These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 1, 2012.
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Muslim Brotherhood vows not to recognize Israel, as does Hamas and the PLO
From the Jerusalem Post
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood will not recognize Israel "under any circumstance," the groups deputy leader Dr Rashad Bayoumi told Arabic daily Al Hayat in an interview publish Sunday. . .
When asked whether it is a requirement for the government in Egypt to recognize Israel, Bayoumi responded by saying that "This is not an option at all, whatever the circumstances, we do not recognize Israel at all. Its [Israel] an occupying criminal enemy."
Meanwhile, Hamas reiterated that it remained committed to all forms of resistance against Israel, including armed struggle.
And a veteran PLO official, Zuhdi Nashashibi, was quoted over the weekend as calling on Palestinians to endorse the armed struggle against Israel. “Popular resistance” alone was insufficient to face Israeli “dangers,” he said. All forms of resistance are legitimate and legal, Nashashibi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee and a former Palestinian Authority minister, said.
The Hamas announcement was made in a statement marking the third anniversary of the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead offensive in the Gaza Strip. “The path of resistance, jihad and martyrdom has proven to be the only way to extract our rights and liberate our lands, our Jerusalem and our holy sites,” Hamas said.
Hamas would not recognize Israel and would never give up one inch of the land of Palestine, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared on Friday. He was speaking in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, where he delivered the Friday khutba [sermon] in a mosque.
Haniyeh is on a tour of a number of Arab and Islamic countries – the first of its kind since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
Posted on 01/01/2012 3:39 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 1 January 2012
We won't eat halal meat, say MPs and peers who reject demands to serve it at Westminster
From the Mail on Sunday
The Palace of Westminster has rejected demands to serve halal meat in its restaurants.
Muslim MPs and peers have been told they cannot have meat slaughtered in line with Islamic tradition because the method – slitting an animal’s throat without first stunning it – is offensive to many of their non-Muslim colleagues.
The stance has infuriated some parliamentarians who have eaten meat in the Palace’s 23 restaurants and cafes, having been assured that it was halal. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham said: ‘I did feel misled. I think a halal option should be made available.’
In 2010, the Mail on Sunday revealed schools, hospitals and restaurants were serving halal meat to unwitting customers.
Members of the Church of England have complained that the spread of halal meat was 'effectively spreading Sharia law' across Britain.
However, a spokesman for the House of Lords and the House of Commons confirmed that it was not served in their restaurants.
Alison Ruoff, a member of the Church of England, said: ‘It’s a bit hypocritical that the Houses of Parliament, which have allowed other people to provide halal food, have ruled it out on their own premises.’
When the meat is slaughtered, Islamic verse is uttered before the animal has its throat slashed.
In the picture the Mail used the Halal butcher's produce looked quite wholesome. The picture I took above is nearer the reality of how most halal meat is sold in East London.
Posted on 01/01/2012 3:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Perils Of Faith: HRCP warns of rise in forced conversions of Hindus
From the Express Tribune
KARACHI: The increase in the number of reports of Hindu girls being kidnapped or made to convert to Islam has sparked concern from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
At the launch of its report on minorities in Pakistan titled ‘Perils of Faith’, HRCP’s Amarnath said minor girls and married women are kidnapped and then converted to Islam. “They kidnap girls who are younger than 15 but they say they are adults and that the girls have accepted Islam and been married of their own free will”, he said. He also pointed out that no one is supporting the Hindu community on the issue. “We are Pakistanis first, and then Hindu. We earn enough and have food to eat but this conversion issue is not acceptable, it has discouraged Hindus in Pakistan.”
HRCP chairperson Zohra Yusuf . . . highlighted the condition of the Hazara community in Balochistan, who are targeted and killed or kidnapped for ransom. “Minorities are not considered equal citizens in Pakistan. Some incidents that happened in 2011 have increased their vulnerability”, she said, citing the assassinations of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and the ex-federal minister for minorities affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti.
Yusuf also pointed out that the curriculum taught in schools, only teach children about “Islamic and Pakistani heroes. Other communities including Parsis have a role in the development of Pakistan.”
Elsewhere in the newspaper is this report about the latest instance which promped the HRCP's comment.
KARACHI: Until recently, Bharti lived in her parents’ house and visited the local temple. Today, as Ayesha, she spends her time adjusting a black abaya and barely looked at her parents when she saw them in court on Saturday.
The girl with a new identity and religion was in court for the hearing of a case her family has filed, alleging the abduction and forceful conversion and marriage of their daughter to a Muslim man. The family filed the FIR 365-B at the Baghdadi police station.
“She is being pressurised to say that she converted because of her own free will – else we would be harmed,” cried her father, Narain Das. Narain Das brought a copy of the National Database and Registration Authority record which states that his daughter is 15 years old. But certificates of her conversion to Islam and her marriage claim she is 18. The marriage documents have tampered with her age. She is not of the age to get married,”
Das isn’t opposed to his daughter converting to Islam. His son also converted and lives at home. . . “She should not be forced into converting,” Das states
His new son-in-law Abid was handcuffed and chewed gutka as he stood in the court. (Bharti's) father-in-law Mohammad Anwar, a constable at the Preedy police station (enough said), did not leave her side for a minute. He twitched his moustache and flashed a big smile. “It is such a blessing for us, that a Hindu has embraced Islam. She always wanted to be a Muslim and has knowledge about Islam.” Ayesha (Bharti) told The Express Tribune that she only knows the Kalima.
The Das family fears that if the court releases Ayesha to Abid’s family, she will be sold or murdered. “We want a guarantee that we will be allowed to meet her and that she will be in safe hands.
Posted on 01/01/2012 4:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 1 January 2012
I'm Giving Up Antisemitism and Anti-Semitism for the New Year
Happy New secular Year everyone! Here is one of my resolutions; I wonder if anyone will join me?
I’m giving up antisemitism and anti-semitism for the New Year. It’s all Jew hatred for me from here on.
And if anyone in my presence says “Judeophobia”, I won’t be responsible for the hospital bill.
Here is a very dry article explaining where the term “antisemitism” came from:
Marr’s conception of antisemitism focused on the supposed racial, as opposed to religious, characteristics of the Jews. His organization, the League of Antisemites, introduced the word “antisemite” into the political lexicon and established the first popular political movement based entirely on anti-Jewish beliefs.
Update: OJ asks in the comments at Israelicool, what is the problem with Judeophobia? Here is my answer:
If you have an irrational fear of a Jew or Jews then you are phobic and yes, Judeophobic. A phobia is introverted and internal. As soon as you act on that irrational fear you are, in my eyes, a “hater”. So, whilst many Jew haters are also Judeophobic, it’s not their Judeophobia that causes me a problem.
Posted on 01/01/2012 6:52 AM by Brian of London
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Dov Zakheim, Right And Also Wrong
Dov Zakheim notes what for some -- perhaps a very few -- was always obvious from the beginning of the Iraq venture: that once it was clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction to seize or destroy, it was time to leave Iraq, and if, by that time, the regime of Saddam Hussein had been destroyed, that would mean that power had been irrevocably transferred from Sunni to Shi'a Arabs, and this state of affairs would never be accepted by the Sunnis, and the Shi'a -- no matter what the name of the incidental boss in Baghdad -- would never give up the power that they felt, even "democratically," they deserved.
He is right to note the likely consequences of the fall of the Assad regime, and to question the enthusiasm for intervention to bring about a collapse of that regime, and the certain transfer of power to the Ikhan (as in the case of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood possesses the numbers, and the fanaticism, to succeed).
But then Zakheim goes further, and makes it seem that it would be madness to attack -- not invade, and remain, as in Iraq, but to attack -- the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran. That does not follow. He does show, with a passing phrase, that he understands that if Israel is forced to attack Iran's nuclear project, then enmity between Israel and Iran will continue after the fall of the Islamic Republic of Iran. So he understands, one assumes, that if the American government assumes its responsibilities as a great power, and attacks the nuclear installations, and after a brief rallying-round period the slamic Republic falls as a result of American, not Israeli, attack, then the useful narrative that links Persians and Jews can be resurrected, and employed to create, within Iran, a better situation for those who, permanently disenchanted with Islam, want to create out of memories, real and false, of pre-Islamic Iran, a different identity, one in which "the Jews" of the Middle East, as allies of "the Persians" can play an important role. Georges Sorel was not the only one to describe the usefulness of myths, and Sorelian myths need not always be about violence.
The Unintended Consequences of America's Adventure in Iraq
Now that the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Iraq is complete, sectarian warfare once again has reared its ugly head. There were the killings of Shi’a during the month of Muharram, which were almost certainly a response, at least in part, to the roundup of Sunnis that probably took place with the government’s approval. Then there are the charges that Vice President Tareq el-Hashemi managed a death squad. Hashemi is now a fugitive in Kurdistan.
Nuri al-Maliki, the author of those charges, has emerged as nothing less than a Shi’a strongman. No doubt he will retain the formalities of democracy—elections, a parliament, the participation of cooperative members of the Sunni, Kurd and Turkmen communities—so long as these do not interfere with his authoritarian ways. Should they threaten to cramp his style, he likely will further weaken these fledgling institutions, which already are fraying at the seams.
Maliki insists that he is not a tool of the Iranians. Strictly speaking, he is correct. Iraq will never allow itself to be completely dominated by Tehran. Nevertheless, just as there can be no denying that Iran was the real victor of Operation Iraqi Freedom because America defanged its only seriously powerful regional rival, so too is it true that Iraq has increasingly come to share Tehran’s perspective on regional affairs. Witness its abstention on the Arab League’s vote to suspend Syria. Iraq is now firmly rooted in what King Abdullah of Jordan years ago termed “the Shi’a crescent,” which includes also Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon, which also abstained from the Arab League vote, and Syria.
Moreover, Iraq appears no more friendly toward Israel than those other states in the crescent despite old pipedreams of neoconservatives who urged Washington to launch its attack on Iraq at the earliest possible moment. Egged on by Ahmed Chalabi, the advocates of regime change foresaw a democratic Iraq reopening the old Iraq Petroleum Company pipeline that once had run from Kirkuk to Haifa in Mandatory Palestine. Things have not worked out that way. [this rich fantasy, if true, deserves more detail -- it would be useful to learn from Dopv Zakheim those he thinks were so taken in by plausible exiles, and hints of of a new world in which Muslim Arabs in Iraq would somehow overcome their implacable hatred of Israel] Indeed, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Iraq would tolerate the basing on its soil of Iranian missiles pointed at Israel. Such a turn of events would only intensify the nervousness that is already palpable in Jerusalem. Ironically, it was Ariel Sharon, that icon of many neoconservatives, who warned Washington prior to the Iraq invasion that toppling Saddam would benefit the main enemy, Iran.[why "ironically"? Neither Sharon, nor any other Israeli leader, thought the invasion of Iraq a good idea, for the Israelis understood that Saddam Hussein was pretending to hide his non-existent weapons of mass destruction not from the West, but from Iran].
Sharon’s prescience [it wasn't "prescience" but geopolitical common sense -- Iran being the main threat, Saddam Hussein's regime need not, right now, be overturned] should have served as a lesson to those whose hubris drives them to want to transform the Middle East. Yet the advocates of military action against Iran, Syria or both (in part because of the hostility of these states toward Israel) clearly have turned a deaf ear to the former Israeli prime minister’s argument, which can be summed up as, “Beware of what you ask for.” The consequences of an attack on Iran for Israel’s security are far from clear: even if an Israeli (or American) attack were to succeed—a somewhat dubious proposition—it would guarantee the undying hostility of the Persians for generations to come. Since Iran will always be the strongest power in the region, this is not a prospect that supporters of Israel should welcome. [there are great differences between the situations in Syria and Iran, and to dismiss intervention in both with the same rhetorical wave, is to overlook those differences. Iran is an immediate threat; in Syria, the regime should not be put out of its misery, but left to struggle, for as long as possible, suppressing the Sunni Arabs whose future rule would be much worse not only for the Alawites, but for the Christians in Syria, and by being kept preoccupied with maintaining Alawite rule, will have less money, time, and energy for mischief-making in Lebanon, or against Israel. But Iran, because of its nuclear project, is quite different, from Syria, and calls for American military intervention, as the power best able to deal with the Iranian nuclear project, and in so doing, to allow for the possibility of a rapprochement, of sorts, betweenIran after the fall of the Islamic Republic, and Israel, a rapprochement which, based on the alternative pre-Islamic narrative in which Persians and Jews are allied, can assist the enlightened Iranians to limit the power of Islam in Iran, now to be depicted, correctly, as a vehicle for Arab cultural and linguistic imperialism, which damaged the higher civilization of the Persians. ]
As for Syria, again the consequences for Israel could be far from salutary. Would a militant Sunni Islamist regime, closely tied to Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood branches elsewhere (notably Egypt) improve Israel’s strategic position in the region? Hardly. Israel once faced a peculiar entity called the United Arab Republic, comprised of Syria and Egypt, which constituted a coordinated threat to both its northern and southern borders. The UAR did not last long, but a Muslim Brotherhood reprise of that experiment might last long enough to mount a new attack on the Jewish state.
It made little sense for the United States to attack Libya. It makes even less sense for Washington to authorize an attack in either Iran or Syria. It is one thing to toughen sanctions against Damascus, choke Tehran’s central bank, and coordinate even more closely with allies and friends to upend the Iranian nuclear program and further weaken the Assad regime. It is quite another to take military action. And those who support such action because of a misguided desire to enhance Israel’s security should think again: Instead of a pipeline to Haifa, their support for regime change in Baghdad traded a Sunni enemy of both Israel and Iran for a Shi’a friend of Iran that is no less an enemy of the Jewish state.
Dov Zakheim was under secretary of defense (comptroller) from 2001-2004 and recently completed his term as a member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. He recently published A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan.
Posted on 01/01/2012 9:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 January 2012
The Rupture, Or, The Slippery Slopes Of Silicon Valley
From Agence France-Presse:
UK data 'shows higher risk of breast implant ruptures'
LONDON — Britain's biggest cosmetic surgery chain has revealed that rupture rates on allegedly faulty French-made breast implants are seven times higher than previously thought, a report said Sunday.
The new data from Transform, reported in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, has prompted Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to order an urgent review into the data used to assess the risks to 42,000 British women given the implants.
The firm's figures suggest one in 14 implants made by French manufacturer Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) had ruptured since 2006 -- about seven percent.
If replicated across the industry, this would represent a far higher risk than is currently estimated by Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which puts the rupture rate at one percent.
The French regulatory authority, AFSSAPS, meanwhile suggests a failure rate, including rupture, of about five percent in France, MHRA said. Health officials have advised 30,000 French women with PIP implants to have them removed.
"We believe -- and it needs rechecking -- that the rupture rate is actually higher at about seven percent," a source at Transform told the Sunday Telegraph.
The company was unavailable for comment on Sunday, while a spokesman for the Department of Health could not confirm the figures.
However, he told AFP that the review announced by the health secretary on Saturday would look at the issue, saying: "What we really need to understand is what the rupture rate is."
On Saturday, Lansley said he was "concerned" and "unhappy" about inconsistencies in the data surrounding the risks of PIP implants, after a private provider came forward with new information.
However, he stressed that Britain still did not recommend the routine removal of the implants, saying the evidence suggested no safety concerns.
The review, led by the medical director of the National Health Service (NHS), Bruce Keogh, will also look at whether improvements are needed in the regulation of cosmetic surgery in Britain. It will report back next week.
The now-bankrupt PIP was shut down and its products banned in 2010 after it was revealed to have been using non-authorised silicone gel that caused abnormally high rupture rates in its implants.
Posted on 01/01/2012 10:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 1 January 2012
Unsurprisingly, Sunni Arabs In Mixed Neighborhoods Made Unwelcome By Shi'a
From Associated Press:
Fearful, Iraq's Sunnis Leave Mixed Neighborhood
BAGHDAD (AP) — The question was disturbing: Why do you live here?
Ahmed al-Azami, a Sunni Muslim, has owned a house in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Shaab since 1999. But when Shiite residents recently began questioning why he, a Sunni, was living among them, he decided it was time to leave.
His story and similar tales by other Sunnis suggest Iraqis are again segregating themselves along sectarian lines, prompted by a political crisis pulling at the explosive Sunni-Shiite divide just weeks after the American withdrawal left Iraq to chart its own future.
The numbers so far are small and not easy to track with precision, but anecdotal accounts and a rise in business at real estate agencies in Sunni neighborhoods reveal a Sunni community contemplating the worse-case scenario and acting before it's too late.
Baghdad and the rest of Iraq are already highly segregated places. Running from bombs, death squads and their own neighbors at the height of violence in 2006 and 2007, Sunnis and Shiites fled neighborhoods that were once mixed.
That violence and the resulting migrations slowed in 2008, but tensions are again swirling as a power struggle worsens between Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Sunni politicians who have been largely sidelined since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And many fear increased violence could result.
"People started to question my origins. Why don't you live in Azamiyah?" said al-Azami, referring to the Sunni-dominated enclave in northern Baghdad where he has a shop. He felt so nervous and unwelcome that he began looking for a house in Azamiyah a few weeks ago. Once he moves, he'll either rent out or sell his Shaab house.
"I will always be a stranger to them," he said, referring to his Shiite neighbors.
In a sign that he is not alone, rental prices in Azamiyah have risen by about $200 a month, said real estate agent Abu Abdullah al-Obeidi. Other Sunni neighborhoods of the capital like Adel and Khadra have also seen rent increases, he said.
"The people who are coming to Azamiyah to rent or buy are afraid that they will be killed during any possible sectarian war if they stay in the mixed areas," al-Obeidi said.
Iraq's worst political crisis in years blew up just as the last American troops were rolling across the border into Kuwait on Dec. 18. Al-Maliki's government issued an arrest warrant for the country's highest-ranking Sunni politician, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, on charges he ran a hit squad that assassinated government officials five years ago.
Al-Hashemi is staying in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region beyond the reach of Iraqi law enforcement, and the government has televised purported confessions in which his bodyguards say he paid them to carry out the killings.
Al-Maliki is also trying to get rid of Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq after he likened the prime minister to Saddam, a comparison meant to suggest he had autocratic leanings.
Al-Maliki has threatened to form a government without a key Sunni-backed party, Iraqiya, which has been boycotting parliament because its members say al-Maliki is not sharing power.
Even before the U.S. military withdrawal, sectarian tensions were rising after the arrests of hundreds of former members of Saddam's Sunni-controlled Baath Party. For Sunnis, a purge of Baathists is seen as a shot against all Sunnis.
When Iraq's violence was at its worst, hundreds of thousands of people fled to neighboring Jordan and Syria. Most of them were Sunnis, and more than a million remain there. [most of those who left Iraq permanently to settle in Syria were, in fact, Christians]
But with a crisis in Syria and tightening visa requirements for Iraqis in Syria and Jordan, Sunnis now seem to be relocating around Iraq. Some, like al-Azami, are moving from Shiite to Sunni neighborhoods, others are going from Baghdad to Sunni-dominated cities such as Fallujah or Mosul or the relatively safer Kurdish region.
This means Iraq's sectarian map will have even more sharply drawn boundary lines. For some of those contemplating moves — most of them minority Sunnis — it is a familiar feeling.
Mohammed Abdullah moved his family to Syria in 2006 when violence was at its worst. Two years later he, his wife and two children returned, hoping to find a better Iraq. For a while it seemed better.
One recent confrontation, though, changed all that.
Abdullah, who used to drive passengers in an SUV from Baghdad to the northern city of Kirkuk, was harassed by one of his Shiite passengers. Sunni members of the Diyala provincial council had just voted to form an autonomous region, essentially trying to limit the Shiite-dominated government's control on them. Shiite protesters blocked the streets for hours to demonstrate against the vote.
Abdullah said the passenger, a soldier in the Iraqi army, knew he was Sunni after seeing him pray during a rest stop in the Sunni fashion, with his hands clasped in front of him. When Abdullah took a detour to get around the blocked roads, the soldier started in on him.
"The army officer thought I was taking a road controlled by al-Qaida to let insurgents kidnap the passengers," he said. "He told me that I put the lives of the passengers at risk, and he threatened me."
Hala Abdul-Rahman's 17-year-old son was kidnapped in 2004 by Shiite militiamen while he was walking through the Sunni neighborhood of Dora in southern Baghdad. His father found the boy's body in a field days later.
Her family moved to Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad. The Kurdish-Arab city had its own problems since the invasion but was generally much safer than Baghdad. In 2009, thinking the bad memories were gone forever, they moved back to Dora. But with the recent tension and al-Hashemi's arrest warrant, they took no chances. Earlier this week they moved to Chamchamal, a city in the Kurdish north.
"We lost the dearest thing parents can lose and that is our eldest son," she said. "We are not ready to sacrifice another son because of the politicians' ambitions."
Posted on 01/01/2012 2:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald