dominated regime of Bashar al-Assad is employing the very same tactics that his father did, that the French did in the first quarter of the 20th Century. The League of Nations made no attempt to halt the French; its successor, the United Nations, is attempting to persuade al-Assad to cease and desist.

But the Syrian opposition to the regime has a more all-consuming plan, to oust the Alawite regime and to install one of their own, with the considerable assistance and sympathy of Turkey. Turkey and the United States are discussing non-lethal supplies of assistance like food and fuel for the Syrian Free Army. While there is also agitation for the international community to become involved, to ensure that full-scale war involving the region does not erupt.

There does currently exist where there did not before, the Arab League, comprised of surrounding states, all of them well armed with standing militaries and the latest military equipment, capable of invading Syria, disarming the regime and insisting on the two sides suing for peace. Of course neither the regime nor its opponents is agreeable to bargaining with the other; each insists on the paramountcy of its particular demand that the other decamp.

Much as the world wrings its hands in sympathy over the plight of Syrian civilians being tortured and slaughtered by government forces, this is a local situation, common to the geography, and which must be solved locally. It's a tall order from any perspective, given the existing critical antipathies of tribal allegiance and sectarian hatreds, but this is a prime instance where Arab Muslims must solve the problems of their own.

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Alert! Iranian Monkey in Space!!!

It's no joke, then? The Islamic Republic of Iran is serious about this? They're intent on sending Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into outer space? What is the rationale behind this decision? Might it be to introduce Ahmadinejad personally to Allah, as the single most embarrassing government official Iran could proudly muster? To set up an Iranian colony in outer space; colonizing for example the huge gaseous planet Jupiter in reflection of the constant gas emissions from Iran? Should the international community be alarmed that Iran plans to clutter up space? All these distractions; enough to give a sane society a massive headache....
Fair likeness below, of Ahmadinejad, though.

Iran Says It Will Send Monkey into Space in 2012
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Iran Says It Will Send Monkey into Space in 2012

Iran, whose population is one-third of that of the United States, claims it will send a monkey into space this year. It also has recently said it has found a nano-medicine cure for cancer and a generic drug to treat multiple sclerosis.

As recently as two months ago, Tehran said it was putting a hold on the project to send a monkey into space by 2020.

Now, Hamid Fazeli, director of the Iranian Space Agency, says the monkey will be sent into space by August of this year.

“This is actually a prelude to preparing Iran for sending a human astronaut into space before 2021,” Fazeli told the official government IRNA news agency.

Fazeli said that Iranian scientists are coming up with a new bio-capsule as un upgrade to one launched into space last winter.

The number of technological and military advances in Iran has soared in recent months. The Ahmadinejad regime claimed to have tested a long-range missile that can reach U.S. bases in the Middle East as well as Israel, but wire services quoted analysts as saying that the film of the launch appeared to be of a rocket with far less range.

Tags: Iran Space Program ,monkeys ,Ahmadinjad

As published online at ArutzSheva, 26 March 2012

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Story Altogether

China's immense population of over 1.3-billion people and growing, also represents a population that has a need of transplant organs. No fewer than one and a half million every year. This number required for the population of China alone. And then, of course, there is the booming business enterprise of organ transplants offered to foreigners who wish to take advantage of China's organ-transplant business.

For it is a highly-remunerative business, aligned with tourism. For those people whose medical condition is so desperate and they so willing to undertake risks because they really have nothing left to lose on the gamble that an organ transplant taking place in China will offer them one last gasping chance at life in replacing their own failed organs, it is a bargain. One they don't wish to quibble with.

By asking, for example, anything so picky as where the organs come from. There are many who claim that the outlawed Falun Gong are a source of organs for transplant, although the government denies this. On the other hand, most organs are harvested from prisoners. And commonly enough the Falun Gong are prisoners.

China currently executes roughly five thousand of its people annually, for capital crimes.

From this source livers, kidneys, eyes and other organs are harvested for implantation in people whose own organs have failed. People tend to choose, if they can, the transplant of any handy organ over death. Most people might find the very prospect of routinely harvesting organs from those consigned to death, fairly unpalatable.

All the more so in a country where Confucian traditions hold to the belief that the body be buried in an intact state. Still, in the free enterprise system that China has become, the illegal, independent theft of organs from people who have been kidnapped, or people desperate to earn money, or even young people through forced organ removal, has been officially banned.

Banned officially, but still an ongoing, profitable operation. Why should enterprising individuals who have little regard for basic human rights not proceed with a profitable business in organ-snatching when the government itself does so? The death penalty perhaps handed out far more frequently than required, to ensure an ongoing harvest of needed organs.

According to government sources "Condemned inmates have high rates of fungal and bacterial infections. Therefore, the long-term survival rates for people with transplanted organs in China are always below those of people in other countries." And so, Chinese authorities have decided to attempt a truly voluntary organ donation program.

Planning, finally to phase out organ harvesting from executed prisoners over the next three to five years. And to inculcate in ordinary Chinese an understanding of how critical it is that people opt to donate their organs after death for the betterment of society as a whole. Convincing them that though the tradition is to be buried intact, a new tradition should supercede that.

Even blood donation is uncommon in China due to the traditional cultural prohibition holding that the body must be whole, as it is sacred. Whether the government will realize success with this initiative, much less be able to close down the large kidney trafficking networks and those of Internet middlemen, surgeons and secret operating rooms, is another story altogether.

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Not That He Cares

Japan is preparing itself for yet another challenge to its stability. This time not from nature itself, although the threat of earthquakes, particularly another powerful one such as occurred a year ago, is ever present. The island nation is under threat, like its neighbour South Korea, by North Korea whose bellicose rantings reflective of the raving lunatics that govern the poverty-stricken nation, forewarn its neighbours of its malign intent.

North Korea's latest assault on the sensibilities of its neighbours is yet another rocket launch. Where the Unha-3 rocket is expected to have a trajectory to take it south over Japan's western territory, the Sakishima islands, and close to the southern island prefecture of Okinawa. At the very least, booster stages of the rocket could be expected to fall on Japanese territory.

The rocket, according to North Korean state media will carry a Kwangmyongsong-3 polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite. This memorable occasion to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding president's birth. The rocket and satellite it boosts is expected to be launched somewhere between April 12 to the 16th.

And Japan is preparing its reception with the responding deployment of anti-missile warships and batteries of Patriot missiles to shoot down the rocket if its launch does happen to pose a direct threat to Japan's territory. Should that happen to occur, that the trajectory planned by North Korea carries the rocket into Japanese territory and the Japanese deploy and attack the rocket, North Korea will most certainly accuse Japan of an attack.

And that will be cause for further threats from a country that insists on trying the world's patience with its provocative acts of sticking its long-nailed thumbs in the eyes of the world's nuclear watchdogs. As far as South Korea is concerned, the North has an arsenal of medium-range missiles whose range place much of east and Southeast Asia and north Australia in potential peril.

A powerful rocket such as the Taepodong is capable of carrying explosive warheads to Alaska, Hawaii and Guam. There is not much doubt in the minds of military experts in the United States and South Korea that North Korea is in proud possession of an initial number of nuclear warheads.

Like the undisciplined child it is, the new president, Kim Jong-un, is eager to try out his new toys, urged on by his generals. Yet he still complacently awaits food aid from the United States for his starving population; not that he cares, but the international community does seem to.

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

There Must Be No Competitors

"The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us, 'Two religions shall not coexist in the Arabian Peninsula', so building [churches] in the first place is not valid because this Peninsula must be free from [any other religion]."
This is the interpretation from the Koranic principles given to a Kuwaiti delegation that had approached Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Who insisted additionally that this being so, it is "necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula", to satisfy the edict. Which edict makes it abundantly clear that land sacred to Islam cannot and may not host the defiling influences of another religion's false symbols and institutions.

It should be borne in mind that a supremely influential cleric to whose wisdom the faithful flock, and whose words must be taken as the authority for whatever those faithful then proceed to engage in, for they have been given both permission and instruction from the highest authority, has spoken. When, as a result, Christian churches are razed to the ground, and their parishioners harmed in the process, it is merely a reflection of religious justice.

Churches representing a divine belief in an ancient religion that much pre-dated Islam itself, and was, along with an even earlier original monotheistic religion, the inspiration for Islam, are to be destroyed. A religion whose practitioners are of more ancient vintage, with heritage scriptures that guide the principles and lives of its devout is held by Islamists to be an insult to Islam, and its presence intolerable, as a result.

This prevailing institutionalized attitude is reflected not only in Saudi Arabia, a country which does not in any event recognize the right of other religious views to be present on its soil, much less their institutions or symbols, and whose laws mandate death to any non-Muslims who would enter Mecca and Medina, but countries like Egypt and Iran as well, whose leading clerics echo the edict of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.

Churches have been burned and their members killed in majority-Muslim countries like Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines. In Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, Christians have had to acknowledge that their days of living in peace with their religion are numbered. Yet Muslims live in peace, with freedom to worship as they wish in Christian-dominated countries of the world.

And when Muslims perceive or believe that symbols of Islam have been desecrated they rampage.

The Christian communities in majority-Muslim countries are fearful for their tentative futures, and shrinking. And even in non-Muslim-majority countries where a mix of religious communities exist, the growing militancy and violence of the Muslim communities constitute a threat to the longevity of the Christian communities.

Muslims and Christians and Jews have been able for thousands of years to live together, each more or less respecting the other; certainly not constituting a direct and dire threat to each other's presence, aside from occasional outbreaks of dissatisfaction. The new level of violence and disruption owes to the growing militarization of political, jihadist-driven Islam.

As it presented itself in its first millennia of existence, a powerful juggernaut of religious awakening, violently determined to overturn the presence of earlier religions, to conquer new recruits and new lands, Islam is once again on the march.

Nor does this march bode well for the offshoots of Islam, the Ahmadiyya and the Ismailis, happy to live in peace with others.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Implacably Stupid

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been busy. All part of his duties as president, of course. All part of his re-election strategy as well; by happenstance, not design, obviously.

Strange, that he telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to commiserate; those eight souls whom Mohammed Merah murdered after all, were French. That he also killed four French Jews, three of whom were very young children was horribly unfortunate but entirely explicable as top targets for jihadists.

But he did other presidential things in the wake of the carnage left by the 23-year-old French-Algerian-turned-mujahadeen. Who became a martyr for al-Qaeda, even though he personally far preferred only to become a mass murderer, and would very much have liked to continue living, thank you very much.

President Sarkozy announced new measures to combat Islamist indoctrination and recruitment through the Internet, through foreign travel and within prisons. Good luck on that front.

French security agents, having Mohammed Merah in their sights for the past several years on suspicion of a malign enterprise, joining his fate with that of Islamist fanatics in a world-wide net of jihad-waging warriors for Islam, evidently lost sight of his enterprising endeavours. Under surveillance, purportedly, yet he was able to avail himself of bullet-proof vests, grenades, machine guns.
"He liked danger - he used to race cars and motorbikes and do dangerous stunts. that turned into delinquency and petty crime. But to then start killing people, that is something quite different." Social worker, commenting on the teen-age Merah
He and his older brother Abdelkader were knownto have been involved in two Islamist organizations, The Knights of Pride and a militant jihadist network, the Toulouse group. The Toulouse group? Home-bred and home-proud; dedicated to the work of Islamist destruction of Western ideals starting right at home, and the trail went cold?

"Mohammed was about 18 years old, but we think he may have been in contact with those on the list, through his brother, including more recently when members of the group were released from prison", according to an investigator. Under surveillance for five years, but no alarm bells rang particularly loud when he travelled several times to Afghanistan and Pakistan for jihad training.

Next thing the security investigators knew he was under siege at 17 Rue Sergent Vigne, where the housing complex had to be vacated of its residents, vehicles searched for explosives, negotiations between the police and Merah ongoing and went on for 32 hours. France's interior minister commented: "Officers used to this type of situation said they had never seen such a violent assault".

Before that he claimed it was the intention of the authorities to have the police capture Merah, not kill him. "We have one priority - to take him alive so that he can surrender to face justice." Or be encouraged to keep on talking, because he was quite effusively willing to describe his exploits, his intentions, his background and training.

It might have been increasingly instructive in how to deal with future such events.

"We tried to the end to negotiate his surrender. He announced at 10:45 p.m. on Wednesday that he wanted to die weapons in hand and that is what he did". Wearing an Arab robe over a bullet-proof vest as he leaped through a window, catching a bullet to the head. And he will speak no more.

How will the police now explain to the satisfaction of all those curious to hear their reasons, why they failed to take seriously the complaints that people who lived in the housing estate lodged against him, that he was actively engaged in courting teen-age Algerian boys to become involved with his fanatical Islamist ideology.

Entertaining them with videoed atrocities. Enraging their mothers, and then threatening those women; following up those threats with physical assaults. Were the police deaf, dumb and just entirely implacably stupid?

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The United Nations Human Rights Commission

Darfurians are still suffering untold misery and displacement at the hands of the Sudanese government. Zimbabweans cannot recollect when last they lived lives of comfort and food availability. In Iran any who are foolish enough to declare themselves Baha'i, or wishing to leave Islam, or reveal that they are gay, court a death sentence. In China the official government solution to a lack of voluntary organ donors is to reap them from prisoners.

In Egypt, Christian Copts wait in an agony of suspension for the next church to be the victim of a conflagration, and parishioners to be attacked leaving their place of worship. In Iraq the Shia-led government has suspended participation in parliament of Sunni factions and precipitated yet another Sunni-Shia clash of assured-mutual-murder attacks. In Syria, the government and its military continue to attack, torture and murder civilian protesters.

There are, of course, much more incidents of such human rights atrocities across the Globe in various parts of the world where countries for whom the observance of human rights is a travesty, like the millions of starving North Koreans whose leading dynasty and military prefer to feed the military machine and flirt with rocketry and nuclear arms.

And then, of course, there is Israel. Which is still awaiting serious negotiations on the part of the Palestinian Authority to finally settle the issues surrounding the stand-off between the Jewish state and a fledgling, would-be Palestinian state. One, a tiny nation of resolute and determined people convinced they have only themselves to rely upon.

The other a heterodox tribe at odds with its orthodox counterpart, but which the world responds to with compassion and funding.

One a nation that invented itself and set about proving its existence to the world. The other an aspiring nation that speaks piously of democracy and piteously of its victimhood, comfortable to represent itself as the world's longest-reigning 'refugee' population, with a covert agenda to turn world opinion against the transgressions of the neighbouring state with whom it will not settle its differences.

No other nation in the world has been expected to surrender land it gained after defending itself from a never-ending series of collective attacks from its neighbours, seeking to destroy it. Israel faces constant demands that it permit severance of its ancient capital city to satisfy the demands of its neighbours who wish to claim it as their inalienable right of inheritance.

Israel is declared time and again an apartheid state by those who detest the very thought of its existence, while in reality its population is comprised of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Kurds, all of whom have the rights of citizenship and who may sit in the Knesset as elected officials, and serve as well on the judiciary and in positions of military command.

Saudi Arabia, whom the United Nations or its Human Rights Commission has never criticized, does not permit the worship of any religion other than Islam and persecutes Christians as does Egypt whose religious figures, like the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, encourage the destruction of Christian churches on Arab land because the Quran instructs that no religion other than Islam is permitted there.

The UN's Human Rights Council has issued 91 decisions of condemnation, 39 of those dealing with Israel, three with Syria and one with Iran. It invited a representative of a terror organization, Hamas, to appear before it and because Canada and Israel objected to the presence of such an obvious human rights abuser, the invitation was withdrawn.

The UNHRC prefers to ignore proposed resolutions on systematic institutionalized human rights abuses committed by countries like China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and Zimbabwe - among others - but leaps at the opportunity to condemn Israel, unceasingly and repeatedly. Which explains why there is a tradition there, repeated during the current session, of adopting resolutions targeting Israel solely.

A resolution was passed on Thursday where the council has decided to "dispatch an independent, international, fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem."

No mention of, no thought to pass a resolution condemning Hamas for ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, dislocating the lives of a million Israelis, forcing schools to close and children to be traumatized. No irony cited by anyone in attendance that a nation is being condemned for building needed housing to accommodate civic use within its own capital city.

The Palestinian Authority has no intention of settling the impasse with respect to negotiating a settlement of the disagreements between it and Israel to finally bring about the creation of an independent Palestinian state. It would then have to be accountable for itself and its people, if it became sovereign, less reliant on handouts from international sources, and Israel itself.

Negotiations at the 'peace table' are stalled indefinitely because the Palestinian Authority has no intention of negotiating honestly for they have no intention of surrendering any of their demands and expectations, while demanding that Israel surrender completely to all of the PA's demands. The PA believes that it argues from a position of strength because the international community is solidly behind the plaintive demands of the victim.

That very victim that foresees the eventual destruction of Israel, either by absorption into an overwhelming Arab state, or by drowning the Jewish population in an unstoppable flood of 'returning' Arabs for whom the world has endless sympathy. And while demands continue to be made of Israel that other nations are never subjected to, it is not because any body, institution or nation is 'anti-Israel' let alone 'anti-Semitic', it's just that ... that's the way it is.

And that more than adequately explains why it is and how it is that Israel understands completely that it must be self-reliant. For the prevailing atmosphere that tends to congeal and choke the very air it breathes certainly is anti-Israel and most certainly does represent anti-Semitism. And that's the way it is.

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Wise Beyond His Years

Young Muslim American Slams Toulouse Terrorist, Saudi Mufti
by Chana Ya'ar Young Muslim American Slams Toulouse Terrorist

A letter written by a young Muslim American slams the Toulouse terrorist, and a fatwa by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia.

The 11-year-old writer, who sent his letter in an exclusive email to Arutz Sheva, wrote, “Last week, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabi made a silly fatwa, or religious verdict, which stated that all churches in Arabia should be destroyed. Then last Monday, a young Muslim was taken into custody as the key suspect who opened fire into a Jewish school in Toulouse, France, killing three children and a parent.”

(Ed. Note: As do many children, the young writer confused his facts on the Toulouse terrorist, who has confessed to the murders and at this moment is under siege, trapped by police in an apartment building, but not “in custody.”)

"I can say with certainty that even a kid would find such acts to be outrageous,” the writer's email continued.

"To the Mufti, I say that my holy book the Quran tells Muslims to actually protect all places of worship (22:40-41). It mentions in the verses churches and synagogues by name. In fact, they are listed first, before mosques.

"To the crazy gunman who shot innocent schoolchildren, the Quran warns that “whosoever killed a person... it shall be as if he had killed all mankind (5:33).

"So to my fellow Muslims, let's speak up against the Mufti's madness and the gunman's hatred. They both need to go back to grammar school to learn the basics about Islam.”

Tags: Toulouse terror attack

As published online at ArutzSheva, 23 March 2012

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A Flexible Conscience

The man whom his commanding officers extolled as the very epitome of courage under fire, reliability, compassion and responsibility is the very man who, puzzlingly, left his post in Kandahar Province in the middle of the night, to approach on foot several nearby villages he was well acquainted with.

And there, entering two homes, he shot and stabbed to death Afghan children, their mothers and other adults, 16 Afghan civilians in all.

His nobility of character was exemplified by those who spoke of the 38-year-old father of two young children as having been compelled, after the dreadful events of the 9/11 attacks, to quit his financial trading job in favour of joining the military. Where he distinguished himself by being the very model of a modern American military man.

He served three deployments to Iraq with flying colours and was highly commended.

It was his fourth deployment, sent to Afghanistan, where he continued his outstanding career work as that model modern American military man. During the course of which something went dreadfully wrong with this perfectly well-adjusted man whom his comrades respected and whom his friends and neighbours back home knew as the life of the party, a kind and generous man.

Who, as it happens, will be charged tomorrow with 17 counts of murder and a number of other charges, including attempted murder in connection with the March 11 shooting deaths of Afghan civilians, according to a senior American official. Afghan authorities, needless to say, wanted him charged and put on trial, and presumably given an immediate death penalty right then and there in reflection of Afghan-style justice.

Another senior American, General John Allen, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, has informed a congressional committee that he has ordered an "administrative" enquiry to tease out the mystery why Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, now in solitary confinement, was selected to serve with special operations troops at the Camp Belambay command outpost.

It would seem that Staff Sgt. Bales in his civilian life had some questionable run-ins with the law. An assault charge against a woman, a compulsory anger-management course, an arrest on suspicion of drunk driving and involvement in a hit-and-run accident. Obviously not quite in character with the picture of a gentle, mild-mannered local hero.

Oh, and there's the little matter of what spurred him to join the military, as well. Evidently he enlisted after being ordered by an arbitrator to pay $1.4-million in compensation for his part in participating in a fraudulent scheme and unauthorized trading as a stockbroker. He did indeed work as a trader for four years, ending in involvment in financial fraud.

Having advised a retired 74-year-old engineer from Columbus, Ohio, on investments. With that senior's retirement account of $700,000, Staff St. Bales was able to play around with investments he was obviously not professionally capable of accurately distinguishing through an investment firm he formed in 2000 with a few others, in Florida.

Ill in hospital, the retired engineer seemed not to have been aware of what was happening with his savings. His wife discovered her husband's retirement account had mysteriously shrivelled from $700,000 in 1998 to $30,000 by 2000. A most disagreeable discovery, one that definitely put Staff Sgt. Bales (at that time a civilian) out of favour with them.

A law suit ensued, and as their lawyer said: "They found fraud. I can't say it any better than that." And punitive damages were awarded because the arbitrator ruled Bales' conduct to be "fraudulent and malicious".

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tinder-Box of the World

Well, what if Israel decided to strike Iran? Not to commit to the dangerous and difficult task to strike the country's nuclear installations, but instead to strike at its vulnerable and exposed energy infrastructure? There would be the risk involved of course in angering the world community wherever Israel chose, in its bid to protect itself by a pre-emptive strike, to hit Iran.

The reaction would be immediate and cause further instability in an already unstable geography.

But if the aim is to harm Iran financially, which is what the UN's various tries at diplomacy and economic sanctions have been all about, and which have all been unsuccessful in persuading Iran to cease and desist with its nuclear plans, directly striking the country's energy extraction sources would certainly be more immediate and painful.

With the destruction of that infrastructure the country would find itself critically wounded.

Unable to transfer funding to its proxy terror militias, Hezbollah and Hamas, let alone supply Syria with a continuing source of armaments. And it would no longer have the means to supply itself domestically with imports of natural gas and refined oil or the means to pay for critical foodstuffs that the country relies upon. Energy sales represent 80% of Iran's export earnings.

A situation of national bankruptcy would most certainly have the effect of halting ongoing nuclear plans to achieve either domestic energy from nuclear sources and/or the enrichment of uranium for the production of nuclear-tipped arms. If Israel were to do this, who would attack it in retaliation?

Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran - and of course Syria is sufficiently distracted with its own problems making it unlikely it would join the fray. With Hamas and Hezbollah helping Iran to counter-attack Israel, what would be Egypt's response?

The Gulf States and Saudi Arabia would breathe a sigh of relief that Iran's nuclear program had received a death knell due to lack of funding. And they would likely respond by increasing their output to make up for the difference in Iranian crude oil supply. But Egypt? Now effectively governed by the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is a wing?

Egypt appears on the brink of severing its relations with Israel, prepared to abrogate the peace treaty. What Anwar Sadat felt would be to the advantage of his country by agreeing to peace with Israel, the Muslim Brotherhood feels no compulsion to honour. Should the U.S. attempt to intervene, to persuade Egypt not to react, why would the Muslim Brotherhood listen to the U.S.?

Hosni Mubarak is no longer in authority and the ruling generals have been considerably weakened, knowing they have had to make accommodation with the duly elected Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists; Egypt is no longer the accommodating state it once was, even at the risk of cutting off funding from the United States.

And with the inevitable scarcity of energy products until the gap is filled by alternate sources, and the concomitant rise in oil and gas prices the entire world will feel fairly grudging toward Israel which will have risked that situation, balancing it against the security of its existence in the Middle East. Israel would be concerned and busy for quite a while fending off attacks from an economically defeated Iran.

Which, in its newly penurious state would no longer be capable of funding Hezbollah and Hamas, would find itself back to basics in struggling to maintain itself, with no spare time to devote to rescuing its nuclear program, not even with the wan encouragement of Venezuela, whose Hugo Chavez may or may not survive his latest cancer onset.

Speculation with respect to whatever happens in the Middle East is idle and frustrating. In that unstable political, religious, social environment anything can happen to upset expectations. It remains the fragile tinder-box of the world.

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He Liked Speed, Nice Cars

"Mohammed? We saw him on Saturday and gave each other a peck on the cheek. He was in great form. Last week, a friend was with him in a nightclub in the centre of Toulouse. He liked speed, nice cars, like all of us."
Surely no surprise to note hatred born of religious fanaticism festering in the banlieues of Paris? And in their European counterparts elsewhere?

Is it some kind of huge secret that the growth of immigrant populations throughout Europe has brought incessant problems to the accepting countries seeing their culture, their values and their prevailing social mores, let alone religion being shunted aside with disinterest by immigrants worshipping their own religion, practising their own heritage cultures?

There is no integration, not much of an attempt on the part of the welcoming countries to integrate their immigrants into the social and political fabric of the majority, and none on the part of the immigrants to accommodate themselves to the culture, priorities and values and laws of the welcoming society.

They live uneasily together in their own singular solitudes. It seems inevitable that resentment will arise on either side.

It's when resentment burgeons and festers and becomes an open social canker fuelled by suspicion, scorn and uneven opportunities that the gate opens to radicalism among Western-born but Eastern-cultured populations.It is estimated that there are currently 80 French nationals of Algerian descent training in North Waziristan, close to the border of Afghanistan in Pakistan, as agents of al-Qaeda.

And that is where, as it happens, a 'nice kid' whom all his friends are amazed to discover was a serial murderer was also trained. At the urging of al-Qaeda trainers he agreed to mount a jihad strike or two in Paris, but he was completely disinterested in becoming a suicide bomber. He had no interest in martyrdom. Life was sweet; he was involved with his friends in the usual pursuits; partying, drinking, fast cars.

But he was also an ardent jihadist. He liked that kind of excitement too, obviously. Although he wanted to kill, not to be killed. After all, he tried to enlist in the French Foreign Legion and in the French military, but his long prison record did not work in his favour. That too engenders resentment.

He liked being noticed, and he would be noticed when he posted the video of his victims' aghast fearful faces as he murdered them, three Jewish children and an adult at point-blank range at a Jewish school in Toulouse. To complement his earlier strikes on members of the French military. And he planned to add to that count, the following few days, had the police not tracked him down.

He felt free to do as he did, and why not? The French police hesitate to enter those banlieues where the youth enjoy barbecuing cars at night. The murders would be his part to play in the larger effort to destroy Jews who were, after all, responsible for the plight of the Palestinians, so he felt his compulsion to kill small Jewish children in vengeance for small Palestinian children killed by Jews quite justified.

Police psychologists had no success attempting to talk him into surrender to break the siege at the five-story apartment he had sequestered himself in. His mother, claiming she had no influence on him, refused to plead with him or for him. How to quite explain his murder of three French paratroopers of foreign extraction? It gave him a grisly satisfaction, though what they represented was what he had aspired to.

His older brother arrested on suspicion of being part of the Knights of Pride, another extremist Islamist group, offended by France's burka ban. Mohammed Merah was under surveillance by French secret service, had been for years. It was well known that he was part of a group of Islamic fundamentalists following the Salafist ideology. Despite which he was able to amass an armoury of weapons.

Just as the fiction of Israel preying on the Palestinians serves to furnish Islamists with the rationale for their fierce hatred of Jews and infidels works to stoke their anger and intentions to kill, so too does the identification with a group such as the 'Salafists' ideology. Just as false as is the Jewish-murderer rationale is the Salafist identification which cleaves to Islamist piety, and these al-Qaeda-dazzled French-Algerians do not.

A former neighbour who lived in Les Izards thought differently of Mohammed Merah than the fond testimony of his friends. "He was already a very dangerous individual and recently displayed al-Qaeda tendencies. He came to the neighbourhood dressed in a military-type uniform and a sword. The police were warned, apparently he was questioned. And I find it strange there was no follow-up at the time."

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