These are all the Blogs posted on Friday, 11, 2010.
Friday, 11 June 2010
Afghanistan: David Cameron's flight diverted after 'assassination plot'
From The Telegraph
David Cameron was forced to abandon a visit to a British base in Afghanistan after military intelligence suggested a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister was flying to a British base in Helmand province on Thursday when intelligence learnt of a plan to fire on his helicopter.
Mr Cameron and the party of aides and journalists travelling with him were unharmed and no physical attack is believed to have taken place.
Mr Cameron had arrived in Kabul on Thursday morning before flying on to Camp Bastion, the main British base in Helmand. From there, he set out on a series of visits to see British and Afghan security forces and development projects.
After visiting an Afghan agricultural project, Mr Cameron set off for Patrol Base Shahzad near Lashkar Gar, where around 80 men from the Duke of Lancaster’s regiment are based.
During the short flight - scheduled for 15 minutes - military commanders decided to abort Mr Cameron’s visit to the base, due at around 6pm local time. Brigadier Richard Felton, the commanding officer of Task Force Helmand, who was at the Shahzad base, decided that Mr Cameron’s visit was too risky.
Military intelligence analysts say there is a growing threat to Nato helicopters in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, a US military helicopter crashed in Helmand, killing four crew. The Taliban claimed to have shot the aircraft down.
The Prime Minister’s Chinook was in the air at the time Brg Felton made his decision. The helicopter was diverted on to the next scheduled stop in Lashkar Gar itself, where Mr Cameron met British troops at a barbeque.
It is understood that Mr Cameron only became aware of the incident on arrival at the alternative destination.
Posted on 06/11/2010 3:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 11 June 2010
To sympathize with those who are less fortunate is honorable and decent. A man able to commiserate only with himself would surely be neither admirable nor attractive. But every virtue can become deformed by excess, insincerity, or loose thinking into an opposing vice. Sympathy, when excessive, moves toward sentimental condescension and eventually disdain; when insincere, it becomes unctuously hypocritical; and when associated with loose thinking, it is a bad guide to policy and frequently has disastrous results. It is possible, of course, to combine all three errors.
No subject provokes the deformations of sympathy more than poverty. I recalled this recently when asked to speak on a panel about child poverty in Britain in the wake of the economic and financial crisis. I said that the crisis had not affected the problem of child poverty in any fundamental way. Britain remained what it had long been—one of the worst countries in the Western world in which to grow up. This was not the consequence of poverty in any raw economic sense; it resulted from the various kinds of squalor—moral, familial, psychological, social, educational, and cultural—that were particularly prevalent in the country (see “Childhood’s End,” Summer 2008).
My remarks were poorly received by the audience, which consisted of professional alleviators of the effects of social pathology, such as social workers and child psychologists. One fellow panelist was the chief of a charity devoted to the abolition of child poverty (whose largest source of funds, like that of most important charities in Britain’s increasingly corporatist society, was the government). She dismissed my comments as nonsense. For her, poverty was simply the “maldistribution of resources”; we could thus distribute it away. And in her own terms, she was right, for her charity stipulated that one was poor if one had an income of less than 60 percent of the median national income.
This definition, of course, has odd logical consequences: for example, that in a society of billionaires, multimillionaires would be poor. A society in which every single person grew richer could also be one in which poverty became more widespread than before; and one in which everybody grew poorer might be one in which there was less poverty than before. More important, however, is that the redistributionist way of thinking denies agency to the poor. By destroying people’s self-reliance, it encourages dependency and corruption—not only in Britain, but everywhere in the world where it is held.
Continue reading here.
Posted on 06/11/2010 7:30 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Friday, 11 June 2010
White House Works to Ease Iran Sanctions Bill
Paul Richter writes in the LATimes:
Reporting from Washington —
The Obama administration, which labored for months to impose tough new United Nations sanctions against Iran, now is pushing in the opposite direction against Congress as it crafts U.S. sanctions that the White House fears may go too far.
Administration officials have begun negotiations with congressional leaders, who are working on versions of House and Senate bills that would punish companies that sell refined petroleum products to Iran or help the country's oil industry.
Unlike the U.N. measures, congressional action would pertain only to U.S. policies and agencies and would not be binding on other countries. Other countries and groups of nations also are considering adopting measures to augment the U.N. action.
The sanctions are aimed at forcing Iran to giving up its nuclear program, which Western nations fear is geared toward developing nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is only interested in peaceful energy projects.
U.S. sanctions have strong support in Congress, and the administration backs them in principle as a way to strengthen the mild strictures adopted on Wednesday by the U.N. Security Council.
But the administration fears that the legislation also could damage relations with Europe, Russia and China, all of whom cooperated with U.S. efforts on the U.N. sanctions.
To avoid that possibility, the administration wants authority to waive U.S. punishment against companies from countries that have cooperated on Iran.
Many lawmakers are wary. Some say the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has been lax in enforcing existing Iran sanctions out of concern for good relations with other world powers.
"The administration doesn't carry out the laws that are on the books, and they want the new law to be as weak and loophole-ridden as possible," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who has been pushing for years for such legislation.
Republicans have been ratcheting up their demands for Congress to hang tough, arguing that the U.N. resolution fell short of what was needed...
Posted on 06/11/2010 8:09 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Friday, 11 June 2010
Time for Another Reassessment
MK Dr. Arieh Eldad writes for The Iconoclast:
The term “Reassessment” entered the diplomatic discourse between Israel and the United States in 1975. U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sought to pressure the then prime minister Yitzak Rabin into an “interim agreement” with Egypt, by which Israeli forces would withdraw from the Yom Kippur War ceasefire lines to the Mitla and Gidi passes in Sinai. Kissinger froze U.S. arms shipments and hinted that more drastic measures would follow. Rabin was unfazed and took his case to the Senate. President Gerald Ford and Kissinger relented.
Even at the height of that crisis, the United States did not dare to endanger the heart of its strategic understanding with Israel: Israel’s ambiguous nuclear policy. President Lyndon Johnson and Prime Minister Golda Meir set the policy in 1969 that has been followed by all the presidents and prime ministers since. This policy has often been articulated in written agreements between them but occasionally simply by mutual understanding. “Israel will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East,” said prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Shimon Peres, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin, and all who followed. U.S. presidents have come and gone; sometimes they had questions, sometimes they asked for clarifications, but ultimately they all accepted the formula and agreed to abide by it. Until Obama.
After his election, Obama promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to maintain the ambiguity Israel’s ambiguous nuclear policy. Two weeks ago he betrayed Israel.
On May 28, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which meets once every five years, called unanimously - with America’s support - for Israel to sign the non-proliferation treaty and open its nuclear installations to external supervision. Israel is not a signatory to the treaty; Iran is a signatory, yet Iran is rushing towards production of nuclear weapons. Syria and Libya are signatories, but their signatures have not prevented them from building uranium enrichment plants for military purposes. North Korea built a bomb and tests nuclear weapons, mocking the entire world supposedly opposed to it. Pakistani scientists led by the “father of the Pakistan’s nuclear bomb” Abed Qadeer Khan sold nuclear secrets and technology necessary for the building of nuclear weapons to Iran, Syria, Libya, and possibly North Korea. In the face of this burgeoning industry, the United States gave in to an Egyptian initiative and agreed to single out Israel as the country the world should be worried about. Israel alone was mentioned in the NPT Review Committee’s report. Apparently only its installations need to be examined.
The time has come for a reassessment of U.S.– Israeli relations.
Israel may want the billions of dollars it receives in military aid from the United States, and in the event of a long war, Israel may need the U.S. munitions reserves currently stored in Israel and re-supply lines for the Israeli army; the U.S. market is also of great importance for Israel’s economy; and U.S. intevention often limits Israel’s international isolation. But the fact is, Israel can no longer rely on the support of the United States.
Israel must reassess the value of all American promises, whether they be in writing, made ceremoniously at public festivities, or whispered privately in a room of the White House. He who without batting an eyelash has betrayed Israel on the nuclear issue, a matter whose existential importance to the Jewish state is obvious given the Iranian dash for bomb, will not hesitate to deny other commitments. Obama is currently pressuring Israel to accept dictates that would lead to a Palestinian state in the heart of its country. In return, he offers to guarantee our security, preserve our technological advantage, and ensure the Palestinian state will be demilitarized. Why would anyone in Israel be willing to take existential risks while relying on the commitment of an American president who has betrayed and denied the commitments of his predecessors and forgotten even his own?
One might think that as Israel’s military and political situation worsens, our ability to maneuver opposite the United States decreases. But with our back to the wall and knowing full well that we have no one to rely on, Israel can turn this lack of maneuverability into resoluteness and the dearth of options into strength. When doubts are resolved, fortitude may emerge. The knowledge that American promises are without value is of itself quite valuable. Even a pauper will not agree to give the little he has in exchange for a guarantee openly declared to be worthless.
Obama is no more frightening than Ford. Clinton dislikes us no more than Kissinger did. The sea we are threatened with being thrown into is the same sea. The Arabs are the same Arabs. But the wall our backs are up against is much closer and more dangerous. The depth of Obama’s betrayal must be made known to the American public today. As the November elections approach in the United States, Netanyahu has the opportunity to replicate Rabin’s achievement of 1975.
Posted on 06/11/2010 9:07 AM by NER
Friday, 11 June 2010
One More Example Of Not Understanding Your Own Reality
The Australian June 12, 2010
Islam convert under investigation leaves Yemen
AN Australian woman detained last month as part of an investigation into al-Qa'ida's increased activity in Yemen has been freed and is flying home with her two children, security officials say.
The officials said the plane with Shyloh Giddins, 30, and her son and daughter took off from the airport in San'a shortly before 6pm (AEST) yesterday.
Abdul Rahman Barman, Ms Giddins's lawyer in Yemen, said the children -- Aminah, 4, and Omar, 7 -- were taken from their home in Yemen's capital late yesterday after close to a month of house arrest. They had been in the care of a Bangladeshi friend, Rafah Hussein, while Ms Giddins was held by Yemeni security police in a nearby prison.
The 30-year-old English teacher was detained on May 16, a month after Australian spy agency ASIO cancelled her passport on national security grounds.
Yemeni security officials said Ms Giddins had an "extremist" interpretation of Islam and they believed she was a threat to the country's national security.
It is believed Australia provided intelligence via the FBI to Yemeni security police about Ms Giddins.
Mr Barman said Ms Giddins was "relieved" that she would finally be returning to Australia.
"She said there would be laws that could protect her there, and for that she was grateful," Mr Barman said.
Ms Giddins is a Muslim convert who has lived in Yemen since 2006.
Yemeni authorities agreed to her deportation after Foreign Minister Stephen Smith phoned Yemen's Foreign Minister and requested she be repatriated along with her children.
Her arrest was part of a crackdown by Yemen's Political Security Organisation on Islamist groups after the attempted bombing of a US airliner last Christmas Day by a Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Abdulmutallab had studied in Yemen and was reportedly a follower of the US-born, Yemen-based radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
Posted on 06/11/2010 9:32 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
A Musical Interlude: High Upon A Hill-Top (Annette Hanshaw)
Posted on 06/11/2010 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Noor Ramjanally sentenced to imprisonment at Chelmsford Crown Court
From This is Local London
A SELF-STYLED Muslim leader whose false accusations of kidnap cost the police and council over £10,000 has been sentenced to prison. Noor Ramjanally, 36, of Valley Hill, Loughton, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court in his absence as the jury was told he had fled the country earlier this year.
Judge Karen Walden-Smith described his allegations as a “pack of lies” after they were undermined by CCTV footage covertly installed at his flat for his own protection. Judge Walden-Smith said: “The camera clearly showed him leaving the premises. At the time he was being 'abducted' he was not in the presence of men threatening him with a knife, but simply walking calmly down the stairs.”
Ramjanally was picked up on CCTV later that day browsing the shelves at Homebase at the time he was alleged to have been kidnapped.
Sentencing Ramjanally to two years' imprisonment, Judge Walden-Smith said: “This allegation was a complete pack of lies. This was one of the worst examples of perverting the course of justice I've seen striking at the fabric of the justice system and also community relations.”
As Ramjanally is currently out of the country the police are currently considering their options to return him to justice.
After the guilty verdict was issued, Mr Gowan revealed Ramjanally is also on bail for three other offences. He is alleged to have stolen money from South Woodford Mosque, where he was a member, and is also facing an allegation of fraud in relation to the mosque. He is on bail for an allegation relating to benefits and was being investigated by the UK Borders Agency on suspicion he had greatly outstayed his leave in the country.
So many people who should have known better suspended their critical faculties and believed him, because they so wanted the story to be true.
Posted on 06/11/2010 9:58 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 11 June 2010
A Mosque in Murfreesboro Begets Intimidation
by Jerry Gordon (June 11, 2010)
Pete Doughtie is an experienced newspaperman who publishes a family owned free weekly publication, The Rutherford Reader (The Reader), supported by third party advertisers. The Reader appears in supermarket racks, fast food chains and various retail outlets in several counties in middle Tennessee. In addition, it has more than 43,000 on-line subscribers. The Reader is based in Murfreesboro, a community of 100,000 in the buckle of the bible belt. However, that locale didn’t prevent Doughtie and The Reader from being falsely accused of "hate speech" and having his publication yanked from Kroger Supermarkets, a Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food outlet, and even the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. more>>>
Posted on 06/11/2010 10:48 AM by NER
Friday, 11 June 2010
The Cuban connection for Smuggling Somalis into the US
A tip of the chapeau to Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch. The Miami Herald has a fascinating and troubling story about a Cuban connection in the US Eastern District of Virginia trial that ended with a slap on the wrist for American Islamic convert Anthony J. Tracy. Tracy was sentenced to time served and a $100 fine. We posted the story of Tracy’s conviction against the murky background of an alleged double agent role for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and some unnamed intelligence agencies.
The Miami Herald article, “Cubans implicated in human smuggling” noted “a federal grand jury indictment named two employees at the Cuban Embassy in Kenya as participants in a scheme to smuggle Somalis into the United States.”
Here is a fascinating excerpt:
Two Cubans who worked at the Cuban embassy in Kenya were identified as unindicted co-conspirators in the U.S. court records of a scheme to smuggle 268 Somalis to Cuba and on to the United States.
The case of convicted alien smuggler Anthony J. Tracy raised national security concerns because of his contacts with a Somali terror group, Al Shabaab. Tracy denied helping Shabaab, but failed that part of a lie-detector test.
``I helped a lot of Somalis and most are good, but there are some who are bad and I leave them to ALLAH,' Tracy wrote in a Jan. 15 e-mail, according to court records in his case.
The two Cubans, identified only as Consuelo and Elena, were fired by their supervisors for providing the Somalis with visas so they could slip into the United States via Dubai, Moscow, Havana, South America and Mexico, the records showed.
Tracy, 35, a Virginia resident, pleaded guilty to one charge of alien smuggling and was sentenced last week to time served -- four months -- and a $100 fine in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
Many of the court records were sealed or heavily redacted. But others showed that while Tracy confessed to helping Somalis obtain Cuba visas, prosecutors acknowledged they were having trouble proving that any of the aliens had reached the United States.
The records show Tracy converted to Islam while in prison in the 1990s, married a Somali woman and since 2002 was a paid informant for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and another U.S. agency not identified.
He made three trips to Kenya as an informant and set up a travel agency in Nairobi. But in 2009 he informed his U.S. handlers that he was helping Somalis to fraudulently obtain Cuban visas, according to prosecutors.
There are some troubling aspects of this story. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enlisted a convicted felon and US prison convert to Islam as a double agent in Kenya to entrap Somali illegal aliens. The sealed records and redacted testimony may be clues to possible US homeland security and intelligence agency involvement. Doubtless when the trial records are unsealed more revelations on this smuggling caper may be forthcoming. . The Cuban embassy in Kenya connection clearly indicates a possible international leftist role inserting Somali illegal aliens into America. If true, that raises the likelihood that Al Shabaab operatives might be among those smuggled into the US given Tracy’s failed polygraph test on his Al Shabaab involvement. . What is not clear is whether the DHS/ICE and the national counterterrorism task force has found any of the 268 Somalis who allegedly entered the US illegally. This trial outcome could be either a PR stunt to show that the DHS/ICE is on the case of preventing illegal entry by Somalis or another demonstration of bureaucratic bungling.
Posted on 06/11/2010 11:17 AM by Jerry Gordon
Friday, 11 June 2010
Muslim protest planned as soldiers march in Barking
From The Barking and Dagenham Post. I have been intending to attend this parade since it was announced earlier this year.
MUSLIM protestors plan to stage a demonstration against the war in Afghanistan as the returning Royal Anglian Regiment march in Barking. The Vikings were invited to parade through the town centre with their bayonets fixed and colours flying after being awarded Barking & Dagenham's highest honour, the Freedom of the Borough.
However a protest group, Muslims Against Crusades, object to Britain honouring its soldiers who they term "death squads".
The council and police met today (Friday) to discuss the protest and officers say they have contingency plans for every eventuality. The Ministry of Defence say the march will go ahead as planned on Tuesday June 15 at 12.30pm in Wakering Road..
I heard about this yesterday after somebody spotted their posters defacing Barking War Memorial.
Their facebook page sets out their intentions, repeated on their website.
In the midst of this severe trial that has befallen the Muslim Ummah, the British government has recently made way for a vile parade in Barking & Dagenham on 15th June 2010, to honour the death squads that have serve in Afghanistan; the very same soldiers who fired the bullets and laid the bombs that made children orphans and mothers widows in a single moments of sadistic range are now being honoured these crimes.
O Muslims! Indeed the Crusades were never over; Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, [EMQ 2:210] “The Jews and the Christians will never be happy with you until you follow their way of life.”
We call you to rise and condemn this sickening parade and let the British government know, that we as Muslim will never tolerate for a single Crusader solider to be honoured whilst we are alive, and that we will continue to struggle to make the Deen of Allah (SWT) the highest until it dominates all over the world.
The Royal Anglians will meet an enthusiastic welcome from the men and women of Barking and Dagenham and from elsewhere in East London and Essex. If Muslims Against Crusaders are unwise enough to spoil the day they will also meet a vigorous reception.
Posted on 06/11/2010 11:08 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 11 June 2010
Melanie Philips On Derangement
From The Spectator:
Any rational and fair-minded individual who has been following the unfolding of the Turkish terrorist flotilla saga – the video proof that the Israeli marines only started using live ammunition to prevent themselves from being lynched, kidnapped and murdered; the fact that the same Israeli tactics resulted in six out of the seven boats in the flotilla landing peacefully in Ashdod; the fact that the Mavi Marmara was stacked with al Qaeda-related Islamists who declared they were bound for ‘martyrdom’ before they set out; not to mention the fact that in Gaza, Hamas actually refused to accept the flotilla’s ‘humanitarian aid’ that was the ostensible purpose of the voyage – anyone assimilating all this would doubtless have felt, watching the BBC1 Andrew Marr show this morning, that they had strayed into a parallel universe from which reason had totally departed.
First off on the sofa discussing the morning papers was David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker. Despite declaring himself to have ‘great affection’ for the State of Israel, he nevertheless proceeded to denounce it for having procured a ‘catastrophic ...disaster’ – and distinguished himself by roundly declaring that ‘the occupation is the problem’. Remnick doesn’t seem to realise that Israel’s occupation of Gaza ended in 2005; that’s why it had to stop this possible shipment of weapons out at sea. Duh! What sort of idiot is this? And of course, Marr didn’t correct him. Maybe he doesn’t know either?
The flotilla episode is only a ‘catastrophic disaster’ because of the reaction to it by people like Remnick, Marr -- and Marr’s first guest, the newly defeated former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Now Miliband was on ostensibly to talk about Labour’s leadership race, in which he is a prime contender. Yet Marr invited him first of all to opine on the most important topic seemingly on either or both of their minds, the one that drives out everything else, the Big Obsession on the left. Israel was still defiant, marvelled Marr. It wouldn’t – couldn’t – occur to him that, far from defiance over its reprehensible behaviour, the facts were actually on Israel’s side. How could they ever be? Impossible!
And so Miliband – whose tenure at the Foreign Office was marked by a dramatic escalation in British government hostility and malice towards its ostensible ally in the Middle East – energetically took the opportunity to depart altogether from Planet Reality. It was a ‘disaster’ for those killed and injured, he frothed, and for Israel. Whoa! Really? Since when did British politicians conclude that killing Islamic jihadists in self-defence to prevent them from lynching, kidnapping and murdering your own soldiers constitutes a ‘disaster’? Does Miliband think that the killing of thousands of Taleban, not to mention Afghan civilians, is similarly a ‘disaster’ for the Taleban or for British and American forces doing the killing? If not, why the double standard?
The flotilla episode, Miliband went on, was merely the latest in ‘a series of deadly and self-defeating actions’ by successive Israeli governments. Really? Such as Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005? Such as the offer to Abbas last year by former Prime Minister Olmert of virtually all the disputed territories and half of Jerusalem? Ditto by Barak in 2000? Or was he thinking of Israel’s military attempts of last resort to stop the Hamas rockets or Palestinian suicide bombings against Israeli citizens? Because for Miliband, any use of military force by Israel to defend itself against attack is simply not permissible, whatever the circumstances.
Of course Israel should lift the blockade, spluttered Miliband; there could be no peace when Gaza was isolated and unable to obtain the basic commodities of life. And then the final threat, doubtless parroting the thinking of Miliband’s admirer across the pond, Hillary Clinton –that the political process to bring about a Palestinian state now has to be ‘jump-started by outside forces’.
Thus in Miliband’s alternative moral universe, Israel is to be punished for defending itself against attack. Its sovereign ability to protect its own security would be taken away by America, Britain and the EU, who would impose upon it (how?) a set of measures which would hand the final weapon to its would-be destroyers with which they could achieve their exterminatory aim – and worse. For far from Miliband’s claims, the blockade was imposed with western agreement in order to isolate and weaken Hamas, rightly thought to be a threat to the region and therefore to the west, as well as to protect Israel from the smuggling of weapons.
And as for Gaza being unable to obtain the basic commodities of life, just look at the pictures above and below (hat tip:Tom Gross, Arutz Sheva) to see that this is the opposite of reality. Indeed, there is some grim amusement to be had from the attempts by western correspondents to square the undeniable reality of Gaza’s absence of a humanitarian crisis with the political imperative – without which their reporting of the Middle East makes no sense – that there is one.
Thus the incoherent report in today’s Sunday Telegraph, in which some of these truths sit alongside Hamas propaganda that has been swallowed wholesale. For example, it repeats the canard that Operation Cast Lead killed
over 1,200 people, many of them civilians
whereas in fact most of these were Hamas operatives; yet it also quotes Khalil Hamada, a senior official at Hamas's ministry of justice, saying;
‘There is no starvation in Gaza...No-one has died of hunger.’
A similar article in the Washington Post makes this even clearer:
Gazans lament where they can't go more than what they can't buy. They also decry the lack of employment -- with no building supplies and few trade possibilities, joblessness is rampant. Once an exporter of fruits and other goods, Gaza has been turned into a mini-welfare state with a broken economy where food and daily goods are plentiful, but where 80 percent of the population depends on charity. Hospitals, schools, electricity systems and sewage treatment facilities are all in deep disrepair.
Yet if you walk down Gaza City's main thoroughfare -- Salah al-Din Street -- grocery stores are stocked wall-to-wall with everything from fresh Israeli yogurts and hummus to Cocoa Puffs smuggled in from Egypt. Pharmacies look as well-supplied as a typical Rite Aid in the United States.
‘When Western people come, they have this certain image of Gaza,’ said Omar Shaban, an economist who heads Pal-Think for Strategic Studies in Gaza. ‘We have microwaves in our homes, not only me, everybody. If you go to a refugee camp, the house is bad, but the people and the equipment are very modern. The problem is the public infrastructure.’
That there is hardship in Gaza is indisputable. But that is caused solely by the fact that it is at war with Israel --waged by a regime that also imposes great hardship and suffering upon the Gazans themselves. The flotilla activists and their supporters, however, continue to maintain that Gaza is starving and that their purpose was to bring in supplies that don’t exist because of the blockade. That is a lie -- serving to promote and widen the ultimate Big Lie about Israel which is causing so many in the west, including leading politicians and journalists, so spectacularly to take their leave of reality altogether.
Posted on 06/11/2010 11:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Eugene Bird And Mrs. Bird Gave Birth To Kai Bird, Who Just Had A Stillborn Book
A Bridge Too Short
Kai Bird’s one-sided Jerusalem memoir
8 June 2010
Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956–1978, by Kai Bird (Scribner, 424 pp., $30.00)
At the beginning of this coming-of-age memoir with a Middle Eastern twist, Kai Bird writes that he hopes his “voyage through the world of the ‘other’” will contribute to reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians. The Holy Land has never been short of volunteer peacemakers, but Bird would have us believe that his qualifications stem from his experience growing up in Arab Jerusalem, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt as the child of an American diplomat. Celebratory blurbs for the book from Fouad Ajami and Martin Gilbert are likely to make Bird’s claim appear convincing to many readers. But it’s puzzling that such tough-minded scholars didn’t see through the author’s veneer of empathy and evenhandedness and recognize his as one more in a long line of recent books—from both the right and the left—that anathematize Israel as a colossal historical mistake.
Bird’s father, Eugene, was a State Department “Arabist” whose first foreign posting was to the U.S. consulate in Jordanian-occupied East Jerusalem in the 1950s. Young Kai’s formal schooling began on the Israeli side of the divided city. Every day, the little boy was driven to school and back home through barbed wire and heavily armed military checkpoints. This was Mandelbaum Gate, the only legal border crossing at the time between Israel and any of the surrounding Arab states. A no-man’s-land between the two checkpoints was littered with the burned-out hulks of tanks and armored personnel carriers from the 1948 war. Bird’s title, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate, thus serves as a metaphor for the memoirist’s vision: he wants to build cultural and political bridges between two communities still at war a half-century later.
Part of Bird’s problem, however, is that he was nurtured with a blinkered, one-sided view of the Middle East conflict. The small expatriate and diplomatic community in East Jerusalem had a jaundiced attitude to the Jewish state and, all too often, to Jews in general. One of the Bird family’s best friends was Katy Antonius, a formidable presence in Arab Jerusalem’s social circles. She was the widow of George Antonius, a leading Palestinian intellectual of the 1930s and the author of The Arab Awakening, widely considered the classic historical account of the emergence of Arab nationalism in the early decades of the twentieth century. As Bird acknowledges, “The book and the author’s widow were to color our family’s outlook on the Middle East for years to come.”
Rarely does Bird reflect critically on these early influences. Without reprobation, he shares one of Katy Antonius’s rants: “Before the Jewish state I knew many Jews in Jerusalem and enjoyed good relations with them socially. Now I will slap the face of any Arab friend of mine who tries to trade with a Jew. We lost the first round; we haven’t lost the war.” Mind you, Antonius wrote this in the 1950s, when Jordan could have created an independent Palestinian state with the stroke of a pen. Then again, she wasn’t quite as blunt about the evils of Zionism as was her lover, General Sir Evelyn Barker, former commander of British forces in Palestine. “Just think of all this life and money being wasted for these bloody Jews,” Barker wrote to Katy. “Yes I loathe the lot—whether they be Zionist or not. Why should we be afraid of saying we hate them—it’s time this damned race knew what we think of them—loathsome people.” According to Bird, even his parents “had long since thrown their sympathies entirely to the Palestinians.” Mrs. Bird wrote to friends that the Israelis had seized the Palestinians’ land “by threat, murder, pillage—all the methods we ascribe to the men who have persecuted the Jews. No Arab can see why he should be turned out of his home just because the Nazis persecuted Jews, and neither can I.”
Perhaps Bird deserves credit for candidly revealing his mother’s morally abhorrent linking of Israelis to Nazis. The trouble is that our would-be builder of bridges doesn’t seem to find the comparison embarrassing in the least. And yet these were the political judgments about the conflict that Bird regularly imbibed from the time he was a first-grader in East Jerusalem until he finished high school in Egypt. His claim that it was “given to [me] to see both sides” strains credulity.
What was definitely given to Kai Bird on his return to America in the late sixties was immersion in the militant campus antiwar movement at Carleton College, and then an opportunity to cut his teeth on left-wing journalism at The Nation. Had Bird worked at The Nation two decades earlier, he would have encountered one of America’s most passionate advocates for Zionism and Israel: Freda Kirchwey, legendary editor of the magazine from 1933 to 1955, who led a lobbying effort at the United Nations for the creation of a Jewish state. In the spring of 1948, she reported from Israel on the armed struggle that erupted after the UN passed the November 1947 partition resolution dividing Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states. She noted in a dispatch to The Nation that hundreds of thousands of Arab civilians were leaving areas under Jewish control. For the most part, the Arabs weren’t fleeing because they were forced to by Jewish military forces, but rather because they were ordered to get out by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the Palestinians’ political leader during the 1948 war. She also reported firsthand that among the forces sent to wipe out the Jewish state at birth were “assorted Europeans fighting in the Arab ranks—Nazis, Chetniks from Yugoslavia, and Balkan Moslem soldiers.”
In a famous town hall meeting in 1982, Susan Sontag stunned her New York leftist audience by suggesting that regular readers of Reader’s Digest would have received a more accurate accounting of Communism’s crimes than readers of The Nation. Though The Nation was guilty of getting Communist tyranny all wrong, the magazine’s saving grace was getting the Jewish question of the twentieth century right. But by the time Bird began his apprenticeship at The Nation, the magazine (along with much of the New Left) had moved toward principled hostility to Israel and to the very idea of a Jewish state. Nation editor Victor Navasky, described by Bird as his “rabbi” and “journalistic mentor,” even allowed an anti-Israel diatribe by favored writer Gore Vidal to degenerate into outright anti-Semitism. In 1981, Bird and Navasky coedited a special issue of the magazine, titled “Myths of the Middle East,” in which they argued that “messianic Zionism” was the principal reason for the absence of peace in the region. (Allegedly, Golda Meier and David Ben-Gurion were the leading Zionist messianists.)
After his Nation stint, Bird went on to write scholarly biographies of John McCloy, McGeorge Bundy, and (with Martin Sherwin) Robert Oppenheimer. Yet in his own autobiography, Bird seems strangely incurious about existing Middle East scholarship, particularly when actual historical facts tend to undermine his lifelong idée fixe that the Jews’ insistence on a state of their own was—and is—at the root of the region’s problems. A case in point is Bird’s perverse attempt to turn George Antonius into a misunderstood prophet of Palestinian-Jewish reconciliation. Commenting on The Arab Awakening, Bird writes: “It convinced me, as it had my father, that the Palestine cause was just, legitimate—and terribly misunderstood in the West.” Conceding that Antonius opposed a Jewish state in any part of Palestine, Bird wants us to believe that his intellectual hero possessed a “cultured voice and reasoned arguments” and “was by no means insensitive to the plight of the Jewish people in Fascist Europe.” Further, Antonius favored “creat[ing] a democratic, multiethnic state in which the Jewish minority would assume ‘the rights of ordinary citizens’ within a pluralistic civil society.” This, apparently, is Bird’s definition of Arab moderation.
David Ben-Gurion, then the chairman of the Jewish Agency, met with Antonius on three separate occasions in 1936. Bird expresses shock that the Jewish leader rejected Antonius’s generous proposal of full civil rights within a Muslim majority polity and instead continued to pursue “messianic Zionism”—that is, a separate Jewish state in Palestine. To Bird, this represented a missed opportunity to head off the coming clash between the two irreconcilable nationalisms. Antonius died in 1942. “He might have been the bridge,” Bird laments.
Bird can indulge that political fantasy because he’s in denial about Antonius’s real political loyalties and connections. Easily accessible scholarship would have revealed to Bird that in a 1935 letter to another Palestinian leader, Antonius wrote that he favored “the revival of Arab nationality through the revival of Islam—without which the Arabs can have no life.” Moreover, Antonius’s patron and benefactor, the American millionaire Charles Crane, was a rabid anti-Semite and an early admirer of the Nazis. According to the eminent British Middle East scholar Elie Kedourie, Antonius set up meetings for Crane with some of the region’s Muslim notables. At these sessions, the American supporter of Hitler tried to “awaken [the Arabs] to the dangerous Jewish campaign against religion and private property, and to convince them that the arrival of Jews in Palestine was only another move in the anti-God campaign which they had started in Russia and elsewhere.”
Bird does acknowledge that Antonius was a friend and advisor to the notorious Haj Amin al-Husseini and that Antonius even showered praise on the grand mufti for his “single-hearted goodness.” Oh well, Bird explains: “George was a naïve man, at heart a romantic intellectual.” And then Bird tries to clean up the image of the Jew-hating mufti, one of the true monsters of the World War II era and, indeed, of Jewish history. The worst that Bird can say about Husseini is that he fled “to Nazi Germany, where he met with Adolf Hitler and urged the Nazi leader to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine”— ignoring the fact that by then there were virtually no Jews left in Germany. For European Jews under Nazi control, moreover, the only alternative to immigration to Palestine was a death camp. As the American historian Jeffrey Herf has shown, Husseini’s wartime services to Hitler, including recruiting a Balkan Muslim unit of the Waffen-SS, were not just the result of a political alliance of convenience but were forged out of deep affinity with Nazi ideology and support for Hitler’s eliminationist anti-Semitism. Even before he left Palestine, the mufti expressed admiration for Hitler’s solution to the “Jewish problem” and sent delegations of young Islamists to the Nazis’ Nuremberg rallies.
By all rights, Husseini should have been tried by the Allies as a war criminal. Instead, the postwar French government allowed him to escape to Egypt in June 1946, where he was given asylum by King Farouk. Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, welcomed the mufti back, calling him the “hero” who “challenged an empire and fought Zionism with the help of Hitler and Germany. Germany and Hitler are gone but Amin al-Husseini will continue the struggle.” What al-Banna meant, of course, was the coming struggle against the Jews in Palestine. As soon as the UN voted for partition in November 1947, al-Banna and Husseini collaborated in organizing armed Muslim Brotherhood units and sent them into Palestine with the openly declared goal of finishing Hitler’s work. It was the first jihad of the postwar era and the first violent eruption of Islamofascism, with many more to come. But for Bird, the Jews’ “messianic” insistence on building their own state had set off all the trouble.
Despite his sharp criticism of Zionism, Bird goes to great pains to demonstrate his sensitivity to how the shadow of the Holocaust shaped Israelis’ attitudes toward their Arab neighbors and the outside world. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity on this point. Bird’s college sweetheart, Susan Goldmark, a beautiful and talented young woman whom he eventually married, was the only child of two Holocaust survivors. Bird devotes two chapters of his memoir to a touching and dramatic account of how her mother and father—Austrian Jews—managed to survive and outwit the Nazis. “So the Holocaust—or to use the more accurately descriptive Hebrew term, the Shoah—well, it too has become a part of my own identity,” Bird writes. Uncovering the Jewish tragedy of his own family made Bird all the more determined to write about the suffering of the Palestinians among whom he grew up. He concludes that the two tragedies—the Shoah and the Palestinian exodus of 1948, known as the Nakba—are “the bookends of my life.”
But history is not a balancing act of competing tragedies. Referring to the systematic extermination of European Jewry in the same breath as the flight, or expulsion, or dispossession, of 600,000 Palestinians as a result of a war that their own leaders launched is morally disgraceful, even for a self-proclaimed peacemaker and builder of bridges. Even worse, Bird’s “bookends” image serves to distract from the author’s constant and mostly inaccurate harangues about the Jewish state’s ethical shortcomings, while largely giving the Palestinians a pass on their own violent pathologies.
Here are a few examples: according to Bird, after World War II, native-born Israelis cruelly insulted the Holocaust survivors streaming into the country, calling them “‘yekkes,’ a derogative clownish term.” This is a canard. Anyone familiar with Israeli culture knows that “yekke,” meaning jacket, was used as a humorous commentary on the bourgeois habits of the formally dressed German Jews who managed to immigrate to Israel before the Holocaust. Bird writes that the only reason Jews were persecuted in Egypt and other Arab countries was the conflict over the creation of Israel. He should consult the great Algerian Jewish writer, Albert Memmi, a fighter against French colonialism, who wrote that the notion that Arabs were tolerant of the Jews in their midst was “a huge lie: Jews lived most lamentably in Arab lands.” Bird would have us believe that in 1967, the Israelis launched a premeditated “war of aggression” against Egypt and in doing so blew another historic opportunity to reach an agreement with that misunderstood Arab peacemaker, President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Bird berates Israelis for “not seem[ing] to know or care about their neighbors, all those Arabs who lived a few miles away,” somehow neglecting to point out that it was those Arab “neighbors” who prevented Israelis from visiting their countries, not the other way around.
These are just some of Bird’s ill-considered, often inaccurate jibes about Israel. Another is particularly worth examining, not for what it says about Israel but rather for what it conveys about the author’s own biases. Recalling his days growing up in East Jerusalem in the 1950s, Bird cites a conversation between his father and an Israeli soldier manning the Mandelbaum Gate checkpoint. The elder Bird tells the soldier that the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war “are still living in tents.” The soldier seems surprised at hearing this and repeats, incredulously, “Still living in tents?” To Kai Bird, the soldier’s response represents Israel’s insularity and insensitivity to Palestinian suffering. Yet Bird’s interpretation of the anecdote reflects his own lack of political imagination as a journalist and historian. Any reasonable person should have found it astonishing that neither the Arabs nor the West had done anything in the decade after the 1948 war to resettle the refugees. Fifty years later, when Bird writes this memoir, it’s even more astonishing. Every other refugee problem of the twentieth century has been settled. But the Palestinians who left Israel in 1948, and their descendants, are still locked up in camps for one reason alone: it allows the Palestinian leadership to perpetuate its fantasy of reversing the Nakba.
Having devoted a good part of his memoir to railing against “messianic Zionism,” Bird finds himself in something of a cul-de-sac on his stated goals of peacemaking and building bridges. He could adopt the conventional approach of most liberal and leftist critics of Israel, such as the lobbying organization J Street, and argue for more Israeli concessions that might result in a negotiated “two-state” solution with the Palestinians. But such a pragmatic deal would also mean international legitimacy for “messianic Zionism” and the exclusive Jewish state that Bird abhors. Instead, Bird is at one with those pro-Palestinian intellectuals on the European and American left who are more interested in cosmic “historical justice” and recompense for the Nakba than they are in a compromised, imperfect peace that ends the conflict and preserves Israel as a Jewish state.
So in his concluding chapter, Bird proposes a solution called “the Hebrew Republic”—though he admits it’s an approach with zero chance of implementation and that many of his friends consider him “naïve” for suggesting. The concept is based largely on a single conversation that Bird had 32 years ago with an Israeli named Hillel Kook, who died in 2000. As it happens, I also enjoyed many conversations with Kook in the three decades we knew one another. I regard him as a twentieth-century Jewish hero. I have written about his ideas and his activism in the two great struggles of the 1930s and 1940s—the effort to rescue European Jews and then the creation of the state of Israel. (I should also divulge that Bird asked me to read his chapter on Kook before publication and that I made some factual suggestions.)
As a teenager in the 1930s, Kook joined the underground Irgun Tzvai Leumi, a breakaway from Haganah, the official armed force of the Jewish community in Palestine. He eventually became the Irgun’s representative abroad and the group’s liaison to Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist Zionist movement. Stranded in the United States during the war, Kook and some of his Irgun associates organized the only lobbying group that achieved some limited success in pressuring a reluctant President Roosevelt to make any effort to rescue European Jews from deportation to the death camps. After the war, Kook resumed his activities as one of the leaders of the Irgun, fought for the creation of Israel, and was elected to the new nation’s Constituent Assembly—or first Knesset—in 1948.
But Kook was a Zionist with a twist. As early as 1946, he described himself as “post-Zionist.” What he meant was that the newly independent Israel (wherever its eventual borders might be) should be a Jewish country, but in the same way that America was Christian. Jews would constitute the country’s majority, but Kook insisted that there should be separation of state and church (or synagogue), as in the U.S. Constitution. More important was that there would be a distinction between Jewish religious identity and an Israeli nationality open to all religions. Kook had fallen in love with the United States and its constitutional structure; he hoped that non-Jewish citizens of the new state (including the Arabs who remained in the country) would feel comfortable declaring themselves Israeli (or Hebrew) by nationality, just as American religious minorities felt at ease as American nationals. Kook believed, too, that separating religion from nationality in the new state would make it easier to achieve peace with the Arabs, both within and outside Israel.
Needless to say, Kook’s ideas did not resonate in Israeli politics. He resigned from the first Knesset and remained a party of one in Israel, an unappreciated prophet. This makes him a perfect foil for Kai Bird, who still has accounts to settle with “messianic Zionism” and the exclusive Jewish state idea. He sees Kook as a historic figure on the Jewish side—like Antonius on the Arab side—who might have made a difference. And in calling for the transformation of “messianic” Zionist Israel into a secular “Hebrew Republic,” Bird can claim to have found a magic wand leading to Palestinian-Jewish reconciliation and atonement for the Nakba.
I’m not sure that Hillel Kook would see it that way. I remember him as quite sophisticated about contemporary politics. I believe that after 9/11, he would have been shrewd enough to realize that the project of changing Israel to become more like America, whatever the political merits, would not have meant much to the masses of Arabs radicalized by the new Islamism. Indeed, a more secular, less religiously Jewish Israel on the American model would likely have fueled even more intense Islamic rage against the “little Satan.” In any event, Bird’s “Hebrew Republic” comes off as another distraction from his agenda—and that of his allies at The Nation—to delegitimize the democratic republic called Israel, the only one of its kind existing in the Middle East.
Sol Stern is a contributing editor of City Journal and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Posted on 06/11/2010 12:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Plaquemines Parish, And Paris
Plaquemines Parish has been in the news a lot these days, because of the oil -- that British oil, that oil extracted from the pristine American waters beyond the Mexique Bay, by cruel men coming from Perfidious Albion, that oil from the company that is headed by a man whom Barack Obama would probably like to kick -- Obama's in the mood, and he's a straight-up guy, he's not afraid to say it in just that way that everyone understands, just to prove how very much he means it -- that's right, to kick ass all over BP headquarters, and he might do it. After all, don't forget how he treated the bust of Winston Churchill, sending it packing. Barak, Barry, means business.
But Plaquemines Parish sticks in my mind not because of the oil spill and seep, but because, back in the antediluvian and ante-offshore-drilling days, whenever a journalist needed a quote from a die-hard segregationist, he would ask t Leander Perez, the political boss of Plaquemines Parish, for such a quote, and Leander Perez never failed. The name "Leander Perez " always struck me as enticing, excitiing, exotic. Leander wasn't quite kosherly cajun, but made me think of Leander Wapshot, of Cheever's Wapshot Chronicle, and the Wapshots were either Brahmins or Swamp Yankees,from St. Botolph's, thousands of miles from Plaquemines Parish. But compbined with Perez, which made me think of pirates, the Spanish Main, and also, not surprisingly, of those patriotic pirates Jean and Pierre Lafitte, and Andrew Jackson, and the Battle of New Orleans,and all the raffish characters "down there" who made New Orleans, in my mind, a kind of Marselles.
Leander Perez.can no longer be quoted. And there are no more leander-perezes. There is no Everett Dirksen. There is no Kenesaw Mountain Landis. No, now it's all , Bob and Bill and Ray and Rick and Barry ); these are the names of our politicians, , and everyone is trying to "kick ass" to show just what a regular and thererfore good guy he is, because it's the regular guys who are the good guys, as we all know.
Well, I think to myself, as I hear the latest despatch from the front, at least we'll always have Plaquemines Parish just the way we'll always have Paris. But will we? We have Ceylonese tea but no Ceylon. We have, still, the ghost of Burma in the Burma Road and Burma Shave roadside stanzas, but Burma itself has gone the way of the passenger pigeon. We don't have Saigon but Ho Chi Minh City. Ancient toponyms are toppled by mobs daily.
And how long will Jerusalem be Jerusalem, instead of Al-Quds? And even Paris -- will we truly always have Paris, or will it in the end, succumbing to the linguistic requirements of its future masters, be re-named something easier to pronounce, such as Baris?
Posted on 06/11/2010 1:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Vladimir Arnol'd --- Obituary In The New York Times
A week after NER, the New York Times finally publishes an obituary of Vladimir Arnol'd:
Vladimir Arnold Dies at 72; Pioneering Mathematician
Vladimir I. Arnold, a Russian mathematician who discovered important theorems that found application in astronomy, mechanics and even weather forecasting, died June 3 in Paris. He was 72 and had homes in Paris and Moscow.
The cause was acute pancreatitis, his son Igor said.
Dr. Arnold’s work ranged widely across mathematics. He was a founder of singularity theory, or, as it is sometimes more ominously called, catastrophe theory.
Singularity theory predicts that under certain circumstances slow, smooth changes in a system can lead to an abrupt major change, in the way that the slipping of a few small rocks can set off an avalanche. The theory has applications in physics, chemistry and biology.
“He was a genius and one of the greatest and most influential mathematicians of our time,” said Boris A. Khesin, a former student of Dr. Arnold’s and now a professor of mathematics at the University of Toronto.
One of Dr. Arnold’s biggest contributions was applying the methods of geometry and symmetry to the motion of particles. Dr. Arnold work on how fluids flow was applied to the dynamics of weather, providing a mathematical explanation for why it is not possible to make forecasts months in advance. Infinitesimal gaps or errors in information cause forecasts to diverge completely from reality.
A similar approach can also be applied to the motion of planets. If Earth were the only planet to circle the Sun, its orbit would follow a precise elliptical path, but the gravity of the other planets disturbs the motion. Scientists found that it impossible to calculate the precise motion of the planets over very long periods of time or even prove that Earth will not one day be flung out of the solar system.
Understanding the subtle and difficult-to-predict boundary between stability and instability is important not only in the study of planetary dynamics but also in other endeavors, like designing a nuclear fusion reactor.
In 1954, the Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov figured out a key insight to calculating whether such systems are stable. Dr. Arnold provided a rigorous proof in 1963 for one set of circumstances. Another mathematician, Jürgen Moser, provided the proof for another. The work is now collectively know at the KAM theory.
“His work provided a framework for studying this type of question,” Alan D. Weinstein, a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, said of Dr. Arnold.
Dr. Arnold’s math explanations also exhibited playfulness. In one of his books, he explained a simple algorithm that stretches and rearranges an image, shredding it into a chaotic mess. In the book, Dr. Arnold illustrated the idea with a sketch of a cat’s head that is now known as Arnold’s Cat Map.
Vladimir Igorevich Arnold was born June 12, 1937, in Odessa, now part of Ukraine. While a 19-year-old undergraduate at Moscow State University and supervised by Dr. Kolmogorov, he came up with the final piece of a proof answering the 13th problem on the list of 23 unsolved mathematical challenges that the mathematician David Hilbert compiled in 1900.
After completing his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees, all at Moscow State, Dr. Arnold joined the Moscow State faculty in 1961. He was able to travel abroad several times in the 1960s but then ran into trouble with the authorities by signing letters criticizing the persecution of dissidents.
Dr. Arnold was unable to leave the Soviet Union again until the advent of perestroika under Mikhail S. Gorbachev in the late 1980s. He was not granted membership in the Soviet Academy of Sciences until 1990, after he had already become a member of similar academies in the United States, France and Britain.
In 1986 Dr. Arnold moved to the Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow. He had told friends that he would not join Steklov as long as Ivan M. Vinogradov, whom he thought anti-Semitic, was director. Friends and family said that stance stemmed not from Dr. Arnold’s heritage — his mother was Jewish — but from a principled insistence that people should be judged on their merits.
In 1993 he began splitting his time between Steklov and Dauphine University in Paris, spending spring and summer in Paris, fall and winter in Moscow.
His awards include the Wolf Prize in 2001, which mathematicians regard as the equivalent of a Nobel, and the Shaw Prize in 2008, another prestigious math award. He also has an asteroid named after him: Vladarnolda.
Dr. Arnold spoke out against what he considered the overly abstract teaching of mathematics. In a 1997 talk, translated into English, he said: “Mathematics is a part of physics. Physics is an experimental science, a part of natural science. Mathematics is the part of physics where experiments are cheap.”
Besides his son Igor, of Jersey City, he is survived by his wife of 33 years, Eleonora; another son, Dmitry, of Moscow; a brother, Dmitry, also of Moscow; a sister, Katya Arnold, of New York City; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Like his thesis adviser Dr. Kolmogorov, Dr. Arnold had an unusual approach when he got stuck on a problem. Writing in the Russian online newspaper Gazeta.ru, his former students Askold Khovanskii and Yuli Ilyashenko recalled that Dr. Arnold would ski for 25 miles or more, wearing nothing more than swim trunks.
“According to him, this practice would always lead him to a new idea,” they wrote.
Posted on 06/11/2010 2:14 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Spanish Journalist Pilar Rahola Asks Why So Many Intelligent People, When Talking About Israel, Suddenly Become Idiots.
February 08, 2010
This was from the Conference in the Global forum for Combating Antisemitism, Spain.
Pilar Rahola is a Spanish left-wing politician, journalist and activist.
“Jews with six arms"
Meeting in Barcelona with a hundred lawyers a month ago. They have come together to hear my opinions on the Middle-Eastern conflict. They know I am a heterodoxal vessel, in the shipwreck of “single thinking”, regarding Israel, which rules in my country. They want to listen to me, because they ask themselves: why, if Pilar is a serious journalist, does she risk losing her credibility by defending the bad guys, the guilty? I answer provocatively – You all believe that you are experts in international politics, when you talk about Israel, but you really know nothing. Would you dare talk about the conflict in Rwanda? In Chechnya? – No. They are jurists, their turf is not geopolitics.. But against Israel, they dare, as does everybody. Why? Because Israel is under the permanent media magnifying glass and its distorted image pollutes the world’s brains. And, because it is part of what is politically correct, it seems solidary, because talking against Israel is free. And so, cultured people when they read about Israel, are ready to believe that Jews have six arms, in the same way that during the Middle Ages people believed all sorts of outrageous things.
The first question, then, is why so many intelligent people, when talking about Israel, suddenly become idiots. The problem that those of us who do not demonize Israel, have, is that there exists no debate on the conflict. All that exists is the banner; there’s no exchange of ideas, we throw slogans at each other; we don’t have serious information, we suffer from the “burger journalism”, fast food, full of prejudices, propaganda and simplicity. Intellectual thinkers and International journalists have resigned in Israel. They don’t exist. That is why, when someone tries to go beyond “single thinking”, he becomes a suspect and unsolidary, and is immediately segregated. Why?
I’ve been trying to answer this question for years: why? Why, of all the World’s conflicts, only this one interests them? Why a tiny country which struggles to survive is criminalized? Why does the manipulated information triumph so easily? Why are all the people of Israel, reduced to a simple mass of murderous imperialists? Why is there no Palestinian guilt? Why is Arafat a hero and Sharon a monster? Finally, why when it is the only country in the World which is threatened with destruction, it is the only one that nobody considers a victim?
I don’t believe that there is a single answer to these questions. Just as it is impossible to completely explain the historical evil of antisemitism, it is also not possible to totally explain the present-day imbecility of anti-Israelism. Both drink from the fountain of intolerance and lie. If, also, we accept that anti-Israelism is the new form of antisemitism, we conclude that contingencies may have changed, but the deepest myths, both of the Medieval Christian antisemitism and of the modern political antisemitism, are still intact. Those myths are part of the chronicle of Israel. For example, the Medieval Jew who killed Christian children to drink their blood, connects directly with the Israeli Jew who kills Palestinian children to steal their land. Always they are innocent children and dark Jews. Similarly, the Jewish bankers who wanted to dominate the world through the European banks, according to the myth of the Protocols, connect directly with the idea that the Wall Street Jews want to dominate the World through the White House. Control of the Press, control of Finances, the Universal Conspiracy, all that which created the historical hatred against the Jews, is found today in hatred of the Israelis. In the subconscious, then, beats the western antisemite DNA, which produces an efficient culture medium. But, what beats in the conscious? Why, today a renewed intolerance surges with such virulence, centered now, not against the Jewish people, but against the Jewish state? From my point of view, this has historical and geopolitical motives, among others, the bloody Soviet role during decades, the European Anti Americanism, the West’s energy dependency and the growing Islamic phenomenon.
But it also emerges from a set of defeats which we suffer as free societies, leading to a strong ethical relativism.
The moral defeat of the left. For decades, the left raised the flag of freedom, wherever there was injustice. It was the depositary of the utopic hopes of society. It was the great builder of future. Despite the murderous evil of Stalinism’s sinking the utopias, the left has preserved intact its aura of struggle, and still pretends to point out the good and the evil in the world. Even those who would never vote for leftist options, grant great prestige to leftist intellectuals, and allow them to be the ones who monopolize the concept of solidarity. As they have always done. Thus, those who struggled against Pinochet were freedom-fighters, but Castro’s victims, are expelled from the heroes’ paradise, and converted into undercover fascists.
This historic treason to freedom is reproduced nowadays, with mathematical precision. For example, the leaders of Hezbollah are considered resistance heroes, while pacifists like Noa, the singer, are insulted in the streets of Barcelona. Today too, as yesterday, that left is hawking totalitarian ideologies, falls in love with dictators and, in its offensive against Israel, ignores the destruction of fundamental rights. It hates rabbis, but falls in love with imams; shouts against the Tsahal, but applauds Hamas’ terrorists; weeps for the Palestinian victims, but scorns the Jewish victims, and when it is touched by Palestinian children, it does it only if it can blame the Israelis. It will never denounce the culture of hatred, or its preparation for murder. A year ago, at AIPAC’s conference in Washington, I asked the following questions: Why don’t we see demonstrations in Europe against the Islamic dictatorships? Why are there no demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of muslim women? Why don’t they declare against the use of bomb-carrying children in the conflicts in which Islam is involved? Why is the left only obsessed with fighting against two of the most solid democracies of the planet, those which have suffered the bloodiest terrorist attacks, the United States and Israel? … Because the left no longer has any ideas, only slogans. It no longer defends rights, but prejudices. And the greatest prejudice of all, is the one it has against Israel. I accuse, then, in a formal manner: the main responsibility of the new antisemite hatred, disguised as anti-zionism, comes from those who should have to defend freedom, solidarity and progress. Far from it, they defend despots, forget their victims and remain silent before medieval ideologies which aim at the destruction of free societies. The treason of the left is an authentic treason against modernity.
Defeat of Journalism. We have, a more informed world than ever before, but we do not have a better informed world. Quite the contrary, the information superhighway connects us with anywhere in the planet, but it does not connect us with the truth. Today’s journalists do not need maps, since they have Google Earth, they do not need to know History, since they have Wikipedia. The historical journalists who knew the roots of a conflict, still exist, but they are an endangered species, devoured by that hamburger journalism which offers fast-food news, to readers who want fast-food information. Israel is the world’s most watched place, but despite that, it is the world’s least understood place. Of course, one must keep in mind the pressure of the great petrodollar lobbies, whose influence upon journalism is subtle but deep. Any mass media knows that if it speaks against Israel, it will have no problems. But what would happen if it criticized an Islamic country? Without doubt, it would complicate its existence. Certainly part of the Press that writes against Israel, would see themselves mirrored in Mark Twain’s ironical sentence: ” Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”.
Defeat of critical thinking. To all this, one must add the ethical relativism which defines the present times: it is based not on denying the values of civilization, but rather in their most extreme banalization. What is modernity? Personally, I explain it with this little tale: If I were to be lost in an uncharted island, and would want to found a democratic society, I would only need three written documents: The Ten Commandments (which established the first code of modernity. “Thou shalt not murder“, founded modern civilization.); The Roman Penal Code; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And with these three texts we would start again. These principles, are relativized daily, even by those who claim to be defending them. “Thou shalt not murder” … depending who is the target…, must think those who, like the demonstrators in Europe, shouted in favour of Hamas. “Hurray for Freedom of Speech!”….. , or not. For example, several Spanish left-wing organizations tried to take me to court, accusing me of being a negationist, like a Nazi, because I deny the “Palestinian Holocaust”.They were pretending to prohibit me from writing articles and to send me to prison. And so on… The social critical mass has lost weight and, at the same time, ideological dogmatism has gained weight. In this double turn of events, the strong values of modernity have been substituted by a “weak thinking”, vulnerable to manipulation and manicheism.
Defeat of the United Nations. And with it, a sound defeat of the international organizations which should look after Human Rights. Instead they have become broken puppets in the hands of despots. The United Nations is only useful so that Islamofascists like Ahmadineyad, or dangerous demagogues like Hugo Chavez have a planetary loudspeaker where they can spit their hatred. And, of course, to systematically attack Israel. The UN, too lives better against Israel.
Finally, defeat of Islam. The Islam of tolerance and culture suffers today the violent attack of a totalitarian virus which tries to stop its ethical development. This virus uses the name of God to perpetrate the most terrible horrors: lapidate women, enslave them, use youths as human bombs. Let’s not forget : They kill us with cellular phones connected to the Middle Ages. If Stalinism destroyed the left, and Nazism destroyed Europe, Islamic fundamentalism is destroying Islam. And it also has, an antisemite DNA. Perhaps Islamic antisemitism is the most serious intolerant phenomenon of our times, indeed , it contaminates more than 1,400 million people, who are educated, massively, in hatred towards the Jew.
In the crossroads of these defeats, is Israel. Orphan of a reasonable left, orphan of serious journalism, orphan of a decent UN, and orphan of a tolerant Islam, Israel suffers the paradigm of the 21st Century: the lack of a solid commitment with the values of liberty. Nothing seems strange. Jewish culture represents, as no other does, the metaphor of a concept of civilization which suffers today attacks on all flanks. You are the thermometer of the world’s health. Whenever the World has had totalitarian fever, you have suffered. In the Spanish Middle Ages, in Christian persecutions, in Russian pogroms, in European Fascism, in Islamic fundamentalism. Always, the first enemy of totalitarianism has been the Jew. And, in these times of energy dependency and social uncertainty, Israel embodies, in its own flesh, the eternal Jew.
A pariah nation among nations, for a pariah people among peoples. That is why the antisemitism of the 21st Century has dressed itself with the efficient disguise of anti-Israelism, or its synonym, anti-Zionism. All criticism against Israel is antisemitism? NO. But all present-day antisemitism has turned into prejudice and the demonization of the Jewish State. New clothes for an old hatred.
Benjamin Franklin said: “ Where liberty is, there is my country.” And Albert Einstein added: “The World is a dangerous place. Not because of the people who are evil; but because of the people who don’t do anything about it”. This is the double commitment, here and now; never remain inactive in front of evil in action and defend the countries of liberty.”
Posted on 06/11/2010 2:34 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Shi'a Have No Intention Of Losing Their Grip On Power In Iraq
And why should they? They are more than three times as numerous as the Sunni Arabs. During the entire history of modern Iraq they have had to endure rule, and sometimes mass murder, by the Sunni Arabs, and the worst period was the most recent, under Saddam Hussein, whose Ba'athism was merely a disguise for Sunni Arab rule, just as Ba'athism in Syria, the only other place where it has flourished, is a disguise for Alawite rule.
Here's the story:
Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's coaltion is joining the National Alliance
Iraqi merger forms new Shia bloc, the National Alliance
Friday, 11 June 2010
Iraq's two main Shia groups, which performed strongly in recent elections, have merged to form the biggest alliance in the new parliament.
The bloc, to be called the National Alliance, brings together the prime minister's coalition with other Shia factions, including followers of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.
It will be just short of an absolute majority in parliament but well ahead of the rival secular-Sunni bloc.
The new parliament opens on Monday.
After weeks of negotiations, the two Shia coalitions announced they were forming one bloc, and said they had notified the acting speaker of parliament.
The new alliance is made up of outgoing Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's State of Law coalition - which came runner-up in the March election - and the third-placed Iraqi National Alliance, along with other Shia factions.
Together, they will command just four seats short of an absolute majority, well ahead of the 91 seats held by Iyad Allawi's secular-Sunni bloc, although it came out first in the elections, with a narrow two-seat lead.
Karim Yaqoubi, an INA member, said the Kurdish Alliance would join the new Shia grouping to give them a majority.
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says that both the Shia and secular-Sunni blocs will now be claiming the right to be asked to form a government. The constitution is unclear on the issue.
In any case, our correspondent says, the Shia bloc has not yet decided who it wants to nominate as prime minister. So the betting is that the first session of parliament will be declared open, and suspended indefinitely until a power-sharing deal is hammered out
Posted on 06/11/2010 3:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
A Cinematic Musical Interlude: Radio Times, Life Begins At Oxford Circus (From
Posted on 06/11/2010 3:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
Congnitive ass-onance from SemiObama:
It also kicks its own ass.
So prevalent is his image and so utterly altered is the political and social terrain post-Obama, we can now, officially, talk about what we at SemiObama call an "Obamized" landscape and the "Obamazation" of popular culture.
The French philosopher Michel Foucault describes revolutionary action as confronting "the relationships of power through the notions and institutions that function as their instruments, armature, and armor.” As our culture has migrated so thoroughly to the realm of the visual, the politics of semiotics have become more and more important. Obamizing shoes, t-shirts, billboards, pins, posters, YouTube, web pages (perhaps even this blog) can be seen as a kind of semiotic revolution--an alteration of the signs, symbols, and images we tend to associate with authority, power, and dominance.
How do you pronounce Obamized?
Posted on 06/11/2010 3:06 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 11 June 2010
Posted on 06/11/2010 3:58 PM by Mary Jackson
Friday, 11 June 2010
Meet Norman Lamont, Chairman of the British Iranian Chamber Of Commerce
When Norman Lamon was Chanceller his political advisor was David Cameron. Lamont has recently been making lots of money - "real money" is what well-placed Americans, explaining why they left what they coyly call "public service" for "the private sector," like to call it -- through the usual financial finagling that Bird and Fortune have so ably depicted -- and at the moment he is the Chairman of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce.
One would like to know if he still stands by the statements he made in the 2004 interview that is posted below. If he does, he constitutes a security risk and should not be allowed anywhere near the British government. But neither should Nick Clegg. And there are several others who, in this drole de guerre, this war of self-defense against the Jihad that is still not recognized and certainly not declared, should also be on a Western watch list.
Issue 186, Friday 29 October 2004 - 22 Ramadan 1412
Islam not a threat, says former cabinet minister
By Ahmed J Versi
Islam is not a threat to the West, says former Tory Chancellor, Lord Lamont. He believed such a view is “foolish” but blamed the media for highlighting what he called a minority view on the issue.
“There are attempts by some parts of the media, reflecting public opinion, to create a clash between the civilisations, the Christian west and Islam,” Lord Lamont told The Muslim News. But one cannot “regard a great religion like Islam, as being in some sense, the enemy of civilisation”, he said.
The Tory peer said he also disagreed with France, which perceives Islamic dress, the hijab, as a threat to their secularism. “When I was in Karachi I very specifically criticised the French ban of the headscarf in the state schools. I contrasted it with my experience in the part of London where I live, young Muslim women serve in the shops, they wear headscarfs, sometimes with a t-shirt and jeans, and I can’t find anything at all threatening about this”, he said.
In his exclusive interview with The Muslim News at his office in London, Lord Lamont said he believed that there is a problem of Islamophobia in this country.
“It is a sort of fear of the unknown and I think things like interfaith organisations are very important.” He referred to some Muslims taking texts out of context from the Qur’an in the same way as some Jews and Christians do, but warned people not to tarnish the whole Muslim community with the same brush when reporting and talking on terrorism. “There are collective fallacies uttered - all Muslims are fundamentalists and all fundamentalists are terrorists, or that all Saudis are terrorists,” the former Chancellor said.
When he asked why was it that Muslims were the only faith community that was targeted by the police and security forces on terrorism, especially at airports when going abroad, Lord Lamont replied that profiling of Muslims would happen as the “profile of would be terrorists are people of Middle Eastern origin.” He reminded Muslims that “at one time people with Irish accents would be stopped.”
But when he was told that the questions Muslims are asked at airports are not related to terrorism, he acknowledged that this was wrong. “It is born out of fear” and agreed that such fear was mistaken.
On international issues, Lord Lamont, former Vice Chair on International Nuclear Safety Commission, believed that Iran may be “moving in the direction of putting itself in a position to be able to develop nuclear weapons”. But he thought that the best way of dealing with Iran is the European approach, “of trying to engage in dialogue, confidence building” and not by confrontation.
Lord Lamont said he supported the war on Afghanistan for “security measures” but was against the war against Iraq and considered it as a “mistake”.
Posted on 06/11/2010 3:58 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 11 June 2010
The People's Cube Reports on the Ground Zero Mosque Protest
Politburo memo from The People's Cube:
The Left has worked overtime to change the meaning of American tolerance to denote "welcome your own destruction," and the meaning of equal rights for minorities to denote "appease violent subversive groups." But a glitch happened in the Matrix: Americans began to wake up and rid of the wool that was so masterfully pulled over their eyes. And, of all places, it happened in New York - the Mecca of progressivism!
The progressive plans to subvert America are in jeopardy! All media organs are expected to denounce this rally as a collection of bigots, racists, and xenophobes. They may yet have a chance to convince the gullible marks that the rancid spit burning in America's eyes is, in fact, fragrant gentle dew from heavens.
On the other hand, these patriotic people have a message:
Many more pictures at the People's Cube, Current Truth page.
Posted on 06/11/2010 4:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum